Movie Revue is a collection of capsule reviews of some of the latest releases in theaters, On Demand, and everywhere in between.
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE. I'm not sure that anybody was really asking for a 300 sequel seven years after the fact, but, well, here we are. Substituting director Noam Murro for Zack Snyder, while retaining all of the slo-mo visuals and CGI-splattered blood, this self-proclaimed "equal" takes place during the events of the first 300. This time, we follow Greek general Themostikles (a rather blah Sullivan Stapleton) as he fights off invading Persian forces led by the deliciously evil Artemisia (Eva Green). Unfortunately, the visual style that was so unique and eye-catching the first go-round has lost most of its luster due to countless imitators (Immortals, anyone?) The plot is wafer-thin, so what we're left with is a just a repetitive series of battle scenes aboard ships, which all grow old after the first 20 minutes. For all the money spent on visual effects, the most special effect of them all is Eva Green - you can't take your eyes off of her. She almost rescues the movie from straight-to-DVD territory. Almost. ** out of 5 stars.
MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN. Parents in need of a reprieve after tapping out theatrical viewings of Frozen and The Lego Movie may breathe a sigh of relief at DreamWorks' newest animated offering. But, that initial freshness quickly wears thin due to a scatterbrained plot that clumsily weaves a father-son story, time travel, history, and fish-out-of-water jokes, to mixed results. Few may remember, but the Peabody (he's the dog) and Sherman (his boy son) characters originally appeared as a series of animated shorts that aired during Rocky & Bullwinkle in the '60s. There's not a lot of that biting wit here (dog pun intended!), but at least the kids get a mini-history lesson of sorts, learning about famous figures like Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington, Marie Antoinette, and more. Serves as a pleasant enough diversion while you wait for (hopefully) better family fare like Muppets Most Wanted or How to Train Your Dragon 2. **1/2 out of 5 stars.
NON-STOP. Liam Neeson has really found his niche since Taken came out in 2009. Audiences can't seem to get enough of the guy kicking ass in increasingly outlandish situations. This time around, he's an air marshal on a plane where an anonymous terrorist is threatening to kill a passenger every hour unless his/her demands are met. The movie plays more like an Agatha Christie whodunit than an action movie. For at least a half-hour, I was willing to go along for the mystery, but then I realized something. The writers have gone so far out of their way to make the culprit random and unguessable that the the guessing game loses any sense of fun. At that point, Non-Stop turns into a chore (just get to the reveal already!), and even though Neeson gets tossed an action scene here and there, it's not enough. I'm also docking the movie a point for spoiling the climactic money shot in all the trailers and on the poster. ** out of 5 stars.
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