Devil’s Due One of my favorite developments in the recent history of film distribution is the Winter Blasphemy Window. It’s the time of the year that can now be counted on to give us murderous archangels, doomsaying demonic grannies climbing the walls of greasy spoons, and all the rest of that stuff Pope Francis wishes we wouldn’t concentrate on. Now comes Devil’s Due, a birth-of-the Antichrist story that crams more disturbing Satanic imagery into its trailer than Slayer got up to in their whole career. The movie goes out on a bit of a limb genre-wise by not featuring Paul Bettany in any sort of role, but what’s the target audience going to do instead – take in Frozen again? (R) – Steve Schneider
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Poor Chris Pine should really be known for more by now than being the best William Shatner under 250 pounds. Then again, he sure dodged that Green Lantern bullet pretty good, so maybe he has better long-term vision than the rest of us. On paper, there’s nothing career-savvy about being the fourth actor to play Tom Clancy’s iconic hero – unless the designation “Timothy Dalton of the franchise” carries more cachet than us mere mortals recognize. There’s always the bragging rights to having worked with Kenneth Branagh – just ask Chris Hemsworth what that’ll do for you. When you ask him to sign your copy of Red Dawn. (PG-13) – SS
The Nut Job Did you know that Warner Brothers once had to discontinue a character named Scrappy the Squirrel because he was simply too belligerent to be sympathetic? That’s saying a lot from the studio that gave us Daffy Duck, the Tasmanian Devil and Joel Schumacher. The
history of rodents in animation now takes a fresh turn with the introduction of Surly (Will Arnett), a squirrel who plans to rob a nut store with the help of a rat pal. Wait a minute – robbery is now a cartoon hero’s pursuit? Yeah, I’m thinking that somewhere, Chuck Jones is regretting leaving that arrow in his quiver. (PG) – SS
Ride Along Ice Cube’s role in the wonderful 21 Jump Street was sweet redemption for those of us whose affection for the guy predates his still-inexplicable second career as a befuddled onscreen dad. While we wait for more Angry-Brother-in-Blue goodness in 22 Jump Street, we get to see Cube do another riff on the scary-cop trope in Ride Along, this time with overmatched wiseass Kevin Hart in tow. Hey, it beats having to deal with Surely We Must Be There Yet. (PG-13) – SS
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