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Arts and Culture (Movie Reviews)

This film franchise should go extinct

    The Jurassic World theme park was abandoned after a disastrous security breach left tourists maimed, eaten and heavily inconvenienced. The company went bankrupt, and the island of person-eating dinosaurs (some of which can fly) was ignored by the governments of the world.
    Five years later, the dinosaurs are set to lose their haven. Isla Nublar’s long-dormant volcano is active and about to erupt. When the volcano blows, dinosaurs will go extinct again. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard: Gold), the former manager of Jurassic World, leads a non-profit dedicated to preventing a second extinction.
    Claire is underfunded and fighting a losing battle, but there is hope. Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell: Marshall), John Hammond’s former partner and a founder of the technology that revitalized dinosaurs, has a plan. He wants Claire to help capture a few of every species and transfer them to safety on a new island he’s bought.
    There’s a hitch: The government has decided to allow the dinosaurs to die, making this rescue mission tech­nically off the books.
    To help save the creatures she considers to be a miracle of nature, Claire recruits ex-boyfriend Owen (Chris Pratt: Avengers: Infinity War). He overcomes his reluctance for the sake of rescuing Blue, a dinosaur that once saved his life.
    Will saving dinosaurs from a second extinction throw nature off balance? Is something nefarious lurking behind Lockwood’s plan? Will moviemakers ever stop tainting the memory of Jurassic Park with these terrible sequels?
    This summer blockbuster offers big-budget effects and so little else that it manages to make dinosaurs mundane.
    The one bright spot is the director, J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls), who spices up rote scenes with innovative camera work. Bayona and cinematographer Óscar Faura (A Monster Calls) craft an opening sequence with great tension and pepper the story with original shots.
    But grand camera angles and sweeping pans do not a story make. Plot twists and turns are so telegraphed that they might as well be handed out on a pamphlet before the movie. When humans appear, the film grinds to a halt. Their dialogue is terrible, they fail to understand human interaction and, most troubling, they take precious time away from the dinos.
    Even seasoned performers like Howard, Pratt and Cromwell seem either bored or embarrassed. Pratt and Howard still have negative romantic chemistry, so every scene featuring their banter is painful as well as unnecessary.
    Even diehard Jurassic fans will be disappointed.
Poor Prehistoric Action • PG-13 • 128 mins.
 

Pixar’s hero-family series is still super

Bob and Helen Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson: Book Club; Holly Hunter: The Big Sick) embrace their super abilities as heroes. With superheroes banned by the government as menaces, Helen worries that their children will suffer. Bob rails at the injustice of being denied his abilities.

So Bob accepts the offer of billionaire telecommun­ications developer Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk: Better Call Saul) to help the Parrs turn public opinion in favor of the Super community. He’s dismayed, however, at Winston’s insistence that Helen, whose alter-ego Elastigirl is less damaged, be the face of the campaign. Helen, Winston argues, is the practical super solution. She’s approachable and able to keep collateral damages low.

Helen doesn’t like the idea of leaving the kids. Bob doesn’t like the idea of leaving the spotlight. Still, he accedes to staying home with the kids. 

Both Parrs face challenges. Helen enjoys being the center of attention, earning adulation as she does what she’s good at. She also feels guilt at leaving her children. Bob has a hard time coping with single parenthood, especially as baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile: The Incredibles) has started displaying a startling range of powers. 

Can Helen help make superheroes legal again? Can Bob keep Jack-Jack from incinerating himself and the household? What will happen when a new supervillain emerges to challenge them?

Hilarious, action-packed and full of heart, The Incredibles 2 is a worthy sequel to one of Pixar’s best films. Writer and director Brad Bird’s (Tomorrowland) comic timing and action staging have matured in the 14 years between the first and second installment of this super story. Action sequences are thrilling, and emotional moments are touching. It’s a fine return to form for Bird, who had stepped away from Pixar to direct live-action films.

The first Incredibles took a harder look at its themes, midlife crises and lack of communication in marriage. Themes here — gender roles, raising kids and obsession with commercialism and screens — get shallower treatment. Discovering the identity of the villain won’t be much of a challenge if you’re over the age of six, as the film follows typical Pixar storytelling formula.

