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Capsule reviews of 'Wrath of the Titans,' 'Bully' and other new movie releases
"Bully" ' This documentary is essential to see, whether you're a parent or a kid, whether you've been on the giving or receiving end of such increasingly pervasive cruelty. But it's also frustrating to watch, because while the stories included here are undeniably moving by nature, they're not exactly told in the most artful way, rendering "Bully" far less emotionally impactful than it might have been. Director Lee Hirsch's film grows repetitive and seems longer than its relatively brief running time. Tonally, it bounces with no rhyme or reason between a handful of students across the country who've suffered from bullying; technically, it feels a bit messy, with needless zooms and images that fade in and out of focus. Perhaps that was an intentional aesthetic choice. Either way, it's distracting and headache-inducing. Still, if "Bully" does nothing more than provide the impetus for a dialogue, it achieves its purpose. Hirsch spent a year with about a half-dozen families with children who've been bullied at school ' teased, abused, humiliated and ostracized ' behavior which adults too often sweep aside with the cliche that kids will be kids. Not rated but contains some violence and disturbing situations involving kids and teens and some language. 94 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
' Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Goon" ' For a movie about ragged, trash-talking thugs beating the crap out of each other on the ice, this is surprisingly sweet. It's not a Judd Apatow production but it does feature his signature brand ' a balance of raunchiness and heart that's hard to strike ' as well as some of his old friends. Seth Rogen's frequent writing partner, Evan Goldberg, teams up this time with Jay Baruchel ("Undeclared," ''Knocked Up") for a story about a bar bouncer who becomes an unlikely minor-league hockey enforcer. "Goon" is as physical and fast-paced as the sport itself, as bloody as it is profane. The violence is shot and edited in stylized fashion, with an inspired soundtrack that ranges from Rush to Puccini, but the hits feel brutal and real. Baruchel, who also plays a supporting role here, is a Montreal native and a Canadiens nut, and that love for the sport radiates through every frame. Director Michael Dowse's film is all formula, but it offers enough tweaks to make "Goon" feel unexpectedly fresh. That includes the performance from Seann William Scott, playing against type as the guileless, kind-hearted Doug Glatt, who can take a punch and, more importantly, deliver one. The ever-versatile Liev Schrieber is excellent as his rival. R for brutal violence, non-stop language, some strong sexual content and drug use. 91 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
' Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Wrath of the Titans" ' There aren't many pleasures in this 3-D sequel to the 2010 "Clash of the Titans" remake, but surely one is seeing Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson bounding around together as brothers, the gods Hades and Zeus. In long beards, the two veteran actors are suited to one another, like a divine ZZ Top. Camp is a part of the experience here, as both "Titans" films pull from an unlikely combination of traditions: ancient Greece and the 1980s. The clunky "Clash of the Titans" remade the 1981 original, bringing in boatloads of box office with a widely decried, slapped on conversion to 3-D. "Wrath," directed by Jonathan Liebesman, has modestly improved upon the 3-D this time around and better manages a narrative flow of continuous fantasy action. But that's also all there is: A charmless stream of battle and fight sequences that contorts mythic characters into blockbuster conventions. The demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) again must battle to save the world, after his father Hades and brother Ares (Edgar Ramirez) conspire to free the dormant god Kronos and release hell. Rosamund Pike adds grace and Bill Nighy adds wryness, but for a movie with flying horses, it should be funnier. PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action. 99 minutes. Two stars out of four.
' Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer