Category Archives: Movie Reviews
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
151 minutes, Rated PG-13
Critical rating: 3 stars out of 4
Directed by: Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen,” “Man of Steel”)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg and Gal Gadot
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality
The story: The movie is set after 2013’s “Man of Steel” in a world that has come to love Superman’s (Henry Cavill) heroic deeds but fear his immense power. One of the people most concerned about Superman’s extraordinary abilities is Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), the billionaire businessman who moonlights as Batman. Wayne watched as Superman battled the Kryptonian super villain Zod, laying waste to much of Metropolis in the process. Although Superman didn’t intend on the destruction, Wayne takes it personally because many of his employees were killed when a building was destroyed. At the same time, Superman is growing increasingly concerned about Batman’s vigilante tactics. This, and some meddling by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), leads to a showdown between the two heroes.
The scoop: The film boasts plenty of silly moments, but it’s also a lot of fun. Director Zack Snyder’s visuals are beautiful, and he allows time for the cast to develop their characters. Cavill and Affleck are good, as is Gal Gadot who makes an appearance as Wonder Woman. Although some plot points strain credibility, viewers willing to go for the ride can have plenty of fun.
Forrest reviews the Jesse Owens biopic “Race.”
A WALK IN THE WOODS
Critical rating: 3 stars out of four
Directed by: Ken Kwapis (“Big Miracle,” “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants”)
Starring: Robert Redford and Nick Nolte
Rated: R for language and some sexual references
The story: Screen adaptation of writer Bill Bryson’s bestselling, 1998 memoir, “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.” The film, like the book, focuses on Bryson’s attempt to walk the 2,200-mile trail with his friend Stephen Katz.
The scoop: A comedy for mature audiences that value strong acting and subtle humor over car crashes and a barrage of crass gags. “A Walk in the Woods” is consistently funny, but it’s also a reminder that older folks needn’t act as though their best days are behind them. The movie is a likable mix of comedy and drama made better by the wonderful performances of Nolte and Redford. Like a hiker on a long journey, director Ken Kwapis takes an easygoing pace, covering a lot of territory but taking time to breathe and enjoy the scenery.
Critical rating: 2½ stars out of four
Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh (“Project X”)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo and Bill Pullman
Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content
The story: “American Ultra” is an entertaining action-comedy about a youthful slacker (Jesse Eisenberg) who easily dispatches two assassins that attempt to kill him, leading to the realization that he is really a former CIA agent who had his mind wiped. His loyal girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) is along for the ride.
The scoop: There are funny moments, and director Nima Nourizadeh mixes them with sequences of brutally graphic violence. Viewers will have a good time if they can look beyond the glaring plot problems and focus on the solid performances and Nourizadeh’s emphasis of style over substance. Those who demand more from their filmmakers will see “American Ultra” for what it is: a lightweight Tarantino clone.
Critical rating: 3½ stars out of four
Directed by: Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World”)
Starring: Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger and J.K. Simmons
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language
The story: The fifth installment in this long-running science-fiction franchise takes viewers to the future and past with a story that relies heavily on time travel. Much of the action centers on Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), who was played by Michael Biehn in the 1984 original. Viewers watch as Kyle is sent back to 1984 to save Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). Presumably this would result in a replay of the first movie, but Kyle lands in a timeline that has been significantly changed. In fact, there is a point where humanity’s prophesized savior, John Connor, becomes mankind’s biggest threat.
The scoop: “Terminator Genisys” is a fitting tribute to all the films that came before and the most entertaining franchise entry since 1991’s “Judgment Day.” Like the first two movies, the film is sometimes silly, often funny and always action packed. It’s a great summer blockbuster.
The new home video releases for June 30 include …
2½ stars out of four
Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug material
Starring: Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell
Written and directed by: Etan Cohen (first feature film)
The scoop: Will Ferrell plays a millionaire who is sentenced to prison after a fraud conviction. Devastated, he hires the only black man he knows, Darnell (Kevin Hart), to prepare him for lockup. The only trouble is Darnell is as squeaky clean as they come. Hart and Ferrell are charismatic actors and the premise is funny, but the execution is hit-and-miss.
3 stars out of four
Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality
Starring: Sean Penn and Javier Bardem
Directed by: Pierre Morel (“Taken”)
The scoop: A former assassin (Sean Penn) finds himself hunted by dangerous men afraid of the dark secrets that he harbors. Moviegoers have seen similar things in the past, but the film is still engaging thanks to solid pacing and a nice performance by Penn.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG
3 stars out of four
Rated R for language
Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Grodin and Adam Horovitz
Written and directed by: Noah Baumbach (“Frances Ha,” “The Squid and the Whale”)
The scoop: The story of a middle-aged couple (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) who try to recapture their youth by hanging out with a much-younger couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). The subject matter is enticing and the cast is remarkably talented.
3 stars out of four
Rated R for language, drug use and some nudity
Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale and Christopher Plummer
Written and directed by: Dan Fogelman (first feature film)
The scoop: An aging rock musician takes stock of his career and tries to reinvent himself after receiving an undelivered letter that John Lennon wrote to him at the beginning of his career. Al Pacino isn’t completely believable as a superstar singer, but the movie’s dramatic arc is surprisingly engaging.
NOTE: Blu-rays, DVDs and screening links are provided to the reviewer at no charge. This enables us to run reviews the day titles become public, but it does not influence the opinions expressed.