Still, this movie has a lot to recommend with slick 1960s’ styling and Bond-movie sensibilities. There are lots of visual jokes for fans of kitschy spy movies. The voice cast returns as well, with Hunter the emotional standout and Nelson offering some great comic moments.

The real star of The Incredibles 2 is Jack-Jack. Precocious babies can become tiresome in films, but Jack-Jack is the perfect blend of delightful chaos and zany comedy. The baby is, at once, the best argument for and against having children. His fight with a raccoon is one of the funniest animated sequences ever created. He even plays well with Incredibles standout Edna Mode (voiced by Bird). 

With breezy action sequences, gorgeous visuals and a ton of heart, The Incredibles 2 is a great summer movie for the whole family. Come early to enjoy Bao, a wonderful short about the devotion, and obsession, in a mother’s love.

Great Animation • PG • 118 mins.

A group of women prove they can steal as well as the boys

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock: Our Brand is Crisis) has had five years to work on her speech to the parole board. She’s also had five years to plan the ultimate heist. For Debbie, pulling heists is not only a family tradi- tion but a matter of redemption — she needs to prove to her- self that the mistake that put her in jail will never happen again.

The job is to steal a legendary necklace worth $150 million in the middle of the Met Gala. The job requires that Debbie get past not only the tight security of the Metropolitan Museum of Art but all of the private security firms hired to specifically protect the jewels on loan to the attending gliteratti.

Debbie needs a team. She hooks up with her old partner Lou (Cate Blanchett: Thor: Ragnarok) and starts to look for a few good criminals. She insists on an all-female team, because women are so frequently ignored. Together, Lou and Debbie recruit jewel- er Amita (Mindy Kaling: Champions); fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson: The Post); pickpocket Constance (Awkwafi- na: Dude); hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets); and designer Rose Weil (Hele- na Bonham Carter: Sgt. Stubby).

Can Debbie’s team pull off the ulti- mate score? Or is robbery man’s work? Breezy, stylish and a whole lot of fun, Ocean’s 8 is a great summer diversion.

The chemistry between the women is wonderful, and when the ladies come together, the movie is fantastic. There is plenty of lickety-split dialogue and jokes to keep the tone enjoyable. Like all caper movies, if you spend more than 20 seconds thinking about the plot, everything falls apart. But the movie is able to effectively distract from the inherent ridiculousness well enough to mitigate any logic problems.

Though all the ladies work well together, they don’t work together enough. The Ocean’s franchise is built upon the fun of watching big-name celebrities riff off each other. In service of developing one too many plots, the characters are short-changed. Interest- ing teammates such as Rihanna and Paulson are given far too little to do in the name of allowing yet another wacky plot thread to form. There’s also entirely too much time spent on an underdevel- oped and uninteresting revenge subplot.

Blanchett and Bullock are effortlessly cool as the fast-talking center of the criminal whirlwind. But the standout in this cast is Anne Hathaway (Colossal). As the mark, a spoiled Hollywood star- let, Hathaway is a scenery-chewing delight. Her Daphne bounces between pouty brat, sex kitten and lonely neurot- ic. It’s a parody of every actress stereo- type, and it is masterfully executed.

Certainly full of flaws, Ocean’s 8 is still a pretty great way to spend a few hours. Arguably, it’s as entertaining as the George Clooney series and eons better than the Frank Sinatra origi- nal. It has enough laughs and winks at the audience to excuse the plot. This is a good popcorn flick for those who appreciate great fashion, fun heist sequences and loads of girl power.

Fun Caper Comedy • PG-13 • 110 mins.

