Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

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.

New This Week

Alive Inside See David Hiltbrand's review on Page 5.

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero See Steven Rea's review on Page 12.

Code Black See Steven Rea's review on Page 6.

Get On Up See Dan DeLuca's review on Page 4.

Guardians of the Galaxy See David Hiltbrand's review on Page 4.

Louder Than Words See Tirdad Derakhshani's review on Page 12.

Magic in the Moonlight See Steven Rea's review on Page 5.

Step Up All In The stars from the previous installments in this dance series return for a big competition in Las Vegas. Not Previewed

Also on Screens

And So It Goes 1/2 Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton team for the first time in a wincingly sappy three-quarter-life rom-com about a Scrooge-like widower and a wifty lounge-singing widow - and the unexpected appearance of a cute-as-a-button grandchild, ready-made to melt hearts. Rob Reiner directs, and shouldn't have. 1 hr. 34 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Begin Again 1/2 Keira Knightley, bringing those daunting cheekbones to bear on a mawkish music-biz screenplay, is the best thing about John (Once) Carney's New York City melodrama. Mark Ruffalo is the down-on-his-luck industry veteran who thinks he can turn the heartbroken English singer into a star. With Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, Catherine Keener, and Hailee Steinfeld. 1 hr. 44 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Boyhood Richard Linklater's unassuming masterpiece follows a Texas kid (newcomer Ellar Coltrane) from grade school to college dorm, reconvening cast and crew (including Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the parents) a few weeks every year for 12 years, and its carefully observed series of small moments take on quiet, metaphoric power. The faces and features of the actors - children and adults - change, and good stuff, bad stuff, the funny, the sad, the transformative, the banal, all happen in real time. Because, for once, in the movies, time is real. 2 hrs. 46 R (profanity, sex, 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.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 1/2 Unnecessarily slow and somber sequel to the 2011 reboot of the sci-fi franchise from another century. The apes are dominant, living a life of peace in the misty woods north of San Francisco, but then the humans come asking favors - armed with guns. With Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Andy Serkis' performance-capture turn as Caesar, leader of the highly evolved monkeys. 2 hrs. 10 PG-13 (violence, action, adult themes) - S.R.

Earth to Echo Any similarities to E.T. are strictly intentional in this thoroughly winning kiddie sci-fi caper, as boys help a stranded little alien escape first the authorities and then the atmosphere. 1 hr. 31 PG (action sequences) - D.H.

The Fault in Our Stars A sweet, bittersweet tale of cancer-stricken lovebirds - played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort - facing love, and death, head-on. An adaptation of John Green's YA megaseller, from the writing team behind The Spectacular Now (also with Woodley) and (500) Days of Summer. 2 hrs. 6 PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Hercules 1/2 Dwayne Johnson supplies the muscle in this large-scale, entertaining adventure. The plot is pedestrian but that's why Herc rides a chariot. With Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, and John Hurt. 1 hr. 38 PG-13 (violence, profanity, partial nudity) - D.H.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 1/2 One of the most delightful surprises of the year, this DreamWorks Animation sequel is an intelligent, sensitive, and beautifully realized morality play that will fascinate children and parents alike. Five years after he ended the war between dragons and Vikings, young hero Hiccup and his fellow dragon-riders face off against a dreaded enemy named Draco, who subjugates dragons, using fear and torture to make them do his bidding. 1 hr. 42 PG (adventure action and some mild rude humor) - T.D.

I Origins 1/2 A molecular biologist's study of the human eye leads to the uncovering of evidence that can have a significant impact on human society. Writer-director Mike Cahill continues to use sci-fi tropes as metaphors for larger questions, albeit less successfully than in his Sundance Film Festival-winning debut, Another Earth. 1 hr. 53 R (adult subjects, some sexuality, profanity) - T.D.

The Immigrant 1/2 Marion Cotillard is nothing less than amazing as a destitute Pole who arrives at Ellis Island, 1921, and falls in with a smooth-talking pimp (Joaquin Phoenix). James Gray (Two Lovers, The Yards) directs this half-crazy, fascinating yarn. 1 hr. 58 R (nudity, violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Jersey Boys John Lloyd Young, who starred as Frankie Valli in the original Broadway musical, cinches up his face and hits the high notes with grace in Clint Eastwood's enoyable, and surprisingly tough, music-biz biopic. Wall-to-wall Four Seasons songs, too. 2 hrs. 14 R (profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Life Itself 1/2 A touching, inspiring documentary portrait of Roger Ebert, the famously prolific thumb-slinging movie critic whose life story is the stuff of movies itself - and whose resilience in the face of an 11-year struggle with cancer is nothing short of extraordinary. 1 hr. 58 R (adult themes) - S.R.

