These are mini-reviews of some of the movies currently playing in the Quad-Cities area: "The Company You Keep" (R, 125 min.). Like so many great stars before him, Robert Redford, now 76, steadfastly refuses to go gently into that good grandfatherhood. In "The Company You Keep," he looks and moves like a really fit, handsome 76-year-old -- a real distraction, given he's playing a former 1970s radical who now has an 11-year-old daughter and is living a quiet life under an assumed name. Despite Redford's sure-handed (but typically stolid) direction, an intriguing premise and a cast filled with top-line talent, nearly every scene had me asking questions about what just transpired when I should have been absorbing what was happening next. Rating: Two and a half stars -- Richard Roeper.
"The Place Beyond the Pines" (R, 140 min.). Shaking up the cinematic doldrums of early spring, "The Place Beyond the Pines" is a self-confident, self-aware, almost cocky piece of filmmaking from the immensely gifted Derek Cianfrance. It is an epic film centered on pivotal moments in the lives of working-class and fringe-society types who wake up every morning and go to bed each night with the same question hanging over their heads: How are they going to make ends meet? The music, the cinematography, the acting choices, the daring plot leaps -- not a single element is timid or safe. There are small coincidences with huge consequences, as characters struggle to escape their past, to change their seemingly inevitable fates. Rating: Four stars-- Richard Roeper.
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (PG-13, 110 min.). To say "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is a video game for the big screen is to insult a number of video games that are far more creative, challenging and better-looking. The first installment of this series, "The Rise of Cobra" (2009), at least had a sense of its own absurdity, but the sequel is a heavy-handed, explosion-riddled, ear-piercing disaster with an insanely stupid plot and an endless stream of mostly generic fight sequences that straddle the PG-13 line. Rating: One and a half stars -- Richard Roeper.
"Evil Dead" (R, 91 min.). Not a strict remake of Sam Raimi's hugely influential 1981 horror classic, but it does include the basic framework and some visual nods to the original. On its own, it's an irredeemable, sadistic torture chamber reveling in the bloody, cringe-inducing deaths of some of the stupidest people ever to spend a rainy night in a remote cabin in the woods. I love horror films that truly shock, scare and provoke. But after 30 years of this stuff, I'm bored to death and sick to death of movies that seem to have one goal: How can we gross out the audience by torturing nearly every major character in the movie? Rating: One star -- Richard Roeper.
"The Host" (PG-13, 125 min.). Based on a new novel by Stephenie Meyer, author of the "Twilight" saga, "The Host" is about a time in the not-distant future when human minds have been colonized by an alien race called "Souls." Saoirse Ronan stars as a human whose original mind has somehow survived and co-occupies the space with a Soul mind; their conversations can be intriguing ("No, Melanie! Wrong! No! He's from another planet!"). Rating: Two and a half stars -- Roger Ebert.
"Tyler Perry's Temptation" (PG-13, 111 min.). The timing of the comic moments is off, and the film drags and drags before reaching a conclusion anybody can see from a mile off.The quartet of leads is blander than bland. The "Temptation" of the title is a come-on and a false promise. How "tempting" can a movie about cheating be with a PG-13 rating? Rating: One and a half stars -- Roger Moore.
"Admission" (PG-13, 117 min.). In this disappointingly flat comedy, Portia Nathan (Tina Fey), a Princeton admissions counselor, runs into her past. No doubt there's a film to be made about the intense pressure to get into a top-tier college, but that seems more like dramatic fodder than the launching point for a great comedy. Then there's a problem with Portia, who's basically likable and then not so likable, and then we're asked to be happy for her at the end, but she hasn't given us enough good reason. If there were an admissions test, we'd send Portia packing. Rating: Two stars --Richard Roeper.
"Spring Breakers" (R, 94 min.). Harmony Korine's homage to the annual spring experience is like a pervier cousin of "Girls Gone Wild." On other occasions, though, you feel as if you're experiencing raw, mad, avant-garde genius at work. The film challenges us to think about the hedonistic hell of that annual ritual, as it segues from party film to insane crime story. It's self-indulgent, it's funny, it's dark and it's always provocative. Rating: Three and a half stars -- Richard Roeper.
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (PG-13, 100 min.). This absurdist, magic-themed buddy movie is a Will Ferrell sports comedy without Will Ferrell and without the sports. In plot and tone, it's two parts lunatic comedy and one part shameless sentimentality with a dash of romance thrown in. A movie satirizing magicians -- even rock 'n' roll hipster magicians -- is only slightly more cutting edge than a movie mocking mimes. But this is also one dark and wickedly funny comedy, with a great return to form by Jim Carrey opposite Steve Carell in the title role. Rating: Three stars -- Richard Roeper.
"The Call" (R, 94 min.). The semi-fresh thriller, set mainly in an emergency call center and on the freeways of Los Angeles, puts a tech slant on a damsel-in-distress setup. It buzzes along for a while, the promising plot innovations inviting suspension of disbelief, before by-the-numbers implausibility, over-the-top valor and unsavory contrivances take over and the line goes dead. Rating: Two stars --Los Angeles Times.
"The Croods" (PG, 92 min.).If "The Croods" is an example of what's supposed to be prehistoric comedy, then the genre should be allowed to become extinct. There's the potential for humor, but it never develops beyond a few sight gags that will entertain the pre-school crowd. Rating: One and a half stars -- Rick Bentley. "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
"Olympus Has Fallen" (R, 89 min.)Director Antoine Fuqua is at the reins, and while he isn't a terrible action director — "Shooter" and "Training Day" easily entertain — he gives in to terrible instincts here, flirting with overwrought patriotism, one too many laugh lines amid numerous characters being shot in the head, and a general chaos-inspired editing technique all too rampant in today's action cinema. Rating: one and a half stars -- Los Angeles Times
"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.
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