In Theaters This Week:



Exodus: Gods and Kings

30%

Rating: PG-13, for violence including battle sequences and intense images.

This massive biblical epic from director Ridley Scott makes his Oscar-winning Gladiator look like an independent film by comparison. Presented in 3-D and heavy on the visual effects, it’s the Old Testament story of Moses leading hundreds of thousands of Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to freedom. That means plagues — lots of em — from frogs to locusts to boils. (The boils are especially gnarly.) And because everything has gotten so out of control and overpopulated under the reign of the inept Ramses (Joel Edgerton), slaves are thrown into enormous fires to thin out the city. There are also several major battle scenes, perilous chariot chases and a pummeling wall of water once Moses (Christian Bale) has finished parting the Red Sea. Between the violence, the subject matter and the running time of nearly two and a half hours, this is probably best suited only for the most mature tweens and older.

New On DVD:



Guardians of the Galaxy

92%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.

The cheekiest, wackiest blockbuster of the past summer, but it also features all the massive violence and destruction you’d expect from a movie of this genre. Based on the Marvel Comics series about a rag-tag group of misfits who band together to save the galaxy, it begins with a child witnessing a parent’s death, followed by his abduction by otherworldly beings. That child grows up to be the brash space scavenger Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who refers to himself as Star-Lord and becomes an unlikely hero. Among the other characters are the muscular, brutish Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and a talking, gun-toting raccoon named Rocket voiced hilariously by Bradley Cooper. Guardians also features a couple of dark and intimidating villains, and everyone’s after a powerful, mystical orb that’s capable of causing some major damage. The spectacle is massive in director James Gunn’s film but cartoonishly so. My son was almost 5 when he attended the screening with me and wasn’t frightened by anything, but some of the seriously traumatic stuff might have gone over his head. If your child has seen this sort of comics-inspired movie before, he or she will probably be OK.



Dolphin Tale 2

66%

Rating: PG, for some mild thematic elements.

This is a sequel to the 2011 family film Dolphin Tale and, like its predecessor, it’s exceedingly earnest and harmless entertainment. There’s something sort of sweet and quaint about that, though. Winter, the dolphin who was rescued in the first movie, now lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida and is learning to function with a high-tech prosthetic tail. But her status there is in jeopardy when — spoiler alert! — her elderly companion dolphin dies. My son was not quite 5 years old when I brought him with me to the screening and the dolphin’s death — as well as the devastated reactions from the teens who worked with her — upset him. But mostly, this is a film that’s all about teamwork and uplift. Fine for the whole family.



When the Game Stands Tall

20%

Rating: PG, for thematic material, a scene of violence and brief smoking.

Based on a true story, this inspirational drama is suitable for viewers around age 8 or 9 and up. It’s about the De La Salle High School Spartans of Concord, Calif., a football team that enjoyed a historic 151-game winning streak in the 1990s and early 2000s. Director Thomas Carter’s film reveals how the players respond when they finally do lose a game, and how they bounce back from a series of traumas on and off the field. A star player is shot to death outside a party and another player loses his mother to cancer. A wide receiver on the verge of breaking a touchdown record endures physical and emotional abuse from his demanding father. And head coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), a longtime smoker, suffers from heart trouble. But the film’s messages about teamwork, dedication and sacrifice are worthwhile.

This week on home video, we’ve got a super successful space odyssey from Marvel, a feelgood sequel, and an inspirational sports film to lead things off. Then, there are a number of smaller releases, some notable TV box sets, and a few remastered anniversary Blu-rays of popular older films. Read on for details:



Guardians of the Galaxy

92%

Unless you were already into the comics scene, chances are you’d never heard of these so-called Guardians of the Galaxy. Boy, has that changed. The film surprised almost everyone by ruling the late summer box office, thanks to a number of factors: a cast of charming misfits, a wry sense of humor, top-notch special effects, a killer soundtrack, and James Gunn’s steady directorial hand. This is the movie that made Chris Pratt a star and put a dancing baby Groot on everyone’s stocking-stuffer wishlist. With a Tomatometer score of 90 percent and an Audience score of 94 percent, Marvel’s Guardians succeeded in impressing nearly everyone, which isn’t easy to do. If you pick this one up this week, you’ll get a pretty in-depth commentary track featuring James Gunn, a making-of featurette, and deleted and extended scenes, among other things.



Dolphin Tale 2

66%

Speaking of late summer surprises, 2011 had one of its own in Dolphin Tale, a feelgood movie about a handful of people rescuing a dolphin that was Certified Fresh at 82 percent. Naturally, we got a sequel this year, and though it didn’t fare as well as the first film, most critics found it pleasant enough. This time out, Winter the dolphin is struggling because her dolphin friend Panama has died; in an effort to raise Winter’s spirits and keep her at the aquarium, a search begins for a new companion to share Winter’s tank. Critics agree that Dolphin Tale 2 is a sweet, heartfelt drama for the whole family, even if it doesn’t quite distinguish itself from its predecessor, and it’s Fresh at 68 percent. Bonus features include a couple of short making-of docs, a look at Clearwater Marine Academy’s mission, and a brief piece covering the true events that inspired the film.



