Film capsules, June 5, 2014

Film capsules, June 5, 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. SAV.

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. CAR, SAV.

THE DOUBLE. (Opens Friday). Haunting and thrillingly ambitious, "The Double" offers Jesse Eisenberg a pair of compelling roles while reaffirming writer-director Richard Ayoade's remarkable talent. Based on Dostoyevsky's novella, the film stars Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network") as Simon, a timid, isolated man who's overlooked at work, scorned by his mother and ignored by the woman of his dreams (Mia Wasikowska, "Stoker"). The arrival of a new co-worker, James (also played by Eisenberg), serves to upset the balance. James is both Simon's exact physical double and his opposite — confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simon's horror, James slowly starts taking over his life. ( Rated R. 93 minutes. ART.

EDGE OF TOMORROW. (Opens Friday). Tom Cruise stars as a cowardly military officer who's forced into combat against a deadly alien race. He's killed almost immediately but finds himself caught in a time loop in which he's forced to relive the same day again and again until he attains the skills necessary to defeat the enemy. This "Groundhog Day" premise is done with wit and intelligence as the movie weaves a complex narrative revolving around the themes of fate and destiny. This is top-notch filmmaking that's undercut by a ludicrous ending that makes no sense, trumping the movie's internal logic. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated PG-13. 113 minutes. AMC, CAR, HAR, SAV.

FARGO (1996). (Starts Thursday, June 12). One of the Coen Brothers' best, this darkly comic tale follows the misadventures of Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), who hires a pair of criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife and then collect the ransom that would be paid by his father-in-law (Harve Presnell). It all goes horribly wrong and soon pregnant, tenacious detective Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is on the case. The film's noir conventions are given a fresh spin in the story's frozen, far Northern environment while everyone in the cast creates characters that make a distinct impression. An American classic. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). Rated R. 98 minutes. NOR.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. (Opens Friday). Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort star as Hazel and Gus, two teens who meet in a cancer support group, fall in love and are eventually forced to face their own mortality. 125 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, CAR, 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, SAV.

KUMU HINA. (Tuesday). Imagine a world where a little boy can grow up to be the woman of his dreams, and a young girl can rise to become a leader of men. Welcome to Kumu Hina's Hawaii. During a momentous year in her life in modern Honolulu, Hina Wong-Kalu, a Native Hawaiian mahu, or transgender, teacher uses traditional culture to inspire a student to claim her place as leader of the school's all-male hula troupe. But despite her success as a teacher, Hina longs for love and a committed relationship. Will her marriage to a headstrong Tongan man fulfill her dreams? More like a fiction film than a traditional documentary, "Kumu Hina" reveals a side of Hawaii rarely seen on film. Not rated. Part of UP Center's fifth annual Reel It UP Film Festival. ( ART.

LOCKE. (Opens Friday). Tom Hardy stars in this unique drama that takes place almost entirely in a car as the title character is driving toward an unknown destination to deal with both personal and professional problems. The numerous phone calls he takes along the way only add to his woes. 85 minutes. Rated R. ART.

THE LUNCHBOX. 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. 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. This is one of the most visually stunning films of the year as the creatures it contains and the sets it utilizes are innovative and fresh. However, the thin story is stretched past its breaking point and while Jolie is great fun to watch, in the end the movie ends up overstaying its welcome. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 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. SAV.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST. 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, 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 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. PRI.

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. CAR, SAV.

PARTICLE FEVER. 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.

TEAM HOT WHEELS: THE ORIGIN OF AWESOME. (Starts Saturday). Making its big screen debut, this feature-length event will introduce audiences to four kids — Gage, Rhett, Wyatt and Brandon — who are tasked with stopping a mysterious black car that is transforming their sleepy town of Hilly Woodlands into a chaotic mess. With the help of Larry, an eccentric gearhead scientist, these lifelong racing fanatics get the keys to the fastest, coolest cars of all time, as they learn to work together to outrace the mystery car and ultimately become Team Hot Wheels! 80 minutes. SAV.

TRANS. (Tuesday). "Trans" is an extraordinary documentary feature about men and women, and all the variations in between. It is about the transgender community, perhaps the most misunderstood and mistreated minority in America and around the world. Inspired by the incredible story of Dr. Christine McGinn and her work as a transgender surgeon, "Trans" provides an up-close and very personal vision into the lives, loves and challenges of a remarkable cast of characters of all ages and from all walks of life. ( Not rated. Part of UP Center's fifth annual Reel It UP Film Festival. ART.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. 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, SAV.

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