‘Kingdom’ rises above 3 other new releases, including ‘Brave,’ ‘Lincoln’ hunting vamps

8C41-FP-00012MD.jpgGood scouts: Norton leads an odd and curious troop in searching for one of their own.Moonrise Kingdom: PG-13: sexual content and smoking; 1:34;$ $ $ $ out $5.

The quirky, cute and contagious “Moonrise Kingdom,” the latest film fromequally eccentric director/writer Wes Anderson, tops a crowded field of newnortheastesten Ohio releases atthe weekend cineplex.

In fact, his original coming-of-age story, co-written byRoman Coppola, is among the best films of the year, with its strange little boyscout (Jared Gilman) running away to meet his pen pal (Kara Hayward) during  an otherwise lazy summer in new England.

Their ’60s adventure, apparently based on a similar incident inAnderson’s youth, includes strangemoments of documentary-like narration (from the perfect Bob Balaban) and anassortment of dysfunctional adults.

The latter group is highlighted by a marvelous trio ofmelancholy males in various guises of authority: troop leader (Ed Norton),sheriff (Bruce Willis) and lawyer (Bill Murray).

Murray and Frances McDormand, as Hayward’s detached and somewhatditzy parents, also offer a stark marital contrast to the sweetinnocence of the puppy love enjoyed by the daring 12-year-olds in Anderson’s charmingly entertaining little film.

b125_71bpub.pub16.141.jpgArchery again: Bow and arrows become the weapons for another cinematic heroine, this one the colorful young Merida.Brave: PG: some scary action and rude humor; 1:33; $ $ $ out of $5

Speaking of daring, thedisappointing “Brave,” a great-looking piece of  animation from thegenerally reliable geniusesat Pixar, certainly falls short in the story department, where little girlsmight find a little fascination but likely not many others.A few men even mightbe insulted since almost every male is both drawn and written as a homelybuffoon with manners apparently befitting an ancient and gruff Scottish kingdomwhere lads can earn the hand of eligible young ladies simply by winning wildand wooly athletic competitions.Of course, the mostattractive lass in the land is stunningly red-haired Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), herself a champion-caliber archer with a tomboy bent that mostlypleases her king dad (Billy Connolly) and drives mom (Emma Thomson) bonkers.Queen Mum’sdispleasure leads to a legitimate family conflict that causes Meridato seek counsel from the film’s second most energetic character. That would be a delightfully bumbling witch (Julie Walter), who turns a key character into abear and, as a result, the proceedings into somewhat of a convoluted mish-mash.the moviejustifies its name by noting Merida’sbravery in a couple of different ways. if only the storytelling were as consistentlycourageous and not so fairy-tale film familiar.

SAF-01564-01572-R.JPGNot so world wise: Knightley and Carell share many shaky moments.Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: R: language, sexual references,,some drug use and brief violence; 1:41;$ $ $ (out of $5)Equally lackluster– despite a cleverly presented first half-hour — is “Seeking a Friendfor the End of the World,” a black comedy that withers substantially downthe stretch.actually, thingsstart changing drastically with the appearance of Keira Knightley whose kindof hippie, dippy character becomes the fingers on the blackboard throughout.she hooks up with thefilm’s other name player, Steve Carell‘s proverbial lonely man, mostly because a meteor isheaded for Earth in 21 days; his wife has freaked and run off, and he finds alost letter from his “one true love” that somehow energizes him tomove forward.Enter neighbor Knightley,who sleeps so much and so soundly that she missed the last plane back to England.Naturally, the newfound couple embark on a life-changing road trip — her tofind the pilot Carell claims can take his kooky friend back home and him to locate somebetter-late-than-never happiness.it says here that notmany will care by the predictable “end,” despite some memorablemoments from a host of supporting players, including Melanie Lynskey, PattonOswalt and William Petersen.abelincolnthumbnail.jpgAbe and his ax: Walker wields a worthy wedge in fighting creatures of the night.Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: R: violence throughout and brief sexuality; 1:45; $ $ $ out of $5Finally, what youread is what you get from the book-based “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,”a bloody piece of nonsense with lots of atmosphere and a few spectacularscenes.Stylish director TimurBekmambetov (“Wanted”) contributes a look that borrows as much from CivilWar photographer Mathew Brady as it does from HBO’s “True Blood.”Meanwhile, even ifhe himself looks more like a young Liam Neeson than honest Abe, Juilliard-schooledBenjamin Walker seems as comfortable chopping off the heads of bloodsuckers ashe does speaking out against slavery.Theway screenwriter/author Seth Grahame-Smith tells it, Lincolnlost his mom to the undead, and the rest becomes a vengeful mix of silly andfactual history. Uh, let me be clear about one more thing: the last image is a presidential hoot.

‘Kingdom’ rises above 3 other new releases, including ‘Brave,’ ‘Lincoln’ hunting vamps

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