Film capsules, Aug. 15, 2013
Summaries and mini-reviews of movies playing now, from e3 magazine:
- AMC = AMC Village Mall, Danville.
- ART = The Art Theater, Champaign
- HAR = Harvest Moon drive-in, Gibson City
- NOR = The Normal Theater, Normal
- ONA = The Onarga Theater, Onarga
- PRI = Princess Theatre, LeRoy
- SAV = Savy 16, Savoy
- VIR = Virginia Theatre, Champaign
AT ANY PRICE. (Opens Thursday, Aug. 22) Shot in DeKalb County, this story centers around a farm family and their troubles, from a son's youthful rebellion to a hybrid corn lawsuit and everything in between. Stars Dennis Quaid. 105 minutes. Rated R. A Beyond Normal Films choice. NOR.
THE CONJURING. Based on a true story, this ghost tale follows the efforts of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who try to help a family rid their home of a malevolent spirit. James Wan does a fine job creating a genuinely eerie atmosphere and delivering the requisite scares; however, the movie is far too similar to "Insidious," the director's far superior effort from 2010, to be considered anything special. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 112 minutes. Rated R. HAR, SAV.
DESPICABLE ME 2. The evil genius Gru (voice by Steve Carell) returns, this time enlisted by a secret agency to help track down a dangerous formula that's fallen into the wrong hands. Less ambitious than the first film in scope and sporting a fairly flimsy story, the movie still proves to be an entertaining affair, primarily because of the appeal of its unique characters (gotta love those Minions) and the inspired sense of lunacy that prevails throughout. Fans will love this follow-up, though this sequel will more than likely not win over any new followers. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski) 98 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.
ELYSIUM. Neil Blomkamp's sci-fi social commentary takes place in the future where the ultra-rich have abandoned our polluted planet to live in an Eden that orbits in space. The rest of us are left to scrape by on the wasteland that has become our home. However, one man with nothing to lose (Matt Damon) decides to travel to this space colony to set things right. While Blomkamp has worthwhile issues to discuss, including illegal immigration, the disparity in health care coverage and the unequal distribution of wealth, his adherence to standard action tropes obscures them. Not as smart as it thinks or as I hoped it would be. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 109 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.
GROWN UPS 2. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade and Chris Rock return as old high school friends who find that they are older than they think when they must contend with all of the issues that spring up with their own children. Fart and vomit jokes abound in this pointless exercise that is neither original nor funny. This is just another excuse for Sandler and his friends to hang out together and get paid for their trouble. 1 star (Chuck Koplinski). 101 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.
HANNAH ARENDT. (Opens Sunday). The luminous Barbara Sukowa stars as the brilliant German-Jewish emigree Hannah Arendt — sent to cover the trial in Jerusalem by New Yorker editor William Shawn; her coverage becomes one of the most important and controversial books ever written on the Holocaust: "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil." Margarethe von Trotta's deeply serious, yet wildly entertaining look at the lives and loves of a bevy of New York's most famed intellectuals during the 1950s and '60s. (http://www.arttheater.coop) In English and German with English subtitles. 105 minutes. Not rated. ART.
HOUSE OF THADDEUS. (Sunday) Featuring some of the most talented actors in the Champaign-Urbana and Danville areas and an original score by John Toenjes, "House of Thaddeus" is a new take on the haunted house genre. It is the story of a couple divided by belief and a house whose dark past is a seductive presence. Full of old magic and brutal realism, "House of Thaddeus" is a film for the skeptic and the believer in us all. (http://www.arttheater.coop) 90 minutes. Not rated. ART.
I'M SO EXCITED.(Opens Friday) This broad comedy from Spanish director Pedro Almodovar focuses on a flight headed to Mexico City that appears to be doomed because of technical difficulties. As a result, all on board begin to act impulsively and reveal deep, dark secrets as death stares them in the face. Done as a lark, this farce is executed with enthusiasm and hearkens to Almodovar's earlier work. While its ribald sensibility may not appeal to everyone, fans of the director's films will be well-pleased. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 90 minutes. Rated R. ART.
JOBS. (Opens Friday) Ashton Kutcher stars as tech innovator Steve Jobs in this film that charts the entrepreneur's rise from high school dropout to visionary inventor whose Apple Inc. devices radically changed the face of the media world in the late 20th century. 122 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.
KICK-ASS 2. (Opens Friday) Aaron Taylor-Johnson returns as the teenage vigilante Kick-Ass whose exploits inspire other concerned citizens to follow suit. However, his archenemy (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has hatched a plan that will bring him and his new allies down. While the film is far too violent, what it has to say about finding one's true self in today's society elevates it above the usual superhero fare. Far better than the first entry in the series; fine performances from Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl make this one worthwhile. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 103 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.
LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER. (Opens Friday). This fact-based film stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, who served as a White House butler under seven different presidents, during which time he witnessed great social change. 132 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.
