The oil-abbed 2006 hit gets a sequel, complete with different cast and different director. This one's even more fantastical and over-the-top. In this digital-effects-heavy go-around, we've got an epic sea battle waged between an evil/sexy Persian lady (Casino Royale's Eva Green) and some Greek general named Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton, whoever he is). There's also plenty of flashbacks explaining how weird, bald villain Xerxes came to be in the first movie, but it's rather tangential to all the computer video game-style carnage at hand. 103 minutes R. (Opens Friday 3/7)
"Wow!" is the word to describe this dazzling 2002 adaptation of the hit musical. The film's splashy direction manages to mix the artifice of the stage with the phoniness of Hollywood for a ripe red satire of today's blood-and-sex obsessed culture. 107 minutes PG-13. (Sunday 3/9)
Dark Matters Film Festival is cosponsoring this indie horror throwback out of Georgia. In it, a young man raised by an extradimensional demon wizard accidentally unleashes a gang of malevolent monsters from an ancient prison. People are transformed into walking abominations, skulls are crushed, spells fly and corpses rise from the grave to dismember the living: basically a good old Saturday night. This psychotronic homage to Italian gore and '80s monster flicks is filled with low-budget goodness. 103 minutes (Opens Wednesday 3/12)
In celebration of International Women's Day, Amina, Abq Peace & Justice Center, Intel, Results and UNM Amnesty International present a screening of this award-winning film. The stories of nine girls from different parts of the world are featured in this documentary anthology. Arranged marriages, child slavery and other tragic injustices are the obstacles they face, but education is touted as the obvious solution. Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett and Salma Hayek lend their A-list voice talent to narrate. 101 minutes PG-13. (Opens Saturday 3/8)
From Chile comes this small, sensitive look at a divorced fiftysomething (Paulina García) looking for love and life. Our freespirited heroine finds a lot of both, but the film is smart enough to admit it might not be any better the second time around. 110 minutes R. (Opens Friday 3/7)
Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer) wrote and directed this crazed martial arts fantasy, the biggest-grossing film in China for 2013. It's a prequel of sorts to the classic myth of the Monkey King's journey to India. Prior to his legendary adventures with the Monkey King, young Buddhist monk Tang Sanzang (a.k.a. Xuan Zang, a.k.a. Tripitaka) is a naive spiritualist trying to protect a small village from three determined demons. He gets help (and a whole lot of trouble) in the form of a tough, sexy female demon hunter. Zhang Wen (The Guillotines, The Emperor and the White Snake) and Qi Shu (The Transporter, Tai Chi Hero) star. 110 minutes PG-13. (Opens Friday 3/7)
The classic Jay Ward cartoon "Peabody's Improbable History" (featured on the old "Rocky & Bullwinkle Show") gets its own CGI spin-off. Ty Burrell (from "Modern Family") voices the brilliant canine inventor while Max Charles (from "The Neighbors") voices his nerdy adopted son. In order to impress a neighbor girl, Sherman "borrows" dad's time machine and accidentally unleashes chaos throughout history. Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, Albert Einstein and Agamemnon drop by, giving guest stars Lake Bell, Stanley Tucci, Mel Brooks and Patrick Warburton something to do. 91 minutes PG. (Opens Friday 3/7)
Mae West and Cary Grant star in this 1933 comedy about a New York singer and nightclub owner who falls for the captain of the Salvation Army Mission next door. That doesn't sit well with her convict ex-boyfriend, who breaks out of jail and comes looking for the would-be lovebirds. This one's based on West's notoriously "naughty" stageplay Diamond Lil. 66 minutes (Opens Saturday 3/8)
Special effects guru Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture) directed this eco-minded 1972 sci-fi film starring Bruce Dern. Dern plays a lonely astronaut/gardener ordered to destroy Earth's last living plants, which are kept aboard a giant orbiting greenhouse. Part of Guild Cinema's tribute to Oscar nominee Bruce Dern. Double-featured with Smile. (Opens Sunday 3/9)
Bruce Dern, Barbara Feldon and Michael Kidd star in this cynical satire of beauty pageants from 1975. Dern plays pageant head Big Bob Freelander, who's trying to organize California's annual "Young American Miss" contest. A penny-pinching producer, an overambitious choreographer, a bunch of back-stabbing contestants and one sex-obsessed teenage son conspire to make this year's event one for the books. Part of Guild Cinema's tribute to Oscar nominee Bruce Dern. Double-featured with Silent Running. 113 minutes PG. (Opens Sunday 3/9)
Dark Matters Film Festival is cosponsoring the uncut theatrical rerelease of this utterly bizarro Italian fantasy/sci-fi/horror/whatchamacallit. Legendary Hollywood director/actor John Huston (The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) stars as an intergalactic warrior who joins a Christ figure in a battle against a demonic 8-year-old girl and her pet hawk with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance. Think Rosemary's Baby crossed with Close Encounters crossed with The Omen crossed with Star Wars. Then take a lot of drugs. The inexplicable cast includes Shelley Winters, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, Franco Nero and Sam Peckinpah. 100 minutes (Opens Wednesday 3/12)
British director Steve McQueen has a penchant for brilliantly directed, magnificently acted films with subject matters that are unbelievably unpleasant to watch (see for example: Hunger, Shame). With the powerful weight of history behind this new effort, however, it becomes virtually impossible to look away. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, Inside Man) is magnetic as Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery in the Deep South. Based on Northup's biography, this brutally honest film addresses slavery in a manner that's never been seen before on screen. It isn't easy to watch, but it's an incredible achievement. 134 minutes R.
