Film capsules, Sept. 19, 2013

Film capsules, Sept. 19, 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

BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985). (Starts Friday) Robert Zemeckis' brilliant sci-fi comedy finds young Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) accidentally sent back in time 30 years, where he disrupts the courtship of his mother and father, thus endangering his own existence. The film moves along at a breakneck pace, is smartly executed and features a great comedic performance from Christopher Lloyd as the slightly mad scientist Doc Brown. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 116 minutes. Rated PG. HAR.

BATTLE OF THE YEAR. (Opens Friday) An international dance competition is the backdrop for this modern musical that focuses on the members of the U.S. team trying to bring the championship trophy back home for the first time in 15 years. 109 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

BLANCANIEVES.(Opens Saturday) Left for dead on orders of her evil stepmother, the orphaned Carmen is discovered by a troupe of dwarf bullfighters who name her Blancanieves, Spanish for Snow White. 104 minutes. PG-13. NOR.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985). (Starts Friday) John Hughes' look at five troubled teens who form a special bond after serving Saturday detention together, during which they lay bare their souls to one another, has achieved something of an inflated status over the years. While many praise its honesty, it really is a calculated, manipulative effort that is about as honest as a $3 bill. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 97 minutes. Rated R. HAR.

CLEAN GUYS OF COMEDY ENCORE. (Thursday, Sept. 26) Are you looking for a night of laughter without the F-bomb aftertaste? This event features the "unbleepable" stand-up talents of Dave Coulier, Jamie Kennedy, Andy Hendrickson, Ralph Harris and Heather McDonald. 105 minutes. 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.

THE FAMILY. Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star as the heads of the Manzoni family who, after entering a witness protection program, relocate to Normandy, France. Needless to say, their old bad habits die hard, and they wind up having a hard time fitting in. While not necessarily a good film, it certainly is fun as De Niro is obviously having a great time sending up his gangster image. With Tommy Lee Jones who stars as the CIA agent who does his best to keep the family from blowing their cover. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 111 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF JUAN OROL. (Opens Saturday) Mexico's half-forgotten B-movie master, "involuntary surrealist" Juan Orol, receives a pitch-perfect tribute in this irresistible love letter to a self-made man of showbiz, whose career spanned nearly 60 films. In a glorious black-and-white flashback mingling movie-tainted memories of his Galician childhood, forced exile to Cuba and arrival in Mexico, intrepid "Juanito" pursues failed careers as baseball player, boxer, bullfighter and gangster before landing in the movies — where failure kind of works for him.  English captions. Not rated. ART.

I AM ANDEAN (SOY ANDINA). (Opens Saturday). Two New Yorkers return to Peru to reconnect with roots and dance. Folk dancer Nelida Silva returns to her Andean birthplace to host the fiesta patronal. Modern dancer Cynthia Paniagua embarks on her won journey after meeting Neli, determined to "know the real Peru and unearth the mystery of the dances." Soy Andina is an inspirational story about Peru, dance and affirming identity in a globalized world.  English captions. Not rated. ART.

ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS. (Starts Saturday) Animated 3-D adventures as mammoths Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah), saber-toothed tiger Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), with crazed weasel Buck (Simon Pegg) as their guide, encounter dinosaurs in a subterranean lost world. Dinos and 3-D still don't elevate this beyond mediocre, though. The frantic saber-toothed squirrel Scrat still steals the show. 21/2 stars (Richard J. Leskosky). 93 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2. The Lambert family, led by Josh and Renai (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne), find themselves under siege once more as more malevolent spirits return to haunt them. While the film is well-made, the script is lacking as the story spins its wheels with redundant scenes and moments that are suppose to be frightening but fail to deliver. Still, the final half hour is quite strong and nearly saves the movie. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 105 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER. Based on the true story of an African-American who served eight presidents, from Truman to Reagan, in the White House, with Forest Whitaker, full of dignity and humility in the title role, as pivotal events in the history of the civil rights movement swirl all around him. With Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr. and David Oyelowo. 3 stars (Steven Rae, The Philadelphia Inquirer). 132 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

MACHETE (2010). (Starts Friday) Robert Rodriguez's "Mexploitation" flick is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the outlandish B-movie action films that cluttered drive-in screens in the 1970s. Danny Trejo takes on the title role as a former Mexican Federale who has been double-crossed during an assassination attempt and ends up exacting vengeance on those who wronged him in the bloodiest way possible. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 105 minutes. Rated R. ART.

