News Column

Movie guide

July 4, 2013

YellowBrix

KEY: 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

"Before Midnight" -- The third movie in Richard Linklater's film series about Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) that takes place nine years after 2004's "Before Sunset." This film tackles heavier and more mature issues while Jesse and Celine vacation in Greece. Reviewed by Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press. (R) L, N, S. 109 minutes. . . . 1/2

"The East" -- A tense and detailed thriller about intelligence operative Sarah (Brit Marling), who infiltrates The East, an eco- terrorist organization that attacks polluting industries, and finds her allegiances tested. With Patricia Clarkson, Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard. (PG-13) N, S, V. 116 minutes. . . .

"Epic" -- Kid-friendly 3-D animated fantasy about a teen (Amanda Seyfried) compelled to help the miniature Leafmen (Colin Farrell and Josh Hutcherson) save the forest from the evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). (PG) 102 minutes. . . .

"42" -- Effective but formula sports underdog drama based on how ballplayer Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) and Brooklyn Dodgers president (Harrison Ford) broke the major league color barrier. (PG- 13) L. 128 minutes. . . .

"The Heat" -- Sandra Bullock and Plainfield's Melissa McCarthy are perfect foils as a reserved FBI agent and a foul-mouthed, erratic Boston police officer who team up to find a drug dealer. Paul Feig's buddy action movie starts out cliched but turns up "The Heat" once Bullock and McCarthy hit their comedic groove. With "SNL" alum Jane Curtin. (R) L, S, V. 117 minutes. . . .

"Iron Man 3" -- Action-packed, fun-packed sequel puts Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) at the mercy of The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), an enigmatic terrorist with a plot to take over the U.S. Gwyneth Paltrow and Guy Pearce co-star. (PG-13) S, V. 135 minutes. . . . 1/ 2

"The Kings of Summer" -- Three teenagers (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias) decide to live independently for the summer by building a house in the wilderness and living off the land. A coming-of-age story in the "Stand By Me" vein. With Nick "Parks and Recreation" Offerman. (R) L. 93 minutes. . . .

"Redemption" -- Jason Statham turns in a compassionate and vulnerable performance (yes, you read that right) in Steven Knight's neo-noir thriller that reinvents the superhero story. Statham plays Joey Jones, a homeless man who tries to adjust the moral scales for fellow unfortunate Londonites. With Agata Buzek as a nun who helps Joey. (R) L, N, V. 100 minutes. . . . 1/2

"This is the End" -- Raunchy! Hilarious! Shocking! Six Hollywood stars are stuck in James Franco's house during the Apocalypse. Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Emma Watson and Jonah Hill co- star in a zany, over-the-top comedy horror tale. (R) D, L, N, S, V. 119 minutes. . . . 1/2

"Unfinished Song" -- Sincere performances raise Paul Andrew Williams' drama about music and changing for the better above its predictability and cliches. Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) helps prickly Arthur (Terence Stamp) cope with his wife's death. With Vanessa Redgrave. Playing at the Century Theatre in Chicago. (PG-13) S. 93 minutes. . . .

Passables

"After Earth" -- M. Night Shyamalan presents Will Smith and his son, Jaden, as father and son survivors of a space craft crash on Earth more than 1,000 years in the future when the animal life has inexplicably evolved into human killers. Action-packed but often silly. (PG-13) V. 100 minutes. . .

"The Bling Ring" -- Fame-obsessed teenagers rob celebrities' mansions to get a taste of the good life. Director/writer Sofia Coppola relies too often on first-person narrative in this repetitive film based on a true story. With Winnetka native Katie Chang. (R) D, L, S. 90 minutes. . . 1/2

"Byzantium" -- Mother and daughter vampires (a sexy Gemma Arterton and innocent Saoirse Ronan) take refuge in the Byzantium, an abandoned hotel, while being hunted by a 200-year-old vampire mob in Neil Jordan's overly complicated and confusing narrative. Playing at the Century Theatre in Chicago. (R) L, S, V. 118 minutes. . . 1/ 2

