‘Purge’ kills hope of decent sequel

Photo by JUSTIN LUBIN -- From left, Leo (Frank Grillo), Cali (Zoe Soul), Eva (Carmen Ejogo), Liz (Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford) endure a night of terror in 'The Purge: Anarchy.'

Released last summer and set in the year 2022, “The Purge” imagined a United States in which all hell breaks loose once a year for a 12-hour period. Purging, officially sanctioned by an elected government that calls itself the New Founders of America, has come to be accepted by many as a right. Critics largely panned … Continue reading →

‘Separate But Unequal’ on St. George re-airs today

Photo provided by Frontline -- 'Separate and Unequal,' an installment of PBS' 'Frontline,'  examined the efforts to create the city of St. George, and in the process a separate school system for Baton Rouge.

The PBS “Frontline” documentary “Separate But Unequal” and Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s follow-up program “Breaking Away” will re-air at 9 p.m. Friday on LPB2 (cable Channel 122). The programs are also available online at video.lpb.org. The “Frontline” documentary looks at the efforts to create the new city of St. George from the unincorporated areas … Continue reading →

’Planet of the Apes’ thumps chest with $73M debut

This photo released by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation shows Andy Serkis as Caesar in a scene from the film,

NEW YORK — The monkey business is a good business to be in at the box office. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” roared to $73 million on its opening weekend, one of the summer’s best debuts, according to studio estimates Sunday. The 20th Century Fox sequel easily surpassed the $54.8 million opening to 2011’s … Continue reading →

In ‘Begin Again,’ musical second chances ring true

The Weinstein Company photo by ANDREW SCHWARTZ -- Kiera Knightley is a singer-songwrtier in New York in 'Begin Again.'

Writer and director John Carney is a master at depicting musicians on the cusp of something special. “Once,” his 2007 music-centered indie film, became a Tony Award-winning musical. He’s done it again with “Begin Again,” a charming story about second chances. Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo star as the story’s likeable leads. A trio of … Continue reading →

Goodwood couple hosts annual Coen Brothers Film Festival

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK - Just like at the theater, Chris Frink and Emily Taylor serve up popcorn for those attending their Coen Brothers Film Festival.

No one will mistake the annual Coen Brothers Film Festivals for better-known events like Cannes and Sundance. This event is limited to movies written or directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and the venue lacks views of the French Riviera or Wasatch Mountains. But, for some local fans of the Coens’ handiwork, the living room of Chris … Continue reading →

‘Earth to Echo’ channels 1982 classic ‘E.T.’

Photo by PATRICK WYMORE -- From left, Brian Bradley, Ella Linnea Wahlstedt, Reese Hartwig and Teo Halm star in the sci-fi kids' adventure 'Earth to Echo.'

If the children of today haven’t seen “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” they won’t notice how much “Earth to Echo” echoes the Steven Spielberg classic from 1982. “E.T.” features Henry Thomas’ lonely boy character, Elliott. “Earth to Echo” features three boys, Tuck, Alex and Munch. Exiled from larger peer groups, the guys form a trio of friends, bonded by … Continue reading →

Review: ‘Transformers’ — way, WAY more of the same

Associated Press photo provided byParamount Pictures/ILM -- Optimus Prime appears in a scene from the film, 'Transformers: Age of Extinction.'

Crash. Shatter. Boom. Crash. Shatter. Boom. Smattering of silly dialogue. Pretty girl screams: “Dad!” Crash. Shatter. Boom. Silly dialogue. “DAD!!!” Crash. Shatter. Boom. What? Oh, sorry. We were falling into a trance there. Which is, dear moviegoer, what may happen to you during Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the fourth Transformers film and, at 165 … Continue reading →

Review: Eastwood’s ‘Jersey Boys’ catchy but uneven

Associated Press photo provided by Warner Bros./Keith Bernstein -- John Lloyd Young, left, stars as Frankie Valli and Renee Marino as Mary in Warner Bros. Pictures' musical 'Jersey Boys.'

You don’t have to be middle-aged, or even an adult, to know songs like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Walk Like a Man.” Sure, they’re ‘60s-era hits by The Four Seasons, but they’ve become such pop culture fixtures that even youngsters who’ve never heard the name Frankie Valli could surely croon a few bars in his signature … Continue reading →

Review: ‘Rover’ an intense look into near future

A24 Films photo by MATT NETTHEIM -- Guy Pearce, left, and Robert Pattinson are featured in a scene from 'The Rover.'

LOS ANGELES — Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star in this Australian dystopian crime drama from director David Michod. Fusing a number of quasi-apocalyptic influences into a hybrid work with a pungent character of its own, “The Rover” suggests something like a Cormac McCarthy vision of Australia halfway between today and “The Road Warrior” era. David … Continue reading →

Review: Hill, Tatum make a funny return to New Orleans for ‘Jump Street’ sequel

Sony Pictures photo by GLEN WILSON -- Jonah Hill, left, and Channing Tatum star in the New Orleans-filmed '22 Jump Street.'

