Friday July 5, 2013

DESPICABLE ME 2 (PG).There's enough here for a nice little movie. El Macho (Benjamin Bratt) is plotting his usual world domination thing when a reformed Gru (Steve Carell) is recruited to assist his capture by the Anti-Villain League led by Silas Ramsbottom (big laugh for the kiddies there). "Despicable Me 2" gains considerably from Kristen Wiig's sing-song neuroses as AVL agent Lucy Wilde. The logical extension of Gru's rehabilitation is finding someone who'll make him a better man, and a partner for parenthood he never expected. Wiig and Carell would make a terrific rom-com coupling in the flesh but their voices will have to suffice for now. HH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times --7/4).

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.


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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.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (PG-13). The sexiness moves front and center in Joss Whedon's black-and-white production of "Much Ado," a winking comedy with dark underpinnings and some of Shakespeare's most wicked wordplay.filmed in and around his rambling Southern California home, it's a modern-dress "Much Ado" that has cellphones and limos and security details looking over these flirting and feuding folk, with many of the males among them freshly returned from war.

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. McCarthy's teaming with Oscar winner Bullock is perfect casting for an underwhelming script that in the ‘70s might have been cast with men and played seriously on TV. It's all erratic fun and games. HH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 7/1).

THE LONE RANGER (PG-13). For 2 1/2 hours, this Jerry Bruckheimer-produced "Lone Ranger" inflates, subverts and distorts the conventions of the Western until, in an interminable climax set to the William Tell Overture, the big-budget spectacle finally, exhaustingly collapses in a scrap heap of train wreckage. Wuh Johnny Depp, Arme Hammer. H1/2 (Coyle, Associated Press -- 7/3). 2:29.

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). Directed by Roland Emmertich with a typical lack of nuance, "White House Down" is too much of not eniugh. HH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 7/1). 2:11.

YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET (NR). A who's who of acting royalty is summoned to the reading of a late playwright's last will and testament in this exploration of the intersection of life, theater and cinema. In French, with English subtitles. 1:55.