At the movies: Dec. 7, 2012

Posted Online: Dec. 06, 2012, 11:42 am
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New in theaters

Great Escape 14 Stadium Cinemas, Moline:

"Playing for Keeps" (PG-13)

Rave Motion Pictures 53, Davenport:

"Playing for Keeps" (PG-13)
Nova 6 Cinemas, Moline:
"Pitch Perfect"(PG-13)
"Prancer" (G)
Putnam Museum's National Geographic Giant Screen Theater, Davenport:
"Lord of the Rings" trilogy marathon (PG-13) -- 10 a.m. Saturday only

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

"Playing for Keeps" (PG-13, 105 minutes). Tells the story of George (Gerard Butler), a has-been soccer star whose career is foundering but who is a completely nice man with none of the character flaws that soccer stars have been known to possess. Moving to Virginia to be near his ex-wife (wonderful Jessica Biel) and young son (Noah Lomax, a natural), he finds himself a seduction target for all the trophy wives and divorced moms in the grandstands. Unreels pretty predictably. Rating: 2 stars

Last week: "The Collection" (R, 82 minutes). The only man ever to survive the wrath of a deranged killer who imprisons his victims in a booby-trapped abandoned hotel is forced to lead a group of mercenaries to rescue the killer's latest target. With Emma Fitzpatrick, Christopher McDonald and Josh Stewart. Written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, directed by Dunstan. -- Los Angeles Times

"Killing Them Softly" (R, 97 minutes). Set in a dreary and barren post-Katrina New Orleans, a cruel drama about organized crime with a cast much better than it deserves. After an ill-advised stickup of a high-stakes mob-organized poker game, a series of mob executions threatens to pretty much wipe out the local syndicate. OK. But no suspense, romance or humor? Only dry, weary dialogue, suffering and blood? Afraid so. Starring Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins. Rating: 2 stars

Coming to video Tuesday, Dec. 11

These are Roger Ebert's mini-reviews (unless otherwise noted) of some new video releases.

"Ice Age: Continental Drift" (PG, 87 minutes, 2012). Will perhaps be a delight for little kids, judging by their friendly reaction at a Saturday morning sneak preview I attended. Real little kids. I doubt their parents will enjoy it much, especially after shelling out the extra charge for the 3-D tickets. In this fourth outing for the franchise, familiar characters are joined by a few new ones as continental drift breaks up families and the 3-D threatens to give them whiplash as they zoom back and forth and up and down. Not recommended for unaccompanied adults. Rating: 2 stars

"Ted" (R, 106 minutes, 2012). The funniest movie character so far this year is a stuffed teddy bear. And the best comedy screenplay so far is "Ted," the saga of the bear's friendship with a 35-year-old man-child. Mark Wahlberg stars as the teddy's best friend, Mila Kunis is his long-suffering girlfriend, and director Seth McFarlane ("The Family Guy") does Ted's potty-mouthed Beantown accent. The movie doesn't run out of steam. McFarlane seems unwilling to stop after the first payoff of a scene and keeps embellishing. (Definitely not for kids. Trust me on this.) Rating: 3 1/2 stars

"The Bourne Legacy" (PG-13, 135 minutes, 2012). Jeremy Renner plays another secret super agent like Jason Bourne, who realizes he's been targeted for elimination. To save himself and the experimental medication that gives him great physical and mental power, he travels from Alaska to Manila, fighting off wolves, drone missiles and assassination, while hooking up with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a biochemist who knows all about the medication. The action scenes are gripping in the moment, but go on too long and don't add up; the dialogue scenes (with Edward Norton, Stacy Keach and Scott Glenn), are well-acted; the plot is a murky muddle. Rating: 2 1/2 stars
New on video this week:
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (PG-13, 93 minutes). Cut off from the Louisiana mainland, surrounded by rising waters, the Bathtub is a desolate wilderness of poverty where a small community struggles to survive. A small girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) fiercely asserts herself in this wasteland, in a film of great imagination and beauty. One of the year's best films. Directed by Benh Zeitlin. Rating: 4 stars
"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" (PG, 104 minutes). A warm and lovely fantasy, the kind of full-bodied family film that's being pushed aside in favor of franchises and slam-bang confusion. On a picture-postcard farm in the middle of endlessly rolling hills where it always is Indian summer, a lovable boy comes into the life of a childless couple and brings along great joy and wisdom. Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, young CJ Adams and a rich supporting cast. Written and directed by Peter Hedges ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape"). Accessible for all but the youngest children, and I suspect their parents will enjoy it, too. Rating: 3 1/2 stars

"Hope Springs" (PG-13, 100 minutes). Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep play a couple whose marriage has frozen into a routine. Every day starts with his nose buried in the newspaper and ends with him asleep in front of the Golf Channel. They haven't slept in the same room for years. She convinces him over his own dead body to attend a couples therapy session at a Maine clinic run by Steve Carell. The movie contains few surprises, but one of them is Jones' excellent performance -- vulnerable, touchy and shy. Rating: 3 stars

"The Dark Knight Rises" (PG-13, 164 minutes). Leaves the fanciful early days of the superhero genre far behind and moves into a doom-shrouded, apocalyptic future that's close to today's headlines. As urban terrorism and class warfare envelop Gotham and its infrastructure is ripped apart, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) emerges reluctantly from years of seclusion in Wayne Manor and faces a soulless villain named Bane (Tom Hardy), as powerful as he is. The film slowly begins with a murky plot and too many new characters, but builds to a sensational climax. It lacks the near-perfection of "The Dark Knight" (2008); it needs more clarity and a better villain, but it's an honorable finale. Rating: 3 stars



Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Oct. 20, the 293rd day of 2014. There are 72 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The store of Devoe and Crampton was entered and robbed of about $500 worth of gold pens and pocket cutlery last night.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Michael Malloy was named president of the Tri-City Stone Cutters Union.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dewitte C. Poole, former Moline newspaperman serving as vice consul general for the United States government in Paris, declared in a letter to friends that the once gay Paris is a city of sadness and desolation.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans for the construction of an $80,000 wholesale bakery at 2011 4th Ave. were announced by Harry and Nick Coin, of Rock Island. It is to be known as the Banquet Bakery.
1964 -- 50 years ago: An application has been filed for a state permit to organize a savings and loan association in Moline, it was announced. The applicants are Ben Butterworth, A.B. Lundahl, C. Richard Evans, John Harris, George Crampton and William Getz, all of Moline, Charles Roberts, Rock Island, and Charles Johnson, of Hampton.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Indian summer is quickly disappearing as temperatures slide into the 40s and 50s this week. Last week, highs were in the 80s.

(More History)