clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Capsule reviews of 3-D 'Titanic,' other new films

"American Reunion" — You probably haven't been lying awake in bed at night wondering whatever became of Stifler and Oz and the rest of the horny kids from the original "American Pie" movie. Yet here they are, after 13 years and a couple of sequels, and they're more bland than bawdy these days. That's part of the joke: that they (and we) aren't in high school anymore, that we all have to grow up and function as adults with responsibilities and whatnot. But that doesn't make for a very fun or funny movie; instead, "American Reunion" relies on cliches about nostalgia and melodrama about the rekindling of first loves. Jim and Michelle (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan) are now married with a 2-year-old son and zero sex life. But they return to their Michigan hometown for a 10-year high school reunion that's being staged three years late because supposedly no one could get their act together. It's a plot contrivance, leave it at that. There they run into the old gang, including Chris Klein as Oz, who's now a slick sports anchor; Eddie Kaye Thomas as the sophisticated Finch; and Seann William Scott as Stifler, who's still ... Stifler. "Harold & Kumar" creators Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg take over as writers and directors, but the sense of unpredictability that infused that franchise never surfaces here. Plus, this kind of raunchy, hard-R comedy has been done — and done better — countless times since "American Pie" debuted and seemed fresh in 1999. R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking. 105 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

"Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope" — People who love Comic-Con spend about an hour and a half telling you how much they love Comic-Con. That's pretty much the extent of Morgan Spurlock's documentary about the annual convention in San Diego that has turned into sort of an extravaganza for geeks. If you have to ask what the title is a reference to, this movie is probably not for you; then again, even if you do get it, you won't appreciate the film fully unless you're already a member of the choir to which it's preaching. What began in 1970 as an opportunity for a couple hundred serious comic book aficionados to meet and discuss their favorite characters and stories has exploded in recent years to a platform for blockbuster sci-fi movies, TV series and video games that draws about 150,000. You won't get much insight into the inner workings of this specific personality type, this fervent fanaticism — people who spend untold hours crafting their own Stormtrooper outfits or learning to speak fluent Klingon — but you will get countless testimonials as to why this annual gathering makes these sometimes socially awkward folks finally feel comfortable. Kevin Smith, Stan Lee and Seth Rogen are among the famous faces. PG-13 for some sex and drug references, language and brief horror images. 88 minutes. Two stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

"The Hunter" — You'd swear that a so-titled film starring Willem Dafoe would be some dark, mud-caked descent into the primal nature of man. But in the taut Aussie thriller, directed by Daniel Nettheim and adapted from the novel by Julia Leigh, danger and mystery don't lie in the wild forests of Tasmania, where Dafoe is pursuing the last Tasmanian Tiger. It's the encroaching, corrupting modern world lurking on the fringes that's the real threat. Dafoe plays a mercenary named Martin who's dispatched to the Australian isle by a biotech company. A local (Sam Neill) sets him up at a remote farmhouse where the father has recently gone missing; the mother, Lucy Armstrong (the striking Frances O'Connor), is bedridden by grief and drugs; and the two young children (Morgana Davies, Finn Woodlock) are curious about the newcomer. Martin quickly finds that his normal habits of stealthy anonymity and meticulous organization go wanting, as he's unwittingly swept into a battle between loggers and "greenies" — environmental activists seeking to keep the Tasmanian woods protected. Dafoe isn't particularly tested, but he easily dominates the film. Like the lithe tiger he hunts, he's a lone wolf headed for extinction. While it's a well-made thriller with a pleasant, messy ruggedness, the film — perhaps too dependent on Dafoe for depth — never quite catches its prey. Its leanness, both praiseworthy and preventing real satisfaction, cuts both ways. R for language and brief violence. 101 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

"Titanic" in 3-D — If any film should be redone in 3-D, it's "Titanic." And if any filmmaker should be the one doing the redoing, it's James Cameron. He's been a pioneer in advancing this cinematic technology for years now, from his underwater documentaries to the record-breaking juggernaut that is "Avatar." And so ironically, for a film that hasn't got an ounce of understatement in its three-hour-plus running time, "Titanic" in 3-D is really rather subtle and finely tuned. There's nothing gimmicky about the conversion process; it's immersive, it actually enhances the viewing experience the way a third dimension ideally should. It's also gorgeous: crisp and tactile, warm and inviting — until all hell breaks loose, that is. So often when 2-D films are transformed into 3-D, they're done so hastily with results that are murky and inaccessible. Cameron and his team clearly took their time. So while the romantic first half of the film remains more emotionally compelling, the disastrous second half has become even more visually dazzling. Cameron has stayed true to the content of his 1997 film, the winner of 11 Oscars including best picture — and that includes his clunky script filled with hokey dialogue and broad characters. What also remains intact is the earnestness of "Titanic," the absence of snark or irony, and the sensation that you're watching a big, ambitious, good-old-fashioned spectacle that can withstand the test of time. Plus, it's just fun to see the buxom, feisty Kate Winslet and boyish, charming Leonardo DiCaprio in the roles that made them superstars once more on the big screen. PG-13 for disaster-related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language. 195 minutes. Three stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic