Capsule reviews of feature films

The Philadelphia InquirerJuly 10, 2014 

ALAN PARTRIDGE 2 1/2 stars. Steve Coogan imports his long-running stock comic character to the U.S. Partridge, a small-town British DJ, is a vainglorious twit. In this thin feature he gets caught up in a siege at his station that goes on far, far too long. 1 hr. 30 R (profanity, violence, nudity) - David Hiltbrand

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 2 1/2 stars. Schematic sequel to 2012's reboot of the Marvel Comics franchise starring a kid (Andrew Garfield) who morphs into a webslinging superhero is driven by adolescent heartache and indecision, and by gigantic, effects-driven fight scenes - against super-foes including Jamie Foxx's Electro and Dane DeHaan's Green Goblin. And through it all: Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy, a lash-batting cartoon of brainy cute-osity. 2 hrs. 22 PG-13 (intense action, violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea

BEGIN AGAIN 2 1/2 stars. Keira Knightley, bringing those daunting cheekbones to bear on a mawkish music-biz screenplay, is the best thing about John ("Once") Carney's New York City melodrama. Mark Ruffalo is the down-on-his-luck industry veteran who thinks he can turn the heartbroken English songstress into a star. With Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, Catherine Keener, and Hailee Steinfeld. 1 hr. 44 R (profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

BELLE 3 stars. Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy officer and an African slave, raised - alongside her white cousin - in the world of 18th-century English aristocracy. Rooted in history, and also in the traditions of Jane Austen, this handsome period piece combines heady romance and pointed issues about race. With Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sam Reid. 1 hr. 45 PG (adult themes) - Steven Rea

BETHLEHEM 3 1/2 stars. Former Israeli intelligence officer and philosophy scholar Yuval Adler delivers a veritable masterpiece with his feature debut, a taut, edge-of-your-seat espionage thriller about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict co-written by noted Muslim Palestinian journalist Ali Waked. At once a deeply moving, violent tragedy, a rich character study, and a lacerating critique of both sides in the armed struggle, the film centers on the ambivalent relationship between an Israeli Secret Service and a Palestinian teen he cultivates as an informant. It's sure to haunt you. In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles. 1 hr. 39 No MPAA rating (intense battle scenes, violence, profanity, smoking) - Tirdad Derakhshani

BLENDED 1 star. In this rom-com, the comedy is strictly middle-cheek standard and the romance is nonexistent. Blame the listless leads, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, who play antagonistic single parents taking their kids to the same South African resort. 1 hr. 57 PG-13 (Profanity, crude and sexual content) - David Hiltbrand

BLOOD TIES 2 stars. Celebrated for his extraordinary directorial debut, the lightning-paced Hitchcockian thriller "Ne Le Dis A Personne" ("Tell No One"), director Guillaume Canet's first English language film is a derivative somnolescent character study set in Brooklyn about two warring brothers on opposite sides of the law. Remade from an equally uneven 2008 French thriller, the film stars Clive Owen as a violent career criminal who returns to his old ways after a 12-year stretch in prison. Billy Crudup plays his baby brother, a timid, cerebral police detective unsure whether he should help his brother or hunt him down. A disappointing work despite a great cast that includes James Caan, Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard, Noah Emmerich and Lili Taylor. 2 hrs. 07 R (violence, profanity, some sexual content, drug use, smoking) - Tirdad Derakhshani

BLUE RUIN 3 1/2 stars. A barbed-wire sharp and altogether surprising thriller, with Macon Blair as a bearded drifter looking to revenge a double murder. Along the way, writer/ director Jeremy Saulnier finds time to explore a whole substratal world of homelessness, of a solitary soul scrounging for food, for shelter. This spare American indie examines how violence defines our lives in ways that feel jolting, and true. 1 hr. 52 R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

BREATHE IN 2 1/2 stars. Felicity Jones is the homewrecker from across the pond in this graceful, muted, but ultimately unsatisfying tale of a piano prodigy who moves in with a family (Guy Pearce, Amy Ryan, a daughter played by Mackenzie Davis). Moral of the story: beware the pretty, pouty foreign exchange student, unless you want your whole life busted up. 1 hr. 38 R (profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

BRICK MANSIONS 2 stars. Luc Besson produced this tediously felicitous remake of his thrilling 2004 action film "District 13" starring the late Paul Walker as a Detroit cop who teams up with an anarchic civilian crime fighter (French parkour maestro David Belle) to take down a drug lord (RZA) who has hijacked a ticking nuclear bomb. See it if you must, but you'll have a better, happier, more fulfilled life if you rent the original. 1 hr. 30 PG-13 (profanity, violence, drug use, drug selling, guns, sexuality) - Tirdad Derakhshani

