New movies this week
A Good Day to Die Hard
The gist: John McClane is done blowing up American cities after 25 years, so he heads to Moscow, where nothing bad ever happens. Right? R
The cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir and Rasha Bukvic.
The buzz: Taking away the claustrophobia, cliches and catchphrases leaves us with a generic actioner that isn't very actionable. "Everything that made the first Die Hard memorable — the nuances of character, the political subtext, the cowboy wit — has been dumbed down or scrubbed away entirely," the New York Times laments.
The gist: We've had a teen girl in love with a vampire and a werewolf, and a couple weeks ago we had young woman in love with a zombie, so now we're gonna try a teen boy in love with a witch. Next series: Mummies. PG-13
The cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum and Thomas Mann.
The buzz: How deep are you expecting adapted young-adult fiction to be? "A concoction that makes highly calculated use of fantasy, fates, taboos, young love and visual hocus-pocus to ensnare an audience in a narrative web that's pretty darn ridiculous," The Hollywood Reporter says.
Escape from Planet Earth
The gist: A celebrity voice-cast special about a CGI space hero fighting some guy. Who cares, you guys? Look at this cast! PG
The cast: Voices of Brendan Fraser, James Gandolfini, Sofia Vergara, Rob Corddry, Ricky Gervais, Jessica Alba, Craig Robinson and Sarah Jessica Parker.
The buzz: Nobody is allowed to watch it for review purposes, meaning it must stink up the movie house, BUT ZOMG YOU GUYS WHAT A CAST!!1!
The gist: The latest Nicholas Sparks book to become a movie, in case The Notebook and Dear John weren't enough for you. It's basically the same plot as Beautiful Creatures, but without the witches. PG-13
The cast: Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough, Cobie Smulders, David Lyons, Noah Lomax and Mimi Kirkland.
The buzz: Awful trash, the critics say, but hey, it's Valentine's Day week! "A movie that passably ambles along in generic-melodrama mode before finally insulting audience intelligence one time too many," the Boston Globe grinches complain.
The gist: We finally get to see Emmanuelle Riva's Oscar-nominated performance as a woman in her 80s who suffers a stroke, and how her bond with her husband strengthens even as her body slips away. It might tug a few tears out your eyeballs. PG-13
The cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Riva and Isabelle Huppert.
The buzz: An unflinching look at our relationships in the wake of the unshakable truth that we're all gonna die. "The resulting interplay of ruthless restraint and unavoidable passion, plus the film's refusal to shrink from depicting the inevitable horrors of physical deterioration, is devastating," the Los Angeles Times lauds.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org