News Column

Captain of Our Hearts

October 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 17--"CAPTAIN PHILLIPS" (PG-13)

3.5 OUT OF 4 STARS

TOM HANKS, BARKHAD ABDI, BARKHAD ABDIRAHMAN

This thriller about Somali pirates taking a container ship would have been a good film without Tom Hanks. With him, it's a first-class, emotionally gripping thrill ride.

Hanks is the good Captain Phillips, doing all he can to protect his men, his ship and, eventually, his own life. The casting--right down to the Somali pirates--is spot-on. The pirates aren't faceless aggressors. The poverty and hopelessness of their role in the hijacking are underscored in the film's beginning.

But it's Hanks and his surprisingly emotional concern for his men and his ship that lift this movie beyond the everyday.

The story is straightforward, told from the ship's taking to the Navy's arrival to the eventual confrontation that keeps you on pins and needles.

Whether he's playing a character from a Christmas story or a stalwart ship's captain, Hanks is this generation's everyman--the Jimmy Stewart of our time.

When his ship and crew are threatened, his concern is palpable, especially when he puts himself in harm's way.

Though the premise may not excite everyone, Hank's performance and the no-nonsense storytelling make this a can't-miss movie.

Rated PG-13 for sustained, intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images and substance use. 134 min. [MC, RF, RA]

"MACHETE KILLS" (R)

1.5 OUT OF 4 STARS

DANNY TREJO, MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ, SOFiA VERGARA, MEL GIBSON

It's fun to see Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr. and a host of others pop up in cameos, and Sofia Vergara is a hoot as a crazed brothel owner who comes after the hero with ample bra-guns blazing, but the mind-numbing violence that stacks up bodies by the score quickly gets tiresome. Beyond that, this movie doesn't have anything to offer.

Danny Trejo has macho charisma as Machete, but he's forced into so many crazy and silly situations that you begin to feel sorry for him.

And things that grab some attention--like the Cuba Gooding Jr. character peeling off his face to look like something else--are overdone to the point that they lose any appeal.

Plenty of moviegoers will enjoy this stab- and shoot-fest, especially if they're fans of heads being lopped off willy-nilly.

But most will wonder why they paid to see it, and will find the blood and gore a real impediment to popcorn consumption.

Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language and some sexual content. 107 min. [MC, RF, RA]

"ROMEO AND JULIET" (PG-13)

2 OUT OF 4 STARS

HAILEE STEINFELD, DOUGLAS BOOTH, DAMIAN LEWIS

What's the best way to describe this adaptation? Shakespeare lite? "Gossip Girl in Verona"?

While the backdrops and costumes are eye-catching, the young actors do very little with The Bard's romantic classic.

Having Paul Giamatti and a few other serious actors in the cast only underscores how lightweight the rest of the cast is.

The story of the star-crossed lovers unfolds here as it has so many times before, but this version feels more like like a high school production than a serious film adaptation.

Rated PG-13 some violence and thematic elements. 118 min. [RF]

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(c)2013 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)

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