Picking up where the "kick-ass old dudes" genre hallmark of Taken and Taken 2 left off, Kevin Costner stars as an aging Secret Service agent just trying to be a family man to his estranged family. Retired and facing a terminal illness, our hero is offered an experimental drug that might save his life. In exchange he's given the titular play on words--a short-term assignment to hunt down "the world's most dangerous terrorist." Luc Besson (The Transporter, Taken) wrote it, McG (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, This Means War) directed it. So ... lotsa things blow up. 117 minutes PG-13.
The second week of February, 2014, is officially the week that Hollywood gave up, presenting audiences not one, not two, but three lazy remakes of '80s movies. The first is this reboot of a 1986 rom-com starring Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins. This new version is perfect for anyone who though the original was ... um--how can I put this?--not "ethnic" enough. The cast has been replaced with the likes of Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant. It's still about two couples hanging out in bars and having sex. 100 minutes R.
By ironing out the thorny, antisocial edges he still displayed in Silver Linings Playbook, writer-director David O. Russell delivers his best, most accessible film to date--a sexy, hilarious, quintessentially American black comedy. This mesmerizing period piece has fun with the (real life) ABSCAM scandal of the late-'70s. Christian Bale and Amy Adams play a couple of con artists recruited (blackmailed more like it) by a cocky FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) into helping entrap politicians in a multimillion-dollar bribery case. For all the manic fun, though, there's a tough emotional nugget at the center of it all--the idea that sometimes even con artists, liars and hustlers would really like to be the person they're pretending to be. 138 minutes R.
Matthew McConaughey stars in this real-life, refreshingly schmaltz-free biopic about Ron Woodroof, a hard-living Texas rodeo rider who was diagnosed with AIDS in the mid-1980s. Unwilling to accept the (then) death sentence, Woodroof started a drug-running operation which brought the experimental (but effective) drug AZT up from Mexico. By partnering with an HIV+ transvestite (a surprising Jared Leto) and distributing the drugs Robin Hood-style, Woodroof had a major impact on the treatment of HIV and the subsequent FDA approval of AZT. 117 minutes R.
This wonderful CG cartoon--a loose adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen"--is Disney's most Disney film in ages. It's an unapologetic, old-school musical filled with funny sidekicks and not one but two princesses. Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars") holds her own as the plucky Nordic princess trying to help her winter-conjuring sister. But Broadway baby Idina Menzel is a force to be reckoned with at the terrified young woman with the snow-throwing powers. Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon) steals all the laughs as a talking snowman with a sunny disposition. 108 minutes PG.
Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) directs this heavy-duty thriller about a medical engineer and an astronaut (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney) working frantically to save themselves after an accident leaves them spinning hopelessly adrift through space. A technical jaw-dropper and a white-knuckle survival tale, this one will take your breath away in many ways. 90 minutes PG-13.
This lush, beautiful love letter to Rome follows in the footsteps of such Italian classics as Rossellini's Rome, Open City and Fellini's La Dolce Vita. Ostensibly the film trails after an intellectual playboy (Toni Servillo) on the eve of his 65th birthday. As he gads about the Eternal City, popping in on penthouses, parties and high-society get-togethers, he examines his lifelong love/hate relationship with this ancient, much-storied setting. Gorgeous, carnivalesque, satirical and melancholy in the best, most Fellini-esque way, The Great Beauty is a decadent cinematic feast. A Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Film and an Oscar front runner for the same. 142 minutes Unrated.