A technophobe gets one heck of a system update in this entertaining thriller

       Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green: Damnation) is married to a bigwig in the tech industry, with a self-driving car and an automated house. Grey doesn’t like automation. He prefers to drive vintage cars and restore them for rich ­buyers.
       The mismatched couple is stranded on the wrong side of the tracks after an accident in the self-driving car. Attacked by a band of high-tech muggers with genetic enhancements, Grey is paralyzed and his wife is murdered.
       A billionaire former client visits Grey in the hospital with an intriguing proposal: Be a guinea pig for a new microchip that might cure paralysis. The system, called STEM, will take over the severed nerve connections and control his body using brain signals. 
       The installation is a success but with one quirk: STEM not only controls Grey, it can also think and talk. STEM thinks it can help Grey solve his wife’s murder, and the two team up to take down the bad guys.
       In the process, Grey learns something else about STEM. During times of stress, it can take over his body and turn him into a killing machine. That’s useful because the baddies are all bioengineered killing machines.
       Upgrade is a throwback to the ultra-bloody 1980s action thrillers that didn’t take themselves too seriously. It is loud, ludicrous and endlessly entertaining. 
      Director Leigh Whannell (Insidious: Chapter 3) keeps the action fast and the story moving. There’s little time for reflection, and that’s a good thing, as films like this fall apart when you think about the plot.
       The movie looks and feels gritty, but with a fun futuristic twist. It’s essentially a dystopia where the rich live in what look like Apple stores while the poor are reduced to shanty towns. Those who can afford it wear gas masks to keep their lungs clean while others cough in the streets. Its inventive reimagining of the future suits the tone of the story.
      Another throwback is the level of violence. This is a movie in the vein of Robocop and Commando; expect to see limbs severed, heads blown off and buckets of blood. Showing the actual consequences of violence has a visceral effect on the audience.
      At the film’s center is Marshall-Green, who is hilarious and poignant as a technophobe become reliant upon a computer system. Grey isn’t hard-wired to be a killer, so when STEM takes over he’s more than a little horrified at the carnage he’s causing. But he comes to rely upon STEM to help him achieve his vengeance.
      Take your friends who can’t live without their phones and show them what a real upgrade can do. 
Good Action • R • 95 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Heredity
      Annie (Toni Collette) has trouble handling the death of her mother. As she tries to cope with the loss of the domineering woman, dark secrets from the past come to life. 
      First-time director Ari Aster offers an avant-garde take on the typical thriller, incorporating fascinating sound design and interesting framing. Plus, Heredity’s story makes it a horror movie that hits close to home.
Prospects: Bright • R • 127 mins.
 
Hotel Artemis
       For 20 years, the Artemis Hotel has offered medical services to injured criminals. The Nurse (Jodie Foster) runs the underground hospital under a strict code. Guests can’t murder other guests, the gates don’t open to strangers and the medical professionals can never be disrespected. 
      Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother challenge the rules. The men accidentally stole a valuable container from The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum). When the international crime lord comes to collect, the Artemis and its staff fall under siege.
      Featuring a stellar cast and a fun concept, Hotel Artemis should be a zippy thriller full of fun lines and fast-paced action.
Prospects: Bright • R • 97 mins.
 
Ocean’s 8
      Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has inherited a flair for the family business. Like her brother Danny, she is a thief. Released from prison, she plans her next big heist. Assembling a new crew, she explains the target: They’re going to rob the MET Gala. 
      This all-female sequel to the Ocean’s franchise is a breezy heist comedy. As with most of the Ocean’s movies it’s a safe bet that this is going to be a shallow but enjoyable flick, filled with cool outfits, funny lines and a plot that makes little sense. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 110 mins.
 
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
      How did a man in a cardigan with homemade puppets become one of the most beloved children’s show hosts? It was a combination of luck and an infectious worldview that taught kindness to parents and children alike. 
      This documentary about the rise of Mr. Rogers and his legacy is filled with interviews on his impact on children and the Civil Rights Movement. 
      If you watched Mr. Rogers as a child, or if you want to feel the impact of a compassionate worldview, watching a movie on the power of kindness may be a relief from our increasingly pugnacious times.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 94 mins.

