Film capsules, May 22, 2014

Film capsules, May 22, 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, SAV.

BELLE. (Starts Friday). This story of bigotry in 18th-century England focuses on the title character (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a young biracial woman who is brought up in the home of the country's lord chief justice (Tom Wilkinson). Yet despite her social rank, she's not accorded the rights and privileges of her peers, a situation that comes to a head when a case involving the slave trade heads the country's highest court. Beautifully rendered and surprisingly engaging, the film benefits greatly by eschewing melodrama and the strong performance from Mbatha-Raw. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG. 104 minutes. ART.

BLENDED. (Starts Friday). Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore star as fellow single parents who find themselves attracted to one another despite an awful first date. That their children seem to be benefiting from their burgeoning relationship only increases their attraction for one another. Rated PG-13. 117 minutes. AMC, CAR, HAR, 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. HAR, SAV.

CHEF. (Opens Friday). Having quit his job at a prominent restaurant over refusing to compromise his creative integrity, a chef teams with his ex-wife and son to start his own food truck. With Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara and John Leguizamo. Written and directed by Favreau. (Los Angeles Times). Not rated. 115 minutes. SAV.

GODZILLA. 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.

LE WEEK-END. (Starts Thursday, May 29). Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star as an English married couple who go to Paris for the weekend to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. However, it is far from being a romantic excursion as both have differing views as to the state of their union. The film takes a while to find its footing, but it ultimately rights itself and proves to be a moving reflection on love and the toll it exacts. As usual, Jeff Goldblum as a pompous intellectual steals every scene he's in. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated R. 93 minutes. NOR.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM. 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. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG. 120 minutes. AMC, CAR, SAV.

MOMS' NIGHT OUT. All that 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 chaos. Over-the-top, ridiculous and insulting to every male that ever walked the planet, this film goes from charming to grating in no time flat. 11/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG. 98 minutes. SAV.

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, SAV.

A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935). (Saturday). In their first movie for MGM Studios, Groucho, Chico and Harpo Marx bring their lunatic sense of humor to the world of the opera as they attempt to bring two young lovers together (Allan Jones and Kitty Carlisle). Inspired lunacy abounds as the brothers three undercut snobs left and right and deflate high society at every turn. Featuring the famous stateroom scene, this is one of Groucho, Chico and Harpo's finest moments. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Not rated. 96 minutes. VIR.

THE NUT JOB. (Saturday). Surly (voice by Will Arnett), a crafty and irresponsible squirrel, is thrown out of the park where he lives and is forced to survive in the city. He decides that if he can rob the local nut store, he'll be all set. The problem is, he can't do it alone, and his trying to get help from the animal community proves to be more difficult than he thought. This competent but unimaginative animated film is suitable fare for the kids. However, it's far from innovative and pales when compared to so many other modern cartoons that are made with greater care and attention to detail. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG. 90 minutes. PRI.

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. CAR, PRI.

THE RAILWAY MAN. (Opens Friday). Hang in through the stuffy start and you'll get an emotionally powerful (though graphic) film about the horrors of (world) war (II) and its aftereffects. With Colin Firth and Jeremy Irvine. 3 stars (David Hiltbrand, The Philadelphia Inquirer). Rated R. 116 minutes. SAV.

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.

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). (Starts Tuesday). Stanley Kubrick's groundbreaking science fiction classic remains an influential force some 45 years after its release. The film charts the evolution of mankind from prehistoric times to the distant future when we are capable of traveling through the cosmos. While this plot summary seems simplistic, the themes that Kubrick delves into (birth, rebirth, the nuclear arms race, man's relationship to God, etc.) make for an intellectually stimulating and challenging exercise in interpretive cinema. Visually stunning and narratively ambitious, this is one of the most influential films ever made and is a must-see on the big screen. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski) Rated G. 142 minutes. VIR.

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.

WILLOW (1988). (Starts Friday). Director Ron Howard dips his toe into the fantasy genre with mixed results. Willow (Warwick Davis), a courageous dwarf, embarks on a treacherous journey to save an orphaned baby who is destined to overthrow an evil witch. Though he has valiant allies to help him on his way, including Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), an able swordsman, their journey is rife with peril. Though the production values are good and there's an earnest tone applied to the material, the pace Howard employs is far too slow and the story much too familiar. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG. 126 minutes. ART.

WHY WE RIDE. 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.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. (Opens Friday). This fifth entry in the series finds Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) being sent back in time to alter history in order to save humans and mutants alike from a cataclysmic event. Complex in structure and containing a worthwhile message of tolerance, Bryan Singer creates one of the most visually engaging and emotionally poignant movies in the series. Though a bit too long, there's no denying the film's lofty ambition or grand execution. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. AMC, CAR, HAR, SAV.

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