CHEF 3 stars. Jon Favreau stars in - and wrote and directs - this bouncy paean to the culinary arts, about a top cook who gets a career-killing bad review, rebounding, and bonding with his son, in a feel-good food truck ride across the states. Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson and John Leguizamo join the fun - which feels forced-fed at times. 1 hr. 55 R (profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

A COFFEE IN BERLIN 3 1/2 stars. Jan Ole Gerster's sly and melancholy day-in-the-life tale is shot in black-and-white and moves to a retro jazz score. Its scruffy protagonist is out of work, and increasingly out of luck, as he ricochets around the German city, meeting people, offending people, and maybe helping one or two as well. 1 hr. 28 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - Steven Rea

COLD IN JULY 3 stars. After shooting and killing a home invader, a man fears for his family's safety when the dead man's ex-con father shows up. 1 hr. 49 R (extreme bloody violence, sexuality, profanity) - Tirdad Derakhshani

DECODING ANNIE PARKER 2 1/2 stars. A story of medical science and personal tragedy - and perseverence - with Samantha Morton as a woman obsessed by the breast cancer that runs through her family. This earnest "based on actual events" endeavor tracks the title character from her childhood in the early '60s to the 1990s, and the landmark genetic mapping discovery that the film concludes with. Helen Hunt and Aaron Paul co-star. 1 hr. 31 R (nudity, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

DELIVER US FROM EVIL 2 stars. A New York City cop (Eric Bana) and an unorthodox priest (Edgar Ramirez) who specializes in exorcisms join forces to investigate a series of possessions that are terrorizing the city. 1 hr. 58 R (bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout, profanity) - Tirdad Derakhshani

DEVIL'S KNOT 2 stars. Only a lawyer going through his own personal turmoil (Colin Firth) believes in the innocence of three teens accused of the ritualistic killing of three younger children. Reese Witherspoon costars as the mother of one of the victims. 1 hr. 54 No MPAA rating (violence, disturbing images, profanity, nudity, smoking) - Tirdad Derakhshani

THE DISCOVERERS 3 stars. Griffin Dunne stars as a recently separated father who leads his dysfunctional family across the country on a reenactment of the Lewis and Clark trek. They find not only the Pacific in this comedy, but each other. 1 hr. 44 No MPAA rating (adult subjects, sexuality, profanity, some drug use) - Tirdad Derakhshani

THE DOUBLE 3 stars. An amiable surrealist joke, with Jesse Eisenberg as a shy, bumbling office drone who becomes more than a little flustered when a new employee shows up - looking pretty much exactly like Jesse Eisenberg, too. An adaptation of Dostoyevsky's doppelganger novella, realized in brownish shades of noir. 1 hr. 33 R (profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

EARTH TO ECHO 3 stars. Any similarities to "E.T." are strictly intentional in this thoroughly winning kiddie sci-fi caper, as boys help a stranded little alien escape first the authorities and then the atmosphere. 1 hr. 31 PG (action sequences) - David Hiltbrand

EDGE OF TOMORROW 3 stars. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in a propulsive sci-fi war movie, about a cowardly military flack who gets Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day" syndrome - he's fated to re-live the same day over and over again, and the day is a doozy: a battle against alien invaders that will determine the fate of humankind. PG-13 (intense action, violence, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS 3 stars. A sweet, bittersweet tale of cancer stricken lovebirds - played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort - facing love, and death, head-on. An adaptation of John Green's YA megaseller, from the writing team behind "The Spectacular Now" (also with Woodley) and "(500) Days of Summer." PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) - "S.R.

FED UP 3 stars. A resoundingly scary and effective documentary about the nation's obesity crisis, the food industry's complicity, and what can be done about it. Narrated by Katie Couric. 1 hr. 32 PG (adult themes) - Steven Rea

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER 4 stars. A fascinating puzzle-piece mystery - and a revelatory portrait of an eccentic figure who worked as a nanny in Chicago, from the '50s through the '90s - and who dragged her charges through the city, taking pictures. The heretofore unknown street photographs are nothing less than brilliant; the documentary about this curious figure is a find in more ways than one. 1 hr. 23 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - Steven Rea

