At the movies: Mar. 15, 2013

Posted Online: March 14, 2013, 10:59 am
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New in theaters

Regal 14 Stadium Cinemas, Moline:

-- "The Call" (R)
-- "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (PG-13)
Rave Motion Pictures, Davenport: -- "The Call" (R)
-- "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (PG-13) Nova 6 Cinemas, Moline:
-- "Zero Dark Thirty" (R)
-- "Side Effects" (R)
-- "Lincoln" (PG-13)
Aledo Opera House:
-- "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (PG-13)
These are mini-reviews of some of the movies currently playing in the Quad-Cities area.

"Oz the Great and Powerful" (PG, 130 min.). Like "The Phantom Menace" trilogy, "Oz the Great and Powerful" precedes a beloved classic on the fictional timeline, but makes full use of modern-day technology, which means everything's grander and more spectacular. Director Sam Raimi and his army of special-effects wizards have created a visually stunning film that makes good use of 3-D, at least in the first hour or so. The film finally breaks free of its beautiful but artificial trappings and becomes a story with heart in the final act. Thing is, we know Oz and its denizens are destined for a far greater adventure a little ways down the Yellow Brick Road. Rating: Two and a half stars(Richard Roeper).

"Dead Man Down" (R, 110 min.).Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star as two damaged souls in "Dead Man Down," a moody twist of hyper-violent vengeance and heartache where death is hand-delivered, mercy is hard to come by and love is never easy. Rating: Two and a half stars(Los Angeles Times).
Following are Roger Ebert's mini-reviews of new video releases.

Coming to video Tuesday, March 19: "The Other Son" (PG-13, 105 min.). Two babies are born at about the same time in an Israeli hospital. One is Israeli. The other is Palestinian. They're evacuated during a missile attack, accidentally switched, and raised by each other's family for the next 18 years. When the mistake is discovered, the repercussions on both sides are fraught, and it's revealing how the fathers are quicker to think of their "wrong" sons as now belonging to the other side, while the mothers instinctively reach out to the boy to whom they gave birth, while still embracing their switched son. A portrait involving race, religion and identity. Directed and co-written by the French filmmaker Lorraine Levy. Rating: Three and a half stars.
"Zero Dark Thirty" (R, 157 min.). 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: Three stars.
"Rise of the Guardians" (PG, 89 min.). Hyperactive 3-D animated fantasy regarding the plight of Jack Frost, whom nobody seems able to see. Called upon in a crisis to help the Guardians (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.), he saves the day. Younger children like the breakneck action, magical ability to fly, and the young hero who has tired of being overlooked. Their parents and older siblings may find the 89-minute running time quite long enough. Rating: Three stars.
"Life of Pi" (PG, 125 min.). A miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery. Inspired by a worldwide best-seller that seemed unfilmable, it is a triumph over its difficulties. It is also a moving spiritual achievement, a movie whose title could have been shortened to "Life." The story involves the 227 days that its teenage hero (Suraj Sharma) spends drifting across the Pacific in the same lifeboat as a Bengal tiger. The movie quietly combines various religious traditions to enfold its story in the wonder of life. How remarkable that these two mammals, and the fish beneath them and birds above them, are all here. One of the year's best. Rating: Four stars.
"Hitchcock" (R, 98 min.). The second feature in a few months, after the made-for-HBO "The Girl," based on the life of the great man. The screenplay centers to a distracting degree on his lifelong marriage to the screenwriter and editor Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). As "Hitchcock" tells it, Reville acted as his chief adviser, censor, muse and friend, and steered him through the uncertain waters leading up to "Psycho." Anthony Hopkins wouldn't seem to be the first choice as Hitchcock, but I quickly accepted him. The makeup job they did on Hopkins was transformative. Rating: Three stars.
"Red Dawn" (PG-13, 93 min.). Opens with a hard-fought high school football game before the next day in Spokane, Wash., is interrupted by the thud of bombs. The young gridiron stars of the Wolverines race outside to see enemy aircraft flying overhead in formation, dropping paratroopers from the skies. An alarming sight, but the movie reassures us that an invasion by communist North Korea can be vanquished by the members of the team and their girlfriends, using mostly automatic weapons stolen from the North Koreans themselves. They're all instinctive combat fighters, even a cheerleader. Light on dialogue, heavy on mindless action. Rating: One and a half stars.
"The Intouchables" (R, 112 min.). Superficially likable but fundamentally bothersome parable about a paralyzed French millionaire (Francois Cluzet) and the jolly ex-con African immigrant (Omar Sy) he hires as his caregiver. Based on the assumption that what the stuck-up rich man needs is a little more soul and rhythm in his life -- and his first taste of marijuana, of course. The actors are engaging and many scenes effective, but the film is founded on questionable stereotypes. Rating: Two and a half 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)