Grant Park, McGillivray, 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 protagonist the audience can get behind, but he does manage to present an acidly amusing diversion good for some bitter/outrageous laughs. 3 stars
Polo Park. 14A. 86 minutes.
A couple of friends on a whirlwind world tour run afoul of a mysterious assailant that sends one of them (Derek Lee) on a violent supernatural journey.
Cinematheque. G. 113 minutes.
A devoted father (Gabriel Arcand) decides to sell his farm when his daughter appeals to him to give her money to save her own house in this Quebec film by Sébastien Pilote.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 136 minutes.
After a colleague comes under attack, Steve Rogers, a.k.a Captain America (Chris Evans) teams with the Black Widow (Scarlett Johannsson ) and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) to face down the mysterious super-powered operative called "The Winter Soldier" (Sebastian Stan).
CAS & DYLAN
Globe. 14A. 91 minutes.
The terminally ill Dr. Cas Pepper (Richard Dreyfuss) is on a road trip to end his life when he encounters 22-year-old Dylan (Tatiana Maslany) and finds himself on the lam with her after hitting her boyfriend with his car.
The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, 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. 3 stars
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, 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 World 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. 4 stars (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 party-goer and man about town. Living up to its name, it's a film that is luxuriously seductively, stunningly cinematic. 4 stars (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. 3 stars
THE LEGO MOVIE
Kildonan Place, 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. 3 stars
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 word play and the pull-out-all-stops supporting cast pays off. 3 stars (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). 3 stars
NEED FOR SPEED
Polo Park, Towne. PG. 131 minutes.
An ace mechanic and driver (Aaron Paul) participates in a reckless cross-country race to clear his name against the unsavory 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 takes a claim to roots in movies of the '60s and '70s 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. 2-1/2 stars
Globe, Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, 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. 3-1/2 stars (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. 3 stars
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. 4 stars (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
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. 3 stars