GOD'S POCKET 2 stars. A disappointing adaptation of Pete Dexter's Philadelphia crime novel, actor John Slattery's directorial debut stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christina Hendricks as the parents of a South Philly factory worker who was killed by a coworker but whose death was covered up as an accident. A stilted, shallow take on a solid story, the film is alternately misty-eyed about its blue-collar characters and their community, while displaying a cold condescension that's hard to stomach. 1 hr. 28 R (violence, sexuality, profanity, smoking) - Tirdad Derakhshani

GODZILLA 2 stars. Giant Japanese monster reappears in this narratively muddled, effects-driven reboot. Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are among the noble thespians who tear around, screaming as if the world was collapsing around them. It is, thanks to a 350-foot-tall pile of dinosauric scales and dentition. 2 hrs. 3 PG-13 (intense action, carnage, adult themes) - Steven Rea

GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA 3 1/2 stars. This impressive documentary looks at the noted author and his views on what has gone wrong with America. 1 hr. 29 No MPAA rating (adult subjects, profanity, candid discussions of sex, war, and crime) - Tirdad Derakhshani

HATESHIP LOVESHIP 3 stars. Kristen Wiig brings deft comic grace notes to her portrayal of a single, solitary caregiver who becomes the victim of a prank perpetrated by two teenage girls in this pitch-perfect adaptation of an Alice Munro story. Great cast includes Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte, Hailee Steinfeld and Sami Gayle. 1 hr. 44 R (sex, profanity, drugs, adult themes) - Steven Rea

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 3 1/2 stars. One of the most delightful surprises of the year, this DreamWorks Animation sequel is an intelligent, sensitive and beautifully realized morality play that will fascinate children and parents alike. Five years after he ended the war between dragons and Vikings, young hero Hiccup and his fellow dragon-riders face off against a dreaded enemy named Draco, who subjugates dragons, using fear and torture to make them do his bidding. 1 hr. 42 PG (adventure action and some mild rude humor) - Tirdad Derakhshani

IDA 4 stars. Two women - an orphan raised in a convent, preparing to take her vows, and a cynical, hard-bitten former prosecutor and judge - meet in Pawel Pawlikowski's extraordinary film, embarking on a road trip across the bleak terrain of 1960s Communist Poland - a road trip that is at once tragic, hopeful, and unforgettable. 1 hr. 20 PG-13 (sexual situations, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

THE IMMIGRANT 3 1/2 stars. Marion Cotillard is nothing less than amazing as a destitute Pole who arrives at Ellis Island, 1921, and falls in with a smooth-talking pimp (Joaquin Phoenix). James Gray ("Two Lovers," "The Yards") directs this half-crazy, fascinating yarn. R (nudity, violence, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

IN SECRET 1 1/2 stars. A kind of Frenchified "Postman Always Rings Twice," with a rowboating scenario straight out of "A Place in the Sun." Only, Emile Zola thought of it all first: This overwrought tale of obsessive love-turned-curdled love, of murder, money, and meddlesome acquaintances, is based on his 1867 novel" Therese Raquin. Elizabeth Olsen, Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton, and Jessica Lange star. 1 hr. 52 R (sex, violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea

IN THE BLOOD 2 stars. Mixed martial arts champ Gina Carano gets a bloody, B-movie vehicle to star in. When her husband disappears on the couple's Caribbean honeymoon, matters must be taken into her own hands - and fists, and feet. 1 hr. 47 R (violence, intense action, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

JERSEY BOYS 3 stars. John Lloyd Young, who starred as Frankie Valli in the original Broadway musical, cinches up his face and hits the high notes with grace in Clint Eastwood's enjoyable - and surprisingly tough - music biz biopic. Wall-to-wall Four Seasons songs, too. 2 hrs. 14 R (profanity, violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea

KORENGAL 3 stars. The 2010 documentary "Restrepo" focused on a U.S. Army platoon at a remote outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. "Korengal" returns to the scene, to the same soldiers, the same conflict - but far from the same perspective on war. 1 hr. 29 R (profanity, violence, brief nudity) - Tirdad Derakhshani

LIFE ITSELF 3 1/2 stars. A touching, inspiring documentary portrait of Roger Ebert, the famously prolific thumb-slinging movie critic whose life story is the stuff of movies itself - and whose resilience in the face of an 11-year struggle with cancer is nothing short of extraordinary. R (adult themes) - Steven Rea

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON 4 stars. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, Hirokazu Koreeda's new film explores the bonds between parent and child - and what happens when a well-to-do couple discover their 6-year-old son is not, in fact, theirs. Full of gentle humor and piercing insight, an exploration of themes essential to us all. 2 hrs. 01 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - Steven Rea