When the Game Stands Tall

20%

One of the reasons we love sports is that there are so many incredible stories to tell; the only problem is, when you’ve seen so many of them dramatized on screen, they become more difficult to distinguish from each other. When the Game Stands Tall suffers from this problem; although its tale of football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) and the De La Salle High School team he led to a record-setting 151-game winning streak is undoubtedly remarkable, the film ultimately gets lost in all too familiar clichés. If you’re looking for something inspirational to watch, this may do the trick, but at 18 percent on the Tomatometer, don’t expect any surprises whatsoever, especially when the story plays out exactly like you might expect it to. Extras include a handful of deleted and extended scenes, a profile of the real Coah Ladouceur, and a look at the on-field filming techniques employed in the movie.

Also available this week:

  • Frank (93 percent), starring Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a dramedy about a young musician who joins an avant-garde band led by an eccentric man who never takes off his giant papier-mâché mask.
  • Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves (85 percent), starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning in a drama about a trio of environmental activists who plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam in protest.
  • I Origins (52 percent) starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling in a sci-fi drama about a biologist studying the evolution of the eye who makes a breakthrough discovery that alters his understanding of the world.
  • French import The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (47 percent), a horror film in the Giallo style about a man who descends into psychosexual chaos when his wife disappears without a trace.
  • Warner Bros. is releasing a handful of films on “Diamond Luxe Edition” Blu-rays that are celebrating various anniversaries this year: The Green Mile: 15th Anniversary (80 percent), Natural Born Killers: 20th Anniversary, Forrest Gump: 20th Anniversary, Tim Burton’s Batman: 25th Anniversary, and Gremlins: 30th Anniversary. Feel old yet?
  • We also get three choices from the Criterion Collection this week: Todd Haynes’ Safe (84 percent), starring Julianne Moore in a paranoid thriller about a woman who falls victim to an inexplicable disease; Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (93 percent), about a boy who experiences the journey of a lifetime with a band of time-traveling dwarfs; and Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (67 percent), starring Charlotte Rampling as a Nazi concentration camp survivor who attempts to rekindle her sadomasochistic relationship with her former torturer in post-war Vienna.
  • Season eight of the BBC’s Doctor Who (91 percent), the first season with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Season two of Under the Dome (57 percent), a sci-fi mystery about a town trapped under a mysterious dome, is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • The first of three classic TV sets coming out this week, the complete series of 1960s comedy Mister Ed, about the famous talking horse, is available on DVD.
  • Second, the complete series of the popular 1980s sitcom The Jeffersons is also available on DVD.
  • And third, the complete series of the Robin Williams Happy Days spinoff Mork & Mindy is also available on DVD.

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Ep. 043 – George Takei, Sin City 2 reviews & More
Tim kicks off the show sharing critics’ reactions to Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, If I Stay, and When the Game Stands Tall. Then Ryan talks about new DVD/Blu-ray releases The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Only Lovers Left Alive, and Sarah talks about BBC America premieres of Doctor Who and Intruders. Team Tomato covers all of that pretty quickly to clear the way for Matt & Grae to have an in-depth interview with the great George Takei, in to talk about the new documentary To Be Takei.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a town without pity (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, starring Josh Brolin and Eva Green), a pigskin powerhouse (When The Game Stands Tall, starring Jim Caviezel and Laura Dern), and a teenage tragedy (If I Stay, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley,). What do the critics have to say?



Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

42%

When Sin City was released in 2005, it sent shockwaves through the fanboy universe: it was a comic book movie that really felt like a graphic novel come to life. Nine years later, we get a sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and while critics say its noirish visuals are as astonishing as before, the film’s slow pace and would-be hard-boiled dialogue make for a less satisfying journey. Like its predecessor, A Dame to Kill For is a series of vignettes set within the rainy, pitiless confines of Sin City, a metropolis rife with brutal violence, double-crosses, and vengeance. The pundits say Sin City: A Dame to Kill For benefits from a stellar cast and bleak ambiance, but this material just doesn’t feel as fresh as it used to. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down director Robert Rodriguez’s best-reviewed films.)



When The Game Stands Tall

20%

With the NFL season just around the corner, the inspirational drama When The Game Stands Tall hits theaters to sate the appetites of anyone in desperate need of a football fix. But while critics say the film’s on-field action is visceral and exciting, its script sticks a little too close to the sports movie playbook. It’s based on the true story of the De La Salle Spartans, a Concord, CA high school team that compiled a 151-game winning streak under the calm, thoughtful guidance of coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) before tragedy struck. The pundits say When the Game Stands Tall is best in its smaller, more character-driven moments, but it could use a little more “rah-rah-sis-boom-bah.” (Flip through this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of the best and worst movie coaches.)



