At the movies: Oct. 5, 2012

Posted Online: Oct. 04, 2012, 7:50 am
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New in theaters

Great Escape 14 Stadium Cinemas, Moline:

"Frankenweenie" (PG)

"Taken 2" (PG-13)

Rave Motion Pictures 53, Davenport:

"Frankenweenie" (PG)

"Taken 2" (PG-13)

Nova 6 Cinemas, Moline:

"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" (PG-13)

"Paranorman" (PG)

"The Words" (PG-13)

Central Theater, Geneseo:

"Paranorman" (PG)

U.S. 61 Drive-in:

"Premium Rush" (PG-13) and "Looper" (R)


These are Roger Ebert's mini-reviews (unless otherwise noted) of some of the movies currently playing in the Quad-Cities area

"Frankenweenie" (Animated comedy, PG, 87 minutes). Young Victor Frankenstein loves his dog, Sparky, and when the mutt runs into traffic and is blindsided, Victor takes inspiration from a science class and re-animates his pet using lightning bolts. Tim Burton's stop-action b&w comedy takes its inspiration from "The Bride of Frankenstein" and other horror movies, and the character of Mr. Rzykruski, the science teacher, is certainly modeled on Vincent Price. With the voices of Martin Landau, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Charlie Tahan and Winona Ryder. Rating: 3 stars.

"Taken 2" (Action, PG-13, 91 minutes). They say that the family that's kidnapped together, stays together, and Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen are back in a pumped-up sequel to "Taken" (2008). This time the whole family is kidnapped by the vengeance-minded Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedgia), whose son was killed by Neeson in the earlier film (after the son attempted to turn the girl into a sex slave, to be sure). First-rate chases tear through (and up) Istanbul, and Neeson does some amazing, lifesaving mental calculations. Rating: 3 stars.

Last week:

"Looper" (R, 119 minutes). A smart and tricky sci-fi story that sidesteps the paradoxes of time travel by embracing them. The movie takes place in 2044 and 2074. Although time travel is declared illegal once it has been discovered, a crime syndicate cheats and uses it as a method for disposing of its enemies. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, the triggerman in 2044. Bruce Willis plays Old Joe, sent back from the future. Emily Blunt lives on the Kansas farm where they coincide in time. "Looper" weaves between past and present in a way that gives writer-director Rian Johnson and his actors opportunities to create a surprisingly involving narrative. Rating: 3 1/2 stars.

"Pitch Perfect" (PG-13, 112 minutes). A 20-something song-and-dance movie built around rival a cappella groups. Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, who dreams of trying her luck in LA, but makes a deal with her dad to try one year of college. She's recruited by an a cappella group also including Brittany Snow, Anna Camp and the scene-stealer Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. Lots of music, a little routine young romance and, of course, the national finals at the end. Rating: 2 stars.

"Hotel Transylvania" (PG, 91 minutes). "Hotel Transylvania" is a good-looking, laugh-starved animated farce that puts Dracula (Adam Sandler) in charge of a hotel for monsters — "Human-free since 1895" — and makes him an overprotective single father with a teenage daughter (Selena Gomez). Sandler's Dracula voice isn't awful. Nor is it distinct or funny, and he is given precious little funny to say. This "Hotel" was never going to earn a 4-star rating. But maybe under different management ... Rating: 1 1/2 stars. -- Roger Moore, MCT

"Won't Back Down" (PG, 121 minutes). The failing primary school in "Won't Back Down" succeeds in teaching only 30 percent of its graduates to read, or perhaps it is 70 percent; the stats go by quickly. Either number is tragic. The movie blames this failure on teachers' unions and bureaucracy. It embraces a slowly growing movement in which parents vote to take control of their children's schools, reward gifted teachers and throw out overpaid, lazy and administrators held in place by seniority. It all sounds so simple — and it is, because the movie makes it seem simplistic. Rating: 2 stars.

Coming to video Tuesday, Oct. 9

"The Raven" (Thriller, R, 111 minutes, 2012). John Cusack stars as Edgar Allan Poe, in an overwrought serial killer melodrama having only the most tenuous connection to the great writer. Starting with one fact, that Poe was found wandering delirious in Baltimore in 1849, the movie concocts a plot that depends much more on sensational acting than on suspense or atmosphere. With Luke Evans as a detective who teams up with Poe. Rating: 2 stars.

"Rock of Ages" (Musical, PG-13, 123 minutes, 2012). A rags-to-riches rock 'n' roll musical set in a music club on Sunset Strip, and winning no prizes for originality. Zesty entertainment, energetic musical numbers and big names (Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin) proving they can sing well enough to play the Strip if they lose their day job. The leads are Diego Boneta, playing a bartender in the Strip's hottest club, and Julianne Hough, as a naive kid just off the bus from the Midwest. They're both gifted singers and join the others in doing covers of rock classics. A little top-heavy in obligatory dialogue, but fun. Adapted from the Broadway hit and featuring rock oldies from the 1980s. Rating: 3 stars.



Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2014. There are 91 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: It is rumored in the streets that the 13 negroes sent to Quincy on the Moline quota were refused. We think this must be a mistake.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Harvey McKenna, of Detroit, billiard player matched to play Wizard Schafer in New York in January for the world championship, was a professional friend and manager, Billy Catton in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Levi Cralle, former Rock Island county sheriff, had come from his farm near Mitchell, S.D. to visit friends in the city.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Work is being rushed on the new high school building in Orion to replace the one destroyed by fire last winter. Classes are being held in churches.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Rehearsals for the 84th season of the Handel Oratorio Society chorus will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the stage of Centennial Hall, Augustana College.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Rock Island City Council's plan announced this week to have the federal government vacate Valley Homes public housing and move residents to Arsenal Courts to reduce density may not be feasible.

(More History)