"Beautiful Creatures" — The genders have been reversed but the supernatural, star-crossed teen angst remains firmly intact in this drama that clearly aims to pick up where the "Twilight" franchise left off. Writer-director Richard LaGravenese's film, based on the first novel in the young adult series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, oozes Southern Gothic eccentricity and some amusing if inconsistent touches of camp. But a strong cast of likable and, yes, beautiful actors can only do so much with the formula in which they're forced to work. And, like the "Twilight" movies, the special effects are all too often distractingly cheesy. The setup breathes some new life into such familiar material, though, as co-stars Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert feel like actual awkward teens enjoying the fraught thrills of first love. Once the plot machinations start grinding in the second half, though, "Beautiful Creatures" as a whole grinds to a halt. Spells and scenery-chewing can be a hoot; watching other people sitting around scouring ancient tomes for clues, not so much. Ehrenreich plays a restless teen in small-town South Carolina who's smitten by Englert's mysterious new girl. Turns out she's a witch — and she's probably doomed — but could true love with a mortal save her? Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum and Viola Davis co-star. PG-13 for violence, scary images and some sexual material. 123 minutes. Two stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"A Good Day to Die Hard" — It's supposed to be a parody of itself, right? That's the only way to explain this ridiculously over-the-top, repetitively numbing fifth film in the "Die Hard" franchise. John McClane used to be a cowboy. Now, he's a cartoon character — specifically, Wile E. Coyote, given how many times he should be seriously injured and/or killed in this movie. The most he suffers is a scratch here and there, and then he's ready to pop back up again with a bemused twinkle in his eye and a wry quip. Part of the charm of this career-defining Bruce Willis' character was the regular-guy, Reagan-era resourcefulness he represented; now, he's weirdly superhuman. But as charismatic as Willis ordinarily is, even he can't fool us into thinking he's enjoying himself this time. "A Good Day to Die Hard" is pointless and joyless, a barrage of noise and chaos, an onslaught of destruction without the slightest mention of consequence. Director John Moore mistakes shaky-cam and dizzying zooms for artistic finesse in his action sequences. But the most obnoxious element of all may be the father-son feel-goodery that occurs in the midst of all this madness. You see, Willis' unstoppable New York cop has traveled to Moscow to track down his bitter, estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), whom he believes to be in criminal trouble. Jack is actually a spy working undercover to protect a government whistleblower (Sebastian Koch), and dad has arrived just in time to ruin his mission. Now they must work together — and bond. R for violence and language. 97 minutes. One star out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
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