Film capsules, May 8, 2014

Film capsules, May 8, 2014

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

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. Manic, loud and with a tone that's turned up to 11 throughout, this adventure finds the title hero (Andrew Garfield) going toe to toe with Electro (Jamie Foxx), the Green Goblin (Denis DeHaan) and the Rhino (Paul Giamatti), all the while trying to manage his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). The web-slinger has never looked as good as he does here as the action sequences are rendered with a slickness that elicits gasps. However, from the first moment on, the movie never stops to take a breath, let alone devote itself to character development, with the end result being a hollow exercise in spastic filmmaking. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 142 minutes. AMC, CAR, HAR, ONA, SAV.

BAD WORDS. Jason Bateman, in his directorial debut, stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man who finds a loophole in the rules of a national spelling bee and enters it for an unknown reason. Immature, foul-mouthed and boorish, he unexpectedly bonds with Chaitanya (Rohan Chand), a fellow contestant whose youth forces Guy to re-examine his own life. The film is not for all tastes as the targets of many of its cruel gags are children, while Bateman takes great glee in his character's reprehensible behavior. But there's no denying the movie takes interesting narrative risks and must be commended for living on the edge as it does. You're likely to laugh at the movie's antics; you just might not feel good about having done so afterward. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated R. 89 minutes. PRI.

BRICK MANSIONS. A Detroit police officer (Paul Walker) and an ex-con (David Belle) are forced to work together to take down a crime lord (Rza) who controls a dangerous part of the city that's been walled off from the rest of the crumbling metropolis. While the action is exceptional, especially the martial arts sequences by Belle, and Walker's incredulous reactions to them are entertaining, this is pretty standard action fare. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 90 minutes. CAR, SAV.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Steve Rogers' (Chris Evans) struggle to fit into the modern world is made all the more difficult when he encounters a new nemesis, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), who has ties to his past. However, he has a new ally, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), who attempts to help him battle not only his new enemy but also a threat that's developing within the covert operation he belongs to, S.H.I.E.L.D. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 136 minutes. CAR, SAV.

CHARADE. Audrey Hepburn stars as a widow who finds herself in the middle of international intrigue when a group of her husband's late partners come looking for a large amount of cash they're sure she has. Fortunately, she crosses paths with a mysterious man (Cary Grant) who may be able to help her out of this jam. With an abundance of charm and wit, this film will have you longing for a time when movies were able to entertain us with clever writing and subtle filmmaking techniques while being bolstered by genuinely charismatic stars. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Not rated. 113 minutes. NOR.

DRAFT DAY. Kevin Costner stars as Sonny Weaver, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Having traded for the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, he's facing enormous pressure from the team's owner (Frank Langella) and coach (Denis Leary) to choose a player they can rebuild the team around, a process that requires a degree of finesse and timing that Weaver may not be able to control. When the film concentrates on the ins and outs of running a professional football team, it's quite engaging. However, its various subplots involving Weaver's personal life nearly sink it, though Costner's fine work saves it in the end. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski) Rated PG-13. 109 minutes. SAV.

FADING GIGOLO. (Opens Friday). Fioravante decides to become a professional Don Juan as a way of making money to help his cash-strapped friend, Murray. With Murray acting as his "manager," the two quickly find themselves caught up in the crosscurrents of love and money. Stars John Turturro, Woody Allen and Sharon Stone. (Internet Movie Database). Rated R. 90 minutes. CAR.

FUNNY FACE (1957). (Starts Saturday). Fred Astaire stars as a fashion photographer who makes a discovery in a charming bookstore clerk (Audrey Hepburn). He sets out to make her a fashion model, which she's resistant to until they go to Paris for a photo shoot. As directed by Stanley Donen, this has the perfect "light-as-air" touch he was known for while the chemistry between the two stars is, as you would expect, delightful. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Not rated. 103 minutes. NOR.

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. Todd Burpo's best-selling book is adapted to the big screen and recounts his family's trail of faith after his youngest son has a near-death experience and contends that he has been to and seen heaven. Ponderously plotted and failing to fully examine the faith-based questions it poses, the intent of the film is to preach to the choir rather than examine the issues of religious faith at its center. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG. 100 minutes. AMC, CAR, SAV.

LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN. (Opens Friday). Dorothy awakens in post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Man and Glinda from a devious new villain in this animated film based on the Roger Stanton Baum book "Dorothy of Oz." With the voices of Megan Hilty, Dan Akroyd and Martin Short. Written by Randi Barnes and Adam Balsam. Directed by Daniel St. Pierre and Will Finn. (Los Angeles Times). Rated PG. 93 minutes. AMC, CAR, SAV.

