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Capsule reviews of feature films

Action (Movie Genre)Science Fiction (Movie Genre)MoviesAnimation (Movie Genre)PG-13 Rated MoviesMusicFilm Festivals

ALIVE INSIDE 3 1/2 stars. An extraordinary documentary captures the startling impact music can have on people with Alzheimer's and dementia. This is an all-too-rare light in the nursing home tunnel. 1 hr. 18 No MPAA rating David Hiltbrand

AND SO IT GOES 1 1/2 stars. Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton team for the first time in a wincingly sappy three-quarter-life rom-com about a Scrooge-like widower and a wifty lounge-singing widow and the unexpected appearance of a cute-as-a-button grandchild, readymade to melt hearts. Rob Reiner directs, and shouldn't have. 1 hr. 34 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) Steven Rea

BEGIN AGAIN 2 1/2 stars. Keira Knightley, bringing those daunting cheekbones to bear on a mawkish music-biz screenplay, is the best thing about John ("Once") Carney's New York City melodrama. Mark Ruffalo is the down-on-his-luck industry veteran who thinks he can turn the heartbroken English songstress into a star. With Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, Catherine Keener, and Hailee Steinfeld. 1 hr. 44 R (profanity, adult themes) Steven Rea

BOYHOOD 4 stars. Richard Linklater's unassuming masterpiece follows a Texas kid (newcomer Ellar Coltrane) from grade school to college dorm, reconvening cast and crew (including Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the parents) a few weeks every year for twelve years, and its carefully observed series of small moments take on quiet, metaphoric power. The faces and features of the actors children and adults change, and good stuff, bad stuff, the funny, the sad, the transformative, the banal, all happen in real time. Because, for once, in the movies, time is real. 2 hrs. 46 R (profanity, sex, adult themes) Steven Rea

CABIN FEVER: POINT ZERO 1 1/2 stars. Nicely timed to cash in on the latest ebola panic, this prequel to the gross-out franchise about a lethal flesh-eating virus and its unfortunate hosts is mostly set on a remote Caribbean isle, where four bachelor party pals go swimming in some seriously contaminated water. Blood, vomit, skin rashes and icky sound effects ensue. 1 hr. 52 R (violence, gore, sex, nudity, profanity, drugs, adult themes) Steven Rea

CHEF 3 stars. Jon Favreau stars in and wrote and directs this bouncy paean to the culinary arts, about a top cook who gets a career-killing bad review, rebounding, and bonding with his son, in a feel-good food truck ride across the states. Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson and John Leguizamo join the fun which feels forced-fed at times. 1 hr. 55 R (profanity, adult themes) Steven Rea

CODE BLACK 3 1/2 stars. A riveting, you-are-there documentary about life and death in the underfunded, understaffed and overwhelmed ER of Los Angeles County/USC Hospital, from the point of view of a group of passionate resident physicians. A must-see for anyone concerned about the state of health care in this country right now. Which should be all of us. 1 hr. 22 No MPAA rating (graphic surgical scenes, adult themes) Steven Rea

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES 2 1/2 stars. Unnecessarily slow and somber sequel to the 2011 reboot of the classic sci-fi franchise from another century. The apes are dominant, living a life of peace in the misty woods north of San Francisco, but then the humans come asking favors armed with guns. With Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Andy Serkis' performance-capture turn as Caesar, leader of the highly evolved monkeys. PG-13 (violence, action, adult themes) Steven Rea

DELIVER US FROM EVIL 2 stars. A New York City cop (Eric Bana) and an unorthodox priest (Edgar Ramirez) who specializes in exorcisms join forces to investigate a series of possessions that are terrorizing the city. 1 hr. 58 R (bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout, profanity) Tirdad Derakhshani

THE DISCOVERERS 3 stars. Griffin Dunne stars as a recently separated father who leads his dysfunctional family across the country on a reenactment of the Lewis and Clark trek. They find not only the Pacific in this comedy, but each other. 1 hr. 44 No MPAA rating (adult subjects, sexuality, profanity, some drug use) Tirdad Derakhshani

