Back for more laughs: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return in 22 Jump Street. *Photo supplied
Back for more laughs: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return in 22 Jump Street. *Photo supplied

Speciality Theatre

22 Jump Street

****

Stars: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube

Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Rated: R

Showing: Fri-Sat 2:15pm, 6pm, 9:30pm; Sun 2:15pm, 5:30pm, 8:30pm; Mon 6pm, 9:30pm; Tues-Thurs 2:15pm, 6pm, 9:30pm.

Runtime: 112 minutes

Action/comedy/crime

Remember that sinking feeling when the realization hit that The Hangover II was just a straight-up shakedown? That it was just a money grab that assaulted and left for dead the audience’s love for the original probably so someone in Hollywood could buy another Tesla?

Well, that’s not going to happen with 22 Jump Street, an equally unnecessary sequel that has one major saving grace: it has as many laughs as spring in Texas has tornadoes. The whole thing — from the mock, TV-episode opening (“previously on ‘21 Jump Street’”) to the wickedly-inspired closing credits imagining future sequels — it’s almost as nice a surprise as finding out someone has deposited a thousand bucks in your bank account.

It helps that the original directors (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller), main writer (Michael Bacall), and the core of the cast (Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube) are back. It helps that they’ve returned with tongues so far in cheek they might have swallowed them, coming up with a movie that is both a stone-head stupid and whip-smart commentary on sequels in a summer season full of them. More than that, though, it’s just plain funny.


Edge of Tomorrow

****

Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Director: Doug Liman.

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri-Sat 2:30pm, 6:15pm, 9:15pm; Sun 2:30pm, 5:15pm, 8:15pm; Monday 6:15pm, 9:15pm; Tues-Thurs 2:30pm, 6:15pm,  9:15pm.

Runtime: 123 minutes

Action/adventure/sci-fi.

Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) manages to combine a sense of humour and an expert eye for action into a clever twist on old formulas. In a world of
predictably lead-footed, empty-headed spectacle, Edge of Tomorrow is surprisingly agile and quick-witted. 

Liberty Theatre

The Fault in Our Stars

****

Stars: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler.

Director: Josh Boone

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri 1:30pm, 4:45pm, 7:30pm; Sat-Sun 1:30pm, 4:45pm, 7:45pm; Monday 1:30pm, 4:45pm; Tues-Thurs 1:30pm, 4:45pm, 7:30pm.

Runtime: 131 minutes

Drama, romance.

Just so you know what you’re in for with The Fault in Our Stars: The film shows its teenage protagonist, Hazel (Shailene Woodley), who has stage IV cancer, struggling for breath while slowly ascending stairs at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. 

With oxygen tank in tow, Fault in Our Stars is not messing around. It wants your tears. It gets them, but less because of that scene’s symbolism overload — a bright, seriously ill American girl pays tribute to a bright Dutch girl cut down in her prime — than the unforced way Woodley plays this and every moment. 

Woodley (Divergent) is such a fresh, wonderful presence that you want to write sonnets to her talent, much the way Gus (Ansel Elgort), the handsome romantic Hazel meets in a cancer support group, woos Hazel with flowers and a trip to Amsterdam from their hometown of Indianapolis. But waxing poetic about Woodley is challenging. There’s little flashy or striking about her work — little on which to grab hold. n

Neptune Theatre

How to Train Your Dragon 2

****

Stars: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff.

Director: Dean DeBlois

Rated: PG

Showing: Fri-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 2:30pm; Mon-Thurs 7pm.

Runtime: 102 minutes

Animation, action,
adventure.

In a pivotal moment of How To Train Your Dragon 2, new character Valka — the guardian of all dragons — tells our hero Hiccup that he has “the heart of a chief but the soul of dragon”.

The sequel to Dreamworks Animation’s successful 2010 run of How To Train Your Dragon expands on the emotions of the coming-of-age tale of a boy and his dragon. In a whirlwind intro scene, we return to the Isle of Berk five years after Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) showed the Vikings that dragons were not evil creatures. The town celebrates the union between human and beast with dragon races. What’s notably missing at the town’s celebration is the narrator of the story, Hiccup, and his trustworthy dragon, Toothless, the lovable Night Fury.

Hiccup is again avoiding his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), who wants to groom Hiccup to eventually succeed him as chief. Hiccup distracts himself by going off on adventures to find new lands and new dragons. It’s on one of these lone adventures where his betrothed Astrid (America Ferrera) finds Hiccup, who is mapping out everyone’s world, but his own. The scenes quickly establish the emotional connection the boy has with his dragon.

The crux of the film is the fierce and loyal friendship of the two. At times, the story takes a darker turn, but it’s a worthwhile move that shows the storyteller is confident the audience will follow along to Hiccup’s discovery of his past to fulfil his destiny. n

ALL REVIEWS BY MCT