Rated R for partial nudity and pervasive graphic violence.
Enduring Franchise Finds Latex-Clad Heroine Fighting More Mutants
The Resident Evil film franchise is proving to be every bit as enduring as the hordes of flesh-eating zombies featured in its every episode. The movies are based on the popular series of high body-count computer games which has also spawned some comic books, graphic novels, cartoons, and a line of merchandise with action figures and more.
This fifth screen adaptation marks yet another collaboration between writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson and his wife, cover girl-turned-actress Milla Jovovich. She, of course, reprises her lead role as Alice, the pistol-packing protector of a planet once again threatened with extinction.
As usual, Anderson does his best to exploit his supermodel spouse’s good looks, between keeping her clad in form-fitting latex for the duration of the adventure and seizing on any excuse to take a pause in the action for a lingering, extreme close-up of her flawless facial features. Otherwise, RE 5 offers formulaic zombie fighting fare, with Alice and an intrepid team of defenders (Michelle Rodriguez, Boris Kodjoe, Bingbing Li, etc.) representing the last hope of humanity.
At the point of departure, our heroine, by way of voiceover, quickly recounts the back story of what’s transpired in the prior installments. We learn that the trouble all started when an industrial accident triggered a viral outbreak which in turn led to the rise of the undead.
Today, the diabolical Umbrella Corporation is apparently again up to no good, and on the verge of unleashing an army of mind-controlled minions, including clones of our pretty protagonist. Over-plotted to the point of absurdity, there’s no reason to try to follow RE 5’s storyline.
For while Milla might be up to the challenge of executing the script, the same can’t be said about her supporting cast’s wooden delivery of every last line of dialogue. The worst in this regard is Hong Kong star Bingbing Li, who is crippled by the English language, making a disastrous Hollywood debut here. A visually-captivating fantasy for teenage males with raging hormones, the demo most apt to appreciate enjoy watching an invincible vixen in spandex waste wave after wave of mindless mutants.
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 95 minutes
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, profanity and drug use.
Naive Runaway Turns Porn Star In Cautionary Tale Of Survival
Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) is a naive, 18-year-old with a blossoming body but a horrible home situation. Between a predatory stepfather (Steven Wiig) with a creepy agenda and an alcoholic mother (Lili Taylor) too inebriated to protect her, it’s just a matter of time before the poor girl has to vacate the premises.
Unfortunately, she proceeds to follow a lot of bad advice, starting with her boyfriend’s (Jonny Weston) pressure to pose naked for pay. Although initially hesitant, the clueless coed goes along with the idea, unaware that nude photo spreads are apparently the adult entertainment industry’s equivalent of a gateway drug to utter depravity.
The next thing you know, she’s dropping out of high school and running away from L.A. to San Francisco with a Platonic pal (Dev Patel) who worships her. They rent an apartment together, with him landing a legitimate job at a bookstore while she finds work at a seedy strip club.
Soon thereafter, Angelina not only starts dating a customer (James Franco) but is recruited to appear in X-rated movies by a very-reassuring, retired porn star (Heather Graham). She adopts a stage name, “Cherry,” and takes to performing sex acts in front of the camera like a fish to water, steadily graduating from soft porn to ever-increasingly salacious fare.
Not surprisingly, this development takes a toll on her personal relationships, as both her new beau (“What you do is disgusting!”) and secret admirer roommate (“I’m just a foreigner you keep around to run errands!”) eventually express their displeasure. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the trajectory of Angelina/Cherry’s life has to turn tragic, especially when there’s an empathetic lipstick lesbian waiting in the wings on the set of her latest explicit adventure.
Directed by Stephen Elliott, About Cherry’s optimistic arc might be explained by the fact that he co-wrote the script with Lorelei Lee, a popular porn star-turned-NYU college lecturer. Lorelei’s literary imprimatur lends considerable credibility to this presumably semi-autobiographical soap opera, since it would otherwise be impossible to fathom how the picture’s terminally-suggestible protagonist wasn’t left devastated by such a self-destructive string of degrading choices.
