Friday June 21, 2013

AFTER EARTH (PG-13). Set in a future where nature has turned on humans and survivors were forced to start a new civilization on another planet. Jaden Smith plays a trainee trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, a famous military leader played by Will Smith. When the two crash-land on an inhospitable Earth, Jaden's character must prove his own abilities to survive, and save his father in the process. Nothing happens that isn't telegraphed in the first 30 minutes. Fans of either Smith will be sorely disappointed. The elder has never before appeared this listless on screen, and the younger has misplaced his unforced rapport with the camera that made the "Karate Kid" reboot so impressive. H1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 5/3). 1:40.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT (R). The thIrd of RIchard Linklater's films tracing the ups and downs of a relationship finds Celine and Jesse, still together nine years after we last saw them in Paris, at the end of a vacation in Greece, trying to control the flow of experience, to find meaning and to keep a terrible and nameless anxiety at bay. The conversational flow seems slightly forced this time around. Emotions rise as suddenly as subjects change. It doesn't feel genuine. With Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke. HH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 6/19). 1:48.

EPIC (PG).


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A young human is drawn into the struggle between the forces of life and decay in a forest inhabited by Leaf Men (and women) sprites and reptilian bog dwellers in this animated feature based upon children's author William Joyce's novel "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs." Derivative as all get out and plainly concocted by committee, this children's animated film is more entertaining and emotional than it has any right to be. HH1/2 (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 5/25). 1:42.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 (PG-13). With the promise of a full government pardon, Dom, Brian and their team of speed demons are lured out of retirement to help a U.S. agent take down a car-jacking gang in London. At some point, it's simply wise to toss your hands in the air and let the dumbness wash over you. Don't ask how this or that could possibly happen or wonder if anyone in the audience is actually gullible enough to believe it could. Just breathe. Through your mouth, of course. With Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson. HH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 5/24). 2:10.

FRANCES HA (R). Director-writer Noah Baumberg's new film stars the always charming Greta Gerwig (who co-wrote the screenplay) as a hapless 27-year-old dancer wanna-be who comes to New York from California in search of a life she has difficulty establishing. The film turns melancholy and almost painful to watch in its last act. But Frances, in Gerwig's hands, is never less than unforgettable, even at her most "undateable" and unteachable. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 6/11). 1:26.

MAN OF STEEL (PG-13). Director Zack Snyder goes back to origins in this new, dark Superman actioner that finds the caped hero taking on the dangerous, wildly destructive General Zod. Overall, it's a smart start to what could be the next big superhero franchise, With Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Larry Fishburne, Richard Schiff, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Christopher Meloni. HHH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 6/17). 2:24.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (G). All the characters from "Monsters, Inc." return in this prequel that finds the endearing scarers in college before graduating into the "real" world of becoming all our childhood monsters-in-the-closet-and-under-the-bed fears.

NOW YOU SEE ME (PG-13). A slick and kind of murky entertainment in which a quartet of street-charlatans-turned-Las Vegas stars pulls off an epic heist -- using the tricks of the magic trade. With Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo. HH (Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer -- 5/4). 1:56.

SHADOW DANCER (R). Under arrest in London for an act of terrorism, a single mother and fervent supporter of the IRA is given a choice of 25 years in prison or returning to Belfast and informing on her two brothers. Toni Collette, Clive Owen.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (PG-13). Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise crew match wits with a mysterious terrorist who has an odd connection to a Star Fleet admiral. Brawny, funny, ingeniously constructed for appeasl to both devoted fans and reluctant converts. With Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana, Peter Weller. HHH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 5/17). 2:12.

THE GREAT GATSBY (PG-13). Armed with a hip-hop score and 3D, F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic Roaring Twenties novel about an enigmatic man living the high life in an enclave in Long Island comes to the big screen for the fifth time in an aggressively bold treatment that takes the excesses and conspicuous consumptions of Fitzgerald's characters to their illogical ends. Yet as a purely sensory experience at the movies you'd be hard pressed to find anything more dazzling than the movie's first 90 minutes. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire. HH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 5/11). 2:23.

THE INTERNSHIP (PG-13). "Wedding Crashers" costars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson team up again, this time as two salesmen who apply for an unpaid internship at Google when the company they've been working for suddenly folds. While the film is entirely too long, there is an unadulterated joy in the re-teaming of Vaughn and Wilson, who swap lines like veteran jazz musicians who still have a sense of play about them. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 6/8). 1:59.

THE PURGE (R). A bloody-minded, heavy-handed satire of life within these violent United States in which a privileged family comes under seige during the annual "Purge," a nationwide 12-hour catharsis during which the violent, even homicidal unleashing of rage is encouraged as a patriotic duty. An 85-minute chore that tediously plays like a real-time recreation of the night of The Purge -- all 12 hours of it. With Ethan Hawke. H1/2 (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 6/10). 1:35.

THIS IS THE END (R). A horror comedy about the apocalypse featuring a bunch of funky comedy stars playing themselves before, and after, Hollywood burns, A wildly erratic, gross extravaganza that, in its peak moments, is as bold as "Borat." With Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson. HH1/2 (Sragow, Orange County Register -- 6/12). 1:47.

WORLD WAR Z (PG-13). A zombie virus pandemic threatens mankind. With Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Fana Mokoena.