New movies this week
The gist: Geek king Zack Snyder makes another comic-book-style movie, this time about a girl in a mental ward who is going to be lobotomized unless she can fend off zombie Nazis, machine-gun-wielding samurai, giant robots and updrafts that lift her schoolgirl skirt. PG-13
The cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Scott Glenn and Oscar Isaac
The buzz: The traditional critics really, really don't like it, but as far as I'm concerned, this is the perfect bookend to a double feature with Battle: Los Angeles, if you see where I'm coming from. "Director Zach Snyder offers a peek inside his head, which turns out to be a vomatorium of pop culture's every geeky element," Slant magazine says. When will they realize that plenty of nerds want that?
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules
The gist: A sequel to the 2010 flick based on the Jeff Kinney books. This time, Greg's folks want him to bond with his older brother. Hey, just because you love your siblings doesn't mean you have to like them. PG
The cast: Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn and Grayson Russell.
The buzz: Critics don't like this one, either, but the series has sold 42 million books, so who cares? "It's still not all that great, but at least this time around lessons are learned and, yes, there occasionally is something to laugh at," the Arizona Republic reasons.
The Last Lions
The gist: A real lioness and her two cubs must navigate Botswana's Okavango Delta in order to stay alive. The really sad part is that even if they make it, poachers may end up shooting them, anyway. PG
The cast: Jeremy Irons (that's Scar for you Lion King fans) narrates Ma di Tau's journey with her kids.
The buzz: A great documentary that makes you hope the big cats make it, in more ways than one. "Wrenching and wondrous, Dereck and Beverly Joubert's documentary The Last Lions is not a tale for the faint-hearted," the Denver Post says.
The 5th Quarter
The gist: A high-schooler who dies in a car accident ends up donating his organs to five people, inspires his brother and football team, and is the impetus behind a charity foundation named after him. PG-13
The cast: Ryan Merriman, Aidan Quinn and Andie MacDowell.
The buzz: Power-of-God, feel-good stuff. "It scores points for being that rare 'faith-based film' to show a little edge," the Orlando Sentinel says.
Gasparilla International Film Festival
The fifth year of this annual fete began Thursday and continues through Sunday at Tampa locations. Tickets are $10 per screening, except for Sunday's special presentation ($15) at Tampa Theatre. Part admissions range from free to $100 for the closing night. Festival ticket packages are available from $50 to $1,000. See giff2011.com for information or tickets. For more, see pages 38-39.