Big Eyes (Tim Burton, 2014)

With Big Eyes, Tim Burton takes a break from his spate of auto-pilot adaptations (be it butchering Alice in Wonderland or remaking his own early short films) to tell a more engaging tale than the dreary films of his recent creative slump. Based on true events which took place in the 1950s and 60s, it explores a decade in the life of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams, reliably strong in the lead), who spent years producing cutesy paintings of big-eyed, miserable children that captured the public’s imagination (and their cash). The only problem is that no one knew the paintings were hers, as emotionally manipulative husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) passed himself off as the artist and claimed all the fame…

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Peter Jackson, 2014)

What began with An Unexpected Journey ends in an altogether expected fashion, as Peter Jackson wraps up his frequently misguided three-part adaptation of The Hobbit with basically no (pleasant) surprises and most of the same weaknesses that plagued both …Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. There is a smattering of fantasy fun amid the po-faced gloom, though. On a minute-by-minute basis, The Battle of the Five Armies – by far the shortest of Jackson’s Middle Earth films – is the most solid entry of this prequel trilogy…

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