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Movie Reviews: Broken City, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Gangster Squad, Zero Dark Thirty and More

Movie reviews and movie times for theaters in Maryland Heights and St. Louis, MO.

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

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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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The Last Stand

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Flight of the Butterflies

Mark Glass, Patch blogger: This docudrama about the decades of research by hordes of scientists and volunteers to chart the mating and migration patterns of Monarch butterflies is one of the best blends of education, entertaining story and stunning visuals the St. Louis Science Center has brought to its IMAX screen. 

The narrative offers all the facts one could desire about their three-generation northern journey and the one-generation southerly return. Viewers can truly enjoy the beauty of the subjects on this massive screen while marveling at their ordeal and feeling the joys of discovery by those who worked so long and hard to complete the study. Several moments of spectacular photography, including one close-up sequence in flight, are more than enough to reward any audience. Full Review

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Beasts of the Southern Wild

Mark Glass, Patch blogger: This low-budget bayou-drenched drama may be the sleeper hit of 2012 from new director Behn Zeitlin, and a cast of mostly unknown actors, depicting life on the non-urban side of the Louisiana levees, struggling to maintain their community in the wake of a massive flood. An amazing young actress named Quvenzhane Wallis anchors the film, as a child who is wise and determined beyond her years in dealing with a drunken dad, natural disasters, and recurring visions of rampaging beasts.

We meet a small group of tightly connected people living not only off the grid, but knee-deep (on a good day) in nature. They fish, trap, play indigenous music, drink and live in shacks that look vulnerable to any slight breeze, but still weather most of the weather their environs absorb. The kids go to school, but learn most of what they need from their elders to sustain their way of life. Tragedy strikes when a hurricane scatters families. Government shelters and programs are valued little; in some ways, those good intentions wind up serving the majority at the expense of marginal cultures like theirs.

The Cajun dialects will be hard for most to follow, but the heart of the script, and the loving, resilient character of the subculture it introduces will reward the effort. I have no idea what else Ms. Wallis can accomplish, but she’s certainly made one of the most remarkable starts any pre-teen performer has ever offered. Full Review

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Luv

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter: "Even if some of them are playing hackneyed gangster-film types, the strength of the actors makes it almost possible to forgive the formulaic plotting and artificially movie-ish developments. Candis and Justin Wilson's screenplay stretches credibility thinner and thinner as the story advances." Full Review

Eric Hynes of Time Out New York: "With its rock-skimming male bonding alternating between grisly homicides and a florid Mexican standoff that begets a tidy take-the-money-and-run finale, this tale seems less timely than merely tall." Full Review

Melissa Anderson of Village Voice: "Although Common and Rainey make a well-matched duo, their chemistry is frequently squandered by a script that boxes them into impossible roles in one clichéd scene after another." 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

Have you seen this movie? Write a review by posting a blog on Patch!

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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

Have you seen this movie? Write a review by posting a blog on Patch!


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