The Finest Hours
⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of peril.


There’s the film that’s set on the sea and much of that is pretty terrific, even if it brings to mind “A Perfect Storm.” And then there’s the film set on land, and that one runs aground. “The Finest Hours,” based on the true story of the valiant 1952 Coast Guard rescue of a sinking oil tanker off the coast of Massachusetts, splits in two — much like the wounded vessel at its heart. Chris Pine leads the team of Coast Guardsmen tasked with saving the 30-plus crew from the Pendleton (the two crews include fine actors Ben Foster, Eric Bana and Casey Affleck). These harrowing sea scenes provide the film with its most suspenseful and rewarding moments. Yet they are interrupted to go back to town, where Pine’s headstrong fiancée waits anxiously for him to return — bogging down the film with a weak romantic element.
Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Ip Man 3
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for martial arts violence and language.
Theater: Inver Grove.


Any movie that features Hong Kong martial arts/action star Donnie Yen going up against Mike Tyson with fight choreography designed by Yuen Woo-Ping (“The Matrix,” “Kill Bill”) at least has a sense of humor about itself. But “Ip Man 3” — the latest in a long line of films about the legendary Ip Man, the real-life master who trained Bruce Lee in the mighty art of the wing chun style of kung fu — is more than this burst of stunt casting and pop-culture cool suggests.

It’s also surprisingly touching and personal, confounding the usual downward spiral of sequels. It’s more visceral and fun than its two predecessors. “Ip Man” and “Ip Man 2” portrayed the character as a freedom fighter in China against the invading Japanese in the ’30s and in Hong Kong against British colonialism in the ’40s respectively. In “Ip Man 3,” it’s 1959 and an older Ip Man (Yen, reprising his role) has settled into an easy, quiet life. But, as in “The Godfather” — where just when you thought you were out, they drag you back in — trouble comes looking for him. Frank (Tyson), an American crime lord in Hong Kong, wants the property where Ip Man’s son attends school. Amazing martial arts sequences ensue, obviously. Meanwhile, Ip Man has to deal with his wife being diagnosed with terminal cancer. It’s this side of the film that gives it an emotional resonance that’s not usually found in martial-arts movies.


A Perfect Day
⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: R for language with some sexual references.
Theater: St. Anthony Main.


Benicio Del Toro shambling around like a latter-day Robert Mitchum is the best reason to see “A Perfect Day.” A serviceable, watchable movie set someplace in the Balkans in 1995, this oddity was shot in Spain and features a tight, largely English-speaking cast — including Tim Robbins. There’s not much of a story, which wouldn’t be bad if there was something other than blasts of music filling the longueurs. The action, such as it is, involves Del Toro, playing an international aid worker, and his friend B (Robbins) trying to help locals while also doing their best to stay alive.

“A Perfect Day” is a movie of moments, some quite fine. The most memorable of these have little to do with the aid workers, though. These would be the miseries that surround them — the bullet-pocked buildings, the orphaned, the starving, the desperate and the dead. There’s another story in “A Perfect Day,” one that oozes in between the cracked walls and gallows humor and finally has little to do with this movie.


Lazer Team
⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for sexual material, language, action violence, teen partying, smoking.
Theater: Eden Prairie.


Anyone who grew up on a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons will appreciate the good-natured “Lazer Team.” Begun as an Indiegogo campaign and now a full-fledged feature film, it focuses on four doofuses whose fireworks horseplay out in the woods brings down an alien craft. The UFO was on a secret mission from good aliens to bring our government a special suit that a trained warrior would wear to battle an evil alien coming to destroy humankind.

Of course, our dunderheaded quartet finds the suit and each straps on a different part. Together, they make one superhero. Since the new gadgets become a permanent part of the person wearing them, they can’t be removed. So it’s up to these cowardly four to save Earth. The effects are cheesy but that’s the point. The only thing missing from “Lazer Team” are constant commercial breaks for too-sugary cereals.