"Fast & Furious 6" -- Hilariously funny but ridiculously pitched live-action cartoon in which Vin Diesel gathers his racing partners- in-crime to stop a British terrorist. Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Gina Carano lead the cast. Michelle Rodriguez even returns from the dead! (PG-13) L, S, V. 130 minutes. . . 1/2

"The Great Gatsby" -- Baz Luhrmann directs a visually kinetic but dramatically arid adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel about a Midwesterner (Tobey Maguire) who chronicles the downfall of his wealthy Long Island neighbor (Leonardo DiCaprio), burning with romantic obsession for Daisy (Carey Mulligan). (PG-13) L, V. 143 minutes. . .

"The Internship" -- Call it "Wedding Crashers 2.0" without the fun of the original R-rated movie. Owen Wilson and the suburbs' own Vince Vaughn reunite in this good-natured comedy. (PG-13) L, S. 119 minutes. . . 1/2

"Man of Steel" -- Zack Snyder's dour and humorlessly dark reboot of the Superman myth stars Brit actor Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, who comes out of hiding to fight General Zod. Filmed in part in the suburbs. Michael Bay couldn't have directed this noisy spectacular action picture better. (PG-13) L, V. 148 minutes. . .

"Monsters University" -- Where's Boo? This Pixar prequel may be cute, but it's got nothing on the emotional 2001 "Monsters, Inc." Mike and Sully (voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman) don't start out seeing eye to eye as scare students at Monsters University. Helen Mirren and Steve Buscemi also lend their voices. (G) 110 minutes. . . 1/2

"Much Ado About Nothing" -- Joss "The Avengers" Whedon presents this brisk modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic, but the Bard's classic prose doesn't translate well here. With Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof and Nathan Fillion as the bumbling Constable Dogberry. (PG- 13) D, S. 107 minutes. . . 1/2

"Now You See Me" -- Louis Leterrier's mystery/Robin Hood tale boasts inert characters with nonexistent relationships in a story dogged by ridiculous plot twists. Four magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco) become the targets of an FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) after pulling off a bank job in France while doing their magic act in Las Vegas. (PG-13) L, S, V. 116 minutes. . .

"Star Trek Into Darkness" -- The USS Enterprise sets a wavering, special-effects-stuffed course in J.J. Abrams' sequel, which goes where the 1980s movie series has gone before. Starfleet deals with terrorist attacks from a desperado (Benedict Cumberbatch). Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana reprise their roles. (PG-13) V. 132 minutes. . .

"World War Z" -- A zombie movie without teeth. Brad Pitt stars as a retired U.N. investigator who travels the world looking for a cure to stop the zombie apocalypse. Marc Forster's exciting action flick whiffs on horror and characterization. (PG-13) V. 116 minutes. . . 1/2

Pits

"The Purge" -- In 2022, the U.S. government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period called "The Purge," in which all crime, including murder, is legal. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey star as James and Mary Sandin, whose locked-down home comes under attack from masked "neighbors," in this cliched and politically vague thriller. (R) L, V. 85 minutes. . 1/2

"White House Down" -- A cop with marital problems battles terrorists during a building takeover to save a loved one. Sound familiar? This "Die Hard" copycat stars Channing Tatum as John Cale, who protects the president (Jamie Foxx) from mercenaries who take over the White House. (PG-13) L, S, V. 131 minutes. . 1/2

Unpreviewed

"Frances Ha" -- Noah Baumbach's character study of a twentysomething New Yorker (Greta Gerwig) struggling to ascend into her 30s with mixed results. (R) L, S. 86 minutes.

"Laurence Anyways" -- Xavier Dolan's transsexual drama follows Laurence (Melvil Poupaud), who wants to restart his life as a woman with his lover, Frederique (Suzanne Clement). Clement won the Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. In French. (NR) 168 minutes.

"Raanjhanaa" -- Bollywood romance directed by Aanand Rai with music by A.R. Rahman of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame. In Hindi. (NR) 140 minutes.

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