News Column

Movie Guide

November 13, 2013

YellowBrix

Four stars: superior. Three stars: good. Two stars: average. One star: poor. D (drug use), L (language), N (nudity), S (sexual situations, references), V (violence). Ratings by Dann Gire, Daily Herald Film Critic, unless otherwise noted.

Picks

"About Time" -- Richard Curtis presents a romantic fantasy about a Brit (Domhnall Gleeson) who can travel back in time but doesn't tell his wife (Rachel McAdams). A wonderful message about spending your time wisely, despite the film's flaws. (R) L, S. 123 minutes. . . . 1/2

"All is Lost" -- Robert Redford is a one-man tour-de-force in this virtually dialogueless survival drama about a man trapped at sea in a sinking yacht. Nicely directed by J.C. Chandor. (PG-13) L. 106 minutes. . . . 1/2

"Captain Phillips" -- A superior fact-based thriller about the 2009 hijacking of a U.S. cargo ship by Somali pirates, who hold the captain (Tom Hanks delivering a nuanced, powerful performance) hostage. At least until the Navy's cavalry arrives. A rich, multilayered action movie from Paul "United 93" Greengrass, with four talented Somali actors. (R) D, V. 134 minutes. . . . .

"Carrie" -- Kimberly Peirce directs a respectable remake of Brian DePalma's classic horror film based on Stephen King's best-seller about a bullied teen (Chloe Grace Moretz) with telekinetic powers and a crazy religious mother (Julianne Moore). (R) L, S, V. 92 minutes. . . .

"Dallas Buyers Club" -- Matthew McConaughey's risky, hardened- heart performance highlights this spunky, fact-based "man against the system" drama about a Texas bigot who gets AIDS in 1985 and forms a buying club to get the drugs he and other patients need. (R) D, L, N, S. 117 minutes. . . . .

"Despicable Me 2" -- The Minions take over this fast, but dumbed- down sequel with their popular slapstick shtick. Former villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) helps secret agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) search for a stolen formula while overprotecting his adopted daughters from boys. (PG) 98 minutes. . . .

"Ender's Game" -- Rocky but visually potent science-fiction action film offering an ethics lesson about taking responsibility for military and personal actions. A boy (Asa Butterworth) is trained by a colonel (Harrison Ford) to defend the planet from invading aliens. (PG-13) L, V. 114 minutes. . . .

"Enough Said" -- James Gandolfini's performance as a regular Joe highlights Nicole Holofcener's wonderfully scripted drama about two middle-aged single parents trying to find happiness. Sweet and too real. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Catherine Keener. (PG-13) L, S. 93 minutes. . . . 1/2

"Gravity" -- Alfonso Cuaron directs a visually stunning work, a bold and daring survival thriller about two astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) dealing with the aftermath of a debris storm that wipes out their shuttle in space. How will they get back? (PG-13) L, V. 91 minutes. . . . .

"Great Expectations" -- Mike Newell, a "Harry Potter" director, reunites Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter in an impressive translation of Charles Dickens' classic story of a blue-collar lad who, financed by a mystery sponsor, is able to become a gentleman. With Jeremy Irvine as Pip and Holliday Grainger as Estella. (PG-13) V. 128 minutes. . . .

"Prisoners" -- Riveting child-abduction thriller about a father (Hugh Jackman) who kidnaps and tortures the man (Paul Dano) he thinks is responsible for taking his daughter. Taut, suspenseful and surprising. (R) L, V. 146 minutes. . . . .

"Rush" -- Ron Howard directs a serviceable bio-drama about the intense rivalry between two Formula One racers (Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl). Based on James Hunt and Niki Lauda. (R) D, L, N, S. 123 minutes. . . .

"Spectacular Now" -- James Ponsoldt directs a refreshing and surprising teen romance movie about popular Sutter (Miles Teller, channeling a young Vince Vaughn) and bashful Aimee (Shailene Woodley) falling for each other. (R) L, S. 95 minutes. . . . 1/2

"12 Years a Slave" -- Steve McQueen directs a leading contender for best picture of 2013, a hard-hitting, fact-based drama about a free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841 Washington, D.C. A tough, brave movie. (R) N, S, V. 133 minutes. . . . .

