Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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

The Identical See David Hiltbrand's review on Page 4.

Innocence See Tirdad Derakhshani's review on Page 5.

The Last of Robin Hood See Tirdad Derakhshani's review on Page 4.

A Letter to Momo See Tirdad Derakhshani's review on Page 5.

Starred Up See David Hiltbrand's review on Page 6.

Also on Screens

As Above/So Below 1/2 Horror and thrills in the catacombs of Paris. From the director of Quarantine and Devil. 1 hr. 33. R (bloody violence/terror, language throughout). - W.S.

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.

Calvary Brendan Gleeson stars as a good priest in a bad world - in the beautiful West country of Ireland - in John Michael McDonagh's stormy whodunit. A furious, darkly funny look at the nature of faith, and the nature of man. 1 hr. 40 R (violence, profanity, 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.

The Expendables 3 1/2 Sylvester Stallone enlists faces both old and new (but mostly old) for this raucous, redundant sequel - a mercenary film about mercenaries. With Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, and Ronda Rousey. 2 hrs. 6 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes). - D.H.

Frank 1/2 It's a road movie, a rock-and-roll movie, a meditation on creativity, the nature of identity, the fickleness of social media, and a movie about a guy who walks around wearing (and never removing) a cartoon-y papier-mâché head. It's also a delightful, oddball surprise. Michael Fassbender has the title role. 1 hr. 35 R (profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.

The Giver A seemingly utopian society, its citizens devoid of memories or feelings, gets shaken up when a young charge (Brenton Thwaites) is assigned to be the Receiver of Memories from the time before "Sameness." Jeff Bridges is the gravelly voiced old-timer who imparts a bygone civilization's flashbacks of war, and tumult, but also of happiness and beauty. And so a veritable can of worms is opened in this solid adaptation of Lois Lowry's much-read children's novel. 1 hr. 34 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt rounds up a team of outer-space misfits. Their mission: Does it matter? This breezy comic-book adaptation is the first sci-fi movie to spoof itself. 2 hrs. 2 PG-13 (violence, profanity) - D.H.

The Hundred-Foot Journey 1/2 Helen Mirren is a snooty restaurateur who doesn't like it when a family from Mumbai roll into her quaint little French town, setting up their eatery right across the rue. An impossibly overstuffed culinary culture clash rom-com, but probably impossible not to enjoy. Especially if you're a foodie. 2 hrs. 2 PG (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

If I Stay 1/2 Chloë Grace Moretz stars as a high school girl, a cello prodigy with a hot new boyfriend and a chance to go to Juilliard, when a family drive turns tragic. In a coma in a hospital bed, she flashes back on key moments in her childhood and adolescence, and considers whether to fight for her life or move on. From Gayle Forman's top-selling YA novel. 1 hr. 43 PG-13 (profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.

Into the Storm 1/2 A series of deadly tornadoes that wreak havoc in a town leads some to flee, but others to channel their inner storm-chaser. 1 hr. 29 PG-13 (sequences of intense destruction and peril, language, some sexual references) - T.D.

Let's Be Cops Two buddies who dress up as cops for a party wind up getting sucked into doing real police work in this comedy that stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. 1 hr. 44 R (sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use) Not Previewed

Life of Crime A kidnapping goes bad in this uneven adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel "The Switch," with John Hawkes, Mos Def, Tim Robbins, and a clueless Jennifer Aniston. 1 hr. 39 R (nudity, profanity, adult situations, adult themes, violence, smoking) - D.H.

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 supercharged 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.

Magic In the Moonlight For all its visual delights - Roaring Twenties roadsters, dazzling dresses, Cote d'Azur landscapes to die for - Woody Allen's 44th feature has to be one of his bigger duds. The mostly mirthless comedy, a sparkless romance, stars Colin Firth as an ace magician out to debunk a beautiful young American psychic, played by Emma Stone. 1 hr. 37 PG-13 (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.

The November Man Pierce Brosnan is a retired CIA guy, back in the game in this efficient, if not exactly inspiring, espionage thriller, full of Russian baddies, a former protégé turned nemesis, and a witness who everyone is after - and who just happens to look like a supermodel. 1 hr. 48 R (violence, sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 1/2 The sequel to comic-book artiste and auteur Frank Miller's 2005 black-and-white, digital backlot noir is full of cartoon violence, goonish misogyny, junior high hardboiled gab, and deaths by (count 'em) decapitation, crossbow, noose, throwing star, serrated knife, blade, bomb, bullets. With the CG likenesses of Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Eva Green, and Bruce Willis. 1 hr. 42 R (violence, sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

A Summer's Tale The third installment in the late Eric Rohmer's "Tales of the Four Seasons" premiered at Cannes in 1996 but is only now having its theatrical run stateside. It's about a mop-topped university grad (Melvil Poupaud) who comes to a resort town in Brittany and who can't decide which of three young women he should be with. He spends a lot of time walking and talking with one of them - the keen-eyed Amanda Langlet - and arranging plans that never pan out with the other two. Love, it's complicated. 1 hr. 53 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - S.R.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Uninspired reboot of the jokey '90s franchise, with Megan Fox as intrepid news reporter April O'Neil, friend to those adolescent, anthropomorphic reptiles schooled in the martial arts. Will Arnett and William Fichtner also show up. 1 hr. 41 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

The Trip to Italy British funny guys Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan serve up a solid sequel to their 2010 road movie hit The Trip, this time driving from the Riviera to Rome, stopping to eat fine food, sip fine wine, and one-up each other with finely tuned impersonations of Caine, Connery, Pacino, and more. A voyeuristic vacation treat. 1 hr. 48 No MPAA rating (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

What If Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan are great together as platonic best friends who find themselves wondering - increasingly, but hardly ever at the same time - whether the platonic part is such a good idea. Smart, snappy, sweet. 1 hr. 42 PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

When the Game Stands Tall 1/2 Jim Caviezel stars as a high school football coach coming off a record winning streak whose faith allows him to face adversity with equanimity. A solemn, saintly take on a true story. 1 hr. 55 PG (violence, smoking) - D.H.

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