Theatrical Releases This Week
Director: Ridley Scott
R; 119 min
Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner, returns to the genre he helped define. With Prometheus, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
Visually spectacular, even if the hype of being an “Aliens” prequel is slightly misplaced. It starts strong, but doesn’t finish with the same gusto. While it earns top marks for use of 3D and Scott’s skill at sci-fi horror, the film ultimately succumbs to the usual clichéd story lines.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Director: Eric Darnell
PG; 93 min
Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple and of course, King Julien, Maurice and the Penguins are all along for the comedic adventure. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent – Madagascar style. (Synopsis by Dreamworks)
This might be the best film in the series. Though, that’s not saying much when you consider the first two films. Making it enjoyable enough for the little ones and incorporating some sophistication for the adults is a cash cow for animation studios. Start printing money.
Director: Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache
R; 113 min
An irreverent, uplifting comedy about friendship, trust and human possibility, The Intouchables has broken box office records in its native France and across Europe. Based on a true story of friendship between a handicap millionaire (Francois Cluzet) and his street smart ex-con caretaker (Omar Sy), The Intouchables depicts an unlikely camaraderie rooted in honesty and humor between two individuals who, on the surface, would seem to have nothing in common. (Synopsis by Weinstein)
It is hard to gauge how this will play stateside, but it should fare better than most European films. For starters, it is closer to a buddy flick than a cleverly written, dialog-based comedy. At worst it is a well-acted, feel-good story about friendship. Carried mostly on the strength of the two leads, you could do worse if you’ve never seen a foreign film.
DVD Releases This Week
Director: Daniel Espinosa
R; 114 min
Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star in the action-thriller Safe House. Washington plays the most dangerous renegade from the CIA, who comes back onto the grid after a decade on the run. When the South African safe house he’s remanded to is attacked by mercenaries, a rookie operative (Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
Running off pure energy with a stellar cast almost makes up for the “seen it all before” plot and sub-par direction. Fans of the “Bourne” series will enjoy the intensity of the action sequences, even if it amounts to a B-grade version of that franchise.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Director: Brad Peyton
PG; 94 min
In this follow-up to the 2008 worldwide hit Journey to the Center of the Earth, the new 3D family adventure Journey 2: The Mysterious Island begins when young Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, reprising his role from the first film) receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist. It’s a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes, and more than one astonishing secret. Unable to stop him from going, Sean’s new stepfather, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his beautiful, strong-willed daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), they set out to find the island, rescue its lone inhabitant and escape before seismic shockwaves force the island under the sea and bury its treasures forever. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
As cheesy and terrible as the original “Land of the Lost” TV series, with the added detriment of The Rock bouncing berries off his chest. Squarely targeting the 7- to 10-year-old boy audience with constant adventure it largely bypasses the discerning tastes of everyone else. Like all junk food it should be avoided.
Director: Andrew Stanton
PG-13; 118 min
From filmmaker Andrew Stanton comes John Carter, a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). John Carter is based on a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose highly imaginative adventures served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands. (Synopsis by Walt Disney)
Apparently Disney decided to make the sequel to the “Phantom Menace.” Just like that movie, this is a disaster. What might pass as watchable during the action sequences completely falls apart every time a character has to speak. Hopefully, Pixar’s brain trust can get their act together before they release another live-action film—or just stick with the animation.
Act Of Valor
Director: Mike McCoy and, Scott Waugh
R; 101 min
An unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs in a film like no other in Hollywood’s history. A fictionalized account of real life Navy SEAL operations, Act of Valor features a gripping story that takes audiences on an adrenaline-fueled, edge-of-their-seat journey. When a mission to recover a kidnapped CIA operative unexpectedly results in the discovery of an imminent, terrifying global threat, an elite team of highly trained Navy SEALs must immediately embark on a heart-stopping secret operation, the outcome of which will determine the fate of us all. Act of Valor combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the-minute battlefield technology, and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure film-showcasing the skills, training and tenacity of the greatest action heroes of them all: real Navy SEALs. (Synopsis by Relativity)
If you are going to make a terrible movie, make it like this. We know the real-life SEALs can’t act. We don’t care. Let’s see them do ridiculously cool stuff. Sure, it’s an hour-and-a-half recruitment tool, but you know what? I don’t really care. My inner 12-year-old is overriding my brain on this.
Director: Céline Sciamma
Unrated, 82 mins
A French family with two daughters, 10-year-old Laure and 6-year-old Jeanne, moves to a new neighborhood during the summer holidays. With her Jean Seberg haircut and tomboy ways, Laure is immediately mistaken for a boy by the local kids and passes herself off as Michael. Filmmaker Céline Sciamma brings a light and charming touch to this drama of childhood gender confusion. Zoe Heran as Laure/Michael and Malonn Levanna as Jeanne are nothing less than brilliant. This is a relationship movie: relationships between children, and the even more complicated one between one’s heart and body. (Synopsis by Rocket Releasing)
Making a statement doesn’t always have to be an over-the-top act. A minimalist approach is often just as powerful – proven exquisitely by this film. A believable portrait of childhood with refreshingly natural performances cultivated by Sciamma. Left open-ended, it is a film whose goal is to garner the discussion, not give you the answer.