Capsule Reviews of Movies
**** Excellent *** Good
** Fair * Poor
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.
Also on Screens
About Last Night The relationships of two new couples are put to the test in this romantic comedy starring Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Joy Bryant. 1 hr. 40 R (sexual content, language, brief drug use) - W.S.
American Hustle **** David O. Russell's wild, woolly take on the late-'70s FBI sting operation Abscam is also a wild, woolly love story: Christian Bale and Amy Adams as con artists recruited by the feds, and fated for each other. 2 hrs. 18 R (sex, nudity, profanity, drugs, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
August: Osage County A piled-high platter of histrionics, this heartland saga - adapted from Tracy Letts' Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play - is steeped in a grand American theater tradition: the dysfunctional family drama, full of dark secrets, darker resentments, and the darkest sense of dread. With Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts leading the parade. 2 hrs. 01 R (profanity, drugs, sex, adult themes) - S.R.
Dallas Buyers Club *** The "inspired by true events" tale of a party-hearty Texas cowboy and self-employed electrician who, in 1985, contracted the AIDS virus. Matthew McConaughey gives a literally transformative performance as this homophobic hellraiser, who won't accept the doctors' diagnosis that he has 30 days to live. 1 hr. 57 R (sex, nudity, drugs, profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Endless Love A jaw-dropping groanfest of teen romance cliches, this Valentine's Day disaster - which bears but passing resemblance to the 1979 Scott Spencer novel and 1981 film - stars the ridiculously photogenic Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer as high school seniors who fall hopelessly head over heels. Mushy montages and high melodrama ensue. 1 hr. 43 PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Forces of Nature Get a close-up look at natural disasters in this Imax documentary.
Frozen *** A plucky princess (voiced by Kristen Bell) is joined by a slapstick snowman (Josh Gad) in a delightful animated film that is part fairy tale, part farce. 1 hr. 48 PG (fright) - D.H.
Gloria Paulina García stars as a fiftysomething divorcee, looking for romance, affection, maybe even love. Keenly observed and played pitch-perfect by the actress, this Chilean film is haunting and raw. The country's official entry in the foreign-language Oscar competition, it didn't make the cut to the final five - a shame. 1 hr. 50 R (nudity, sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Her Joaquin Phoenix stars as a lonely Los Angeleno who may have found true love at last - in the disembodied voice, and consciousness, of his computer's new operating system. A near-future meditation on intimacy and isolation, connection and the disconnect of new technology. With Scarlett Johansson's voice, and Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, and Chris Pratt. 2 hrs. 06 R (sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
In Secret A kind of Frenchified Postman Always Rings Twice, with a rowboating scenario straight out of A Place in the Sun. Only, Émile Zola thought of it all first: This overwrought tale of obsessive love-turned-curdled love, of murder, money, and meddlesome acquaintances, is based on his 1867 novel Thérèse Raquin. Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton, and Jessica Lange star. 1 hr. 52 R (sex, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Inside Llewyn Davis **** Oscar Isaac is a hard-luck troubadour on the folk scene of early-'60s Greenwich Village in the Coen Brothers' sublime time-capsule odyssey to nowhere and back again. It's a story of artistic struggle, of dumb luck and bad luck, and of the crushing beauty that can be wrested from a song. 1 hr. 45 R (profanity, violence, drugs, adult themes) - S.R.
The Invisible Woman Ralph Fiennes stars as Charles Dickens, and directs, in this storm-tossed true romance, describing the decade-long love affair between the famous Victorian scribe and a young actress, Nelly Ternan. 1 hr. 51 R (sex, adult themes) - S.R.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Chris Pine stars in this increasingly flimsy re-reboot of the Tom Clancy espionage franchise. The new Jack is a financial analyst for the CIA who gets thrown into operational hot water when he heads for Moscow and meets a madman bent on bringing America to its knees. Kenneth Branagh is said nemesis, and also the film's director. Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley costar. 1 hr. 45 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Kids for Cash A no-nonsense, no-stone-unturned documentary about the scandal that rocked Luzerne County in 2009, in which a pair of judges pocketed $2.6 million after they helped facilitate the opening of a privately owned juvenile detention center. Chilling, powerful stuff. 1 hr. 42 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
The Lego Movie It took 65 years, but finally those little Danish construction toys get their own movie. If the Smurfs can do it, why not these interlocking little bits of plastic? 1 hr. 40 PG (mild action, rude humor) - W.S.