Solo so-so 

       Growing up under the Dickensian thumb of an evil crime boss, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich: The Yellow Birds) knows how to run a scam and talk himself out of a scrape. He has dreams of getting off the planet of Corellia with his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke: Game of Thrones). When his escape go awry, Han must flee the planet — say it with me — Solo. 
      Determined to return to Corellia with enough coin to buy Qi’ra’s freedom, Han joins the Empire’s army. Kicked out of flight school for his arrogance and mouth, Han is slogging through battlefields trying not to die when he meets Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri), a crook who ekes out a living stealing hyperfuel from the Empire and selling it to fringe organizations. 
       Han signs up for a life of crime and quick cash, convincing his newfound friend Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo: Star Wars: The Last Jedi) to come along as muscle.
      If you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie, this is not the one to start with. Solo: A Star Wars Story is entertaining enough, but production and scripting woes show. Hired after another team’s firing, director Ron Howard (Inferno) cobbled together what he could from already-shot and reshot footage. No surprise that the overall story is rushed and disjointed. 
      Many plot points are told through clunky dialogue rather than shown. The central love story is poorly written, and its actors have zero chemistry. Most relationships are vaguely sketched. Some chase scenes, particularly one involving the Millennium Falcon and a space anomaly, are visually boring in badly rendered graphics. 
       The biggest failure is Emilia Clarke, who pulls outlandish faces and becomes a distraction in every appearance. She and Ehrenreich are very pretty, but together they have the appeal of cold oatmeal. 
        This is a shame as the love story wastes so much time, and the other parts are pretty darn entertaining. Harrelson and Ehrenreich have chemistry, and the heist scenes are fun. Suotamo’s Chewie also has great rapport with the cast and entertaining reactions to Han’s stupid plans and antics. 
         The best part of the movie, however, may be Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover: Atlanta) and his droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Goodbye Christopher Robin). Glover fully captures the slick charm of Lando, who disguises his worries beneath his cavalier veneer. His odd relationship with L3-37, who believes in droid rebellion from human rule, is one of the strongest in the film.
       Flawed, yes, but Solo is still fun. Grab a bucket of popcorn and sit down to laugh your way though this breezy origin tale. If you’re a diehard Chewie fan, like this reviewer, it’s more than worth the ticket to finally see just what happens when you make a Wookie mad.
Fair Action Adventure • PG-13 • 135 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Action Point
        D.C. (Johnny Knoxville) is the proprietor of an off-brand theme park filled with rickety rides and apathetic employees. When his daughter Boogie visits, D.C. wonders if he shouldn’t upgrade. Then a big corporate park opens nearby. 
       This is your typical Johnny Knoxville comedy, which means he’ll be hit, run over and thrown through the air. There will be crude humor, lots of silly jokes and barely any plot. 
Prospects: Dim • R • 85 mins.
 
Adrift
       When her boyfriend Richard (Sam Claflin) invites her to sail across the Pacific, Tami (Shailene Woodley) thinks romance. The lovebirds hit a snag when they sale into a hurricane. With the boat and Richard nearly destroyed, Tami must draw on determination to save boat and boyfriend. 
       Based on a true story, Adrift should be a stirring tale of survival. 
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 120 mins.
 
