47 Ronin, At Middleton, Knights of Badassdom 


click to enlarge 47 Ronin

47 Ronin (PG-13)


47 Ronin is another of Hollywood's cracks at a feudal epic for the white everyman. First-time director Carl Rinsch seems committed to making a decent film, and he and his team are noble in their failure — which is actually too bad. Rather than stumble into a great "bad" movie, Rinsch and veteran action scribes Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious) and Hossein Amini (Snow White & the Huntsman) over-plot and underplay their way into a portentous, visually arresting mess. Keanu Reeves plays "half-breed" Kai, an orphan raised by the titular samurai. When a rival lord essentially tricks the village's master ronin into committing ritual suicide, causing the rudderless samurai to be exiled from their own land, it falls on Kai to lead the ronin in an effort to reclaim their home. Stuck in between camp and grandeur, 47 Ronin fights the good fight, but ultimately falls on its own sword. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge At Middleton

At Middleton (R)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga are simply charming in this light romantic comedy (for older types, natch). During a campus tour with their prospective student kids, strangers Garcia and Farmiga end up connecting and spending the whole day gabbing, alternating between basic flirting glances and deep philosophical convos that, of course, lead them to fall in love with each other. Acting as a more mature variation on Richard Linklater's Before trilogy, At Middleton is never as deeply heady as those films. It actually allows moments of comedy to shine through that allow viewers of any age to comfortably enjoy the trip these two unsuspecting adults are about to take, which is a real treat. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a rom-com that featured two capable older adults in the role, and not some dumb tweens? It makes the enjoyment of Middleton all the more savory. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge Knights of Badassdom

Knights of Badassdom (R)

Entertainment One

What Tucker and Dale vs. Evil did for the slasher film, Knights of Badassdom does for the fantasy flick. In a meta romp through the current craze that's given us Game of Thrones, Dungeons and Dragons and especially LARPing, a group of pals (including Steve Zahn, Summer Glau and Peter Dinklage) accidentally summon a succubus during a fantasy role-playing event in the middle of a city park. Suddenly, the team members have to put down their foam swords and pick up real ones to stop the diabolical menace before it kills every unsuspecting player. Alternating deftly between lowbrow comedy and high-level terror, director Joe Lynch delivers the goods at a quick pace, giving us both a short running time (86 minutes) and a brisk script that never bores. The ending might be tacked-on and leave plenty of unanswered questions, but who cares? Knights of Badassdom truly lives up to its title. — Louis Fowler


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