A few not-so-shocking giveaways about this week’s new movie releases, including Justice League and Frank Serpico
Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., Nov. 17
Have to run to a screening, so I'll keep this short and sweet, and just point you toward Mr. Elliott's latest assessments. Men in Black III? "Again the aim is pure diversion, and again the packaging is stylish...The love of New York is palpable. Weird critters are enjoyable. Banter is genially snarky. Jemaine Clement is Boris, a suitably disgusting chief villain."
Battleship? Sigh. "Supremely, we have vast effects and mighty explosions, because this film is based on a Hasbro game. The toy-and-game empire has nimbly and digitally recruited the U.S. Navy (including several San Diego–based ships). Given all the firepower, director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) does not need to fine-tune dialogue such as 'I got a bad feeling about this' and 'We’re all gonna die!'”
Vampires go all arty and highbrow boarding-school in The Moth Diaries. "[Director Mary] Harron and photographic-ace Declan Quinn create a lush, moody, whispery ambience of secrets, moonstruck walks, erotic rivalry, repressive authority, nocturnal blood, and a sexy teacher (Scott Speedman)...The finish provides standard payoffs (blood gushing in a library, curdling screams, a burning coffin), as if hoping to satisfy dull clunks. But this does not, like the idiotic ending of Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate, collapse into total hokum." Oooh, them's fighting words! Didn't Duncan three-star that one?
Finally, Bernie, Jack Black's return to acting? "Bernie belongs to Black. Smiling above his big, possibly padded gut, he walks in tidy duck steps, sings hymns and show tunes, and talks sweetly to his 'DLOLs' (dear little old ladies). Accepted in Carthage because he made genial conformity an almost angelic calling, Bernie is like a joint project of Frank Capra, the Coen Brothers, and Christopher Guest. This amusing, patronizing oddity of a film has a good eye and ear and exactly the right star."