Movie mini-reviews for Mar. 22, 2013


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Posted Online: March 21, 2013, 12:10 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: "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
"21 & Over" (R, 93 min.). A formulaic comedy that strains to be a "Hangover" for the college set. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore ("The Hangover"), "21 & Over" knows what it wants to be and (to its credit) never pulls its punches, whether it's gross-out humor or ethnic/gender insensitivity. This is one of those 93-minute movies that seem about 88 minutes too long. Rating: One and a half stars -- Richard Roeper
Jack the Giant Slayer" (PG-13, 115 min.). Surprise! Director Bryan Singer, a first-rate cast and a stellar team of screenwriters, set designers and special-effects wizards have dusted off an old and never particularly compelling fairy tale and have given us a great-looking thrill ride. It's filled with neat touches, from the casting of Ewan McGregor as a knight in shining armor to an epilogue that's just flat-out cool. Even for those who didn't think they'd give a fee, a fi, a fo or a fum about this movie, it's a rousing, original and thoroughly entertaining adventure. Rating: Three and a half stars -- Richard Roeper "Snitch" (PG-13, 112 min.). Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson delivers the best work of his career playing a guy who goes undercover to save his teenage son from a drug rap. Though "Snitch" almost dares you to ask some pointed questions, it puts some big exclamation points on a couple of messages about certain drug laws in need of a thorough re-examination. Rating: Three stars --Richard Roeper

"Safe Haven" (PG-13, 115 min.). Directed by the versatile Lasse Hallstrom and starring the attractive duo of Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, "Safe Haven" is yet another entry in the Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie factory that has given us "The Notebook," "Message in a Bottle," "Dear John," etc. For 90 percent of the journey, it's a solid movie for those in the mood for some good old-fashioned, great-looking-couple-gets-caught-in-the-rain romance. Then something happens at the very end that'll make you question the film's sanity. Rating: One and a half stars-- Richard Roeper

"Escape From Planet Earth" (PG, 89 min.).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 min.). 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 min.). 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 min.). 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 min.). 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
"Silver Linings Playbook" (R, 122 min.). 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 resulted in her winning an Academy Award for best actress in a leading role, and the movie is not even about her character. Rating: Three 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.




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