‘San Andreas’ snapshot review

SAN ANDREAS

Critical rating: 2½ stars out of four

Directed by: Brad Peyton (“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson and Ioan Gruffudd

Rated: PG-13

The story: A massive earthquake rattles the San Francisco coast, forcing a rescue chopper pilot (Dwayne Johnson) and his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) into a desperate search for their missing daughter (Alexandra Daddario).

The scoop: Movies don’t get much stupider or more overblown than “San Andreas.” As with most disaster movies, the severity of the destruction and loss of life are belittled by the fact that only a handful of characters receive significant screen time. Nevertheless, there is something relentlessly entertaining about all this nonsense. The special effects are astonishing, and Dwayne Johnson is charming even when he’s working with an insipid script. “San Andreas” is a guilty pleasure in the guiltiest sense.

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‘Spy’ snapshot review

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) and her fellow CIA operative Rick Ford (Jason Statham) pose as a “happy” couple as they go deep undercover to stop an arms dealer.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) and her fellow CIA operative Rick Ford (Jason Statham) pose as a “happy” couple as they go deep undercover to stop an arms dealer.
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

SPY

Critical rating: 3 stars out of four

Directed by: Paul Feig (“The Heat,” “Bridesmaids”)

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law and Rose Byrne

Rated: R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity

The story: “Spy” is centered on a CIA analyst (Melissa McCarthy) who is promoted from her long-time desk job to an undercover assignment where she must try to stop a nuclear weapon from falling into the wrong hands.

The scoop: Writer-director Paul Feig becomes one of the industry’s most reliable comedy directors with a film that’s set to become a mainstream hit. “Spy” isn’t the most original picture to hit theaters in 2015, but it is a consistently funny Hollywood concoction that entertains while poking good-natured fun at the espionage genre. Melissa McCarthy does most of the heavy lifting, but the excellent supporting cast – particularly Jason Statham in a rare comedic role – is likable as well.

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‘Tommorowland’ snapshot review

TOMORROWLAND

Critical rating: 2½ stars out of four

Directed by: Brad Bird (“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” “The Incredibles,” “The Iron Giant”)

Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw and Thomas Robinson

Rated: PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements and language

The story: A scientifically curious young woman (Britt Robertson) learns of an alternate reality where humans have created inventions beyond our wildest dreams. She also learns that her reality is doomed unless she and an aging inventor (George Clooney) find a way to rid the world of its ever-increasing, human-created problems.

The scoop: Director and co-writer Brad Bird has done a masterful job creating an awe-inspiring look at an alternate reality that could represent humanity’s future. He has also crafted a story with an important and beautiful message: Human beings can build a wonderful future together, but only if they stop the self-destructive behavior that is destroying our lives and planet. Clooney and Robertson are likable in the lead roles, but the intricacies of the complex plot are difficult to decipher. This is largely due to uneven storytelling that leaves a host of important questions unanswered. In other words, “Tomorrowland” is beautiful and engaging, but it feels sloppy, particularly when judged in relation to Bird’s previous work.

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Video Verdict: Review of ‘Night at the Museum – Secret of the Tomb’

From left, Patrick Gallagher, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller and Rami Malek star in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.”  Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

From left, Patrick Gallagher, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller and Rami Malek star in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.”Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The latest entry in the “Night at the Museum” franchise is the only major theatrical release making its way to home video this week.

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Video Verdict: Reviews of ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’ and ‘Foxcatcher’

Jennifer Lawrence again plays Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.”  Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Jennifer Lawrence again plays Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.”

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

This week’s home video releases are anchored by last year’s top-grossing feature film.

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Winners of the 87th Academy Awards

The movie awards season has come to a close with the 87th Academy Awards ceremony. Following is a full list of winner.

Best Picture

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Best Actor

Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Actress

Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Best Supporting Actor

J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Ida”

Best Animated Movie

“Big Hero Six”

Best Documentary Feature

“CitizenFour”

Original Screenplay 

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”

Best Original Song

“Glory” by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in Cinematography

Emannuel Lubezki, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Achievement in Visual Effects

Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley and Paul Franklin, “Interstellar”

Achievement in Costume Design

Milena Canonero, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling 

Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in Production Design

Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Achievement in Sound Mixing

Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley, “Whiplash”

Achievement in Sound Editing

Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, “American Sniper”

Achievement in Film Editing

Tom Cross, “Whiplash”

Best Live Action Short Film

“The Phone Call”

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”

Best Animated Short

“Feast”

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Video Verdict: Reviews of ‘The Judge,’ ‘Fury,’ ‘The Book of Life’ and ‘Before I Go to Sleep’

From left to right, Shia LaBeouf, Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman (rear), Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal star in the war drama “Fury”   Photo courtesy of Sony

From left to right, Shia LaBeouf, Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman (rear), Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal star in the war drama “Fury”Photo courtesy of Sony

There is a strong slate of home video releases this week, and it is anchored by a movie that helped actor Robert Duvall earn his seventh Academy Award nomination.

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