Summaries and mini-reviews of movies playing now, from e3 magazine:
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED. (Starts Monday). A group of talking chipmunks and their human companions get shipwrecked on a remote island. With Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate and the voice of Justin Long. Written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. Directed by Mike Mitchell. (Los Angeles Times). 87 minutes. Rated G. SAV.
BEFORE MIDNIGHT. 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.
CAESAR MUST DIE. (Opens Thursday, June 27). "Cesare Deve Morire" is original title. A documentary festival hit, this story of prisoners performing Shakespeare behind prison walls is engrossing, fascinating and very powerful! (http://www.normaltheater.com). Subtitled. 76 minutes. Rated PG-13. NOR.
DCI 2013 TOUR PREMIERE. (Monday). NCM Fathom Events and Drum Corps International kick off the 2013 summer season of marching music's major league on the big screen! Captured live just two days earlier from Akron, Ohio, this exclusive one-night event will showcase six of DCI's top marching music ensembles, together for a season-opening competition that is sure to ignite the competitive fire between these fierce rivals. 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. SAV.
EXHIBITION: GREAT ART ON SCREEN — MUNCH: MUNCH 150. (Thursday, June 27). This new theatrical series brings the world's greatest art exhibitions to select U.S. cinemas. Each event is hosted by art historian Tim Marlow. The series celebrates the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch, as the National Museum and the Munch Museum, both in Oslo, Norway, host this "once-in-a-lifetime" exhibition of the greatest number of Munch's works ever. 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 is creating havoc in Europe. Photos proving that his old flame Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive prompt him to do what he thought he would 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. SAV.
FRANCIS HA. (Opens Friday). Greta Gerwig stars in the title role as an aimless young woman trying to find her way in New York City. Playing like an extended episode of HBO's "Girls," the film is at times amusing and others grating as the main character's behavior vacillates between endearing and exasperating. For members of the millennial generation only. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 86 minutes. Rated R. ART.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980). (Starts Friday). The original slasher classic in 35mm. This splatter flick, along with John Carpenter's Halloween, helped spawn the great horror-movie movement of the '80s, not to mention countless sequels, many of which had nothing to do with the films that preceded them. It also gave birth to Jason Voorhees, one of the biggest horror-movie psychos of the modern era. 95 minutes. (http://www.thecuart.com). Rated R. ART.
FROM UP ON POPPY HILL. 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 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. 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. HAR, SAV.
THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967). (Saturday). Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear have a difficult time trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization. Walt Disney's animation stars Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot and Bruce Reitherman. 78 minutes. PRI.
LINCOLN. (Starts Tuesday). Daniel Day-Lewis' powerhouse performance as our 16th president looms large in this passionate and moving chronicle of Lincoln's final four months as commander-in-chief, which were largely devoted to getting the 13th Amendment, guaranteeing the freedom of all slaves, pushed through Congress. Far from a dry history lesson, the film displays the practice of back-room politics, while Lincoln is portrayed as a moral giant among men without any unnecessary hyperbole. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 149 minutes. Rated PG-13. VIR.
MAN OF STEEL. 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.
MEN IN BLACK. (Saturday). Barry Sonnenfeld's 1997 adaptation of the cult comic book has aged well and proves once more that a witty, smart script as well as fine performances and chemistry between cast members make the difference between success and failure when it comes to big-budget blockbusters. Tommy Lee Jones is Agent J, a member of a secret government-funded organization that's charged with monitoring alien movements on Earth. His new partner, Agent K (Will Smith), is a little wet behind the ears and has a hard time adjusting to the fact that aliens are among us, but he has to earn his stripes quickly when they find out that a member of the malevolent Bug species (Vincent D'Onofrio) has a plan that may end in the Earth's destruction. Unlike so many of today's bloated blockbusters, this film runs a tight 98 minutes and steadily builds toward a satisfying climax with plenty of laughs and thrills along the way. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 98 minutes. Rated PG-13. VIR.
THE METROPOLITAN OPERA, SUMMER ENCORES: IL TROVATORE. (Wednesday). David McVicar's stirring production of Verdi's intense drama premiered at The Met in the 2008—09 season. This revival stars four extraordinary singers — Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Marcelo lvarez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky — in what might be the composer's most melodically rich score. Marco Armiliato conducts. This performance was originally transmitted live on April 30, 2011. 165 minutes. SAV.
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. (Opens Friday). At a college for scary creatures, a one-eyed green monster's newfound rivalry with a furry blue beast jeopardizes both their career paths in this prequel to the 2001 animated movie "Monsters Inc." With the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Helen Mirren. Written by Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird and Dan Scanlon. Directed by Scanlon. (Los Angeles Times ). 95 minutes. AMC, HAR, ONA, 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. "Le Fils de L'autre" is 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 four of the fourth annual LGBT Film Festival. Two showings each Tuesday in June. "Scary Normal." Chelsea just wants to be a typical teen, but her stepdad's life making low-budget indie horror films surrounds her with an array of wild characters who leave her embarrassed and frustrated. When she meets Danielle, a fiery young lesbian rejected by her own family, they form a bond that allows Chelsea to re-evaluate her desire for a life that is nothing more than ordinary and come to appreciate her wacky family. Written by Hot Diggity Productions. 95 minutes. Not rated. "Romeos." The film is a drama and tragicomedy, which revolves around the romantic relationship between Lukas, a 20-year-old gay trans man who is transitioning from female to male, and a cisgender gay man named Fabio. German with English subtitles. 94 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. PRI, SAV.
THIS IS THE END. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel play themselves in this end-of-the-world comedy that sees the comics' true natures emerge as the Rapture ensues. Though overlong and crude, it's done with such self-deprecating humor that you can't help but get swept away by the ridiculous nature of the movie. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 107 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.
WORLD WAR Z. (Opens Friday). Brad Pitt stars as a U.N. special ambassador who travels the globe in search of a cure for the zombie apocalypse that has ravaged the planet. The film is composed of nothing more than four extended action set pieces, all of them done well but each hindered by a spastic editing rhythm. While the special effects at times are laughable, the epic scope of the film saves it in the end, as does the star's sympathetic performance. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 116 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, HAR, SAV.