By Shane Sellar
As someone who has been taken by Nigerian princes on the Internet many times over, it never gets easier.
Oops, apparently this action movie is about being physically taken, not swindled out of your life savings.
Accused of killing his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), Bryan (Liam Neeson) flees from the authorities (Forest Whittaker) in order to catch the real killer.
On the lam, he contacts his daughter (Maggie Grace) – who has another surprise for him – and uncovers clues connecting Lenore’s new husband (Dougray Scott) with the Russian mafia.
While the trademark fisticuffs, shoot-outs and car chases are all present and accounted for in this final entry in the one-trick pony franchise, they lack the verve they once had.
The boilerplate script, cardboard acting and stock villains don’t help Taken 3’s case much either.
Incidentally, in addition to vodka and caviar, organized crime is Russia’s other main export.
The Wedding Ringer
Destination weddings are like eloping with your wedding guests in tow.
Fortunately the groom in this comedy has no family or friends to speak of.
While prepping for his pending nuptials to Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), Doug (Josh Gad) discovers that he has no close guy friends he can ask to be his groomsmen.
Desperate, he reaches out to a professional best man Jimmy (Kevin Hart), who will pretend to be his best friend and supply groomsmen to round out the wedding party.
Despite preliminary problems with their backstories, Doug, Jimmy and the others form the kind of friendships Doug’s been longing for.
However, his new experiences, and many lies, threaten Gretchen’s big day.
Occasionally funny and periodically imprudent, The Wedding Ringer is a derivative wedding comedy that vacillates between off-kilter and offensive humour.
Besides, picking groomsmen would be a lot easy if your fiancée didn’t hate all your friends.
The upside to adopting an abandoned animal is they have more issues than you do.
Mind you, the patriarch in this family-comedy isn’t too keen on finding out what those issues are.
Unable to remain in the jungle where he was raised, a rare talking-bear (Ben Whishaw) makes his way to a London train station in hopes of being adopted by a family.
As it would happen, Henry (Hugh Bonneville), Mary (Sally Hawkins) and their children take in the well-mannered wild animal, despite Henry’s objections.
Christened Paddington, the accident-prone bruin attracts the attention of an obsessed taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) who wants to display his hide in the Natural History Museum.
With playful direction, remarkable character design and Booneville’s hilarious turn as the cantankerous dad, this live-action/animated adaption of the children’s books is surprisingly entertaining.
However, having a bear as a pet takes a lot of hard work and bear spray.
The most prolific painter in the history of painting is Benjamin Moore.
Mind you, the critics in this dramedy wouldn’t consider a fresh coat high art.
In 1958, Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) divorces her husband and moves to San Francisco with her daughter to pursue her artistic aspirations.
It’s not until she meets Walter (Christoph Waltz) do her portraits of big-eyed children begin to sell – albeit under his name.
As he becomes prominent, his now-wife cranks out more kitsch art for him to take the credit for.
Even when she reveals the truth, Margaret must still prove she’s behind the brushstrokes in court.
As much a commentary on female repression as it is art, director Tim Burton blends the subjects seamlessly with his eye for the era and his brilliant leads who bring this true Svengali story to life.
Incidentally, the real artist behind Andy Warhol was a soup company executive.
God Help The Girl
The unique thing about all-female pop groups is once a month they transform into aggressive punk bands.
Fortunately, the group in this musical has a male member to balance the hormones.
With aspirations of becoming a musician, Eve (Emily Browning) escapes the hospital where she is being treated for anorexia and heads to Glasgow.
At a show she encounters a guitar player, James (Olly Alexander), with equal aspirations.
With James’ guitar student Cassie (Hannah Murray) rounding out the band, the trio start writing songs for an upcoming show.
But Eve’s desire to get a proper education threatens to end the band before it begins.
Conceived by Belle and Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch, God Help the Girl drips with the indie band’s lovelorn melodies and hipster aesthetic; however, what it lacks is a compelling story that addresses Eve’s eating disorder.
Besides, bands are more successful when assembled by record company executives.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death
The best thing about dating a widow is that closet full of men’s shoes and clothing she has.
Mind you, it’s not a husband the woman in this horror movie is mourning – it’s a child.
Forced to evacuate during the Blitzkrieg, boarding school headmistress Helen (Jean Hogg) and her deputy Eve (Phoebe Fox) escort their students to Eel Marsh House in the serene English countryside.
Once there, Eve encounters the apparition of a woman in black who torments her dreams, and lures her young pupils to their deaths.
Aided by knowledge of the woman’s past, and a stationed soldier (Jeremy Irvine), Eve attempts to end the phantoms reign over the manor and the surrounding town.
While the setting is certainly spooky, this sequel to the surprising original never rises above hackneyed jolts and cheap special effects to bring its second-rate script to life.
Incidentally, English ghosts cease all hauntings during teatime.
Into the Woods
Singing in the woods is an excellent way to ward off bears and horny wild men.
Mind you, the melodies in this musical are there to convey emotions.
The Witch (Meryl Streep) that cursed his family promises to reverse it if the Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) bring her a cow, a cape, some hair and a slipper.
So they head into the woods where they meet Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), all of who possess an item.
But each mark is experiencing a personal crisis and the duo is entangled in each ordeal.
With its capable cast, familiar fairy tale themes and subversive lyrics, this Disney adaptation of the stage show will please musical fanatics but likely bore those who prefer dialogue.
Unfortunately, unlike the Broadway musical, movie audiences cannot get onstage and sing along.
He’s an Ex-Concerto. He’s the…