The Wenatchee World

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Pompeii’ not explosive, but kind of fun

“Pompeii” is half sword-and-sandal epic, half disaster movie and all guilty pleasure. Director Paul W.S. Anderson, taking a break from cranking out “Resident Evil” movies, has a strong command of CGI technology and 3-D effects, and the movie is so grand in scale that you can’t help surrender to the spectacle, even if the stuff that’s going on with the people in the film is often close to risible.

A new, and somewhat improved, ‘RoboCop’

The reboot of “RoboCop” uses the basic blueprint from the 1987 movie starring Peter Weller. It’s been modified and updated to create a sleeker design, but it is not as intellectually cutting-edge.
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Clooney goes corny, cliche in ‘Monuments’

“The Monuments Men” is the “Last Vegas” of World War II movies. A roughly true/fictionally embellished account of the efforts of American arts scholars drafted into the Army to preserve the artistic patrimony of Europe from the scourge of combat and theft by the Germans, it is a cute but clunky ensemble piece that director George Clooney rarely bestows with the gravitas and jauntiness this material demanded.
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‘Labor Day’ ladles on the melodrama to hide unintentional laughs

The funniest unintentional laugh in “Labor Day” is the way adaptor/director Jason Reitman treats this eye-rolling, melodramatic romance novel as if he’s got his hands on the works of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy. A genteel escaped convict hides out with a grieving divorcee and offers another chance at love? It’s “The Prisons of Madison County.”
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‘Mitty’ is quiet, sweet and ever-so-slight

James Thurber’s whimsical short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was about a bored, unassuming married man who escapes his humdrum life through wildly adventurous fantasies in which he becomes a war hero, a test pilot and the like. He avoids the boredom of errands and life’s routine that way.
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A cursed ’13 for worst movies

Unlucky 2013? Some weekends, it seemed that way at the movies. Big bad movies, cheap bad movies, ill-advisedly awful and ignominious efforts. Johnny Depp outstayed his welcome, Adam Sandler sucker punched his enabling fans one last time, Will Smith made a movie so bad people were attaching Scientology recruitment to his motives and Disney made a Pixar spinoff that was the worst thing ever to wear Mouse ears.
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Leo is charismatically loathsome as ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

Leonardo DiCaprio’s most charismatic performance ever anchors Martin Scorsese’s robust and raunchy lowlifes-of-high-finance comedy “The Wolf of Wall Street.” This is their greatest teaming, a veritable “Citizen Kane” of the post-”greed is good” era — three hours of cocaine and orgies and high-living by the sorts of gauche gamblers who brought that age, and the world economy, to its knees.
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‘The Legend Continues’ an ‘improv’-ment over the first

The blow-dried hair, the polyester suits and ‘70s-style political incorrectness and facial hair are back in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” The buffoonery goes epic in this sillier-than-silly sequel, a broad, down and dirty comedy overfilled with funny people trying to one-up one another on the set in the classic “best line wins” school of comic improvisation.
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‘Saving Mr. Banks’ dishes the dirt behind ‘Mary Poppins’

It’s a Hollywood legend that Walt Disney felt some sort of malevolent glee in killing Bambi’s mom, and what that animated death would do to the children who saw it. But that’s only a legend. P.L. Travers, the woman who wrote the glorious “Mary Poppins,” was a brittle, snobbish martinet and a humorless control freak. And that’s a fact. Stay through the credits of “Saving Mr. Banks” and hear for yourself.