EARTH TO ECHO 3 stars. Any similarities to "E.T." are strictly intentional in this thoroughly winning kiddie sci-fi caper, as boys help a stranded little alien escape first the authorities and then the atmosphere. 1 hr. 31 PG (action sequences) David Hiltbrand

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS 3 stars. A sweet, bittersweet tale of cancer stricken lovebirds played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort facing love, and death, head-on. An adaptation of John Green's YA megaseller, from the writing team behind "The Spectacular Now" (also with Woodley) and "(500) Days of Summer." PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) Steven Rea

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER 4 stars. A fascinating puzzle-piece mystery and a revelatory portrait of an eccentic figure who worked as a nanny in Chicago, from the '50s through the '90s and who dragged her charges through the city, taking pictures. The heretofore unknown street photographs are nothing less than brilliant; the documentary about this curious figure is a find in more ways than one. 1 hr. 23 No MPAA rating (adult themes) Steven Rea

GET ON UP 2 1/2 stars. Chadwick Boseman, having played baseball legend Jackie Robinson in 42, tries on a different kind of legend: the Godfather of Soul. With that unmistakable rasp, unmistakable pompadour, and unmistakable dance moves, a biopic of James Brown. From Tate Taylor, director of The Help. 2 hrs. 18 PG-13 (sexual content, drug use, profanity, violent situations) Dan DeLuca

GODZILLA 2 stars. Giant Japanese monster reappears in this narratively muddled, effects-driven reboot. Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are among the noble thespians who tear around, screaming as if the world was collapsing around them. It is, thanks to a 350-foot-tall pile of dinosauric scales and dentition. 2 hrs. 3 PG-13 (intense action, carnage, adult themes) Steven Rea

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 3 stars. Chris Pratt rounds up a team of outer-space misfits. Their mission: Does it matter? This breezy comic book adaptation is the first sci-fi movie to spoof itself. 2 hrs. 2. PG-13 (violence, profanity) David Hiltbrand

HAPPY CHRISTMAS 2 stars. Joe Swanberg explores the quotidian dramas of a couple with a small child and a feckless houseguest in this low-key, improvisatory affair from the maker of "Drinking Buddies" and "Hannah Takes the Stairs." Swanberg, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham star. 1 hr. 18 R (profanity, sex, drugs, adult themes) Steven Rea

HERCULES 2 1/2 stars. Dwayne Johnson supplies the muscle in this large-scale, entertaining adventure. The plot is pedestrian but that's why Herc rides a chariot. With Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and John Hurt. 1 hr. 38 PG-13 (Violence, profanity, partial nudity) David Hiltbrand

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 3 1/2 stars. One of the most delightful surprises of the year, this DreamWorks Animation sequel is an intelligent, sensitive and beautifully realized morality play that will fascinate children and parents alike. Five years after he ended the war between dragons and Vikings, young hero Hiccup and his fellow dragon-riders face off against a dreaded enemy named Draco, who subjugates dragons, using fear and torture to make them do his bidding. 1 hr. 42 PG (adventure action and some mild rude humor) Tirdad Derakhshani

I ORIGINS 2 1/2 stars. A molecular biologist's study of the human eye leads to the uncovering of evidence that can have a significant impact on human society. Writer-director Mike Cahill continues to use sci-fi tropes as metaphors for larger questions, albeit less successfully than in his Sundance Film Festival-winning debut, "Another Earth. 1 hr. 53 R (adult subjects, some sexuality, profanity) Tirdad Derakhshani

IDA 4 stars. Two women an orphan raised in a convent, preparing to take her vows, and a cynical, hard-bitten former prosecutor and judge meet in Pawel Pawlikowski's extraordinary film, embarking on a road trip across the bleak terrain of 1960s Communist Poland a road trip that is at once tragic, hopeful, and unforgettable. 1 hr. 20 PG-13 (sexual situations, profanity, adult themes) Steven Rea

