For those who love the idea of people walking around with paranormal skills Push is right on the money. Basically the big bad government strikes again -- this time in the form of a shadowy agency known as the Division. They have genetically transformed citizens into an army of psychic warriors with tag names such as “Pushers ” “Shifters” and “Sniffers ” who brutally dispose those unwilling to participate in their reindeer games. Nick Grant (Chris Evans) a second-generation telekinetic or “Mover ” is one such rebel hiding out in Hong Kong. He meets the tough-as-nails Cassie (Dakota Fanning) a 13-year-old second-generation clairvoyant or “Watcher ” also on the run and through uncontrollable circumstances reluctantly follows her on a quest to bring down the Division. Wanna know what a “Bleeder” does? It isn’t pretty. While the story weakens at points it’s saved by winning performances especially from Fanning. This is her sort-of coming out film -- moving away from the childish and into more adult fare cursin’ and gettin’ drunk in Push like a pro. This kind of teen wiseass role could have been played obnoxiously but Fanning gives it depth and heart. Her longevity as a actress is quite evident. The charmingly good-looking Evans (Fantastic Four) too makes the most of his reluctant hero a guy with a bigger chip on his shoulder than he’d like to admit. Other standout turns include Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) as The Division’s No. 1 badass a top-notch Pusher who can put any old thought in your head and Camilla Belle (10 000 B.C.) as Nick’s part-time love interest who holds the key to the whole operation -- at one point quite literally. Director Paul McGuigan showed his mettle with the tightly wound thriller Lucky Number Slevin -- and continues the trend by crafting another slick actioner. What he does best is make Hong Kong a vital and integral part of Push. Shot entirely on location the nooks and crannies of the city gives the film a very claustrophobic feel while the stark minimalistic environs enhances the sort of hopelessness of the situations playing out. One particular climactic battle on top of a glass roof is pretty cool. Any of the film’s faults lie in the script which seems to meander and feel forced at times but ultimately Push is just pure escapist fun.
In this film based on the Newbery Award-winning children's book by Kate DiCamillo Opal (AnnaSophia Robb) is a lonely 10-year-old girl who has moved to a sluggish small town in Florida with her preacher father (Jeff Daniels). She has a tough time getting through to her dad: when he is not preaching the gospel he walks around in a haze haunted by the departure of Opal's mother many years before. But when Opal adopts Winn-Dixie named after the supermarket where she found the mutt things start to brighten up for the little girl. With her special companion by her side Opal ends up meeting some pretty interesting people in the town. They include Miss Franny (Eva Marie Saint) the local spinster librarian who spins great stories; Otis (Dave Matthews) the shy drifter working at Gertrude's Pet Shop; and Gloria (Cicely Tyson) an old blind lady living with ghosts from her past. Through Opal's sunny disposition and Winn-Dixie doggone tenaciousness they help the town find their joy and their sorrow. And at the same time they mend Opal's troubled relationship with her father. Collectively now awwww!
All the players fit snugly in this warmhearted movie especially the talented young Robb who makes her feature film debut in Winn-Dixie. It's imperative to cast an adorable child and Robb doesn't disappoint keeping things genuinely fresh with the big eyes infectious smile and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm charm. Daniels too doesn't overplay it as the wounded preacher--aptly described by Opal as a turtle--who rarely sticks his head out of his shell. Veterans Eva Marie Saint and Cicely Tyson do what they can with their stereotypical parts as the kindly spinster storyteller and kindly old wise woman respectively. But it's singer-turned-actor Dave Matthews who stands out as the drifter with a troubled past but can "sing most anything " even charming the animals in the pet shop á la the Pied Piper. His poignant performance is up there in the sentiment department.
Here we go with the children and the animals again. Wayne Wang (Maid in Manhattan The Joy Luck Club) is the latest director to take a stab at guiding those most unpredictable of actors. As he explains "Sometimes the going is slow. But then suddenly something magical happens that you couldn't possibly have planned or anticipated." It's true. There are definite moments of inspired sweetness especially between Opal and Winn-Dixie played by a Picardy Shepherd a rare breed of dog from France that has the look of a big old lovable mutt. And of course you can't go too wrong using heart-tugging material based on a beloved children's novel on par with Where the Red Fern Grows and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. That's also Because of Winn-Dixie main problem. Fans of the book will certainly love the film but overall it doesn't really offer anything new in this genre. It's the same general premise about the kid and a dog--or a horse a deer whichever animal works best--who can change the lives of those around them just from being pure of heart. Maybe it's the curmudgeon in me but Winn-Dixie just doesn't stand out among the plethora of films similar to it.