by Wendy Schadewald
Special to Sun Thisweek and the Dakota County Tribune
Rating system: (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Bears” (G) (4) — John C. Reilly narrates this educational, heartwarming, family-friendly, sporadically intense, 70-minute, Disney documentary, which is filled with gorgeous scenery and cinematography, that follows a protective mother bear and her two playful cubs during their first year of life as they forage for food and encounter hungry male bears and a tenacious grey wolf in Alaska.
“Dom Hemingway” (R) (3) [Sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence, and drug use.] — An over-the-top, offbeat, wacky, gritty, dark, 93-minute comedy that is marred by hard to understand accents about the bad luck that continues for a foul-mouthed, widowed, British safecracker (Jude Law) when he is released from prison after 12 years, and he heads to the south of France with his one-handed, best-friend (Richard E. Grant) to get money that he is owed from a ruthless killer (Demian Bichir) and then finds himself back in London trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke) and his grandson.
“God’s Not Dead” (PG) (2.5) [Thematic material, brief violence, and an accident scene.] — A thought-provoking, touching, spirituality-based, 113-mintue film about how religious beliefs affect the lives of various people in Louisiana, including a Christian college student (Shane Harper) who accepts the challenge of his atheistic philosophy professor (Kevin Sorbo) to prove the existence of God to other students (Paul Kwo, Kat Lindsay, et al.) in three lectures despite objections from his longtime girlfriend (Cassidy Gifford), a Muslim student (Hadeel Sittu) who becomes a Christian despite the severe objections of her intolerant father (Marco Khan), a confrontational writer (Trisha LaFache) who deals with her cruel boyfriend (Dean Cain) who dumps her when he learns that she has terminal cancer, two reverends (David A.R. White and Benjamin Ochieng) whose faith is tested when numerous cars do not start while preparing for a brief out-of-town vacation, and a bullied woman (Cory Oliver) who finally puts her faith before her relationship.
“Heaven Is for Real” (PG) (3.5) [Thematic material, including some medical situations.] — When a smart, 4-year-old boy (Connor Corum), who lives with his preacher father (Greg Kinnear), a housewife mother (Kelly Reilly), and an older sister (Lane Styles) in Nebraska, recovers from a life-threatening, burst appendix in this heartwarming, goosebumps-inducing, factually based, spiritual, 100-minute film based on Todd Burpo’s international bestseller, he tells his initially skeptical family that he visited Heaven and met God and members of his family during surgery, which stirs up deep-seated emotions with the community and church goers (Margo Martindale, Thomas Haden Church, et al.).
“The Puffy Chair” (R) (2) [Language.] [DVD only] — Strained relationships are ultimately tested in this strange, realistic, tedious slice of life in which a booking agent (Mark Duplass) in New York City goes on a road trip with his longtime girlfriend (Kathryn Aselton) and bohemian brother (Rhett Wilkins) to pick up a red recliner in North Carolina purchased on Ebay as a birthday present for their dad (Larry Duplass) in Atlanta.
“The Raid 2” (R) (3) [Sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality, and language.] [Subtitled] — Amazing martial arts choreography and fight sequences highlight this action-packed, fast-paced, violent, bloody, 150-minute sequel with striking cinematography in which a revenge-driven, skilled, Indonesian SWAT cop (Iko Uwais) spends two years in prison undercover to befriend the power-hungry son (Arifin Putra) of a powerful crime lord (Tio Pakusodewo) and then reluctantly continues the relationship after his release per the instructions of his corrupt lieutenant boss (Pierre Gruno ), who agrees to protect his wife (Fikha Efendi) and infant son, with the hope of gathering enough evidence to take down the crime family, their rivals (Alex Abbad and Ken’ichi Endô), and henchmen (Julie Estelle, Oka Antara, Cecep Arif Rahman, Very Tri Yulisman , et al.) in Jakarta.
“Transcendence” (PG-13) (3) [Sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language, and sensuality.] — After a brilliant scientist (Johnny Depp) is shot with a radioactive-tainted bullet that gives him a brief time to live and his wife (Rebecca Hall) and colleague (Paul Bettany) help him upload his conscience and software to the Internet in this thought-provoking, futuristic, intriguing, well-paced, 2-hour, sci-fi thriller, a group of concerned people (Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Clifton Collins Jr., Cole Hauser, Kate Mara, et al.) try to stop his cyber program that threatens mankind.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.