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‘Bears’ Review

Bears review
Disneynature

"Nature, red in tooth and claw." - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"It's like a freakin' Country Bear Jambaroo around here!" - Homer J. Simpson

Disneynature, the French production arm that's probably something of a tax write-off for the gigundo Walt Disney Corporation, is back with another top-shelf family-friendly naturalist film. 'Bears' is their fifth Earth Day-timed title released to theaters (two others went straight to DVD) and it yet again affords us 80 minutes of sitting in a theater muttering "how the hell did they get that shot?"

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‘Transcendence’ Review

Transcendence Trailer
Warner Bros.

When I was a young man and the Internet was new, I made the same joke every time I dialed-up and heard those dissonant, scratchy tones. “Chhhhhhh-CHHHHHH-Chhhhhh” my modem would bray, and as soon as there was silence I'd turn to whomever was in the room and conspiratorially say, "all right, we're in."

'Transcendence,' the first feature film directed by Christopher Nolan's longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister, is two straight hours of that “all right, we're in,” with (slightly) updated peripherals. Featuring more technobabble than a middling episode of 'Star Trek: Voyager,' Rebecca Hall and Johnny Depp star as husband and wife computer geniuses who, along with artificial intelligence labs across the country, are attacked by a band of “neo-Luddite” terrorists.

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‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

Captain America 2 review
Marvel

Whereas Tom Hanks' Captain Phillips talked, finessed, sweated and went into shock to rescue his crew, Chris Evans' Captain America jumps onto a hijacked boat from a helicopter without a parachute. His liberation of a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel captured by international terrorists involves flinging himself across the deck; a human pinball with terrorists as his easily neutralized bumpers. Make that a super-human pinball, because as much as Steve Rogers maintains his golly shucks good nature, he is, after all, a Marvel superhero and he's here to save the day in the most preposterous and camera-ready fashion that's possible. Welcome to 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'.

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‘Noah’ Review

Noah Review
Paramount Pictures

The story of Noah as it is written in the King James Bible is about three pages. If you want to Google it, read it, then come back to this you can go ahead. I'll wait here as I continue to stream some of Clint Mansell's spooky and enthralling score to the new Darren Aronofsky film starring Russell Crowe.

Back? Yeah, so, not a whole heck of a lot there. But did you catch the tiny references to things you may not recall from Sunday School? The “giants in the Earth” and the “flaming sword”? These are the pools from which Aronofsky irrigates his 'Noah.' This is, to adopt a phrase, the “old, weird Bible,” and its visual language more resembles 'Lord of the Rings' than any typical sandal epic.

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‘Ernest and Celestine’ Review

Ernest and Celestine Review
Gkids

There are two chief takeaways from 'Ernest & Celestine.' The first is that in France and Belgium they don't have a Tooth Fairy, they have La Petite Souris, which is, basically, “The Tooth Mouse.” I also learned that when the story is funny, the characters are well-rounded and the world is imaginative, a modestly budgeted hand-drawn animated film can still have just as much effect as a big, blown-out computer generated affair.

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‘Need For Speed’ Review

Need For Speed review
DreamWorks Pictures

There are 35,000 deaths due to motor vehicle accidents in the United States each year. Every ten seconds someone is given emergency treatment because of a car crash. According to a report by the CDC the financial impact is close to $100 billion on injury care and lost productivity.

I know 'Need For Speed' is just a movie, and movies are entertainment, but it is shocking beyond all reason how much this movie thinks automotive safety is a big joke. I understand loving an outlaw, but when 'Bonnie & Clyde' robbed banks they were “punching up.” When Aaron Paul and his merry band of mayhem mechanics destroy public works and send innocent bystanders careening off of highways, they are “punching down.” 'Need For Speed,' its producers, writers, director and maybe even its stars should all hang their heads in shame.

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‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ Review

Mr. Peabody & Sherman Review
DreamWorks Animation

“I forbid you from fighting in the Trojan War!”

It's something any father would say to his son, provided that the pair regularly traveled through time. In the case of 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman,' Sherman, the adopted tyke just old enough to start attending school and form his own personality, suits up for battle after he has “ran away” from his father – a Nobel Prize-winning polymath and dog.

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’300: Rise of an Empire’ Review

300 Rise of an Empire review
Warner Bros.

Before anything else: the sex.

There is a sex scene in '300: Rise of an Empire' that is an all-timer. Put it right up there on the shelf next to 'Don't Look Now,' 'A History of Violence,' 'Blue is the Warmest Color,' '9 ½ Weeks' and any of the others that make those best-of lists. Actually, put next to that insanity in the pool from 'Showgirls' (you know, with the dolphin statue?), because there's a level of playful absurdity that changes it from a representation of love (or, more accurately, lust) to something of a Broadway choreographer's interpretation of a fight. Like a 'West Side Story' rumble, but with Eva Green moaning and bent over a table with maps and war figurines. A rise of an empire, indeed.

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‘Non Stop’ Review

Non Stop review
Universal Pictures

The opening shot of 'Non-Stop' has Liam Neeson pouring whiskey in a coffee cup and stirring it with a toothbrush. He then reaches out to a photo of a young girl to stroke it with his fingertips. After this the phone rings and the caller ID reads 555. In other words, three of the biggest movie cliches, all in about sixty seconds.

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