JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT -(SilverCity/Westshore) A young Jack Ryan (Chris Pine, ***Star Trek) has to upshift from covert CIA analyst to kick-ass field agent in this high-octane thriller about a Russian plot to destroy the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and co-starring Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, and Colm Feore.
★★½ BIG BAD WOLVES -(Vic) Israel is the source for this horrifying and notably black-humoured thriller about a suspected serial killer of girls who is on a collision course with two other scary men: the vengeance-seeking father of the latest victim, and a police detective with a vigilante streak. Some of the plotting and police procedures are absurd, but this was Quentin Tarantino’s fave flick of last year.
RIDE ALONG -(SilverCity) It what is likely to be a fairly raunchy action comedy, a fast-talking security guard joins his cop brother-in-law-to-be on a ride along in order to prove himself worthy of marrying the man’s sister. With Ice Cube and Kevin Hart.
DEVIL’S DUE -(SilverCity) A pregnancy takes a turn to the dark side in this horror flick about sinister doings in an unfortunate woman’s womb and brain.
THE NUT JOB -(SilverCity/Westshore) In this animated romp a curmudgeonly squirrel gets banished from his park and has to learn to survive in the big city — so watch out, Maury’s Nut Store! With the vocal talents of Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, and Will Arnett.
★★★½ AMERICAN HUSTLE -(Odeon/SilverCity) David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter) delivers a screwball crime dramedy, loosely based on the 1970s Abscam scandal, when an FBI sting ensnared a bunch of congressman on corruption charges. This devil’s brew of messy emotions and sneaky double-crosses features a great cast that includes Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence.
★ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES -(SilverCity/Westshore) The comedic adventures of delusional, sexist, and highly self-regarding newsman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) move from 1970s San Diego to the advent of cable news in 1980s New York. The cast includes Harrison Ford, Paul Rudd, Vince Vaughn, Sacha Baron Cohen, Kristen Wiig, and Christina Applegate. As I staggered out of this gratingly unfunny bomb I was reassured to hear someone in front of me declare, “That was the stupidest, piece-of-s%@t movie I’ve ever seen.” Amen.
★★½ AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY -(Odeon/Landmark Uni 4) A wildly dysfunctional family has an acrimonious, often venomous reunion after a funeral. Meryl Streep acts up a storm as the family matriarch, but all the shrieking and anger and emotional messiness doesn’t have much of a point. The great cast includes Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Ewan McGregor, and Dermot Mulroney.
★½ 47 RONIN -(Westshore) Keanu Reeves sleepwalks his way through a pseudo-epic martial arts extravaganza as 47 samurai fight supernatural forces and political corruption to regain their lost honour.
FROZEN -(SilverCity/Westshore) As a prelude to winter comes this appealing Disney animated tale about a brave woman who sets out to rescue a kingdom trapped in eternal winter. Some of the other characters include a goofy snowman and his reindeer buddy. Based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen.
★★★½ GRAVITY -(Odeon) Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in a harrowing, brilliantly-executed thriller about two astronauts aboard a space station who survive an accident only to find themselves drifting helplessly through space, with little hope of rescue or survival.
★★★HER -(Odeon/Landmark Uni 4) Most critics have loved the latest from the incomparably weird Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), which stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who develops an intensely intimate relationship with his computer’s Siri-like operating system (voiced with beguiling sexiness by Scarlett Johansson). See review in the monthly Monday Magazine.
★★★THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG -(SilverCity/Westshore) Peter Jackson delivers three hours of fast-paced entertainment in this exciting, combat-filled and often funny account of Bilbo, Gandalf, and a bevy of bearded dwarves as they confront that terrifying, gold-hoarding dragon named Smaug (voiced by the suddenly ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch).
★★½ THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE -(SilverCity) In the middle movie of this dystopic future-world trilogy for teens, the oddly-named Katniss Everdeen (Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence) gets caught up in some deadly schemings after a rebellion outrages Panem’s despotic ruler (Donald Sutherland). This is predictable stuff, but boy is it popular!
★★★★ INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS -(Odeon) The Coen Brothers give a deliciously bleak present to cinema fans with this tale of an embittered folksinger struggling to carve out a career in 1961 Greenwich Village. Starring Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, and Carey Mulligan.
