‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ ‘Calvary’ and other new movies, reviewed

In this week’s new releases, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo return to the big screen for more action and fun in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Brendan Gleeson stars as a Catholic priest in “Calvary.”


The superhero turtles are back and fighting to save New York in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” (Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount)

★★ “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (PG-13) “Considering that two sequels are in the works, it’s clear the filmmakers believe tweens and teens won’t care about the movie’s deficits and will just concentrate on the fun of wisecracking, weapon-wielding turtles. ... And while this reboot is fun, it’s also forgettable and occasionally infuriating.” – Sandie Angulo Chen

★★ “Calvary” (R) “As pungent as [John Michael] McDonagh’s writing is, it may be his too-easy pessimism that makes ‘Calvary’ engrossing and thought-provoking, but not great. As he did with ‘The Guard,’ the filmmaker has fashioned a marvelous showcase for [Brendan] Gleeson at his most restrained and commandingly sympathetic, but the story ultimately feels too overdetermined, too manipulatively and schematically designed, to be as profound as the filmmaker surely intended” – Ann Hornaday

★★½ “What If” (PG-13) “… the fact that we’re still asking whether men and women can be friends — just friends — is exhausting. Sure, Harry and Sally couldn’t make it work, but does anyone outside of Hollywood screenwriters actually believe this is a question worth asking? If you can suspend your incredulity for a moment, ‘What If’ has its bright moments. And that’s thanks in large part to its leads, who manage to do what [Daniel] Radcliffe has always done well: conjure up a little magic.” – Stephanie Merry

★★★½ “Finding Fela” (Unrated) “The captivating and meticulous new film by Alex Gibney (‘The Armstrong Lie’) is both a standard biography and a making-of movie, blending concert and interview footage of Fela, as he was universally known (even to his children), with scenes from rehearsals and performances of ‘Fela!’.” – Michael O’Sullivan

★★ “The Hundred-Foot Journey” (PG) “French and Indian restaurants stage a culinary showdown in ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey,’ but the result is neither rich nor spicy. This rom-com-drama is merely amiable, even when the two central couples pretend to be bristlingly incompatible.” – Mark Jenkins

★★ “About Alex” (R) “ ‘About Alex’ isn’t just about the faux-closeness of Facebook. The movie might have been stronger had it mined that theme more thoroughly, rather than floating the idea without ever fully following through. But like the online medium it fitfully critiques, the movie never digs very deep. Maybe that’s the point, given that the title seems like an intentional misnomer. This isn’t some well-drawn portrait of a hopeless young man so much as a cursory glimpse of fading intimacy.” – Stephanie Merry

★½ “Into the Storm” (PG-13) “If Americans are getting bigger, as we’re constantly reminded we are, we need a movie villain that can keep pace. That’s one thing the disaster flick ‘Into the Storm’ has going for it. The tornado that threatens to decimate Silverton, Okla., during the movie’s climax isn’t so much a well-defined cyclone as an amorphous blob that lumbers destructively across great distances. It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man of twisters.” – Stephanie Merry

★★★ “Norte, the End of History” (Unrated) “ ‘Norte’ is more than four hours and challengingly austere by Hollywood standards. Yet it’s easier to watch than the work of many ‘slow cinema’ stars whose films are hailed at international festivals. The story has forward momentum, and the near-static interludes that punctuate it are beautifully composed and photographed.” – Mark Jenkins

★★ “Deepsea Challenge 3D” (PG) “The movie, which documents the filmmaker’s 2012 expedition — in his personal submarine — to the deepest point in all of Earth’s oceans, features less 3-D footage of sea cucumbers and exotic octopi than of [James] Cameron’s nose. It’s a movie about exploring the vast, ‘dark continent’ of the ocean’s deepest places (to quote Cameron, who produced and narrates the film) that ends up feeling claustrophobic.” – Michael O’Sullivan

★½ “Step Up All In” (PG-13) “Every dance number in ‘Step Up All In,’ whether it takes place in a bar, a boxing ring or a Las Vegas gladiatorial arena, is a battle sequence. The mostly male crews — whose routines are a mix of breakdancing, Bob Fosse musicals and Chippendales routines — mime hitting and shooting each other. In one impressively vulgar moment, the dancers simulate urinating on their opponents. The moral of all this macho territorial marking? That dancing is love.” – Mark Jenkins

Macy L. Freeman is an editorial aide for the Weekend/Going Out Guide section at The Washington Post.

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Maura Judkis · August 8, 2014