Capsule Movie Reviews (May 1): 'The Protector 2' and six more

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NEW RELEASE
The Protector 2
R, 1 HR., 44 MINS.
Thai martial-arts maestro Tony Jaa’s newest film overloads on terrible F/X that rob the film of the actor’s usual brute-force balleticism. Also, RZA plays the bad guy — and someone needs to tell the Wu-Tang master that he can’t act (or fight). The Protector 2 does have a loony charm (actual line of dialogue: “You lost your elephant again?”), and Jija Yanin Wismitanan has a scene-stealing turn as a lady warrior seeking — wait for it — vengeance. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B-Darren Franich

NEW RELEASE
Beneath the Harvest Sky
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 56 MINS.
Two close friends (Emory Cohen and Callan McAuliffe) in northern Maine are trying to reach escape velocity from their no-horse town when one gets involved in smuggling prescription pills over the Canadian border. The film’s first half feels almost as directionless as its characters, but the detailed specificity of the milieu and story proves engrossing. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B –Keith Staskiewicz

NEW RELEASE
For a Woman
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 50 MINS.
In 1990s France, a Jewish filmmaker (Sylvie Testud) researches her family’s post-WWII history as fodder for her next project. What she discovers — her father had a mysterious brother and her mother was caught between them — unravels ploddingly in flashbacks. The acting is largely irreproachable, but the direction is leaden, and the movie just can’t overcome its clunky framing device and nagging air of inauthenticity. It’s a big step down for writer-director Diane Kurys, who explored similar semiautobiographical terrain much more compellingly in 1984’s Entre Nous. C+ –Missy Schwartz

For No Good Reason
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 29 MINS.
Ralph Steadman, the manic pen-and-ink Mutt to Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo-journalist Jeff, is the focus of this meandering doc spearheaded by friend and fan Johnny Depp. The British illustrator’s process of creating his surreally deranged, truth-to-power cartoons is fascinating, but the rest of the film lacks the same mad spark. B –Chris Nashawaty

NEW RELEASE
Ida
PG-13, 1 HR., 20 MINS.
Lit in a saintly black-and-white glow, Pawel Pawlikowski’s austere Polish import tells the Soviet-era story of a young woman (Agata Trzebuchowska) raised by nuns who learns that she’s Jewish and that her parents were killed by the man who hid them during the war. With her brassy, determined aunt, Ida sets off to find answers and discovers life beyond the convent walls in this leisurely but satisfying journey. B –Chris Nashawaty

NEW RELEASE
Now: In the Wings on the World Stage
NOT RATED, 1 HR., 33 MINS.
In 2011, Kevin Spacey reteamed with American Beauty director Sam Mendes for a world tour of Richard III that played 198 shows around the globe. The doc about that experience flirts with actorly indulgence: In one eye-roller of a scene, Spacey expounds on his love of theater, stogie in hand, on a yacht opulent enough for Jordan Belfort. Still, the film is an engaging look at the gypsy life of road performers — and catnip to Shakespeare and theater buffs. (Also available on VOD) B+ –Jason Clark

WORST MOVIE OF THE WEEK
Bad Johnson
NOT RATED, 1HR., 28 MINS.
Long story short: Well-endowed cheater Rich (Cam Gigandet) prays for his junk to stop wrecking his relationships and then wakes up to find his tool is no longer in the shed, so to speak. (Remember Big? It’s like that — except instead of growing a foot, he loses a few key inches.) Even worse, Rich’s detached organ has morphed into an actual dude (Nick Thune) who is, naturally, a bit of a prick. (Or as Rich puts it, “My d— is an a–hole!”) The jokes are flaccid, the acting is stiff, and the whole idea is such a boner, you have to wonder if the writer was missing another critical organ when he came up with it. D- –Adam Markovitz

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