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Walking With Dinosaurs

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Walking With Dinosaurs

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ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 119 minutes.

The sequel to the 2004 comedy hit sees arrogant meat puppet Ron Burgundy heading for New York City to man a newfangled 24-hour cable news network, where his brand of stupid, narcissistic, self-indulgence catches on. Scenes of inspired stoner humour abound, but at the same time this is a pretty scathing satiric commentary on contemporary news organizations. *** 1/2

 

STARTING FRIDAY

AMERICAN HUSTLE

McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 138 minutes.

Director David O. Russell follows up last year's unexpected hit, Silver Linings Playbook, recycling two of that film's stars -- Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence -- paired with two stars of his 2010 film The Fighter, Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Russell takes on the Abscam affair, a wide-ranging federal investigation into government corruption, with Bale taking centre stage as a scam artist drawn into the con by Cooper's permed fed.

 

NEBRASKA

Globe. PG. 115 minutes.

Director Alexander Payne returned to his home state for a plaintive tale of familial reconciliation. The film gives a plum role to Bruce Dern as a cantankerous, somewhat befuddled patriarch who forces his son (Will Forte) to accompany him on a quixotic campaign to collect a million dollar prize offered by a mail order company.

 

SAVING MR. BANKS

Globe, Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park. PG. 126 minutes.

Tom Hanks brings his considerable charm to the task reviving Walt Disney in this more-or-less factual account of how Disney sought the rights top Mary Poppins from reluctant Australian-born novelist P.L. Travers, played by an especially prickly Emma Thompson.

 

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS

Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 88 minutes.

A 3D adventure in which computer-animated dinosaurs interact against live action landscapes.

 

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The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

McGillivray VIP. 18A. 117 minutes.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a Dallas electrician and rodeo rider who contracted the AIDS virus in the mid-'80s and, on his own, found a workable treatment for himself and many other AIDS sufferers at a time the Food and Drug Administration was insisting on patients participating in protracted drug trials. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y.) keeps the story grounded by mapping a solid inspirational character arc for Woodroof, from exploiter to advocate. But McConaughey takes it to the next level, not just in the much-publicized 50-pound weight loss he took upon himself for the role, but in his deeper embrace of the character. *** 1/2

 

DELIVERY MAN

Polo Park. PG. 105 minutes.

This English-language remake of the Quebec comedy Starbuck stars Vince Vaughn as a hapless truck driver who discovers a deeper purpose in his life when he learns he fathered some 500 young adults through a mistaken distribution of his contributions to a sperm bank. What we have here is the makings of a charming time-to-grow-up-and-be-responsible-comedy. And that is exactly what Delivery Man manages to be. *** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

FROZEN

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 102 minutes.

A young princess (voiced by Kristen Bell) must rise to the occasion when her sorceress sister (Idina Menzel) accidentally puts their kingdom in a deep freeze in this Disney animated musical. The songs are more poppy than the enduring Broadway-like songbooks of Disney musicals past, a weakness compensated in animation art that is particularly gorgeous. *** 1/2

 

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 162 minutes.

In this second instalment of Peter Jackson's latest J.R.R. Tolkein adaptation, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) attempts to aid a band of plucky dwarves in reclaiming their kingdom from the dragon Smaug. It dispenses with much of the painstaking geek exposition of the first film and brings on the action, with help from a couple of ass-kicking elves (Evangeline Lilly and Orlando Bloom) but still hews too close to Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy in plot, theme and execution. *** 1/2

 

HOMEFRONT

Polo Park. 14A. 101 minutes.

A few surprises lurk in this standard action thriller about a retired undercover cop (Jason Statham) trying to rebuild his life in Louisiana with his young daughter: a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone? A meth kingpin bad guy played by James Franco? Both Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder playing lowlife meth molls? Alas, unexpected casting and a script by the writer of Rocky don't necessarily translate into anything but a rote punch-up. **

 

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 146 minutes.

Teen tribute Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) inspires rebellion in the future dystopia of Panem, leading the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to force her to compete in a rigged 75th edition of the battle-to-the-death. "Hunger" notwithstanding, this is an overflowing cornucopia of cinematic stuff: Romance, action, social commentary, nature gone mad, mystery, intrigue, and even fashion. And yet, as in the first installment, there is the gnawing feeling of something lacking. **1/2

 

PHILOMENA

Grant Park. 14A. 98 minutes.

A political journalist (Steve Coogan) gets emotionally involved when he helps an older woman (Judi Dench) search for the son she forcibly gave up for adoption decades earlier. Philomena is a standard issue little-old-lady tour de force for Oscar winner Judi Dench, but it's a delicious change of pace for snarky funnyman Steve Coogan. **** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 112 minutes.

Marvel Comics' God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) faces off against the malevolent elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who has devastating designs against Thor's home world, and his earthly love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). The handsome heroics are impressive, but let's face it: Hemsworth's hero is a bit dull compared to his entertainingly wicked brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). ***

 

12 YEARS A SLAVE

Globe. 14A. 134 minutes.

Director Steve McQueen adapted a harrowing memoir by Solomon Northrup (here played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man in upstate New York, abducted and sold into slavery. The beauty of this movie is in how we identify with Northup and come to understand the awful effects his loss of liberty had not just on him, but on the moral relativists and outright sadists who ran the machinery of slavery. ***** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 19, 2013 ??65524

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