Pompeii (Savoy 16 IMAX and Carmike 13): The story of how a volcano demolished the city of Pompeii when it erupted and decimated towns and citizens with its fire and lava.
Why to Watch: The newest film by Paul W. S. Anderson is one big, giant action set piece. What makes this compelling? How do the citizens of Pompeii respond to the destruction of their city? This is why the movie may work for audiences. It’s not just a history lesson brought to life by the director of Resident Evil. It’s a story of one of the world’s greatest natural catastrophes and how we all choose to remember that city and its people. Kit Harrington of Game of Thrones and Carrie-Anne Moss star in this film and give the film its acting credibility. The rest of the class is filled with unknown actors and, while it is not a success at the box office, it may give teenagers some cool death scenes.
3 Days to Kill (Savoy 16 IMAX and Carmike 13): Kevin Costner stars as an aging CIA agent named agent. Naturally, he’s on One Last Mission—to stop a terrorist only he can recognize. There’s a catch, though: Ethan is dying from brain cancer, and the only person who can keep him alive long enough to finish the mission and repair his relationship with his family is a sultry CIA agent played by Amber Heard. It’s not quite Taken, not quite The Bodyguard — for better and for worse.
Why to Watch: Costner in this film proves that he still has what it takes to be an action hero. The problem this film has is that, while the action is good, the supporting characters are stereotypical international characters that either don’t understand Ethan or are clueless to the chaos that goes on around him. These characters slow the film down, but you might find them funny—depends on your mood. Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit fame portrays Ethan’s angsty teenage daughter who resents her father for not being around. Steinfield does the best she can with the few emotional notes that she’s given, and her relationship with Costner’s Ethan feels genuine. The film is written by Adi Hasak and Luc Besson, who made a name for himself in the 90’s with movies like The Professional and The Fifth Element. Hasak, on the other hand, is famous for From Paris with Love. Ultimately, this is a good action film with a few small problems, and it’s worth checking out.
The Invisible Woman (The Art Theater Co-Op): This film, directed by Ralph Fiennes, tells the story of a woman named Nelly and her affair with famed author Charles Dickens.
Why to Watch: I am a complete sucker for period pieces. Ralph Fiennes has always been a fantastic actor, and I think it’s a great decision to showcase a story that details the private life of one of literature’s most celebrated authors. The fact that the film tells the story of an affair should surprise no one. What I am surprised by is the depth of the relationship between Dickens and his lover Nelly. Felicity Jones, who plays Nelly, has been on my radar since the film Like Crazy, and this role was finally my opportunity to see her really impress audiences. Her character sees a side of Dickens that no one else gets to. This film isn’t about Dickens as a writer but how trapped Dickens feels as a person. Everyone holds him to an impossibly high standard, and Nelly is the only person with whom he can let his guard down. This is a superbly acted film and one that unfortunately will not be remembered before next award season. See it while you can.
The Square (The Art Theater Co Op): One of the few documentaries that covered almost the entire evolution of the Egyptian uprising that goes beyond what news coverage made available to the world.
Why to Watch: I love this film because of its director, Jehame Noujaim. Noujaim chose not only to interview the people most affected by the uprising; but as things changed in Egypt after the uprising occurred, she went back and talked to more people, adding hours more footage so that a complete story could be told about that specific moment in history. The director chose to look at different sides of the uprising and why it mattered most to specific communities. This film truly shows the power of a good documentary because this film illuminates things I had never known about Egypt or its people. A must see.
The Lego Movie (Savoy 16 IMAX and Carmike 13): An ordinary Lego figure is tasked to save other Legos from a tyrant and find someone called the Masterbuilder.
Why to Watch: Almost everyone played with Legos as a child, and now Legos are more popular than ever. This seems like a hilarious film for the whole family as it is filled with pop culture jokes and popular characters both you and your kids are familiar with. I mean, how much more awesome can you get than having Morgan Freeman voice the character of Vituivus (aka God)? The characters are incredibly well animated, and, while they don’t seem realistic, it’s nice to see characters I’m familiar with on screen.
Frozen (Savoy 16 and Carmike 13): Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, the story involves a young woman who is chosen to be queen but is ostracized because she has the power to freeze things. Her sister is the only one capable of breaking the spell that froze the entire kingdom indefinitely.
Why to Watch: Frozen is the second feature by Disney to be a mixture between hand drawn animation and CGI (the first being Tangled). This new approach worked well for Disney, and it succeeds again here but only because the film has such a strong story to tell. Kristen Bell voices the heroine, Anna, who is out to rescue her sister, Elsa (voiced by Tony winner Idina Menzel). This film again harkens back to the 90s’ Disney feature catalog and reminds us why we love those movies so much. For me, it’s the fact that the characters stand for something and seem like people who could learn from if they existed in reality. Most of the film’s comedic moments are provided by a snowman named Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad). Olaf is a Disney supporting character treasure, and I’d be more than happy to see this film multiple times just for his antics. See this film with the whole family. You’ll have a great time.
Non-Stop: This Liam Neeson action film has the actor playing an Air Marshal on a plane where a new passenger gets killed every 20 minutes. Why is this film exciting? The answer is that Liam Neeson is the modern film era’s favorite action hero. He’s a believable adult — the thinking man’s Jason Statham — who throws his body at impossible situations. As an Air Marshal, he is definitely going to make sure the villain’s wings get clipped.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson, the director of Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, and so many other brilliant art films returns with this picture about concierge Gustave H and Zero Moustafa. This film should be great because Wes Anderson always gives his films unique, well-rounded characters who have heart. Watch for supporting turns from Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, and Tilda Swinton, in addition to another heaping handful of Anderson players.
Mr. Peabody and Sherman: A talking dog adopts a boy. Let’s start there. Together they must save the boy’s friend because she’s stuck in the past via a time travel machine called The Way Back Machine. Sounding familiar? Yes, this movie is taken from the shorts that accompanied the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons and is played more for laughs than education. Younger kids should enjoy it. A few nostalgic parents might just find it appealing, too. They can consider it their own personal Way Back Machine.
Best Director—Will win: Alfonzo Cuaron for Gravity; Should win: Spike Jonze for Her
Best Actor—Will win: Matthew McConoughey for Dallas Buyers Club; Should win: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Supporting Actor—Will win: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club); Should win: Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Best Actress—Will win: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine); Should win: Cate Blanchett
Best Supporting Actress—Will win: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle); Should win: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Best Picture—Will Win: 12 Years A Slave; Should win: 12 Years A Slave