If you’re someone that’s looking for a weekend movie but not interested in rushing to the theaters to see Blade Runner: 2049, which has extremely positive reviews but seems to be underperforming at the box office, there are other solid films to go see. The Mountain Between Us and Battle of the Sexes are just two examples.
Starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, and based on the novel by Charles Martin, The Mountain Between Us is a romance survival film that while seemingly over-the-top at times, features strong performances from its lead actors to create a story that the right audience will enjoy.
When total strangers Alex Martin (Winslet) and Dr. Ben Bass (Elba) are unable to make their scheduled flights because of poor weather conditions, they decide to charter a small private plane to take them to their destination. Along the way, their plane crashes, and they are stranded in the snowy mountains of the High Unitas Wilderness in Utah. After coming to the realization that help is not coming, Alex and Ben must stick together to survive the dangerous wilderness and harsh, snowy mountain range.
At first glance, this is a survival story like any other, but as the main characters grow closer in their quest for survival, sparks begin to fly. Think Six Days, Seven Nights (1998) with Harrsion Ford and Anne Heche but without as much action and supporting characters. If it weren’t for the leads, I’d have written The Mountain Between Us off like many others, but instead the film places the two seasoned actors primarily alone in the film to do their thing.
While the film has a slower pace and seems to drag on in the end, and despite several corny moments of dialogue, romance, and scenes that seem slightly unrealistic to imagine, it’s not a total loss in the end. If you’re a fan of survival romance adventures or are looking for something that’s not science fiction, extreme action, or anything that’s not too graphic, then perhaps this film is for you.
The Mountain Between Us is rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, peril, injury images, and brief strong language. Running time is 1 hour and 52 minutes. This film was released on October 6th. 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Another average to decent film currently playing in theaters is Battle of the Sexes, which stars Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, and Bill Pullman in a true story about the 1973 tennis match between World No. 1 female tennis player Billie Jean King and male ex-champion Bobby Riggs. Like The Mountain Between Us, this film features strong lead performances in what is being called some of the best work of the actors’ careers.
At the current time period of this film during the rise of the women’s movement, female tennis players are clearly making much less money than the men, even though they play the same game and ultimately bring the sport the same type of audiences and profits. As the current women’s world champion, Billy Jean King (Stone) takes it upon herself to campaign for equal prize money by starting her own women’s tournament and eventually agreeing to play previous men’s champion Bobby Riggs (Carell), who is telling the world that men are basically better than women.
Both Stone and Carell give outstanding performances as their respective characters. On the outside, King and Riggs are outspoken athletes who have succeeded in their sport, but behind closed doors, both appear to deal with their own personal issues. King goes through a sort of sexual self-discovery and experimental stage, while Riggs is past his prime, drinks too much, and struggles with his marital relationship. In the end, both seem to get what they deserve, and for King, this means a road to equality to women athletes.
While The Mountain Between Us seems to appear to a specific audience, Battle of the Sexes provides an all-around well-crafted, humorous, and crowd-pleasing experience that is echoed by great acting. In the end, this is the kind of film that wins awards. Some might not call it a must-see amongst the strongest of this season’s upcoming films, but it’s definitely a start to above average, quality films to come.
Battle of the Sexes is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and partial nudity. Running time is 2 hours and 1 minute. This film was released on September 29th. 3.5 out of 5 stars.