(KUTV) Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week of May 31 - June 6, 2013
1. Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13)
2. Iron Man 3 (PG-13)
3. Now You See Me (PG-13)
4. The Great Gatsby (PG-13)
5. Oblivion (PG-13)
1. The Croods (PG)
2. Epic (PG)
3. Oz the Great and Powerful (PG)
4. Rise of the Guardians (PG)
5. Escape from Planet Earth (PG)
1. What Maisie Knew (R)
2. Mud (PG-13)
3. Frances Ha (R)
4. Kon-Tiki (PG-13)
5. The Place Beyond the Pines (R)
2 out of 5 Stars
Director: M. Night Shymalan
Starring: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Sophie Okonedo
Recommended To: The wealthy that don’t mind being under whelmed or those that feel obligated to see every major Hollywood release of 2013.
Synopsis: One thousand years after humanity was forced to abandon Earth an asteroid storm forces the space ship carrying Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) to crash land on a planet that is vastly more dangerous than it was when their ancestors left it. With Cypher too wounded to leave the ship, Kitai sets out alone through the wilderness to recover the rescue beacon housed in the wreckage of their ship’s tail.
Review: After Earth is the family vanity piece that I feared it would be. It sets up a fairly interesting premise and then does absolutely nothing with it. Having been reclaimed by nature Earth is supposed to be a world that has evolved into a man-eating planet, but the main antagonist isn’t a creature indigenous to Earth. It’s a monster that escapes from the cargo bay of the space ship when it crashes. In fact there’s absolutely no reason for the planet to be Earth. We don’t see the ruins of any cities or any recognizable landmarks of any kind. It’s just a forest with oversized birds and anxious orangutans.
Were that the film’s greatest drawback it could still make for mindless entertainment. Sadly, it fails to do that as Jaden Smith, who is supposed to carry the film while his father (both biologically and in this work of fiction) sits on the sidelines with a broken leg and plays armchair quarterback, isn’t a strong enough actor to justify the spotlight he’s been given.
M. Night Shyamalan’s direction isn’t to blame for the film’s woes. His rewriting of Gary Whitta’s original screenplay, which I haven’t read, might be a different story as Shyamalan’s fingerprints seem to be all over some of the flashbacks and the cheesier aspects of the story. It’s equally possible that Whitta’s original draft was just as uninspired and Shyamalan didn’t have much of anything to work with in the first place.
For as redundant as Oblivion felt it at least had gorgeous visuals and a cast that kept things interesting. After Earth just runs in circles until the audience is too exhausted to care about the characters, the plot or the special effects.
Now You See Me
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco
Recommended To: Anyone looking for a fun thriller filled with constant twists and turns and a touch of magic.
Synopsis: When a group of magicians rob a bank as part of their Las Vegas act FBI agent and a newly assigned Interpol detective look to expose the entertainers’ methods and expose them as the criminals they really are.
Review: Now You See Me overruns with talent as its large ensemble cast sees legendary actors like Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine team up with fresh talent like Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco and Melanie Laurent and established faces in Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson. It’s a cast that’s almost too big for its screenplay but writers Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt somehow manage to spread the material out without favoring a particular character over the next. Yes, character development suffers, but they’re varied enough to provide a solid backdrop for the spectacle that surrounds them.
Now You See Me isn’t a film that takes itself too seriously. It sets out to simply entertain audiences an elaborate story filled with improbable feats, an abundance of twists and red herrings. It mixes real magic tricks with CGI effects to aid in the various illusions and stunts. It’s entirely impossible and more than a bit over the top. I like it that way.
What Maisie Knew
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Directors: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Starring: Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Alexander Skarsgard
Recommended To: Those searching for an interesting look at what it is like for a child to be caught in the middle of a custody battle between two undeserving parents.
Synopsis: Susanna (Julianne Moore), a fading rock star and Beale (Steve Coogan), an art dealer, watch their long-term relationship disintegrate into a vicious custody battle over their 7-year-old daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile).
Review: What Maisie Knew is a contemporary take on Henry James’ novel of the same name. It is a story about ego and misplaced worth. It’s about a little girl caught in between two terrible options. Moore and Coogan are fantastically unlikable in their roles. They strive for some sort of self-progression but never manage to swap out their one-note qualities for actual growth. The crowds around them change; the self-delusion always remains.
Were it not for the compassion of strangers Maisie would never know that proclamations of love aren’t nearly as warm as acts of kindness. Those strangers, Margo (Joanna Vanderham) and Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard), are the heart of the film as their characters abandon their naiveté and ignorance in an effort to save Maisie from the parents that should be protecting her.
What Maisie Knew is an emotionally draining experience. The performances are impressive, the direction subtle and beautiful and the cinematography appropriately sparse with the occasional ray of sunshine. There’s just that sliver of hope and sometimes that will have to do.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcast Group)