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Film Listings, 4/25/19 – 5/2/19 

ARETHA FRANKLIN: AMAZING GRACE

What's it rated? G

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

See Split Screen.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Fair Oaks, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10, Sunset Drive-in

click to enlarge RESTORATION TIME Thanos has turned half the population of the universe to dust, but the remaining Avengers re-team to restore the balance, in Avengers: Endgame. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVEL STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Marvel Studios
  • RESTORATION TIME Thanos has turned half the population of the universe to dust, but the remaining Avengers re-team to restore the balance, in Avengers: Endgame.

New

Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: Civil War) co-direct this follow-up to their 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War, which resulted in Thanos turning half the universe's population into dust. The remaining Avengers reassemble and work to undo Thanos' destructive act and restore the universe. (181 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BREAKTHROUGH

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Bay, Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

Pick

Roxann Dawson directs this biographical drama about Guatemalan teenager John Smith (Marcel Ruiz), who in early 2015, while playing with friends, fell through the ice on Lake St. Louis, drowned, and was rescued by first responder Tommy Shine (Mike Colter), and CPR was performed for 27 minutes. On the brink of death and in a coma, John's religiously devout parents, Joyce (Chrissy Metz) and Brian (Josh Lucas), along with local pastor Jason Noble (Topher Grace), pray for the boy's recovery.

Essentially a sermon, the film will absolutely thrill the faithful, but unlike a lot of faith-based films, it also features a compelling true story and terrific performances that even non-Christians can enjoy. (116 min.)

—Glen

CAPTAIN MARVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Stadium 10

click to enlarge SHE'S GOT THE POWER Former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) becomes the superhero Captain Marvel, in Captain Marvel. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES AND MARVEL STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures And Marvel Studios
  • SHE'S GOT THE POWER Former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) becomes the superhero Captain Marvel, in Captain Marvel.

Pick

Co-writers and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Mississippi Grind) helm this new installation in the Marvel Universe. In 1995, former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) becomes the superhero Captain Marvel, joining an intergalactic cohort called Starforce before returning home to discover Earth is caught in a war between two alien species.

The plot is a bit more complicated than what's above. The story opens when Vers, as Carol is known in the Kree capital planet of Hala, is training to become a Kree warrior. Her problem, as her training partner and team leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) tells her, is she can't control her emotions when she's in battle. Vers is a bit of hot mess. Women, right?

She suffers from nightmares involving another woman (Annette Bening), and she doesn't remember her past. Much of the film moves back and forth in time as Carol slowly pieces together her life before she became a Kree fighter and member of Starforce, which is at war with the Skrulls, shape-shifting aliens who can disguise themselves as anyone they come in contact with.

I don't want to give too much of the inventive plot away. Part of the film's fun is that viewers are as much in the dark about Carol's past and what's happening between the Kree and the Skrulls as she is. Suffice it to say, the story heats up when Carol eventually find herself back on Earth, where her arrival, crashing through the roof of a Blockbuster Video store and finding communication gear at a Radio Shack—yes, it's definitely 1995—draws the attention of the authorities, specifically Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), an agent of a fledgling covert group called S.H.I.E.L.D.

Over all, it's an entertaining origin story of Captain Marvel as well as a rousing feminist saga as Carol discovers who she is and what she's capable of.

I wasn't sure how Brie Larson would be as Captain Marvel, but thankfully she approaches the role with humor. Gotta love an actress named after cheese, right? Superhero movies that take themselves too seriously are usually terrible, which is why Thor: The Dark World (2013) was a bit of a dud for me while Thor: Ragnarok (2017) was a blast. Superhero stories are inherently ridiculous, and when the stories and characters acknowledge that, even winkingly, they're more fun.

Vers comes off as irreverent and bordering on disrespectful of her superiors. As she learns more about her past, she begins to suspect she's been manipulated. She eventually locates her old pilot friend, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), now retired from the Air Force and living a quiet life with her daughter, Monica (Akira Akbar), who still remembers Auntie Carol from the old days. Vers makes a great role model for Monica, who also gets to see her mom get back into pilot action.

