Home Movie Reviews Movie Guide: Capsule reviews of current films

Movie Guide: Capsule reviews of current films

15 min read

The following capsule reviews of recent releases, long runs and revivals come from various wire services, as noted:

RATINGS: G -— Suitable for all ages. PG -— Parental guidance recommended. PG-13 -— Parental guidance strongly suggested. R -— Restricted; anyone under 18 must be accompanied by adult. NC-17 -— No children under 17.

★ ★ ★ ★ Excellent ★ ★ ★ Good ★ ★ Fair ★ Poor

Annihilation

Adventure. A biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply, to discover what happened to her soldier husband (Oscar Isaac). Also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson. A deeply challenging, big budget, female-driven sci-fi film. (R for violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality) ★★★ (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)

Beirut

Drama. A U.S. diplomat (Jon Hamm) flees Lebanon in 1972 after a tragic incident at his home. Ten years later, he is called back to war-torn Beirut by a CIA operative (Rosamund Pike) to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind. (R for language, some violence and a brief nude image)

Black Panther

Action. After the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” King T’Challa returns home to his technologically advanced African country of Wakanda, but when two enemies conspire to bring down the kingdom, he must suit up as the Black Panther and work with a CIA agent and members of Wakanda’s all-female special forces to prevent a world war. (PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture) ★★★ (Mick LaSalle, Hearst Newspapers)

Blockers

Comedy. Three parents (John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz) try to stop their daughters from having sex on prom night in this raunchy comedy for adults. “Blockers” is exuberant in its crudeness and coarseness. It’s where comedy is now, and it’s very funny. (R for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying, and some graphic nudity) ★★★ (M.L.)

Chappaquiddick

Drama. This historical drama depicts Ted Kennedy’s involvement in the fatal 1969 car accident that claimed the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne. If you’re looking for something to make you feel good about chubby, cherubic Ted, the venerable lion of the Senate, this is not your movie. Kennedy is played by Jason Clarke, which seems like strange casting, as Clarke often plays heavies. Then you see where the movie is heading and the casting makes sense. (PG-13 for thematic material, disturbing images, some strong language, and historical smoking) ★★★ (M.L.)

The Death of Stalin

Comedy. This raucous and raw comedy from Armando Iannucci (“In the Loop,” “Veep”) follows the Soviet dictator’s last days and depicts the chaos of the regime after his death. “The Death of Stalin” is a unique and hilarious British comedy. It is absolutely worth seeing, but it won’t appeal to everybody, so you should know what to expect. The movie is funny throughout, sometimes funny from moment to moment, and so full of amusing asides that you might not catch all the humor in a single screening. At the same time, “The Death of Stalin” is a weird sort of hilarious, in that you easily might not laugh for minutes at a time. (R for language throughout, violence and some sexual references) ★★★ 1/2 (M.L.)

Final Portrait

Drama. The story of the touching and offbeat friendship between American writer and art lover James Lord (Armie Hammer) and Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush), as seen through Lord’s eyes, when he is asked by Giacometti to sit for a portrait. (R for language, some sexual references and nudity)

Finding Your Feet

Comedy. On the eve of retirement a middle class, judgmental snob discovers her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and is forced into exile with her Bohemian sister who lives on an impoverished inner-city council estate. The movie is optimistic and predictable in ways that seem false and sentimental, and there are no surprises on the way to the inevitable. Yet the movie remains safely within the realm of the pleasant and watchable, thanks to the skilled British actors. (PG-13 for suggestive material, brief drug use, and brief strong language) ★★ 1/2 (M.L.)

The House of Tomorrow

Drama. The film tells the story of futurist, architect and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller through two teens hoping to get lucky, become punk gods, and survive high school. (NR)

I Can Only Imagine

Drama. The true story behind the Christian rock band MercyMe’s song of the same title, which became the most-played contemporary Christian song of all time, based on the lead singer’s relationship with his father. Featuring Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman. (PG for thematic elements including some violence)

I Feel Pretty

Comedy. A woman (Amy Schumer) struggling with insecurity wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet, and her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly. Schumer is the movie, shamelessly comic, but also willing to take us straight into the character’s pain. “I Feel Pretty” may go down as her signature picture. (PG-13 for sexual content, some partial nudity, and language) ★★★ (M.L.)

