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Sunday, January 23, 2011

DVD Review: "Animal Kingdom"

"It's a crazy f&*king world."
If you go by the hokey title alone, you may confuse Animal Kingdom for a show on Animal Planet. But don't get it twisted; Animal Kingdom may not have pit bulls, tigers, and sea urchins, but it does feature its share of pariahs, predators, and cold-blooded hunters.

Animal Kingdom tells the story of 17-year-old Joshua 'J' Cody's (James Frecheville) descent into the world of crime after his addict mother dies of an overdose. Taken in by his maniacal aunt Janine (Jacki Weaver), who grooms him for her ready-made crime family that includes three chip-off-the-old-block sons, Joshua quickly learns what it takes to keep a well-oiled crime machine like the Codys running, while staying just out of harm's reach. Like wild boar, he and his newfound brothers take the streets by storm like real menaces to society. Joshua adapts to his new world as he learns how to use a gun, and see his first casualty fall at his mercy. He may not fully understand the Cody family's motives but he knows well enough not to ask any questions and to stay mum when approached by the police.

In comes Guy Pearce, who plays homicide detective Sergeant Nathan Leckie, who tries to yank information from Joshua, who feels caught in the middle of two opposing and equally sketchy sides. Joshua must decide whose side he's on and how to get the other side off his tail. After an interesting turn of events, sacrifices are made and, finally, the other shoes drops.

Wild, gritty, and sharp, Animal Kingdom has a ticking bomb for a heartbeat that pulsates through every scene. Weaver is stunning as the ever-so-frightening matriarch with a devilish streak, and Frecheville proves he's a force to be reckoned with onscreen. Pearce, in a trademark subtle yet worthy performance, flies under the radar once again but never fails to hold his own onscreen. Although no individual performance stands out better from the rest, they all hold steady as the ferocious story unfolds. That is except that of Jacki Weaver, whose alarmingly haunting performance will stay with you until the bitter ending.

rating: B+


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