60-SECOND FILM REVIEWS

NowShowing

New movies showing in Minneapolis

By Wendy Schadewald (Rating system: 4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)

“Captive State” (PG-13) (2.5) [Sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief language, and drug material.] — After humans surrender when insect-like, subterranean aliens invade Earth and the “Legislators” impose martial law in this original, love-it-or-hate-it, unevenly paced, unpredictable, star-dotted (Vera Farmiga, Kevin Dunn, D. B. Sweeney, Kevin J. O’Connor, James Ransone, and Madeline Brewer), 109-minute, sci-fi thriller dominated by a murky atmosphere and minimal special effects, a tenacious, security police commander (John Goodman) in 2025 searches in Chicago nine years after the occupation for rebellious, Phoenix resistance fighters (Jonathan Majors, Ashton Sanders, Alan Ruck, Machine Gun Kelley, Ben Daniels, Caitlin Ewald, et al.) who are responsible for killing a pro-extraterrestrial politician at Soldiers Field and trying to take somehow stop the invaders.

“Dumbo” (PG) (3.5) [Peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language.] — When a circus owner (Danny DeVito) buys a pregnant elephant that gives birth to an adorable, big-eared, feather-loving pachyderm that can fly in 1919 in this entertaining, family-oriented, fun-filled, 3D, star-dotted (Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Sharon Rooney, Joseph Gatt, Michael Buffer, Roshan Seth, Jo Osmond, and Frank Bourke), 108-minute Tim Burton film inspired by Walt Disney’s 1941 animated classic, a widowed, one-arm war veteran and circus performer (Colin Farrell) and his two children (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) help reunite the little elephant with its mother after a greedy entrepreneur (Michael Keaton) purchases the circus and wants to exploit the flying elephant to draw curious crowds.

“Hotel Mumbai” (R) (3.5) [Disturbing violence throughout, bloody images, and language.] [Partially subtitled] — When Lashkar-e-Faiba militant terrorists (Amandeep Singh, Manoj Mehra, Suhail Nayyar, Dinesh Kumar, et al.) attack twelve sites in Mumbai, India, on Nov. 26, 2008, including the grand Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in this intense, gut-wrenching, factually inspired, gripping, well-acted, violent, 123-minute thriller based on the 2009 documentary “Surviving Mumbai,” a brave waiter (Dev Patel) with a pregnant wife and a child at home and the strict head chef  (Anupam Kher) desperately try to protect the frightened hotel guests (Jason Isaacs, Carmen Duncan, et al.), including an architect Armand Hammer) and his wife (Nazanin Boniadi) who have a newborn baby being watched over by their nanny (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), as terrorists continue to randomly kill more than a 100 people and set fires and throw grenades throughout the hotel.

“Screwball” (NR) (3) — A wacky, satirical, eye-opening, fascinating, entertaining, 105-minute, Billy Corben’s dramedy documentary that examines the doping scandal of 2013 through interviews with MLB chief of Operations Rob Manfred (David Bolinger), “Blood Sport” author and journalist Tim Elfrink (Ian Mackles), and ESPN baseball reporter Pedro Gomez and enlists child actors to play some of the key players in the performance enhancing drug scandal, including anti-aging guru and clinician Anthony P. Bosch (Bryan Blanco) in Florida, baseball player clients Alex Rodriguez (Blake McCall) and Manny Ramirez (Davion Figaro), black market seller Jorge Velazquez (Armando Bernal IV), brothers Anthony Carbone (Nicholas Ryan Hernandez) and Pete Barbone (Jonathan Blanco) who worked with Tony Bosch, and angry Porter Fischer (Frankie Diaz) who tried to take down steroid kingpin Bosch.

On DVD

“Battle for Terra” (PG) (2) [Sequences of sci-fi action violence and some thematic elements.] [DVD only] — A disappointing, three-dimensional, star-dotted (voiceovers by James Garner, Roseanne Arquette, Danny Glover, Dennis Quaid, Beverly D’Angelo, Justin Long, Amanda Peet, Ron Perlman, Mark Hamill, Brian Cox, et al.) 85-minute, 2007, animated sci-fi film about an inventive Terrian girl (voiceover by Evan Rachel Wood) who befriends an earthling (voiceover by Luke Wilson) and his protective robot (voiceover by David Cross) when he and his fellow invaders (voiceovers by Chris Evans, et al.) attack her peaceful planet after mankind destroyed Earth.