After pumping out some fantastically fun video games (LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Batman, LEGO Lord of the Rings) and TV shows ("LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles"), the Danish brick-maker sets its sights on the big screen. In this blissfully fun stop-motion/CGI cartoon, an ordinary LEGO minifigure (the ubiquitous yet still not overused Chris Pratt) is mistaken for the "Masterbuilder" and must save the universe from the evil LEGO tyrant Lord Business. The guest voices are insane (Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Will Ferrell, Will Forte, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Keegan-Michael Key, Liam Neeson, Shaquille O'Neal, Nick Offerman, Cobie Smulders, Channing Tatum). A surprisingly smart, irreverent and incredibly funny flick for toy-lovers of all ages. 100 minutes PG.
Hirokazu Koreeda (After Life, Still Walking) directs this shatteringly intimate family drama about a successful businessman who learns his biological son was accidentally switched at birth with another child. Now what? Do the families simply switch children or stick with the kids they've raised for years? Although it's very Japanese on the surface, this bittersweet ode to paternal love asks a lot of tough, universal questions along the way. 121 minutes Unrated.
Mark Wahlberg stars in this blunt, true-life, Saving Private Ryan-esque war drama about four members of SEAL Team 10 who participated in a spectacularly failed mission to capture a notorious Taliban leader. The film, depicting the explosive chaos of the crumbling mission, is rather frenzied. But it's got a tense, life-during-wartime intensity to it. It was shot in New Mexico, which may explain why the mountains of Afghanistan look so damn familiar. 121 minutes R.
George Clooney directs this based-on-a-true-story action drama about a World War II platoon assigned the unlikely task of rescuing great works of European art from the hands of Nazi thieves. Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin star. If only the script were more "movie"-like and less "history lecture"-like. 118 minutes PG-13.
Bad guys, when are you going to learn that you shouldn't piss off Liam Neeson? Here he's a federal air marshal who springs into action during a transatlantic flight after an unknown criminal threatens to kill one passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million is delivered to an offshore account. Can our gruff, old tough guy smoke out the culprit before it's too late? My money's on yes. 106 minutes PG-13.
A world-weary political journalist (British comedian Steve Coogan) hunts down the story of a woman's search for her long-lost son, given up decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent. Director Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons) adds a light comic touch to this road trip dramedy, while Judi Dench delivers a poignant performance in the title role. A lovely, surprisingly uplifting crowd-pleaser. 98 minutes PG-13.
Joey, do you like movies about gladiators? Hollywood is still hoping that gladiators and other ancient warriors are hot this year (see for example: The Legend of Hercules, 300: The Rise of an Empire). Here's the latest attempt to revive the sword-and-sandal genre. Paul W.S. Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, AVP: Alien vs. Predator) directs this special effects extravaganza about a slave-turned-gladiator (Kit Harington from "Game Of Thrones") trying to escape the titular city with his rich ladylove before Vesuvius goes boom. You'll probably end up rooting for the volcano. 102 minutes PG-13.
Squeaky, hyperactive comedian Kevin Hart--who I believe dispatched Chris Tucker in one of those Highlander-style "There can be only one" deals several years ago--stars alongside Ice Cube in this basic mismatched buddy cop comedy. Hart plays a motor-mouthed security guard engaged to marry the sister of tough-guy Atlanta Police detective Ice Cube. Cube tries to scare him off with a 24-hour ride along--during which, of course, they fight bad guys and bond. 100 minutes PG-13.
This grim-faced reboot of Paul Verhoeven's hyperbolically violent, wonderfully subversive action movie parody from 1987 loses the original's sense of humor and most of its reason for being. Brazilian director José Padilha (Elite Squad) works up some decent tension, but the script is less of an adrenalized cop movie and more of a mouthy rumination on the ethics of allowing multinational security firms to turn dead cops into superpowered cyborgs. 108 minutes PG-13.
History Channel's mini-series "The Bible"--produced by Roma Downey ("Touched by an Angel") and Mark Burnett ("Survivor")--gets hacked from 10 hours to 2 hours so that evangelicals without cable can watch it in theaters. Think The Passion of the Christ, only with less blood and anti-semitism. 138 minutes PG-13.
