Summaries and mini-reviews of movies playing now, from e3 magazine:
ADMISSION. (Starts Tuesday). Tina Fey stars as a Princeton admissions officer who has to come to terms with newfound maternal feelings when a school teacher (Paul Rudd) introduces her to a young man who may be the son she gave up for adoption years ago. It comes as no surprise that the two principals pull off the film's comedic moments, but the real surprise is the serious tone the movie takes as it examines the joys and frustration of parenthood. Not what you might expect, but worth checking out. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 100 minutes. Rated PG-13. VIR.
THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938). The greatest swashbuckling adventure of all time, this film sealed Errol Flynn's status as a star and set the bar so high where the telling of this legendary tale is concerned that none of the many subsequent remakes have come close to capturing its magic. Flynn takes on the title role, vexes the wily Sir Guy (Basil Rathbone) as he robs from the rich to give to the poor and wins the hand of Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), all with a sense of style and derring-do that can't be matched in this day of computer-generated nonsense. Fun, exciting and moving, this is a film for the whole family and a great way to introduce young viewers to movies from Hollywood's golden age. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 102 minutes. Rated PG. NOR.
THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951). (Starts Saturday). John Huston directs this charming romantic adventure that finds the boozy Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) forced to escort a prudish missionary (Katharine Hepburn) through dangerous African territory on his rundown steamship so that they might sink a German war vessel. While the director does a great job with the many harrowing action scenes, it's the chemistry between the two leads that makes this one special. The differences in the actors' styles and personae generate the necessary antagonistic spark, while Bogart, who won an Oscar for his performance, shows a comedic side he rarely was allowed to display. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 105 minutes. Rated PG. NOR.
AFTER EARTH. Set in the distant future, this sci-fi epic finds military officer Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) marooned on a hostile planet after their spaceship crashes there. That the site of their adventure is Earth, 1,000 years after humans have abandoned it, is the only twist in the film, which is a much-too-straightforward adventure in which Kitai must traverse this hostile environment to track down a homing beacon, while Dad is laid up with two broken legs. The characters are a bit too remote to become engaged with while the movie's impressive special effects can't obscure how bland the script is. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 100 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL.If you can read this, you're probably too old for this live-action sequel featuring the famously cute singing furballs. With Zachary Levi and David Cross. 88 minutes. 2 stars (David Hiltbrand, Philadelphia Inquirer). Rated PG. SAV.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT. (Opens Friday). The third part in Richard Linklater's series focusing on the relationship of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) provides a glimpse of love at a crossroads. Like the two previous segments, this film is basically a series of conversations between the duo in which they rehash past experiences, express their hopes and air grievances that blossom into a discussion that is brutal in its honesty. Witty, intelligent and poignant, this film will resonate with anyone who has ever been involved in a long-term romantic relationship. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski).108 minutes. Rated R. ART.
DR. SEUSS' HORTON HEARS A WHO! (Starts Monday). In this animated feature, a lovable elephant protects a microscopic community from those who don't believe it exists. Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Carol Burnett provide their voices. 3 stars (Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer). 86 minutes. Rated G. SAV.
EPIC. Spectacular visuals are the highlight of this animated feature that's bogged down by an all-too-familiar story. A teenage girl finds herself in the midst of a war between microscopic warriors of the Green and the denizens of the Rot. There are an adequate number of "Oh wow!" moments here, but the story lacks urgency, making for a movie that seems to be spinning its wheels rather than blazing any new trails in animation. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 102 minutes. Rated PG. PRI, SAV.
FAST & FURIOUS 6. Vin Diesel returns as high-octane thief Dominic Toretto, who gets his crew together one more time to stop an arms dealer who's creating havoc in Europe. Photos proving that his old flame Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive prompt him to do what he thought he'd never do — work with the authorities, as represented by federal agent Luck Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). The story is nothing new and there's a sense the film is spinning its wheels, recycling many of the same stunts. A step down from the previous entry as the action becomes too ridiculous to be believed, even by this franchise's standards. 2 Stars (Chuck Koplinski). 130 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, ONA, SAV.
