Screening Room August 23rd – “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” “The World’s End,” “You’re Next,” “The Spectacular Now,” “Blue Jasmine”

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KANSAS CITY, MO --

1) THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (PG-13)

RUSS: Recycling is usually a good thing, but it’s taken to a whole new level with “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” a mash-up of ideas and themes from “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games,” and even “Star Wars.”

Handsomely adapted from the popular young audience book series by Cassandra Clare, this jumble about half-angel, half-human warriors battling evil spirits plays on the screen like they were making it up as they went along.

Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower lead the cast through a confusing plot maze that supposedly will be cleared up in future episodes of the series.

There’s not a single moment of originality in this overlong and unfocused enterprise.

Shawn, however, calls “The Mortal Instruments,”  ‘More romantic than "Twilight" and more exciting than "The Hunger Games." Surprisingly sophisticated and fulfilling.’

I can’t agree.

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

2) THE WORLD'S END (R)

RUSS: The team behind the British comedies “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” reunites for the apocalyptic comedy, “The World’s End.” Five buddies attempt one last pub crawl only to discover that the very future of humanity is at stake. Broad, funny and profane, “The World’s End” is a R-rated commentary on arrested development.

Shawn calls it, “Hilarious and highly entertaining. But an appreciation for British 'stoner' humor helps…or your love of "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead."”

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

3) YOU'RE NEXT (R)
Lionsgate

RUSS: “You’re Next” is a slickly made and sadistic horror flick shot in Columbia, Mo. It plays a bit like a grisly version of “Home Alone.” It’s brutal and gory, like so many other contemporary horror flicks.

There’s nothing new in this bloody home invasion thriller, but a taut pace and perverse sense of humor should make it appealing to horror buffs.

Shawn calls it, “Effectively scary. Although the slow moving plot is irritating. But it’s got plenty of thrills that will cause more than a few screams.”

RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

4) THE SPECTACULAR NOW (R)

A24

RUSS: “The Spectacular Now” could have been yet another Lifetime TV movie about teenage addiction. Instead, thanks to a strong script, credible acting and thoughtful approach, it’s a believable and moving coming-of-age flick.

Miles Teller plays a gregarious party boy and Shailene Woodley is a bookish wallflower. They stumble their way to romance while one battles insecurity and alcoholism.

Never false and always engaging, “The Spectacular Now” nearly lives up to the promise of its title.

RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags

5) BLUE JASMINE (PG-13)

Sony Pictures Classics

RUSS: Cate Blanchett is nothing short of spectacular in Woody Allen’s new comic drama, “Blue Jasmine.” Blanchett plays something like a modern Blanch Dubois, a once wealthy woman who begins to lose touch with reality after her crooked husband goes to jail.

Obviously inspired by “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Blue Jasmine” is uneven to say the least. But thanks to Blanchett’s riveting performance, it’s an effective character study. Look for Blanchett to be a major contender come Oscar time.

RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags

ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK:

The "Arts and Crafts Festival," a mix of movies, beer, music and art, takes place at the Screenland Armour on August 23rd and 24th. More information is available at http://www.artsandcraftskc.com. The horror flick, "The Bell Witch Haunting," will be screened on Monday, August 26th at the Screenland Crown Center. More information is available at http://www.screenland.com.

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