“Earth” (G) (3.5) [DVD only] — Spectacular cinematography and breathtaking time-lapsed photography dominate this educational, stunning, eye-opening, 90-minute, 2007 documentary, which is narrated by James Earl Jones and consists of extensive footage from the popular 2007 “Planet Earth” series, that follows three families (that is, a Kalahari elephant and her baby, a polar bear and her two cubs, and a humpback whale and her calf) for one year and showcases blossoming vegetation; migrating caribou, cranes, and buffalo; and astonishing and abundant wildlife, including lynx, wolves, mandarin ducks, seals, baboons, monkeys, zebras, giraffes, birds of paradise, antelope, lions, cheetahs, dolphins, walruses, sailfish, penguins, and deer.

“The Informers” (R) (1) [Strong sexual content, nudity, drug use, pervasive language, and some disturbing images.] [DVD only] — The seedy underbelly of 1983 Los Angeles is exposed in this graphic, disconnected, uninspired, 98-minute, 2008 film that interconnects a range of unsavory and unsympathetic characters, including a movie producer (Billy Bob Thorton) trying to reconnect with his wife (Kim Bassinger) while still having eyes for a television newscaster (Winona Ryder), a bisexual drug dealer (Jon Foster) simultaneously sleeping with a video producer (Austin Nichols) and his AIDS-infected girlfriend (Amber Heard), a voyeuristic doorman (Brad Renfro) involved with a kidnapper (Mickey Rourke) selling children, an abusive rock star (Mel Radio) dealing with drugs and inner demons, and an alcoholic (Chris Isaak) trying to connect with his estranged son (Lou Taylor Pucci) in Hawaii.

“Is Anybody There?” (PG-13) (3) [Language including sexual references, and some disturbing images.] [DVD only] — A realistic, well-acted, moving, low-key, 94-minute, 2008 British film about the symbiotic relationship that develops during the late 1980s between an angry, ghost-obsessed 10-year-old English boy (Bill Milner) living with his parents (Anne-Marie Duff and David Morrissey), who run a home for the elderly (Rosemary Harris, Leslie Phillips, Sylvia Sims, et al.) near the seaside, and a cantankerous, despondent, retired magician (Michael Caine) who misses his departed wife.

“Moscow, Belgium” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — While her husband (Johan Heldenbergh) is sleeping with his art student in this delightfully charming, funny, 102-minute, 2008 comedy, a 41-year-old Belgian postal worker (Barbara Sarafian) with three children (Anemone Valcke, Sofia Ferri, and Julian Borsani) finds herself in her own midlife crisis and surprisingly attracted to a spitfire, much-younger truck driver (Jurgen Delnaet) with a shady past.

“Obsessed” (PG-13) (2.5) [Sexual material, including some suggestive dialogue, some violence, and thematic content.] [DVD only] — When a sexy, sociopathic office temp worker (Ali Larter) sets her sights on a handsome, happily married vice president (Idris Elba) with a young son in this tension-filled thriller reminiscent of “Fatal Attraction,” his no-nonsense wife (Beyoncé Knowles) eventually takes steps to protect her family from the delusional stalker.

“The Soloist” (PG-13) (3) [Thematic elements, some drug use, and language.] [DVD only] — Slow pacing detracts from this otherwise heartwarming, well-acted, factually based, 117-minute, 2009 film in which popular, divorced journalist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.), who is dealing with his own demons, befriends musically gifted, cello-playing, schizophrenia-plagued, Julliard dropout Nathaniel Ayers, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) who is living on the streets and shares his sad, inspiring story with readers of the “Los Angeles Times”.

“Sugar” (R) (3) [Language, some sexuality, and brief drug use.] [DVD only] — A compelling, bittersweet, realistic, and unpredictable, 114-minute, 2008 film in which life throws curveballs for a sweet-loving, rookie Dominican Republic baseball player Miguel Santos, a.k.a. Sugar, (Algenis Perez Soto) after he leaves his family and girlfriend at nineteen to seek riches and opportunity in Phoenix, Az., where he attends spring training and then ends up living with an elderly host couple (Anne Whitney and Richard Bull) in Iowa when he becomes a pitcher on a minor league baseball team.

Film Critic Wendy Schadewald reviewed films in the Twin Cities since 1986, and has been a guest critic on KARE-11’s Showcase Minnesota, WCCO radio, and AMC-950 radio. She reviews more than 250 films annually and has been a film buff for as long as she can remember. To see more of her film reviews, log on to shortredheadreelreviews.com.

©1986 through 2019 by Wendy Schadewald.

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