“Lion” is the kind of film that roars with emotion, even if it isn’t always hitting the mark.
Based on the non-fiction book “A Long Way Home,” Saroo Brierley’s story of how he found his family more than 20 years after he was lost, this is an incredible story that is both uplifting and inspirational. Garth Davis’ film captures the story well, especially in the first half.
That first half begins with Saroo (played by Sunny Pawar), a 5-year-old Indian boy who while out with his older brother one night falls asleep on a train and wakes up 1,500 miles from home in Calcutta.
Unable to communicate, he takes to the streets to survive before being put in an orphanage. There he is adopted by an Australian couple named Joe and Sue Brierley (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman).
Saroo (played as an adult by Dev Patel) grows up with the Brierleys, but remains determined to find his real family – stopping at nothing to find his way back home.
The first half of “Lion” is the best moments – with young Pawar mesmerizing to watch on screen. The first part of the story had elements of recent films “The Good Lie” and “City of God,” with young Saroo’s plight something that audiences will find fascinating.
Once the story shifts to Australia, and Saroo’s relationship with the family’s other adopted brother, the film loses a bit of its early luster. The dramatic element isn’t as effective as the early story.
Rooney Mara enters as Saroo’s love interest, but it’s a throw-away role, while Kidman’s work – although Oscar nominated – isn’t as sharp either.
Fortunately “Lion” comes together in the final act, with an emotional wrap-up that is just as effective as the first act. This is where Patel, who is also nominated for an Oscar, is allowed to shine.
The final act saves “Lion” from completely coming off the rails. This is probably one of the weakest of the nine Best Picture nominees, but it is still a film well worth your time.
Also in theaters
“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” (D) is a film that can never be excused as an Oscar contender. Billed as the last film in this head-scratchingly popular science fiction series, this is pretty much more of the same – an entry that fans of the franchise will like, but probably won’t matter to anyone else.
The sixth film in the series, which began in 2002, sees Alice (Milla Jovovich) returning to the hive in Raccoon City to battle the Umbrella Corporation for control of an anti-virus that will save the last remaining survivors of the apocalypse from the zombie outbreak that has wrecked havoc throughout the globe.
Jovovich has been doing this so long, she could practically sleepwalk through these films at this point. While it is fun to see her stand toe-to-toe with the guys, the fight sequences have become a bit monotonous. Most of the action here is shot in the dark (much like the recent “Underworld” franchise) with quick cuts, making it hard to see (or care) what’s going on.
The rest of the cast (which includes the return of Ali Larter) might as well be computer generated, because they are practically non-existent.
Despite being billed as the final chapter, the ending actually leaves it open for the possibility of future films. Hopefully this franchise finally pulls the plug and allows Jovovich and the rest of the cast to move on to better projects.
“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” is rated R for sequences of violence throughout and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.