“Robocop” (Action/Crime/Science-Fiction: 1 hour, 57 minutes)
Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson
Director: José Padilha
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, strong language, sensuality, some drug-realted material)
Movie Review: Joel Kinnaman stars as Detective Alex Murphy, in this remake of the 1987 film directed by Paul Verhoeven. Detective Murphy is seriously injured while investigating a notorious syndicate leader in crime-ridden Detroit of 2028. A team of robotic engineers and cyberneticists from the multinational corporation OmniCorp transform the husband and father into a cyborg to save his life. Murphy becomes Robocop, a new and improved law-enforcement official. He is just in time, too. Detroit needs a better than able cop for its streets. However, OmniCorp has an agenda, and it goes beyond mere law enforcement.
Unlike its original, this “Robocop” has full use of visual effects and new technology to make it more modernized for a futuristic setting. This is good and adds to the entertainment. Those same advances in cinema are also a major deduction. The film becomes more involved with the technology centering on law enforcer Robocop than making a solid, uncluttered story. Instead, what could be two films is packed into one with several mini-story arcs that overload the narrative during the amount of time presented. A much simpler story would have sufficed and gave more focus to characters.
This is a shame since talented actors perform these roles. Kinnaman works as Robocop, considering this lead does not have to act much once the actor becomes Robocop. Oldman is solid as usual. Keaton works as a money-hungry industrialist, and Jackson provides some needed, contemplative and humorous moments as a news talk show host. Several other well-known actors are also a part of this cast.
They are present, but the script detracts from each cast member. Their roles are diminished, and they become pawns in a quick-moving screenplay that is scattered all over. This also makes a number of the characters cheesy by the end. The film’s story tries to cover too much. Sometimes simple is better.
“Robocop” is an overinflated science-fiction piece. While the technology used to produce this latest version is better, it does not have the same sense of awe inspired by the original. A cyborg cop was intriguing at that time. Now, nothing new is provided.
The first 10 minutes attempts just that. Afterwards, the rest falls into pleasurable — but clichéd — entertainment helmed by Brazilian director José Padilha (“Elite Squad,” 2007).
Grade: C+ (Mechanical entertainment.)
“About Last Night” (Comedy: 1 hour, 40 minutes)
Starring: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall and Joy Bryant
Director: Steve Pink
Rated: R (Profanity, sexual content, nudity and drug usage)
Movie Review: This lukewarm adult comedy follows the romantic pursuits of two couples trying to achieve perfect relationships. Bernie (Hart) and Joan (Hall) are the couple that argues often. In between, they have energetic sex. Danny (Ealy) and Debbie (Bryant) are the romantic couple they have a nice relationship, but over time it has problems, too. The couples find their way, eventually.
“About Last Night,” an adaptation of David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” is comical but also overly repetitive. A joke is a joke until told the 10th time. This is great flaw of this comedy. Its repetition is tiresome.
Steve Pink (“Hot Tub Time Machine,” 2010) is the director of wayward comedies. He goes to the ridiculous. This occasionally works, but it is spotty here.
Hart is overly goofy and he brings Hall to his level. Ealy and Bryant are the staples of this film, although they are not comedic actors.
This screenplay provides laughs, but its cast is put in adolescent moments that make this pure comedy and not romantic. Even more, modern romances make relationships hardships. The couples’ lives are sex, drinking, yelling, talk about relationships and more arguing. They make relationships a tedious process that is far from romantic. The presentation may be comically enticing, but it far from inspiring.
Grade: C (About a so-so comedy.)
“Endless Love” (Drama/Romance: 1 hour, 44 minutes)
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick and Bruce Greenwood
Director: Shana Feste
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, brief partial nudity and mild language)
Movie Review: Multiple writers, including director Feste make this a soap-operatic romance. This narrative is based on Scott Spencer’s novel and is a remake of the 1981 film entitled the same, which starred Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt.
This latest tale features Alex Pettyfer (“Magic Mike,” 2012) and Gabriella Wilde (“Carrie,” 2013) as a young high school couple in love. They are David Elliot and Jade Butterfield. He is the son of a mechanic, and she is the daughter of a wealthy surgeon. His blue-collar lifestyle and her privileged life clash when Jade’s father, Hugh Butterfield (Greenwood), seeks to end the young couple’s summer affair.
The film has an intriguing story, but the manner of its delivery is not gripping. The couple’s meeting and falling in love could use more development. You barely have a chance to get to know them before the story puts them together.
Stories of love often inspire, but screen time rarely allows one to enjoy them being together before controversy erupts. This is the case here. Additionally, the ending is rushed. It feels like something is missing, some loose ends need resolving. Feste (“Country Strong,” 2010) has a way of directing films that are entertaining but far from persuasive.
Grade: C (Nothing in which to fall endlessly in love.)
“Winter’s Tale” (Fantasy/Mystery: 1 hour, 58 minutes)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Jessica Brown Findlay
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Rated: R (Violence, strong language and sensuality)
Movie Review: Log this under another movie where one needs to read Mark Helprin’s novel before seeing. Alone, the movie leaves little to desire. It feels like scenes are missing throughout.
In 1895, a couple places a baby in a model sailing ship. The reason is barely noticeable. In 1916, audiences find that baby, now a young man named Peter Lake (Ferrell), on the run from mobster Pearly Soames (Crowe), a demon in human form. In 2014, Soames is still chasing Lake. Both are trying to find the meaning of a red-haired woman viewing the moon. Apparently, Lake’s reason for existing is to save this young woman via a miracle.
Audiences’ reasons to see this film are slim. The film is a trivial piece that fails to find meaning enough as a movie to make it worth the time. This is a shame since its previews made it look like a romantic fantasy worthy of attention.
With such a talented cast, one would think this film would offer more. Stars like Farrell, Crowe, Will Smith, William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly and Eva Marie Saint deserve better.
This is the directorial debut for Akiva Goldsman. He wrote “A Beautiful Mind” (Director Ron Howard, 2001), but he fails to deliver a beautiful film with “Winter’s Tale.” It is artistic and poetic, but it lacks the charm of making sense.
Grade: C- (No magic to this cold.)
“Robocop” (Action/Crime/Science-Fiction: 1 hour, 57 minutes)
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