2012.3.2 NOW Playing

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2012.3.2 NOW Playing

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This Means War(15)

Romantic Comedy, Action / 97 / English

Romantic comedy and all-around screen veteran Reese Witherspoon stars alongside Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, two rising stars of “Star Trek” and “Inception” fame, respectively, in director McG’s boisterous rom-com action film.

Witherspoon, in her first romantic comedy in the last year, plays Lauren Scott, a product testing exec who signs up for an online dating service that matches her with CIA agent Tuck Henson (Tom Hardy). The two hit it off immediately.

Afterwards, Tuck’s best friend and CIA partner-in-crime FDR Foster bumps into Lauren at a video store, where they flirt and eventually agree to go on a date.

Upon discovering that they are both dating the same woman, Tuck and FDR declare war on each other, using their CIA skills to spy on Lauren and sabotage each other in the hopes that she will choose between the two.

The film flits through attempts at romantic charm along with all the gadgets and loudness that make up a rompy action flick.



Howling (15)

Crime, Drama / 114 / Korean

When veteran detective Jo Sang-gil (Song Kang-ho) investigates the case of a man who burned to death in a car, he is reluctant to take it at first because its not likely to win him a long-desired promotion. But when his partner Cha Eun-young (Lee Na-young) discovers bite marks on the body, the two investigate further. As additional evidence comes to light, they discover that the victim was involved in a prostitution ring.

As the investigation continues, it becomes clear the two detectives are a study in contrasts.

Jo is a middle-aged man whose wife left him to take care of his teenaged son, while Cha is a smart, young investigator who has cultivated a somewhat cold exterior to shield herself in her largely male work environment.

The two are forced together through the case, which continues to spiral out of control when another murder is committed. The new victim has bite marks similar to those found on the burned corpse, pointing to a connection between the cases. This time the evidence leads to a retired police dog trainer who lives with his drug addict daughter and provides the missing link.

“Howling” is based on Asa Nonami’s novel “Fang Freezing.”

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Hugo(all)

Drama, Fantasy / 126 / English

Forget Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and Casino. Martin Scorses’s latest offering a fun family fantasy film sees Hugo, an orphan who lives in a Parisian Railway station.

Hugo’s dead father has left him a writing automaton and as Hugo desperately tries to fix it so she can reveal what he thinks is a hidden message from his father.

The film was nominated for 11 Oscars (including all seven technical categories) and went on to win five, including best visual effects. And all this after it under performed at the box office.

It did however make it onto the top 10 list of the best films of 2011 by several prestigious publications, including The New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

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Act of Valor(15)

Action / 101 / English

Act of Valor is unique in that it stars several active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs, and bases many elements of its plot of true events - commitments to authenticity that ultimately prove themselves to be both this film’s forte and failing.

An elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs must balance commitments to family, team and country as they embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.

Meanwhile, a Middle Eastern terrorist plots a strike on the United States. True, the plot is cliched, but that can be forgiven during the film’s strong action scenes, when the soldiers leap out of airplanes, dodge explosions, lurk through rivers, neutralize targets under heavy fire and execute flawless tactical maneuvers - essentially acting as their own stunt doubles - in scenes that don’t necessarily outflash Hollywood but certainly give it the lie. As a compelling drama, however, it comes off flat and unsurprising - perhaps because the skill sets of acting and precision squad warfare have seldom, if ever, found themselves comfortably conjoined in any career path, much less a person. The result is a film that is blessed with an original concept but crouches stiffly somewhere between honest documentary, sound action flick and patriotic propaganda-piece.

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The Grey (18)

Action, Sci-fi / 131 / English

Liam Neeson takes on yet another action-hero role in this survival-adventure film directed by Joe Carnahan (“The A-Team,” “Smokin’ Aces”). “The Grey,” in which Neeson plays John Ottway, an oil-driller and wolf-slayer who ends up stranded in Alaska with a team of seven, is a story of survival as the men fight off a pack of wolves that is constantly stalking them.

It is a fight to the death, in the literal sense, as Ottway and crew battle the bitter cold, the hunger and the bloodthirsty beasts. “The Grey” features a Liam Neeson not unlike the one we have seen before: He is steely, determined and tough, but with a softer, emotional edge that audiences catch glimpses of throughout the movie.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the film is its philosophical bent; morality, human perseverance, death and love are all recurring themes that Ottway and his men must come to terms with in the unforgiving terrains of the American Northwest.

“The Grey” raked in $20 million on its opening weekend in the United States, securing the No. 1 spot on the box office chart.

Great work for a film shot in just 40 days and distributed by the indie movie company Open Road, which launched less than a year ago.



Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (15)

Action / 95 / English

Nicolas Cage (played by puppeteer Glen Soziak) returns as Johnny Blaze in “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”

After 17-year-old Johnny Blaze was approached by the devil and offered a deal to save his father’s life, the Ghost Rider was born.

At the end of the first installment in what is likely to become a trilogy, Johnny gets the chance to relinquish his power but refuses, instead choosing to keep it and use it for good.

Cursed, Johnny hides out in Eastern Europe until a young boy needs to be saved from the devil.

Sooner or later Johnny’s skull turns into a flaming ball of hellfire and he rides off to kick some demonic ass.

Eva Mendes doesn’t return as Roxanne but is instead replaced in the attractive female role by Italian Violante Placido.

The trailer is full, as you might expect, of fire and brimstoney-type explosions where the flaming-skulled antihero sends sinners to hell. And if that isn’t enough he pees a fire stream and it’s in 3D.
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