Oblivion: The action-packed movie of the future

NEW YORK (CNS) — Large-scale landscapes and shiny gadgets make for arresting visuals in the science fiction epic “Oblivion” (Universal). But director Joseph Kosinski’s emotionally shallow adaptation of his own graphic novel is further undermined by logical lapses and some dubious philosophizing. While mature moviegoers may shrug off the amateur metaphysics of Karl Gajdusek’s script […]

’42’ brings Jackie Robinson’s heroic struggle to life

NEW YORK (CNS) — To paraphrase the title of an earlier movie about the national pastime, hate strikes out in the historical drama “42” (Warner Bros.). Writer-director Brian Helgeland’s uplifting — if sometimes heavy-handed — film recounts the 1947 reintegration of professional baseball after decades of segregated play. As Helgeland’s script shows us, this racial […]

Jurassic Park in 3-D will leave goosebumps on your goosebumps

Moviegoers are in for some extreme excitement if they venture within the terrifying boundaries of “Jurassic Park” (Universal), now rereleased with 3-D effects. Steven Spielberg directs the mother of all monster movies from Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel, detailing what happens after genetically re-created dinosaurs break loose in a theme park and see two young children […]

‘Olympus Has Fallen:’ An epic, gory glimpse of Washington’s fall

Every so often, Hollywood seems to feel the need to blow a familiar landmark to smithereens. In the frequently bloody action flick "Olympus Has Fallen" (FilmDistrict), it's the White House's turn. Invading this civic holy of holies is a band of North Korean no-goodniks led by an internationally wanted terrorist named Kang (Rick Yune). Ruthless, fanatical and perfectly trained, Kang's followers require only 13 minutes to take control of the world's most recognizable residence -- whose security code name, it seems, is that of the mountain dwelling of the ancient Greek gods.

‘The Croods’ aren’t so crude; fun for the whole family

"The Flintstones" on steroids may best describe "The Croods" (Fox). Echoing the premise of the popular 1960s TV series, this 3-D animated comedy follows the rollicking adventures of another "modern Stone Age family." Written and directed by Chris Sanders ("How to Train Your Dragon") and Kirk DeMicco ("Space Chimps"), "The Croods" is a refreshing change of pace for Hollywood family fare. Its punning title notwithstanding, the film's humor is not at all crude -- there's not a potty joke within sight (or smell).

While not great, ‘Oz’ revisits Baum’s timeless tale, and those scary flying apes

NEW YORK (CNS) — Lush visuals and sly humor boost “Oz the Great and Powerful” (Disney), director Sam Raimi’s 3-D prequel to the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.” Like its imperishable predecessor, Raimi’s fantasy adventure is based on the writings of L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). This second stroll down the Yellow Brick Road, however, […]

Jack’s giant film adventure: A fun yet scary climb up the beanstalk

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Faith-tinged and fun, "Jack the Giant Slayer" (Warner Bros.) is director Bryan Singer's 3-D retelling of the classic fairy tale, into which screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney blend elements of the related story "Jack and the Beanstalk." The resulting hybrid, which also combines live action and animation, offers teens and their elders a mostly harmless adventure.

Holy switcheroo! Batman has grown bitter, more vengeful with the years

NEW YORK (CNS) — Dateline Gotham City: The world, it seems, is in the clutches of Batmania — and has been for some time. Yet, not all that long ago, Bob Kane’s celebrated superhero appeared to be limping. In 1997, a run of disastrous movies featuring the Caped Crusader culminated in nothing short of a […]

Special effects help retell stories of ‘The Bible’ in new miniseries

NEW YORK (CNS) — Considered strictly as a work of literature, few volumes can rival the Bible for high-stakes drama, intriguing characters, tumultuous action and sheer spectacle. So it’s no surprise that Hollywood turned to the Good Book early on — director Sidney Olcott’s short film “David and Goliath,” for example, was released in 1908 — or […]

“The Good Pope: The Making of a Saint and the Remaking of the Church — The Story of John XXIII and Vatican II” by Greg Tobin.

"The Good Pope" is both a well-written and thoughtful biography of Pope John XXIII, and a helpful study of the events, personalities and issues of the Second Vatican Council. This timely book coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the council (1962-65) and serves as an accessible work of church history. Tobin clearly admires Angelo Roncalli, the son of a large, impoverished Italian farming family who grew up "surrounded by God and church" and, from his childhood, had a clear sense of vocation. "I can't remember a time," he later wrote, "when I did not want to serve God as a priest."