Movie Review

Veteran movie reviewer Jim Erickson shares his no-holds-barred opinions on Hollywood's best efforts. Tune in every Thursday for the latest review.

Ten years after the action of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we have Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  Surely, the dawn should precede the rise of anything, but let's not squabble with our blessings-- The Dawn is maybe even better than The Rise was.

Melissa McCarthy has many reasons to be happy with her new movie Tammy.

She produced, co-wrote and stars, and her husband co-wrote, directed and takes an important small role as the boss who fires her and starts the whole thing going. McCarthy is also more attractive both in her physical appearance and in the character she plays than she was in either Bridesmaids or The Heat, partly because Tammy is a gentle, people-loving movie without satiric edge or the brutality of a police story.

Like this year's Heaven Is For Real, the newly released Alone Yet Not Alone is a supposedly religious movie that is almost without religion.

The one-sheet poster says, "Their faith became their freedom," and the end notes identify one support character as, "the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America," but in fact there is little reference to God or faith, even when prayer would seem to be called for.

Both The Rover and The Signal are sort of road movies, though The Signal eventually turns into a sort of science fiction movie, and both of them end with sort of surprises, which in neither case is very satisfying.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a typically enjoyable, superior animation with most of the usual pluses of the form and only a few typical minuses. It's conventional in story and thin on characterization, pictorially beautiful, generally comic, and modest as to any ambition beyond entertainment.

Belle is a very compact and complicated movie, and if your hearing is as bad as mine, you will want to ask the ticket booth for a free set of headphones because you won’t want to miss any of the dialogue, which is so well written that you’ll have no trouble following the numerous plots and themes.

Belle, beautifully played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is an orphan, mixed-race, and a love child born out of wedlock, and all three conditions are important as she comes to live with Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson in England in 1769.

A Million Ways To Die In The West is said to be both hilariously funny and in horrible taste and it is both.

What is most surprising is that it is also, and I hate this word but it’s the only one that fits, sweet.

The relationship between Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron is so restrained and gentle, and the Theron character is so impossibly likable and kind, despite her backstory, that she is psychologically impossible, and the return to raunchiness when they are off-screen was really unwelcome, to me, even when it was very funny.

The Immigrant is a consistently interesting, but rather forlorn movie about Marion Cotillard’s troubles getting her tubercular sister past Ellis Island and into the United States, with the rather questionable help of Joaquin Phoenix, back in 1921.

It’s notable for its extremely persuasive, I am willing to assume authentic, production values and a fascinating performance by Phoenix, bit it’s not exactly the cheeriest movie in town.

Million Dollar Arm is an entertaining trifle full of material that should have added up to a lot more.

John Hamm goes to India to find recruits for his failing baseball business, and recruits a cricket player and a javelin thrower on the assumption that all a baseball player needs is the ability to throw a ball with quicksilver speed and missile accuracy.

At least, that’s all the boys work at, and nobody assumes they should do more, including Alan Arkin, the chief comedy character, a baseball scout who can judge a pitch by the sound of the ball passing.

Fading Gigolo is a four-star movie, or almost, and a good deal different from what you might expect.

For one thing, Fading Gigolo is written and directed by John Turturro-- Woody Allen co-stars with Turturro , but neither writes nor directs. And while the premise is Allen promoting and managing Turturro's career a companion with privileges for lonely women, it is not particularly sexy.