Capsule reviews of ‘Rodanthe’ and other films

Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

The Lucky Ones” – The latest casualty in Hollywood’s unsatisfying parade of war-on-terror dramas, a movie built on unlikelihoods that gradually advance to wild improbabilities. Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams and Michael Pena manage occasional moments of humor and pathos as three wounded Iraq War veterans on an impromptu road trip across America. But mostly, the screenplay by director Neil Burger and co-writer Dirk Wittenborn forges a false camaraderie by hurling the three lead players into one artificial situation after another. The disparate veterans bicker and broil, but they repeatedly have one another’s backs through a bar scuffle, a strange church service, a stranger society shindig, clashes with civilians over the Iraq conflict and any number of interpersonal crises. Though our heroes don’t always get what they want, the road manages to toss up precisely what they need. Unfortunately, there’s little subtlety to the roadblocks, detours, U-turns and handy pit stops Burger and his team concoct. R for language and some sexual content. 104 min. Two stars out of four.

David Germain, AP Movie Writer

Miracle at St. Anna” – The most technically ambitious film in Spike Lee’s long and eclectic career. After acclaimed character dramas (“Malcolm X,” ”Do the Right Thing”), some ill-fated comedies (“Bamboozled,” ”She Hate Me”) and even a documentary or two (“4 Little Girls”), Lee takes on a big, old-fashioned war picture. It’s hard not to appreciate the fact that, after a quarter-century of making movies, he’s chosen this time to leap so boldly away from his comfort zone. But he might not have been ready for the enormity of such a project. “Miracle at St. Anna” is wildly unfocused in terms of tone and, at two hours and 40 minutes, it’s unjustifiably overlong. Lee didn’t write the script – that’s the work of James McBride, who based his screenplay on his novel of the same name – but he didn’t rein in his writer, either, perhaps because he feels so strongly about the subject matter. “Miracle” tells of the men of the 92nd Infantry Division, black troops who served in Italy during World War II and were known as Buffalo Soldiers. Lee has long been critical of films about the war such as Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” for depicting only the white U.S. soldiers who fought. This is his response – voluminous and full of unmistakable anger. That’s not the only emotion that comes out in loud bursts. In following four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines in Tuscany (Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso and Omar Benson Miller), Lee jumps from visceral battle scenes to intimate drama to lighthearted comedy. Regardless of the situation, though, he smothers everything, as usual, in the distractingly horn-heavy score of his longtime collaborator, composer and jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard. R for strong war violence, language and some sexual content/nudity. 160 min. Two stars out of four.

Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

Nights in Rodanthe” – The last time we saw Richard Gere and Diane Lane, in the 2002 guilty pleasure “Unfaithful,” they were running off together after covering up Gere’s murder of Lane’s hot, young, Parisian lover. Ah, those were the good old days. Their latest pairing, “Nights in Rodanthe,” finds them falling for each other under circumstances that are even more contrived. Gere plays a stoic surgeon on a mission to right a wrong; Lane plays an earthy mother of two who has separated from her cheating husband. Gere is the only guest at a remote coastal North Carolina inn; Lane just happens to be overseeing the place – as a favor to a friend – the weekend Gere is staying there. And wouldn’t you know it? There’s a hurricane on the way. Surely you see where this is going, and because “Nights in Rodanthe” is based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook,” ”A Walk to Remember”), you know it can’t end happily. We wouldn’t dream of giving anything away, but bring tissues if you’re the sentimental type. You’d pretty much have to be sentimental to tolerate such schlock, or at least be willing to check your cynicism at the multiplex door. Gere and Lane make the first half of director George C. Wolfe’s movie surprisingly tolerable, simply because they have such an obvious comfort with each other (they also co-starred in “The Cotton Club” back in 1984). Both have been around long enough to find some nuance within the potentially treacly script from Ann Peacock and John Romano. But then the storm comes – and it washes away all that good will. PG-13 for some sensuality. 96 min. Two stars out of four.

Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic