Film capsules, April 18

From e3 magazine

  • AMC = AMC Village Mall, Danville.
  • ART = The Art Theater, Champaign
  • NOR = The Normal Theater, Normal
  • ONA = The Onarga Theater, Onarga
  • PRI = Princess Theatre, LeRoy
  • SAV = Savoy 16, Savoy

BROOKLYN CASTLE (2012). (Sunday). Amid financial crises and unprecedented public school budget cuts, "Brooklyn Castle" takes an intimate look at the challenges and triumphs facing members of a junior high school's champion chess team. (Internet Movie Database). 101 minutes. Rated PG. NOR.

THE CROODS. This surprising animated feature follows the trials of Eep (voice by Emma Stone), a teenage cave girl who's trying to free herself from her overprotective father (Nicolas Cage). She gets the chance when their home is destroyed in an earthquake and the family is forced to trust a newcomer (Ryan Reynolds) who can lead them to safety. Though the film could use some trimming, its 3-D visuals are among some of the best yet done and its focus on the importance of being able to adapt in order to survive is well-told and poignant. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 98 minutes. Rated PG. AMC, SAV.

EVIL DEAD. Director Fede Alvarez's remake of the Sam Raimi cult classic is an unrelenting exercise in gore as he pushes this tale of five people terrorized by evil spirits in a remote cabin in the woods to the extreme. Thankfully, the filmmaker knows what he's doing as he expertly builds the tension throughout and is able to bring a fresh new take on Raimi's film. Special mention must be made of Jane Levy's performance as the actress succeeds in delivering a great performance despite the punishment she's put through. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski) 91 minutes. Rated R. AMC, HAR, SAV.

42. Writer-director Brian Helgeland's noble biography of baseball great Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) is a bit uneven structurally, but there's no denying that this is a moving and heartfelt tribute to the man who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Though the film does contain its share of corny moments, Helgeland doesn't let them eclipse the movie's theme. Boseman is quite good as is Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 120 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION. The elite military group of the title is set up and presumably killed by the nefarious terrorist group Cobra bent on taking over the world. Nonsensical, unoriginal and edited to cause seizures instead of thrills, this is a film for teens who love to play with guns and no one else. 1 star (Chuck Koplinski). 110 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

GOJIRA (GODZILLA, 1954). Ishrio Honda's original giant lizard epic is a watershed film in the monster movie genre. Nuclear weapons testing in the Sea of Japan awakens the title creature, a rampaging radioactive dinosaur, which lays waste to Tokyo. Seen as a parable for the destruction wrought at Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as a warning about the ever-increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons, this prescient sci-fi classic is a sobering indictment of man's arrogance where science is concerned. 4 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 96 minutes. Not rated. ART.

HARVEST OF EMPIRE (2012). (Monday). Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist Juan Gonzalez, "Harvest of Empire" takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation's cultural and economic landscape. SAV.

HIDDEN RAGE (2010). (Sunday) Joshua, a freshman, goes to school every day, because he has to. Every day he gets picked on, beat up and bullied. His teachers aren't aware, security can only react to what they see, and his only friend, Stephen, is too afraid to step to his defense. Rage has a way of hiding itself until it's too late, and in Joshua rage is buried deep. There are signs that his rage is trying to escape, but no one sees them. He indulges his anger in the games that he plays, the lists that he keeps, and the movies that he watches. Until one day he gets pushed too far. (Norton Rodriguez, Internet Movie Database). 90 minutes. PRI.

HOME RUN. (Opens Friday) After a DUI arrest and a team suspension, a pro baseball player is sent to his hometown in the sticks, where he is forced to coach a local youth team and enter a recovery program. With Scott Elrod, Vivica A. Fox and Dorian Brown. (Los Angeles Times). 113 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

JURASSIC PARK 3D. Though this re-release is hardly a convincing argument for converting old films into the new 3-D format, there's no question that Steven Spielberg's dinosaur epic still delivers and that it's one of those movies that demands to be seen on a big screen for maximum effect. The performances by Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum still hold up as do the dinosaurs, despite the fact that the film's computer-generated effects are now 20 years old. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 127 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING (2012). (Opens Monday). From the Best of Key West Film Festival. "Not Waving But Drowning" is a chronological look at growing up, formed from two different stories. The two sets of friends represent the American dilemma between what you have known and what you hope to know; the tear between longing for the past and the desire to explore. (N. Emanuele, Internet Movie Database). 100 minutes. SAV.

