Movie mini-reviews for Feb. 22, 2013

Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2013, 10:35 am
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These are Roger Ebert's mini-reviews (unless otherwise noted) of some of the movies currently playing in the Quad-Cities area: "Identity Thief" (R, 112 minutes). The pairing of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy in a road trip comedy seems inspired. They're two unique comedic talents who always put an interesting spin on a line or a double take, whether starring in sitcoms or effortlessly swiping scenes in big-screen fare. Unfortunately, "Identity Thief" is a depressingly predictable road-trip buddy comedy that's far more interested in car chases, lame shootouts, physical shtick and cheap schmaltz than creating anything original. Rating: Two stars.-- Richard Roeper. "Warm Bodies" (PG-13, 97 minutes). Here's a bloody, fresh twist on the most popular horror genre of this century, with none-too-subtle echoes of a certain star-crossed romance that harkens back to a certain Bard who placed a certain young Romeo under a certain balcony. A well-paced, nicely directed, post-apocalyptic love story, it has a terrific sense of humor and the, um, guts to be unabashedly romantic and unapologetically optimistic. A lot of zombie movies have heart, but usually the heart ends up on someone's plate. Cheers to "Warm Bodies" for taking us in a different direction for a change. Rating: Three and a half stars -- Richard Roeper.
"Stand Up Guys" (R, 95 minutes). Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin were in the same gang, and after Pacino is released following a 28-year prison sentence, they unite for a long day and night as an implacable deadline approaches. Comedy, chase scenes, some tension and, above all, the acting of the Stand Up Guys. Rating: Three and a half stars.

"Bullet to the Head" (R, 92 minutes). Directed by the veteran Walter Hill, this ersatz buddy film is filled with cheesy stop-motion zooms, rapid-cut fight scenes with insanely loud sound effects for every bone-cracking punch, racially insensitive one-liners, window-dressing female characters and wall-to-wall carnage. It's the kind of brainless action movie Sylvester Stallone would have starred in circa 1985. That it stars a Stallone who's pushing 70 is just weird. Rating: Two stars-- Richard Roeper.

"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" (R, 88 minutes). There's nothing half as clever here as the original story's moment of witch-vanquishing triumph, or as creatively alluring as the idea of a gingerbread house, or as eerily disturbing as the Grimms' undertone of wishful matricide. Instead it's the usual humans versus special effects, anatomy-splitting rim shots and lame one-liners, which baked together make for a familiarly sour confection indeed. Rating: One star-- Los Angeles Times

"Movie 43" (R, 90 minutes). As the ads for "Movie 43" promised (threatened?), you can't unsee this thing, so please: Stay away. Even if you might think that sitting through "Movie 43" would be an adventure along the lines of experiencing "Showgirls" or "Howard the Duck," you'll be filled with regret five minutes into this atrocity. There's camp-fun bad and interestingly horrible bad, and then there's just awful. "Movie 43" is the "Citizen Kane" of awful. Rating: Zero stars -- Richard Roeper

"The Last Stand" (R, 107 minutes). To call "The Last Stand" gratuitously violent is to pay the movie a compliment. It's sort of the whole point. In his first starring role since "Terminator 3" in 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the job done as a sleepy border-town sheriff in hot pursuit of a notorious drug lord. Packed with high-speed chases and ear-shattering explosions, "The Last Stand" delivers a half-dozen quality kills that will leave audiences squirming and then laughing at the sheer audacity of it all. This is what Arnold does best: big-gun violence and one-liner laughs. He's still got it. Rating: 3 stars -- Richard Roeper

"Parker" (R, 118 minutes).Based on a novel in a series by Richard Stark, the alter ego of the late, great Donald E. Westlake, the film basically is a heist-and-payback movie. But it's made with such skill and smarts it stands above such eye-rolling blow-'em-up fare as Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand," its main competition at the box office. Rating: 3 stars -- Miami Herald

