Rio 2 Movie Review

Rio 2
(20th Century Fox)
A rather misleading title is just one reason to be slightly suspicious of “Rio 2” an eye-popping, ear-tickling animated sequel that labors to fold a cheeky family sitcom, an earnest environmental primer, an exotic jungle tour, a broad survey of popular music and an avian remake of “Meet the Parents” into one bright and noisy package. Mining an unwieldy number of domestic and ecological dramas from the continuing saga of a rare Brazilian blue macaw, here venturing with his new family into the perilous Amazon rainforest, this hyperactive toon extravaganza has color, flair and energy to burn. But it’s the sort of relentless juggling act that finally proves more exhausting than exhilarating as it lectures you about respecting Mother Nature one minute, knocks you over with a Gloria Gaynor cover the next, and squeezes in a lot of questionable comic relief in between.
— Justin Chang
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Draft Day
(Summit Entertainment)
After spending much of his career being likened to “High Noon” star Gary Cooper, Kevin Costner gets a countdown-clock movie to call his very own in “Draft Day.” Although directorIvan Reitman’s sports dramedy trades the streets of the Wild West for the equally rambunctious turf of pro football, and a duel in the center of town for one in the strategy room of the Cleveland Browns, the underlying situation is the same: A weary but fundamentally decent man must decide whether to stand his ideological ground or fall into line with the cowardly herd. It’s a role that fits the aging Costner to a tee in what’s easily the savviest sports movie since “Moneyball” — though you’d scarcely guess it from Summit’s AARP-friendly marketing campaign and decision to hide the film from critics until the 11th hour. Opening in the mighty wake of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and opposite family tentpole “Rio 2,” the pic should manage to pass the wan $30 million domestic gross of Costner’s recent “3 Days to Kill,” but looks to score most of its points in the home-viewing arena.
— Scott Foundas
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Only Lovers Left Alive
(Sony Pictures Classics)
Did somebody make it a rule that every director has to do a vampire movie at some point? If so,Jim Jarmusch got the memo, and he tweaks the genre slightly in “Only Lovers Left Alive” to fit his own laid-back vibe, turning in a sweet but slight love story about world-weary hipster bloodsuckers. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston have empathic chemistry as the leads, and the pic (acquired by Sony Classics at Cannes) is a smidge more commercial than Jarmusch’s meandering previous effort, “The Limits of Control.” But it still feels like an in-joke intended only for select acolytes, who will probably love it with an undying passion.
— Leslie Felperin
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Joe
(Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions)
It’s a dog-eat-dog world, as two ferociously snapping canines make literally clear in one of many darkly humorous asides in “Joe,” David Gordon Green’s bleak and brutal examination of Southern small-town masculinity and its discontents. Having shown signs of returning to his indie roots with this year’s well-received “Prince Avalanche,” the director extends his flight from the commercial mainstream with a patiently observed, often unsettlingly violent drama that can’t help but feel overly familiar in some of its particulars, rich in rural texture but low on narrative momentum or surprise. Nicolas Cage’s excellent, tightly wound performance represents the film’s most lucrative angle, but it won’t be enough to lure average Joes to the arthouse.
— Justin Chang
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Cuban Fury
(Entertainment One)
Nick Frost
, the tubby sidekick to frequent onscreen partner Simon Pegg, sashays solo into the spotlight in the salsa-inflected British romantic comedy “Cuban Fury.” Big Talk, the production company behind all those Pegg-Frost pairings, hopes to advance its winning formula with an amiable tale of courage and redemption, featuring a lonely office drone daring to dream that his beautiful new boss (Rashida Jones) might rumba right into his arms. The local appeal of a cast that also includes Chris O’Dowd and Olivia Colman should see U.K. fans grooving to the pic’s tune, but overseas audiences may need some prodding onto the dance floor.