"We're the Millers" -- Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and the rest of the cast somehow make this cliched comedy work. Sudeikis plays a drug dealer who recruits a stripper (Aniston), a runaway girl (Emma Roberts) and his neighbor (Will Poulter) to pose as his fake family to smuggle drugs in an RV from Mexico. (R) D, L, N, S. 110 minutes. . . .

Passables

"Free Birds" -- Turkeys (voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson) go back in time to change the Thanksgiving Day bird from turkey to something else. Animated comedy with Amy Poehler. Reviewed by Stephanie Merry, Washington Post. (PG) 91 minutes. . . 1/2

"How I Live Now" -- Saoirse Ronin shines in a strange, halfhearted drama set in post-apocalyptic Britain where she and four other kids survive in the wake of a nuclear blast. With George MacKay as a teen who talks to animals. (R) S, V. 100 minutes. . . 1/ 2

"Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa" -- The 86-year-old Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) goes on a cross-country journey with his 8-year- old grandson in a hidden-camera road trip. Reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post. (R) D, L, N, S. 82 minutes. . .

"Kick-Ass 2" -- The titular hero (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) joins a team of masked vigilantes called Justice Forever. Chloe Grace Moretz steals the show again as the manic Hit Girl, but the movie tries to stuff a realistic message into its cartoon characters' speech bubbles. With Jim Carrey. (R) L, N, S, V. 103 minutes. . .

"Last Vegas" -- Erratic comedy about four childhood buds who hook up as senior citizens in Las Vegas to celebrate one getting married to a woman half his age. Mary Steenburgen steals this show from co- stars Robert De Niro, Kevin Klein, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas. (PG-13) L, S. 90 minutes. . . 1/2

"Thor: The Dark World" -- Visual effects overpower character, plot and sense in this quasi-sequel to "Thor" in which the God of Thunder (a bored Chris Hemsworth) springs naughty Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from an Asgardian pokey to stop a nasty Dark Elf (Christopher Eccleston) from using the Aether (whatever that is) to destroy the universe. Natalie Portman practically yawns her way through as Jane Foster. (PG-13) V. . .

Pits

"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" -- Chester and Flint must save the world again in this animated sequel, complete with "foodanimals" and sophomoric jokes. Reviewed by Sean O'Connell, Washington Post. (PG) 95 minutes. . 1/2

"The Counselor" -- A lawyer lives to regret his dalliance with a lucrative illegal business deal in this thriller from director Ridley Scott and novelist Cormac McCarthy. With Michael Fassbender and Penelope Cruz. Reviewed by Ann Hornaday, Washington Post. (R) L, S, V. 111 minutes. . 1/2

"Escape Plan" -- Finally! Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger together! They play inmates trying to escape from a supposedly inescapable prison in this ridiculously cheesy, low-IQ, cliche-riddled action film. (R) L, V. 116 minutes. . 1/2

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" -- Demigod Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) and his friends set out into the Bermuda Triangle to find the Golden Fleece. A few funny moments from Stanley Tucci and Nathan Fillion highlight this slog of a sequel. Reviewed by Jen Chaney, Washington Post. (PG) 106 minutes. .

Unpreviewed

"Angels Sing" -- A father (Harry Connick Jr.), embittered by a holiday accident, must rediscover his Christmas joy after his own boy faces a tragedy. Can Willie Nelson's mysterious stranger help? Not screened for critics. Plus, this movie earned a zero rating on rottentomatoes.com. What? (PG) 89 minutes.

"Krrish 3" -- A science-fiction fantasy directed by Rakesh Roshan. In Hindi. (NR) 152 minutes.

"Nosotros Los Nobles" -- A successful construction owner (Gonzalo Vega) goes into action to straighten out his three irresponsible adult children. In Spanish. (PG-13) L, S. 100 minutes.

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