MOVIES

Dec. 25-31 Movies Calendar

What's showing at area theaters

WHOA: In “47 Ronin,” a band of 47 leaderless samurai turn to the half-breed Kai (Keanu Reeves) to help avenge the death of their master. They face all the fearsome beasts, witchcraft and terrors the special effects guys can throw at them.
WAIT … SO THIS ISN’T ANOTHER ROCKY?: Retired boxers Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone, left) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) – past their primes both on-screen and off – are ready to brawl in a final effort to settle a decades-old rivalry in “Grudge Match,” directed by Peter Segal.
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FILM RATINGS
4 stars ASA PHILIPS RANDOLPH
3 stars EDWARD WHITE
2 stars PEDRO MENENDEZ
1 star NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST



NOW SHOWING


12 YEARS A SLAVE
4 stars
Rated R
Chiwetel Ejiofor is great in the powerful film based on real events. He plays Solomon, a free black man in pre-Civil War New York who’s abducted, then sold into slavery for 12 cruel years. He meets a Canadian abolitionist and hopes his misery is over. Co-stars Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Quvenzhané Wallis.

47 RONIN
2 stars
Rated PG-13
He’s a long way from his excellent adventure, but Keanu Reeves seems to be clawing his way back up. In this action-fantasy-adventure, he plays Kai, a half-Brit/half-Japanese man recruited by Oishi, the respected leader of the 47 Ronin, a band of awesome samurai. Even if you don’t follow the intricate plot, you’ll like the visuals and the score.

AMERICAN HUSTLE
2 1/2 stars 
Rated R
Writer-director David O. Russell has fashioned a beautiful, cinematic junk heap that’s likeable and engaging despite its overly long running time, sloppy screenplay and rambling structure. For professional scam artist Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale, with the best comb-over we’ve seen in years), working with the Feds is tougher than running cons. He’s helping the FBI (Bradley Cooper) nab public officials on the take in the infamous Abscam operation. Co-stars Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence; look for a cameo by Robert De Niro. The sets, the hairstyles and the costumes are spot-on; looks like they raided a thrift shop in Cherry Hill.  

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 
The most-ballyhooed comedy this year reunites the quartet of newsmen – Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell, who is indeed thick as a brick), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd, charmingly smarmy) and Champ Kind (David Koechner) – as they blithely blunder toward the ’80s. Co-stars Christina Applegate, Kristen Wiig, Vince Vaughn and James Marsden.

THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY
2 stars 
Rated R
This comedy, just in time for the holidays, has the best-looking cast we’ve ever seen. Really: Monica Calhoun, Morris Chestnut, Melissa De Sousa, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrance Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Eddie Cibrian and Atif Lanier.

THE BOOK THIEF
4 stars
Rated PG-13
Amid the chaos and horror of WWII, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) steals books – before the Nazis can burn them – and shares them with the folks around her. Based on the novel by Markus Zusak, the drama co-stars Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
3 1/2 stars 
Rated R
The drama, based on a true story, is sparking serious Oscar talk for stars Matthew McConaughey, who plays redneck electrician Ron, and Jared Leto, who plays transvestite Rayon in Dallas, 1985. Ron is shocked when he learns he’s HIV-positive, with only one month to live. He’s even more stunned to find out the drugs that might save his life aren’t for sale in the U.S. Co-stars Jennifer Garner and Steve Zahn.

DELIVERY MAN
2 1/2 stars 
Rated PG-13
Underachiever David Wozniak discovers that his 691 sperm donations to a fertility clinic in the early 1990s have resulted in 533 children, 142 of whom filed a court action seeking his identity – they want to meet the man known only by a donor nom d’essence, “Starbuck.” Co-stars Cobie Smulders and Chris Pratt.

FROZEN 
3 1/2 stars 
Rated PG
Disney’s latest animated feature introduces sisters Anna and Elsa, royalty of the northern land of Arendelle. Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) and Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) are strong characters in this newest version of “The Snow Queen.”

GRUDGE MATCH
3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13
No, it’s not Rocky vs. LaMotta (wouldn’t that be awesome?).It’s two old – as in former and years – boxers coming out of retirement for one last fight. Money may be the motive but of course there’s that macho pride thing, too. And they’re out to settle old scores. Co-starring Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart. Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield pop up, too.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
3 stars 
Rated PG-13
Co-writer and director Peter Jackson has stretched J.R.R. Tolkien’s books into lucrative movies and made stars of the cast members, including Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans – Ian McKellen was already a star but now he’s amassed a whole new fanbase. Then there’s the titular Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), a villainous fire-breathing dragon who lays claim to Bilbo’s homeland. The film sings with vibrant colors and stunning images.

