Aug. 29--"THE WORLD'S END" (R)
2.75 OUT OF 4 STARS
SIMON PEGG, NICK FROST, MARTIN FREEMAN
Only an ending that invested a bit too heavily in aliens and robots keeps this movie from being a solid laugh riot.
Its best moments come not from special effects, but from the silliness and comic banter during a quest to replicate an "epic" pub crawl five friends once experienced in high school.
Simon Pegg is the one who can't grow up, whose life has never been as good as it was back when he and his mates prowled the night.
So he corners the four, tells a few lies and tries to recreate the magic mile where they'll quaff pints in a dozen or so pubs back in their hometown.
They eventually agree, but soon find that something's not quite right with the locals.
The quaint comic connections between four friends gets overshadowed a bit when the robot plot extends to something involving world domination.
Still, Rosamund Pike is solid as the sister of one of the hometown boys, and the core group in this funny bunch manage to make something hilarious each time they get together.
Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references. 109 min. [RA, RF]
"YOU'RE NEXT" (R)
1.5 OUT OF 4 STARS
SHARNI VINSON, NICHOLAS TUCCI, AJ BOWEN
This is the inspired, creative horror film people are raving about?
It ends up being little more than a plodding stab-fest where tension is created by repeatedly having victims (and bad guys) get knives, machetes and axes thrust into their heads.
A family whose siblings don't get along gather for a celebration at the home of their rich parents.
We know something terrible's in the offing when a neighbor and his girlfriend get killed in a shower of gore in the opening scene. Thanks to that affront to subtlety, anyone with half a brain will have this story figured out in minutes.
Still, the plot moves along nicely until a big dinner when a guest looks out the window and gets an arrow in his head. Of course he does.
From then on, intruders in silly animal masks slowly start to hack away at this family that doesn't have the sense to fight back.
Fortunately, a girlfriend happens to have survival training.
One by one, we see the family members get stabbed in the eye, in the head and through the throat. Clearly, these are the tools of a one-trick filmmaker struggling to ramp up tension and terror.
It's not all an inane exercise in murder-porn. In one of the more redeeming scenes, a bad guy gets his head chewed off by an aggressive blender. Martha Stewart would be proud.
If some people think this is a creative or original way to entertain, they're bloody wrong.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and sexuality/nudity. 94 min. [MC, PV, RA]
"BLUE JASMINE" (PG 13)
2.5 OUT OF 4 STARS
CATE BLANCHETT, ALEC BALDWIN
This Woody Allen film is a puzzler.
Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin deliver striking performances as a rich couple who eventually get their comeuppance, but they're both so unlikable that it's difficult to understand why we should waste two hours seeing their lives crumble around them.
The trauma eventually leads to Blanchett's character babbling on a park bench. But is it supposed to be sad? Why go through all the back story if the film takes her nowhere?
Rated PG 13 for mature thematic material, language and sexual content. 98 min. [RF]
"THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES" (PG 13)
1 OUT OF 4 STARS
LILY COLLINS, JAMIE CAMPBELL BOWER
There's nothing wrong with this latest supernatural thriller based on a series of books for young readers, but there's nothing particularly right with it, either.
It's almost a pastiche, a film collage made from pieces of all the fantasy franchises that came before.
Lily Collins is strong as the young girl who finds out she's a warrior in the battle against demons that others can't see. It all moves well in the beginning, but things bog down once a struggle with a former champion begins.
For a movie that's supposed to be magical, there's precious little magic.
Rated PG 13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content. 130 min. [MC, RA, RF]
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