Film » Film Capsules

Film Capsules

In a theater near you...


Fast Five (PG-13) — In yet another Fast and the Furious sequel, the original crew (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, et al.) heads to Rio to orchestrate an Italian Job-style heist that could just as easily have been staged in Santa Monica. The fifth entry in this decade-old boys-and-toys franchise is just loud and mindless enough to satisfy the fan base, but it probably won't win any new admirers. Fast Five clocks in at a butt-numbing 130 minutes, but quantity doesn't equal quality: there's way too much padding (including quadruple endings and a new FBI nemesis played by a sleepwalking Dwayne Johnson) for a movie like this. (Milan Paurich)

Hanna (PG-13) — Secluded from mankind by design, teenager Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) has lived her life in the rigorous training program of her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana). She's fluent in many languages and has a Jason Bourne-like knowledge of martial arts. She's eager to leave home and take on her life's mission: to get revenge for the murder of her mother, apparently at the hands of a scheming researcher (Cate Blanchett). Ronan is great, and Hanna's straitlaced, inventively visual style is always interesting, even if much of it is in service of a flimsy plot. (Justin Strout)

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (PG) — This mildly entertaining but ultimately forgettable sequel picks up with Red Riding Hood, Granny, and Big Bad Wolf as new members of the elite Happily Ever After Agency. Once again, the CGI is mediocre, but it's the movie's smug tone that brings it down, with way too many winking lines about sequels and special effects. Still, Bill Hader and Amy Poehler's heavily accented Hansel and Gretel are fun. (Ben Gifford)

Insidious (PG-13) — Josh and Renai move their two boys into a hulking old house. When the older son falls into a mysterious coma, Renai becomes convinced that something is horribly wrong. The family flees to a new house, only to discover it wasn't the house that's haunted. Genre nerds will have a blast with Insidious, trainspotting the various borrowed genre staples and lifts from specific classics (Poltergeist, Psycho, The Haunting). (Lee Gardner)

Of Gods and Men (R) — In 1996, seven French monks were beheaded in Algeria, ending two months as hostages of a Muslim group during that country's decade-long civil war. But it's barely a footnote of a story that is almost impossible to grasp in a country where true faith is a fleeting concept. Things start to go bad around Christmas 1995, when rebel forces reach the monks' rural mountain valley home. After their demands for medicine and help are rejected out of principles of peace, the extremists vow to return under different terms. The monks are faced with a choice to leave the valley and return to France or wait out the inevitable. (Michael Byrne)

Potiche (R) — Potiche means "trophy wife," and that's exactly what screen legend Catherine Deneuve is at the start of the latest movie by French director François Ozon. Deneuve, Ozon, and Gérard Depardieu play to and against their types in this slight, frothy, and occasionally amusing story, set in 1977, of a woman who takes over her husband's gloomy business after he lands in the hospital. Surprise! She turns it into a moneymaking venture. The director's playful style and candy-colored imagery recall 1970s battle-of-the-sexes comedies, but the movie's period themes — women's rights is the big one — come off quaint. (Michael Gallucci)

Prom (PG) — Aimed at teenage girls (and maybe their nostalgic moms), this Disney flick crams in just about every romantic-comedy cliché in the book. First, there's a squeaky-clean class president and prom organizer (Aimee Teegarden), who just wants everyone to have an unforgettable night. When things don't work out with her date, she falls for the school's biker bad boy (Thomas McDonell), who's really super-soft underneath his tough-guy exterior. Breakups and make-ups take place as prom nears, but by the end, all dramas are resolved so the big dance can go off without a hitch. (Jeff Niesel)

Rio (PG) — The latest 3D CGI talking-animal movie is about a rare and pampered pet macaw named Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisensberg) who goes to Rio to breed with Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and save his species. But he ends up separated from his owner. It's standard fish-out-of-water stuff, with sassy sidekicks (Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, and Tracy Morgan), an evil cockatoo, and a major obstacle for the hero to overcome. (Gallucci)

Scream 4 (R) — Director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson swore that 2000's Scream 3 concluded the self-referential horror series, but — surprise! — here's another one. On the 10th anniversary of the original's massacre, Sidney (Neve Campbell) returns to her hometown as a best-selling memoirist. Smartass dialogue and plot twists once again rely on in-jokes and a media-aware popscape of smartphones, remakes, and webcasts — everything but reality TV. Which they're doubtlessly saving for Scream 5. (Charles Cassady Jr.)

Source Code (PG-13) — When we first meet Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), he's on a Chicago-bound commuter train, disoriented and confused. Moments later an explosion tears through the train, killing everyone on board. Suddenly Colter is alone in a capsule, being quizzed via monitor. He's told Find the bomb and you will find the bomber who will strike again. Suddenly, he's back on the train, replaying the scene we just saw with slight variations — like a more ominous version of Groundhog Day. (Gallucci)

Water for Elephants (PG-13) — Depression-era Jacob (Twilight's Robert Pattinson) hops the train of a traveling circus, where he shovels manure until August (Inglourious Basterds' Christoph Waltz) enlists him as vet and trainer for his latest attraction, Rosie the elephant. As Jacob tries to protect the animals from vicious beatings, he ends up falling for the circus' star performer (Reese Witherspoon), who also happens to be the boss' bullied wife. While the movie reflects the sleazy glamour and base cruelty of 1930s circus life, the story's hokey tone recalls vintage Disney. Still, it's presented with some style. And Pattinson is surprisingly effective. (Zoslov)

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