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Wednesday movie roundup: ‘Snowpiercer’ on track

First Published      Last Updated Jul 02 2014 02:46 pm

The best movie opening on this Fourth of July weekend is, appropriately, an independent film.

"Snowpiercer" is an eye-popping, thought-provoking and entirely original post-apocalyptic action drama. In a near-future where the Earth is barren and frozen (thanks to a botched attempt to cure global warming), the last remnants of humanity live on a train that's constantly circumnavigating the planet. The train is split by economic classes, with the rich up front and the rabble in the rear. That rabble, led by the reluctant warrior Curtis (Chris Evans), plots revolt, and hatches a daring plan to get to the front of the train. Korean director Bong Joon-ho ("The Host"), making his English-language debut, plants surprises in every train car, with dynamic action and nail-biting tension that grips you to the end of the line.

The big studio opening this weekend is "Tammy," a comedy that lets that one-woman fireball Melissa McCarthy shine in the solo spotlight. She plays a woman whose life is falling apart, so she hits the road with her alcoholic grandma (Susan Sarandon). McCarthy (aided by the director, and her husband, Ben Falcone) produces the laughs as she hones her trademark bulldog persona, but adds some shading in the movie's tender moments.

"Earth to Echo" is a pleasant, though derivative, kids' adventure, sort of an "E.T." for the smartphone age. Three pre-teen pals (Teo Halm, Brian "Astro" Bradley, Reese Hartwig) follow mysterious signals out to the desert, where they discover a tiny mechanical alien who's a long way from home. Director Dave Green creates some cool visuals, and cleverly expands the found-footage genre (the whole movie is seen from the cameras and cellphones of the kids themselves).

The documentary "America" opens in some theaters this weekend. It's the latest anti-Obama screed by conservative author and convicted felon Dinesh D'Souza, and plays like two hours of Fox News with slightly better production values. If you want to see it, you probably aren't reading this blog.

Lastly, there's the horror drama "Deliver Us From Evil," starring Eric Bana as a cop investigating strange doings involving demon possession. It was not screened for local critics, but The Cricket will be posting a review later today.