Capsule reviews for Oct. 18

Carrie

This uneven contemporary remake of the 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s first published novel again follows the story of a socially awkward teenager (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is bullied at school and is abused at home by her religious fanatic mother (Julianne Moore). Then she discovers her telekinetic powers that allow her a method of violent revenge. Moretz (Kick-Ass) builds on her breakthrough potential in the title role, and this version, directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), provides some bloody fun with its rendering of the climactic prom sequence. Yet it misses the mark as a subversive teen melodrama and isn’t consistently scary or suspenseful. (Rated R, 99 minutes).

 

Chinese Zodiac

The latest stunt-filled action comedy from Jackie Chan, who also directed, sees him playing a vigilante sent to retrieve the original bronze heads of the 12 animals from the Chinese zodiac, which are considered valuable relics that had been stolen from the Summer Palace. Along the way, he does battle with various henchmen and greedy corporate types. Chan offers his usual mix of charm and innovative action choreography, although at this point in his lengthy career his shtick feels more strained than original. Despite some exotic locales and scattered moments of amusement, the bilingual story doesn’t have enough intrigue to sustain itself at feature length. (Not rated, 109 minutes).

 

I’m in Love With a Church Girl

This heavy-handed Christian drama tells a sappy and predictable story of redemption that follows Miles (hip-hop star Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins), a former drug trafficker who — as the title suggests — attempts to settle down when he meets Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon), who tries to steer him away from the life of fast cars and lavish parties. The problem is that since Miles remains loyal to his friends, his past threatens to catch up to him. The autobiographical script by rookie screenwriter Galley Molina is heartfelt and progressive in its perspective on spirituality, yet it egregiously lacks subtlety and too often resorts to excessive sermonizing. (Rated PG, 118 minutes).

 

Kill Your Darlings

Common thriller elements — obsession, betrayal, revenge and murder — are given a true-life backdrop with this 1940s story of the relationship between New York college students and future Beat Generation poets Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and others. Rookie writer-director John Krokidas strikes a smart balance by using their art to shape the characters without relying on prior knowledge of their later accomplishments or their involvement in the incident at its core. While somewhat unfocused, the film captures the moral complexities of the period through smart portrayals from its cast including Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Jason Leigh. (Rated R, 104 minutes).

 

Paradise

Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) makes a disappointing directorial debut with this mordant comedy about a young plane-crash survivor (Julianne Hough) whose extensive physical and psychological scars cause her to question her sheltered religious upbringing in small-town Montana. So she impulsively heads to Las Vegas with the intention of committing as many sins as possible, before meeting a sarcastic bartender (Russell Brand) and a cynical lounge singer (Octavia Spencer) who become her guardian angels. It could have been an edgy story of female empowerment and spiritual crisis, but instead resorts to cheap sentimentality with a protagonist whose bumbling naivete is more annoying than endearing. (Rated PG-13, 86 minutes).

Speak Your Mind

*