Movie Reviews: Paper Towns, Pixels, Cartel Land | Buzz Blog

Movie Reviews: Paper Towns, Pixels, Cartel Land

Also: Unexpected, Southpaw, Aloft

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Adaptations of a young-adult bestseller and a two-minute short film join a pair of Sundance 2015 entries among new releases in Utah theaters.

In Pixels, Adam Sandler takes a fun concept—an alien invasion in the form of vintage video-game characters—and applies his now-typical approach of executing it in the laziest manner possible. Paper Towns (pictured) delivers the latest from The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, but the expected teen romance—between a high school student (Nat Wolff) and his dream girl (Cara Delevingne)—turns instead into a charming tale of teen friendship. The documentary Cartel Land tries to explore the drug trade from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, but winds up with only half of a fascinating narrative. Aloft proves to be far too literal at applying its chilly, remote setting to the story of a faith healer (Jennifer Connelly) and the estranged son (Cillian Murphy) trying to track her down.

Danny Bowes finds the appeal of the central relationship in Unexpectedbetween a white teacher (Cobie Smulders) and her black student (Gail Bean) both coping with unplanned pregnancies—overcoming a script that's sometimes overwritten and dramatically slight.

In this week's feature review, the familiar rags-to-riches arc of an underdog boxing narrative gets an effective twist to match Jake Gyllenhaal's strong lead performance in Southpaw.

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