Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Capsule Reviews of Movies

Adam Sandler, left, and Drew Barrymore arrive at the LA Premiere of "Blended" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Adam Sandler, left, and Drew Barrymore arrive at the LA Premiere of "Blended" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)



**** Excellent *** Good

** Fair * Poor

More coverage
  • 'Monuments Men' leads week's releases
  • 'The Immigrant': Mayhem and magic in 1920s Manhattan
  • Reviewers: C.R., Carrie Rickey; S.R., Steven Rea; D.D., Dan DeLuca; T.D., Tirdad Derakhshani; D.H., David Hiltbrand; W.S., Inquirer wire services.


    New This Week

    Blended See David Hiltbrand's review on Page 5.

    The Double See Steven Rea's review on Page 5.

    The Immigrant See Steven Rea's review on Page 4.

    X-Men: Days of Future Past See Steven Rea's review on Page 4.


    Also on Screens

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2  Schematic sequel to 2012's reboot of the Marvel Comics franchise starring a kid (Andrew Garfield) who morphs into a webslinging superhero is driven by adolescent heartache and indecision, and by gigantic, effects-driven fight scenes - against super-foes including Jamie Foxx's Electro and Dane DeHaan's Green Goblin. And through it all: Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy, a lash-batting cartoon of brainy cute-osity. 2 hrs. 22 PG-13 (intense action, violence, adult themes) - S.R.

    Belle Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy officer and an African slave, raised - alongside her white cousin - in the world of 18th-century English aristocracy. Rooted in history, and also in the traditions of Jane Austen, this handsome period piece combines heady romance and pointed issues about race. With Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sam Reid. 1 hr. 45 PG (adult themes) - S.R.

    Brick Mansions Luc Besson produced this tediously felicitous remake of his thrilling 2004 action film District 13 starring the late Paul Walker as a Detroit cop who teams up with an anarchic civilian crime fighter (French parkour maestro David Belle) to take down a drug lord (RZA) who has hijacked a ticking nuclear bomb. 1 hr. 30 PG-13 (profanity, violence, drug use, drug selling, guns, sexuality) - T.D.

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier The ninth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings Steve "Cap" Rogers (Chris Evans, sporting Popeye biceps) to modern-day Washington, where the old-school "super soldier" struggles to come to terms with a preemptive, paranoid government mind-set. With Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Robert Redford in a sinister supporting role. 2 hrs. 16 PG-13 (action, violence, adult themes) - S.R.

    Chef   Jon Favreau stars in - and wrote and directs - this bouncy paean to the culinary arts, about a top cook who gets a career-killing bad review, rebounds, and bonds with his son, in a feel-good food truck ride across the States. Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson and John Leguizamo join the fun - which feels force-fed at times. 1 hr. 55 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    Divergent Dystopian teen drama with Shailene Woodley as a Katniss Everdeen type, defying the 22d-century postapocalyptic social order, and Theo James as her mysterious, muscley warrior mentor. Adapted from the Veronica Roth novel, and directed, surefootedly, by Neil Burger (Limitless, The Illusionist) 2 hrs. 19 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

    Draft Day Kevin Costner is the beleaguered general manager of the Cleveland Browns, trying to make the right decision on that fateful spring day when the NFL teams go culling through the college rosters. Ah, professional football: The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. The teleconferencing. With Jennifer Garner and Denis Leary. 1 hr. 52 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    Fading Gigolo John Turturro wrote, directed and stars in this quirky comedy as an unlikely manwhore with an even unlikelier pimp (Woody Allen). Piquantly amusing until it bogs down in the second half. 1 hr. 38 R (profanity, nudity, sexual content) - D.H.

    Fed Up A resoundingly scary and effective documentary about the nation's obesity crisis, the food industry's complicity, and what can be done about it. Narrated by Katie Couric. 1 hr. 32 PG (adult themes) - S.R.

    Finding Vivian Maier A fascinating puzzle-piece mystery - and a revelatory portrait of an eccentic figure who worked as a nanny in Chicago from the '50s through the '90s - and who dragged her charges through the city, taking pictures. The heretofore unknown street photographs are nothing less than brilliant; the documentary about this curious figure is a find in more ways than one. 1 hr. 23 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - S.R.

    Forces of Nature Get a close-up look at natural disasters in this Imax documentary.

