Movie Meter: The Giver Disappoints, Go for Land Ho! Instead


Land Ho!: (One of two exclamation-point films this week! Go figure!) Former brothers-in-law (Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn), now well-aged, travel to Iceland together in order to call-back their wild and freewheeling youth in everything from Reykjavik nightclubs to the alien terrain of the raw Icelandic outback. This American indie film, an unmitigated hit at this year’s Sundance, promises poignant laughs in the appropriately throwback style of the classic road-trip comedies of an earlier era. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%


Finding Fela!: A new documentary from celebrated director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side, We Steal Secrets) is always a cause for interest. Here, he travels with his camera crew to Nigeria in order to flesh out the life of the late, great Afrobeat musician and political dissident Fela Kuti (who died of AIDS-related sarcoma back in 1997). It’s hard to capture the essence of such a richly complex, free-spirited man in two hours, but Gibney gives it a commending shot. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%

A Five Star Life: Irene (Margherita Buy), a wealthy, wildly successful luxury hotel critic, travels the most elegant hotels in some of the finest cities in the world, but has no personal life to speak of, and therefore, must pay the price of emotional autonomy. Maria Sole Tognazzi has made a film of travel porn, and overlaid onto it a plot of the soul-sucking emptiness of said indulgence, which is an interesting concept, in a way, but could also be maddeningly pedantic. Go for the vistas, stay for the one-woman journey to emotional connection. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%


The Expendables 3: Give Sly Stallone this much: When he finds a winning formula, he doesn’t hesitate to absolutely wreck it with mindless repetition. So, the first film in this aged-action-heroes-are-still-invincible action series actually came out way back in 2010, and he’s already cranked out two more of ’em. Plus, bogus bonus points for having a villain named “Conrad Stonebanks.” Rotten Tomatoes Score: 34%

Let’s Be Cops: To my knowledge, there was absolutely no press screening of this film before it’s release on Wednesday, which is often a sign that a canny studio is trying to avoid the avalanche of negative publicity they expect will be coming their way. This lame-ass sounding comedy—two buddies impersonate cops for a costume party, then get misidentified as the real thing—could also not have asked for a worse time to be released. Jackass cops doing heedless, reckless things just doesn’t sound terribly funny in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Mo. Nice work, asshats. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 16%

The Giver: True, given the other two films in this week’s slush-pile, a 50-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes sounds passably decent, but trust us, we’ve seen this idiotic teen-visionary-saves-world-from-dystopian-autocracy thing and it deserves the company of its fellow ‘Skip It’ mates. From the now-clichéd nonsensical plot (retrofitted from the promising original novel in order to make it perfectly conform to the more successful, similarly themed films in this regrettable genre), to the wasting of both Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, to the drone-like pulse of a studio film trying earnestly to cash-in by appropriating every given element of a formula already far better honed in previous such films, this thing is pretty much shameless. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%