SHARE
Mia Goth blows a kiss to the paparazzi, adoring fans, and a serial killer in "MaXXXine." Courtesy A24 Films

OPENING

 

Despicable Me 4 (PG) Where other long-running movie franchises run out of ideas, this fourth installment has so many ideas that they get in each other’s way. When a cockroach-obsessed French supervillain (voiced by Will Ferrell) busts out of prison and vows revenge on Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), our bald baddie and his family have to go into hiding and pretend to be normies in the suburbs. This would be enough plot for a movie, but this chapter piles on a new baby for Gru, a honey badger, and some of the minions gaining X-Men powers. It’s so much that even Ferrell gets lost in the shuffle, and the only part that works at all is when he and Carell duet on “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” This could have worked if it had been broken down into episodes of an animated TV show, but on the big screen, it’s exhausting. Additional voices by Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Joey King, Sofía Vergara, Madison Polan, Chris Renaud, Laraine Newman, Chloe Fineman, Pierre Coffin, Steve Coogan, and Stephen Colbert. (Opens Wednesday)

Hijack 1971 (NR) Based on a real incident, this Korean thriller stars Ha Jung-woo as a commercial airline pilot whose plane is hijacked by a North Korean spy (Yeo Jin-goo). Also with Sung Dong-il, Chae Soo-bin, and Moon You-kang. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

CELTIC LIQUOR WEB AD (300 x 250 px)

MaXXXine (R) File this under Bigger Isn’t Always Better. The trilogy from director Ti West and star Mia Goth comes to a disappointing end, as Maxine Minx (Goth) attempts to break out of porn by starring in a low-budget horror movie in 1985 Hollywood, only for someone to start killing all her friends and making the murders look like the work of the Night Stalker. The movie has tons of ideas and no sense of what to do with them, and so it does not succeed as a slasher flick, a study of the perils of fame, a look at pornography within the larger culture, or a character study of a final girl who’s willing to kill to escape her repressive background. The setting promises even more violence and sex than the previous films, and delivers on none of it. Also with Bobby Cannavale, Michelle Monaghan, Halsey, Elizabeth Debicki, Moses Sumney, Giancarlo Esposito, Sophie Thatcher, Simon Prast, Larry Fessenden, Lily Collins, and Kevin Bacon. (Opens Friday)

The Secret Art of Human Flight (PG-13) This film stars Grant Rosenmyer as a young widower who falls under the influence of a religious guru (Paul Raci) who promises to teach him how to fly through space. Also with Lucy DeVito, Nican Robinson, Rosa Arredondo, Sendhil Ramamurthy, and Maggie Grace. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot (PG-13) A follow-up of sorts to Sound of Freedom, this Christian drama is about the real-life East Texas pastors who adopted dozens of vulnerable children from the foster system. Starring Demetrius Grosse, Nika King, Elizabeth Mitchell, Diaana Babnicova, Jillian Reeves, and Taj Johnson. (Opens Thursday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (R) What it’s supposed to be and no more. Marcus (Martin Lawrence) suffers a heart attack and comes out of it believing that he’s bulletproof, which does nothing for the comedy but comes in handy as he and Mike (Will Smith) are framed along with their late captain (Joe Pantoliano) for being moles for the drug cartels and have to go on the run. The character stuff ran dry a long time ago and the stuff about the cops’ families doesn’t feel real for a second, but directors Adil and Bilall (who also did the previous Bad Boys movie) do know how to film a shootout. That’s what’s carrying this series now. Also with Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Paola Núñez, Eric Dane, Ioan Gruffudd, Jacob Scipio, Tasha Smith, Melanie Liburd, Rhea Seehorn, John Salley, Dennis Mcdonald, DJ Khaled, and Tiffany Haddish. 

The Bikeriders (R) Based on Danny Lyon’s photography book about a Chicago motorcycle gang in the 1960s and ’70s, this film is a constant battle between the strength of its acting and the weakness of its storytelling. Austin Butler stars as a young rider who’s torn between his increasingly worried wife (Jodie Comer) and the gang’s increasingly violent leader (Tom Hardy). We’ve seen this gangster story before, and writer-director Jeff Nichols (Mud) has a shaky grasp on pacing and plotting. Yet the story is carried by Comer, who narrates the devolution of the gang to Danny Lyon (Mike Faist) over the course of several years in a deep-dish Chicago accent. She’s the reason to see this motorcycle movie that passes through familiar territory. Also with Michael Shannon, Boyd Holbrook, Damon Herriman, Beau Knapp, Karl Glusman, Emory Cohen, Toby Wallace, Will Oldham, and Norman Reedus. (Opens Friday)

Blue Lock: Episode Nagi (PG-13) Soccer gets the anime treatment with above average results. Our title character is Seishiro Nagi (voiced by Nobunaga Shimazaki in the Japanese version and Bryson Baugus in the English-dubbed version), an extremely unmotivated teenager who’s convinced to try out for the soccer team and finds himself scoring goals and gaining admission to an elite soccer academy despite himself. The exaggerations of anime applied to the sport aren’t as inspired or hilarious as they might be, but the graphics are snazzy and the storytelling doesn’t have too much fat on it. Inside Out 2 is still the better movie about youth athletics, but this isn’t half bad. Additional voices by Yuma Uchida, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Matthew Elkins, Kazuki Ura, Ricco Fajardo, Tasuku Kaito, Drew Breedlove, Hiroshi Kamiya, Derick Snow, and Kamen Casey. 

Daddio (R) Dakota Johnson stars in this drama as a woman taking a cab ride from JFK International Airport into New York. Also with Sean Penn.

The Fall Guy (PG-13) This big-screen version of the 1980s TV show is catnip for anyone who thinks stunt performers should be able to win Oscars. Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood stuntman who’s called in to investigate the disappearance of a movie star (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) from the set of a blockbuster that’s filming in Australia. Director David Leitch is a former stuntman himself, and while he’s had trouble handling humor in his past projects as a director, here the laughs sit easily on the story as the stuntman has to deal with his ex-girlfriend (Emily Blunt), who happens to be directing the movie. The climax features so many stunts that it turns out to be too much of a good thing. The movie is better when focusing on the little details that help stunt performers do their job, making this an endearing tribute to the profession. Also with Hannah Waddingham, Winston Duke, Stephanie Hsu, Teresa Palmer, Ben Knight, Adam Dunn, Kalkida China, Heather Thomas, Lee Majors, and an uncredited Jason Momoa.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (PG-13) The year’s best prequel stars Anya Taylor-Joy as a young version of Furiosa who’s abducted from the Green Place, disguises herself as a boy, gets traded by one biker gang leader (Chris Hemsworth) to Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), saves the war rig, and learns to drive. George Miller remains at the wheel, but he doesn’t come up with anything as awe-inspiring as the sandstorm from Mad Max: Fury Road, nor does he come up with anything as bonkers as the Doof Warrior. The Australian filmmaker’s kinetic muscle remains in evidence, though, and Taylor-Joy absorbs the role as her own while Hemsworth manages to be funny and complicated in a rare villainous role. Also with Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, Charlee Fraser, John Howard, Angus Sampson, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, George Shevtsov, and Elsa Pataky.

The Garfield Movie (PG) And still filmmakers haven’t deciphered how to make a good movie about the comic-strip cat. This animated version stars Chris Pratt as the fat orange kitty, whose long-lost father (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) comes back into his life because he’s in debt to a cat mob boss (voiced by Hannah Waddingham) with a personal grudge. I would say Pratt is the wrong actor to voice such a sardonic character, but the generic adventure that follows doesn’t have much to do with Garfield at all, nor does it show much understanding of what made him popular in the first place. Some of the sequences in this Sony Animation film showcasing Garfield’s obsession with Italian food feel like outtakes from the studio’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs movies, but that’s not enough to lift this. Odie (voiced by Harvey Guillén) is the real hero here, which maybe cinches the idea that these filmmakers don’t know Garfield. Additional voices by Ving Rhames, Cecily Strong, Nicholas Hoult, Brett Goldstein, Bowen Yang, and Snoop Dogg. 

Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1 (R) Why, oh why wasn’t this a TV series instead of a movie? We’d have more patience for the filler in Kevin Costner’s epic Western about various white settlers and Native tribal folk struggling to survive on the prairie in the 1850s. Some of the set pieces are pretty fairly done (like Jena Malone’s prairie wife being hunted down by the family that she took revenge on), which doesn’t make up for the incomprehensible scene transitions and the major characters who appear out of nowhere. This three-hour film leaves several plotlines hanging for Chapter 2 as well. The movie doesn’t look good. It would have played so much better on the small screen. Also with Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Owen Crow Shoe, Tatanka Means, Ella Hunt, Tim Guinee, Abbey Lee, Michael Rooker, Will Patton, Hayes Costner, Isabelle Fuhrman, Michael Angarano, James Russo, Jeff Fahey, Jamie Campbell Bower, Giovanni Ribisi, Dale Dickey, Luke Wilson, and Danny Huston. 

IF (PG) John Krasinski the writer comes up with a great premise, and then John Krasinski the director immediately squanders it. John Krasinski the actor portrays a widowed father who’s having heart surgery in a New York hospital, so his 12-year-old daughter (Cailey Fleming) moves in with her grandma (Fiona Shaw) in the city. When she acquires the ability to see and talk to kids’ imaginary friends whose children have outgrown them, she has to team up with the grandmother’s shut-in neighbor (Ryan Reynolds) to rehome them with new kids. The pacing is slack, the movie takes forever to get Reynolds on the screen, the director yanks at our heartstrings in exhausting fashion, and worst of all, a stacked voice cast is wasted. Also with Alan Kim, Liza Colón-Zayas, and Bobby Moynihan. Voices by Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bradley Cooper, Blake Lively, Awkwafina, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sam Rockwell, Jon Stewart, Bill Hader, Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, Matthew Rhys, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins, Sebastian Maniscalco, and the late Louis Gossett Jr.

Inside Out 2 (PG) This sequel does not reach the heights of the original Pixar animated film, but it does have some rewarding points. Riley (voiced by Kensington Tallman) turns 13, and puberty brings on a host of new emotions led by Anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke). When Riley gets invited to a hockey skills camp, Anxiety leads a coup against Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) and the other four emotions, literally bottling them up so that Riley can impress the right people. Even with Hawke missing some of the comic potential in the role, Anxiety is still the best thing about the film, drafting an army of storyboard artists to draft every scenario that could derail Riley and inducing a panic attack in her that will feel horribly familiar to anxiety sufferers. The jokes don’t land as consistently as in the original, nor are the emotions in the story as piercing, but the mindscape remains a nice place to be. Additional voices by Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Liza Lapira, Tony Hale, Ayo Edebiri, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Paul Walter Hauser, Lilimar, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ron Funches, James Austin Johnson, Paula Pell, June Squibb, John Ratzenberger, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan.

Jatt & Juliet 3 (NR) This third film in the romantic series has its Indian cop heroes (Diljit Dosanjh and Neeru Bajwa) traveling to Canada to investigate an international case. Also with Jasmin Bajwa, B.N. Sharma, Nasir Chinyoti, and Rana Ranbir. 

Kalki 2898 A.D. (NR) This Indian science-fiction epic has already out-earned RRR at the box office in its own country, and you can see why. Prabhas stars as a more-than-slightly ridiculous bounty hunter in the 29th century who yearns to ascend to the paradise set up by his dictatorship when he gets caught up in a plot to save one of Earth’s few remaining pregnant women (Deepika Padukone) with the help of an 8-foot-tall demigod (Amitabh Bachchan). The film has clearly learned lessons from the Star Wars movies in terms of effects and the Marvel films in terms of heroic characters who sometimes behave unheroically. The mix isn’t always stable, but it adds up to reasonably effective entertainment. Also with Kamal Haasan, Rajendra Prasad, Saswata Chatterjee, Brahmanandam, Shobhana, Pasupathy, Anna Ben, Harshith Reddy, Disha Patani, Krishnakumar, Vijay Deverakonda, Dulquer Salmaan, Malvika Nair, S.S. Rajamouli, and Mrunal Thakur.

Kinds of Kindness (R) Despite some remarkable things, this massive anthology film ranks among the least of Yorgos Lanthimos’ movies. It’s divided into three sections with the same actors portraying different characters, and the best is the last one, in which Emma Stone portrays a member of a sex cult who’s searching for a woman who can reverse death. That segment works best as a really dark joke, with our heroine accidentally killing her golden goose before it can lay an egg, and also dancing to COBRAH’s “Brand New Bitch.” As much as Stone dominates this last segment, Jesse Plemons walks off with the acting honors as a man who wants his boss (Willem Dafoe) to completely control his life and a cop who thinks his long-lost wife (Stone) has been replaced by an impostor. This epic gives us Lanthimos’ weirdness unfiltered, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Also with Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Mamoudou Athie, Yorgos Stefanakos, Hunter Schafer, and Joe Alwyn.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) The latest installment in the series is proficient and stubbornly unexciting. Decades after Caesar’s death, ape civilization has gone to hell, with a king (Kevin Durand) enslaving tribes of apes to glorify himself. The lone survivor of one captive tribe (Owen Teague) resolves to free his people with the help of a starving human (Freya Allan) who has her own agenda. Director Wes Ball (from the Maze Runner films) is more comfortable with these CGI simians than he is with human beings, and the action sequences are legible without ever raising the pulse. It’s all eminently watchable, and it exists at entirely too comfortable a remove. Also with Peter Macon, Eka Darville, Lydia Peckham, Sara Wiseman, Travis Jeffery, and William H. Macy. 

A Quiet Place: Day One (PG-13) Michael Sarnoski (Pig) takes over the franchise and makes it into something his own. Lupita Nyong’o stars as a terminal cancer case who visits New York with a bunch of fellow hospice patients on the day of the alien invasion. Having given up on her life, she now has to save her emotional support cat and a young Englishman (Joseph Quinn) who has no one in America to turn to. Sarnoski’s action set pieces are perhaps not as memorable as John Krasinski’s, but he finds some lovely character bits in the moments when his heroes are not running from the aliens. Nyong’o, too, brings her character to vivid life as a woman who’s hellbent on finding the last slice of New York-style pizza in the apocalypse, and her chosen method of death from blasting Nina Simone is about as good a death as you can expect in this fictional world. The series evolves enough to stay fresh. Also with Alex Wolff, Eliane Umuhire, Alfie Todd, and Djimon Hounsou. 

A Sacrifice (NR) This thriller stars Eric Bana as an American psychology professor in Berlin called on to investigate a religious cult’s mass suicide. Also with Sadie Sink, Jonas Dassler, Stephan Kampwirth, and Sylvia Hoeks.

Thelma (PG-13) Maybe it’s not so hard to make a thriller with a 93-year-old main character. June Squibb stars as a southern California retiree who decides to get revenge after a phone scammer bilks her out of $10,000. Writer-director Josh Margolin has a fun time playing with the tropes of Hollywood action-thrillers, as Thelma and her longtime friend (the late Richard Roundtree) improvise electronic listening devices, ignore explosions, and travel a great distance on his motorized scooter. The sharpness of the writing and the layered performances from Squibb and Roundtree (giving a lovely performance in his last feature film role) keep this thing from turning into mush, and the film’s sunny disposition is something distinctive on its own. Also with Parker Posey, Fred Hechinger, Clark Gregg, Chase Kim, Quinn Beswick, Bunny Levine, and Malcolm McDowell. 

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

Fancy Dance (R) Lily Gladstone stars in this drama as a Seneca-Cayuga small-time criminal in Oklahoma who kidnaps her niece after a family tragedy. Also with Shea Whigham, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Michael Rowe, Blayne Allen, Patrice Fisher, Crystle Lightning, Ryan Begay, Audrey Wasilewski, and Arianne Martin. 

What Remains (NR) This Swedish thriller stars Gustaf Skarsgård as a mental patient who confesses to a string of murders. Also with Andrea Riseborough, Éva Magyar, Antti Luusuaniemi, Miika Ahlroth, and Stellan Skarsgård.

 

LEAVE A REPLY