HOMEFRONT 
3 stars 
Rated R
Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay and Jason Statham is the hero, DEA agent Phil Broker, who kicks ass and looks cool doing so. Co-stars James Franco (who’s in danger of over-exposure), Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder.

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
3 1/2 stars 
Rated PG-13
In Part 2 of the saga, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a celebrity warrior hero manipulated by the Capitol’s leader Snow (Donald Sutherland). There’s revolution in the air due to her win at the Games. Co-stars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci.

INEQUALITY FOR ALL 
2 1/2 stars 
Rated PG • Sun-Ray Cinema
As the 1 percenters get richer and the rest of us don’t, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich seeks to raise awareness of the yawning chasm that separates us.

JUSTIN BIEBER'S BELIEVE 
1/2 star
Rated PG
The Beebs in all his glory. Billed as the “real story” behind the megastar’s rise to fame, this documentary is no doubt a must-see for his screaming fans.

A MADEA CHRISTMAS 
1 1/2 stars 
Rated PG-13
Tyler Perry is wringing every last ounce from his megastar creation Madea; now she’s celebrating Christmas in her own unique style, with her brutal panache. Co-stars Chad Michael Murray (OMG!), Tike Sumpter, Larry the Cable Guy, Kathy Najimy and Anna Maria Horsford.

MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
3 stars
Rated PG-13  
Reviewed in this issue.

NEBRASKA
3 1/2 stars
Rated R
Cantankerous Woody Grant (Bruce Dern, getting long-overdue Oscar buzz) gets a piece of junk mail declaring him the winner of $1 million, so he convinces David (Will Forte) – the son who’s never quite synched with his old man – to drive him to Lincoln, Neb. to claim the prize. Co-stars Stacy Keach, June Squibb, Rance Howard and Bob Odenkirk.

OUT OF THE FURNACE 
3 stars 
Rated R
Everyman Russell Baze (Christian Bale) takes care of his terminally ill father while working at the steel mill. When his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck), an Iraq War vet, joins a crime ring then disappears, Russell seeks justice. Directed by Scott Cooper, the film co-stars Forest Whitaker, Woody Harrelson and Zoe Saldana.

PHILOMENA 
4 stars 
Rated PG-13
Journalist Martin (Steve Coogan) needs to boost his career. Philomena (Dame Judi Dench) wants to find the son she gave up for adoption, forced by not-so-holy nuns decades earlier. Stephen Frears directed.

SAVING MR. BANKS 
3 stars
Rated PG-13
P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), author of the popular “Mary Poppins” series of children’s books, travels to Disney Studios in Los Angeles to collaborate on adapting the book for film. For 20 years, she’s rebuffed Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) efforts to make this happen, not wanting her beloved characters to be altered. The Mr. Banks character – the father of the children Mary Poppins nannies – is based on Travers’ own papa, a bank manager and a drunkard who died when she was 7 years old. Hanks doesn’t try to mimic the avuncular businessman, but he seeks to capture the essence of the man. Thompson is excellent as P.L. Travers; expect her among the next round of Oscar nominations.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
3 1/2 stars
Rated PG
The versatile Ben Stiller plays James Thurber’s classic dreamer, Walter Mitty, who puts himself in fantasy situations with daring femme fatales and dastardly villains, with him as the hero who saves the day. Then he gets the chance to be a real hero on a real adventure. Co-stars Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott and Shirley MacLaine, with cameos from Andy Richter and Conan O’Brien.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD 
3 stars 
Rated PG-13
The sequel, with more action and special effects, stars Chris Hemsworth as the golden-tressed Thor and Natalie Portman as his Earth-time girlfriend Jane. Co-stars Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins and Kat Dennings.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS
2 stars 
Rated PG
This animated feature about dinosaurs is not the usual kiddie film of cute-but-doomed characters. The realistic 3D depiction of prehistoric creatures features the voices of Charlie Rowe, Karl Urban, Angourie Rice, John Leguizamo and Justin Long.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
3 1/2 stars
Rated R
Reviewed in this issue. 




OTHER FILMS

LATITUDE 30 MOVIES
“Last Vegas” and “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” screen at CineGrille, Latitude 30, 10370 Philips Highway, Southside. 365-5555.

WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME IMAX THEATER
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - The IMAX 3D Experience,” “Great White Shark 3D,” “Tornado Alley 3D” and “The Last Reef 3D” are screened at World Golf Hall of Fame Village IMAX Theater, 1 World Golf Place, St. Augustine, 940-IMAX, worldgolfimax.com.

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