New movies this week
The Wolf Of Wall Street
The gist: How rich and tasteless do you have to be to snort cocaine out of hoo-ha? Martin Scorcese delves into the '90s excess of stock-market swindler Jordan Belfort and spends nearly three hours showing the audience how little consequences really matter if you're committed to being a very rich jerk. R
The cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, P.J. Byrne, Christine Ebersole
The buzz: There are no life lessons for Belfort, who eventually serves time in jail. Reviewers say the film feels more like beautifully shot celebration of the badness than an indictment. "The sets are ravishing. The cinematography dazzles," says the New York Observer. "There's so much going on that you don't blink for fear that you might miss something." Did I say over the top? I meant over the moon.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The gist: Walter Mitty is the bored space cadet you picked on in middle school — looking off into the distance and daydreaming about being Superman. This movie lets that space cadet become Superman for 90 minutes to search for a photograph to be used for the final issue of Life magazine. PG
The cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Patton Oswalt, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Sean Penn
The buzz: There's probably a more interesting story there. "Stiller, who directs and stars in Mitty, has loosely based his film on the story and given it a contemporary setting," says USA Today. "But by trying to combine fantasy and romance with goofy humor, globe-trotting adventure and feel-good inspiration, Stiller has made Mitty a mixed bag of clashing tones and facile."
The gist: Ever wondered who would win a fight between Rocky and Raging Bull? Us neither. But some producer stunt-casted two legendary actors to fight in a ring when they should be watching their grandchildren play soccer. PG-13
The cast: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart, Jon Bernthal
The buzz: If you miss the old days, crank those bad boys up on VHS or something. "It probably made sense on paper, but on the screen it merely conjures the ghosts of the once whippet-fit De Niro and the ever abdominal Stallone," says the Austin Chronicle. "Pathos is ladled on with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the cranium, and Tim Kelleher's script is as painfully punch-drunk as they come."
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
The gist: British director Justin Chadwick condenses 95 years of life into just under 21/2 hours of movie. As you can imagine, some good stuff gets left out. What makes it in could be found in most history textbooks, and if weren't for Idris Elba your eyes would glaze over the same way they did in class. PG-13
The cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Jamie Bartlett, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Deon Lotz, Terry Pheto, Mark Elderkin, Carl Beukes
The buzz: Reviewers think this is best for when you need to skirt that book report. "Maybe Mandela is one of those historical figures whose life is greater, more larger-than-life, than any mere movie could ever do justice to," the Christian Science Monitor says.
The gist: The classic Japanese tale of the 47 ronin springs to life with all the money and CGI Universal can throw at it. Magic! Giants! Witches! Random heroic white guy! Everything you'd ever want in story about disgraced samurai avenging their fallen leader's honor while trying to live by the bushido code. PG-13
The cast: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Min Tanaka, Jin Akanishi
The buzz: The good news: Reeves isn't the star. The bad news: No one told the studio. "47 Ronin could have been a landmark of sorts in the advancement of Asian actors in the Hollywood mainstream beyond token and sidekick roles, but when the material they're given is as third-rate and lifeless as this, such gestures toward progress can't help but seem hollow at best," says Slant Magazine.
Justin Bieber's Believe
The gist: Exactly how much could have changed about Justin Bieber since his last docu-concert film Never Say Never? Well, everything, if you read the headlines. But likely none of that will make it into to this PG-rated fluff bomb. PG
The cast: Justin Bieber, Patti Mallette, Usher, Ludacris, Scooter Braun, Rodney Jerkins
The buzz: No reviews yet, but if you're planning to see it, you wouldn't have agreed with them anyway.
— Robbyn Mitchell firstname.lastname@example.org