Movie mini-reviews for Mar. 1, 2013


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Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2013, 12:08 pm
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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:
"Escape From Planet Earth" (PG, 89 minutes).Ananimated adventure that's more down-to-earth than earth-shattering — builds a family-friendly sci-fi constellation out of fresh chuckles and recycled parts, a number of them from Planet Pixar.Feel-good but not cloying, zippy but not frenetic, and refreshingly free of snark, the default setting for a lot of kids' fare these days, the feature takes a pleasingly retro-futuristic stance on matters of décor and attitude. Rating: Three stars. -- Los Angeles Times "Beautiful Creatures" (PG-13, 124 minutes). Though not specifically conceived to fill the void left by the $2 billion "Twilight" franchise, comparisons are inevitable, as we're again presented with a story about a smart, serious, semi-loner high school student who falls for a mysterious newcomer with supernatural powers. It would all be pretty tedious, goth-youth nonsense if not for the considerable delights provided by a mostly veteran supporting cast of Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Viola Davis and Emmy Rossum, who are all having great fun. If only that approach extended to the two young leads, who behave like typically sullen teenagers. Rating: Two and a half stars-- Richard Roeper "A Good Day to Die Hard" (R, 97 minutes). The latest installment of the action franchise plays as if we're watching Bruce Willis in a Bruce Willis movie in which Bruce Willis can survive anything while taking out the villains, video-game style. A quarter-century after the first "Die Hard," the venerable John McClane has been stripped of any real traces of an actual three-dimensional character. Rating: One and a half stars -- Richard Roeper "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
"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
"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
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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  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




(More History)