    God's Pocket   A disappointing adaptation of Pete Dexter's Philadelphia crime novel, actor John Slattery's directorial debut stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christina Hendricks as the parents of a South Philly factory worker who was killed by a coworker but whose death was covered up as an accident. A stilted, shallow take on a solid story, the film is alternately misty-eyed about its blue-collar characters and their community, while displaying a cold condescension that's hard to stomach. 1 hr. 28 R (violence, sexuality, profanity, smoking) - T.D.

    Godzilla Giant Japanese monster reappears in this narratively muddled, effects-driven reboot. Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are among the noble thespians who tear around, screaming as if the world were collapsing around them. It is, thanks to a 350-foot-tall pile of dinosauric scales and dentition. 2 hrs. 3 PG-13 (intense action, carnage, adult themes) - S.R.

    The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson's eighth, and most teeming film, is a Between the Wars comic caper set in a fictitious central European land where Ralph Fiennes is the concierge of an elegant alpine hostelry. When a wealthy guest dies and the will is read, a mad dash for money and a prized painting ensues. With Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, F. Murray Abraham, Saoirse Ronan, and newcomer Tony Revolori. Sublime. 1 hr. 40 R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    Heaven Is for Real Small-town parents attempt to come to grips with what their young son claims to have seen during a near-death experience. 1 hr. 40 PG (thematic material including some medical situations) - W.S.

    Kenya 3D: Animal Kingdom This Imax feature takes viewers on safari to explore some of Africa's most spectacular wild life. Not Previewed

    Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return Dorothy returns to her old stomping grounds to help out her friends in this subpar animated family feature. 1 hr. 28 PG (some scary images and mild peril) - W.S.

    Locke A tour de force, and a tour down a British motorway in the dead of night, with Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, a man in a car, on his Bluetooth, trying to keep the pieces of his life from flying apart. And that is the sum of writer/director Steven Knight's extraordinary movie. 1 hr. 25 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    The Lunchbox Exquisite and exciting, exotic and inviting, this tale of a romance that begins with a misdelivered meal will put a smile on your face, a tear in your eye. Set in the teeming thrum of Mumbai, Ritesh Batran's first feature is full of whimsy and wisdom, and boasts a beautifully quiet and wholly realized performance from Slumdog Millionaire's Irrfan Khan. 1 hr. 44 PG (adult themes) - S.R.

    Million Dollar Arm Jon Hamm stars as a desperate sports agent who sets out to find baseball talent in India and ends up babysitting two young homesick villagers. Not nearly as heartwarming as it intends. With Lake Bell, Aasif Mandvi, Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal. 2 hrs. 03 PG (suggestive language and situations) - D.H.

    Neighbors In this lewd comedy, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are young parents whose lives are massively disrupted when a rowdy fraternity led by Zac Efron moves into the house next door. Smutty? Oh, yes. And often fall-on-the-floor funny. 1 hr. 37 R (profanity, nudity, sexual content, violence, alcohol and drug abuse) - D.H.

    Only Lovers Left Alive Jim Jarmusch's sly and seductive vampire movie, starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as two old (very old) lovers, is as much about the life-sustaining force of music as it is about any hankering for blood. With Anton Yelchin, Mia Wasikowska and Johnh Hurt. 2 hrs. 03 R (profanity, nudity, adult themes) - S.R.

    The Other Woman Leslie Mann - ditzy and gasping, Lucille Ball and Olive Oyl rolled into one, in panic attack mode - makes this formulaic sex farce tolerable, barely. She's the wife who discovers her husband is cheating on her with Cameron Diaz, and with Kate Upton. The trio team up, in a spirit of twisted sisterhood, to exact revenge. PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    Palo Alto Gia Coppola (Francis' granddaughter) directs this beautifully shot but kind of empty adaptation of the James Franco story collection about disaffected rich kids, toking, texting, sexing, throwing up. With Emma Roberts and Jack Kilmer, and Franco himself as the high school girls' soccer coach. 1 hr. 40 R (sex, nudity, drugs, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    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. 1 hr. 56 R (torture scenes) - D.H.

    Rio 2 Blue-feathered 3-D computer-animated Spix's macaw Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and his mate, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), return for another life-, love-, family- and environment-affirming adventure in this muddled, mediocre sequel to the $485 million-grossing hit from 2011. Joined by their motley crew of animal pals (Tracy Morgan, Jamie Foxx,, and George Lopez) they trek deep into the Amazon rain forest in search of other members of their nearly extinct species.The musical numbers are grand and pretty, but the plot is muddled and the message woefully facile. 1 hr. 41 G - T.D.

    Titans of the Ice Age 3D This Imax features looks at the creatures that dominated the Earth thousands of years before modern human civilization. Not Previewed


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