By Sam Struckhoff
These new releases will be available in stores the week of June 15
“Chappie” (R) — In a grungy vision of the near future, cities deploy experimental drone police. Unlike Robocop (who is a cyborg, not a robot), these police-droids lack the judgment and feelings of a squishy human brain. That is, until an intrepid young engineer (Dev Patel) finds a way to program true artificial intelligence into one of the metal heads. The breakthrough machine is captured by psycho hooligans (South African rap group Die Antwoord), who teach it to act like a gangster and assist in their crimes. The big-bad techno-security companies also are after this Johnny Five-O. Neill Blomkamp returns to his home turf of Johannesburg, the backdrop of his breakout hit, “District 9.” Unlike the last time, however, this movie feels like an assemblage of hacky sci-fi ideas, instead of a bold statement from a singular writer/director. Even those ideas get drowned out in all of the noise.
“Run All Night” (R) — Liam Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a former hitman who now only hits the sauce. Jimmy’s estranged son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), witnesses some criminal activity and gets a target put on him and his father. Jimmy’s former boss (Ed Harris), the detective who used to be on his case (Vincent D’Onofrio) and an ice-cold killer (Common) all converge on the father-son duo as they try to make it through New York alive. The Liam Neeson Pain Train has not yet run out of track — he’s still plowing through thugs and goons with the power of a Charles Bronsonfueled locomotive. Ed Harris rules the shadows whenever he plays the bad fella. Compared to other Liam Neeson rampages, this one ranks just beneath “Taken.” It certainly packs a punch, but the pacing can dull some of the blows.
“Old Fashioned” (PG-13) — Clay (Rik Swartzwelder, also the film’s writer and director) runs an antique shop in a Midwestern college town where a spontaneous young woman stops her car. Clay was once a lusty lad in a fraternity, but is now a 30-something who dresses like a sullen teenager and espouses the virtues of chivalry and chastity. Oh, how charming, you may think at this point. However you feel about dating, Clay is a blowhard. He pontificates about lust in the most un-cute, selfrighteous way. As you watch, you hope dearly that the romantic lead (Elizabeth Ann Roberts) realizes what’s going on and gets back in her car. Faith-based audiences deserve a little better.
“Welcome to Me” (R) — When Kristen Wiig stars as an off-kilter lotto winner who buys her own Oprah-inspired TV show, you might expect a wacky adventure with some gross-out humor. This is much more serious … and funny, and weird. Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a woman with borderline personality disorder — she has no filter, bizarre habits, and dangerous ideas and apparently zero self-awareness, but it’s not mental illness played for laughs. When she wins the lottery, Alice quits her meds, buys a TV show and creates something altogether strange and moving. (c) 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.