Awash in blood and tears, a woman howls in unspeakable anguish as she gives birth in the harrowing opening moments of “Carrie.” She is ashen and alone, her face gnarled with fear. Believing the child to be the devil’s spawn, she grabs a pair of scissors to stab the infant to death. Only the baby’s soft mewling, the pureness of its gaze, spares it from the knife.
It wasn’t that long ago and we remember how it turned out. So there’s no way that “Captain Phillips,” the movie about the 2009 pirate attack on the M.V. Maersk Alabama, should be as surprising and entertaining a sea tale as it is.
“Riddick,” a movie that might have been titled “A Diesel and his Digital Dingo Dog,” is built to mirror the signature traits of its star. Like Vin Diesel, it has bulk, lumbering clumsily along as it repeats Diesel’s greatest hits - the ones that don’t require him to drive a fast and furious car.
Raymond Chandler once offered a foolproof formula for holding readers’ attention: Whenever the story flags, throw in a dead body. “You’re Next,” with 14 actors and almost as many corpses, scarcely gives you a chance to breathe, let alone daydream. A taut, garish gut-wrencher about a family attacked by masked gate-crashers, it’s presented with audacious mastery of its pulp material.
There is most certainly an audience for the film “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” fans of the six (planned) novels about demons, supernatural demon fighters, vampires, werewolves, witches and warlocks.
Occasionally moving, sweeping in ambition yet often haphazard in execution, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is an epic that more closely resembles a made-for-TV movie or miniseries, albeit one from the high-minded heyday of TV movies, the ‘70s. Think “Backstairs at the White House,” if your memory goes that far back.