★★★½ PHILOMENA -(Landmark Cinema 4) Oscar-nomination speculation is already swirling around Judi Dench for her performance as a woman who was forced to give up her out-of-wedlock child 50 years ago and is now determined to track him down. This surprisingly funny dramedy co-stars Steve Coogan and is directed by the great Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen).
★★★LONE SURVIVOR -(SilverCity/Westshore) The title is a bit of a spoiler, but this true-life account of four SEALs dropped into Taliban territory in Afghanistan on a very dangerous mission is kinetic and stunningly brutal. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster.
★★★ SAVING MR. BANKS -(Westshore/Landmark Uni 4) Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are both delightful in this entertaining, true-life tale of the struggle Walt Disney had to convince the uptight English author of Mary Poppins to allow him to make her beloved children’s book into a movie.
★★ THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY -(Odeon) Ben Stiller directs himself in this elaborate adaptation of the famed short story by James Thurber. While the original features an ineffectual man who retreats into daydreams in order to feel heroic, in this version Walter eventually becomes bold and brave in the real world. Despite exotic locales and a few clever touches the film itself is Mitty-esque: bland and unfocused. It’s little more than a sermon about “being all you can be.” With Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig, and Shirley MacLaine.
★★★½ THE WOLF OF WALL STREET -(Odeon/SilverCity) Revered director Martin Scorsese reunites with Leonardo DiCaprio for this electrifyingly debauched, true-life tale of Jordan Belfort, a sleazy Wall Street stockbroker at the centre of a massive financial scandal in the 1990s. With Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, and Jon Favreau.
FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES – (10 am, Fri.-Wed.)
★★★ HIDDEN UNIVERSE – (noon, 3 pm, 5 pm: Fri.-Thurs.) Travel to the farthest reaches of the visible universe courtesy of the world’s most amazing telescopes.
KENYA: ANIMAL KINGDOM – (4 pm: Fri.-Thurs.)
★★★★ ROLLING STONES: AT THE MAX -(4 pm: Fri.-Thurs.)
★★★ SPACE JUNK – (1 pm, Fri.-Thurs. & 6 pm, Fri.-Tues.) Hundreds of tons of junk are orbiting above the planet, and this fascinating doc tells you why you need to know about it.
TITANS OF THE ICE AGE -(11 am, 2 pm, 7 pm: Fri.-Tues. & 11 am, 2 pm: Wed. & 2 pm, Thurs.)
MOVIE MONDAY- screens Luckey. A 65-year-old sculptor named Tom Luckey has an accident that leaves him paralyzed from the neck down. This documentary chronicles his amazing efforts to finish a giant sculpture, keep going as a husband and father, and hold onto his sanity while confronting a world of harsh challenges. 6:30 pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595-FLIC. moviemonday.ca..
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★ THE SUMMIT -(Fri.-Sat., Jan. 17-18: 7:00, 9:00) K2, second in height only to Mount Everest, is the world’s deadliest peak. It’s worst-ever mountaineering disaster, which cost 11 lives in one 24-hour period in 2008, is explored in a fascinating documentary that is chilling in more ways than one.
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY -(Sat.-Sun., Jan. 18-19: 1:00 matinee) In this prequel to the 2001 animated smash about fuzzy plush-toy monsters, we go back to the early days when Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) met at university.
★★½ ENDER’S GAME -(Sun., Jan. 19: 3:00, 7:00, 9:15 & Mon., Jan. 20: 7:00, 9:15) Yet another book series for teens comes to the big screen, this time featuring a young boy with exceptional powers who is cultivated as a military leader destined to save the Earth from a deadly alien attack. With Harrison Ford.
THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN -(Tues.-Thurs., Jan. 21-23: 7:00, 9:10) This award-winning film from Belgium portrays the relationship of a free-spirited tattoo artist and a gentle bluegrass musician, and what happens when their long-time love is challenged by tragedy.
THE VIC THEATRE
The Vic Theatre is located at 808 Douglas Street. Info: thevic.ca
★★½ BIG BAD WOLVES -(Fri.-Thurs. Jan. 17-23: 7:00) Israel is the source for this horrifying and notably black-humoured thriller about a suspected serial killer of girls who is on a collision course with two other scary men: the vengeance-seeking father of the latest victim, and a police detective with a vigilante streak. Some of the plotting and the police procedures are absurd, but this was Quentin Tarantino’s fave flick of last year.