THE IMMIGRANT 3 1/2 stars. Marion Cotillard is nothing less than amazing as a destitute Pole who arrives at Ellis Island, 1921, and falls in with a smooth-talking pimp (Joaquin Phoenix). James Gray ("Two Lovers," "The Yards") directs this half-crazy, fascinating yarn. R (nudity, violence, profanity, adult themes) Steven Rea

JERSEY BOYS 3 stars. John Lloyd Young, who starred as Frankie Valli in the original Broadway musical, cinches up his face and hits the high notes with grace in Clint Eastwood's enjoyable and surprisingly tough music biz biopic. Wall-to-wall Four Seasons songs, too. 2 hrs. 14 R (profanity, violence, adult themes) Steven Rea

KORENGAL 3 stars. The 2010 documentary "Restrepo" focused on a U.S. Army platoon at a remote outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. "Korengal" returns to the scene, to the same soldiers, the same conflict but far from the same perspective on war. 1 hr. 29 R (profanity, violence, brief nudity) Tirdad Derakhshani

LIFE ITSELF 3 1/2 stars. A touching, inspiring documentary portrait of Roger Ebert, the famously prolific thumb-slinging movie critic whose life story is the stuff of movies itself and whose resilience in the face of an 11-year struggle with cancer is nothing short of extraordinary. R (adult themes) Steven Rea

LOUDER THAN WORDS 2 stars. Based on a true story, this well-meaning but weak drama stars David Duchovny and Hope Davis as an affluent Connecticut couple with four kids, college-age triplets and a tween girl. Precocious, vivacious Mariaa is contracts rabies from a bat bite and dies in the miserable, understaffed and unkempt county hospital. Torn apart by their grief, the family works its way back to unity when they campaign to found a children's hospital. 1 hr. 35 PG-13 (adult subjects, profanity, smoking) Tirdad Derakhshani

LUCY 3 stars. French action director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Nikita) outdoes himself in this English-language comic book fantasy starring Scarlett Johansson as a student whose brain becomes super-charged after a drug overdose. Clever, drenched in irony, the flick is at turns a violent, noirish mob thriller, a speculative sci-fi yarn about the mysteries of the brain and an existential inquiry about The Meaning of Life. 1 hr. 30 R (Strong bloody violence, sexuality, smoking, drug use, profanity) Tirdad Derakhshani

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT 2 stars. For all its visual delights Roaring 20s roadsters, dazzling dresses, Cote d'Azur landscapes to die for Woody Allen's 44th feature has to be one of his bigger duds. The mostly mirthless comedy, a sparkless romance, stars Colin Firth as an ace magician out to debunk a beautiful young American psychic, played by Emma Stone. 1 hr. 37 PG-13 (adult themes) Steven Rea

MALEFICENT 3 stars. Angelina Jolie stars as the titular villain of the Snow White tale in this imaginative, if somewhat belabored, reinvention of the classic Disney cartoon. With Elle Fanning as the cursed Aurora, and "District 9's" Sharlto Copley alarmingly cast as her dad, the king. Flower-powered fairyland visual effects to die for! And Jolie, horns and cheekbones high, is magnificent as the villainous fairy godmother. PG (violence, scary images, adult themes) Steven Rea

A MOST WANTED MAN 3 1/2 stars. One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last performances is also one his greatest as the rumpled, chain-smoking chief of a covert antiterrorist unit in modern-day Hamburg. The actor lives and breathes the role. A taut thriller, adapted from John le Carre's 2008 novel, full of tradecraft and moments of quiet terror, with a stellar supporting cast. 2 hrs. R (profanity, violence, adult themes) Steven Rea

OBVIOUS CHILD 3 1/2 stars. Jenny Slate stars as a Brooklyn comedian who finds herself pregnant following a messy, drink-fueled one-nighter, in this low-key indie set in a world of stand-up, breakups, and visits to Planned Parenthood. Philadelphia native Gabe Liedman costars. 1 hr. 29 R (profanity, sexual content, adult themes) Tirdad Derakhshani

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE 1 1/2 stars. Dusty, the converted cropdusting plane is back and this time he's battling forest fires. This animated kids' film is better than the original, but that's not saying much. 1 hr. 23 PG (peril) David Hiltbrand.

