Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. 18A. 119 minutes.
Vin Diesel returns as the titular psychopathic fugitive going up against predators and bounty hunters on a hostile planet. After the bloated PG-13 middle instalment The Chronicles of Riddick, the big guy returns to his Pitch Black roots for some gratifyingly gory B-movie hijinks. ***
40 YEARS ON
Subtitled "The Narration of Chilean Resistance and Exile in Cinema," this program of seven films curated by Cinematheque honcho Cecilia Araneda includes Salvadore Allende (Thursday at 7 p.m.); The Chicago Conspiracy (Thursday at 9 p.m.); Augustin's Newspaper (Friday at 7 p.m.); No (Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m.); Machuca (Saturday at 7 p.m); Violeta Went to Heaven (Sunday at 3 p.m.); and The Chilean Building (Sunday at 7 p.m.).
Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 112 minutes.
A very odd dark comedy starring Robert De Niro as a mafioso hiding out in France with his family, for whom sociopathic criminality is a hard habit to break.
IN A WORLD...
Grant Park. PG. 93 minutes
Lake Bell wrote, directed, and stars in this comedy about a vocal coach who attempts to break into the big time world of movie-trailer voice-overs, where her biggest competitor turns out to be her own dad.
INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2
Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 106 minutes.
This sequel to the low-budget 2010 chiller carries on with the story of a family (including Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) besieged by malevolent forces from an unseen spirit world.
The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.
Globe, Grant Park. PG. 98 minutes.
Woody Allen splices the Bernie Madoff affair with A Streetcar Named Desire and creates a potent drama utilizing the formidable Cate Blanchett as the frail, increasingly unhinged Blanche DuBois-like wife of a high-rolling Wall Street fraudster (Alec Baldwin). After his misdeeds are exposed, she journeys to San Francisco to live with her unpretentious sister (Sally Hawkins) to make a fresh start -- but a life based on lies dies hard. ***1/2
DESPICABLE ME 2
Polo Park, St. Vital. G. 98 minutes
This sequel to the 2010 hit sees Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) enlisted to save the world. It's a gag-filled delight from start-to-finish with more laughs in its first five minutes than Monsters University managed over its entire length. **** 1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 110 minutes.
This science-fiction epic takes place in the year 2154 where a dying man (Matt Damon) realizes his only hope to live is to escape the wretched, toxic confines of a polluted earth and invade the titular paradise-like space station occupied exclusively by the very rich. It's wonderfully pertinent, simultaneously evoking the immigration debate currently raging in the U.S., as well as the widening divide between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us. Pity writer-director Neill Blomkamp can't resist the lure of technology and violence with all those robotic smackdowns. *** 1/2
Globe. 14A. 85 minutes.
This pertinent docu-drama examines the last day in the life of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) before he was inexplicably killed by a cop at the titular San Francisco train station on New Year's Day in 2009. ***
Towne. PG. 90 minutes.
Ethan Hawke is a race-car driver forced to commit mayhem in Bulgaria at the behest of a sinister online puppetmaster, with a teen punk (Selena Gomez) along for the ride. The car action may be fast, but when it comes to smarts, this thing is definitely driving in the slow lane, and Gomez's character is so awful, she may make us wistful for Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, now unseated as the most obnoxious movie heroine of all time. *
Polo Park, St. Vital. 18A. 103 minutes.
This sequel to the 2010 comic-book movie sees Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy/Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) face a new menace in the form of Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who has gone the route of the super-villain with an assembly of serious bad guys in his thrall. Alas, as the first movie's shock-of-the-new appeal has worn off, a sense of the familiar has blanketed the franchise, making for a harsh, disagreeable combination of ultra-violence and outr© high school hijinks. **
KINGS OF SUMMER
Globe. 14A. 95 minutes.
This eccentric comedy-drama focuses on three teen lads who decide to buck parental authority and build a house in the woods where they can initiate their own passages into manhood. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and screenwriter Chris Galletta bring a freewheeling energy and enjoyably snarky-witty dialogue to a mashup combining John Hughes teen melodrama with the studied eccentricity of a Wes Anderson: Ferris Bueller's Moonrise Kingdom. ***
LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER
Globe, Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park. 14A. 133 minutes.
