Movies opening this weekend, still in theaters
Liam Neeson returns to the role of an ex-CIA operative with "a set of very special skills" in "Taken 2."
Updated: October 8, 2012 10:09AM
Rated: PG for thematic elements, scary images and action
Stars: Charlie Tahan, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder
When a scientifically inclined boy named Victor Frankenstein (Tahan) loses his beloved dog Sparky in a traffic accident, he decides to bring him back to life monster-movie style. Tim Burton directed this 3D stop-motion animation version of his 1984 short film.
“The Paperboy” ★★
Rated: R for strong sexual content, violence and language
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack
In a small 1960s Florida town, a college dropout (Efron) becomes involved in an investigation by his his older brother (McConaughey) into an unjust murder conviction. Lee Daniels (“Precious”) wrote and directed the drama.
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality
Stars: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
A retired CIA agent (Neeson) is captured and held hostage by the father of a kidnapper killed while the agent was rescuing his daughter. Olivier Megaton (“Transporter 3”) directed the sequel to the 2008 hit “Taken.”
“The Prosecution of an American President” ★★★
Rated: No MPAA rating
Stars: Vincent Bugliosi, Alan Dershowitz
As a follow-up to his book “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder,” famed former prosecutor and best-selling author Vincent Bugliosi makes a case for a murder trial against former president Bush for leading the nation to war in Iraq under false pretenses. This no-frills documentary basically consists of Bugliosi presenting his arguments, often speaking from a lectern to law students at the University of California, with frequent cutaways to news footage of Bush busily misrepresenting intelligence reports about Iraq to justify a pre-emptive strike — and of the subsequent fighting in which more than 4,000 US soldiers lost their lives. Whether or not Bugliosi’s belief that Bush should be tried for murder for those deaths is legally sound or practicable, this provocative film still raises powerful questions about the moral responsibility of our leaders. And the evidence it retiterates about willful deceit on the part of Bush and members of his administration still has the ability to shock nearly 10 years later.
Rated: PG for some rude humor, action and scary imagesStars: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy SambergDracula runs a luxury resort for all sorts of monsters and their families and no humans are allowed. Just as Dracula is throwing a big bash for his daughter Mavis’ birthday, a human boy discovers the hotel and becomes smitten with Mavis.
Rated: R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content
Stars: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt
A hit man (Gordon-Levitt) winds up fighting a future version of himself (Willis) sent back by time-twisting gangsters. Rian Johnson (“Brick”) wrote and directed the sci-fi thriller.
“PITCH PERFECT” ★★
Rated: PG-13 for sexual material, language and drug references
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp
Fans of aggressively flashy a cappella song-and-dance numbers and/or world-class projectile vomiting might find something to enjoy in this labored attempt to cross the peppy vocal stylings of “Glee” with the ruder, cruder comic aspects of “Bridesmaids.” All others: stay far away. Kendrick plays rich-girl college freshman Beca, who dreams of a career as an indie music producer, but reluctantly signs on with an all-girl vocal group with designs on the national championship. She’s got the fresh new sounds that the group needs to win, but their mean-girl leader Aubrey (Camp), whose repressed rage makes her subject to epic upchucks, hates Beca’s indie-girl attitude. Can they resolve their differences before the big night at nationals? Can you imagine any way they won’t?
“Won’t Back Down” ★★½
Rated: PG for thematic elements and language
Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis
This earnest, well-intended but only modestly engaging film earns extra credit for addressing a crucially important issue, but below-average marks as a drama. Gyllenhaal and Davis team up as a desperate single-mom trying to find her young dyslexic daughter a decent school and a formerly idealistic teacher (with special-needs-child problems of her own) frustrated by the system, who attempt, against overwhelming odds, to turn a failing public school into a haven for dedicated (here meaning non-union) teachers. Unfortunately, the standard-issue David vs. Goliath plot never really gains emotional momentum because writer/director Daniel Barnz (“Beastly”) interrupts periodically for didactic explorations of all aspects of the public-school crisis and controversial “parent trigger” laws.
“DREDD 3D” ★½
Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content
Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
“Dredd 3D” reduces the action genre to little more than an orgy of over-the-top violence — a description that might give it too much credit for entertainment value. Karl Urban replaces Sylvester Stallone as the post-apocalyptic law-enforcement officer Judge Dredd (judge, jury and executioner all in one) based on the long-running UK comic strip. There’s little dialogue and less characterization as Dredd (and rookie Thirlby) fight their way up a 200-story vertical slum to take out a sadistic female drug lord (Headey). Lots and lots of exploding heads, skinned bodies and ultra-slo-mo bullet damage, though, as Dredd dispenses splattery justice.
“Trouble With The Curve” ★★½
Rated: PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake
Straight down the middle with nothing especially tricky on the ball, “Trouble with the Curve” gets the job done as both a feel-good, baseball-themed romantic family drama and a late-innings vehicle for Eastwood, as an aging scout for the Braves. After decades in the game, old Gus’s (Eastwood) eyesight is failing him, so his estranged (yet baseball savvy) daughter (Adams) winds up joining him on his last road trip, just in time to jeopardize her chances at a law partnership and strike up a romance with young scout Timberlake. Longtime Eastwood producer and Park Ridge/Norridge native Rob Lorenz makes his directorial debut.