Movie reviews: 7-04


Summaries are condensed from Blade or wire reviews and reflect the theater schedule starting Friday. 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.

After Earth. After Earth is a generic and uninspired science-fiction action-thriller about a father and son marooned on a future Earth inhospitable to humans. Will Smith and son Jaden star as the struggling survivors fighting for their lives and to understand each other, and fading star M. Night Shyamalan directs. PG-13; 2 stars; 100 min. (Baird) (MIT)

Epic. Epic tells the story of an ongoing battle deep in the forest between the forces of good and the forces of evil. When a teen age girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she must band together with a rag-tag team of fun and whimsical characters in order to save their world ... and ours. In 3-D at select times. R; 3 stars; 105 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

The Heat is a buddy-action cop comedy with a feminist twist, as Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock are mismatched law-enforcement agents paired to take down a Boston drug lord. McCarthy and Bullock have great chemistry onscreen. They also have a strong supporting cast and a consistently funny script, as well as the guiding hand of director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), all of which makes for a winning comedy. R; 3 1/​2 stars; 116 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Man of Steel is the reinvention of a classic superhero for this age of angst, with a superhuman alien struggling to fit in on Earth. The cast is for the most part spot-on, including Henry Cavill as Superman, and director Zack Snyder loads his film with massive action sequences in the third act as Superman battles his Kryptonian nemesis, General Zod (Michael Shannon). Missing in this cerebral superhero adventure, however, is the higher purpose of such entertainment, namely a grand sense of old-fashioned fun. This Superman can fly, but he rarely soars. In 3-D at select theaters. PG-13; 3 stars; 143 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Monsters University. Billy Crystal and John Goodman return as the voices of one-eyed Mike and furry Sulley, best friends forever in the Monsters, Inc. In this prequel, however, they're bitter college freshman rivals who must learn to trust each other and work together to remain in the university's elite scare program. Monsters University is a delightful, witty, and warm film that delivers exactly what audiences want and expect. And as a Pixar film, that's good enough. In 3-D at select theaters. G; 4 stars; 102 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC, BG, SDI)

Now You See Me. During their performances, the world's greatest illusionists known as "The Four Horsemen" pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders. The super-team of illusionists shower the stolen profits on their audiences while staying one step ahead of an elite FBI squad in a game of cat and mouse. PG-13; 2 1/​2 stars; 116 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Olympus Has Fallen. When the White House (Secret Service Code: "Olympus") is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President, and avert an even bigger disaster. R; 2 1/​2 stars; 100 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

Pain & Gain. Even with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as leads and Michael Bay as director, Pain & Gain’s true star is its unbelievable but true story of three Miami bodybuilders-turned bumbling criminals who kidnapped, tortured, and murdered for money. Bay doesn’t show much restraint in this dark comedy-action-crime thriller, but the plot’s twists are equally fast and furious. R; 3 1/​2 stars; 130 min. (Baird) (MIT)

The Purge. In an America ravaged by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government sanctions an annual 12-hour period during which all criminal activity — including murder — is legal. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family face the ultimate test when an intruder drags the vicious outside world into their home. James, Mary (Lena Headey), and their two children struggle to survive the night while trying not to turn into monsters like the ones they are striving to avoid. R; 2 stars; 85 min. (wire review) (FP)

Star Trek Into Darkness. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek was about restoring a moribund franchise. His sequel is about taking it for a spin. Into Darkness is a wild, action-packed ride, as Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), and co. battle against one of their great adversaries (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is waging a one-man war against Star Fleet. PG-13; 4 1/​2 stars; 132 min. (Baird) (LC)

This is the End. Six friends are trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside, dwindling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and the true meaning of friendship and redemption. R, 3 1/​2 stars; 107 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

White House Down.(FP, FT, LC, BG) 131 min. (Wire review) PG-13; 2 1/​2 stars; While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.

World War Z. Based on Max Brooks' popular novel, World War Z is the account of a worldwide pandemic that turns humans into fast-moving zombies within seconds, and our struggle to survive the plague of undead. Brad Pitt plays everyman hero Gerry Lane, a former U.N. inspector who helps lead a global search on the origins of the zombie virus and how to stop it. There's not much depth or subtext to World War Z, as the film prefers to rocket along as a pure action thriller for 90 minutes, before an abrupt change in pace kills the film's rollicking momentum for a final half-hour of so-so chills. In 3-D at select theaters. PG-13; 3 stars; 116 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC, BG, SDI)