Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week of February 14– 21, 2013
1. Zero Dark Thirty (R)
2. Lincoln (PG-13)
3. Silver Linings Playbook (R)
4. Warm Bodies (PG-13)
5. Les Miserables (PG-13)
1. Frankenweenie (PG)
2. Life of Pi (PG)
3. Rise of the Guardians (PG)
4. Wreck-It Ralph (PG)
5. ParaNorman (PG)
1. Argo (R)
2. Amour (PG-13)
3. The Impossible (PG-13)
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild (PG-13)
5. Quartet (PG-13)
3 out of 5 Stars
Director • Richard LaGravenese
Starring • Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson
Rated • PG-13
Recommended to • Those looking for a fantasy romance where something actually happens.
Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) wants to escape his sheltered Southern town, but there’s something to be said about falling in love with Lena (Alice Englert), the new and mysterious girl who lives with her hermit of an uncle.
The instant “Twilight” was a runaway hit the onslaught of movies with similar plots and themes were inevitable. Thankfully that allowed “Warm Bodies” and now “Beautiful Creatures” to be made. “Beautiful Creatures” isn’t quite as inventive as “Warm Bodies,” but it does have a major advantage over “Twilight” in that characters make major decisions and sacrifices with consequences that stretch beyond their personal space. Whereas “Twilight” was about being selfish, this film is about being selfless. It also looks like a film, rather than a made-for-television special with the occasional splash of glitter. I’m not saying “Beautiful Creatures” is a masterpiece; it isn’t. It is an entertaining voyage that works extremely well when it keeps things small. When the film goes crazy for special effects and a general sense of cinematic chaos it gets a bit silly and steals away the spotlight from the developing relationships. More Ethan and Lena and not nearly as much witchery would have suited me better.
3 out of 5 Stars
Director • Lasse Hallstrom
Starring • Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel and Cobie Smulders
Rated • PG-13
Recommended to • Those looking for Nicholas Sparks’ attempt at making a romantic thriller.
Katie (Julianne Hough) flees from her mysterious and presumably dark life and ends up in Southport, North Carolina, where she reestablishes herself while falling for Alex (Josh Duhamel), the local widower with two kids. Unfortunately you can’t always outrun the demons from your past.
Another Nicholas Sparks film cut from the exact same mold as every other Nicholas Sparks film. It’s romance with a sense of danger and a guaranteed happy ending. Yes, Sparks is as predictable as a M. Night Shyamalan twist. He has a formula and he’s going to stick to it. “Safe Haven” does try to sneak in a few twists by keep important details from the audience until the end of the film, but most are fairly easy to pick up on because without the twists the characters would make absolutely no sense. You might not exactly guess what the twist is, but you’ll know you’re being toyed with and expect answers before the film is through because Sparks always ties up all the loose ends.
“Safe Haven” is what you’d expect it to be. No more, no less.
A Good Day to Die Hard
3 out of 5 Stars
Director • John Moore
Starring • Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch
Rated • R
Recommended to • Fans of films that are heavy on action and light on brains.
John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to try and get Jack (Jai Courtney), his irresponsible son, out of prison. Typical to form it isn’t long before McClane becomes the last man standing between the forces of good and evil.
There have been moments in the Die Hard franchise where the story actually had something to say and the action wasn’t the only reason for the film to exist (and some would debate that claim). “A Good Day to Die Hard” has no purpose other than to connect one bombastic action scene to the next with as little plot as possible. Not that this should surprise anyone since the script was written by “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” scribe Skip Woods and John Moore, the film’s director, was responsible for “Max Payne” and “The Omen” remake. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out exactly what direction the franchise is heading in.
So let’s simply ignore the fact that the film is essentially built upon the fact that John and Jake don’t seem to get along but deep inside we know they’ll sort it out and end up on good terms by the time the bullets stop flying and just focusing on what the filmmakers were most interested in: the action. “A Good Day to Die Hard” takes the average car chase and makes it twice as long, destroys five times the normal amount of vehicles and sneaks in a reference to one of the earlier films. When it blows something it up the explosion is three times the size it should be, slow-motion effects make the blast last twice as long and they drop in a reference to one of the previous films. Are you sensing a pattern here?
“A Good Day to Die Hard” is all about the nostalgia for when louder, bigger, faster and stronger (not necessarily better) was the sequel formula. It makes for an extremely entertaining film that is about as nutritious as a handful of sugar. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, the film is delicious. Just don’t be surprised if you need something with a little bit of substance to ward of the inevitable stomachache.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)