FROM UP ON POPPY HILL. (Opens Saturday). From the highly celebrated Studio Ghibli ("Spirited Away," "Ponyo") comes this gorgeous and moving coming-of-age story from Goro Miyazaki. Set in Yokohama in 1963, this lovingly hand-drawn film centers on Umi and Shun and the budding romance that develops as they join forces to save their high school's ramshackle clubhouse from demolition. The top-grossing Japanese film of 2011 and winner of the Japan Academy Prize for animation. (http://www.thecuart.com). 91 minutes. Rated PG. ART.
THE GREAT GATSBY. Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the seminal American classic is an ambitious, flawed marvel that adheres closely to F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, though the director's grandiose style sometimes tramples on the author's subtle tone. Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the title role of the mysterious millionaire who transforms himself in order to win back Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). There's an undeniable energy to the film and the cast, in particular Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, is impressive. Unfortunately, Luhrmann's overwrought style trumps the substance of Fitzgerald's work at times, making for an uneven but still watchable effort. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 143 minutes. SAV.
HANGOVER PART III. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis return to the roles that made them stars as the Wolf Pack goes looking for Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who has something that ruthless crime lord Marshall (John Goodman) wants and will kill their buddy Doug (Justin Bartha) to get. Though it does not reach the inspired lunacy of the first film, this entry moves at a brisk pace and contains some solid gags and an ending that's worthy of the characters and the series. An apology of sorts from director Todd Phillips for the misguided "Part II." 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 100 minutes. Rated R. SAV.
THE INTERNSHIP. Surprisingly charming and sporting a timely message, this comedy finds two middle-age buddies (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) desperately trying to score positions at Google after being terminated from their sales jobs. Needless to say, they're strangers in a strange land of technology and computer-speak, and the humor mined from the obvious generation gap provides the film with its biggest laughs. But the movie's message — that a human touch is still vital in this age of runaway technology — is delivered sincerely and should be taken to heart. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 119 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, HAR, SAV.
IRON MAN 3. Marvel Films' first misstep finds Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) on the run from a maniacal terrorist (Ben Kingsley) with a vendetta against him while he tries to deal with post-traumatic stress syndrome stemming from the events in "The Avengers." The film, as directed by screenwriter Shane Black, is a scattered affair that never builds up a full head of steam while it lacks the sense of fun that buoyed the first two entries in the series. Equally troubling are the many lapses in logic contained in the screenplay, which become too numerous to ignore. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 130 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.
JAWS (1975). (Saturday). The film that put Steven Spielberg on the map, started the summer blockbuster craze and kept people away from the beach during the summer of 1975. This adaptation of Peter Benchley's best-seller follows the efforts of a sea-fearing sheriff (Roy Scheider), an arrogant marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and an obsessed fisherman (Robert Shaw) as they attempt to kill a great white shark that has been terrorizing the beaches of a small island town. Suspenseful from the very first frame, Spielberg builds a level of near-unbearable tension as he refuses to show us the shark for nearly an hour. But once the high-seas hunt begins, you know you're in for the cinematic ride of your life. Terrifying, exciting and hugely entertaining, this one still holds up and should be seen on the big screen if at all possible. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 124 minutes. Rated PG. VIR.
MAN OF STEEL. (Opens Friday). Zack Snyder delivers a Superman film lacking in wit and warmth, instead opting to bludgeon the audience with one overwrought action scene after another. There's little in the way of character development as the origin of the hero and his early life on Earth are covered in a cursory way, as Snyder is far more interested in spectacle than story. Henry Cavill in the title role is given little to do but stand around and be heroic, while Michael Shannon as General Zod proves to be a worthy adversary. Much of the action is done well; there's simply far too much of it. Only Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as the hero's fathers come close to making some sort of connection with the audience. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 143 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, HAR, SAV.
