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This article was published 20/11/2014 (2534 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Grant Park. G. 124 minutes.
If astrophysicist Stephen Hawking had died within two years of his motor neuron disease diagnosis, as doctors believed, this film about his relationship with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) would have been an easier boilerplate biopic/tragic romance. But Hawking (played remarkably well by Eddie Redmayne) transcended his prognosis, just as this film tends to transcend the cliché by emphasizing Jane's story and delivering a mature examination of the limits of unselfish love. Starts tomorrow. *** 1/2
THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED
Cinematheque. 14A. 113 minutes.
A 100-year-old dynamite expert (Robert Gustafsson) with an already colourful past decides to start over, first by escaping the old folks' home where he lives, in this Swedish comedy.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 123 minutes.
The games are over but the war has begun as champion Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) emerges as a symbol of the resistance to the tyranny of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in this penultimate episode to the Hunger Games saga.
KUNG FU ELLIOT
Cinematheque. 14A. 88 minutes.
This documentary follows two years in the life of Elliot Scott, a would-be Canadian martial arts star as he tries to complete his own dubious action movie, Blood Fight.
The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.
ALEXANDER AND THE HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
St. Vital. G. 81 minutes.
This Disney adaptation of Judith Viorst's children's book sees Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) and his whole family endure one disaster after another on the mother of all bad days. This is competent, light entertainment, no more ambitious than that, but the stuff that's not in Viorst's book is what gooses this kids comedy. The plot points and grown-up concerns are handled with comic flair by Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell as Alexander's parents, both of whom come right up to the brink of melting down, but don't. *** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
BIG HERO 6
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 102 minutes.
A young inventor employs his brother's inflatable medi-robot to track the kabuki-masked fiend who stole his micro-robot technology in this animated Disney adventure. A mash-up of superhero movie and Disney animation pales in comparison to the precedent of The Incredibles, but it has a bit of charm and an interesting fusion of Marvel tropes and anime esthetics. ***
Grant Park. 14A. 119 minutes.
A washed-up movie star (Michael Keaton), best known for a masked superhero he played decades earlier, tries to mount a Broadway drama in a desperate bid to reclaim the career and family he lost. It's a role Keaton had to become a has-been to play and his performance is riveting, hilarious, intimate and larger-than-life. ***** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
THE BOOK OF LIFE
Polo Park. G. 96 minutes.
A young matador must fight from beyond death to be reunited with the woman he loves. Dia de los Muertos may seem like a sombre celebration as the focal point of a children's animated film, but the roots of the Mexican holiday revolve around the fond memories of loved ones past. This eye-popping film, utilizing characters that look like traditional wood figurines, is especially captivating when its hero enters the stunningly lovely land of the remembered. ***
DUMB AND DUMBER TO
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 110 minutes
Twenty years after their first road trip/misadventure, Harry and Lloyd (Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey) hit the road again in search of Harry's long-lost daughter, but it's the directors, the Farrelly brothers, who lose their way. The antics are as outrageous as in the first movie, but the comedy is disconcertingly more cruel. Geez, it's Dumb and Dumber, guys, not Mean and Meaner. **
Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 135 minutes.
A sergeant called Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) takes an innocent young recruit (Logan Lerman) under his wing to teach him combat and survival with a five-man tank crew in this Second World War drama. Director David Ayer, who wrote and directed End of Watch and wrote Training Day, specializes in the field of men of action under extreme pressure, and this film is accordingly tense, explosive and violent, but its resonant undercurrent of tragedy springs from the violence done to the spirit. *** 1/2
Polo Park, St. Vital. 18A. 149 minutes.
David Fincher directed this tale of a man (Ben Affleck) who comes under suspicion when his wife (Rosamund Pike) goes missing and is presumed murdered. This absurdly long, occasionally miscast mystery thriller lacks much mystery. Its big reveal comes at the halfway mark. The further twists and competing narratives about what might have really happened unravel rather than unfold. *** 1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 169 minutes.
In a post-apocalyptic future, a pilot (Matthew McConaughey) is recruited to leave his children to find a new habitable planet where the human race might find a second chance at survival. Director Christopher Nolan (Inception) delivers a satisfying combination of human drama and big spectacle. The outer-space stuff in the film's final two-thirds, especially the journey through the wormhole, gives real magnificence to the obligatory trippy visuals we expect. ****
Polo Park, Towne. 18A. 101 minutes.
In this odd but unique action thriller, Keanu Reeves is a super-efficient retired hit man resigned to take his arsenal out of storage when a gang of thugs steals his car and kills his dog. Ultimately, this movie registers as a Hollywood response to the amped up action of Gareth Evans's explosive Indonesian double bill The Raid and The Raid 2. And if the movie doesn't quite achieve that degree of jaw-dropping awe, co-directors and seasoned stunt designers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch have succeeded in delivering a fairly dazzling exercise in bang-bang, with Reeves providing a hitherto unseen sociopathic gravitas at the film's dark centre. *** 1/2
Towne. 14A. 118 minutes.
Jake Gyllenhaal is simultaneously repulsive and fascinating as Lou, a petty thief who finds a purpose in his nocturnal wanderings when he stumbles into the world of local TV news, filming violent scenes and selling the footage to a desperate news producer (Rene Russo). So repellent is Lou, it's a potential problem for an audience obliged to spend two hours in his company. But Gyllenhaal keeps us watching with his wide-eyed intensity and his crazily inappropriate reactions to disturbing stimuli. If TV news is in the business of selling fear as peddled by the likes of Lou, we have good reason to be afraid. *** 1/2
Towne. PG. 90 minutes.
After a girl is killed while playing with a Ouija board, a group of her friends initiate their own paranormal investigation into the cursed plaything, with predictably deadly results. Universal's effort to reclaim its place as the Home for Horror takes a step backward with this duller-than-dull 89 minutes of your life you'll never get back. Frankly, the board game is scarier, but only if you break the rules. * (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Towne. 14A. 103 minutes.
Jon Stewart directed this smart, moving and media-savvy memoir based on the experiences of Iranian-American journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) who was arrested and interrogated by Iranian forces in the aftermath of the abortive Green revolution. *** 1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park. 14A. 103 minutes.
Bill Murray makes himself at home in the role of a seedy Vietnam vet whose smoking-drinking-gambling ways become an issue when he finds himself in the unlikely role of babysitter to the impressionable young son of a harried working single mom (Melissa McCarthy). If the premise sounds creaky, director Theodore Melfi wisely deploys Murray to de-sentimentalize the proceedings, and give the story a jolt of the unpredictable with McCarthy, of all people, delivering much of the dramatic substance. ****
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.