LILO & STITCH. (Saturday). A surprisingly delightful animated comedy from Disney, about a hostile alien creature named Stitch, who escapes to Earth, lands on Hawaii and is adopted as the pet of a little girl named Lilo. Bright, smart, funny, with lots of pop culture jokes and six songs by Elvis. 31/2 stars (Roger Ebert). Rated PG. 85 minutes. PRI.

THE LUNCHBOX (2013). (Starts Friday). In Mumbai, a burned-out office worker (Irrfan Kahn) begins a unique relationship with a woman (Nimrat Kaur) after a series of mistaken deliveries result in him getting the lunches she has prepared for her husband. They begin to correspond via letters left in the lunch kit that travels back and forth between them and develop a bond that helps each look at their lives in new ways. Charming and sincere, this is a mature romantic film that speaks to the sort of loneliness that can only occur in a teeming metropolis and provides a balm for the artificial Hollywood entries in the genre. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG. 104 minutes. ART.

METROPOLITAN OPERA: LA CENERENTOLA. (Opens Saturday). Presented live on Saturday, with an encore performance on Wednesday. A peerless pair of Rossini virtuosos joins forces in "La Cenerentola" — a vocal tour de force for mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, singing her first Met performances of the Cinderella title role, and the high-flying tenor Juan Diego Florez, as her Prince Charming. Alessandro Corbelli and Luca Pisaroni complete the cast, with Met principal conductor Fabio Luisi leading the effervescent score. 220 minutes. SAV.

MOMS' NIGHT OUT. (Starts Friday). All Allyson (Sarah Drew), Sondra (Patricia Heaton) and Izzy (Logan White) want is a night away from their husbands and kids in order to enjoy some adult conversation and an uninterrupted meal. What they get instead is comedic chaos. Rated PG. 98 minutes. SAV.

MUSEUM HOURS. (Starts Thursday, May 15). An unlikely friendship develops between Johan (Bobby Sommer), a security guard at the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna, and Anne (Mary Margaret O'Hara), a Canadian visitor, which allows them to look at art and life in a new way. Rated PG-13. 107 minutes. NOR.

NEIGHBORS. (Opens Friday). Young couple Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) find themselves at war with their neighbors when a college fraternity moves in next door and turns their lives upside down. The film is funny in fits and starts as it fails to build a relentless comedic pace that's necessary for a movie like this to succeed. However, the cast, including Zac Efron and Dave Franco as two frat brothers who are perhaps a bit too close, keep this from being a total waste of time. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated R. 96 minutes. AMC, CAR, HAR, SAV.

THE OTHER WOMAN. When Kate (Leslie Man) finds out that her husband has a girlfriend (Cameron Diaz) and they discover he has another lover (Kate Upton), the three women get together to bring down the man (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) that done them wrong. Though the core trio is appealing and the middle section of the movie in which they enact their revenge is effective, the film overstays its welcome as it marches toward its inevitable end. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 109 minutes. AMC, CAR, SAV.

PARTICLE FEVER. (Monday). In the words of the NPR critic Trey Graham, "Particle Fever" is "a chronicle of the launch of the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the fabled Higgs boson, a subatomic particle long theorized but never located. The film takes a skinny 99 minutes to cover a five-year span and a territory as huge as the universe — bigger, actually, once you learn that some theorists think ours might be just one of many. It's jaw-droppingly cool stuff, explained with admirable clarity by an affable physicist tour-guide, David E. Kaplan, and wedded to the tale of a massive technological undertaking like nothing in history. And it's flat-out thrilling." Not rated. 99 minutes. Post-screening discussion with University of Illinois Department of Physics. ART.

RIO 2. The rare macaws Blu and Jewel (voices by Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway) return, this time with three baby birds to raise and the news that they may not be the only surviving members of their breed after all. A trip down the Amazon puts them in contact with a hidden group of their brethren, which complicates their peaceful lives. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated G. 101 minutes. CAR, SAV.

TRANSCENDENCE. Seeking to stretch the bounds of human intelligence, a terminally ill doctor (Johnny Depp) devises a way to upload his consciousness to a supercomputing network that expands his mind in ways he could not anticipate. For its first hour, the film is a fascinating look at a future in which the positives seem to outweigh the negatives where advances in supercomputing are concerned. However, as Depp's character devolves into a mad scientist figure, the movie's intelligence wanes as well, leaving us with a film that, like its protagonist, wastes its great potential. With Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy and Kate Mara. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 119 minutes. SAV.

UNDER THE SKIN (2013). (Opens Friday). Scarlett Johansson stars as an alien who is stranded on Earth, trying to understand what it is to be human though her path to knowledge takes a horrific turn. Atmospheric and deliberately paced, this is not everyone's cup of tea as director Jonathan Glazer goes out of his way to focus on seeing our environment through his lead character's eyes. A meditation on what it is to be human, this is a thoughtful and unique thriller. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated R. 108 minutes. ART.

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