OBLIVION. (Opens Friday) Though director Joseph Kosinski has fashioned a visually dynamic film, the story at the center of this dystopian epic is nothing more than an amalgam of plot points borrowed from other movies. Tom Cruise plays a futuristic repairman whose job it is to keep an army of drones repaired on Earth, which has been left ravaged by a group of aliens that has been repelled. Nothing is quite as it seems, and as the truth about the aliens is slowly revealed, the film feels less and less dynamic. Cruise and Morgan Freeman as a fellow survivor of the invasion deliver the sort of solid work we've come to expect from them. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 126 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, HAR, ONA, SAV.

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. This glorified B-movie is nothing more than "Die Hard at the White House," but for the most part, it works. This is primarily due to Gerard Butler's turn as a Secret Service agent who tries to save the president (Aaron Eckhart) after the White House has been taken by a group of North Korean fanatics. Though the film runs a bit long, it's a competent flag-waving crowd-pleaser. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 120 minutes. Rated R. PRI, SAV.

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. Sam Raimi's prequel to the 1939 classic suffers from some questionable casting choices but survives to tell the tale of Oscar Diggs (a very good James Franco), a con man who is swept away to the land of Oz, where he's told he has been fated to save its citizens from a wicked witch. At times visually stunning, the film's strong suit lies in its humor and conviction of all involved to make a film worthy to stand alongside the Judy Garland vehicle. For the most part, they succeed as Franco carries the film with his charm while its theme is one worth repeating. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 130 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

PARANORMAN. (Saturday, Sunday) This animated feature takes the premise of "The Sixth Sense," as its main character can see dead people and is charged with stopping a witch's curse that will cause the dead to rise and take over the Earth. To be sure, the film looks fabulous as the attention to detail is remarkable, and the 3-D effects contribute to the eerie tone. But the story takes far too long to pick up steam and ends up meandering once it does. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 93 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

A PLACE AT THE TABLE. (Saturday) A powerful and alarming documentary about hunger in America. Advocacy journalism at its best, lining up its facts, illustrating the widespread problem with a few trenchant, compelling cases, and offering solutions, too. 3 stars. (Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer). 84 minutes. Rated PG. NOR.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES. (Opens Friday) Director Derek Cianfrance has grand ambitions where this film of fathers and sons and the ripple effect that one generation's actions have on the next is concerned, and he nearly succeeds in delivering a masterpiece. Ryan Gosling stars as a desperate man who resorts to robbing banks to support his son and her mother (Eva Mendes) while Bradley Cooper is the cop who ultimately brings him down. Add to the mix their sons who meet up 15 years later, and you have all the makings of a modern Greek tragedy. The film is divided into three acts, and the first two are compelling, yet the third stumbles a bit and fails to deliver on the promise of earlier scenes. Still, a solid drama with strong performances by all that deserves to be seen. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 140 minutes. Rated R. ART.

QUARTET. (Starts Thursday, April 25). Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut centers on a home for retired English music artists where old rivalries blossom once more amid the production of a revue. As the film's title singing ensemble, screen veterans Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Tom Courtenay strike the proper tone in taking a low-key approach to what could easily have become a maudlin exercise. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 98 minutes. Rated PG-13. NOR.

SCARY MOVIE 5. Happily married young parents (a ballet dancer and an ape researcher) have to grapple with a malevolent supernatural presence in this fifth installment of the horror parody series. With Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex and Erica Ash. (Los Angeles Times). 85 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION — THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS. (Thursday, April 25) The two-part storyline comprising the third-season finale and the fourth-season premiere of the beloved series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" will, for the first time ever, be seamlessly tied together as one continuous and uninterrupted story digitally restored with new CGI effects ... on the big screen! Audiences will also see special clips from "Regeneration: Engaging the Borg," a behind-the-scenes look at the making of "The Best of Both Worlds." 120 minutes. SAV.

TRANCE. Director Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") helms this mind-bending thriller that finds a thief (James McAvoy) between a rock and a hard place as, after receiving a nasty knock to the head, he forgets where he hid the valuable painting he and his gang stole. He's taken to a therapist (Rosario Dawson) who specializes in hypnosis and soon begins to manipulate him to her own ends. Patience is required as this manipulative thriller contains more than its share of twists and turns that in the end pay off in a memorable climax. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 101 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

TYLER PERRY'S TEMPTATION. A marriage counselor throws her own marriage and career into chaos when she falls for her newest client, a handsome young billionaire. With Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and Robbie Jones. Written and directed by Perry. (Los Angeles Times). 111 minutes. Rated PG-13. SAV.

WINNEBAGO MAN (2009). (Friday) This hilarious and ultimately poignant documentary focuses on Jack Rebney, a Winnebago salesman who gains fame via the Internet once ribald outtakes from a sales video he makes goes viral. Having since retired, filmmaker Ben Steinbauer tracks him down, finding a man that's far different from the public persona that generated his unwanted brush with fame. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 85 minutes. Rated R. NOR.

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