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Capsule reviews of recently released films 

OPENING FRIDAY

INVICTUS (PG-13) Clint Eastwood directs this combination of political biopic and sports drama as Morgan Freeman plays newly elected South African President Nelson Mandela, who hopes a rugby team (led by Matt Damon) will help bridge the country’s racial divides.

ME AND ORSON WELLES 4 stars (PG-13) See review.

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (G) See review.

UP IN THE AIR 4 stars (R) See review.

WILLIAM KUNTSLER: DISTURBING THE UNIVERSE (NR) William Kuntsler was one of the most famous lawyers of the 20th century.  Through representing clients such as the Rev. Marin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Abbie Hoffman, he become “the most hated and most loved lawyer in America.” In this film, his daughters Emily and Sarah take a crack at telling the true story of their father’s life.

DULY NOTED

CHRISTMAS ON MARS (NR) (2008) Psychedelic rockers the Flaming Lips star in this double-edged satire of the yuletide season and kitschy old-fashioned sci-fi movies. $3-$5. Dec. 11-17. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 3 p.m. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.

CONTINUING

2012 2 stars (PG-13) Solar flares and Mayan mumbo jumbo spell a world-ending catastrophe, even for an upstanding White House science adviser (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a divorced novelist (John Cusack) and the U.S. president (Danny Glover). You can say what you want about director Roland Emmerich: The man’s the John Holmes of disaster porn and delivers jaw-dropping money shots of quakes wrecking Hollywood, Yosemite National Park erupting, a tsunami wiping out Washington, D.C., etc. The trouble is, it’s two and a half hours long and not even as cheesily fun as The Day After Tomorrow— Curt Holman

AMELIA 2 stars (PG) Two-time Best Actress Oscar-winner Hilary Swank certainly looks the part as toothy, tomboyish aviatrix Amelia Earhart, playing opposite Richard Gere as Earhart’s publisher, promoter and husband-to-be George Putnam. But, unbelievably, director Mira Nair shows virtually no interest in the excitement of aviation, preferring to focus on Earhart’s love triangle with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor) and her celebrity as a 1930s feminist icon. A beautifully photographed biopic, Amelia generates almost no dramatic interest until the re-creation of the last leg of her final flight. — Holman 

ANTICHRIST 2 stars (NR) Cross your legs — here comes Lars von Trier's notoriously unpleasant art-house curiosity about a pair of grieving parents (Willem Dafoe and Cannes Film Festival Best Actress winner Charlotte Gainsbourg) whose attempt to work through their feelings at a remote cabin called "Eden" ends in violence. Antichrist proves at once impossible to dismiss or take seriously, particularly given the raw yet focused performances of the two actors and the film's vivid images of nature at its most sinister. Von Trier's themes about misogyny seem deliberately over the top, as if he's commenting on his own reputation as a harsh taskmaster of his actresses. — Holman

ARMORED (PG-13) Hungarian-American Antal Nimród, who directed the fascinating foreign film Kontroll, helms this heist thriller about security guards who decide to knock over one of their armored cars. The cast includes Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburne. 

ASTRO BOY 4 stars (G) When Dr. Tenma’s (Nicolas Cage) son Tobio (Freddie Highmore) meets an unfortunate end, the grief-stricken scientist creates a robotic boy in his son’s image powered by an experimental power source — blue-core energy. Tobio soon learns he’ll never replace his flesh-and-blood predecessor and flees when facing deactivation from his father and war-mongering General Stone (Donald Sutherland). His escape takes the young robot on an action-packed journey where his destiny is ultimately revealed.

THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL, NEW ORLEANS 4 stars (R) Nicolas Cage tops his already high standards for over-the-top acting as a New Orleans detective whose back injury leads to Vicodin abuse, lines of cocaine, sexual shakedowns, iguana hallucinations and oh so much more. Werner Herzog, who specializes in films about obsession, doesn’t so much remake Harvey Keitel’s 1992 cult film as half-satirizes it to create a darkly comic portrait of a cop with a disintegrating personality. It’s difficult to take seriously, but Cage and his sparring partners never prove less than entertaining. — Holman 

BLACK DYNAMITE 4 stars (R) Mack daddy and one-man killing machine Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) wages a vendetta against jive turkeys who killed his brother and peddled dope to kids. His righteous battles uncover a conspiracy that takes him from the 'hood all the way to "the Honky House." Giving credit where it's due, White's portrayal of Dynamite is effortless and shows a rarely seen comedic side. As the story progresses, the jokes start to get a bit stale, but the film revives itself as it reaches its oddly climactic ending. Although Black Dynamite successfully spoofs the campy essence of blaxploitation films of the '70s, it perfectly balances its riffs as an homage to the badass alpha-male leads and social-message vehicle the genre spawned.— Edward Adams

THE BLIND SIDE 2 stars (PG) A white Memphis socialite (Sandra Bullock) all but adopts a mountainous African-American teen (Quinton Aaron) from an impoverished household in this well-meaning adaptation of Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book on football strategy. Aaron proves too wooden an actor to enliven his many dialogue-free scenes, so the rest of the film overcompensates, particularly in the comic relief involving Bullock’s insufferable son. It’s to Bullock’s credit that she refrains from turning her role into a nouveau riche clown, but the film treats her as if she’s a saint trying to redeem white Southerners everywhere. — Holman 
 
THE BOONDOCK SAINTS II: ALL SAINTS DAY (R) A sequel to the indie cult-classic, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day continues the saga of the MacManus brothers, who have been hiding out in Ireland. They return to Boston to avenge the death of a beloved priest.  
 
THE BOX (PG-13) In this horror/thriller based on a 1970s short story by Richard Matheson, a couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) is visited by a stranger with a mysterious box containing a button. The stranger tells them that if they press the button they will receive $1 million dollars but someone they don't know will die. They have one choice to make: Should they press the button and risk the consequences?
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