Lone Survivor Mark Wahlberg stars in this full-force combat film, based on the true story of four Navy SEALs on a botched mission in 2005 Afghanistan. 2 hrs. 01 R (extreme violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
The Monuments Men George Clooney, in epaulets and Clark Gable mustache, leads a gang of art experts, tasked with retrieving troves of artwork stolen by the Nazis in this throwback to Hollywood's war movies of yore. Alas, it's a throwback that's thrown its back out - limping along, trailed by battalions of stereotypes and ammo rounds of cliche. With Matt Damon, John Goodman, and Cate Blanchett. 1 hr. 58 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Nebraska **** Bruce Dern in a career-defining performance as an ornery coot who believes he has won a $1 million prize, and heads from Montana to Nebraska to claim it. His son (Will Forte) reluctantly tags along. It's a gem. 1 hr. 55 R (profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
The Nut Job Animated family feature about a naughty squirrel (voice of Will Arnett) who plans a major nut heist. 1 hr. 26 PG (crude humor) - W.S.
Omar From Palestine, a clenched drama about a young resistance fighter, trapped behind the mazelike barriers of the West Bank and caught up in a web of conspiracy, betrayal, paranoia, and, yes, love. Gripping, grim, and a foreign-language Oscar nominee. 1 hr. 38 No MPAA rating (violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Philomena *** A surprisingly tough and tender tale from director Stephen Frears, adapted from the true story of a seventysomething Irish woman (Judi Dench) looking to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption when she was an unwed teen. 2 hrs. 2 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Pompeii A sword-and-sandals saga set in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, with Game of Thrones' Kit Harrington, Sleeping Beauty's Emily Browning, and Kiefer Sutherland as a Roman senator. Let the lava flow! 1 hr. 45 PG-13 (vulgar language, violence, mass destruction) - W.S.
Ride Along Kevin Hart and Ice Cube star in this facile action comedy about a tough Atlanta police detective and his chippy civilian partner-for-a-day. This vehicle won't pass inspection. 1 hr. 40 PG-13 (violence, adult themes, profanity) - D.H.
Ring of Fire This Imax documentary looks at the ring of volcanos in and around the Pacific Ocean.
RoboCop A solid, gritty, B-movie reboot of the 1987 sci-fi hit, with Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) starring as the Detroit cop who is reborn as a cyborg crimefighter, raising moral issues, and raising heck, as he goes around town trying to catch the bad guys who did him wrong. 1 hr. 58 PG-13 (violence, profanity, intense action, adult themes) - S.R.
Space Junk 3D This Imax documentary looks at the vast amount of space debris orbiting Earth and the extent to which it jeopardizes space exploration. Not Previewed
That Awkward Moment Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, and Miles Teller are a trio of commitment-wary guys in this indie rom-com from first-time director Tom Gormican. 1 hr. 34 R (sexual content, profanity) - W.S.
3 Days to Kill Kevin Costner is a veteran spy guy and assassin, returning to Paris to try to reconnect with his teenage daughter and estranged wife, but compelled to do one last job by a killer blonde in stiletto heels (Amber Heard). Car chases, firefights, torture scenes - plus bike-riding lessons and a prom - ensue. 1 hr. 53 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.
12 Years a Slave **** The remarkable, essential story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South. The British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor gives body and soul in the lead. 2 hrs. 13 R (violence, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Titans of the Ice Age Travel back in time to the Ice Age, a time when massive mammals roamed the Earth, in this Imax documentary.
Vampire Academy Adapted from the first installment of Richelle Mead's six-novel young adult series, Vampire Academy is a derivative magic 'n' monsters teen rom-com that mixes the not-so-risque sexuality of Twilight with the high school histrionics of Mean Girls . 1 hr. 44 PG-13 (mild vampire violence, tepid sexuality, profanity) - T.D.
Winter's Tale A-list Hollywood screenwriter Akiva Goldsman bravely, foolishly takes his directing bow with this lush adaptation of Mark Helprin's bestseller. Cooked in a kind of supernatural schmaltz sauce, where everyone is magically entwined, it's the kind of bad movie that may still be easy to like, or even love, if you abandon all senses ye who enter here. Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay, and Jennifer Connelly star. 1 hr. 58 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.
The Wolf of Wall Street ** As thrilling a filmmaker as Martin Scorsese continues to be, and as wild a performance as Leonardo DiCaprio dishes up as its morally bankrupt antihero, this adaptation of Jordan Belfort's bestselling memoir - a story of stockbroker rapacity in the anything-goes '90s - seems almost entirely unnecessary. Cocaine and hookers? Fast cars and fancy yachts? Trophy wives and pesky feds? For three hours? Really? 3 hrs. R (sex, nudity, profanity, drugs, violence, adult themes) - S.R.