Lee Daniels (Precious) directs this drama starring Forest Whitaker as a sharecropper's son who grows up to become a White House butler in service to every U.S. president from Eisenhower (Robin Williams) to Reagan (Alan Rickman). The stunt casting is off-putting and Daniels prefers seamy melodrama to insights into the varying characters of presidents, but the central idea still manages to provoke. ***
THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES
Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 130 minutes.
A stilted, silly mishmash of earlier fantasy franchises starring Lily Collins as a young woman who learns she is the latest in a long line of "shadow-hunters," descendants of an angel, born to do battle with sundry demons, vampires, witches and warlocks. If you love exposition and shapely (if bland) young actors in leather, skinny jeans, knee boots, goth cocktail dresses and heavy eye makeup, this may be the movie for you. ** 1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US
Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital. G. 93 minutes.
The Brit boy band created by Simon Cowell get their own 3D concert film/love-in directed by Morgan Spurlock. It's not that different from the Justin Bieber doc, or the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus concert films -- sanitized and packaged -- presenting these five British and Irish boys, ages 19-21, as paragons of pop virtue while others vouch for what "rebels" they are, and that they have "edge." **1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS
Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital. PG. 106 minutes.
This sequel to Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief sees our demi-god hero (Logan Lerman) and his friends attempting to save their refuge by going on a mission to the Bermuda Triangle to discover the Golden Fleece. The saga gets points for attempting to illuminate the world of Greek mythology for young audiences, but it's too bad the result is largely lacklustre. **1/2 (Reviewed by Claudia Puig)
McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. G. 92 minutes.
A humble crop-dusting plane named Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) aspires to be a racer and enters an around-the-world contest in this Disney spin-off of Pixar's Cars franchise. The movie earns a few bonus air miles with some exotic locales and a few genuinely funny moments, but a wartime flashback is a tad too grim for the presumably juvenile crowd. **
THE SMURFS 2
St. Vital, Towne. G. 105 minutes.
The Wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria), needing some Smurf magic, conjures up a couple of Naughties (elfin Smurf-like entities of dishonest disposition) to kidnap Smurfette (Katy Perry). Filled with Smurf wholesomeness, Smurf puns and posi-Smurf messages about "never giving up on family," The Smurfs 2 still sucks Smurfberries. ** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
McGillvray, Polo Park. 14A. 109 minutes.
A couple of bank robbers (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) accidentally steal $40 million from a small-town bank, leading to the slow unravelling of a massive conspiracy involving the DEA, the CIA, the navy and a Mexican drug cartels. It all feels like a '70s throwback (specifically recalling the '73 classic Charley Varrick) and Washington and Wahlberg have a bit of charisma, which helps with an otherwise rote action movie. ** 1/2
WE'RE THE MILLERS
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 110 minutes.
Jason Sudeikis is a lowly pot dealer forced to assemble a bogus wholesome family to get a huge shipment of marijuana across the border from Mexico. A twist on the snobs-vs.-slobs comedy formula -- call it straights-vs.-reprobates -- this is a pleasingly raunchy summer farce with Sudeikis ideally cast as a lowlife with a wholesome facade and Jennifer Aniston gleefully tearing apart her Friends image as the sensible good girl, in the role of a desperate stripper at the end of her G-string. ***
Polo Park. 14A. 126 minutes.
The feral, adamantium-boned loner Logan (Hugh Jackman) is summoned to Japan by a man whose life he saved during the Second World War, only to find himself rendered physically vulnerable for the first time in his life. This gets points for going somewhere new in a superhero movie, where the norm is to get stuck in the fertile but familiar mud of the origin story. ***
THE WORLD'S END
Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 109 minutes.
The world ends not with a bang but a whimper and so too does director Edgar Wright's otherwise riotous "Cornetto trilogy" (also including Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz). Simon Pegg stars as a stuck-in-the-past party animal who convinces four of his old mates to complete a 12-stop pub crawl unsuccessfully initiated in the '80s. Alas, the old hometown is now populated with robots. In the previous films, Wright and Pegg took the mickey out of genre movies and contemporary life. This movie, while not without some rewarding comic bits, indicates encroaching middle age has taken the mickey out of them. ***