Film capsules, May 15, 2014

Film capsules, May 15, 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, SAV.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Steve Rogers' (Chris Evans) struggle to fit in to 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.

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.

ERNEST & CELESTINE. (Sunday). Unlike her fellow mice, Celestine is an artist and a dreamer — and when she nearly ends up as breakfast for ursine troubadour Ernest, the two form an unlikely bond. But it isn't long before their friendship is put on trial by their respective bear-fearing and mice-eating communities. Based on the classic Belgian book series by Gabrielle Vincent, "Ernest & Celestine" was France's entry to the 2014 Oscars for best animated feature. "This tale of forbidden friendship between a bear and a mouse is so winning that audiences will cherish it as the classic it's sure to become." (Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal). Rated PG. 80 minutes. ART.

GODZILLA. (Starts Friday). Director Gareth Edwards successfully brings everyone's favorite prehistoric hero back to the big screen as the Big G goes toe-to-toe with two giant flying creatures that are on opposite sides of the world and intent on mating, causing mayhem and destruction in their effort to meet. Cleverly written and smarter than you might expect, only glimpses of Godzilla are seen through most of the film, which may frustrate some diehard fans, until the final showdown. Still, there's enough spectacular destruction to satisfy the most jaded viewer, and in the end, it's just good to see this icon back on the big screen, rendered with the reverence he deserves. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 123 minutes. AMC, CAR, HAR, ONA, SAV.

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, PRI, SAV.

LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN. 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. CAR, SAV.

THE LUNCHBOX (2013). 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.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM. (Starts Friday). Jon Hamm stars as a sports agent on the ropes who goes to India in an effort to find young cricket players with enough potential to become pitchers for a major league baseball team. Though Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal are winning as the two prospects lost in America but at home on the ball diamond, the film is far too familiar to be anything special. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG. 120 minutes. AMC, CAR, SAV.

MOMS' NIGHT OUT. 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. 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. 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 Mann) 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, HAR, 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.

THE RAID 2. (Opens Friday). Combine every film made by Bruce Lee and muay thai master Tony Jaa and you might get an approximation of the sheer level of martial arts mayhem, gun-and-knife-play, car chases, explosions, murder, maiming and general blood-letting in this extraordinary sequel. Indonesian actor, stunt-man and Silat fighter Iko Uwais returns as Jakarta cop Rama, the sole survivor of a police raid who goes undercover to destroy three gangs, including a group of dirty, deadly cops. 31/2 stars (Tirdad Derakhshani, The Philadelphia Inquirer). Rated R. 140 minutes. 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. SAV.

UNDER THE SKIN (2013). 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.

WHY WE RIDE. (Starts Thursday, May 22). This documentary focuses on the passion a wide variety of people find when they hit the open road on their motorcycles. Rated PG. 89 minutes. NOR.

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