THE METROPOLITAN OPERA, SUMMER ENCORES: CARMEN. (Wednesday). Richard Eyre's hit production stars Elina Garanca as the seductive gypsy of the title, opposite Roberto Alagna as the obsessed Don Jose. Carmen "is about sex, violence and racism — and its corollary: freedom," the director says about Bizet's drama. "It is one of the inalienably great works of art. It's sexy, in every sense. And I think it should be shocking." Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts. This performance was originally transmitted live on Jan. 16, 2010. 180 minutes. SAV.
NOW YOU SEE ME. Not nearly as clever as it wants you to believe, this heist film about a quartet of Robin Hood-like magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and David Franco) who create illusions to right past wrongs tries one of the oldest tricks in the book to make you believe you've had an entertaining time. Director Louis Leterrier keeps things moving so quickly he hopes the viewer won't realize that all of the pieces in the movie's plot simply don't fit together. Though fun at times, in the end you're likely to feel as though you've been fooled rather than amazed. With Mark Ruffalo as the cop on the magicians' trail, Michael Caine as their duplicitous benefactor and Morgan Freeman as the man out to debunk them. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 106 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.
THE OTHER SON. (Starts Thursday, June 20). "Le fils de l'autre" (original title). Two young men, one Israeli, one Palestinian, find they were switched at birth. A triumphant drama on family and loyalty. 105 minutes. Rated PG-13. Subtitled. A Beyond Normal Films' Choice. NOR.
THE PURGE. Ethan Hawke stars in this thriller that takes place in the near future that finds the United States in a time of peace and prosperity, thanks to the implementation of the Purge, a single night set aside where citizens can commit any crime without fear of persecution. The film's logic fails to hold any water as it sets itself up as a social commentary, only to soon abandon that approach and become a siege drama in which one family must try to survive the night after its home has been invaded. Despite a strong ending, the movie ends up being a missed opportunity as it opts for bloodshed rather than trying to be an indictment of our times. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 85 minutes. Rated R. SAV.
REEL IT UP 2013. (Tuesday). Week three of the fourth annual LGBT Film Festival. Two showings each Tuesday in June. "Passionate Politics: The Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch" (2011): This one-hour documentary brings Charlotte's story to life, from idealistic young civil rights activist to lesbian separatist to internationally recognized leader of a campaign to put women's rights on the global human rights agenda. 58 minutes. Not rated. "Mosquita y Mari" (2012): After being assigned as study partners, two Chicana high schoolers find a bond that confuses them at times. 85 minutes. Not rated. ART.
SIGHTSEERS. (Opens Friday). A country caravan tour spins horribly out of control when a very English couple embarks on a romantic getaway that gradually escalates into all-out killing spree in this blackly funny new outing from rising indie star Ben Wheatley, the man who, in collaboration with co-writer and partner Amy Jump, unleashed "Kill List" and "Down Terrace" on the world. (http://www.thecuart.com). 98 minutes. Not rated. ART.
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. The reboot of the adventures of the Starship Enterprise continues under the steady hand of director J.J. Abrams, who delivers another rip-roaring, though derivative adventure. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the crew find themselves pursuing a mysterious villain (Benedict Cumberbatch) into Klingon territory and, in the process, risk plunging the two civilizations into war. Nothing is as it seems as Abrams pulls out one surprise after another while the numerous action sequences are done with great enthusiasm and imagination. The film's plot may leave some Trek purists enraged, but there's no denying that the movie is made with great skill and reverence for the characters. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 132 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.
THIS IS THE END. While attending a party at James Franco's house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse. Directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen. Stars James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel. (Internet Movie Database). 106 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.
WATERWALK. (Sunday). Based on Steven Faulkner's acclaimed true story, this local independent film was shot in Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri in 2011. Starring Robert Cicchini. A father and son retrace the 1,000-mile journey from Michigan to St. Louis. A journey through middle America, the film is a memorable look at an original journey that defines our nation and informs the heart. The movie is family-approved by the Dove Foundation. SAV.