Friday June 28, 2013

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). 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 Pixar 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. It;s not a bad movie at all but it is disappointing. The movie is mostly fun and ultimately disposable, which is a letdown after Pixar's previous greatness. On the Pixar curve, a B grade doesn't pass. HH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 6/22). 1:50.

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.

THE HEAT (R). Sandra Bullock plays a prissy, know-it-all, overly coiffed F.B.I. agent who is sent to Boston to prepare for a promotion. While there, she runs afoul of a foul-mouthed, slovenly Boston detective, played by Melissa McCarthy.

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 retired globetrotting United Nations troubleshooter (Brad Pitt) is called in to track down the source of the worldwide plague that is turning people into athletically inclined zombies that can scale walls and overtake cities in minutes. The film's calculated restraint emphasizes the horror's sprawl and preserves the PG-13 rating. We get the point without all the gory details. "World War Z" presents an abundance of relatively plausible action and smart solutions. HHH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 6/24). 1:56.

WHITE HOUSE DOWN (PG-13). Sgt. John Cale, a Capitol police officer, played by Channing Tatum, is touring the White House with his daughter right after tanking an interview for a Secret Service job. When rogue former soldiers and government employees begin wreaking havoc on Pennsylvania Avenue, Cale must step up to rescue his daughter (Joey King) and the president (Jamie Foxx).