Film capsules, May 29, 2014

Film capsules, May 29, 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. CAR, SAV.

BELLE. 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. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore star as fellow single parents who find themselves drawn to one another despite an awful first date. That their children seem to be benefiting from their burgeoning relationship only increases their attraction. There's nothing new in this predictable story and while the two stars have a nice chemistry between them, this is a lazy exercise for all involved. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski) Rated PG-13. 117 minutes. AMC, CAR, HAR, SAV.

CHEF. Jon Favreau stars, writes and directs this obviously personal story about a chef who compromises himself in order to make it in the cutthroat world of Los Angeles cuisine. After having a professional meltdown, he hits the road in a food truck with his estranged son (Emjay Anthony) to get back in touch with his creative self. There's a nice story at the heart of this film, but Favreau belabors his points and is unable to expand upon this rather thin story with anything inventive. 11/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated R. 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, SAV.

JODOROWSKY'S DUNE. (Opens Friday). This fascinating documentary looks at a magnificent film that never was as it examines the efforts of visionary director Alejandro Jodorowsky to bring his adaptation of Frank Herbert's cult sci-fi novel "Dune" to the big screen. Featuring archival footage, interviews with Jodorowsky and his admirers as well as glimpses of storyboards, costume ideas and set designs, this is a compelling look at a dream deferred and the pitfalls involved in making a big-budget movie. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 90 minutes.

LE WEEK-END. 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.

THE LUNCHBOX. (Starts Thursday, June 5). In Mumbai, a burned-out office worker (Irrfan Kahn) begins a unique relationship with a woman (Nimrat Kaur) after a series of mistaken deliveries results 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. NOR.

MALEFICENT. (Opens Friday). A new take on the "Sleeping Beauty" tale finds an innocent young woman named Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) who's forced to compromise herself in order to protect her homeland from an invading army. When she's betrayed and casts a curse on the invading king's daughter, she finds herself changing in ways she never imagined. Rated PG. 97 minutes. AMC, CAR, HAR, ONA, SAV.

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. CAR, SAV.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST. (Opens Friday). Albert (Seth MacFarlane), a tenderfoot in the violent world of the Old West, finds his love for a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) threatened when her gun-slinging husband (Liam Neeson) comes to town. Simplistic, unimaginative and borderline offensive, this is a comedy aimed squarely at adolescents who glory in scatological humor, of which the film has plenty. There's a mean-spirited tone to the entire affair that reeks of desperation. Only Neil Patrick Harris is able to generate any sort of humor in this morass of misguided gags. 1 star (Chuck Koplinski). Rated R. 116 minutes. AMC, 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.

PARTICLE FEVER. (Starts Saturday). In the words of 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. ART.

PUZZLES: WHEN HATE COMES TO TOWN. (Tuesday). "Puzzles" tells the story of a hate crime in a gay bar called Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford, Mass., when a teenager entered and brutally attacked its patrons. As a result, two different worlds collide, a homophobic hate crime offender and his victims. "Puzzles" explores the correlation between American economic desperation and homophobia, intolerance and, ultimately, violence. Part of UP Center's fifth annual Reel It UP Film Festival. ART.

THE RAILWAY MAN. 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. PRI.

VALENTINE ROAD. (Tuesday). Directed by first-time feature documentarian Marta Cunningham, "Valentine Road" is an unforgettable expose of society's pervasive and deadly intolerance of young people who don't conform to its gender "norms." World premiered at Sundance 2013. Part of UP Center's fifth annual Reel It UP Film Festival. ART.

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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