“22 Jump Street” fits the definition of “summer movie comedy.” It’s wild, fast and fun, a blend of comedy, action, chaos and requisite raunchiness. There’s some romance, too, but more bromance, in this New Orleans-filmed romp. A sequel to the 2012 hit, “21 Jump Street,” “22 Jump Street” reteams Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as Schmidt … Continue reading →

‘Fault in our Stars’ delivers touching story of young love

Photo by JAMES BRIDGES -- Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on an unforgettable journey in 'The Fault in Our Stars.'

“The Fault in Our Stars,” John Green’s No. 1 bestselling novel about a pair of cancer-afflicted but thoroughly alive teens, reaches the movie screen just 2½ years after its publication. An inspired-by-reality story about young cancer patients who fall in love, the book has been adapted into an affecting, beautifully staged film. A theme quickly emerges: … Continue reading →

Angelina Jolie anchors ‘Maleficent’

Disney Enterprises, Inc. photo by GREG WILLIAMS -- Angelina Jolie plays the title role in 'Maleficent,' the story of the villian from the 1959 classic 'Sleeping Beauty.'

“Maleficent,” a revised take on “Sleeping Beauty,” follows a ’90s and thereafter Hollywood habit of recasting a familiar story from a new perspective. Be they based on fairytales or history, these projects make a point of illustrating that the standard versions of events aren’t necessarily the real story. Last year this subgenre produced the awful “Hansel … Continue reading →

‘Million Ways to Die’ slays with laughter

Photo by LOREY SEBASTIAN -- Amanda Seyfried, from left, Neil Patrick Harris, Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron share screen time in the Western comedy 'A Million Ways to Die in the West.'

Seth MacFarlane’s raunchy, irreverent “A Million Ways to Die in the West” proves there are a million ways to laugh in the West. MacFarlane, the creator of TV’s “Family Guy” and director and co-writer of “Ted,” and his gung-ho “Million Ways to Die” cast collectively kick the mythologizing conventions of classic Hollywood westerns in … Continue reading →

Favreau’s charming ‘Chef’ stirs appetite

Open Road Films photo by Merrick Morton -- Jon Favreau directs and stars in the new indie film, 'Chef..'

From the mouth-watering carne asada to the molten chocolate cake, Jon Favreau’s “Chef” is a delectable take on an out-of-work cook who experiences career rejuvenation when traveling cross-country serving Cuban entrees on a food truck. Marking Favreau’s return to indie filmmaking — he emerged in 1996 with heartbreak cult-classic “Swingers” — “Chef” is a refreshing passion project … Continue reading →

‘Belle’ falls flat, despite fascinating inspiration

Fox Searchlight Pictures photo by DAVID APPLEBY -- Gugu Mbatha-Raw, left, and Sarah Gadon are shown in a scene from 'Belle.'

Set in 18th-century England, “Belle” tells a little known story of a fascinating figure who may have influenced Britain’s highest judge in his decisions regarding slavery. Dido Elizabeth Belle was the illegitimate mixed-raced daughter of a Royal Navy officer. Details of her life exist, but they amount to little more than sketches. “Belle,” a British … Continue reading →

Jolie talks Maleficent, mastectomy, kidnap victims

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 6, 2014 file photo, actress Angelina Jolie poses during a photocall for the film

LOS ANGELES — Angelina Jolie may be Hollywood royalty. But she’s no princess, and has never been a fan of the Disney variety. “I found them quite dull,” the actress says. Evil Maleficent, whom Jolie portrays in Disney’s new live-action spin on its animated classic “Sleeping Beauty,” conversely “seemed to be having a great time,” Jolie … Continue reading →

‘Window in the Waves’ profiles reefs off La. coast

“Window in the Waves,” the story of the Flower Garden Banks, will re-air at 8 p.m. Wednesday on WLPB, channel 27 (cable Channel 12). The half-hour documentary by Director of Photography Todd Richard, of Synergy Productions, in association with LPB, profiles the Flower Gardens, a group of coral reefs 110 miles off the Louisiana/Texas coast. … Continue reading →

Review: Chilling ‘Godzilla’ reboot upholds legacy

Photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures -- A scene unfolds in 'Godzilla,' a revamp of the Japanese classic.

No one can blame Gareth Edwards for admittedly feeling nervous when asked to helm a remake of the biggest monster movie of all time. Sure, the only other film he had directed happened to be 2010’s “Monsters.” But this time, it was Godzilla. Well, the latest iteration of the 60-year-old franchise is in capable hands. Edwards’ “Godzilla” … Continue reading →

‘Million Dollar Arm’ winds up more than sports film

Photo by RON PHILLIPS -- Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), from left,  Rinku (Suraj Sharma), J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) and Amit (Pitobash) share a scene in 'Million Dollar Arm.'

On its surface, “Million Dollar Arm” is a sports movie. A charming, surprising film, it succeeds because it’s more than a sports movie. Before the based-in-fact “Million Dollar Arm” goes long with a familiar, forced path of lessons learned and changes of heart, it’s an amusing account of culture clashes. The clashes are sparked by the … Continue reading →

BR native wins ‘Creature Shop Challenge’

Syfy photo by DALE BERMAN -- A monster maker since he was a kid, Robert Bennett shapes foam for a prehistoric underwater creature in Syfy's 'Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge.'

