Capsule reviews of feature films


BEIRUT. 3 stars. Well-acted, well written thriller about a bitter, failed diplomat (Jon Hamm) recalled to Lebanon during its civil war to negotiate a hostage exchange, a dangerous and complex affair involving competing factions within the U.S. contingent (Rosamund Pike, Shea Whigham, Dean Norris), militia groups and Israeli intelligence. Written by Tony Gilroy, directed by Brad Anderson. 1 hr. 49 R (violence) — Gary Thompson

BLACK PANTHER. 3.5 stars. Thoughtful, rousing new Marvel adventure from writer-director Ryan Coogler, who delivers the boilerplate blockbuster action components with a provocative story about a modern-day African king (Chadwick Boseman) dealing with threats (in the person of villain Michael B. Jordan) to his nation and his throne — a story that resonates in the real world. Strong roles for Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, and Danai Gurira. 2 hrs. 20 PG-13 (violence) — Gary Thompson

BLOCKERS. 3 stars. Very raunchy though ultimately semi-sweet gross-out comedy about parents (Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz) who finds their daughters have made a pact to hook up on prom night, and takes steps to disrupt it. Directed by Kay Cannon. 1 hr. 42 R (language) — Gary Thompson

BLUMHOUSE’S TRUTH OR DARE. 1.5 stars. A bunch of college students Lucy Hale, Violett Beane) return from Mexico with a curse that requires them to play a deadly game of truth or dare. Derivative combination of “It Follows” and “Final Destination,” also bogged down by needlessly complex internal logic. 1 hr. 40 PG-13 (language) — Gary Thompson

CHAPPAQUIDDICK. 3 stars. Sturdy docudrama about the events surrounding the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), killed when a car driven by Sen. Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) ran off the road was submerged in water. As Kennedy family fixers manage the news cycle, the movie becomes a relevant story of political power and its ability to impose narratives. With Ed Helms, Jim Gaffigan. 1 hr. 47 PG — Gary Thompson

THE DEATH OF STALIN. 3.5 stars. Writer-director Armando Iannucci’s caustic black comedy is set in 1953, in the days surrounding the death of the murderous Soviet tyrant, but the scramble for power depicted, with its competing factions and “false narratives,” is very much in tune with the craven political age of alternative facts and fake news. The deft comic cast includes Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Palin and Jason Isaacs. 1 hr. 44 R (language, violence) — Gary Thompson

I FEEL PRETTY. 2 stars. Misfire about a woman (Amy Schumer) with low self-esteem who gets bonked on the head and wakes up thrilled with herself, exhibiting a sudden confidence that makes her attractive to men (Rory Scovel) and colleagues (Michelle Williams), helping her love life and career. The movie’s central conceit is poorly dramatized, and the concept seems awkwardly retrofitted to accommodate Schumer’s brash persona. 1 hr. 50 PG-13 (language) — Gary Thompson

ISLE OF DOGS. 3 stars. Droll stop-motion animation from Wes Anderson about a Japanese boy looking for his pet on an island full of trash and banished dogs. A bit of a shaggy dog tale, but the craftsmanship is first-rate. Featuring the voices of Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Liev Schreiber. 1 hr. 32 PG-13 — Gary Thompson

LEAN ON PETE. 3.5 stars. When a 15-year-old race track worker (Carlie Plummer) learns that his favorite horse is ticketed for the glue factory, he sets out with the animal on a trek across the American West on a quixotic mission to save the horse and himself. Strange, harrowing, beautiful odyssey, well-acted by a cast that includes Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny. 2 hrs. 1 R (language) — Gary Thompson

1945. 3 stars. Hungarian director (the movie is subtitled) Ferenc Torok borrows “High Noon” imagery and structure to tell this story of a post-war Hungarian village that goes into a panic when Jewish men arrive on a train, evoking guilt at the way Jewish families were treated during the war. 1 hr. 30 No MPAA rating — Gary Thompson

A QUIET PLACE. 2.5 stars. Generally effective horror movie about a farm family (John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds) trying to survive killer aliens that attack anyone who makes a sound. Easy to poke holes in the premise, but writer-director Krasinski makes the most out of the horror-movie hook. 1 hr. 30 PG-13 (violence) — Gary Thompson

RAMPAGE. 2 stars. When a DNA experiment causes his prized gorilla to become a supersized menace to Chicago, primatologist Dwayne Johnson takes action, along with a helpful scientist (Naomie Harris) and a government agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Bland effects movie, even with the addition of giant wolf and alligator. 1 hr. 47 PG-13 (language) — Gary Thompson

READY PLAYER ONE. 2.5 stars. Steven Spielberg adapts the Ernest Cline novel about renegade gamers (Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke) who go up against foes backed by a wealthy corporation to compete in a virtual reality game that rewards players fluent in 1980s pop culture. Some laughs, and decent action, but the movie is heavily animated, and the movie relies too much on special effects, which displaces acting and emotion. 2 hrs. 20 PG-13 — Gary Thompson

Print Friendly, PDF & Email