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>> 'LOOPER' IS A COMPELLING STORY WITH GOOD ACTING AND GREAT ACTION TIME TRAVEL THAT WORKS

October 4, 2012 12:10 am

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Bruce Willis and his younger self are violently repulsed by sloppy, slimy eggs.

"LOOPER" (R) HHH

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, BRUCE WILLIS, EMILY BLUNT

Don't spend too much time trying to think through all the time-travel contradictions here. It'll just make your head hurt.

Instead, enjoy the action, performances and a story that explores what people might do if they have a chance for a do-over at life.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the young "looper," a person whose job it is to kill people sent back from the future, where apparently it's tougher to commit murder and dispose of a body.

In a rough and tumble world, his character doesn't seem to have much trouble pulling the trigger on his big blunderbuss when the hooded folks from the future arrive.

At least he doesn't until the fellow from the future is an older him, played by Bruce Willis.

The film really feels like two different movies, with a sci-fi beginning that deals with the grim future and all the time-travel stuff. It morphs into a very different segment when the young looper heads out into the hinterlands, meeting a young woman (Emily Blunt) and her son, who has immense psychic power.

It's here the story turns, as the idea of nature vs. nurture comes to center stage, with the young looper forced to decide what he holds dear.

There are holes in the plot here and there, and Gordon-Levitt looks a little odd wearing a fake nose to enhance his resemblance to Willis.

But this movie has a unique power and pace, with enough action and story twists to keep things moving.

Gordon-Levitt continues to impress, both Willis and Blunt are as strong as they typically are and there's a cool twist at the end that most won't see coming.

It's all enough to make you hope this whole looper "kill future problems in the past" thing never comes to pass.

Rated R for violence, language, sexuality/nudity, drug content. 119 min. [MC, PV, RA]

"HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA" (PG) HH

ADAM SANDLER, KEVIN JAMES, ANDY SAMBERG

While it's certainly nothing deep, this tale of a Dracula dad scared of letting his little bat-let fly off into the future is funny, sweet and--thankfully--fine for youngsters to see.

You can't say that about too many Adam Sandler movies.

The story: Drac operates Hotel Transylvania, a place where monsters can vacation without having to worry about running into those horrendous humans who the monsters fear.

Things are thrown into a bit of a Transylvania twirl when a young hiker stumbles into the hotel and develops feelings for Drac's daughter, Mavis.

There's rich comedic material here, with monsters like Frankenstein, the wolf man, the mummy and so many more showing up at the hotel. Thankfully, it's not too scary. The monsters are mostly silly instead of sinister.

The real difference here for Sandler is that he's forced to work clean and create some truly funny moments instead of using his typical lazy, off-color stuff.

Yes, there have been more than enough kiddy cartoons lately, but this one has a little something different to make it fun and funny.

Rated PG for some rude humor, action and scary images. 95 min. [MC, RA, RF]

"WON'T BACK DOWN" (PG) HH

VIOLA DAVIS, MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, HOLLY HUNTER

Though at times this film strikes an emotional chord (who isn't inspired by folks trying to fix a failing school for their children?), it never quite feels real.

Though Viola Davis is compelling as a teacher who knows her school is failing, Maggie Gyllenhaal and the whole "system is broken" setup both come off as forced.

Gyllenhaal plays the parent trying to create a new school. Oddly she has the same silly smile on her face the whole time, as if it's all a joke.

Yes, there are very real problems in education, with the bureaucracy in large cities sometimes to blame. But this film tries to make the problems and solutions all so simply black and white that it doesn't hold water.

Here, we find out that the teachers' union is at fault. The twists and turns of the battle between parents and the union are so simplistic and overdone, the story suffers.

Rated PG for thematic elements, language. 101 min. [MC, RA, RF]





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