Upgrade
       Grey Trace (Logan Marshall Green) watches four muggers kill his wife after paralyzing him. Filled with rage, he gets an offer he can’t refuse: A billionaire wants to use him as a guinea pig for an implant under development. STEM would rewire Grey’s brain and allow him to walk.
        It works, and the now-mobile Grey goes after the men who killed his wife. He finds an odd ally in the STEM system, which is able to take over his body and give him super-powered strength and abilities.
       Is the STEM implant a godsend? Or is there a downside to allowing AI to move your body like a puppet? 
      This type of action movie could go either way, to bonkers action or slogging high-concept. If it leans into the craziness inherent in the plot, it could be a gonzo good time.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 95 mins.
The mercenary with the mouth is back in a fouler, funnier sequel
     Superhero Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds: The Hitman’s Bodyguard) is a regenerating mercenary who specializes in eliminating the worst of the worst: drug dealers, human traffickers and gang leaders. It’s a bloody business, but he’s having fun doing it. 
      The party stops when Wade encounters Cable (Josh Brolin: Avengers: Infinity War), a time-traveling soldier back from the future to kill 14-year-old Russell (Julian Dennison: Chronesthesia) because the world will be a better place without a kid abandoned and abused in a mutant orphanage run by a sadistic Bible-quoting headmaster who tortures children for their genetic differences. Wade isn’t so sure killing a kid is a superhero move. 
       Faced with a kid who may be beyond help and Cable’s nearly unstoppable determination, Wade assembles a team of super-powered people — plus one normal who saw the ad and signed up.
      Can Wade and his X-Force prevail?
      Vulgar, violent and wholly inappropriate for, well, anyone, Deadpool 2 is nonetheless great fun. Director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) is a former stunt man who knows how to stage and shoot thrilling action scenes. He keeps the tone light and the fight scenes bloody, which is a perfect balance for a film that gleefully violates the basic rules of filmmaking and decency. 
      The real reason this film works is Reynolds. Seemingly born to play a smart-alecky mercenary who rattles off pop culture jokes, Reynolds is charming in all his profane glory. He manages to make murder for hire rather delightful. He gives Wade emotional depth paired with gonzo physical humor. Anytime the movie takes a writing shortcut or leans on cliché, Wade is there to call it out and remind the audience it’s just a movie.
      A host of fantastic supporting characters help Reynolds keep the tone light and breezy. The best is Domino (Zazie Beetz: Atlanta), a mercenary who has the amazing super power of luck. She can, without ill effect, tumble out of planes, take on armed men and rush into burning buildings. She also seems as attuned as Wade to the absurdity of the film they’re making. Brolin, on the other hand, is surprisingly flat as Cable. 
       Among other flaws, some elements rehash the first film, and a few of the scenes drag. Still, Leitch and Reynolds keep a pace too swift to complain for long. There’s always a new fight or joke just around the corner. 
        This is not a Marvel movie for young children, and you might think twice about taking your parents, though this reviewer’s mother loved it. There is orgiastic violence, disturbing male genitalia and enough foul-mouthed quips to fill a swear jar. For fans of the first Deadpool film or of wisecracking violence in your movies, this flick is well worth the ticket. 
Good Action-Comedy • R • 119 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Solo: A Star Wars Story
      Long ago in a galaxy far far away … Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) was a kid growing up under the thumb of an evil mob boss. Forced to steal and beg for food, Han dreamed of fleeing his planet with his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and becoming a great pilot. 
      When Han does get free, he ends up a grunt in the Imperial Army, dreaming of the day he’ll be able to return to Qi’ra. To earn enough money for her rescue, he falls in with thieves who need one big score to get out of their life of crime.
       Will Han reunite with the love of his life? Or will he live a life of crime?
       We all know that the real love of Han’s life was Chewbacca. So it’s a good thing the Wookie is introduced fairly quickly in this film. With production problems, a director switcheroo and scripting woes, Solo: A Star Wars Story carries a lot of baggage.
       The good news is that new director Ron Howard has cobbled together a watchable popcorn flick, perfect for summer. Sure, there are plot and acting problems. Clarke, in particular, is poorly cast. But overall, following the origins of Han, Chewbacca and Lando (Donald Glover) is a breezy adventure through the galaxy. 
Good Action Adventure • PG-13 • 135 mins.

Passion or obligation: That’s the choice

      Ronit (Rachel Weisz: My Cousin Rachel) returns to her Orthodox community to mourn her father, a revered rabbi. She has lived in New York by choice and in exile since the revelation of her teenage fling with another woman, Esti (Rachel McAdams: Game Night).
       Returning home as a successful photographer, Ronit learns that even in mourning she is shunned. In neither her father’s obituary nor his will is she acknowledged as his only child. She is welcomed only by Esti and by her husband Dovid (Alessandro Nivola: You Were Never Really Here), Ronit’s childhood friend.
      Having accepted her rabbi’s order to take a husband, Esti is at once a pillar of the community and a closeted lesbian living a life of quiet desperation. In Ronit’s return, she hopes to grasp a little bit of happiness. 
      As the women reunite, gossip swells.
     Beautifully shot and acted, Disobedience is a thoughtful film about closed communities. Director Sebastián Lelio, who just won an Oscar for the outstanding A Fantastic Woman, delves into the nuances of the Orthodox London community, showing the good and the bad. On the one hand, the community serves and helps its own. On the other, it’s run by rules that are unkind to those who don’t follow them. 
       Lelio takes pains to show the isolation of a person shunned. From the stores to school, the community turns hostile. 
      Helping underscore the theme is the brilliant acting trifecta of Weisz, McAdams and Nivola. Weisz’s Ronit is tortured as her hopes for reconciliation are smashed. 
      As Esti, McAdams offers a disturbing portrait of repression in religious communities. Unhappy as she is, she can’t bring herself to chance life alone. She knows that rekindling her romance with Ronit is the way to ruin, but she’s helpless to stop her attraction. 
        The surprise of the film is Nivola’s Dovid. His performance elevates a character who could have been a villain to a figure of sympathy. Dovid is devoted to his community and religion and is torn attempting to do the right thing. 
      Fascinating, well crafted and wonderfully performed, Disobedience is well worth the ticket. 
Great Drama • R • 114 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Book Club
       Four friends are feeling in a rut. Diane (Diane Keaton) is a widow figuring out sudden solitude. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a judge stinging from a contentious divorce. Carol (Mary Steenburgen) longs to revive her stale marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys an active single life.
       Forming a book club, the quartet finds their world changed by the titillating Fifty Shades of Grey. The book inspires some to embrace their sex lives and others to seek out lasting commitment.
       Book Club is a typical finding-a-new-lease-on-life comedy. If you’ve seen one of its kind, you can guess the plot. It’s more about the charisma of the actors than the strength of the plot. This isn’t a movie to stretch these actresses, but it will play to each of their strengths. Expect Keaton to shriek and flail, Bergen to offer a sardonic wit, Steenburgen to smile beatifically and Fonda to offer a sultry wink. 
      If you’re a fan of these lionesses of the screen, it should be fun to watch them vamp for laughs. Still, it’s distressing that these women are enamored with one of the poorest written books in history. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 104 mins. 
 
