Tony’s Movie Reviews: ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,’ ‘La La Land,’ ‘Collateral Beauty’

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 16, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “La La Land” and “Collateral Beauty” are the three major releases this weekend.

“Rogue One,” arguably the year’s most anticipated sci-fi release, will be opening in 4,157 theaters this weekend. The film, according to Box Office Mojo, is heading for a possible record-breaking opening, if the Force is strong with the film, as estimates range as high as $166.0 million dollars.

In any case, the new prequel to “Star Wars IV: A New Hope,” will knock “Moana” off its top branch putting “Rogue One” in the top slot.

Will Smith’s “Collateral Beauty” is positioned to open in third place with about $11 million. And “La La Land,” which opens in wider release this weekend, will most likely take in around $4.4 million from the 200 theaters it’s playing in. The film starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is garnering both Golden Globe and Oscar buzz, as it recently took home eight Critic’s Choice Awards.

Here’s how Box Office Mojo sees the weekend ticket sales:

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” — $166 million
“Moana” — $12.4 million
“Collateral Beauty” – $11 million
“Office Christmas Party” — $9.1 million
“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” — $6.1 million
“Manchester by the Sea” — $4.5 million
“La La Land” — $4.4 million
“Arrival” — $3.0 million
“Doctor Strange” — $2.4 million
“Nocturnal Animals” — $2.2 million

The Reviews:

La La Land
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and John Legend
Rated PG-13

In the film, Mia is an aspiring actress who serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions. Sebastian is a jazz musician who scrapes by playing cocktail party gigs in dingy bars. After they meet and as success mounts, they are faced with decisions that begin to tear apart the fabric of their love affair.

“La La Land” is a glorious tip-of-the-hat to the great Hollywood musicals of the 1940s and 1950s. The film offers a very familiar feeling, but has its soul in the 21st century world of relationships, career and personal needs.

Emma Stone is wonderfully watchable as the up and coming starlet who can’t seem to successfully juggle the pieces of her life and is beginning to resign herself into a life of mundane auditioning and bad jobs. Stone’s moment comes in the solo “The Audition: Here’s the Fools Who Dream,” a beautifully written and orchestrated piece that expresses the heart and soul of a performer.

Ryan Gosling as a down on his luck jazz musician, who, it seems, has one foot in reality and espouses real world sensibilities, but has his heart planted in the romance of performance. Gosling, who prior to this film did not play piano, spent several hours a day, every day learning piano. The actor was able to play all of the piano sequences without the use of a hand double or CGI.

All in all, “La La Land” is a wonderfully rich and rewarding movie experience. It gets an A and is rated PG-13.

Collateral Beauty
Starring: Will Smith, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet
Rated PG-13

Will Smith is Howard, a successful New York advertising executive, who suffers a great tragedy and retreats from life. While his concerned friends try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to Love, Time and Death.

But when his notes bring unexpected personal responses from “Love,” played by Keira Knightley, “Death,” played by Helen Mirren, and “Time,” played by Jacob Lattimore, he begins to understand how even the deepest loss can reveal meaning and beauty.

“Collateral Beauty” is, at its core, a faith-based film with a warm heart and a good message. The problem is the movie is trying too hard to drown the viewer in sentimentality and comes off a bit desperate at times. A few tugs at the heartstrings is fine, but “Collateral Beauty” wants to drown its audience in a river of sap.

In the end, “Collateral Beauty” will be compared to films like “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and other Christmas message films, but it lacks the genuine spirit of those films and settles on an artificially manufactured sentiment.

The film gets a C and is rated PG-13.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Forest Whitaker
Rated PG-13

Jyn Erso, an orphan in hiding, is about to experience her biggest challenge yet when the rebellion engages her on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

With help from the Rebels, a master swordsman and non-allied forces, Jyn sets in motion one of the key elements of the “Star Wars” saga.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is a rip-roaring adventure and chock filled with great characters and battle scenes enough to satiate any “Star Wars” fan. The film gets an A and is rated PG-13.

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