Well-Aged, Brawny Beef
In a throwaway moment at the end of the rousing actioner Expendables 2, the gang of well-aged and heroic mercenaries is presented with a rusted rattletrap of a plane to replace the one they just lost. “That belongs in a museum,” complains one. “We all do,” replies the character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the joke plays well on several levels. Welcome to one of the most entertaining cheesefests of the summer, a sequel to the surprisingly successful 2010 flick about a crew of manly meatheads who undertake suicide missions while spraying deadly bullets and droll quips with equal effect.
Sporting a couple of tons worth of iconic, ’80s-era action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren and Chuck Norris and a sprinkling of slightly younger counterparts such as Jason Statham and Jet Li, the stage is set for brutal military ops executed with deadly precision. In this outing, a sneering, sadistic villain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) has enslaved an entire region of Eastern Europe to help him dig out five tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium that was buried in secret when the Soviet Union collapsed. But his real mistake was in killing one of Stallone’s men, and you just know that this sunglasses-sporting badass is due to go down. Hard.
Although none of these actors was ever a threat to Laurence Olivier or Paul Newman, they have long-since passed into the pop culture pantheon — cinema survivors who have aged almost as badly as Keith Richards while acquiring a thin patina of gravitas over long careers spent needling adversaries with one liners before blowing them away. Here they acquit themselves adequately in a movie that alternates between sometimes dazzling action sequences and moments of mind-boggling What The Hell?! as plot logic isn’t just suspended so much as blown to smithereens. With a staggering body count and some sly self-referential humour, this cartoon movie will delight its target audience. M
Expendables 2 ★★½
Directed by Simon West
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li
R – 102 minutes • Continues at the
Odeon, SilverCity and Westshore
A Monster Mashup
The brilliant crew who gave us the stop-motion animated masterpiece Coraline are back in business with ParaNorman, the touching and cleverly gruesome tale of an 11-year-old misfit who is a bullied outcast because of his ability to talk to dead people. And given that these ghosts are friendlier company than hostile schoolmates and suspicious adults, who can blame poor Norman?
This sad, misunderstood fellow lives in a town with a dark past: it was once a Puritan colony, and a young “witch” was once hanged after being falsely accused. That was 300 years ago and the witch’s legendary curse begins by transforming the judge and jury who sentenced the young girl into a zombie army. That is just the beginning of the witch’s wrath, and only Norman with his ability to talk to the dead can save the town.
Finding a middle ground between the Brothers Grimm and Tim Burton, ParaNorman is a quirky entertainment indeed. The art direction is the movie’s greatest asset, beautifully drawn, animated and coloured. But despite a strong premise and a great protagonist, ParaNorman eventually runs out of steam, and then out of charm. Not only does the plot not make a lot of sense — if the young girl wasn’t really a witch, how can she cast a terrible spell? — but the movie gets preachy indeed as it touts the virtues of tolerance. Still, there’s quite a bit to like here. M
Directed by Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Starring Casey Affleck
PG-13 • 93 minutes • Continues at
the Capitol, Uni 4, & SilverCity
The macho mercenaries of Expendables spend most of their downtime drinking beer at a biker bar, and if they had the choice I am sure they would happily slurp Phillip’s Amnesiac Double IPA. At nearly 9 per cent alcohol, this intensely-hopped palate pummeler is not to be taken lightly! With notes of citrus and pine that overlay a core of malty caramel sweetness, this is one of the champs of the local beer scene, and deservedly has a cult following.
Victoria’s Movie Listings Aug. 23-29
PREMIUM RUSH -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) The always interesing Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 500 Days of Summer) stars in a thriller about a bike courier in NYC who picks up a mysterious package and starts getting chased all over the city by a dirty cop. Starts Fri.
HIT AND RUN -(Capitol/SilverCity) This action-comedy-romance features a former getaway driver who risks his Witness Protection Plan status in order to get his girlfriend to L.A. In pursuit are the feds and members of the guy’s ex-gang (who presumably aren’t planning a reunion party). Starts Fri.
THE APPARITION -(Capitol) In what looks like a standard-issue fright flick, a couple is haunted after an evil spirit is unleashed during a college experiment. Starts Fri.
★★★★ BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD -(Odeon) Nothing but raves have greeted this unusual and touching drama, which uses moments of magic realism to portray the inner life of a young girl who is part of a small community of poor Louisiana folk who live entirely “off the grid.”
★★★½ THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL -(Uni 4/Caprice) A diverse group of British seniors seek out an affordable retirement hotel in India, only to find it in shabby disarray. But despite the initial disappointment, India’s exotic charms win them over. This heartfelt comedy-drama has a sensational cast that includes Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Judi Dench.
★★ THE BOURNE LEGACY -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) The hyper-kinetic spy series gets a flaccid and disappointing reboot with a new director and new actor (Jeremy Renner). Co-starring Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton.
★★★ BRAVE -(Caprice) Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson provide the voices for Pixar’s animated tale that is set in ancient Scotland and tells of a headstrong young princess who must rely on her courage to undo a beastly curse. Decent entertainment, albeit occasionally a bit plodding.
