Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Out of the Furnace
Director: Scott Cooper
R; 106 mins.
From Scott Cooper, the critically-acclaimed writer and director of Crazy Heart, comes a gripping and gritty drama about family, fate, circumstance, and justice. Russell Baze (Christian Bale) has a rough life: he works a dead-end blue collar job at the local steel mill by day, and cares for his terminally ill father by night. When Russell’s brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) returns home from serving time in Iraq, he gets lured into one of the most ruthless crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. The police fail to crack the case, so – with nothing left to lose – Russell takes matters into his own hands, putting his life on the line to seek justice for his brother. The impressive cast of Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson are rounded out by Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana and Sam Shepard. (Synopsis by Relativity)
There’s a lot of talent involved who make a series of good scenes that don’t quite add up to a good movie. This bleak tale spends too much time trying to figure out what it is saying. Better direction was desperately needed. Rent it.
The Armstrong Lie
Director: Alex Gibney
R; 123 mins.
In 2009 Alex Gibney was hired to make a film about Lance Armstrong’s comeback to cycling. The project was shelved when the doping scandal erupted, and re-opened after Armstrong’s confession. (Synopsis by Sony Classics)
This pulls the curtain back on a scandal that is widely known, making it not so much informative as indicting of the titular man and professional sports. Comprehensive, complex, and interesting to watch. See it.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Director: James Mangold
PG-13; 2 mins.
In modern day Japan, Wolverine is out of his depth in an unknown world as he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before. (Synopsis by 20th Century Fox)
A stronger return to form for the fan-favorite character than the last lackluster outing, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” It’s visually stunning, packed with action, and add some feeling to the character. Fans of Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Wolverine work will be satisfied. See it.
The Smurfs 2
Director: Raja Gosnell
PG; 105 mins.
The evil wizard Gargamel creates a couple of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties that he hopes will let him harness the all-powerful, magical Smurf-essence. But when he discovers that only a real Smurf can give him what he wants, and only a secret spell that Smurfette knows can turn the Naughties into real Smurfs, Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette and brings her to Paris, where he has been winning the adoration of millions as the world¹s greatest sorcerer. It’s up to Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity to return to our world, reunite with their human friends Patrick and Grace Winslow, and rescue her! Will Smurfette, who has always felt different from the other Smurfs, find a new connection with the Naughties Vexy and Hackus or will the Smurfs convince her that their love for her is True Blue? (Synopsis by Columbia Pictures)
Well, it isn’t any worse than you would expect. The near-constant whirlwind of sound and color amounts to little more than slapstick humor, and will do little to subdue any but the youngest of viewers. Skip it.
Mortal Instruments: City of Bone
Director: Harald Zwart
PG-13; 130 mins.
Set in contemporary New York City, a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother (Lena Headey), Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters, who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld, filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures. Based on the worldwide best-selling book series. (Synopsis by Sony Pictures)
This makes “The Smurfs 2” look like Shakespeare. Everyone involved in this should be embarrassed. Too long, too cliché, and liberally borrowed from better source material. Skip it.