G.I. JOE: RETALIATION
CR: * * * (B)
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Starring Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Ray Park, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona, Ray Stevenson, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo
Paramount//Rated PG-13//Action//110 minutes
The second chapter of Hasbro’s “G.I. Joe” resets the franchise. It’s more comical, more action-packed, and jammed with action stars. Bruce Willis plays Original Joe, now General Colton, returning to the fray, and lending weapons from his personal stockpile, to help his fellow Joes after the U.S. President (Pryce) orders their termination. Dwayne Johnson appears as newcomer Roadblock, combat-tough, and mouthy. What the Joes can’t know is that evil Zartan has disguised himself as the president in order to start a nuclear war. Assuming anyone remembers the forgettable original, Channing Tatum returns to his role as “G.I. Joe” Duke. Reportedly, Tatum’s part was beefed up in reshoots, during a lengthily post-production that included the addition of 3D.
PR: * * 1/2 (B-)
Directed by Andrew Niccol
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Frances Fisher, Chandler Canterbury
Open Road Films//Rated PG-13//Sci-Fi//125 minutes
Ronan portrays Melanie, member of a small resistance movement determined to evade the alien seekers that occupy human bodies. Melanie is captured and implanted with seeker Wanda, but instead of erasing Melanie after absorbing her memories, Wanda is moved by the depth of Melanie’s love for Jared (Irons), and her ties to brother Jamie (Canterbury) and Uncle Jeb (Hurt). Tasked with leading the seekers to the resistance, Wanda allows Melanie to return home, then Wanda unexpectedly falls for human boy Ian (Abel), and becomes a full-blown human-sympathizer. Adapted from a best seller by “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer, “The Host” uses science-fiction as the backdrop for another young romance, but tells a more sophisticated story.
PR: * (D)
Directed by Tyler Perry
Starring Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Vanessa Williams, Brandy Norwood, Kim Kardashian, Robbie Jones, Lance Gross
Lionsgate//Rated PG-13//Drama//111 minutes
Writer-director Tyler Perry’s latest pictorial lecture — I mean movie — purports to take on the complex subject of marital infidelity, but it is most likely to be remembered for the stunt-casting of Kim Kardashian in a supporting role. Bored in her marriage to high-school sweetheart Brice, marriage counselor Judith (Smollett-Bell) is seduced by her wealthy, playboy client Harley (Jones). As usual, Perry’s serious intentions become bogged-down by inferior acting, unlikable characters and a preachy method of storytelling.
* *1/2 (B-)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett
Film District//Rated R//Action//100 minutes
Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) is riding a desk when the White House is attacked and the president (Eckhart) is taken hostage. Banning manages to establish radio contact with National Security, but after learning he is the only agent left alive inside the White House, Banning realizes he must stop the hostage-takers from getting their hands on our nuclear arsenal. Pains were taken to construct a plausible attack, and this one’s a nail-biter, unfolding in a 20-minute sequence that is both realistic and frightening. Cut from the “Die Hard” template, this film’s R-rating indicates a gritty reality meant for adult viewers.
THE CROODS - 3D/2D; IMAX 3D
* * * (B)
Directed by Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Voices of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman
Fox//Rated PG//Family, Animation//98 minutes
The prehistoric, vaguely Neanderthal Croods team up with a vaguely modern human named Guy (voice of Reynolds), to escape the effects of an earthquake. Cage voices Crood family patriarch Grug, whose motto is: “Fear keeps us alive. Never not be afraid.” Grug’s rebellious teen daughter Eep (Stone), is smitten by teen dreamboat Guy. Their budding romance prompts Guy, who recently lost his own family, to lead the Croods to a new land. In addition to Grug, the Croods include Eep’s mother Ugga (Keener), her sassy Grandmother (Leachman), and her siblings. Grug is determined to remain in charge, but Guy possesses the fire they will need in order to survive in this colorful and dangerous new world. “Can’t we all just get along?”
CR: * *1/2 (B-)
Directed by Paul Weitz
Starring Tina Fey, Gloria Reuben, Paul Rudd, Wallace Shawn, Travaris Spears, Lily Tomlin, Nat Wolff
Focus Features//Rated PG-13//Comedy//117 minutes
This adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel seeks to spice up Princeton’s application process with a moral dilemma. Tina Fey portrays Portia Nathan, a 38-year-old Princeton Admissions Officer gunning for a promotion. Portia visits New Quest alternative high school at the invitation of former Dartmouth classmate John (Rudd), a New Quest teacher. John confesses his longtime crush on Portia, but even more surprising, he believes that exceptional New Quest student Jeremiah (Wolff), is the child Portia gave up 18 years ago. Despite perfect entrance test scores, Jeremiah’s abysmal high school grades are a Princeton no-no. Whether Portia will champion Jeremiah’s admission merits serious attention, but “Admission” receives an unsatisfactory grade for its lackluster comedy.