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962). (Saturday) Arguably John Ford's last great film, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" deals with the interplay of myth and history and politics in the settlement of the Old West. Appropriately told in flashback, it presents the story of how beloved, successful U.S. Sen. Ransom "Rance" Stoddard (James Stewart) began his political career, catapulted from frontier lawyer/part-time journalist/teacher/dishwasher to regional representative at a statehood convention on the basis of his having shot the title gunslinger. (Richard J. Leskosky). 123 minutes. Rated PG. VIR.

NATIONAL LIVE THEATRE: THE AUDIENCE. (Opens Saturday) Helen Mirren reprises her Academy Award-winning role as Queen Elizabeth II in the highly anticipated West End production of "The Audience," broadcast as part of National Theatre Live. For 60 years, Elizabeth II has met each of her 12 prime ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. From Churchill to Cameron, each prime minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional — sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. 180 minutes. Not rated. ART.

NEIGHBORING SOUNDS. (Opens Friday) Life in a middle-class neighborhood in present day Recife, Brazil, takes an unexpected turn after the arrival of an independent private security firm. The presence of these men brings a sense of safety and a good deal of anxiety to a culture which runs on fear. Meanwhile, Bia, married and mother of two, must find a way to deal with the constant barking and howling of her neighbor's dog. A slice of "Braziliana," a reflection on history, violence and noise. English captions. Not rated. ART.

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US. A showcase for the boy band du jour, this documentary shows the five English lads during their 2012 world tour. The music is catchy, as bubblegum pop goes, but the film is most engaging when we see the boys away from the limelight, and they prove to be pleasant young men who have their heads on straight. While this film is aimed at the group's fans, those who are forced to attend may find themselves, at the very least, impressed with how the group has handled sudden success. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 92 minutes. Rated PG. 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. This film is utterly predictable, but it's not without its charms. Witty humor is present throughout, and the film has a sense of confidence that's engaging. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 92 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

POMPEII FROM THE BRITISH MUSEUM. (Wednesday) NCM Fathom Events, The British Museum and More2Screen present the first-ever cinema event from the British Museum — an exclusive private view of the major exhibition "Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum." The exhibition explores the homes and lives of the inhabitants of the thriving industrial hub of Pompeii and the small seaside town of Herculaneum nearly 2,000 years ago when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. With accompanying music, poetry and readings from eyewitness accounts, you will go behind the scenes of the exhibition to discover the stories of these famous Roman cities. 90 minutes. Not rated. SAV.

PRISONERS. (Opens Friday) Hugh Jackman stars as Keller Dover, a desperate father who is at his wits' end when his daughter and her friend are abducted, and the police refuse to take action against someone (Paul Dano) he feels is an obvious suspect in the case. Jake Gyllenhaal also stars as the detective assigned to the case who must not only apprehend the abductor but also keep Dover in check before he takes matters into his own hands. Manipulative but well-made, the film raises certain thematic issues dealing with religion, guilt, sin and redemption that ultimately it fails to develop completely. To be sure, the film works as a gripping mystery, but in the end, you're left with the feeling that this could have been so much more. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 146 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

RENOIR. (Opens Thursday, Sept. 26). A young lady is muse to both Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his son, Jean, in this visually striking historical drama set in the world of Impressionism.  111 minutes. Rated R. Subtitled. A Beyond Normal Films choice. NOR.

RIDDICK. Vin Diesel ably anchors this old-fashioned B-movie that follows the title character after he has been marooned on a violent planet and is forced to trigger a rescue beacon when he's about to be overrun by a group of nasty aliens. Two ships answer the call, and the tension mounts as the crews are at each other's throats and all wind up trapped in one ship while a terrific storm and the man-eating monsters attack them from without. Writer/director David Twohy charts a very deliberate course, allowing us to get to know the characters as he steadily increases the tension. More a thriller than an action film, this is a welcome respite from the summer's overblown, empty epics. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 119 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS (PIEDRA, PAPEL O TIJERA). (Opens Saturday) Hector, a well-to-do commercial pilot, discovers that his wife has been unfaithful during his long absences; Christian, an informal worker who lives with his girlfriend Valentina in a working class neighborhood, promises a local criminal to safeguard a package. Desperate to pay off some outstanding debts, Christian kidnaps Hector's son, unleashing a chain of events that will prove tragic for all parties involved. This Venezuelan film is a powerfully intense urban drama.  English captions. Not rated. ART.

