Theatrical Releases This Week
Director: Rich Moore
PG; 93 mins
Ralph (John C. Reilly) is tired of being overshadowed by Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer), the “good guy” star of their game who always gets to save the day. But after decades doing the same thing and seeing all the glory go to Felix, Ralph decides he’s tired of playing the role of a bad guy. He takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a game-hopping journey across the arcade through every generation of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero. On his quest, he meets the tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) from the first-person action game Hero’s Duty. But it’s the feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) from the candy-coated cart racing game, Sugar Rush, whose world is threatened when Ralph accidentally unleashes a deadly enemy that threatens the entire arcade. Will Ralph realize his dream and save the day before it’s too late? (Synopsis by Disney)
This film is a largely successful mix of retro-gaming flashbacks for the adults, with the typical Disney flair for storytelling. While it drags toward the end, there is certainly enough to like.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
R; 138 mins
In this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane? (Synopsis by the Official Site)
Zemeckis makes a solid return to live-action movies with a vehicle that showcases Washington at his finest. Add in spectacular effects—the plane crash is superb—and you have an all-around winner. If there is a complaint to be found, it is that the length of the film that is barely bolstered by the action sequences.
The Man with the Iron Fists
R; 96 mins
Making his debut as a big-screen director and leading man, RZA-alongside a stellar international cast led by Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu-tells the epic story of warriors, assassins and a lone outsider hero in nineteenth-century China who must unite to destroy the clan traitor who would destroy them all. Since his arrival in China’s Jungle Village, the town’s blacksmith (RZA) has been forced by radical tribal factions to create elaborate tools of destruction. When the clans’ brewing war boils over, the stranger channels an ancient energy to transform himself into a human weapon. As he fights alongside iconic heroes and against soulless villains, one man must harness this power to become savior of his adopted people. (Synopsis by Universal)
With enough talent in front of and behind the camera to make this at least a palatable kung fu movie, it is surprising that it is not being shown early to critics. While this usually is a foreboding sign, there appears to be enough here for fans of the genre and the casual observer to at least feel like their money was well spent.
DVD Releases This Week
Director: Jay Roach
R; 85 mins
When long-term congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) commits a major public gaffe before an upcoming election, a pair of ultra-wealthy CEOs plot to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their North Carolina district. Their man: naïve Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), director of the local Tourism Center. At first, Marty appears to be the unlikeliest possible choice but, with the help of his new benefactors’ support, a cutthroat campaign manager and his family’s political connections, he soon becomes a contender who gives the charismatic Cam plenty to worry about. As Election Day closes in, the two are locked in a dead heat, with insults quickly escalating to injury until all they care about is burying each other, in this mud-slinging, back-stabbing, home-wrecking comedy. (Synopsis by Warner Brothers)
If you are looking for a sharp satire on politics, this is not the film for you. As comedies go, this is yet another Will Ferrell showcase that aims low. Points for playing to both his and Galifianakis’s strengths, but this should have been a much smarter film. That said, it is still pretty funny.