— Charles Gant
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Hateship Loveship
(IFC Films)
A considerably more satisfying seriocomic vehicle for Kristen Wiig than the recent “Girl Most Likely,” “Hateship Loveship” marks fine, steady progress for director Liza Johnson following her spare 2011 debut, “Return.” Adapted from Alice Munro’s short story about a shy, unsophisticated housekeeper who falls victim to a cruel prank with ultimately surprising consequences, this delicate and absorbing character study gets some unique performance mileage out of Wiig, infusing a potentially morose role with subtle oddball touches that keep things amusingly off-balance. The gently moving result is probably too restrained to stand out amid similarly classy and character-driven indie fare, but could carve out a small, appreciative audience in specialty release.
— Justin Chang
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The Railway Man
(The Weinstein Co.)
Offering closure to a less-told chapter of World War II history, “The Railway Man” retraces the tracks of an exceptional man’s life, as former British soldier Eric Lomax confronts the Japanese officer who tortured him as a prisoner of war nearly four decades earlier. This overly stodgy true story brought audiences first to tears and later to their feet for a rousing standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival with its placid, postcard-worthy view of how men of a certain generation cope with deep emotional scars, tenderly acted by Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, as Lomax and the woman who inspired his healing. Too delicate to entice the masses, “The Railway Man” will likely give a smaller distrib a dark horse in the awards race.
— Peter Debruge
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Oculus
(Relativity Media)
Five years before “Absentia,” a haunting and character-rich horror tale, Mike Flanagan directed 2006′s “Oculus: The Man With the Plan,” a half-hour fright film that won raves from genre fans on the fest circuit. His new feature expands it into an impressively intricate supernatural thriller in which an orphaned brother and sister return to destroy the antique mirror they think killed their parents years earlier. Cleverly complex, if not quite as scary or memorable as one might have hoped, “Oculus” should expand on the underseen “Absentia’s” buzz (though probably still mostly through home formats) and boost Flanagan another step up the industry ladder.
— Dennis Harvey
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A Fragile Trust
(Quad Cinema, New York)
“A Fragile Trust,” Samantha Grant’s well-balanced documentary about Jayson Blair, the New York Times reporter whose plagiarism and fabrications undermined the profession of printjournalism at its most vulnerable point, roughly alternates between Blair’s defenders/critics and the man himself in examining how such unethical conduct arose and went so long undetected. While Blair himself rarely ventures beyond attempts at self-justification, Times staffers focus on problems of oversight and internal management, and the who/what/why/where/when reportage mostly shoves larger issues of truth-telling in the electronic age into the background. Today, 10 years after the fact, auxiliary and tube play seem the best fits for this meticulous postmortem.
— Ronnie Scheib
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Bad Country
(Sony)
A hardened cop and a desperate crook form an unlikely alliance that helps bring down an organized crime syndicate in “Bad Country,” a blandly executed action-thriller whose cast names (Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe) and mild ’80s Louisiana flavor offer only modest compensations for the story’s workmanlike construction and routine twists. Opening for a brief theatrical run on April 11, this first and final directorial effort by “The Boondock Saints” producer Chris Brinker — who died of an aortic aneurysm last year, while the film (then titled “Whiskey Bay”) was still in post-production — feels like home-viewing fodder through and through, and should rack up a few downloads on the basis of its top-billed duo.
— Justin Chang
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Perfect Sisters
(Gravitas Pictures)
Ineffectual and cartoonish, “Perfect Sisters” dramatizes a case that shocked Canada a decade ago, when two teenage girls killed their alcoholic mother in order to be free of the chaos wrought by her perpetual irresponsibility — a well-planned crime that several of their classmates knew about before it happened. TV producer Stan Brooks’ first directorial feature provides scant psychological depth, drawing its characters and staging their incidents in crude fashion, despite superficial production gloss. A limited U.S. theatrical launch April 11 is unlikely to significantly heighten visibility for a pic already available on demand and destined primarily for smallscreen sales.
— Dennis Harvey
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Hank and Asha
(FilmRise)
If “Hank and Asha” were any more purposefully winsome, it would curl up on your lap and indicate a desire to be petted. Even at a briskly paced 73 minutes, James E. Duff’s romantic indie feels slightly padded as it unfolds a thin scenario about two twentysomethings who initiate and sustain a long-distance relationship through video letters. Fortunately, the lead players are attractive and appealing enough to make them good company for the short haul. After fest dates, the pic will play best, if not exclusively, in home-screen venues.
— Joe Leydon
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