Monday, 15 October 2018

Capsule reviews of feature films

Capsule reviews of feature films
02 Aug

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP. 2.5 stars. So-so sequel to the funny original has Ant-Man helping Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) rescuing the latter’s mother from a subatomic prison, with interference form a crook (Walter Goggins) and a mysterious woman known as Ghost (Hannah Kamen-Hones). Over-plotted, strains for laughs. Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne. 2 hrs. 5 PG-13 (violence) — Gary Thompson

BLINDSPOTTING. 2.5 stars. Timely movie about an Oakland man (Daveed Diggs) whose parole is jeopardized by his rambunctious best friend (Rafael Casal). A comedy with very serious undertones that takes a sidelong look at gentrification, aggressive policing, undercut somewhat by a credulity-straining conclusion. 1 hr. 35 R (language) — Gary Thompson

DARK MONEY. 3 stars. Kimberly Reed’s absorbing documentary about the fallout from the “Citizens United” Supreme Court ruling, eliminating restrictions on political campaign spending. Focused on events in Montana, where out-of-state money shaped elections, until voters and journalists fought back. Informative and inspiring. 1 hr. 39 No MPAA rating — Gary Thompson

DEADPOOL 2. 3 stars. More darkly comic adventures about a superhero (Ryan Reynolds) who can’t die, but sometimes wants to. Also more rapid-fire, snarky R-rated jokes and movie buff in-jokes, with more attention paid this time to physical comedy and inventive stunts (courtesy director David Leitch, a former stuntman). With Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, Julian Dennison 2 hrs. R (violence) — Gary Thompson

DON’T WORRY HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT. 3 stars. Gus Van Sant directs Joaquin Phoenix in a story about disabled cartoonist John Callahan and his battle with alcoholism. A well-acted story of recovery, featuring a noteworthy against-type turn from Jonah Hill, and contributions from Jack Black and Rooney Mara. 1 hr. 53 R (language) — Gary Thompson

EIGHTH GRADE. 3.5 stars. Stand-up comedian Bo Burnham, who became famous as a teen on YouTube, wrote and directed this insightful and funny movie about a shy 13-year-old girl (Elsie Fisher), raised by a single dad (Josh Hamilton) who uses her optimistic internet profile to figure out who she is. 1 hr. 33 R (language) — Gary Thompson

THE EQUALIZER 2. 2.5 stars. Denzel Washington returns as the semi-retired assassin/agent now using his skill set to help the powerless and the abused, this time avenging the death of a good friend. Slow-moving, but the usual boost from Washington and his gravitas. With Melissa Leo. 2 hrs. 9 R (violence) — Gary Thompson

THE FIRST PURGE. 2 stars. In this prequel to the popular if depraved franchise, the near-future fascist government holds its inaugural purge event, when citizens can commit crime with impugnity for 12 hours. This time, the focus is on a cynical, sadistic attempt to target a housing project. With Y’lan Noel, Marisa Tomei. 1 hr. 37 R (violence) — Gary Thompson

FIRST REFORMED. 3.5 stars. Engrossing story of a bored, despairing country preacher (Ethan Hawke) who is spiritually awakened when called upon to counsel a young parishioner (Phillip Ettinger) who is considering an act of environmental terrorism, to the alarm of his wife (Amanda Seyfried). Uncommonly well-written by director Paul Schrader, and well acted by Hawke, Ettinger and a cast that includes Cedric the Entertainer. 1 hr. R (violence) — Gary Thompson

INCREDIBLES 2. 3 stars. Worthwhile sequel to Brad Bird’s 204 Pixar animated hit about a family of superheroes discouraged from using their power. This time, mom (Holly Hunter) confronts a villain as part of a PR campaign to bolster superheroes, while dad (Craig T. Nelson) is stuck at home with the kids. Decent blend of action and comedy, but the movie is a visual marvel, and the throwback music (from Michael Giachinno) is a treat. 1 hr. 58 PG — Gary Thompson

JURASSIC PARK: FALLEN KINGDOM. 2.5 stars. James Cromwell pays Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt to rescue dinosaurs about to be destroyed in a volcanic eruption, and after many twists and turns, they all end up in a gothic castle imperiled by a genetically engineered super-predator. Humans are on the menu, but this sequel feels more like an appetizer than a full meal. With Jeff Goldblum, Toby Jones, B.D. Wong and Rafe Spall. 2 hrs. 9 PG-13 (violence) — Gary Thompson

LEAVE NO TRACE. 3 stars. Debra Granik’s absorbing story, loosely based on fact, of a veteran (Ben Foster) found living, rather successfully, in the woods with his daughter (Thomasin McKenzie), and the efforts of Oregon officials to find a suitable home for them. Well-acted by McKenzie and Foster, and lyrically told by Granik. 1 hr. 49 PG — Gary Thompson

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN. 2.5 stars. Amanda Seyfried is renovating the Greek hotel of her mother (Meryl Streep) ahead of a big re-opening. More ABBA music, more sunny romance, as the movie splits time between its contemporary story and flashbacks to the lives of the characters 30 years earlier. Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. Cher joins the party. 1 hr. 43 PG-13 (some suggestive material) — Gary Thompson

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT. 3 stars. The globetrotting IMF team (Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg), assigned to work with a CIA guy (Henry Cavill) tries to keep stolen plutonium out of the hands of terrorists, confronting an old nemesis (Sean Harris), a mysterious new figure (Vanessa Kirby). Lots of old school action, plenty of outrageous plot turns, all in good fun. With Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett. 2 hrs. 27 PG-13 (violence) — Gary Thompson

RBG. 3 stars. Brisk, informative, often moving documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at its best when recounting her remarkable biography, and the successful legal arguments she has made to advance women’s rights in the United States. With Gloria Steinem. Directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen. 1 hr. 37 PG — Gary Thompson

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLADADO. 3 stars. South of the border, an assassin and covert agent (Benicio Del Toro) tries to salvage the life of a teen (Isabella Moner) caught up in a war among drug cartels and human traffickers. Indulges in ultra-violent and inflammatory exploitation, though Del Toro manages to make something compelling from his character’s grisly story arc. With Josh Brolin. Written by Taylor Sheridan. 2 hrs. 2 R (violence) — Gary Thompson

SKYSCRAPER. 2 stars. Dwayne Johnson in a Die-Hard, uh, homage, about a building security expert who enters a burning tower to save his wife (Neve Campbell) and kids and deal with a bunch of armed bad guys. Decent action, if you can get past the silly script. 1 hr. 42 PG-13 (violence) — Gary Thompson

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU. 3 stars. Wild comedy from rapper/activist Boots Riley about a phones sales worker (Lakeith Stanfield) who personal success puts him in conflict with other employees who want to unionize. Not all the crazy ideas work, but there are enough to sustain the movie. With Danny Glover, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer. 1 hr. 49 R (language) — Gary Thompson

UNCLE DREW. 2.5 stars. There is occasional bounce to this genial basketball comedy based on the Kyrie Irving Pepsi commercials about a 70-year-old playground legend (Irving), here rounding up a crew of old-timers (Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller) to compete in a Harlem tournament against younger players. Lil Rel Howery is there desperate coach and manager. Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll. 1 hr. 43 PG-13 (language) — Gary Thompson


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