Lucy French action director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Nikita) outdoes himself in this English-language comic-book fantasy starring Scarlett Johansson as a student whose brain becomes super-charged after a drug overdose. Clever, drenched in irony, the flick is at turns a violent, noirish mob thriller, a speculative sci-fi yarn about the mysteries of the brain, and an existential inquiry about The Meaning of Life. 1 hr. 30 R (strong bloody violence, sexuality, smoking, drug use, profanity) - T.D.

Maleficent Angelina Jolie stars as the titular villain of the Sleeping Beauty tale in this imaginative, if somewhat belabored reinvention of the classic Disney cartoon. With Elle Fanning as the cursed Aurora, and District 9's Sharlto Copley alarmingly cast as her dad, the king. Flower-powered fairyland visual effects to die for! And Jolie, horns and cheekbones high, is magnificent as the villainess fairy godmother. 1 hr. 37 PG (violence, scary images, adult themes) - S.R.

A Most Wanted Man 1/2 One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last performances is also one of his greatest - as the rumpled, chain-smoking chief of a covert antiterrorist unit in modern-day Hamburg. The actor lives and breathes the role. A taut thriller, adapted from John le Carré's 2008 novel, full of tradecraft and moments of quiet terror, with a stellar supporting cast. 2 hrs. R (profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Obvious Child 1/2 Jenny Slate stars as a Brooklyn comedian who finds herself pregnant following a messy, drink-fueled one-nighter, in this low-key indie set in a world of stand-up, breakups, and visits to Planned Parenthood. Philadelphia native Gabe Liedman costars. 1 hr. 29 R (profanity, sexual content, adult themes) - T.D.

Planes: Fire & Rescue 1/2 Dusty the converted cropdusting plane is back and this time he's battling forest fires. This animated kids' film is better than the original, but that's not saying much. 1 hr. 23 PG (peril) - D.H.

The Purge: Anarchy 1/2 In this sequel to the 2013 hit, a young couple fight for survival as the annual purge rolls around. 1 hr. 43 R (adult subjects, profanity, strong bloody violence) - W.S.

Sex Tape Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are a married couple trying to put the passion back in their lives. So, why not video themselves having sex? And then why not spend the rest of the movie desperately trying to reclaim the gifted iPads featuring their X-rated marathon? Naked butts, yes. Raunchy dialogue, yes. Laughs - not so much. 1 hr. 30 R (sex, nudity, profanity, drugs, adult themes) - S.R.

Snowpiercer 1/2 A global-warming experiment goes awry and Earth freezes, leaving survivors to circle Earth on a train driven by perpetual motion. Class war breaks out between those in back and those in front. All aboard for Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Chris Evans. 2 hrs. 6 R (violence, language, smoking, drug use) - T.D.

Tammy 1/2 Melissa McCarthy goes on a crazy low-rent road trip with her boozy grandma (Susan Sarandon) in a raucous comedy that goes off the rails in its second half. 1 hr. 36 R (profanity, adult themes) - D.H.

Think Like a Man Too 1/2 Kevin Hart oversees the couples therapy comedy, a sequel to the 2012 hit based on Steve Harvey's bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. 1 hr. 46 PG-13 (crude sexual content, partial nudity, language, and drug material) - W.S.

Transformers: Age of Extinction 3D Director Michael Bay outdoes himself in the latest pulverizing chapter of his robot franchise. It's much longer and much louder than any of the previous demolition extravaganzas. Mark Wahlberg provides the puny human element. 2 hrs. 45 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - D.H.

Violette 1/2 This impressive film brings to life the long relationship between French writers Violette Leduc and Simone de Beauvoir. 2 hrs. 12 No MPAA rating (adult subjects, profanity, sexuality, smoking) - T.D.

Wish I Was Here 1/2 Zach Braff's 10-years-later followup to his writing/directing debut Garden State finds the actor playing an actor - a middle-30s slacker whose dreams of fame and fortune, or just steady work, appear dashed on the rocks of reality: a mortgage, school tuitions for the kids, a wife who seems weary and glum. Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin co-star. 2 hrs. R (profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.

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