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Oculus

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Oculus

AFFLICTED

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. Lee, who also wrote and directed with co-star Clif Prowse, takes the found-footage thriller into a somewhat different direction, but not different enough. Let's face it: The genre is now past its stale date with characters who don't seem to know when to drop their movie cameras and run. TWO

 

BAD WORDS

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 boasting a protagonist the audience can get behind, but he does manage to present an acidly amusing diversion good for some bitter/outrageous laughs. THREE

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 136 minutes.

After an assassination plot directed at a colleague, 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 superpowered assassin called "The Winter Soldier" (Sebastian Stan). This latest Marvel franchise entry is not as funny as The Avengers, but it is an action-packed entry as timely and pertinent as a book from the comic book's Bronze Age. THREE-1/2

 

DIVERGENT

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. THREE

 

DRAFT DAY

Grant Park, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Towne. PG. 110 minutes.

A football team GM (Kevin Costner) angles to rebuild his struggling team by scoring a No. 1 draft pick in this better-than-expected behind-the-scenes football comedy from Ivan Reitman, co-starring Denis Leary and Jennifer Garner. THREE

 

GOD'S NOT DEAD

Grant Park. PG. 113 minutes.

A college student (Shane Harper) is obliged to defend his Christian faith against an atheist philosophy professor (Kevin Sorbo) in this Christian drama. The inspirational quotient may be low, but this is the angriest faith-based film in recent memory. And as mother always said, when you lose your temper, you've already lost the argument. TWO (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Grant Park, McGillivray, 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. FOUR (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

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. THREE

 

MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN

Kildonan Place, 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 pays off. THREE (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). THREE

 

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 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 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. ONE-1/2

NOAH

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. THREE-1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

NON-STOP

Grant Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 107 minutes.

An air marshall (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. THREE

 

OCULUS

McGillivray, Polo Park, Towne. 14A. 103 minutes.

Sister and brother Kaylie and Tim (Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites) steal a supernaturally powerful antique mirror with the intention of proving it was responsible for the death of their parents years earlier. It starts well, but by the self-destructing third act, the story falls prey to the affliction of many a genre movie. Just because anything can happen doesn't mean anything should happen. TWO-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. FOUR (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

THE RAID 2

Polo Park, St. Vital. 18A. 150 minutes.

In this bigger, more ambitious sequel to the one-of-a-kind martial arts thriller The Raid, cop Rama (Iwo Ukais) goes undercover to infiltrate the criminal organization that came close to killing him in the first movie. If the first was like a grungy Die Hard, this one is more like a grungy Scarface, dark, violent but maddeningly irresistible. THREE-1/2

 

RIO 2

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 101 minutes.

Lovebirds Blu and Jewel are living the sweet domestic life in Rio de Janeiro until Jewel decides to take their kids for a trip to the Amazon rainforest to learn what life is like in nature. This sequel amounts to more characters, more actors, more songs, more pandering and fewer laughs. TWO-1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

Polo Park. 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 General Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). It's sexy, violent and stylish. THREE

 

LE WEEK-END

Globe. 14A. 93 minutes.

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play a later-middle-aged couple who take a trip to Paris in an effort to revive their failing marriage. A corrosive, witty and revealing story of a marriage laid bare. THREE-1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 13, 2014 A13

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