Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park. 14A. 88 minutes.
A rancorous 40-year-old man (Jason Bateman) exploits a loophole to compete in a children's spelling bee while a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) attempts to learn the motivation behind his deliberate subversion of the event. Bateman, making his feature directorial debut, seems to stack the odds against himself when it comes to a boasting protagonist the audience can get behind, but he does manage to present an acidly amusing diversion good for some bitter laughs. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 140 minutes.
In a dystopian future society, every citizen at age 16 is designated for one of five social factions but Tris (Shailene Woodley) discovers she doesn't fit into any one category, which places her life in danger from the clique-oriented powers that be. While an undistinguished piece of speculative pop fiction, the premise is at least more interesting and credible than The Hunger Games, and Woodley proves to be a sympathetic heroine of Jennifer Lawrence proportions. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Grant Park, Polo Park. 14A. 100 minutes.
Director Wes Anderson's latest stars Ralph Fiennes as the concierge of a legendary hotel, coping with crime, intrigue and destructive political forces on the rise between the two world wars. It's a dark, daft and deft triumph of design details. From the purple-velvet-with-red-piping hotel uniforms to the drinks, colognes and artwork of Europe between the wars, Anderson ensconces his eccentric characters and us in a time of baroque, imaginary four-star hotels run on what used to pass for four-star service. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
THE GREAT BEAUTY
Globe. 14A. 132 minutes.
This Italian Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film stars Toni Serville as an aging writer living in Rome and still coasting off a literary success from decades earlier, now in crisis over his life as a partygoer and man about town. Living up to its name, it's a film that is luxuriously seductively and stunningly cinematic. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Kenneth Turan)
H & G
Cinematheque. 14A. 95 minutes.
Winnipeg director Danishka Esterhazy (Black Field) tells the Hansel and Gretel story in a contemporary, realist context. It could have been tougher and more evocative, but this is still a bracingly fresh take on an old story, celebrating the resilience and heroism of the very young. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
THE LEGO MOVIE
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 101 minutes.
An ordinary Lego figure (voiced by Chris Pratt) is enlisted to lead a force of Lego good guys (including Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) against an evil megalomaniac plotting to glue the Lego universe together. This wild animated feature may appeal to kids, but adults will be heartened by its potent satiric undercurrent and its championing of creativity. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN
Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 93 minutes.
This studio-produced, animated epic, based on Jay Ward's more humbly satiric 'toon from the '60s, gives us the return of the time-travelling genius canine Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) attempting to undo the temporal damage done by his adopted son Sherman when he used their time-travel "Wabac" machine to impress a girl. Fans of the old Jay Ward TV show may take longer in adjusting to the new voices, but the witty wordplay and the pull-out-all-stops supporting cast pay off. 'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 107 minutes.
Kermit the Frog falls victim to a look-alike international criminal named Constantine, who takes his place on a Muppets tour of Europe while Kermit is trapped in a Russian gulag under the command of a musical theatre-loving prison guard (Tina Fey). A slight comedown from its more inspired predecessor, this is still an entertaining, silly time for kids and their parents (although they won't always be laughing at the same thing). 'Ö'Ö'Ö
NEED FOR SPEED
Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 131 minutes.
An ace mechanic and driver (Aaron Paul) participates in a reckless cross-country race to clear his name against the unsavoury professional driver (Dominic Cooper) who let him take the fall for a crime he didn't commit. Because its admittedly impressive stunts were all achieved without use of CGI, Need for Speed stakes a claim to roots in movies of the '60s and '70s (Bullitt, The French Connection or Vanishing Point) but has none of their grit: It's really here to rake in a little of the gearhead cash the Fast and Furious franchise is making by the truckload. 'Ö1/2
Globe, Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital. PG. 138 minutes.
In director Darren Aranofsky's adaptation of the biblical story, Noah (Russell Crowe) lives in a time of human barbarism and gets the call from God to build an ark and populate it with two animals of every species. Big, beatific and (more or less) biblical, the film is a mad vision of a movie, an action adventure take on The Flood that cleansed the Earth. Aronofsky envisions it all through the lens of Hollywood, interpreting the Bible as myth and telling one of its most fantastical tales as a grand and dark cinematic fantasy -- a Lord of the Rains. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Grant Park, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 107 minutes.
An air marshal (Liam Neeson) finds himself in the hot seat on a trans-Atlantic flight when an anonymous psycho threatens to kill one person on board the flight every 20 minutes. In the movie's third act, the implausibility factor hits an altitude higher than 40,000 feet, but Neeson holds the centre well by virtue of his physically imposing presence and tragic demeanour. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
PERSISTENCE OF VISION
Cinematheque. PG. 83 minutes.
This doc by Kevin Schreck examines the troubled history of the animated film The Thief and the Cobbler, Richard Williams' would-be animated masterpiece, which was taken away from him and released in a bastardized version before he could complete it. While the film shows no love for the movie-studio philistines, it acknowledges that Williams was his own worst enemy, a visionary who knew everything about his art form, except when to stop. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
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. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
SON OF GOD
Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 138 minutes.
The stand-alone story of Jesus Christ is adapted for the big screen from last year's History Channel miniseries The Bible with Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as the titular scion. It's too brutal at times, but it has a redemptive optimism about it that makes the brutality go down easier. 'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A. 103 minutes.
This sequel to Zack Snyder's 300 offers stylized, bloody seagoing action concurrent to the events of the first movie, involving a raging female admiral (Eva Green) fighting for Persia against the Greeks, led by the formidable Gen. Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). It's sexy, violent and stylish, which certainly makes for an improvement over Pompeii. 'Ö'Ö'Ö