Deadpool 2
      Super-powered Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) has developed a reputation in the superhero community as the unkillable Deadpool. 
      Time-travelling, bioengineered super-soldier Cable (Josh Brolin) arrives in Wade’s era to give the hero a choice. He must kill a child to protect the future. Wade instead assembles a super team to stop Cable.
       Deadpool was the surprise super hit of the Marvel universe. Foul-mouthed, uber-violent and hyped to the ridiculousness of the super-genre, this is not the Marvel movie you take your kids to. Reynolds is charming and wry as this superhero who breaks the fourth wall to address the audience. Reynolds and the producers seem to have found a delicate balance between parody and gimmick. But leave the kids at home. This one will earn its R-rating.
Prospects: Bright • R • 119 mins. 
 
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word
       Legendary director Wim Wenders was offered unprecedented access to the Pope as he spread his message of hope, charity and kindness. 
      The documentary examines what Francis hopes to achieve as head of one of the most powerful religious groups in the world and how he deviates from the pontifical norm. 
      Don’t expect a film questioning Catholicism or criticizing the church. This movie is about hope and the positive effect religion can have on the world. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 96 mins. 
 
Show Dogs
       Frank (Will Arnett) and Max (Chris Bridges) are ill-adapted mixed-species partners who go undercover at an exclusive Las Vegas dog show to bust a smuggling ring and find a stolen baby panda. 
      Frank pretends to be a pretentious dog owner and Max his pampered pet. 
      Think of this as Miss Congeniality with a cast of talking dogs. Expect tons of bodily humor and slapstick comedy in this kiddie movie.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 92 mins.

The scariest part of this movie is paying see it

      Sean (Robert Sheehan: Mute) dreams of being a professional photographer. He takes his craft seriously and won’t take any job he considers beneath him. Thus limited, he shoots only random things on the street and his semi-naked girlfriend. 
       Until Sean and his buddy come up with a moneymaking scheme. As valets at a local Italian eatery, they lay hands on many car keys. While the customers are dining, the valets loot their homes. 
        The scheme goes wrong with Cale Erendreich (David Tennant: Jessica Jones).
       In Erendreich’s house, Sean discovers a locked room. Instead of jewels, inside he finds a bound and beaten woman. He can’t break her chains but promises to find a way to save her.
       From a pay phone, he calls the police, but doubling back he sees that the cops won’t enter the residence. His second strategy is to bait Erendreich into the open. Now he’s engaged in a game of cat-and-mouse with a serial killer. 
       Poorly shot, bizarrely plotted and hilariously acted, Bad Samaritan is a victim of serial bad choices. Director Dean Devlin (Geostorm) is bad at character development, cinematography and pacing.
      Acting is bad, too. Sean isn’t a particularly interesting hero. Erendreich is supposed to be a terrifying serial killer, but his evil machinations are pretty much limited to prank phone calls and sexting. ­Tennant gives us a villain who glowers, bugs his eyes and snarls through every scene, an odd choice for a movie that takes itself pretty seriously. 
        This movie is so bad that the only entertainment you’ll get from it is the fun of mocking it. 
Thrill-free Thriller • R • 110 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Breaking In
      After the death of her father, Shaun (Gabrielle Union) and her kids prepare his home for sale only to find a recently installed security system that makes the house nearly impregnable. 
      The reason for this becomes clear when a violent gang shows up. She fights off her attacker, but the kids are locked in while the bad guys search for something Shaun’s father has hidden. 
       To save her kids, Shaun takes out the bandits one by one.
      This is the Mother’s Day movie for the tough mom in your life. If you and your mom bond over Crossfit or Dirty Harry movies, this one’s for you. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 88 mins.
 
