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Roaring Currents (15)
In its depiction of the great Battle of Myeongnyang in the late 1500s, “Roaring Currents” is sensational.
The battle, which saw 12 Korean vessels triumph over 330 Japanese ships, is a wonder to behold.
Of course, the battle wouldn’t be complete without the portrayal of the man behind the feat, Admiral Yi Sun-sin (Choi Min-sik).
Although the “Oldboy” star may seem like an odd choice to play the upstanding Admiral, it’s not the drama or the role of Yi that takes center stage in this summer blockbuster, despite the intentions of the filmmaker.
As much as director Kim Han-min wanted to highlight the inner turmoil of Admiral Yi, the struggle within fails to transcend and at times the human drama is a bit too melodramatic.
To compensate, the cannon balls flying left, right and center as well as the roaring currents and the onslaught of Japanese ships are sure to set hearts racing.
Once at sea there is hardly a dull moment, and without words Choi’s Yi seems to shine, in contrast to when he was land bound.
Guardians of the Galaxy (12)
Sci-fi, Action / 122 / English
Every once in a while Vin Diesel shows his tender side by taking part in a children’s film. It’s as if he’s trying to show that he is indeed capable of other genres away from gun toting and drag racing. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is Diesel’s next soft flick.
With characters that look so ridiculously colorful they could only amuse rather than frighten, “Guardians of the Galaxy” plays out much like so many of the action fantasy films that are a hit with kids. But adults will still get a few laughs out of the narrative that also boasts Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana.
Peter Quill (Diesel) is a half-human, half-alien pilot who is on the run after stealing a mysterious orb.
Quantum Love (19)
It’s hard to say whether this film is essentially about an impending love affair or a modern career woman’s perspective on love.
Although the theme and voice may be difficult to decipher for an audience used to Hollywood narratives, the film’s unique (or French) take on love and life is enjoyable and ponderable.
Sophie Marceau plays the beautiful, ambitious and accomplished writer Elsa. She’s never cared for a serious relationship and made do with a bevy of younger attractive men. But when she is introduced to Pierre (Francoise Cluzet), her world is shaken up like never before.
Pierre is a well-known lawyer, every bit as ambitious and every-bit as successful as Elsa, but the catch is that he’s married.
Some may find the two leads’ fall into love too predictable. But even so, the notion of forbidden love is explored in an expert way against some very realistic situations.
While it may be a stretch to call the film a modern adult take on “Romeo and Juliet,” the film does contain universal themes and philosophical questions that appeal in a timeless manner.
Plus, to see France on the big screen is always a treat; to hear French on the surround system is even better.
Kundo: Age of the Rampant (15)
Action, Comedy / 137 / Korean
Ha Jung-woo is back as dim-witted yet lovable bandit Dol-chi.
In this Joseon-era take on “Robin Hood,” Ha starts off as an 18-year-old butcher, Dolmuchi. Corrupt, evil government officials abound, and of them, the most cunning is Jo-yoon (Kang Dong-won), a blue-blooded man who won’t let anything get in his way as he climbs to the top.
When Dolmuchi is embroiled in an assassination plot that sees him all but destroyed by Jo-yoon, he unearths a new persona: Dol-chi.
Out for Jo-yoon’s blood, Dol-chi joins a secret society of freedom fighters that hides out on Mount Jiri.
Flanked by his trusty gang members, played by familiar faces like Ma Dong-suk, Lee Sung-min and Yoon Ji-hye, Ha rights one wrong at a time.
The film is somewhat formulaic but still expected to thrill fans, with Ha funnier than ever.
How to Train your Dragon 2 (ALL)
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless have grown up, and Hiccup faces mounting pressure from his ruling father Stoick (Gerard Butler) to step up as rightful heir and take command of his town.
But Hiccup simply isn’t interested and attempts to find a way out. On an outing, he encounters a stranger - who also has a dragon - whom he first mistakes for a foe.
But upon being taken hostage, Hiccup discovers the identity of the masked rider and his world is suddenly turned upside down.
But personal problems aside, there is a greater danger that looms as an evil dragon master plots to kidnap and destroy all the dragons. Stoick sets out to find his missing son and before long the fate of all those who are dear to Hiccup lies in balance.
Frances Ha (15)
In this film, 27-year-old Frances (Geta Gerwig) lives in a small apartment in Brooklyn but doesn’t allow her dreams to shrink to fit her surroundings.
Her dream is to one day become a famous dancer.
However, her life begins to crumble as her friendship with her best friend breaks down and the chance of making it big seems as slim as her thinning wallet.
Noah Baumbach, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, directed the film, though he stops short of making a stereotypical movie that creates a fantasy picture of New York. Instead, he uses his own ingenuity to present the film from the point of view of a true New Yorker.
Geta Gerwig previously starred in “No Strings Attached” and “To Rome with Love.” Her charming portrayal of a hard-working woman following her dreams is bound to shine through this film.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (12)
Drama, Sci-fi / 130 / English
It’s only been a few years since a deadly virus (simian flu) killed millions and resulted in the apes’ escape into the wilderness, away from the cruel clutches of the humans that had mistreated them for centuries.
Deep in the jungle, the apes create a neat little commune, complete with a social hierarchy and civic duties.
Alpha-male Caesar (Andy Serkis) calls the shots, and although he is the sole ruler, his judgements are wise, selfless, and despite his demeanor, he is an advocate for peace - much to the annoyance of his underling, Koba, played by Toby Kebbell.
Meanwhile, among the human clan, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) shows a tenderness toward the apes. But with so much distrust already between the two sides, a war seems inevitable.
And when one encroaches on the other’s turf, destiny is sealed. Compared to the 2001 version, this remake is the real deal.