In Theaters This Week:



Maleficent

54%

Rating: PG, for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images.

It’s Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective — an origin story that explains what could turn someone so evil that she’d curse a newborn baby. Angelina Jolie is ravishing in the title role — Those lips! Those cheekbones! Those horns! — and she cuts quite an intimidating figure. But the creatures and surroundings in director Robert Stromberg’s film might potentially be even more frightening. Maleficent features gnarled, talking trees, odd-looking woodland creatures, a fire-breathing dragon and a dark forest full of thorns. It’s also got a couple of big battle sequences, because what movie doesn’t this time of year? I took my 4 1/2-year-old son to see it and he wasn’t frightened at all, but I’d also shown him Sleeping Beauty recently so he knew what to expect, somewhat. This is probably fine for kids around age 6 and up.

New On DVD:



Endless Love

16%

Rating: PG-13, for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying.

This remake of the 1981 drama that helped make Brooke Shields a star is pretty much completely different. The names and some details are the same, but writer-director Shana Feste taken out all the crazy that marked Franco Zeffirelli’s film. Feste’s take on this tale of forbidden teen love plays more like an extended Abercrombie & Fitch ad, with its gorgeous lead actors frolicking in idyllic settings. Alex Pettyfer stars as the smart, decent-hearted mechanic’s son who dares to fall for Gabriella Wilde’s character, a wealthy, sheltered cardiologist’s daughter. They make out everywhere, have sex on the carpet in front of a fireplace and engage in partying that’s alluded to but never shown. Despite his hunky dreaminess, Pettyfer’s character also has a temper — he punches a couple of guys and gets arrested. This is probably fine for older tweens/young teens and up.

It looks like the home video departments at all the studios decided to take Memorial Day off, because hardly anything worth mentioning is hitting shelves this week. We start off with a romance remake critics didn’t like very much, and a handful of TV shows and small movies only a handful of people chose to see. Read on for details:



Endless Love

16%

Though the film is notable for featuring a young Tom Cruise in his first role, the most enduring thing to come out of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 romance Endless Love might be the chart-topping duet by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie it inspired. Nevertheless, we got a remake of that film earlier this year, and critics say it’s even less memorable this time around. Based on the novel by Scott Spencer, the story revolves around the romance between high schoolers Jade (Gabriella Wilde) and David (Alex Pettyfer), whose attempts to be together are repeatedly thwarted by Jade’s father (Bruce Greenwood). Will Jade forsake her love and leave for a summer internship in preparation for a medical career at Brown University? Of course not. Endless Love is less faithful to its source material, which isn’t a problem in and of itself, except that it’s strikingly bland, full of clichés, and in some moments, even unintentionally funny.

Also available this week:

  • A Birder’s Guide to Everything (90%), starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Kingsley in a coming-of-age road movie about a teen who sets off with his friends in search of an extinct bird.
  • Run & Jump (86%), starring Maxine Peake and Will Forte in a drama about an Irish housewife whose husband suffers a stroke and whose family is subsequently made the subject of a psychological study.
  • Cheap Thrills (85%), a Certified Fresh dark comedy about two friends and a wealthy married couple who meet at a bar and engage in a series of progressively more twisted dares.
  • Another Criterion Collection release this week: Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (55%), starring Bill Murray and a bunch of people in a story about an oceanographer in search of a shark who once ate one of his men.
  • Season three of BBC’s adaptation of the Swedish crime drama Wallander (100%), starring Kenneth Branagh as the titular detective.
  • Season four of USA’s Covert Affairs (100%), which finds Piper Perabo’s CIA agent Annie posing as an importer/exporter of fine goods.
  • Season three of another USA drama, Suits (70%), about a young NYC lawyer without a degree and the mentor who helps keep his secret.

In Theaters This Week:



RoboCop

48%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material.

An insane amount of gunfire permeates this shiny, noisy remake of the groundbreaking 1987 action satire. That film’s cheeky tone has been replaced here with a more serious (and seriously violent) exploration of the nature of free will and the importance of privacy. Joel Kinnaman stars as a former Detroit police officer in the near future who becomes a half-man/half-robot crime fighter after an explosion nearly kills him. He has to take down a ton of bad guys, both in real life and in practice simulations, with some heavy-duty firepower. But because this is a PG-13 movie, there’s no blood. There’s also a bit of drug material as RoboCop infiltrates a hidden manufacturing warehouse. And Samuel L. Jackson, as a bloviating, Bill O’Reilly-type TV commentator, gets to spew some amusing profanity – only some of which gets bleeped out.



Endless Love

16%

Rating: PG-13, for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying.

Continuing with the ’80s-remake theme of the week, we have this forbidden teen romance which is pretty much completely different from the 1981 Franco Zeffirelli original. Writer-director Shana Feste has kept the names the same but taken out all the crazy. Her version feels more like an extended Abercrombie & Fitch ad, with its gorgeous lead actors frolicking in idyllic situations. Alex Pettyfer plays the smart, decent-hearted mechanic’s son who dares to fall in love with Gabriella Wilde’s character, a wealthy, sheltered cardiologist’s daughter. They make out a lot, have sex on the carpet in front of a fireplace and engage in partying that’s alluded to but never shown. Despite his hunky dreaminess, Pettyfer’s character is also hotheaded — he punches a couple of guys and gets arrested. Probably fine for older tweens/young teens and up.



Winter’s Tale

13%

Rating: PG-13, for violence and some sensuality.

