Movie mini-reviews for Sept. 6, 2013

Posted Online: Sept. 05, 2013, 12:28 pm
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These are Richard Roeper's mini-reviews (unless otherwise noted) of some of the movies currently playing in the Quad-Cities area:
"Getaway" (PG-13, 88 min.). Director Courtney Solomon ("An American Haunting") is plainly out of his depth, and when the always reliable Ethan Hawke plays a character in the wrong key, that points back to a director who doesn't have the stature or standing to "direct" him. Maybe they all took a gander at that random, ridiculous scenario and hoped that the car would be cool enough to bail them out. It isn't. Rating: One and a half stars (Roger Moore).

"Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" (PG, 130 min.).Even well into its second hour, "City of Bones" is still having to explain who exactly the evil Valentine (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is or why Hodge (Jared Harris), who is to the Shadowhunters what Rupert Giles was to Buffy, is unable to step outdoors. And I haven't even mentioned the werewolves or the portal into another dimension.Near the end, as the movie cuts back and forth furiously between a swordfight, flamethrowers, razor-sharp boomerangs, dungeons, demons made of glowing red ash and swarms of evil birds, I realized I had completely lost track of what was going on in this nutty, overstuffed picture. But I can't say I was bored, either. Rating: Two stars (Rene Rodriguez).
"Blue Jasmine" (PG-13, 98 min.). Cate Blanchett dives into a showcase role and knocks it out of the park. In Woody Allen's latest, the upper-crust world of an investment guru's wife falls apart, and she moves in with her working-class sister. One of the liveliest, funniest and sharpest movies of the year. With Alec Baldwin and Sally Hawkins. Rating: Three and a half stars.

"The World's End" (R, 109 min.). In the best film yet from director Edgar Wright and writer-actor Simon Pegg, old friends converge for a 20th-anniversary pub crawl that takes an unexpected turn. "The World's End" succeeds first as a reunion movie and then as a sci-fi satire with some of the funniest stunts and battle sequences in recent memory. Starring Pegg and the invaluable Nick Frost. Rating: Three and a half stars.
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" (PG-13, 132 min.). Forest Whitaker gives one of the signature performances of his brilliant career as a White House butler witnessing decades of history. This is an important film presented as mainstream entertainment, not a history assignment. It's a great American story. Rating: Three and a half stars.

"Jobs" (PG-13, 122 min.). In a competently made biopic, Ashton Kutcher, one of the least complex actor/personalities of his generation, is tasked with playing Steve Jobs, one of the most complicated and accomplished visionaries of our time, and he's in over his head. Rating: Two and a half stars.
"Elysium" (R, 109 min.). It's amazing how bad Jodie Foster is in this movie, and how little it matters in the grand, rabidly schizoid scheme of things. Matt Damon stars as a criminal on dystopian 2154 Earth trying to get to a utopian space station in one of the most entertaining action films of the year. Rating: Three and a half stars.

"We're the Millers" (R, 110 min.), about a pot dealer and his acquaintances posing as a family to haul a shipment from Mexico, is just good enough to keep you entertained, but not good enough to keep your mind from wandering from time to time. This is an aggressively funny comedy that takes a lot of chances, and connects just often enough. Rating: Three stars.

"Kick-Ass 2" (R, 103 min.). In one of the more depressing moviegoing experiences of the year, self-appointed crime fighters Kick-Ass and Hit Girl are joined by a lunatic force played by Jim Carrey. Though he's renounced the film, Carrey's the best thing in it. An uninspired retread, mean and gratuitously vicious. Rating: One and a half stars.

"Planes" (PG, 92 min.). Almost instantly forgettable, Disney's "Planes" takes the all-too-familiar flight pattern of the underdog that dreams of doing something his kind never does. The animation is first-rate, but it's nearly impossible to infuse planes with enough personality to earn a place alongside lions and toys and fish. Rating: Two stars.
"2 Guns" (R, 109 min.). A hot mess that's cool fun. Funny-as-hell Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are undercover lawmen posing as criminals to each other until they have to team up against common adversaries. With slick pacing and a sharp if implausible script, "2 Guns" rises above standard action fare. Rating: Three stars.

"The To Do List" (R, 104 min.). Aubrey Plaza is too mature to play a high school valedictorian suddenly determined to fulfill a bucket list of sexual adventures. Genuinely funny moments are few in a comedy that wastes the talents of TV stars including Connie Britton, Donald Glover and Bill Hader. Rating: Two stars.
"The Wolverine" (PG-13, 126 min.). Dramatically ambitious and deliberately paced, "The Wolverine" is one of the better comic-book movies of 2013, thanks in large part to an electric performance by Hugh Jackman as the newly vulnerable mutant. Rating: Three stars.
"The Conjuring" (R, 112 min.). When a really good new horror film comes out — something more about creative intelligence than executing the next grisly kill shot — it's something of a miracle in this eviscerating post-"Saw" era. Old-school and supremely confident in its attack, "The Conjuring" is this year's miracle — an "Amityville Horror" for a new century (and a far better movie than that 1979 hit), yet firmly rooted, without being slavish or self-conscious, in the visual language of 1970s filmmaking. Rating: Three and a half stars (Michael Phillips).

"The Smurfs 2" (PG, 95 min.)Cross your fingers that actors Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays and Brendan Gleeson will find something funny to do.Never mind. Filled with Smurf wholesomeness, Smurf puns and posi-Smurf messages about never giving up "on family," "The Smurfs 2" still sucks Smurfberries. Rating: One and a half stars (Roger Moore).
"Despicable Me 2" (PG, 98 min.). There's a fizzy silliness to "Despicable Me 2" that will make it a huge word-of-mouth hit among key demographics. That would be 2- to 6-year-olds, and parents who enjoy seeing their kids curled into balls of uncontrollable laughter. Rating: Three stars (Colin Covert). "This Is the End" (R, 107 min.). Here's one of the most tasteless, ridiculous and funniest comedies of the 21st century. In its own sloppy, raunchy, sophomoric, occasionally self-pleased and consistently energetic way, "This Is the End" is just about perfect at executing its mission, which is to poke fun at its stars, exhaust every R-rated possibility to get a laugh, and even sneak in a few insights into Hollywood, the celebrity culture and the nature of faith. Rating: Four stars.



Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, Sept, 30, the 273rd day of 2014. There are 92 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: The ARGUS Boys are very anxious to attend the great Democratic mass meeting tomorrow and we shall therefore, print no paper on the day.
1889 — 125 years ago: H.J. Lowery resigned from his position as manager at the Harper House.
1914 — 100 years ago: Curtis & Simonson was the name of a new legal partnership formed by two younger members of the Rock Island County Bar. Hugh Cyrtis and Devore Simonson..
1939 — 75 years ago: Harry Grell, deputy county clerk was named county recorder to fill the vacancy caused by a resignation.
1964 — 50 years ago: A new world wide reader insurance service program offering around the clock accident protection for Argus subscribers and their families is announced today.
1989 — 25 years ago: Tomato plant and other sensitive greenery may have had a hard time surviving overnight as temperatures neared the freezing point.

(More History)