Weekend movies: Thumbs up on “Bears,” but “Heaven” isn’t for real and “Transcendence” is trashed”

No surprise that another of Disneynature’s engaging, kid-friendly documentaries has earned universal thumbs up from critics. “Bears” has really good photography, faintly cute (ok, cloying) narration by the ursine John C. Reilly, and no bear dies. What’s not to love? Or at least, in my case, like?

The critics — myself included — have been brutal to “Transcendence.” There are plenty of actors, like Kevin Spacey, who have a hard time playing “dumb.” A few, like Matt Damon and Cameron Diaz, are adept at both dumb and smart or at least cunning. Johnny Depp does dumb, and nothing about his performance here suggests “brilliant scientist.” No chemistry with his adoring “wife” (Rebecca Hall), a thriller lacking thrills or suspense. Paul Bettany acquits himself, but the rest? Not so much. Early fanboy raves for this only reveal why fanboys don’t make good critics.

“Heaven is for Real” earns some points for being so unlike the shrill, anti-intellectual screed “God’s Not Dead.” It won’t make nearly as much money, I predict, because shrill sells — when it comes to conservative, evangelical-aimed faith-based films. BEn Stein is still laughing all the way to the bank for the rubes who bought into his Creationist documentary, “Expelled.” But the sweet, embracing and childlike “Heaven” works well enough to earn meekly respectable reviews.

“Fading Gigolo” goes into release this weekend, and John Turturro scores points for giving Woody Allen his most Woody-like role in ages. Other than that? Pretty forgettable movie, a poor mishmash of genres, tones, etc. Still a passing grade on the Tomatometer, but aside from that.

And hey, “Under the Skin.” the weirdest spin on the “Starman” story of an alien (Scarlett Johansson) among us, opens wider this weekend. If you’re into sci-fi, this is what challenging science fiction looks and sounds like. Pretty good.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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