Movie mini-reviews for Oct. 4, 2013

Posted Online: Oct. 03, 2013, 12:42 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:

"Baggage Claim" (PG-13, 96 min.). "Baggage Claim" is a harmless romantic comedy that follows a familiar theme: A young woman just can't seem to find the right man. She sets out to find that true love while remaining oblivious to how the man of her dreams has always been in her life. If you can't spot this guy, you've never seen a Lifetime or Hallmark movie. Rating: Two and a half stars. (Rick Bentley)

"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" (PG, 93 min.). The out-of-nowhere novelty and delight of Sony Animation's "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," based on Judi and Ron Barrett's children's book, is missing in "Meatballs 2." The design and color palette is as glorious as ever. But the laughs are few and innovations fewer in this generally winded knock-off. Rating: Two stars. (Roger Moore)
"Prisoners" (R, 153 mim.). When his daughter and her friend go missing, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman, more impressive than ever) becomes a man possessed. The masterful script takes us through a maze of plot complications and possible suspects. "Prisoners" is a white-knuckle, near-masterpiece of a thriller, falling short of greatness only because it goes on too long. Rating: Three and a half stars.

"The Family" (R, 111 min.). A mobster turned informant (Robert De Niro) enters the Witness Protection Program with his equally hot-tempered wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and kids. Tommy Lee Jones is deadpan perfection as the agent in charge of the family's protection. There are just enough moments of inspiration in this cheerfully violent comedy to warrant a recommendation -- especially if you know what you're getting into. It's weird. It's different. It's effective more often than not. Rating: Three stars.
"Insidious: Chapter 2" (PG-13, 105 min.). More silly than its sinister predecessor, "Insidious: Chapter 2" is entertaining for the contortions the script makes to incorporate both a brief prequel and highlights from the first film into a new 105-minute package. This is a Mobius strip of a movie, looping in on itself with ghosts from "The Further" and parallel existences interwoven into the lives of the lost Lamberts of sunny Somewhere, Calif. Rating: Two stars (Roger Moore). "Riddick" (R, 119 min.) becomes a shameless rip-off of "Aliens," as well as a preposterous cartoon that makes "The Amazing Spider-Man" seem like a documentary. (Director David) Twohy pulls off an effective setpiece now and then (there's a terrific scene involving the opening of a lock that may or may not be booby-trapped) but the entire movie bears the whiff of a vanity project -- a modestly-budgeted bone Universal Pictures threw at Diesel so he would keep starring in "Fast and Furious" pictures. Those movies are bank; "Riddick" is rank. Rating: One star (Rene Rodriguez).

"Instructions Not Included" (PG-13, 115 min.). Their story lovingly shows that life doesn't need instructions as long as you have boundless love. This is why moviegoers made "Instructions Not Included" such a big hit. It's a response that should only grow stronger in upcoming weeks.
A major theme in "Instructions Not Included" is facing fear. Don't let concerns about seeing a film with subtitles keep you from this sweet movie. Rating: Three stars (Rick Bentley).
"One Direction: This Is Us" (PG, 92 min.). The tunes are catchy, and the 1D boys have charm, a little wit about them, and some stage presence even if their shows have all the spontaneity of a McDonald's menu. Rating: Two 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.
"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.

"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 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).

"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).



Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2014. There are 102 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Recruits can get $500 by enlisting now. Lt Jobe has a recruiting office on Illinois Street.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Superintendent Schnitger formally inaugurated the Rock Island and Davenport Railway Line of the Holmes system by putting on four cars to start.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Wires of the defunct Union Electric Co. are being removed by city electricians.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The Bishop Hill softball team won the championship in WHB"S Mississippi Valley tournament at Douglas Park.
1964 -- 50 years ago: A boom in apartment construction has hit Rock Island, with approximately 300 units either in or near the construction stage or due for an early rezoning decision.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Members of the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission are hoping to revive their push for a new $70 million four-lane bridge spanning the Mississippi River.

(More History)