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Madea gets an 'Ice-T' makeover and a surprisingly bad attitude as a cop in 'Alex Cross.'
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"ALEX CROSS" (PG-13) HH
TYLER PERRY, MATTHEW FOX, RACHEL NICHOLS, GIANCARLO ESPOSITO
Tyler Perry deserves some credit for trying to stretch beyond his expected movies about families, social problems and Madea.
But both he and director Rob Cohen are over their heads here, delivering a police thriller with a strong bad guy, but police who seem like total duds.
Matthew Fox is much more impressive as the crazed killer here, very much looking the part with a shaved head and a much thinner frame than he had in his "Lost" TV days.
Perry kind of grows on you as the title character, but never really makes you believe he's a homicide detective who is a brilliantly deductive forensic psychologist.
As this story is told, the police do little but run from one disaster to the next, never really gaining much on the killer until the final few minutes.
More problematic is the action that, from the start, seems to have been filmed in a fuzzy, out-of-focus way, too often framed in such tight quarters that you can't see the people acting it out.
Another problem: we barely get to know some of the main characters before they are no longer with us, their demise adding little impact to the film.
In the end, it all feels like a jumbled mess instead of a big-budget blockbuster that you might expect from a movie based on a James Patterson story.
Rated PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity. 101 min. [MC, RA, RF]
"PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4" (R) H
KATIE FEATHERSTON, KATHRYN NEWTON, MATT SHIVELY
What started out in the first film as a captivating phenomenon--making life in an all-too-typical house terrifying--has lost all its oomph.
In the first film, the surveillance cameras installed to understand bumps in the night made for footage that was really scary to see. But they haven't injected a new idea since, and the formula no longer works.
In the first film, the minimalist approach was surprisingly effective, with noise, light and movements in a supposedly safe house making for real chills.
But by this--the fourth film--it feels like an old dog with nary a new trick.
Audiences who've seen found-footage fear-fests are tired of it, as you could tell from a recent showing here.
At least there's a new character or two this time around. One is an an eerie, odd child new to the neighborhood, but from the first moments, you can see where this is all going.
Attempts to wrap all the series' scares into a unified sort of mythology are as silly as the ending of this dud.
Rated R for language and some violence/terror. 95 min. [MC, PV, RA]