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Movie Reviews: Hansel and Gretel, Gangster Squad, Zero Dark Thirty and Parker

Movie reviews and movie times for theaters near Ballwin, Ellisville and St. Louis, MO.

Editor's Note: Some reviews and information aggregated from Moviefone.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 

Mark Glass, Patch blogger: Of all the classic fairy tales stretched or twisted into feature films, this is one of the least likely...and less successful. H & G (Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton) survived the witch and her candy-coated honey trap of a hovel, then grew up to become itinerant witch slayers in a vaguely Medieval era. 

They are summoned to one imperiled hamlet after nearly a dozen children have been abducted. They soon realize that a coven or two of evildoers is apparently massing in the adjacent forbidding forest for some major event. So much for the plot. The rest is all about the f/x, as H & G do their thing with an arsenal of anachronistically advanced weapons, which they need because these witches show some mad Ninja skills to go with their magical powers. The fights are more fast and furious than the auto races in a certain series of flicks that traded on those terms. Full Review

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Parker

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Quartet

Mark Glass, Patch blogger: Every "mature" viewer who enjoyed last year’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel can confidently line up for this ticket. What you’ll get is another gentle comedy among the retirement set showcasing a fine ensemble cast of actors from Great Britain. Both include Maggie Smith. This one also features Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtenay, under the direction of Dustin Hoffman.  

The intrigue here is whether some of the members of a once-lauded operatic quartet can get past some old wounds and newer anxieties for a reunion performance on the birthdate of Giuseppe Verdi (as Victor Borge noted, Joe Green, in English).

The music is pleasing; the actors are still in fine fettle. Hoffman steers them at a pace that evokes empathy without milking the sentimental side. The reliable old pros on both sides of the camera deliver another first-rate product. Anglophiles and trivia buffs who recall a 1981 film with the same title starring Smith and Alan Bates should be advised that there’s no other relation between the two stories. Full Review

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Broken City

Mark Glass, Patch blogger: This urban political/crime drama is surprisingly well-scripted, with more than its fair share of twists and turns. Mark Wahlberg plays a hardnosed New York cop, who is stripped of his badge early in the film over a controversy about his shooting an alleged rapist. Although the mayor (Russell Crowe) understands and approves of what he did, public outrage over what may have been excessive force compels The Brass to throw Wahlberg under the proverbial bus.

Brian Tucker’s script is particularly impressive for a rookie. Director Allen Hughes’ experience in the genre helps, with the pacing and mostly non-glamorous settings well-suited to the material. The rating comes more from violence than sexual content, and is relatively restrained. Wahlberg, Crowe and Jeffrey Wright (the police chief) add solid performances.

This is Crowe’s second role in less than a month as a distinctly unlikable character, following his Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. Could he be trying to supplant Mel Gibson as everyone’s least-favorite Australian actor? Full Review

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Gangster Squad

  • Run Time: 113 mins.
  • Starring: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin
  • Director: Ruben Fleischer

Review from Patch blogger Mark Glass: Movie Review: Gangster Squad

Austin Chronicle: "Despite the unrelenting action and the terrific cast, Gangster Squad comes up more scattered than successful." Austin Chronicle. Full Review

A.O. Scott of The New York Times: "His (Fleischer) first feature, "Zombieland," was a half-witty genre parody. This one might be described as genre zombie-ism: the hysterical, brainless animation of dead clichés reduced to purposeless, compulsive killing. Too self-serious to succeed as pastiche, it has no reason for being beyond the parasitic urge to feed on the memories of other, better movies." Full Review

Ann Hornaday of Washington Post: "Slick, sick, self-consciously stylish and defiantly shallow, Gangster Squad is one of those movies you can't talk about without invoking other (often better) movies. A lot of movies." Full Review

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Zero Dark Thirty

  • Running Time: 157 mins.
  • Starring: Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Edgar Ramirez
  • Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Review from Patch blogger Mark Glass: Movie Review: Zero Dark Thirty

The Guardian: "Telling a nearly three-hour story with an ending everyone knows, Bigelow and Boal have managed to craft one of the most intense and intellectually challenging films of the year." Full Review

Alison Willmore of Movieline: "Zero Dark Thirty makes you feel every step of Maya's journey, but it's her impressive achievement and that of the film itself that we're left contemplating, not her humanity - a stunningly well-realized whole with few soft spots to latch onto." Full Review

Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com: "A sweeping and magnificent work of cinematic craft, by far the best film of Bigelow's career." Full Review

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