Film capsules, Feb. 21

From e3 magazine

ANY DAY NOW. (Opens Thursday, Feb. 28) Solid performances by Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt flesh out the bare-bones script of this period piece about gay lovers who petition for custody of a Down syndrome teen while his mother serves time for drugs. 3 stars (Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer). 101 minutes. Rated R. NOR.

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. This adaptation of the best-selling teen novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl focuses on Lena (Alice Englert), a teenage witch whose power will radically increase on her upcoming 16th birthday, something that garners the interest of her evil Aunt Sarfine (Emma Thompson). Of course, adding to the complications is the love she feels for the human Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) who unwittingly plays a role in an ancient curse. This is the standard modern tween romance, but the two leads and fun performances from Thompson and Jeremy Irons make for an entertaining time. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 124 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

CHASING ICE. (Starts Saturday) If you know someone who needs convincing that global warming is a legitimate threat, make them sit through this documentary that chronicles the efforts of James Balong and his fellow researchers as they set out to bring back conclusive evidence that things are heating up on planet Earth. They do so by setting up cameras pointed at various icebergs and mountains that take pictures over an extended period. What they document is sobering and alarming and should be seen by anyone who contends that global warming is nothing more than "junk science." 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 76 minutes. Rated PG-13. ART.

DARK SKIES. (Opens Friday) As an escalating series of disturbing events torments a young suburban family, the husband and wife try to stop the mysterious force targeting them. With Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett. Written and directed by Scott Stewart. (Los Angeles Times). 97 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH. This bland animated feature follows the adventures of alien Scorch Supernova (voice by Brendan Fraser), whose brother Gary (Rob Corddry) must come and rescue him after he has been captured on Earth. The story contains few surprises, and the visuals are nothing special, making for a movie that will amuse the tykes and bore their parents. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 89 minutes. Rated PG. In 3-D. AMC, ONA, SAV.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD. This soulless entry in the lucrative action series finds John McClane (Bruce Willis) in Russia trying to help out his son (Jai Courtney) who is a CIA agent. The action is nonsensical, the plot inconsequential and our hero has been reduced to a caricature in this disastrous effort. Irresponsible and simply no fun, this is the sort of film that kills franchises. 1 star (Chuck Koplinski). 97 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

IDENTITY THIEF. Jason Bateman stars as a financial manager who has to travel to Florida to track down a sociopath (Melissa McCarthy) who has stolen his identity and run up a mountain of debt in his name. Meandering and unfocused, this feature can't figure out if it wants to be a comedy, a buddy movie or a low-rent action movie. The film's lack of tone is bad, but what's worse is the shameless bit of pathos it tries to tack on the end. A misguided effort for all involved. 1 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 112 minutes. Rated R. AMC, PRI, SAV.

JOHN DIES AT THE END. (Opens Friday) A new sci-fi/horror/comedy about the effects of a hallucinogenic drug called Soy Sauce that leaves some users no longer human. Stars Paul Giamatti. "A punk rock Ghostbusters by way of H.P. Lovecraft. Its best moments are exhilarating. The film has enough trippy and original ideas for 10 movies." (Nathan Rabin, The Onion). 99 minutes. Rated R. ART.

SAFE HAVEN. Yet another Nicholas Sparks novel comes to the big screen, sporting a formulaic plot that ends up insulting the viewer. Battered wife Katie (Julianne Hough) is on the run and ends up in a seaside North Carolina town where she falls in love with the owner of the general store (Josh Duhamel) there. You can see what's going to happen a mile away, but what's disconcerting are the shameless lengths the film goes to in trumping up unneeded drama. Ultimately, the film treats viewers as fools by expecting us to fall for this tattered collection of cliches. 1 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 115 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

SNITCH. (Opens Friday) When his teenage son is wrongfully accused of a drug-distribution crime, a desperate father cuts a deal with the U.S. attorney to infiltrate a drug cartel on a risky mission. With Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon and Benjamin Bratt. Written by Justin Haythe and Ric Roman Waugh. Directed by Waugh. (Los Angeles Times). 112 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

STUART LITTLE. (Saturday) "Stuart Little" is based on E.B. White's book about a family that adopts a son, who is actually a talking mouse. A cheery, beautifully acted little comedy/adventure with a sweet message about blending families. Much of the humor comes from the exaggerated seriousness of the characters and from the matter-of-fact way Stuart gains acceptance in the Littles' world. (Knight Ridder Newspapers) Rated PG. PRI.

2013 OSCAR-NOMINATED SHORT FILMS: ANIMATED. Wry, imaginative and at times quite beautiful, the five animated shorts run the gamut as two love stories take center stage ("Head over Heels" and "Paperman"), and a poignant look at how man's affinity for dogs began pulls more heartstrings than you might imagine ("Adam and Dog"). Humor isn't ignored as we get a new look at how to make a traditional side dish ("Fresh Guacamole"), while Maggie Simpson does her best to survive a new preschool ("The Longest Daycare"). All of these features are executed with great care and imagination while some point to new directions within the genre. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 85 minutes. Not rated. NOR.

WARM BODIES. Better than you might expect, this zombie love story follows the efforts of a teenage zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) to regain his humanity and connect with Julie (Teresa Palmer), whose father (John Malkovich) happens to be the militant leader of the remaining humans. Using "Romeo and Juliet" as its template, the film zips along at a nice pace and speaks to what truly makes us human in an entertaining and vital way. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 97 minutes. Rated PG-13. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

  • AMC = AMC Village Mall, Danville.
  • ART = The Art Theater, Champaign
  • NOR = The Normal Theater, Normal
  • ONA = The Onarga Theater, Onarga
  • PRI = Princess Theatre, LeRoy
  • SAV = Savoy 16, Savoy

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