Angels and demons prowl among us in this wackadoodle romantic fantasy from writer-director Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind). Colin Farrell stars as a seemingly ageless man who believes he’s meant to save a beautiful girl (Jessica Brown Findlay) from dying of consumption in 1916 New York. But that miracle might belong to someone else a century later. Despite the fact that she doesn’t have long, the two fall in love, which features some partial nudity and a tasteful sex scene. There are also some skirmishes with the bad guys who are after them, led by a scary, supernatural Russell Crowe. The plot line and its driving mythology are so convoluted, they might confuse young viewers — but that’s not who this movie is intended for, anyway.

New On DVD:



Ender’s Game

62%

Rating: PG-13, for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.

This sci-fi fable is about genocide and child warriors, so yeah, maybe it’s not the most appropriate movie for the youngest viewers in your home. But tweens and up certainly have seen this kind of mature, challenging material in The Hunger Games movies, and may even have read the Orson Scott Card book that provides the inspiration here. Asa Butterfield stars as 16-year-old genius Ender Wiggin, who emerges as The One as he goes through his training at the elite Battle School. He must then lead his own soldiers into war to save the human race. No pressure. As is so often the case with important sci-fi, Ender’s Game has bigger and more complicated ideas on its mind beyond just the battle sequences. So I guess it’s a matter of whether you feel like having those conversations with your kids.



All Is Lost

94%

Rating: PG-13, for brief strong language.

An incredibly tense, precisely crafted film starring Robert Redford in what is essentially a wordless role. He plays a man stranded alone for days on a small yacht in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Nothing frightening happens in the traditional horror-movie sense of the word, but Redford’s character’s ordeal becomes unbearably harrowing as each new day passes. When he finally snaps and allows himself to speak, on day six, he yells the four-letter word the rest of us would have yelled early and often starting from day one. Oder kids may find the quiet tone and deliberate pacing a bit dull, but there’s also a lesson here about resourcefulness and courage.

Happy Valentine’s Day! This week at the movies, we’ve got futuristic law enforcement (RoboCop, starring Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman); a star-crossed romance (Endless Love, starring Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde); a time-spanning battle between good and evil (Winter’s Tale, starring Colin Farrell and Jennifer Connelly), and the complexities of love (About Last Night, starring Kevin Hart and Regina Hall). What do the critics have to say?



RoboCop

48%

A wicked satire disguised as a sci-fi action flick, Paul Verhoeven‘s RoboCop was one of the most brutal and subversive mainstream films of the late 1980s. The best critics can say for the new RoboCop is that it’s well-acted and reasonably exciting, but it lacks the visceral grit that made the original so compelling. When Detroit detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is badly injured on the job, a military contractor fits him with a robot exoskeleton in an attempt to create the ultimate crime fighter. The pundits say RoboCop is sleek and competent, but it’s short on the risk-taking verve of its predecessor. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of movie cyborgs.)



Endless Love

16%

The original Endless Love was no great shakes, but it at least earned points for audacity. Critics say the biggest problem with this remake is that it’s pretty bland, lacking the passion and energy to make this anything other than a middling melodrama. Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde stars as teenagers from different sides of the tracks who fall in love, but complications ensue when her dad demands she break up with him. The pundits say Endless Love boasts some solid supporting performances, but it’s hobbled by a predictable plot and a shortage of fireworks.
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Winter’s Tale

13%

Winter’s Tale has it all: time travel, magic realism, deathless passion, and even Satan himself. What it lacks, critics say, is logic, coherence, and restraint, and the result is an unintentionally funny schmaltz-fest that’s more likely to inspire befuddlement than swooning. It’s 1915, and Peter (Colin Farrell) has fallen in love with Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay) while robbing her family’s mansion. When she dies of consumption, he finds himself in the present-day, where he bonds with Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) and tries to escape a demon (Russell Crowe). The pundits say Winter’s Tale looks pretty, but it’s so over-earnest and inexplicable that it ultimately falls far short of its ambitious aims. (Check out our video interview with the cast of Winter’s Tale, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Connelly’s best-reviewed movies.)



About Last Night

69%

Plenty of movies capture the buzz of infatuation at the beginning of a love affair. What makes About Last Night special, critics say, is that it’s also wise about the ups and downs that follow — and it’s often hilarious to boot. The movie follows Danny (Michael Ealy) and Debbie (Joy Bryant) from their first meeting to an eventual break up; meanwhile, their friends Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall) share a combustible bond of their own. The pundits say About Last Night doesn’t reinvent the romantic comedy wheel, but it’s refreshingly honest and insightful, and it provides a fine showcase for Hart’s onscreen talents.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The New Black, a documentary about the campaign to drum up African American support for same-sex marriage in Maryland, is at 78 percent.
  • The Returned, a sci-fi thriller in which a medicine used to contain a zombie outbreak is running low, is at 60 percent.
  • Lucky Bastard, a found-footage thriller about a porn website that recruits a contest winner for a voyeuristic and humiliating film, is at 58 percent.
  • Jimmy P., starring Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Amalric in a drama about an anthropologist who treats a World War II vet who suffered a debilitating head injury, is at 50 percent.
  • Adult World, starring Emma Roberts and John Cusack in a comedy about a recent college grad and aspiring poet who reluctantly takes a job at an adult bookstore, is at 44 percent.
  • Easy Money: Hard to Kill, starring Joel Kinnaman in a crime drama about an ex-con who sinks deeper into the drug trade, is at 27 percent.
  • Girl On A Bicycle, a romantic comedy about an engaged bus driver who falls for a woman he accidentally injures, is at zero percent.

Finally, props to Alex Meyer for guessing Vampire Academy‘s 10 percent Tomatometer.

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