Movies: January 10, 2014
Capsule reviews of ''47 Ronin,'' ''American Hustle,'' and more
PG, 1 Hr., 58 Mins.
With a budget north of $175 million, Keanu Reeves’ CGI-festooned epic about a band of score-settling samurai is undeniably easy on the eyes. But it’s also a bit of a folly. The acting’s stiff, the accents are hard to decipher, and the plot is stale Kurosawa. Still, there are a few fleeting moments of haunting beauty and grandeur. C+ —Chris Nashawaty
R, 2 Hrs., 18 Mins.
Set in 1978, David O. Russell’s brilliant and swirling amphetamine high of a movie is a work of jaw-dropping virtuosity and pleasure. It’s about a con artist (Christian Bale) who’s lured into the FBI sting operation known as Abscam. The cast is amazing, and Russell’s enthralling filmmaking out-Scorseses Scorsese. Watching the movie, you never know what’s coming next, and you can’t wait to see it happen. A —Owen Gleiberman
PG-13, 1 Hr., 53 Mins.
It’s supposed to feel like Rocky vs. Raging Bull. Really, though, this tale of two old boxers, Razor (Sylvester Stallone) and the Kid (Robert De Niro), just pummels you with clichés. Yet that doesn’t mean the actors aren’t winning. The fighters, who each defeated the other once in the ’80s, have reunited for a grudge-match payday. Stallone draws on the battered nobility that first made us like him, and De Niro does something crafty: He acts the hell out of phoning it in. B- —Owen Gleiberman
R, 2 Hrs., 5 Mins.
Spike Jonze, the visionary behind Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, delivers another idiosyncratic take on the world: A divorced loner (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). The sci-fi romance is clever, but also emotionally icy. B —Chris Nashawaty
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
PG-13, 2 Hrs., 41 Mins.
Peter Jackson’s grandly somber adventure is much better than the first Hobbit film. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is up against a cosmic storm of black forces, and the dragon is a marvel, gargantuan yet balletic. A- —Owen Gleiberman
Inside Llewyn Davis
R, 1 Hr., 45 Mins.
The Coen brothers’ film about a Greenwich Village folk musician (Oscar Isaac) in 1961. Cynical and indelible. A- —Owen Gleiberman
Out of the Furnace
R, 1 Hr., 56 Mins.
Christian Bale is harrowing as an ex-con avenging his brother in this death-trip thriller. A- —Chris Nashawaty
Saving Mr. Banks
PG-13, 2 Hrs.
Emma Thompson soars as P.L. Travers, the sour-lemon author of Mary Poppins, in this delightful backstage drama about how the classic 1964 kids’ film came to be. Tom Hanks, with a fairy-dust twinkle, matches her as Walt Disney, the man who thawed her chilly veneer. B+ —Chris Nashawaty
Walking With Dinosaurs
PG, 1 Hr., 27 Mins.
The dinos, with leathery hides and razory teeth, look marvelous, but their mouths don’t move when they talk. As a result, the tale of Patchi (Justin Long), a gawky thunder lizard, plays as if disembodied voices had been ladled onto a CGI feature. The lame story has too many migrations, not enough taut situations. C —Owen Gleiberman