LOCKE 4 stars. A tour de force, and a tour down a British motorway in the dead of night, with Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, a man in a car, on his Bluetooth, trying to keep the pieces of his life from flying apart. And that is the sum of writer/ director Steven Knight's extraordinary movie. 1 hr. 25 R (profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

LUCKY THEM 3 stars. Toni Collette gives a thoroughly enchanting performance as Ellie Klug, a snarky, cynical yet endearing music journalist in this charming rock 'n' roll dramedy that's light on story but strong on character. Sparks fly when Ellie goes on a road trip with a millionaire-turned filmmaker in search of a legendary rock star - and her ex-lover - who disappeared 10 years earlier. 1 hr. 37 R (language, some sexual content and drug use) - Tirdad Derakhshani

MALEFICENT 3 stars. Angelina Jolie stars as the titular villain of the Snow White tale in this imaginative, if somewhat belabored, reinvention of the classic Disney cartoon. With Elle Fanning as the cursed Aurora, and "District 9's" Sharlto Copley alarmingly cast as her dad, the king. Flower-powered fairyland visual effects to die for! And Jolie, horns and cheekbones high, is magnificent as the villainous fairy godmother. PG (violence, scary images, adult themes) - Steven Rea

MILLION DOLLAR ARM 1 1/2 stars. Jon Hamm stars as a desperate sports agent who sets out to find baseball talent in India and ends up babysitting two young homesick villagers. Not nearly as heartwarming as it intends. With Lake Bell, Aasif Mandvi, Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal. 2 hrs. 03 PG (suggestive language and situations) - David Hiltbrand

NEIGHBORS 3 stars. In this lewd comedy, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are young parents whose lives are massively disrupted when a rowdy fraternity led by Zac Efron moves into the house next door. Smutty? Oh, yes. And often fall-on-the-floor funny. 1 hr. 37 R (profanity, nudity, sexual content, violence, alcohol and drug abuse) - David Hiltbrand

NOAH 3 stars. Darren Aronofsky's audacious, hallucinogenic reimagining of the Old Testament text is the movie equivalent of Christian death metal. It's an antideluvian "Lord of the Rings," fist-pumping, ferocious, apocalyptic and wet - very wet. With a brooding, burly Russell Crowe in the title role, and CG-generated rock monsters on hand to help build the fabled ark. 2 hrs. 18 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea

OCULUS 3 1/2 stars. A woman tries to win her brother's freedom by proving that the murder he was convicted of was committed by a supernatural force. 1 hr. 45 R (scenes of extreme bloody violence, profanity, sexual situations) - Tirdad Derakhshani

OMAR 3 stars. From Palestine, a clenched drama about a young resistance fighter, trapped behind the mazelike barriers of the West Bank and caught up in a web of conspiracy, betrayal, paranoia, and, yes, love. Gripping, grim, and a foreign-language Oscar nominee. 1 hr. 38 No MPAA rating (violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE 3 1/2 stars. Jim Jarmusch's sly and seductive vampire movie, starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as two old (very old) lovers, is as much about the life-sustaining force of music as it is about any hankering for blood. With Anton Yelchin, Mia Wasikowska and John Hurt. 2 hrs. 03 R (profanity, nudity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

ON MY WAY 2 1/2 stars. At 70, French cinema goddess Catherine Deneuve continues to enthrall in "On My Way," a droll, if minor dramedy about Bettie, a former beauty queen from rural France who walks out on her life when her married lover leaves her for a younger man. Refusing to fold, she goes on a road trip with her tween grandson, befriending a motley crew of oddballs on the way. While charming and fresh in its first half, the film falls into a rut in its cliche-driven final part. 1 hr. 56 No MPAA rating (adult themes, profanity, smoking, celebration of cigarettes) - Tirdad Derakhshani

THE OTHER WOMAN 2 stars. Leslie Mann - ditzy and gasping, Lucille Ball and Olive Oyl rolled into one, in panic attack mode - makes this formulaic sex farce tolerable, barely. She's the wife who discovers her husband is cheating on her with Cameron Diaz, and with Kate Upton. The trio team up, in a spirit of twisted sisterhood, to exact revenge. PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

PALO ALTO 2 1/2 stars. Gia Coppola (Francis' granddaughter) directs this beautifully shot but kind of empty adaptation of the James Franco story collection about disaffected rich kids, toking, texting, sexing, throwing up. With Emma Roberts and Jack Kilmer, and Franco himself as the high school girls' soccer coach. 1 hr. 40 R (sex, nudity, drugs, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea.