It's nice to know that America isn't the only country capable of making bombastic, hyper-patriotic action flicks. This loud war epic--the first 3D film to be shot in Russia--follows a small band of soldiers fighting off the entire German army--300-style--amid the infamous bloody Battle of Stalingrad. There's a lady-in-distress, tossed in for the sake of romantic subplot, making this a bit more Pearl Harbor than Saving Private Ryan. Even so it looks big, expensive and appropriately war-is-hell-ish. 131 minutes R.
Master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo) has threatened many times to retire, but it looks like this historical biopic may really be his final masterpiece. This beautiful adventure tale tells the (highly fictionalized) story of (real-life) World War II fighter plane designer Jiro Horikoshi. The film covers a lot of ground--from the Great Depression to the Tokyo earthquake of 1923 to the rise of fascism in Japan. No, it's not Miyazaki's most family-friendly pic. But what he loses in epic fantasy, he makes up for in rich period detail. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Mandy Patinkin, Werner Herzog and Jennifer Grey provide voices for the American dub. 126 minutes PG-13.
Martin Scorsese lets loose with a raunchy comic biopic based on the life of stock broker/scammer Jordan Belfort. Leonardo DiCaprio is the main character, a swaggering money-grubber determined to live high on the hog until the authorities come a-knocking. Booze, drugs, yachts, hookers: Scorsese allows his characters to wallow in this bacchanal of bad behavior. The film doesn't dig all that deep into the roots of this douchebag culture, but it's Scorsese's funniest film, an American tragedy gone entertainingly off the rails. 180 minutes R.
Sweet Lincoln's mullet, the stories are true! The makers of this comic sequel have re-edited the entire film using all-new jokes (a reported 763 of them) that originally wound up on the cutting room floor. It's now longer and R-rated and will only be in theaters for a week. 122 minutes R.
Vince Vaughn stars in this sappy remake of a French-Canadian comedy (Starbuck) about an underachieving man-child (Adam Sandler must have been busy) who finds out his old sperm bank donations have accidentally fathered 500 kids. After about 150 of the now young adults file a class-action lawsuit, our about-to-learn-a-valuable-life-lesson protagonist decides to become a loving father to all of them. This amounts to about two minutes of quality bonding with a whole string of random twentysomethings. Predictable, mildly heartwarming and not all that funny. 103 minutes PG-13.
Director Peter Jackson spent a goodly amount of time setting up the story for J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit in the last film. Now the journey is well and truly underway, and we finally get some rousing action, some gorgeous set-pieces and one hell of a dragon. 161 minutes PG-13.
Underworld gets remade with slightly different monsters. Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) stars as a more handsome version of Frankenstein's monster. Naturally he finds himself in a modern-day dystopia wearing a trench coat and using assorted high-flying kung fu moves to fight off warring gargoyles and demons. Based on the comic book of the same name. 92 minutes PG-13.
Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin star in this weepy romance based on the novel by Joyce Maynard. Brolin plays an escaped convict who ends up at the small-town home of a depressed single mom played by Winslet. He hides out there, and the two fall in love in very short order. The film has impeccable credentials, but director Jason Reitman (Juno) can't prevent the material from looking an awful lot like a Nicholas Sparks knockoff. 111 minutes PG-13.
Twilight Saga's weird eyebrow guy Kellan Lutz star as demigod hunk Hercules in this Clash of the Titans-esque special effects pileup. According to prophecy, Herc is supposed to overthrow a tyrannical ruler, but he's too busy moping over a princess to notice he's the son of Zeus. At least his abs are in 3D. 115 minutes PG-13.
Bruce Dern stars as an aging, booze-addled father who takes a road trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son (Will Forte) in order to claim a bogus sweepstakes prize. The duo makes a pit stop in a small town where dad grew up and still has a few old scores to settle. Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways, The Descendants) directs this wry, melancholy character drama. 114 minutes R.
Marvel's hammer-slinging space god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is back for more mystical sci-fi action. This time around he's forced to team up with his archenemy/brother, Loki, when an entire race of world-destroying Dark Elves puts both Earth and Asgard in its sights. 112 minutes PG-13.
The groundbreaking BBC educational series gets a feature film update. The computer graphics have improved immensely since 1999. Unfortunately filmmakers have seen fit to give the dinosaurs funny voices (courtesy of Justin Long, John Leguizamo and Karl Urban) and add some poop jokes for the kids. Who needs education when you've got poop jokes? 87 minutes PG.