Baton Rouge native Robert Bennett is the newest employee at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Bennett won the Syfy reality competition series “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge” Tuesday night, besting two other finalists and capturing a prize worth up to $100,000 and a contract working at the Creature Shop in Burbank, Calif., where characters for the TV series … Continue reading →

Review: Favreau’s charming ‘Chef’ stirs appetite

Open Road Films photo by Merrick Morton -- Jon Favreau directs and stars in the new indie film, 'Chef..'

From the mouth-watering carne asada to the molten chocolate cake, Jon Favreau’s “Chef” is a delectable take on an out-of-work cook who experiences career rejuvenation when traveling cross-country serving Cuban entrees on a food truck. Marking Favreau’s return to indie filmmaking — he emerged in 1996 with heartbreak cult-classic “Swingers” — “Chef” is a refreshing passion project … Continue reading →

LPB presents program on alligators comeback

Photo by LEE BARBIER --'Alligator: King of the Bayou' airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday on WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12).

Louisiana has millions of alligators now, but at one time this “king of the bayou” neared extinction. How North America’s largest reptile got from point A to point B is the subject of the sixth and final episode of Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s “Alive! In America’s Delta” series. The program looks at how pioneering scientific research and innovative … Continue reading →

‘Dom’ falls short of redemption tale goal

Fox Searchlight Pictures photo by NICK WALL -- Jude Law, left, and Richard E. Grant star in 'Dom Hemingway.'

British writer-director Guy Ritchie made a nice career for himself, beginning with a pair of gangster movies, 1999’s “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” and 2001’s Brad Pitt-featuring “Snatch.” Ritchie more recently directed a pair of big-budget Hollywood films, “Sherlock Holmes” and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” but he’ll likely always be identified with gritty … Continue reading →

Review: ‘Transcendence’ like a clunky TED talk

Warner Bros. Pictures photo by PETER MOUNTAIN -- Morgan Freeman, from left, Cillian Murphy and Rebecca Hall are featured in a scene from 'Transcendence.'

HAL has come a long way. First, we had Scarlett Johansson as a human-like operating system. Now, Johnny Depp has been uploaded. If the singularity — when artificial intelligence surpasses human smarts — is indeed coming, at least it has decent taste in movie star avatars. First-time director Wally Pfister’s “Transcendence” isn’t so much the “Him” … Continue reading →

MTV Movie Awards one big Hollywood studio plug-fest

Johnny Depp, right, presents Sam Claflin, left, and Josh Hutcherson with the award for movie of the year for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday, April 13, 2014, at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Last year, the MTV Movie Awards moved up its broadcast date from June to April to incorporate a summer movie plug-fest. Sunday night’s show cemented that change as clips from anticipated blockbusters debuted at the madcap ceremony. Now in its 22nd year, the MTV Movie Awards show has become an important event for … Continue reading →

‘Rio 2’ dazzling but overloaded

Photo provided by 20th Century Fox --Gabi, voiced by Kristin Chenoweth, is featured in a scene from the animated film 'Rio 2.'

A vivid and delightful animated spectacle, “Rio 2” is chock-full of colorful 3-D wonder and jubilant musical numbers set against a tale of family dynamics and environmental dilemmas. The sequel opens with a vibrant New Year’s Eve bash, as partying in the music-filled streets of Rio de Janeiro is punctuated by fireworks bursting above the Christ … Continue reading →

Documentary on Indians to premiere at WWII Museum

Photo by STEVE MANN -- The Wild Mohicans

When Wendell Pierce was a child growing up in Pontchartrain Park, Mardi Gras meant trips to Claiborne Avenue and Canal Street. “Part of that morning’s ritual was to seek out the Indians,” said the actor, now famed for roles in the HBO series “Treme” and “The Wire.” “To be able to see a group of Indians, it … Continue reading →

‘The Raid 2’ battles its way to hit movie status

Photo provided by Sony Pictures Classics -- Iko Uwais stars as Rama, an undercover police officer in 'The Raid 2.'

A furiously active yet meticulously choreographed martial arts marathon, the nearly two-and-a-half-hour-long “The Raid 2” sets the bar high for any martial arts movie that will follow it. Written and directed by Welshman Gareth Evans, “The Raid 2” follows his internationally acclaimed 2011 film, “The Raid: Redemption.” In his new project, Evans again revitalizes the martial arts … Continue reading →

Review: ‘Captain America’ zippy but hollow

Photo provided by Marvel-Disney -- Chris Evans, left, and Scarlett Johansson star in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier,' which led the box office again last weekend, earning $25.6 million.

NEW YORK — For the latest Marvel release, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” most fan boys might prefer a Consumer Reports-style product review. New character introductions: Smooth. Action sequences: Excellent if sometimes lacking finesse. Viewer satisfaction: Likely high. Box-office prospects: Bankable. Teasers for future Marvel installments: Yes, two. With slick design and plushy interiors, “The Winter … Continue reading →