PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Epic” (PG) — This computer-animated adventure has enough visual style and gags to keep the under-10 crowd watching, but falls short in the all-important storytelling category. There is a war raging between tiny magical armies. The 2-inch tall Leaf Men are warriors trying to defend nature. The evil Boggins are little monsters who want the forest to whither. Into this conflict comes Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), a teenage girl magically shrunken down and dropped into this little war.
The heroic struggle between good and evil actually gets pretty bland. The heroes (voiced by Josh Hutcherson and Colin Farrell) aren’t really exciting characters. Kids will be more interested in the antics of the goofball side characters. It’s not wrong to expect better stories from kids movies — even if they’ll watch just about anything.
“Amour” (PG-13) — Georges and Anne (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) have built their lives together over the many years of their marriage. The two retired music teachers live in a tasteful Paris apartment, and provide each other with all the emotional support and companionship they need. Their relationship changes, however, as age takes its toll on their bodies and minds. The husband and wife know they are falling apart, and not at exactly the same rate.
This is one of those beautiful, heartbreaking movies that may be hard to pick up, but you won’t regret seeing. It somehow helps to know that Trintignant and Riva were popular romantic leads in their earlier careers. “Amour” won the Academy Award for best foreign language film on top of being nominated for four more Oscars, including best picture.
“Shadow Dancer” (R) — Collette (Andrea Riseborough) is a single mother in Belfast, Ireland. She mostly looks after her son, but her brother has plotted some bombings with the IRA. She’s taken in by an English counter-terrorism agent (Clive Owen) who tells her that if she agrees to spy on her brother, she can go home and “Nobody gets hurt. Nobody dies.” The tension-per-scene quotient in this movie is through the roof. This movie can pull you out of your seat and right up to the screen.
“Killing Season” (R) — What’s this? John Travolta and Robert De Niro starring in a thriller together, and nobody’s heard even a whisper about it? The two stars share ample screen time together, trying to outdo each other for most uninspired performance. De Niro is a reclusive veteran who lives in a cabin deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Travolta is an Eastern European guy with a grudge against De Niro going back to when they faced each other in the Bosnian War. Bad accents and plodding back-and-forth action make this movie more dull than exciting. On the bright side, I like to think that De Niro and Travolta at least got a good camping trip out of it.
“NCIS: The Complete Tenth Season”
“Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season”
“Revenge: The Complete Second Season”
“The Good Wife: The Fourth Season”
“NCIS: Los Angeles — The Fourth Season”
© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.