Disobedience
       Ronit (Rachel Weisz) is expelled from her Orthodox Jewish community in London for her same-sex relationship with best friend Esti (Rachel McAdams). Moving to New York, she becomes a successful photographer but grieves for her lost family and friends. When the death of her father takes her home, she rekindles her relationship with Esti, now married to a prominent rabbi. 
       Director Sebastián Lelio, who gave us the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman, is known for respectfully exploring women’s issues. Both McAdams and Weisz are brilliant performers able to carry the nuance of a complex drama.
Prospects: Bright • R • 114 mins. 
 
Life of the Party
       When Deanna’s (Melissa McCarthy) husband dumps her, she pursues the dream of finishing her bachelor’s degree, enrolling in her daughter’s college and moving into a dorm. She and the doubtful daughter bond, and soon Deanna is the life of every party.
        McCarthy is gifted at both physical and verbal comedy. With the right script, there isn’t much she can’t do. This getting-her-groove-back flick — complete with makeover, sex with a cute guy and reconnection with family — doesn’t set the bar high.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins. 
 
RBG
       This documentary follows feminist icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg from Harvard Law School, where she is one of the first women admitted, to civil rights activism, to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
       The filmmakers are admirers, so don’t expect challenges to this legend of justice. But if you want to know more of the life story of one of the most powerful women in America, this should be well worth the ticket. 
Prospects: Bright • PG • 97 mins. 

Disney puts all its heroes in one basket in this epic action movie

     The once mighty Avengers are in tatters. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.: Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Captain America (Chris Evans: Gifted) are feuding. Thor (Chris Hemsworth: 12 Strong) is drifting in space after destroying his home world to save his people. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo: Thor: Ragnarok) is still trying to find himself. 
      The divided heroes reunite to battle a baddie of galactic proportions.
      Thanos (Josh Brolin: Only the Brave) is a space invader obsessed with bringing balance to the universe. It’s his goal to eliminate half the lifeforms throughout the universe to counter overpopulation and dwindling resources. 
     Flashy, entertaining and shallow, Avengers: Infinity War is big-budget popcorn entertainment. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: Civil War) craft a bombastic confluence of seven superhero franchises. It’s a well-balanced film, given the size of characters and number of storylines. The Russo brothers also come up with a few unique character pairings that make the movie a blast to watch. 
       But as in any good Marvel movie, the real test is the quality of the villain. As power-mad galactic terrorist Thanos, Brolin turns in a surprisingly complex performance. His Thanos is committed to his task but not devoid of emotions. He loves his daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana: My Little Pony: The Movie), but won’t allow her to stand in the way of his mission. For a man bent on destroying half the universe, he’s surprisingly likeable. 
        As in most Avengers movies, there’s not time for deep characters. But that doesn’t mean the film lacks heart. Hemsworth, Downey and Saldana all have great dramatic moments. With plenty of comedy to counteract the grim plotlines, the movie also never veers too far into darkness.
       On a more practical level, for a film with an astronomical budget, Avengers: Infinity War has some surprisingly shoddy effects. A few CGI shots are almost laughably bad, and the main battle is filled with disposable monsters that are neither scary nor interesting. It’s a little disappointing that a movie guaranteed to break box office records can’t take care in its craft. 
      Fans of Marvel’s Avengers series will find this easily the best of the three films. It’s breezy, entertaining fun.
Good Action Adventure • PG-13 • 149 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
 
Bad Samaritan
       Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) is a valet who drives the cars he’s supposed to park to their rich owners’ homes for burglaries.
       It’s a lucrative scam until it isn’t.
       In the middle of a break-in, Sean finds a woman who’s bound, gagged and pleading for help. Afraid he’ll be arrested for breaking into the house, he leaves her and calls the police. When the cops find nothing, he’s stricken with guilt.
Now, he has two problems: First, he’s horrified that he might have gotten a woman killed. Second, homeowner (David Tennant) knows who he is and intends revenge. 
        A thriller about the dangers of doing the right thing, Bad Samaritan promises a tense cat-and-mouse game of Hitchcockian thrills. 
Prospects: Flickering • R • 107 mins. 
 
