New releases this week will have you coming and going.
The Maze Runner, B-minus: Young captives must find a way out of a giant maze. Based on the James Dashner young-adult dystopian science fiction novels.
Director Wes Ball gets off to a fast start, in part by the way the movie is put together and because the story is so thin there's no need to spend time explaining things. The combination of Ball's direction and solid performances gives the characters some depth. Ball has also done a good job creating the world, which comes across as both grand and claustrophobic.
The scenes where the runners - those who daily travel through the maze to map it - deal with massive sliding doors is not for anyone who gets uncomfortable in tight confines. The action is the main draw.
This Is Where I Leave You, B-minus: Give all the credit to Jason Bateman for making this work. The former Arrested Development star, one of the more underrated actors working today, gives this family dramedy the emotional core needed to hold together the less interesting storylines.
The problem is that the film is based on Jonathan Tropper's novel, where characters get more attention. There's no way for the film to service all of the plots the same. Still, director Shawn Levy, who faced a similar glut of characters with Cheaper by the Dozen, finds a way, even with the shortcuts, to give the film a sweet, likable quality.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, B-minus: New York's under attack by the sinister Shredder. It's up to Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo to save the day in this action film.
The big problem is there's too much April O'Neil (Megan Fox) and not enough Turtles. When they make a movie called No Longer a Teenager Tattooed Movie Star, then Fox can take over.
Despite the focus on Fox, the Turtles are still fun-loving and rear-kicking enough to save the day.
Also new on DVD:
The Skeleton Twins: Estranged twins get back together after near-death experiences.
Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever: Aubrey Plaza provides the voice.
Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr., Season 2: A look at family histories of 29 recognizable names.
Makers, Volume 2: Tells the stories of women in six spheres of influence.
Expedition to the End of the World: Crew sets sail for the rapidly melting massifs of Northeast Greenland.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Final Season: Stories of lives and loves of the gang attending S. Peter Pryor Junior College.
Arrested Development, Season 4: Continuing story of the Bluth family. Jason Bateman stars.