NEW THIS WEEK
-- GODS, DEMIGODS, HUMANS AND MONSTERS CLASH IN THIS UNREASONABLY ENJOYABLE SEQUEL:
WRATH OF THE TITANS PG-13 -- Like its predecessor, this follow-up to Clash of the Titans (PG-13, 2010, which itself was a remake of a 1981 film) takes the Greek myths and runs amok, but entertainingly so. Teens in middle school and beyond may take considerable delight and amusement in this film, which is really fun. It doesnt hurt that you have Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades, god of the underworld, giving their roles actual weight. We find the hero Perseus (Sam Worthington) living a simple fishermans life and raising his young son Helius (John Bell). He wants nothing to do with the gods anymore, though he is half-god himself as Zeus son with a mortal woman. The Olympian gods are weak now, because humans no longer pray to them, were told. Zeus visits Perseus to warn him that he must prevent the demise of the gods or the world will be destroyed. Zeus, Hades and Poseidon had long ago overthrown their father, Kronos, and imprisoned him in the Underworld. Now he wants out, and he has threatened to destroy them. Zeus brother Hades and his rebellious son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) have cut a deal with Kronos to save their immortality. When Zeus objects, they turn on him and all heck breaks loose. Perseus wants to stay out of it, but when molten rock and fire-breathing dragons rain down on his village, he enters the fray, joining the Greek warrior queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) to save the world. Wrath of the Titans makes little narrative sense, but its highly watchable.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The film depicts a great deal of hard fighting between mortals, immortals, dragons, one-eyed giant Cyclops and volcanic monsters, but the wounds and the fights stay within PG-13 parameters. We see little blood, but a lot of monumental mayhem, some of which, especially in 3-D, could really scare some preteens and younger kids.
-- NOW IN THEIR EARLY 30s, THE AMERICAN PIE GANG GATHER AGAIN, STILL SEX-OBSESSED AND SOCIALLY CHALLENGED:
AMERICAN REUNION R -- The guys and gals from East Great Falls High class of 99 come to town for a reunion, and theyve changed little in this fourth installment in the very R-rated American Pie series. Not for under-17s -- though one expects many will try see it anyway -- the new film maintains the full-out bawdiness and profanity factor of the series (American Pie, 1999; American Pie 2, 2001; American Wedding, 2003). As The Family Filmgoer mentioned in a review of an earlier installment, at least its not violent or vicious. Jim (Jason Biggs) and wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) now have a toddler, and the spark has gone out of their sex life. Each seems to prefer solo pleasure, and the film opens with twin slapstick disasters in that regard. Oz (Chris Klein) is now a hotshot sportscaster with a gorgeous girlfriend (Katrina Bowden) whos too much of a party girl for him. He sees former girlfriend Heather (Mena Suvari) and realizes shes the one for him. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a happily married house-husband who encounters his old love Vicky (Tara Reid). Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas) pretends to be a success, and is still famous for having had sex with Stiflers (Seann William Scott) randy mom (Jennifer Coolidge). Stifler remains as obnoxious and sex-crazed as ever. Due to a technical problem, the movie was minus its musical soundtrack at the preview I attended. The music can only help. The story seemed only intermittently funny, and rather sad, because the characters had changed so little. As Jims widowed dad, Eugene Levy is a cinematic wonder of parental love and out-of-control eyebrows.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Needless to say, this movie includes explicit sexual situations, nudity, crude and graphic sexual slang and other strong profanity, as well as ultra-gross toilet humor.
-- FINE FOR KIDS 8 AND OLDER:
MIRROR MIRROR PG -- Julia Roberts has fun playing an evil queen in this often amusing, yet oddly misshapen re-imagining of the classic Brothers Grimm tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The laughs come painfully far apart, yet kids 8 and older will still like the films tongue-in-cheek approach and appreciate the more active role this Snow White (Lily Collins) takes in her own fate. It is the nasty queen herself who narrates the tale, complete with sarcastic asides, and communes through her mirror with a magic alter ego. Realizing how beautiful her 18-year-old stepdaughter is, the queen orders Snow White never to leave her room. But the girl sneaks out and encounters a handsome fellow (Armie Hammer) and his squire (Robert Emms) in the woods, where theyve been strung upside down by robbers. The robbers are a band of dwarfs who wear accordion-like stilts. Later, at a palace ball, Snow White learns that the handsome fellow is a prince. The queen wants to marry him, but realizes he loves Snow White, so she orders her servant (Nathan Lane) to kill her stepdaughter. He just cant do it and releases Snow White in the woods. The dwarfs befriend her and teach her to fight. The movies dialogue is a jarring mix of modern slang and fairy-tale speak, and there are whole illogical scenes that seem dropped in by helicopter. The costumes look fabulous, while the overall film looks cheesy. Yet somehow it all manages to be a bit of a lark. A fun, Bollywood-style musical number makes the end credits a hoot.
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