★★½ THE CAMPAIGN -(Odeon/SilverCity) A veteran congressman (Will Ferrell) who is used to running for office unapposed is shocked to find himself facing an inexperienced but effective challenger (Zach Galifianakis). This gleefully crass comedy does a (mostly) good job of skewering obvious targets like political corruption, hypocrisy, and smug media participation in a shameless circus.
★★★ THE DARK KNIGHT RISES -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) A diabolical terrorist named Bane poses a terrible threat to Gotham, as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes to an exciting but rather bloated conclusion. With Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Anne Hathaway.
★★½ THE EXPENDABLES 2 -(Odeon/Westshore/SilverCity) Expect lots of manly mayhem as a group of aging mercenaries (played by aging Hollywood mercenaries like Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris and Bruce Willis) go up against a very nasty adversary. This is good, cheesy fun. See review.
HOPE SPRINGS -(Odeon/SilverCity/Uni 4) Meryl Streep can’t endure her boring marriage any more and drags her reluctant husband (Tommy Lee Jones) off to intensive couple’s counselling to try to revive intimacy and romance.
★★★ ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT -(SilverCity) After their continent is set adrift, Manny, Diego, and Sid have some crazy, rollicking, humour-filled adventures. This is very fine family entertainment.
★★★ INTOUCHABLES -(Odeon) This funny and heart-warming French film features a wealthy aristocrat, a quadriplegic after a hang-gliding accident, who gets more than he bargained for when he hires a rough-edged black man from the projects to be his care aid. Based on a true story.
★★★ MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED -(Caprice) Those mouthy NYC zoo escapees are up to their usual colourful antics in a wittily entertaining animation romp.
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Disney Studios produced this rather fantastical family-friendly tale about a childless couple who end up with a young boy under distinctly magical circumstances. Starring Jennifer Garner.
★★½ PARANORMAN -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) In an amusingly morbid slice of family animation, a misunderstood boy who can talk to the dead is the only hope to save his town from an army of zombies and ghosts activated by a centuries-old curse. See review.
★★★ RUBY SPARKS -(Odeon) This charming and offbeat romcom features a nerdy, lovelorn novelist who writes about the girl of his dreams — only to find her happily living with him one day.
★ SPARKLE -(Odeon) The late Whitney Houston is one of the stars of this dreadful musical melodrama about three sisters who form a Motown girl group, only to see fame begin to erode their close-knit family.
★★★ MAGIC MIKE -(Caprice)
★★★½ THE AMAZING SPIDER–MAN -(Capitol/Caprice)
★★ STEP UP: REVOLUTION -(Capitol)
★★½ TOTAL RECALL -(Capitol/SilverCity)
★★★½ THE AMAZING SPIDER–MAN -(8 pm)
★★★★ BORN TO BE WILD -(10 am, 4 pm)
DINOSAURS: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA -(11 am, 2 pm, 7 pm) Those “terrible lizards” come back to life in a feature that complements the fascinating dinosaur exhibit currently on at the RBCM.
★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS -(1 pm, 5 pm) Here’s a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.
TO THE ARCTIC -(noon, 3 pm, 6 pm)
MOVIE MONDAY – Screening Love That Boy. Here’s a quirky Canadian love story featuring a socially inept overachiever named Phoebe. The great Ellen Page has a supporting role. By donation. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca
MAYFAIR MOVIES -Mayfair once again hosts its annual Summer Drive-in Movie Series, which are projected onto a three-storey inflatable screen. This week: The Goonies, a wild movie starring a gang of kids who have an amazing adventure after discovering a treasure map. WEDNESDAY, 9:30 pm at the corner of Blanshard and Finlayson.
BEACON HILL B MOVIES -The Victoria Film Festival returns with their annual Free-B Film Fest in the Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park. This week: War Games, starring a youthful Mathew Broderick who hacks into a military computer and almost starts WW III . SATURDAY, 9 pm.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
★★★½ AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY -(Wed.-Sat., Aug. 22-25: 7:00, 9:00) Most famous as one of the creators of the Bird’s Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics, Ai Weiwei is an iconic artist whose provocative installations are at the intersection of art and activism. This documentary is a vivid portrait of the man, the artist, and the shit disturber who repeatedly risks jail to make China a more humane and democratic country.
★★★★★ THE SEVEN SAMURAI -(Sun.-Mon., Aug. 26-27: 7:00 only) This masterwork by Japan’s Akira Kurosawa is a majestic yet down-to-earth account of what happens when a farming village being preyed upon by bandits hires some samurai to defend them and their crops. Easily one of the greatest films ever made.
MY PERESTROIKA -(Tues., Aug. 28: 7:10, 9:00) This “intimate epic” captures the Russian spirit while portraying the collapse of the Soviet Union and what happened afterwards. Back by popular demand.
★★★ PATANG / THE KITE -(Wed.-Thurs., Aug. 29-30: 7:00, 9:00) India’s largest annual kite festival provides the backdrop for this lyrical and occasionally dramatic look at a semi-dysfunctional family when the patriarch returns from Delhi.