FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rating: G, for general audiences
Theater: Science Museum of Minnesota Omnitheater.

 

When zoologist Fred Urquhart leans down within five minutes of arriving on a Mexican mountaintop and finds a tagged monarch butterfly that proves his migration theory, it seems too Hollywood to be believed. And yet that’s what really happened almost 40 years ago, when the monarchs’ long-sought winter sanctuary finally was found. The story is charmingly told in “Flight of the Butterflies,” the latest Omnitheater offering at the Science Museum of Minnesota. That the tag was placed by a schoolkid in Hopkins seems too Lake Wobegon to be believed. And yet that’s also what really happened. The Minnesota connection changed the course of history. You’ll leave better informed about monarchs and environmental concerns, but also a little awed by the twists and turns and darn good luck behind a lot of scientific advancements.
KIM ODE

 

LEFT BEHIND
⋆ out of four stars
Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, violence/peril and brief drug content.

 

The end of the world is a cheesy-looking bore, at least as depicted in this, the second movie based on the first book in the bestselling, Rapture-themed “Left Behind” series. Adding the star power of Nicolas Cage has not upped the quality. Cage left Las Vegas a long time ago, but he can still bring the on-screen intensity for which he’s notorious. Unfortunately, he’s downright lackadaisical as the pilot of a plane in trouble, uttering such lines as “We might have lost the landing gear” as if it were “Don’t forget to buy milk.” You’d think anticipating the Rapture would inspire a great sense of urgency, but the rest of the cast, including Lea Thompson as his wife and Cassi Thomson (“Big Love”) as his daughter, also recite dialogue like they’re sitting around at a first table reading. As for the action, realistically depicting large-scale disaster takes a budget this $15 million movie didn’t have. Fans of the evangelical-Christian film genre, which is a growing money maker at the box office due to the enthusiasm of its target audiences, should demand higher production values instead of blindly supporting a movie just because they appreciate its themes.
KRISTIN TILLOTSON

 

ANNABELLE
⋆½ out of four stars
Rating: R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror.

 

Last year’s “The Conjuring,” a pretty good horror movie that managed to be genuinely frightening, inspired not only a sequel, due out next year, but this prequel, featuring the sinister doll Annabelle, whose ugly mug could give Chucky’s a run for its money. A promising start, in which a Wonder Bread young 1960s couple (Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton, whose faces appear to be so Botoxed they look like expressionless plastic dolls themselves) find that their next-door neighbors have been slain by a Manson-like cult, quickly devolves into derivative predictability. A slumming Alfre Woodard gives it her all, but is wasted as a bookstore owner who dabbles in occultism. In horror, there really is nothing new left to discover under the devil moon, so the secret to startling audiences, or at least raising hairs on the backs of necks, lies in deft direction and editing, both missing here.
K.T.