Mr. Movie

Chan, Li serve up a Forbidden blast

The Forbidden Kingdom is a comic twist on an ancient Chinese legend.

The Monkey King is turned to stone by the evil Jade Warrior. Just before rocking out, he tosses his staff forward into time. Fate gives a 21st century teen from Boston the task of taking it back.

Jackie Chan and Jet Li star in this entertaining trip through Chinese mysticism. One great fight between the two stars and one comical action sequence after another makes you wonder why Chan and Li didn’t do this a decade ago.

The awesome physical skills of the two actors have eroded, but their passion for a classic martial arts flick hasn’t. They have a blast, and it’s the most fun you’ve had in a theater all year.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some violence. Opens today at the Columbia Mall 8 and at Fairchild Cinemas.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Though he just produces Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Judd Apatow’s influence is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Penned by and starring Jason Segel, Sarah is the tale of a sad sack dumped unceremoniously by TV star Sarah Marshall. To ease the pain, he goes to Hawaii. Guess who’s there?

Earth to Apatow. Every movie comedy does not have to be done by you. Worse, whether you write, direct or just produce, your films are starting to look alike.

Though Segel, his drop-dead gorgeous co-stars, Kristin Bell (TV’s Heroes) and Mila Kunis, and Bill Hader, Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd grow on you, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is still a reel too long and, unlike the title, forgettable.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars.

Rated R for mature themes, language, and male nudity. Opens today at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas.

88 Minutes

Al Pacino plays an FBI psychologist and forensics instructor who fingers a serial killer. Just before the guy is to be executed, someone starts killing young women using the same M.O. Pacino becomes a suspect and then gets a phone call from the killer saying he has 88 minutes to live. The story “teases” you by making everybody a suspect.

Every cliche killer-on-the-phone scenario ever devised is here. The characters are cardboard and the dialogue laughable. 88 Minutes implies the promise of a short and intense thriller. It’s neither short, nor intense. Trust me on this one. The film runs almost two hours, but at 88 minutes, you’ll be ready to check out.

Mr. Movie rating: 1 star.

Rated R for mature themes, language, brief nudity.Opens today at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas.

The Counterfeiters

Set in Germany in a concentration camp in 1936, The Counterfeiters tracks a Nazi counterfeit ring out to destroy the economy of the West. Based on a true story, this subtitled character study follows the lives of Jews conscripted into service.

Tension permeates a plot that contrasts the need to survive with not wanting to help ultimate evil win the war. The characters struggle with guilt over having an easy time when men and women around them are tortured and killed.

The Counterfeiters is the second German film in a row to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. In 2007, The Lives of Others did the same. A lot of new movies hit Tri-City screens this week. If forced to pick just one, this is your best choice.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars.

Rated R for mature themes, violence. Opens today at the Columbia Mall 8.

Who Killed the Electric Car

Skyrocketing gas prices in a falling economy make this 2006 documentary more relevant today than it was on its release date two years ago. In 1996, General Motors made 1,000 electric cars. They were leased in California. Sleek, fast and able to get more than 100 miles per charge, people loved them.

A decade later, GM, mysteriously, rounded the cars up and crunched them into scrap metal. This ecological ode to green surmises that big oil is behind the demise.

Whatever the reason, Carmike Cinemas’ contribution to the Tri-Cities’ Earth Week celebration is a fascinating dissection of alternatives to business as usual, and why some think a car from the past could be the car of the future.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars.

Rated PG for mature themes. Opens today at the Carmike 12.

Under the Same Moon

A little boy misses his mother. She’s an illegal Mexican worker in the U.S. trying to build enough of a nest egg to get the boy here. Grandma takes care of him and when she dies, he has no choice but to try to find her.

All he knows is that mom is in Los Angeles.

Illegal immigration issue and sugary ending aside, exceptional performances, terrific writing and patient storytelling punctuate this wonderful story of the kind of unswerving hope found only in the heart of a child.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some violence. Opens today at the Carmike 12.

The Band’s Visit

An Egyptian police band is asked to play at the opening of an Arab Arts Center in Israel. They get lost, miss the gig and end up spending the night in a small desert town.

The Band’s Visit skillfully visits the concept that people absent politics, politicians and protocol will just be people. Jew or Arab doesn’t matter. The characters connect awkwardly but they connect.

Nothing much happens in The Band’s Visit. But few films where nothing happens are quite this entertaining.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. Opens today at the Carmike 12.

Cave of the Yellow Dog

If you want to call it a “plot,” Cave of the Yellow Dog is about a young Mongolian girl finding a dog in a cave. The family’s main staple is sheep. Dad thinks the dog may have been raised by wolves that decimate his herd regularly. He fears the dog may lead more of them to the herd.

More documentary than plot, Cave of the Yellow Dog is a brief snapshot of the lives of a real Mongolian couple and their kids. It is a fascinating couple of hours.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It plays tonight only at 8 p.m. at the Battelle Auditorium in Richland.

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