THE MISSING PIECE: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MAN WHO STOLE THE MONA LISA. (Opens Saturday) "The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, the True Story" was the original title. This is the story of the man who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, his 84-year-old daughter who thought he did it for patriotic reasons, and the filmmaker who spent more than 30 years trying to find the truth for himself, and now for her. (Internet Movie Database). 85 minutes. Rated PG. NOR.
PARANOIA. (Opens Friday) Adam (Liam Hemsworth) is eager to climb the corporate ladder but questions the price he's willing to pay for success when his boss (Gary Oldman) forces him to spy on his old mentor (Harrison Ford) in order to steal corporate secrets. 106 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.
PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS. The home of Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) and the other young demigods is threatened, and the only thing that will save it is the mythical Golden Fleece. The only problem is that our hero and his friends Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) must travel to the treacherous Sea of Monsters to recover it. The film cannot escape the long shadow of the "Harry Potter" films and other movies of its ilk, as everything feels derivative and a bit stale. That it's slow going and utterly predictable doesn't help its cause either. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 106 minutes. Rated PG. AMC, SAV.
PLANES. This animated film from the Disney Studio tells the tale of a crop-dusting plane named Dusty who has ambitions to compete in an aerial race. The problem is, he's afraid of heights. If this sounds familiar, you've seen "Turbo." With the voice talents of Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Val Kilmer and Brad Garrett. 92 minutes. Rated PG. AMC, HAR, ONA, SAV.
SCI-FI DISCO AND DEAD UNICORNS. (Wednesday) Two locally produced indie sci-fi short films. "Once Upon a Time in the 1970s (Series)" by Anne and Chris Lukeman: In the probably-alternate 1970s, an ominous portal hangs in the sky and killer robots live among us. Scientist heroes fight evil with ray guns and disco in this transistor punk sci-fi adventure. "Heartshot" by Thomas Nicol: In a not-so-distant dystopian future, a scientist supports his drug habit by poaching genetically engineered unicorns. Awarded "best short" at the 2013 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. (http://www.arttheater.coop) 90 minutes. Not rated. ART.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952). (Starts Friday) Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's landmark musical takes a comedic look at the transition from the silent era to that of sound in Hollywood as it revitalizes what was a worn and ragged genre when it was made. Along with co-stars Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds, Kelly performs with so much energy and inspiration that it literally leaps off the screen. Funny and thoroughly entertaining, the film features the title song as well as the famous "Good Mornin,'" "Make 'em Laugh" and "Moses Supposes" sequences. This is one of the great movie musicals and one that puts recent efforts in the genre to shame. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 103 minutes. Not rated. ART.
THE SMURFS 2. The diminutive magical blue beings known as Smurfs reunite with their human pals to rescue one of their kind from the clutches of the evil wizard Gargamel. With Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria and the voices of Katy Perry and Jonathan Winters. Written by J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick and David Ronn. Directed by Raja Gosnell. 102 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.
TURBO. Ryan Reynolds gives voice to the title character, a snail that longs to win the Indianapolis 500 and may get the chance to do so as he endures a freak accident. This animated film also features the voice talents of Paul Giamatti, Samuel Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph and Snoop Dogg. 96 minutes. Rated PG. PRI.
2 GUNS. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star as two federal agents, unaware of each other's identity, who cross paths as each investigates the same drug cartel. Buoyed by a sense of fun that hearkens back to the "Lethal Weapon" movies and a nice comedic turn form Wahlberg, this film survives on the charm of its two stars and the crisp direction from Baltasar Kormakur ("Collateral"). There's nothing new here, but there's no question this is a well-done action movie that's perfect where summertime viewing is concerned. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 109 minutes. Rated R. SAV.
WASTELAND (2010). An uplifting documentary on the power of art and the beauty of the human spirit. Artist Vik Muniz goes to the world's largest landfill, near Rio de Janeiro. Vik collaborates with the garbage pickers to create amazing art and change lives. A 2011 Oscar nominee for best documentary. 99 minutes. Not rated. NOR.
WE'RE THE MILLERS. Jason Sudeikis stars as a drug dealer who gets roped into going to Mexico to bring back a huge shipment of marijuana. To help avoid suspicion, he hires a stripper (Jennifer Aniston), an awkward teenage boy (Will Poulter) and a homeless girl (Emma Roberts) to pose as his family. There are some laughs — some of them huge — throughout, but the movie runs out of steam long before it ends, resulting in a frustrating exercise that winds up spinning its wheels. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 110 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.
THE WOLVERINE. Hugh Jackman returns in his signature role as the quick-healing mutant title hero, who goes to Japan at the request of an old acquaintance who promises to help free him from his curse of immortality. Though the film is too long, its emphasis is on its hero and its supporting characters, rather than empty special-effects-driven scenes. Jackman is solid as always as this entry effectively washes away the bad taste left by 2009's "X-Men Secret Origins: Wolverine." 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 126 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.