Screening Room: “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” “Safe House,” “The Vow.”

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JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND

RUSS
Even the substantial charisma of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and a huge special effects budget can't quite make "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" a destination worth visiting for anyone over the age of 9.

SHAWN
I'm not gonna set age limits. But there is sort of a care free fun appeal. It's the cinematic equivalent of a family vacation at Disney World. And all ages enjoy that trip.

RUSS
There's plenty of action and over-the-top 3-D effects, but the lame script and uninspired execution sap the movie of any real tension or drama. We're left with an adventure movie that lacks a real sense of adventure. It's mildly fun, but featherweight and forgettable.

2 Popcorn Bags

SAFE HOUSE

RUSS
I doubt that the CIA will be using the violent drama "Safe House" as a recruitment video any time soon. Denzel Washington is always reliable, and he gives another strong performance as an ex-CIA operative gone rogue. Ryan Reynolds is the green, naive agent who attempts to bring him in.

SHAWN
Safe House is completely flat, shamefully boring and void of any explanation. There is a reason why that word is in the dictionary.

RUSS
On the positive side, "Safe House" is an intense and involving thriller about CIA corruption that makes good use of urban South Africa as a unique backdrop. On the other hand, the filmmakers overdo the showy hand-held camera work and washed out photography intended to give the movie a realistically gritty feel. The end result is a mixed bag.

SHAWN
Both Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds have been much better.

RUSS
3 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN
2 Popcorn Bags

THE VOW

RUSS
How's this for a premise? A young married couple get in an auto accident that leaves the wife, played by Rachel McAdams, with amnesia. The husband, played by Channing Tatum, has to try to get her to fall in love with him again. Sounds like the kind of thing that a sentimental romance novelist like Nicholas Sparks would come up with, but it's actually loosely based on a true story.  The capable cast helps compensate for the movie's hokey elements, making this one likable chick flick.

SHAWN
Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum are amazing together in this likable love story. The memory loss device is clever. And hopeless romantics will salivate over the films many tender moments.

RUSS
3 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN
4 Popcorn Bags

STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

RUSS
George Lucas should have left well enough alone. When he went back to the well to give us the "Star Wars" back-story, he got the special effects right, but missed the heart and giddy sense of adventure that characterized the initial trilogy. For fans, the 3-D may add just enough to make it a bit more palatable.

SHAWN
It was whack the first time and the 3D although nice can't help fix the movie's many weaknesses.

RUSS
3 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN
2 Popcorn Bags

GLORY

RUSS
Denzel Washington's Oscar-winning performance, strong imagery and a smart script make "Glory" one of the best and most emotionally involving movies ever made about the Civil War.

SHAWN
One of the best war movies period. Easily the most compelling about the Civil War.

RUSS
5 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN
5 Popcorn Bags

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