Pollyanna does ‘Frisco!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 102 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening September 21, 2012
Dredd 3-D (R for profanity, sexuality, drug use and graphic violence). Karl Urban assumes the title role originally played by Sly Stallone in this reboot of the futuristic, sci-fi franchise which finds America an irradiated wasteland patrolled by a formidable judge/jury/executioner committed to cleansing the country of undesirables with the help of an attractive rookie sidekick (Olivia Thirlby). Supporting cast includes Lena Headey, Wood Harris and Jason Cope.
End Of Watch (R for sexual references, drug use, graphic violence, disturbing images and pervasive profanity). Grisly crime saga about a couple of LAPD cops (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) who land on a drug cartel’s hit list after confiscating a cache of guns and money during a routine traffic stop. With America Ferrara, Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez.
House At The End Of The Street (PG-13 for profanity, terror, intense violence, teen partying, mature themes and brief drug use). Haunted house horror flick about a recent divorcee (Elisabeth Shue) whose hopes for a fresh start after relocating with her daughter (Jennifer Lawrence) to a quaint rural town are dashed by the creepy recluse (Max Thieriot) living next door. Ensemble includes Gil Bellows, Eva Link and Jon McLaren.
17 Girls (Unrated). Baby mama drama set in Lorient, France but inspired by actual events which transpired in a Massachusetts town where a clique of bored high school coeds entered a pact to get pregnant after one of them (Louise Grinberg) was accidentally knocked up. Cast includes Juliette Darche, Roxane Duran and Esther Garrel. (In French with subtitles)
Dear Mandela (Unrated). Dream deferred documentary highlighting the efforts of a trio of activists spearheading a revival of the South African civil rights movement on behalf of the black masses yet to benefit from independence. (In English and Zulu with subtitles)
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (PG-13 for nude images). Reverential retrospective takes a fond look back at the life and times of fashionista Diana Vreeland (1903-1989), the influential editor of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
Head Games (PG-13 for mature themes). Brain trauma documentary explores the oft-devastating consequences of concussions suffered while playing football, hockey, soccer and other sports.
How To Survive A Plague (Unrated). AIDS documentary chronicling the efforts of ACT UP and other gay organizations which successfully pressured the federal government to fund the research that turned the epidemic from a death sentence into a manageable medical condition. Featuring file footage of Larry Kramer and Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
Knuckleball! (Unrated). Baseball documentary deconstructing the mechanics of the knuckleball with the help of such proponents of the unorthodox pitch as Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey, Charlie Hough and Phil Niekro.
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (PG-13 for mature themes, profanity, and teen sexuality, fighting, drug use and alcohol abuse). Screen adaptation of the Stephen Chbosky novel of the same name about a lonely freshman’s (Logan Lerman) attempt to adjust to high school while simultaneously struggling to cope with a crush on a classmate (Emma Watson), a friend’s suicide and his own mental illness. With Paul Rudd, Ezra Miller and Dylan McDermott.
They Call It Myanmar: Lifting The Curtain (Unrated). Bamboo Curtain exposé offering a rare peak at Burma via interviews conducted secretly with over a hundred of the repressive regime’s political dissidents, including recently-released, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Three Stars (Unrated). Delightful gourmet documentary delineating the culinary philosophy of nine of the world’s greatest chefs. Featuring Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Yannick Alleno and Olivier Roellinger. (In Dutch, English, German, Japanese, Italian and Spanish with subtitles)
Trouble With The Curve (PG-13 for profanity, smoking, mature themes and sexual references). Clint Eastwood stars in this minor league diamond drama about an aging baseball scout with failing eyesight who grudgingly agrees to make one last road trip prior to retiring after his daughter (Amy Adams) agrees to accompany him on the trek. Cast includes Justin Timberlake, John Goodman and Scott Eastwood (Clint’s son).
You May Not Kiss The Bride (PG-13 for sexuality, coarse humor and violence). Romantic comedy about a mild-mannered pet photographer (Dave Annable) forced to marry the daughter (Katharina McPhee) of the Croatian mobster (Ken Davitian) who wants his little girl to become an American citizen. With Mena Suvari, Kathy Bates, Rob Schneider, Tia Carrere and Vinnie Jones.