Isle of Dogs

Animated. Wes Anderson’s second go at off-kilter animation after “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” is about a Japanese garbage dump island full of banished dogs who try to help a boy find his missing pet. And the voice cast is bonkers: Brian Cranston, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Courtney B. Vance, Tilda Swinton, etc. The result is a movie so unusual, and so the product of a singular imagination, that it’s easy to appreciate, respect and mostly enjoy it, even through some long, dull stretches. (PG-13 for thematic elements and some violent images) ★★★ (M.L.)

The Leisure Seeker

Comedy-drama. Traveling in their family RV, John and Ella Spencer (Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren) take one last road trip to the Hemingway House in the Florida Keys before his Alzheimer’s and her cancer can catch up with them. As an hourlong TV drama, “The Leisure Seeker” might have worked just fine, and yet even that might have been a stretch. The problem is that the movie has a beginning, and you know that it has to end, but it really can have no middle. (R for some sexual material) ★ (M.L.)

Paul, Apostle of Christ

Drama. Audiences are sure to be confused when Jim Caviezel, who was Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ,” shows up as Luke in this story of Saul, the most infamous persecutor of Christians, who became Paul, Christ’s most influential apostle. (To further muddy the waters, he’s played by a British actor named James Faulkner.) (PG-13 for some violent content and disturbing images)

A Quiet Place

Thriller. Director and co-writer John Krasinski co-stars for the first time with his wife Emily Blunt in this thriller about a family of four who must live life in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound. The story of “A Quiet Place” is one best left to be discovered. Suffice it to say that while most movies arrive at some kind of climax, this one comes to a crescendo that doesn’t stop. The second half of the movie is a series of slowly built and meticulously constructed crises, one flowing into the next, each one exceeding the other, to the point that the whole experience becomes almost unbearable — but unbearable in the best way. (PG-13 for terror and some bloody images) ★★★ (M.L.)

Rampage

Action. A silverback gorilla, a wolf and a reptile grow to a monstrous size after a rogue genetic experiment goes wrong. Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) soon joins forces with the military to prevent the mutated beasts from destroying everything in their path. (PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief language and crude gestures) ★★★ (M.L.)

Ready Player One

Action. In Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s bestselling pop culture-soaked novel, the creator of a virtual reality world dies, releasing a video in which he challenges all users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Some of the virtual scenes stretch on too long and the movie has dull spots, or rather moments so relentlessly frenetic that they become boring. Still, it’s good to see Spielberg, at 71, still finding new forms of cinematic language with which to express his humanism. (PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, suggestive material, nudity and language) ★★★ (M.L.)

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero

Animated. This fact-based animated film follows the stray dog who was rescued off the streets by a soldier and went on to become a hero of World War I. Stubby’s story is so strange and inspiring that it cries out for the epic live-action biopic treatment, but that’s not what’s on offer here. The choice to make this an animated film positions this as an entertaining, educational film for younger audiences, and while some gorgeous battlefield compositions are rendered onscreen, the style has a weightlessness that just doesn’t serve a narrative this dramatic. (PG for war action and some thematic elements) ★★ (K.W.)

Super Troopers 2

Comedy. When a border dispute arises between the U.S. and Canada, the Super Troopers are tasked with establishing a Highway Patrol station in the disputed area. From the beginning, the makers of “Super Troopers” and “Beerfest” have embraced the lowbrow to predictable extremes. This approach is not aging well in “Super Troopers 2,” a film that looks way more fun to make than it is to watch. (R for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug material and some graphic nudity) ★ (Peter Hartlaub, Hearst Newspapers)

Traffik

Thriller. Two couples are off for a romantic weekend in a remote estate in the mountains when a violent biker gang turns up and begins to torment them. (R for violent and disturbing material, language throughout, some drug use and sexual content)

Truth or Dare

Horror. A harmless game among friends turns deadly when someone — or something — begins to punish those who tell a lie or refuse the dare. Truth: There likely will be no demand for a sequel to this dull procedural. (PG-13 for violence and disturbing content, alcohol abuse, some sexuality, language and thematic material) ★ (M.L.)

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony

Drama. A faithful wife (Taraji P. Henson), tired of standing by her devious husband, is enraged when it becomes clear she has been betrayed. (R for language, sexual content and some violence)

You Were Never Really Here

Drama. A traumatized veteran (Joaquin Phoenix), unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living, but when a job spins out of control, his nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to danger or an awakening. (R for strong violence, disturbing and grisly images, language, and brief nudity)

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