"Les Miserables" (PG-13, 158 minutes). The people who put "Les Misérables" on screen dreamed a mighty dream, they really did. They dreamed of filming one of the most popular of modern theatrical musicals — 60 million tickets sold in 42 countries and 21 languages since its 1980 Paris debut — in a way that had not been done before, enhancing the emotion of what already was a hugely emotional piece. And, despite some built-in obstacles, they succeeded to a surprising extent. Rating: 3 stars -- Los Angeles Times

"Mama" (PG-13, 100 minutes). To the credit of director Andy Muschietti, his co-writing team and a first-rate cast, "Mama" succeeds in scaring the wits out of us and leaving some lingering, deeply creepy images, despite indulging in many horror-film cliches. Movies like "Mama" are thrill rides. We go to be scared and then laugh, scared and then laugh, scared and then shocked. And of course, there's almost always a little plot left over for a sequel. It's a ride horror fans would take again. Rating: 3 stars -- Richard Roeper
"Zero Dark Thirty" (R, 157 minutes). Two hours of watching a loner female CIA strategist who knows she is right -- and the payoff that she is. Jessica Chastain stars as Maya, who was right all along, providing the film with a timely heroine. Lots of murky action in the big capture and death, but lacking the split-second timing and relentless action of director Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker." These characters are less compelling, and the outcome less meaningful. Rating: 3 stars

"Broken City"
(R, 109 minutes). From a lurid and predictable plot, "Broken City" is the sworn enemy of subtle. It's a big, juicy, sometimes clunky, political crime thriller that plays like a 21st-century B-movie. It's also pretty trashy and sometimes stupid. But there's never a moment when you won't be entertained on one level or another. Thanks to a great cast -- Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg and terrific supporting players Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, Jeffrey Wright and Griffin Dunne -- you'll have a good time even when the script is breaking bad. Rating: 3 stars -- Richard Roeper
"Gangster Squad" (R, 113 minutes).Even though the saga of L.A. corruption has been the fodder for transcendent fiction for generations, there's still a great movie to be made from such colorful source material. But the biggest crime in "Gangster Squad" is that it doesn't even come close. Rating: 2 stars -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Django Unchained" (R, 165 minutes). Is Quentin Tarantino's pre-Civil War spaghetti Western "Django Unchained" about race and power and the ugly side of history? Only as much as "Inglourious Basterds" was about race and power and the ugly side of history. It's a live-action, heads-exploding, shoot-'em-up cartoon. Sometimes it crackles, and sometimes it merely cracks. Rating; 2 1/2 stars -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey" (PG-13, 166 minutes). Not the worst film of the year, but "The Hobbit" may be the most disappointing. Given the scope and grandeur of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" epics, we enter the theater justifiably expecting his new Tolkien adventure to thrill our socks off. Instead, you endure this monstrously overproduced misfire with the numb apathy of a prisoner slowly throwing a ball against a cell wall.It's a husk with the superficial features of a "Rings" movie but none of the energy and heart and wit — an unexpected journey, indeed. Rating: 1 1/2 stars --MCT "Lincoln" (PG-13, 149 minutes). Steven Spielberg's film focuses on only a few months of Lincoln's life, including the passage of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, the surrender of the Confederacy and his assassination. Rarely has a film attended more carefully to the details of politics. Daniel Day-Lewis creates a Lincoln who is calmly self-confident, patient and willing to play politics in a realistic way. Not about an icon of history, but about a president who was scorned by some of his opponents as a hayseed from the backwoods. He understood them better than they did him. Rating: 4 stars
"Silver Linings Playbook" (R, 122 minutes). This is how smart Jennifer Lawrence is at her job: She realizes that the troubled young woman she plays in "Silver Linings Playbook" is a great role. It's a supporting role in the novel upon which the movie is based.Her plan? To so fiercely bring this character to life that the filmmaker is forced to make the part larger and put her front and center. Thankfully, writer-director David O. Russell is smart enough to know that more Lawrence makes any movie better.The move may result in her winning an Academy Award for best actress in a leading role, and the movie is not even about her character. Rating: 3 stars. -- Michael Smith, Tulsa World



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