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Movie: Hercules (2014)
Rating: ** out of *****
Notes: The leader of a band of bounty hunters, fresh off their latest case, just needs to take on one more prolific caper so they can all retire, when along the daughter of a suspicious rich real estate owner who is willing to pay them an exorbitant fee to take on an easy job - or so they think! Sound familiar? Like every third heist movie you've ever seen? Funny, because the leader is Dwayne Johnson as Hercules, and he has to fight off a small army for a king before being betrayed blah blah blah. You know exactly how this plays out, the only difference being the special effects. For $100 mil, it's visually competent enough, and there's lots of promised fantasy battle action, but the big gimmick is that Hercules is just a guy, so all the implied mythological wonder keeps getting revealed as mundane bad guys to get beaten up. Ha ha, you came to see a fantasy epic, but it's just The Rock punching people in Roman times and some LotR wannabe sidekicks. Quite a bait and switch, but if you can be satisfied with that after being promised more, the remainder that didn't fall through the sieve is tolerable.

Movie: Pelican Dreams (2014)
Rating: **1/2 out of *****
Notes: Directed by Judy Irving, best known for her last avian doc, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," "Pelican Dreams' is billed as following the journey of Gigi, a pelican stranded on the Golden Gate Bridge in ill health, as she is nursed back to the point of release. In actuality, this takes up only about a quarter of the doc. The remainder is about half pelican nature doc and half new-agey music and poetry overlaying gorgeous footage of pelicans skimming the waves or soaring at sunsets. The narration is extremely slow and drawn out, leaving many gaps to pad out the runtime to 90 minutes. In many ways, this should really be a National Geographic half-hour feature instead of a full length big-screen presentation. But if pelicans or even just birds are your thing, it may appeal to those nature lovers.

Movie: To Be Takei (2014)
Rating: *** out of *****
Notes: A documentary about the life of Star Trek's Mr. Sulu, George Takei. It's actually almost a third as much a documentary about his husband, Brad Takei, as well, as they appear inseparable for most of the film. There's very little about what many viewers may have come to see, that being Star Trek and his current internet fame. Instead, it jumps back and forth between his family's life in the WW2 internment camps presented in the context of his paid speeches and theatrical play, and George and Brad wandering the streets of various cities doing stuff: walking in the park, eating, driving, getting a haircut, signing autographs, etc. While they are personable and the doc really does a great job at humanizing the pair, it's not very fan-oriented and appears more message-driven, as a vehicle for Takei's activism regarding WW2 history. Most memorable of what Takei does say of his fellow actors consists mainly of attacks on Shatner, while his colleagues just lend amiable contextual commentary. If you go into it with the right expectations, you'll probably get its maximum potential, which is relatively mild.

Next: Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, Edge Of Tomorrow, Mr. Peabody & Sherman

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