Overboard
       Leonardo (Eugenio Derbez) is a thoughtless wealthy man who treats his servants poorly. He fires harried single mother Kate (Anna Faris) over a trivial matter and refuses her pay. 
       When Leonardo is thrown off his yacht and wakes on the shore with amnesia, Kate sees opportunity. She shows up at the hospital as his wife and brings him home to her kids. Leonardo learns the meaning of work as Kate throws him into a blue-collar job and tasks him with raising “their” kids. 
       Leonardo adapts fairly well to life as Kate’s husband. Soon, the two are edging toward a connection. Will Kate’s lies torpedo their burgeoning relationship? 
       A remake of the 1980s romcom, Overboard is still a highly questionable concept for a film. The gender roles have been reversed from the original, but the movie is still trying to make kidnapping and gaslighting cute and quirky bases for romance. While the older film is perhaps a product of the times, this remake feels hopelessly out of touch. 
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 112 mins. 
 
Tully
      Marlo (Charlize Theron) is overwhelmed with caring for three young children. She and her husband aren’t connecting. She’s feeling desperate for some alone time. She worries she’s failing as a wife and mother.
      Though she’s against the idea, Marlo reluctantly accepts her brother’s offer to hire a night nanny for the family. Tully (Mackenzie Davis) turns out to be a godsend for both kids and mother.
       A movie about the problems women aren’t supposed to speak about, Tully will likely strike a chord with mothers everywhere.
Prospects: Bright • R • 94 mins. 

A dark and twisted take on the action genre 

      For unsavory jobs, Joe (Joaquin Phoenix: Irrational Man) is the guy to call. The veteran of war, brutality and PTSD is abnormally good at violence.
      The money is good, and his earnings support his elderly mother. Joe, however, is not so good. He suffers constant flashbacks to either his abusive childhood or wartime in the Gulf. 
      His world shifts when he’s hired to save the daughter of a New York state senator from a trafficking ring. Gruff awkward Joe bonds with the girl. When the job goes south, Joe tears through the underbelly of New York, hell-bent on recovering her. 
     Director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) is known for making films that can be hard to access, and this one is no exception. Cryptic, brutal and beautiful, it is also challenging; some in the audience said “weird.” Think of it as an arthouse reboot of the Taken franchise. 
      Ramsay’s peculiar brand of storytelling is expressionistic. Don’t expect the plot to be fully explained. She offers vivid glimpses of Joe’s past and present, expecting us to fill in the rest of the story. If you can stick with it, you’ll be rewarded with a fascinating story about how violence molds our lives and our futures. 
       This isn’t a movie interested in making violence look cool; Ramsay shows its horror. Yet camera work is beautiful, with expert framing and action sequences that dance around violence. Sound design is artful, with highlighted bits of dialogue and noise ratcheting up the tension and explaining Joe’s tortured perception of the world. 
      Phoenix is fascinating, lumbering through scenes with a ballpeen hammer clenched in his fist. His Joe is terrifying yet endearing. He’s clearly lost, and basic human interaction is hard for him. But he follows his own strict moral code. 
       If you’re interested in a meditation on violence, trauma and obsession, You Were Never Really Here might be for you.
Great Action • R • 89 mins.
 
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
 
Avengers: Infinity War
       Just arrived on Earth, intergalactic super villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) plans to kill half of humanity, enslave the rest and collect the infinity stones that offer him ultimate power. 
      To stop him, this nearly unprecedented melding of film franchises brings together every member of the Marvel extended universe.
       This also means all your favorite superheroes will be short-changed because there’s no way to develop 30 characters in one film. But like all the Avengers movies, this is about spectacle, not plot or character. 
       If you’re not a fan of Marvel films, you may want to stay away from the movie house this weekend. No one wants to compete against this juggernaut.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 149 mins.