Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor Rated: PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action. Translating a book (or books) into a movie is a tricky proposition, like disassembling a car for parts and using those parts to build a motorcycle. They’re both story-telling vehicles, but they have a whole bunch of differences. The “The Dark Tower” books by Stephen King have been thoroughly popular for years, offering an epic story packed with complex interrelations and details. By its very nature, a film was going to have to distill at least a good-sized chunk of that material down into just a couple of hours. Even without having read the books, it’s obvious that while they were doing that, one of the things that evaporated was its heart. The plot works great on paper: young Jake (Tom Taylor) keeps having nightmares about a struggle between the last Gunslinger,
Directed by: Woo-Ping Yuen Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Harry Shum Jr., Jason Scott Lee Rated: PG-13 for martial arts violence and brief partial nudity When “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” came out in 2001, it introduced director Ang Lee to American moviegoers and popularized Chinese martial-arts films in the western world. Now, fifteen years later, we get a sequel based on the same series of books. Famed action choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping, who handled the elaborate fights on the original film (as well as the Matrix movies and others), is directing. If you want to see amazing fight sequences with elaborate and beautiful wirework and choreography, you must not miss “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Sword of Destiny.” Folks who loved the first film more for its story and tone than its swordwork may be disappointed. The only character to return from the first film is the reserved and powerful Shu Lien (Michelle
Once upon a time, there was a soap opera called “Dark Shadows.” I grew up hearing about it, but never saw it myself. I caught the short-lived revival starring Ben Cross, but found it uninspired. Now Tim Burton brings us a film based on the original, with a fabulous cast led by Johnny Depp. Given the enormous popularity of the original series and of Johnny Depp, it should be a slam dunk — but it’s hamstrung by a dreadfully inconsistent script. Good acting and gorgeous visuals can overcome a lot, but not a five-minute-long “balls” joke.
The political thriller is a known quantity: cynical, frequently gritty, and not generally given to happy endings. George Clooney’s new film, “Ides of March,” is no different. The cast is spectacular, but the film winds up a rather heavy-handed, workmanlike piece, hampered by a so-so script. It’s not bad, but it’s not as great as we can be forgiven for hoping – much like the politician at its center.
Directed by: Gary McKendry
Starring: Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro, Clive Owen
Rated: R for strong violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.
There are few things quite so sad as a film whose premise and cast promise awesomeness but whose execution falls flat on its face. “Killer Elite” should be a ton of fun — it’s an international assassin flick starring Jason Statham and Robert DeNiro as assassins and Clive Owen as an ex-SAS officer trying to stop them. There’s enough badassery in just those three actors that this should have been a blast of a film. Unfortunately, it’s not. It has all the flaws of old-school 80s action flicks but none of the charm.
Directed by: John Madden
Starring: Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas
Rated: R for some violence and language
Moral ambiguity is a staple of the espionage thriller genre. Spies, assassins, and their targets and employers tend not to be people at the all-good end of the ethical spectrum. “The Debt” takes that idea and runs with it, but rather than making for a thought-provoking, exciting film, it turns into a potentially very uncomfortable one.