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This article was published 30/7/2014 (665 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A MOST WANTED MAN
Grant Park. 14A. 122 minutes.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his last starring role, plays a German spymaster attempting to recruit a suspected Muslim terrorist in this adaptation of a novel by John le Carré. Director Anton Corbijn resists any impulse to spice up le Carre's story with gratuitous sex and/or violence, making this is an entirely admirable movie about post-9/11 espionage, even more uncivilized now than it was in the days of le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy hero George Smiley. HHH
NEW IN TOWN
DOC OF THE DEAD
Cinematheque. Subject to classification. 82 minutes.
Given the zombie craze permeating TV (The Walking Dead), movies (World War Z) and even local culture (zombie walks), this funny, gruesome and thoroughly entertaining doc peels back the partially decomposed skin of the trend to examine its pandemic appeal. Expert witnesses include World War Z author Max Brooks, Army of Darkness stud Bruce Campbell, Shaun of the Dead star Simon Pegg and, or course, zombie culture's grand old man George A. Romero. It starts today. HHH 1/2
GET ON UP
Grant Park, Polo Park. 14A. 139 minutes.
This film biography examines the life and career of "the hardest working man in show business" James Brown, from impoverished beginnings to soul music superstardom. Chadwick Boseman (who played Jackie Robinson in 42) stars.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 121 minutes.
This Marvel comics adaptation examines a group of lesser-known heroes (all with criminal backgrounds, including a super-intelligent raccoon) led by Peter Quill, a.k.a. Starlord (Chris Pratt), who finds himself in possession of an all-powerful orb that, in the wrong hands, may threaten the lives of billions.
Towne. 14A. 108 minutes.
Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) stars as a molecular biologist whose study of the eye ties in with his tragic love affair with a mysterious beauty Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey).
The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.
AND SO IT GOES
Grant Park, McGillivray. PG. 94 minutes.
Michael Douglas is a cranky widower who relies on his next-door neighbour (Diane Keaton) when he gets temporary custody of a granddaughter he didn't know he had. While a senior-years romantic comedy is not, in itself, offensive, one does have reason be offended by a comedy that enlists aging boomers to participate in the kill of the mortally wounded genre, stabbing the beast with sticky sentiment, a predictable plot and clichés up the ying-yang. H 1/2
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 101 minutes.
The genetically enhanced apes introduced in the franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) are back and beginning to take control of the world. This action-packed epic is a moving sci-fi allegory rendered in broad, lush strokes by the latest state of the computer animator's art. But it's all in service of an utterly conventional story, however, one you'll be three steps ahead of even if you have no memories of the '70s Apes movie (Battle for the Planet of the Apes) this is largely based on. HHH (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 98 minutes.
Dwayne Johnson plays Herc as a simple mercenary whose demi-god status is actually presented as PR, making this the first Hercules movie to openly question the existence of Zeus. Hence, this is a summer movie with sufficient wit, action and spectacle to pass as a modestly entertaining summer diversion. The sincere Johnson is sufficiently pumped-up to make his more ridiculous feats of strength (including horse-tossing) seem not all that ridiculous. HHH
Grant Park. 14A. 134 minutes
Director Clint Eastwood brings this Tony Award-winning musical to the multiplex. The story follows the history of the 1960s group the Four Seasons, and focuses on the ups and downs of four men who grew up in poverty in New Jersey, and their rise to stardom. Just like the Broadway musical, the songs are the stars of the show, but the transition between the music and the story is a bit shaky. HHH 1/2 (Reviewed by Brad Oswald)
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 90 minutes.
Scarlett Johansson stars in this Luc Besson action movie as a reluctant drug mule who accidentally ingests an overdose of a new chemical concoction that allows her to utilize her brain power to superhuman effect. It comes off as the kind of science fiction created by someone who never actually read a book on science. Besson's intellectual energy went into making this a calculatedly international hit, designed as a three-prong attack on Asian, European and American audiences, with Johansson at the calm centre, going from panicky tourist to ass-kicking demi-goddess with aplomb. HH 1/2
PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE
Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 84 minutes.
This sequel to last year's unexpected hit Planes offers up the return of racer Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) facing a forced retirement from competition and entering the world of aerial firefighting. A couple of flight sequences take us over majestic deserts and amber waves of grain -- beautiful animated scenery. Other than that, there's not much to this. But its predecessor was so story-and-laugh starved, there was nowhere to go but up. HH1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
THE PURGE: ANARCHY
Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 104 minutes.
In this quickly-produced sequel to last year's dystopian hit, innocent citizens find themselves trapped on the streets during an annual event in which all crime is made legal over the period of one single violent night. It's preachier, more diverse in its casting than the first one, all of which make it more specific and limit it. Throw in generally lackluster performances and illogical plot twists and Anarchy is seriously crippled. HH (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A. 95 minutes.
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz are a couple trying to prevent the titular home movie from going viral, making for a raunchy contemporary twist in the traditional sex farce. But it's a PG plot for an X-rated story, trying to bridge the gap between the traditional romantic comedy and today's porn-addled digital world. The high-concept comedies spawned by The 40-Year-Old Virgin need to start using birth control. HH (Reviewed by Jake Coyle)
Kildonan Place, Polo Park. 14A. 97 minutes.
Melissa McCarthy is Tammy, a slovenly, morbidly obese vulgarian who is fired from her fast-food restaurant job and catches her husband cheating on her. More hijinks ensues when she decides to go on a road trip to Niagara Falls, joined by Granny (Susan Sarandon). McCarthy continues her quest to milk anything and everything for a laugh, while ignoring her size. HHH (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 165 minutes.
The Autobots and Decepticons are back in the fourth film of the Michael Bay-lensed series. This time around, Mark Wahlberg stars as a mechanic whose garage discovery brings the feds down on him and his family. The Transformers fear that humanity has it out for them and strike back. At two hours and 45 minutes, this is popcorn piffle without end. HH1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
22 JUMP STREET
Polo Park. 14A. 112 minutes
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return as mismatched cops whose dubious youthfulness gets them sent undercover -- this time in college. Jokes hit the same targets repeatedly -- yes, the guys look too old to be college students and yes, sequels are always the same only different -- yet the movie manages to score more than its share of laughs largely due to Tatum, who proves to be an able comedian. HHH
WISH I WAS HERE
Grant Park. PG. 107 minutes.
Zach Braff follows up his indie hit Garden State with another little comedy about a failed actor (Braff), this time attempting to get through a difficult stretch when he is obliged to deal with a dying dad (Mandy Patinkin), an increasingly resentful wife (Kate Hudson) working at a job she hates, and a couple of sheltered kids. Braff famously took to Kickstarter to raise more than $3 million for this film, raising questions of whether a wealthy actor should be seeking money on Kickstarter. The more urgent question remains: Why didn't Braff use this money to make a better film? HH