PARTICLE FEVER 4 stars. Shot over seven years, this brilliant, majestic and remarkably accessible science documentary co-produced and narrated by particle physicist David Kaplan chronicles how 10,000 scientists and engineers came together to build what in effect is the ultimate test tube for particle physics, the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland. Kaplan explains with quiet authority, patience, and great wit how the LHC, one of the largest machine every built, is can help clarify some of the most fundamental questions about the universe: How was matter created, what is the deep foundational theory of nature? 1 hr. 39 No MPAA rating (accessible for all ages) - Tirdad Derakhshani

THE PAST 3 stars. Asghar Farhadi's followup to his Oscar winning "A Separation" is set in a working-class quarter of Paris, where a woman ("The Artist's" Berenice Bejo, amazing) has summoned her estranged husband back from Iran to finalize their divorce, inviting him to stay in the apartment she shares with her new beau and three children. Things get messy in this thickly knotted and compelling tale. PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

THE RAID 2 3 1/2 stars. Combine every film made by Bruce Lee and muay thai master Tony Jaa and you might get an approximation of the sheer level of martial arts mayhem, gun-and-knife-play, car chases, explosions, murder, maiming and general blood-letting in this extraordinary sequel. Indonesian actor, stunt-man and Silat fighter Iko Uwais returns as Jakarta cop Rama, the sole survivor of a police raid who goes undercover to destroy three gangs, including a group of dirty, deadly cops. R (strong bloody violence, sexuality, profanity) - Tirdad Derakhshani

THE RAILWAY MAN 3 stars. Hang in through the stuffy start and you'll get an emotionally powerful (though graphic) film about the horrors of (world) war (II) and its aftereffects. With Colin Firth and Jeremy Irvine. 1 hr. 56 R (torture scenes) - David Hiltbrand

THE ROCKET 3 1/2 stars. Australian director Kim Mordaunt made his name with his harrowing docu "Bomb Harvest," about Laotian children killed each year collecting for scrap metal unexploded bombs that have littered the countryside since the Vietnam War. He returns to Laos for his first drama, an aching, poetic coming of age story about a 10-year-old boy whose family is uprooted from their land and their traditions by the construction of a new dam. A searing, yet hopeful, look at a world where life is unimaginably precarious. 1 hr. 36 No MPAA rating (adult themes, mild violence, some gore, profanity) - Tirdad Derakhshani

SABOTAGE 2 stars. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the head of a DEA squad that is half outlaw. Good cast (including Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Mireille Enos and Olivia Williams) and lots of bang-bang spectacle. Just don't expect to make sense of what's going on. 1 hr. 49 R (graphic violence, nudity, sex, pervasive profanity, drug abuse) - David Hiltbrand

THE SIGNAL 3 stars. An eerily mysterious and inventive indie, in which two guys and a girl climb in a car for a road trip west, onlyto find themselves "followed" by a genius computer hacker - and only to find themselves off the grid, in the dead of night, in a mighty strange place. 1 hr. 35 PG-13 (violence, intense action, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

THE SINGLE MOMS CLUB 2 stars. In Tyler Perry's latest, women from different social classes (Nia Long, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Cocoa Brown, Amy Smart and Zulay Henao) bond over the challenges of single parenting. A breezy but banal melodrama. 1 hr. 51 PG-13 (adult themes) - David Hiltbrand

SNOWPIERCER 3 1/2 stars. A global-warming experiment goes awry and Earth freezes, leaving survivors to circle Earth on a train driven by perpetual motion. Class war breaks out between those in back and those in front. All aboard for Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Chris Evans. 2 hrs. 06 R (violence, language, smoking, drug use) - Tirdad Derakhshani

SON OF GOD 2 stars. Condensed and reconfigured from the 10-hour History Channel miniseries, "The Bible," with Portuguese model-turned-screen player Diogo Morgado in the role of Jesus of Nazareth, inspiring his followers, performing miracles, and getting arrested, tried and nailed to a cross. With its Sunday school narration and periodic flyovers of a computer-rendered Jerusalem, and with a cast that can best be described as handsome, the film reduces the civilization-shaping events in the life and times of Jesus to a cheesy clip reel. 2 hrs. 18 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea

STRANGER BY THE LAKE 3 1/2 stars. French Director Alain Guiraudie's Hitchcockian murder mystery is a stunning, beautiful and stark minimalist piece set at a provincial lake where gay men meet to sunbathe and hook up. The sexually explicit story is about a love triangle of sorts, between the young, handsome Franck, an older, overweight man whom he befriends and a dark, mysterious stranger who fascinates Franck - even after the stranger kills another man. 1 hr. 37 No MPAA rating (male nudity, graphic sex acts, profanity, some violence) - Tirdad Derakhshani

SUPERMENSCH: THE LEGEND OF SHEP GORDON 3 1/2 stars Mike Myers directs, and narrates, this fast and affectionate portrait of the fabled music and movie biz mega-manager, who crossed paths with just about everybody (Jimi, Janis, Cary - as in Cary Grant) and whose personal journey goes from the sybaritic to the spiritual. A remarkable in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time tale of fame, fortune and finding peace. 1 hr. 25 R (profanity, sex, nudity, drugs, adult themes) - Steven Rea

TAMMY 2 1/2 stars, Melissa McCarthy goes on a crazy, low-rent road trip with her boozy grandma (Susan Sarandon) in a raucous comedy that goes off the rails in its second half. 1 hr. 36 R (profanity, adult themes) - David Hiltbrand

TIM'S VERMEER 3 1/2 stars. Fascinating, illuminating documentary about inventor Tim Jenison's obsessive project to prove that the 17th century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer, long hailed for his photorealistic style, used optical devices to get the job, and the art, done. Narrated by Penn Jillette, directed by his less gabby show biz sidekick, Teller. 1 hr. 20 PG-13 (adult themes) - Steven Rea

TRANSCENDENCE 2 1/2 stars. Johnny Depp is a superstar in the field of artificial intelligence - you can tell by the glasses he wears - in this big idea thriller where the forces of technology and humanity collide. Even with the snazzy visual effects, it's a messy, talky endeavor. With Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman and Kate Mara. 1 hr. 59 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION 2 stars. 3D Director Michael Bay outdoes himself in the latest pulverizing chapter of his robot franchise. It's much longer and much louder than any of the previous demolition extravaganzas. Mark Wahlberg provides the puny human element. 2 hrs. 45 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - David Hiltbrand

22 JUMP STREET 2 1/2 stars. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, not exactly the Millennials answer to Abbott and Costello but working a sympatico stupid-com groove, are back in the sequel to "21 Jump Street." This time the undercover cops go to college to bust a drug ring. Winkingly ironic dumb jokes - anatomical, scatalogocal, sexual - ensue. R (profanity, sex, drugs, cartoon violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea

WALKING WITH THE ENEMY 1 stars. The story of a Hungarian Holocaust hero is rendered in the dullest manner imaginable. A thick goulash of bad wigs and worse accents. 1 hr. 59 PG-13 (ruthless violence) - David Hiltbrand

WE ARE THE BEST! 3 1/2 stars. Pipsqueak misfits in early '80s Stockholm start a punk band - three girls slashing and thrashing against parents, teachers and classmates in Lukas Moodysson's exuberant and compassionate coming-of-age gem. 1 hr. 42 No MPAA rating (profanity, drugs, adult themes) - Steven Rea

THE WIND RISES 4 stars. A love song about flight, about childhood obsessions realized, Hayao Miyazaki's latest and possibly last feature (he has announced his retirement, but he's done that before), has the same dreamlike sense of magic that imbues all of the cartoon maestro's work - even though it's a story rooted in fact: the story of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi. Nominated for the animated feature Academy Award. 2 hrs. 06 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea

WORDS AND PICTURES 2 1/2 stars. Clive Owen teaches honors English, Juliette Binoche teaches honors art, in this Tracy-and-Hepburn-like rom-com with a "Dead Poets Society" backdrop and dollops of human failing for added drama. The prep school kids line up in one camp or the other - "This insane war is energizing our students!" a giddy Owen declares - and the two stars line up to do battle, and, of course, make love. PG-13 (sex, profanity, alcohol, adult themes) - Steven Rea

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST 3 stars. Time-travel is of the essence in this entertaining seventh installment in the series based on the Marvel comics about a gang of misfit mutant superheroes and their respective mentors, Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Directed by Bryan Singer, with Hugh Jackman's Wolverine as the linchpin. Geeky, action-packed fun. 2 hrs. 11 PG-13 (intense action, violence, adult themes) - Steven Rea


4 stars: Excellent; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Fair; 1 star: Poor

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