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Published: Wednesday, 12/29/2010

Movie reviews: 12-30

Summaries are condensed from Blade reviews and reflect the theater schedule starting tomorrow. Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (best) to Bomb (worst). The reviewer's name, movie running time, and abbreviations of the theaters where the movie is playing are at the end of each summary.

Black Swan. The drama starts out as a character study of a talented but troubled ballet dancer but goes off in strange directions. Natalie Portman wastes an impressive performance as Nina, a ballerina who wins a lead role in Swan Lake, then goes off the deep end. R ** 110 minutes. (Neman) (FP, LC)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Like its two film predecessors, Dawn Treader fails to live up to the magic and wonder of C.S. Lewis's books. The story centers on the youngest Pevensie children, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley), and their annoying cousin Eustace (Will Poulter), who are called back to Narnia to help King Caspian fight off a mysterious evil. From the acting to the effects, most of the film is little more than a third-rate fantasy experience. PG * 1/2 (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

The Fighter. Mark Wahlberg stars as boxer "Irish" Micky Ward, and Christian Bale co-stars as Micky's half-brother, an ex-con and drug addict who becomes his trainer. The performances are superb, but there are just too many subplots, and it's not quite obvious which cliche is the ultimate winner. R *** 1/2 110 minutes. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Gulliver's Travels. Jack Black is Jonathan Swift's wandering hero in a modern take on Gulliver's visit to the tiny people of Lilliput. The film plays to a few of Black's strengths -- his physicality, his musicality, his eyebrows. But even at 83 minutes (plus a three-minute cartoon) it's a drag, another 3-D movie for kids in which the 3-D adds nothing. PG-13 * 1/2 83 min. (Wire review) (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 marks the beginning of end for the beloved series. And what a finale it turns out to be as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his faithful friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), embark on a desperate quest to stop the evil Lord Voldemart (Ralph Fiennes) once and for all. Even without a true ending -- that will come next summer with Part 2 -- the dark, gloomy, and exciting Deathly Hallows doesn't disappoint, casting a spell that is impossible to resist. PG-13 **** 150 min. (Baird) (FP, FT)

How Do You Know. Reese Witherspoon plays a former softball player caught in a love triangle with a major-league pitcher (Owen Wilson) and a corporate executive (Paul Rudd). It's an enjoyable but uneven comic romance more of the prickly-pear than love-apple variety. PG-13 *** 116 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

The King's Speech. Colin Firth plays the man who becomes King George VI after his brother abdicates. Plagued with a dreadful stutter, he hires an unorthodox speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to help him. Simultaneously commoner and king, teacher and pupil, iconoclast and underdog, the meeting of the unstoppable force that is Rush's speech therapist and the immovable object that is Firth's future English king is as good as one-on-one acting gets. PG-13 ***** 118 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC)

Little Fockers. Meet the Parents was a tolerable trifle and Meet the Fockers was a bloated bore. But this third installment is tasteless trash, filled with abysmally unfunny gags involving vomit, enemas, erectile dysfunction, and the like. PG-13 * 98 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Red. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren star as a team of retired CIA agents targeted and framed for murder by their former bosses. The plot is strictly pedestrian, but the A-list cast lifts the action flick to B-movie fun. PG-13 *** 111 min. (Baird) (MIT)

Secretariat. Diane Lane stars in this fact-based story of Penny Chenery, a housewife who in 1973 took over her father's racing stables and, with the help of a trainer (John Malkovich), produced the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Though well acted, the tale teeters between pleasantly generic and rank manipulation. PG ** 116 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

Tangled. The magic at the Mouse House continues with this twisted take on the classic Rapunzel tale. The film offers wondrous 3D animation, laughs, an enjoyable song or two, and loads of fun. PG ***100 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

The Tourist. Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp play, respectively, a woman of interest to European law enforcement agencies because of her connection to an international thief and the American mathematician she uses to fool the authorities. The romance and danger increase from there, but there's still nothing remarkable about this remake of the 2005 French film Anthony Zimmer. ** 1/2 104 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Tron: Legacy. In a sequel to 1982's Tron, a too-talky script mutes the power of some of the best special effects this side of Avatar. Jeff Bridges returns as Kevin Flynn, the world-famous video-game designer who is trapped in a digital world he created. Garrett Hedlund co-stars as his son, who discovers dad's situation and sets out to rescue him. PG-13 *** 127 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

True Grit. The pioneering Coen brothers don't blaze new territory with this remake of a John Wayne classic, but what they do offer a whip-smart screenplay, colorful characters, and sequences that are stunningly acted and shot. Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld are marvelous as an unlikely set of Three Musketeers, out a capture a murderer in the Old West. **** 1/2 110 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Yogi Bear. Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake supply the voices of Yogi Bear and his buddy, Boo-Boo, in this adaptation of the classic cartoon. Unfortunately, the plot about the town's mayor trying to open the park to logging is bland, and the jokes are thin. PG ** 88 minutes. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)



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