Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Director: Ivan Reitman
PG-13; 110 mins.
On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Costner) has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL. (Synopsis by Lionsgate)
If you know nothing about the NFL draft process, this film does a decent job of breaking it down in simplistic terms. Of course, it’s also an hour and a half commercial for the NFL. And it is about the Browns. At least Rex Ryan on “Hard Knocks” was buffoonish enough to tolerate. Skip it.
Director: Carlos Saldanha
G; 101 mins.
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids in RIO 2, after they’re hurtled from that magical city to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets the most fearsome adversary of all – his father-in-law. (Synopsis by Fox)
This is better than the original, even if that isn’t saying much. The same vibrant colors, big song and dances, and Eurocentric portrayal of native cultures are present. But this time, there is more depth and feeling to the story. Rent it.
Director: Mike Flanagan
R; 104 mins
Ten years ago, tragedy struck the Russell family, leaving the lives of teenage siblings Tim and Kaylie forever changed when Tim was convicted of the brutal murder of their parents. Now in his 20s, Tim is newly released from protective custody and only wants to move on with his life; but Kaylie, still haunted by that fateful night, is convinced her parents’ deaths were caused by something else altogether: a malevolent supernatural force unleashed through the Lasser Glass, an antique mirror in their childhood home. Determined to prove Tim’s innocence, Kaylie tracks down the mirror, only to learn similar deaths have befallen previous owners over the past century. With the mysterious entity now back in their hands, Tim and Kaylie soon find their hold on reality shattered by terrifying hallucinations, and realize, too late, that their childhood nightmare is beginning again. (Synopsis by Relativity)
Horror films succeed when they can balance the horror with actual human emotion. “Oculus” does a decent enough job on that front to be a surprisingly enjoyable affair. For a movie about a magic mirror, this is better than it should be. See it.
The Raid 2
Director: Gareth Evans
R; 148 mins.
He thought it was over. After fighting his way out of a building filled with gangsters and madmen – a fight that left the bodies of police and gangsters alike piled in the halls – rookie Jakarta cop Rama thought it was done and he could resume a normal life. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Formidable though they may have been, Rama’s opponents in that fateful building were nothing more than small fish swimming in a pond much larger than he ever dreamed possible. And his triumph over the small fry has attracted the attention of the predators farther up the food chain. His family at risk, Rama has only one choice to protect his infant son and wife: He must go undercover to enter the criminal underworld himself and climb through the hierarchy of competing forces until it leads him to the corrupt politicians and police pulling the strings at the top of the heap. And so Rama begins a new odyssey of violence, a journey that will force him to set aside his own life and history and take on a new identity as the violent offender “Yuda.” In prison he must gain the confidence of Uco – the son of a prominent gang kingpin – to join the gang himself, laying his own life on the line in a desperate all-or-nothing gambit to bring the whole rotten enterprise to an end. (Synopsis by Sony Classics)
More of the over-the-top martial arts genre that set “The Raid: Redemption” apart from lesser action films. The sequel is just as good, with fight upon fight for the full running time. The story is a little lacking, but this is a movie about pushing the boundaries of screen action, not story. See it.
Upcoming DVD Releases
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
PG-13; 161 mins.
The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. (Synopsis by Warner Bros.)
The plot is stretched as thin as you can get—only five chapters of the book are included. There is continuous action, but it does little to cover up the monotony of the running time. Rent it.