Movie Stars

Recent movie reviews

CHARLIE HUNNAM as Raleigh Becket and RINKO KIKUCHI as Mako Mori in “Pacific Rim.”
Kerry Hayes
CHARLIE HUNNAM as Raleigh Becket and RINKO KIKUCHI as Mako Mori in “Pacific Rim.”

New releases

½ A Band Called Death Despite the name, Death may be the most family-friendly punk band ever. It was also one of the first, and definitely the first made up of African-Americans — three brothers who started it in 1971. The film focuses on the two survivors, but their deceased sibling, the band’s driving force, is only there in spirit, and so Death remains a mystery. (96 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

½ Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story This rollicking documentary about a giant of children’s literature employs animated versions of Ungerer’s work to relate his traumatic background in wartorn Strasbourg and to illustrate his conviction that kids can handle the truth at least as well as many adults. The latter couldn’t handle his forays into politics and erotica, and drove him into self-exile, nearly ending his career. (98 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

½ Grown Ups 2 Fans of the original will probably enjoy this sequel in which Adam Sandler plays a Hollywood agent who moves back to his hometown; everyone else will shake their heads in disbelief. Don’t bother to keep track of jokes involving bodily fluids, flatulence, or blows to the crotch, and as for the touches of sentimental sludge, they won’t make you feel good, either. (101 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)


½ I’m So Excited! Pedro Almodovar’s latest plays like “Airplane!” staged by a maniacal gay cabaret troupe. No, it’s not one of the master’s more enduring works, but if you’re in the mood for a giddy, oversexed trifle, this may be your bag of slightly stale peanuts. With Javier Cámara and Cecilia Roth. In Spanish, with subtitles. (90 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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½ Pacific Rim Hands down, the blockbuster event of the summer — a titanic sci-fi action fantasy that has been invested, against all expectations, with a heart, a brain, and something approximating a soul. Guillermo del Toro’s robots-vs.-monsters slugfest wants to be the biggest “Godzilla” movie ever and a rousing tale of human solidarity and a straight-up summer hoot. It achieves all three with spellbinding confidence. (131 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

20 Feet From Stardom Possibly the happiest time you’ll have at the movies this year. Morgan Neville’s lovely documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” celebrates the backup singers, those women whose voices are all over classic rock and ’60s pop but whose names never made it to the liner notes. The vocal performances alone can make you weep with joy. (90 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Before Midnight The third installment in director Richard Linklater’s saga of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is richer, riskier, and more bleakly perceptive about what it takes for love to endure (or not) over the long haul. Like Michael Apted’s “Up” documentaries, this series offers a touching and humbling time-lapse study of human nature. (108 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Despicable Me 2 The animators might have done well to call their movie something else, given the lack of despicability Steve Carell’s reformed baddie displays. The scope of the ’toon espionage-adventure goings-on is surprisingly limited, mostly confining Gru and his secret agent soulmate (Kristen Wiig) to a mall, of all places. But the filmmakers so clearly love working on these characters — Gru’s yellow, mutant-elf Minions in particular — their creative joy is infectious. The sequel might not be all that warped, but it’s plenty funny nevertheless. (98 min., PG) (Tom Russo)


Fast & Furious 6 In another all-hands-on-deck installment, retired racer-robbers Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and crew get a call for help from frenemy Dwayne Johnson, who’s tangling with new bad guy Luke Evans. There’s a significant incentive: Diesel’s lovergirl, fourth-episode casualty Michelle Rodriguez, is mysteriously back among the living and hanging with Evans. The cast shows an easy chemistry and the star-crossed love story also works, in its steroidally melodramatic way. (130 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

The Heat If you’re going to make a dopey, foul-mouthed, predictable lady-buddy-cop movie, you might as well make it funny. And until it overstays its welcome in the final half-hour, “The Heat” is shamefully funny. Prissy Sandra Bullock and slobby Melissa McCarthy have genuine chemistry, and director Paul Feig makes nice use of Boston locations and action-comedy clichés. (117 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain Despite an overlong, awkward prologue that makes him seem more insecure than self-deprecating, the hyperactive fireplug Kevin Hart demonstrates some moments of comic genius in this documentary of his sold-out 2012 Madison Square Garden show. At other times, you wish he’d just take a deep breath and not try to explain so much. (75 min., R) (Peter Keough)

½ The Lone Ranger Ugh. Gore Verbinski’s bloated, overlong, boring western comedy casts Armie Hammer as a bumbling tenderfoot of a Lone Ranger. As Tonto, Johnny Depp shoots off whimsical one-liners in Injun-speak; He’s Jack Sparrow on downers in red-face. The movie features the usual bigger-than-big action “ride” scenes, but save your money for Six Flags. (149 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Man of Steel Zack Snyder has made a superhero blockbuster that carries the weight of its fraught times, but where’s the pop joy? As Superman, Henry Cavill is very good without convincing us he’s a star. With Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and Michael Shannon as General Zod. (143 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)


½ Monsters University Further evidence that Pixar’s Golden Age may be in the past. It’s a prequel, the story of how Mike (voiced once more by Billy Crystal) met Sulley (John Goodman) at college. Small children will have a blast, but it’s still closer to average than any Pixar movie should be. (110 min., G) (Ty Burr)

This Is the End A cheerfully crass meta-comedy in which the Apocalypse comes to Hollywood and takes most of the A-list with it. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and others play comic versions of themselves. The opening scenes are inspired, but then the world ends and the movie still has an hour and a half to go. (106 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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