The Valdosta Daily Times
“Red 2” (Action/Comedy: 1 hour, 55 minutes)
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker and Anthony Hopkins
Director: Dean Parisot
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, strong language and some drug-related material)
Movie Review: Not very often, a sequel manages to be as interesting as its prequel. “Red 2” is intriguing in that it has many talented actors in comedic action roles. While this film easily holds one’s attention, it is messy entertainment and less comical than its predecessor.
It continues showcasing the retired life of ex-CIA operative Frank (Willis), who audiences last saw in “Red” (Robert Schwentke, 2010). Frank is still in his relationship with Sarah (Parker). Their status quo life changes when Marvin (Malkovich) arrives. His arrival signals trouble for Frank, but that is OK. Sarah welcomes adventure. Soon, the two men with Sarah in tow are being pursued by the CIA, hitman Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee), and two former acquaintances Victoria (Mirren) and Frank’s former lover, Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a high-ranking Russian officer.
While being pursued by several people, Frank and Marvin must save the world from a maniacal genius of the Cold War era. Frank and Marvin may be out of the game of espionage, but their work is far from complete.
“Red 2” is all over the place but it entertains. This is true because it continues to throw in surprises, mainly in the form of many big names in moviedom. A few cast members stand out more than others. Malkovich continues to obtain laughs as a paranoid Marvin. However, the scene-stealer is Hopkins, a scientific genius who has lost his mind.
Again, “Red 2” is intriguing. It is also funny. It easily provides enough entertainment to make it worth it.
On the other hand, it is also a cluttered screenplay. The story bounces around haphazardly from one world city to the next, introducing clichéd action-oriented moments along the way. These aspects move it out of agreeable green and into a yielding red.
Grade: C+ (Still some laughs present despite disorganization.)
“R.I.P.D.” (Action/Comedy/Crime: 1 hour, 36 minutes)
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Bacon
Director: Robert Schwentke
Rated: PG-13 (Strong language and violence)
Movie Review: Put this film down as another film that is easy to sit through but easy to forget. It entertains. That about sums up “R.I.P.D.,” an easy rip-off of the “Men in Black” movies that starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
Roy (Bridges) and Nick (Reynolds) are the Rest in Peace Department. They are dead cops recruited to find and bring to justice dead souls that are still walking among living. Roy and Nick are charged with finding and appending those dead souls who have gone awry.
This tale is farfetched to the point it is very difficult to take seriously as an adventure. The story is lackluster and appears to be the work of many writers that met to join their words. Dumb scenes that lack evenness quickly neutralize smart ones.
The characters behave as if they are different films. Bridges appears to be channeling Rooster Cogburn from 2010’s “True Grit” (Directors: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen). This may make audiences feel they should be in a different movie.
Grade: C (This screenplay feels as if it is in pieces.)
“Turbo” (Animation/Adventure: 1 hour, 36 minutes)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti and Samuel L. Jackson
Director: David Soren
Rated: PG (Violence and thematic elements)
Movie Review: A small garden snail has dreams of one day racing in the Indy 500. However, he is a snail and realizes his dream is a fleeting one. One day a freak accident gives the snail super speeding abilities. The snail renames himself Turbo and finds himself racing against professional human drivers in the Indy 500.
This adventure is a far stretch, but it remains a family-friendly piece with plenty of amusing moments that make it just sweet enough to engage viewers of all ages. It takes its time getting to its highlight, a snail in the Indy 500, but the slowness gives it time to develop each cast member.
The characters work because the film allows for time to get to know each player. Even more, the voices fit. Sometimes, the voices overshadow the characters in animated productions. The voices are distinctive here, but they nicely match their animated persona without upstaging them.
“Turbo” is a story about an underdog. It is about achieving dreams despite obstacles. It accomplishes that while providing plenty for small fries and their parents.
Grade: B- (It is a slow start to a great finish.)
“The Conjuring” (Horror: 1 hour, 52 minutes)
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston
Director: James Wan
Rated: R (Violence, intense moments, strong language, gore, intense moments)
Movie Review: Based on accounts, the Perron Family moves into a 1730s-era farm house in Harrisville, R.I., in 1971. Carolyn and Roger Perron (Taylor and Livingston) and their five daughters find the house is spaciously comfortable. They also find the house has malevolent spirits. As it turns out, Bathsheba, a satanic-worshiping witch, haunts the house and the land on which it sits. She begins tormenting the Perrons. Even after Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga), leaders of a paranormal team, work to help, events become more frightening. This does not dissuade the Perrons and the paranormal experts from completing their task: the removal of Bathsheba.
Although this horror makes creepy, excellent entertainment, it feels like one has seen parts of it before. It neatly combines the likenesses from several horror flicks of yesteryear. Directed by Wan, “The Conjuring” is reminiscent of “Poltergeist” (1982), “Child’s Play” (1988), “The Exorcist” (1973) and “The Amityville Horror” (1979).
“The Conjuring” thrives because it is similar to those aforementioned films. It cleverly inserts frightful moments without the gratuitous and gory moments associated with other modern horrors and thrillers. This works to the film’s advantage. It stays with you long after one has finished watching it. That is what a good horror should do.
“The Conjuring” manages to be more tangible than most horrors, although it still manages to overplay some moments in typical Hollywood fashion. It takes events based on a true story and makes them intriguing. This provides a nice engagement for audiences.
Director Wan has directed other horror and thriller-related genres. He provided moviegoers with “Saw” (2004), “Dead Silence” (2007) and “Insidious” (2010), which also starred Wilson. Wan is quickly becoming the new Hitchcock within the horror genre. “The Conjuring” is a nice addition to his repertoire.
Grade: B (Conjures up some good scare tactics.)