If I Stay

35%

There’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned tear-jerker, as long as the tears are jerked honestly. Unfortunately, critics say that’s not the case with If I Stay, a well-meaning, well-acted melodrama that ultimately collapses under the weight of its forced, schmaltzy story. Things are going pretty well for Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) — she’s a Juilliard-bound cellist in a relationship with an aspiring rocker (Jamie Blackley) — until she’s left comatose by a terrible car accident. As Mia clings to life, her spectral presence roams free, checking up on her family and friends while contemplating the afterlife. The pundits say If I Stay offers further proof of Moretz’s talent, but she’s ill-served by clunky dialogue and soapy plotting. (Watch our video interview with Moretz, Blackley, and co-stars Mereille Enos and Joshua Leonard.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • K2: Siren of the Himalayas, a documentary about a trek to the summit of the foreboding mountain, is at 100 percent.
  • Love Is Strange, starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as an aging couple who must each find new lodging after losing their apartment, is Certified Fresh at 98 percent.
  • Metro Manila, a thriller about a rural couple who get into big trouble in the big city, is at 96 percent.
  • The Expedition to the End of the World, a documentary about a diverse group of adventurers who journey by boat to a remote area off the coast of Greenland, is at 83 percent.
  • Kink, a behind-the-scenes look at a poplular BDSM website, is at 83 percent.
  • To Be Takei, a documentary about the remarkable life and times of the Star Trek star, is at 81 percent.
  • The One I Love, starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss in a dramedy about a married couple trying to rekindle their relationship while on a romantic getaway, at 79 percent.
  • Salvo, a thriller about a hitman whose life is changed when he spares the life of the blind sister of the man he was ordered to kill, is at 79 percent.
  • 14 Blades, starring Donnie Yen in a martial arts film about an assassin who goes on the run after being betrayed by his men, is at 63 percent.
  • Winter In The Blood, a drama about a drunken man on the trail of his estranged wife and his late father’s rifle, is at 53 percent.
  • May In The Summer, a drama about a celebrated writer whose life is upended by a visit to her family in Jordan, is at 50 percent.
  • The Possession of Michael King, a found footage horror film about a documentarian looking for proof of the supernatural, is at 50 percent.
  • Jersey Shore Massacre, a horror/comedy in which vapid bar-hoppers are stalked by a crazed killer, is at 17 percent.
  • Are You Here, starring Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson in a comedy about a slacker who inherits his father’s estate over the objections of other family members, is at four percent (check out director Matthew Weiner’s Five Favorite Films here).

In Theaters This Week:



If I Stay

35%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements and some sexual material.

The latest movie based on a best-selling Young Adult novel takes place in the aftermath of a gruesome, deadly car accident. Chloe Grace Moretz’s Mia, a teen cello prodigy who’s headed to Juilliard, barely survives the crash and hovers in an out-of-body state, running around the hospital as various friends, family members and her rock-star boyfriend (Jamie Blackley) worry and wait for signs of life. Director R.J. Cutler’s film (like the Gayle Forman book it’s based on) jumps back and forth in time between Mia’s precarious, present-day state and the years leading up to it, which fill in her back story. These include some extremely chaste partying after the boyfriend’s concerts and on New Year’s Eve, as well as the moment in which Mia loses her virginity, which is implied rather than shown. Some of the images in the hospital are also quite bloody and traumatic. Probably fine for tweens and older.



When The Game Stands Tall

20%

Rating: PG, for thematic material, a scene of violence and brief smoking.

This inspirational sports drama is based on the true story of the De La Salle High School Spartans of Concord, Calif., a football team that enjoyed a historic 151-game winning streak in the 1990s and early 2000s. Director Thomas Carter’s film focuses on how the players respond when they finally do lose a game, and how they bounce back following various traumas both on and off the field. A star player is shot to death outside a party and another player loses his mother to cancer. A wide receiver on the verge of breaking a touchdown record must deal with physical and emotional abuse from his demanding dad. And head coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) suffers from heart trouble because of his smoking habit. But the film’s messages about teamwork, dedication and sacrifice are worthwhile. Suitable for about age 8 or 9 and up.

New On DVD:



The Amazing Spider-Man 2

51%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.

Multiple villains populate this sequel to 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, causing the kind of 3-D, computer-generated mayhem and violence you’d expect from a summer blockbuster about a comic-book character. Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man must contend with Jamie Foxx’s Electro, who gets zapped by a bunch of electric eels when he falls into a vat at work, then uses his newfound powers to wreak havoc on New York City. (Times Square bears most of the brunt of his fury.) Peter also continues to investigate the mystery surrounding his parents’ fate, which includes a flashback to a frightening airplane ride. There’s the general threat of mass destruction at all times, as well as intimate moments of peril. These include the sight of a young boy dressed in a Spidey costume who dares to confront the metal beast Rhino (Paul Giamatti) in a moment reminiscent of Tiananmen Square. This is probably suitable for tweens and up, who’ve seen this sort of stuff many times before.

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