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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“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (PG-13) (3.5) [Intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language.] — Ten years after a deadly simian flu killed millions of people worldwide in this riveting, touching, action-packed, fast-paced, 3D, 130-minute sequel filled with terrific ape and human characters, a human conclave (Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Judy Greer, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jon Eyez, et al.) of survivors in San Francisco accidentally discovers a community of English-speaking apes (Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Nick Thurston, Terry Notary, Larramie Doc Shaw, Karin Konoval, et al.) when they go to fix the dam to return electricity to the city.
“Flags of Our Fathers” (R) (4) [Sequences of graphic war violence and carnage, and language.] [DVD only] — While three surviving marines (Jesse Bradford, Ryan Phillippe, and Adam Beach) who participated in the famous American flag raising on Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945, go on a cross-country tour to raise money for the war effort in this realistic, intense, and sentimental Clint Eastwood WWII drama reminiscent of “Saving Private Ryan,” the reluctant heroes relive their horrific experiences against the Japanese on the body-splattered, black sand battlefield.
“Flicka” (PG) (3) [Some mild language.] [DVD only] — When a clueless quarter house rancher (Tim McGraw) in Wyoming sells a wild mustang to the consternation of his wife (Mario Bello), his restless son (Ryan Kwanten), and two ranch hands (Dallas Roberts and Danny Pino) in this heartwarming, family-friendly film based on Mary O’Hara’s novel “My Friend Flicka,” his doggedly determined, obstinate daughter (Alison Lohman) hatches a risky plan to ride the black mare in a rodeo competition in the hopes of winning the prize money to buy back the horse.
“The Grudge 2” (PG-13) (2.5) [Mature thematic material, disturbing images/terror/violence, and some sensuality.] [DVD only] — A tension-filled thriller in which murderous evil spirits terrorize three students (Arielle Kebbel, Teresa Palmer, and Misako Uno) at an international high school in Tokyo, an American (Amber Tamblyn) who comes to Japan to visit her hospitalized sister (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a Japanese journalist (Edison Chen) investigating the mysterious disappearances of visitors to a haunted house, and a family (Jennifer Beals, Matthew Knight, et al.) and its neighbors living in Chicago.
“Marie Antoinette” (PG-13) (3) [Sexual content, partial nudity, and innuendo.] [DVD only] — Ostentatious sets, opulent Oscar-caliber costumes, and scrumptious sweets dominate this languid-paced Sofia Coppola film about Austrian princess Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) and her initially tumultuous marriage to Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) at age 15 in 1768 at the stuffy, protocol-happy French court (Judy Davis, Shirley Henderson, Asia Argento, Molly Shannon, et al.) at Versailles and her reign as the French queen after the death of King Louis XV (Rip Torn) until her own beheading in 1793.
“The Marine” (PG-13) (2) [Intense sequences of violent action, sensuality, and language.] [DVD only] — Nonstop action dominates this thin-plot, preposterous story in which a recently discharged marine (John Cena) with bulging muscles becomes a one-man task force when five trigger-happy diamond thieves (Robert Patrick, Abigail Bianca, Anthony Ray Parker, Manu Bennett, et al.) kidnap his beautiful wife (Kelly Carlson) in South Carolina.
“Nearing Grace” (R) (2) [Drug use, language, and sexual content.] [DVD only] — An intense high school student (Gregory Smith) in New Jersey copes with the erratic behavior of his grieving father (David Morse) and that of his hippie brother (David Moscow) after the death of his mother in 1978 in this coming-of-age story while trying to come to terms with his feelings for a longtime friend (Ashley Johnson) versus his lust for an altruistic student (Jordana Brewster) who is dating a hotheaded jock (Chad Faust).
“The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D” (PG) (3.5) [Some scary images.] [DVD only] — Striking, painstaking photography and a Grammy®-nominated soundtrack highlight this imaginative and poetic Tim Burton animated musical in which the bored Pumpkin King (voiceover by Chris Sarandon) trades places with Saint Nick (voiceover by Edward Ivory) and brings a touch of Halloween to the surprised citizens of Christmas Town.
“One Night with the King” (PG) (3) [Violence, some sensuality, and thematic elements.] [DVD only] — Colorful costumes and grand sets highlight this epic, star-studded (Omar Sharif, Peter O’Toole, et al.) Old Testament story of Hadassah (Tiffany Dupon), an orphaned Jewish girl in Susa, who leaves her uncle Mordecai (John Rhys-Davies), a court scribe, to marry King Xerxes (Luke Goss) and becomes the beloved Persian Queen Esther in fifth century B.C.
“The Prestige” (PG-13) (4) [Violence and disturbing images.] [DVD only] — Jealously, obsession, and revenge take center stage with frightening and tragic consequences in this taut, electrifying thriller when a bitter, fanatical, widowed magician (Hugh Jackman) in turn-of-the-century London seeks the help of an architect of illusions (Michael Caine), a beautiful stage assistant (Scarlett Johansson), and the scientist Tesla (David Bowie) to unravel the secret of a fascinating teleportation trick of a rival magician (Christian Bale).
“Yves Saint Laurent” (R) (3) [Sexual content and drug use.] [Subtitled] — Glamorous, gorgeous fashions highlight this engaging, fascinating, well-acted, factually inspired, 106-minutue film that chronicles the legendary career of talented, handsome, mentally fragile, French designer Yves Mathieu Saint Laurent (Pierre Niney) from the beginning of his career in 1958 heading up the House of Dior in Paris after the death of Christian Dior, the opening of his own iconic fashion house, to his longtime affair with his lover and business partner Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne) until Laurent’s death in 2008.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.