The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, directed by Peter Jackson (PG-13, 161 minutes)
Stock up on snacks and beverages and silence the phone, because everybody’s favorite (or at least best-known) Hobbit’s epic journey through the Misty Mountains of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination (the second film in the Hobbit trilogy) is a long one, filled with challenges, adventures, monstrosities, and curious conversations with those he encounters. The goal is to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor.
Join Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, who plays Dr. Watson in Sherlock), the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and 13 Middle Earth dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) as they search for the dragon Smaug(voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock in Sherlock), who guards both the dwarves’ mountain kingdom and a sizable stash of gold. Attendant dangers and odd peripheral characters abound. Since the first film in the series does all the scene-setting, this highly visual continuation is able to get to the action right away and keep the momentum at a dazzling warp speed. Then it ends.
Barefoot (PG-13, 90 minutes) In this insubstantial and sometimes flailing romantic comedy, the black sheep son (Scott Speedman) of a wealthy family brings a charming free spirit (Evan Rachel Wood) to his brother’s wedding to convince his family he has straightened out his life. Trouble is, she’s suffering from a mental illness. With J.K. Simmons, Treat Williams; directed by Andrew Fleming.
Big Bad Wolves (unrated,110 minutes) A suspenseful, twisted, violent and cleverly funny satire that concerns brutal murders in Israel, including the discovery of a young girl’s mutilated body in the woods. Homicide detective Miki (Lior Ashkenazi) suspects a shy, conservative religious studies teacher named Dror (Rotem Keinan). When Miki’s interrogative methods shock the country and cost him his job, he traverses the city on a mission of vengeance - often encountering the girl’s father, who’s on a similar mission. Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. Subtitled.
The Suspect (unrated, 137 minutes) Stylish and loaded with action, The Suspect is a fast-moving thriller that, if not strikingly original, offers the sort of surprises that come when not everything is what it seems to be. When Dongchul (Gong Yoo), a driver for a business executive in Seoul who happens to have a history of working in special ops in North Korea, is framed for his boss’ murder, he takes off in an attempt to save himself and to recover secret material his employer, a CEO for a big-time corporation, wanted him to see. Directed by Won Sin-Yeon. Subtitled.
Free Ride (unrated, 86 minutes) Unevenly paced and imprecisely directed, Free Ride still manages to feel authentic in its portrayal of a fractured family in distress. Christina (Anna Paquin), a former stripper (really?) and mother of two daughters who moves from Akron, Ohio, to Florida to escape an abusive relationship, finds out that housekeeping jobs don’t pay as well as illegal drug trading. With Drea de Matteo, Lloyd Owen, Liana Liberato, Ava Acres; directed by Shana Betz.
The Invisible Woman (R, 111 minutes) Intelligent, elegant and visually arresting, The Invisible Woman employs first-rate performances to illustrate the sexism of Victorian England. Star of the show is Charles Dickens, arguably the top literary celebrity of the 1850s, who gets bored with his wife (Joanna Scanlan) and wanders in the direction of attractive, witty and well-educated actress Ellen Ternan (Felicity Jones). The result is a stormy, conflict-filled secret romance that heads down the path of emotional abuse. With Kristin Scott Thomas, Ralph Fiennes, John Kavanagh, Tom Attwood; directed by Fiennes.
Justin Bieber’s Believe (PG, 92 minutes) An earnest, aimed-at-fans documentary on the 20-year-old pop superstar that takes a relatively superficial look at what goes on behind the scenes while staging the monumental 2012-2013 Believe tour. Includes interviews with Bieber, concert footage, dancer tryouts, recording-studio scenes, and conversations with Bieber pals Usher and Ludacris and manager Scooter Braun. Directed by John M. Chu.
MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 04/25/2014
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