Screening Room: “Transcendence,” “Heaven is for Real,” “A Haunted House 2”

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1. TRANSCENDENCE (PG-13)

Warner Brothers

RUSS
Johnny Depp's presence has elevated a number of middling movies. But does his charisma transcend the material in the new sci-fi thriller, “Transcendence?” In this case the answer is, “No.”

SHAWN
No, the answer is heck no.

RUSS
The intriguing premise involves what could happen if an individual’s intelligence could be uploaded into a computer and given access to all of the information on the Internet.

SHAWN
Johnny Depp is terrible. He simply can't do regular characters. He's great when he is being all weird and silly like in "Edward Scissorhands" "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Willy Wonka." But when he is out of that arena he is simply off his mark like in "Transcendence" "The Tourist" and "Secret Window"

RUSS
The ideas proposed are a lot more interesting than the script, which is riddled with plot holes and the execution leaves much to be desired.

SHAWN
"Transcendence" is all concept with no substance. It's ideas are goofy and themes more left over than five day old pizza.

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 0 Popcorn Bags

2. HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (PG)
Sony Pictures

RUSS
Greg Kinnear and a strong cast give skillful performances in the faith-based movie, “Heaven is for Real,” adapted from the 2010 nonfiction bestseller. Kinnear plays a Nebraska minister whose 4-year-old son has visions of the hereafter while on the operating table, instigating a lot of soul-searching and conflict for the reverend and his flock.

SHAWN
The message is actually intriguing but the movie never raises above a TV quality production.

RUSS
While gentle, sincere and well intentioned, “Heaven is for Real” is very slow moving and lightweight. It will appeal to the faithful and few others.

SHAWN
For a movie that deals with a weighty subject it is surprisingly light and uneventful.

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 2 Popcorn Bags

3. A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 - Open Road Films

SHAWN
Marlon Wayans comes from spoof royalty. His family the Wayans have master the genre of poking fun at other movies. And "A Haunted House 2" the sequel to "A Haunted House" is an extension of the style made famous by the Wayans or the perfect movie for 12-year-old boys or the 12-year-old boy in us all.

RUSS: Marlon Wayans' second sendup of the "Paranormal Activity" movies also takes aim at "The Conjuring," among others. It's extremely raunchy, juvenile and utterly shameless.

SHAWN
There is a ton of comedic talent involved in "A Haunted House 2" but it's Marlon Wayan's show and he's hysterical. "A Haunted House 2" is actually funnier and more outrageous than the first thanks to a more focused story.

RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK: Scarlett Johansson stars as a homicidal alien in the avant garde, erotic sci-fi thriller, "Under the Skin." Disney's "Bears: is a family-friendly nature documentary. Jude Law plays a foul-mouthed safecracker who re-examines his life after a near death experience in "Dom Hemmingway."

 

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