Box Office: Recommended Films For The Week Of April 11 – April 17, 2014
Recommended films showing in Salt Lake City for the week April 11 – April 17, 2014
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13)
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
3. Noah (PG-13)
4. Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
5. Draft Day (PG-13)
1. Muppets Most Wanted (PG)
2. The Lego Movie (PG)
3. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG)
4. Frozen (PG)
5. Rio 2 (G)
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
2. The Raid 2 (R)
3. The Lunchbox (PG)
4. Le Week-End (R)
5. Cesar Chavez (PG-13)
New In Theaters This Week:
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Kevin Costner, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner
Genre: Drama, Sports
Recommended To: Fans of football, sports films and Kevin Costner.
Synopsis: With his job on the line general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) is faced with the task of determining who to pick when he trades up for the number one pick in the NFL Draft.
Review: As a casual football fan I have to admit that there were times when I found Draft Day to be a compelling look at the behind the scenes of a football “war room” where the future of a franchise can hinge on a handful of decisions. Kevin Costner is quite good as Sonny Weaver, son of a legendary football coach and frequent target of the fan base’s disdain. Where the film falters is that screenwriters Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph have inserted all sorts of soap opera drama into the story via a secret office romance (which also undermines Jennifer Garner’s character) and strained family relationships (which could have been handled a lot better). This suggests that they either didn’t think their core story was interesting enough to carry the film or they were desperate to widen their audience by appeasing female audience members with a bit of romance and family tension. What they’ve actually done is dilute the most interesting aspects of the story. Then there’s the fact that the film isn’t based on an identifiable true story. Fortunately this doesn’t completely derail the film, but it does keep the film from being on par with Moneyball.
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Roger Michell
Starring: Lindsay Duncan, Jim Broadbent, Jeff Goldblum
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Recommended To: Those looking for a film similar to Before Midnight with an older cast and a British twist.
Synopsis: With passion of their marriage fading Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick (Jim Broadbent), an aged couple, return to Paris, the scene of their honeymoon, in hopes of revitalizing their romance.
Review: Thematically Le Week-End shares much in common with Richard Linklater’s film Before Midnight and Judd Apatow’s This is 40. All three explore once-vibrant relationships that have eroded over time. However, stylistically the films bear little resemblance. Before Midnight is a beguiling indie production, This is 40 is more slick and polished affair (Apatow had more than ten times the budget that Linklater had to work with) and Le Week-End feels somewhere between, both in quality and in aesthetic (This is 40 was lackluster while Before Midnight was one of the best films of 2013). Le Week-End has a wonderful British sense of humor and Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent both offer up wonderful feisty performances that are a perfect mixture of compassion and venom. There’s more bickering than romance, but there’s the sense that, like Shakespeare’s Benedick and Beatrice, the pair couldn’t be happy unless they traded a few barbs every now and again.
The Raid 2
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Recommended To: Anyone looking for the best (and often most brutal) action sequences that you’ll find in any cinema.
Synopsis: Officer Rama goes undercover to get close to Bangun, a powerful mob boss.
Review: The Raid 2 (AKA The Raid: Berandal) is The Raid without the confines of a high-rise building. This allows writer/director Gareth Evans to take the organized chaos to a whole new level as he introduces car chases, street fights, mud-soaked prison riots and subway brawls into the mix. These various action pieces are tied together by a fairly dense story that features the traditional genre tropes of corruption, greed and betrayal, but these familiar elements never feel tired as the constant barrage of over-the-top fight sequences will keep you from thinking you’ve seen this story told before. Because you’ve never seen it told quite like this.
Evans could be accused of being excessive and his use of violence will leave some feeling queasy, but it’s also electrifying as the brilliant choreography is matched by the director’s inventive ways of filming seemingly impossible scenes without the use of CGI. If Gravity is a technological masterpiece then The Raid 2 is equally as impressive in its use of practical effects and filming techniques.
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jemaine Clement
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Recommended To: Those looking for a sequel that doesn’t match the mediocrity of its predecessor.
Synopsis: When Blu and Jewel learn that they and their three children might not be the last of the blue macaws they head to the Amazon in hopes of finding their long lost relatives.
Review: 2011’s Rio was a serviceable animated film. It featured a familiar story filled with romance, sing-a-long songs and adventure. It wasn’t on par with Rango, The Adventures of Tintin or Kung Fu Panda 2, but it was at least better than Cars 2 and Gnomeo & Juliet. Sadly whatever charm the original film had is lost in this sequel. The plot, which is overly convoluted, mixes aspects of Meet the Parents with FernGully and comes across as a disorganized mess of a film that doesn’t quite know if it wants to be an heavy-handed environmental film or a family comedy. You can be both, but Rio 2 manages to be neither as it sloppily moves through its cliché-packed plot. This might be forgivable if it was entertaining, but there aren’t any memorable moments (unless you count the overly indulgent solo from Gabi, the Kristin Chenoweth voiced frog). Even the children in the packed theater seemed to lose interest halfway through the film (which increased popcorn sales and bathroom visits) and didn’t reengage with the movie until the final act’s man vs nature climax. Skip Rio 2 and go and see Muppets Most Wanted or Mr. Peabody & Sherman instead.
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff
Recommended To: Horror fans looking for a decent cursed object horror story.
Synopsis: Tim (Brenton Thwaites) has spent years in mental hospital after shooting his father after witnessing him kill his mother. Tim believed that a supernatural force, something related to an antique mirror, caused his father to act irrationally, but years of therapy have brought him to his senses. Nonetheless Kaylie (Karen Gillan), his sister, still clings to the belief that their father was influenced by dark forces and is determined to prove it to Tim and the rest of the world.
Review: Director/writer Mike Flanagan’s Oculus doesn’t cover any new ground in the horror genre, but it does at least present an interesting story (reminiscent of aspects of The Shinning) in a creative way that layers events in the past in with the contemporary action in a way that is visually appealing without making the narrative confusing. There are some scares, although the film wasn’t nearly as creepy as I would have liked. There are also some nice psychological aspects, but again I don’t think that avenue was explored nearly as much as I would have liked. The film’s end, while not a disappointment, feels a bit too inevitable. I prefer recent and similar titles like The Conjuring, Mama and the first Insidious, but Oculus does deserve to be seen.
-Ryan Michael Painter