Is “The Water Diviner” all wet? “Ex Machina” mechanical? Popcorn Bag reviews!

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. --

  1. THE WATER DIVINER (R)

Warner Brothers

 

RUSS

Russell Crowe makes his directorial debut with the sincere melodrama, “The Water Diviner.” Crowe plays an Australian farmer who, in 1919, travels to Turkey to bring home the bodies of his three sons who died in the Battle of Gallipoli.

 

SHAWN

Russell Crowe proves he has serious skills behind the camera. "The Water Diviner," if nothing else, is beautifully shot and expertly crafted. It's the story that gets a bit mushy and sluggish in spots.
RUSS

Handsomely produced and workmanlike, the movie falters when it awkwardly inserts a chaste romance between’s Crowe’s character and a beautiful Turkish widow.

 

SHAWN

Yes, that felt forced. And Russell Crowe has been much more engaging when in front of the camera.  But overall, it’s compelling enough to recommend this World War One era drama.

 

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

 

  1. LITTLE BOY (PG-13)

Open Road Films

 

SHAWN

Now from World War One to World War Two. And "Little Boy" which is an overly sappy but perfectly wholesome story probably better suited on basic cable television.

 

RUSS
“Little Boy” is a well-meaning but painfully artificial story about a 7-year-kid who believes he can bring his father home from the fighting in WWII by demonstrating faith and fulfilling a moral “to-do” list. Terrific actors aren’t able to elevate “Little Boy,” a pretentious, obvious and cringe-worthy miscalculation.

 

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

 

  1. EX MACHINA (R)

A24
RUSS

There’s nothing artificial about the intelligence of “Ex Machina,” a thought provoking and unsettling sci-fi thriller that plays like something Stanley Kubrick might have devised after a nightmare. An eccentric billionaire constructs an artificially intelligent being. A naïve programmer is brought to his remote lab to test the beautiful robot. But who is manipulating whom?

 

SHAWN

This top notch deconstruct on our shaky relationship with robots is brilliant and near perfect but a bit odd.

 

RUSS

Beautifully acted and stylishly filmed, “Ex Machnia” is a whip-smart and involving movie that raises intriguing moral questions about technology and sexism.

 

SHAWN

It is very intellectually stimulating cinema. It’s the rare film that will create plenty of chatter after watching and one of the better movies so far this year.

 

RUSS: 5 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 4 Popcorn Bags

 

  1. AGE OF ADALINE (PG-13) Lionsgate

 

SHAWN

A classic American love story that only works if you can suspend your disbelief, which is easy thanks to Blake Lively's engaging performance, although it's oddly very fairytale-like.
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

 

ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK: “The Wrecking Crew” is a documentary about the studio musicians who created the West Coast Sound in the 60s & 70s backing up artists like “The Beach Boys,” “The Byrds,” “The Monkees” and Frank Sinatra.

 

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