SELECTIONS FROM THE 2013 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: WAR WITCH. (Monday). Komona (Rachel Mwanza) is only 12 when she is abducted by rebel soldiers and enslaved to a life of guerrilla warfare in the African jungle. Forced to commit unspeakable acts of brutality, she finds hope for survival in protective, ghostlike visions (inspiring a rebel chief to anoint her "War Witch"), and in a tender relationship with a fellow soldier named Magician (Serge Kanyinda). Together, they manage to escape the rebels' clutches, and a normal life finally seems within reach. But after their freedom proves short-lived, Komona realizes she must find a way to bury the ghosts of her past. Not rated. SAV.

7 BOXES (7 CAJAS). (Opens Saturday) Victor a 17-year-old wheelbarrow leader in Paraguay, dreams of becoming famous, absorbed on the TV of an appliance store in the Municipal Market. Then, he loses a customer, another carter got ahead. The market's world is hostile, competitive and there are thousands like him waiting to carry things. Then he gets an unusual proposal, to carry seven boxes of unknown content, in exchange for a torn half of a $100 bill. The other half will be given to him when he finishes the job.  English captions. Not rated. ART.

SOPHIA AND THE STUBBORN MAN (SOFIA Y EL TERCO). (Opens Sunday) Sofia and her husband live in a small village in the Colombian countryside. Their life has just been a long repetition of facts for years. And she has an old dream: She wants to go to the sea whereas she has always known mountains. But Gustavo always has good reasons to delay the trip. She leaves her morose husband and, with the curiosity of a teenager, embarks upon an adventure full of unexpected meetings and highly imaginative situations. Innovative, moving and refreshing cinema. English captions. Not rated. ART.

THE SPECTACULAR NOW. Sutter (Miles Teller) is a high school senior who is quite content with his life and isn't bothered at all by the fact that he has no plans for his future or that his steady drinking may be having an adverse effect on his life. However, when he meets and gets involved with an innocent wallflower (Shailene Woodley), he realizes that he may need to turn things around. Touching and deftly executed, this is the rare teen romance that strives for a reality of emotion that's rarely captured in the movies. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 95 minutes. Rated R. 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. SAV.

2 GUNS. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are 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 from 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 this is a well-done action film. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 109 minutes. Rated R. PRI.

UNSTOPPABLE: A LIVE EVENT WITH KIRK CAMERON. (Tuesday) An inspiring investigation into the moral origins of good and evil, their inspirational value and their historical significance to us today. Broadcast live from Liberty University, the evening will begin with special guest appearances plus a special introduction from Cameron. 120 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

WE'RE THE MILLERS. Jason Sudeikis is a drug dealer who gets roped into going to Mexico to bring back a huge shipment of marijuana. To 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), but the film runs out of steam long before it ends. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 110 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

WHITE ELEPHANT (ELEFANTE BLANCO). (Opens Friday) In the "Villa Virgin," a shantytown in the slums of Buenos Aires, Julian (Ricardo Darn) and Nicolas (Jeremie Renier) — two priests and long-standing friends — work tirelessly to help the local people. Nicolas joins Julian in overseeing the construction of a hospital following the failure of a project he was leading in which paramilitary forces assassinated members of the community. Deeply troubled by his actions, Nicolas finds solace in Luciana (Martina Gusman,), a young, attractive atheist social worker.  English captions. Not rated. ART.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). (Opens Friday) The seminal classic musical returns to the big screen in the 3-D IMAX format for a one-week engagement to help generate interest in the film's 75th anniversary, which is next year. While you may have seen the film, the prospect of seeing the Wicked Witch's flying monkeys seem to land in your lap may be incentive enough to see it again during this run or maybe not. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 101 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

THE WORLD'S END. Five friends reunite to recreate a legendary pub crawl from 20 years earlier. Along the way, they find they hold the fate of the world in their hands. Repetitious and overbearing, this monotonous film spins its wheels after its first half-hour, while the tedium is exacerbated by a grating performance from Simon Pegg as a drunkard stuck in the past. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 109 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

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