The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – While better than the boring, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” this middle chapter of “The Hobbit” saga still suffers from a bloated story, uninteresting characters and the sense that not a whole heck of a lot is actually happening.
The sequel does benefit from better fight scenes, including an inspired barrel roll along a river, and the return of Orlando Bloom’s Legolas. Benedict Cumberbatch’s vocal performance as the dragon Smaug is worth its weight in gold though.
August: Osage County – Based on Tracy Letts’ play, this depressing drama features the reunion of three sisters who quickly remember why they parted ways as their loathsome mother (Meryl Streep) makes their lives hell. The film features some very likable actors, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and Julianne Nicholson in some truly unlikable roles. Streep and Roberts earned Oscar nominations for their performances, but there’s little reason to watch this, let alone buy it unless you’re a major Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts fan.
Grudge Match – A boxing comedy/drama starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro as two rivals that have finally decided to settle the score once and for all.
Despite fun supporting roles from Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin, the film is too dramatic to be a straight up comedy, but errs a bit too silly to be taken seriously as a drama leading to a film that’s less knockout and mostly punch drunk.