THE PURGE: ANARCHY 2 1/2 stars. A young couple fights for survival as the annual purge rolls around. 1 hr. 43 R (adult subjects, profanity, strong bloody violence) Tirdad Derakhshani

SEX TAPE 2 stars. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are a married couple trying to put the passion back in their lives. So, why not video themselves having sex? And then why not spend the rest of the movie desperately trying to reclaim the gifted iPads featuring their X-rated marathon? Naked butts, yes. Raunchy dialogue, yes. Laughs not so much. 1 hr. 30 R (sex, nudity, profanity, drugs, adult themes) Steven Rea

SNOWPIERCER 3 1/2 stars. A global-warming experiment goes awry and Earth freezes, leaving survivors to circle Earth on a train driven by perpetual motion. Class war breaks out between those in back and those in front. All aboard for Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Chris Evans. 2 hrs. 06 R (violence, language, smoking, drug use) Tirdad Derakhshani

STEP UP ALL IN Not Previewed. The stars from the previous installments in this dance series return for a big competition in Las Vegas.

TAMMY 2 1/2 stars, Melissa McCarthy goes on a crazy, low-rent road trip with her boozy grandma (Susan Sarandon) in a raucous comedy that goes off the rails in its second half. 1 hr. 36 R (profanity, adult themes) David Hiltbrand

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION 2 stars. 3D Director Michael Bay outdoes himself in the latest pulverizing chapter of his robot franchise. It's much longer and much louder than any of the previous demolition extravaganzas. Mark Wahlberg provides the puny human element. 2 hrs. 45 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) David Hiltbrand

22 JUMP STREET 2 1/2 stars. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, not exactly the Millennials answer to Abbott and Costello but working a sympatico stupid-com groove, are back in the sequel to "21 Jump Street." This time the undercover cops go to college to bust a drug ring. Winkingly ironic dumb jokes anatomical, scatalogocal, sexual ensue. R (profanity, sex, drugs, cartoon violence, adult themes) Steven Rea

VIOLETTE 3 1/2 stars. This impressive film brings to life the long relationship between French writers Violette Leduc and Simone de Beauvoir. 2 hrs. 12 No MPAA rating (adult subjects, profanity, sexuality, smoking) Tirdad Derakhshani

WISH I WAS HERE 2 1/2 stars. Zach Braff's 10-years-later followup to his writing/directing debut Garden State finds the actor playing an actor a middle-30s slacker whose dreams of fame and fortune, or just steady work, appear dashed on the rocks of reality: a mortgage, school tuitions for the kids, a wife who seems weary and glum. Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin co-star. 2 hrs. R (profanity, sex, adult themes) Steven Rea

WORDS AND PICTURES 2 1/2 stars. Clive Owen teaches honors English, Juliette Binoche teaches honors art, in this Tracy-and-Hepburn-like rom-com with a "Dead Poets Society" backdrop and dollops of human failing for added drama. The prep school kids line up in one camp or the other "This insane war is energizing our students!" a giddy Owen declares and the two stars line up to do battle, and, of course, make love. PG-13 (sex, profanity, alcohol, adult themes) Steven Rea

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST 3 stars. Time-travel is of the essence in this entertaining seventh installment in the series based on the Marvel comics about a gang of misfit mutant superheroes and their respective mentors, Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Directed by Bryan Singer, with Hugh Jackman's Wolverine as the linchpin. Geeky, action-packed fun. 2 hrs. 11 PG-13 (intense action, violence, adult themes) Steven Rea

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