Jackson as Nick Fury has a lot of fun in his role and doesn't seem phased by the strong women around him, but the film's scene-stealer is Goose, a big orange tabby.

Lots of great action sequences, solid special effects, and with a classic tee-up for future sequels, Captain Marvel manages to entertain and inspire without resorting to didactic lecture, but viewers will certainly be reminded of the old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover." (124 min.)

—Glen

THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

click to enlarge ATTACK La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez, left), an evil spirit, begins menacing a mother and her two children, including son Chris (Roman Christou, right), in The Curse of La Llorona. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW LINE CINEMA
  • Photo Courtesy Of New Line Cinema
  • ATTACK La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez, left), an evil spirit, begins menacing a mother and her two children, including son Chris (Roman Christou, right), in The Curse of La Llorona.

First-time director Michael Chaves helms this horror thriller about a social worker Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) and her small children, Chris (Roman Christou) and Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen), haunted by a supernatural entity. The evil spirit is none other than Mexican folklore's La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez), the ghost of a woman who drowned her children in a moment of blind rage. After multiple ghastly encounters, Anna enlists help from Father Perez (Tony Amendola) and occult specialist Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz) to stop the spirit from harming her family.

Although marketed as a standalone film, I was surprised to realize The Curse of La Llorona is part of The Conjuring Universe, basically the closest thing we have to a Marvel Cinematic Universe of horror movies. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, it started with 2013's The Conjuring, and each film since has been either a prequel, a sequel, a spin-off, or even all three simultaneously. The connection in this case is barely one at all, however. Amendola reprises his Father Perez role from 2014's Annabelle, but that's about it (unless I missed any other Easter Eggs).

After Anna shows Perez the strange injuries on her arm, he's already confident in exactly who the culprit is. If there's one thing I really appreciate about The Curse of La Llorona, it does its best to not waste any time. I was expecting half of the movie boiling down to the children trying to convince their mother of La Llorona's existence, but nope! Anna sees the ghost herself pretty soon after the kids do, and that scene really works for me because it doesn't cut away quickly. There's a good 20 seconds of Anna just staring at this frightening figure in her living room, who she assumes is just an intruder at first. She's ready to fight too, although I don't remember her weapon of choiceeither a baseball bat or another blunt object.

The nightmare doesn't end there, though, as the apparition reappears throughout the week, always leaving strange burns and bruises on the wrists or arms of Anna and her children. The performances are solid, and I was genuinely scared a lot of the time, but for me, The Curse of La Llorona isn't as memorable as a lot of other recent horror movies. But in its defense, there's so much to compete with these days. We're basically living in the "Disney Renaissance" of horror films, and I for one hope it never ends. (93 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

DIANE

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

click to enlarge DEPRESSED Diane (Mary Kay Place) wants desperately to help her drug-addicted son but struggles with painful memories of her own, in Diane. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SIGHT UNSEEN PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Sight Unseen Pictures
  • DEPRESSED Diane (Mary Kay Place) wants desperately to help her drug-addicted son but struggles with painful memories of her own, in Diane.

Writer-director Kent Jones (Hitchcock/Truffaut, A Letter to Elia) helms this drama about Diane (Mary Kay Place), who wants desperately to help her drug addicted son, Brian (Jake Lacy), while struggling with painful memories of her own. (95 min.)

—Glen

DUMBO

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Park

Pick

This remake of the Disney animated film centers on a struggling circus led by Max Medici (Danny DeVito), who hires former circus star but now wounded war veteran Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) to take care of Dumbo, a small elephant with giant ears that make it a laughingstock. Holt's children, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), discover little Dumbo can fly. Soon ruthless entrepreneur V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) swoops in to make Dumbo a star with the help of French trapeze artist Colette Marchant (Eva Green).

Darn you, Dumbo, trying to tug on my heartstrings when all I want to do is nitpick about your imperfections (the movie's, not the elephant's!). It's hard to hold back tears when the song "Baby Mine" starts playing, as baby Dumbo extends his trunk to reach the barred window of his mother's cage. The separation of the titular elephant and his mother is at the heart of both the 1941 animated original and this live-action remake from appropriate director Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Alice in Wonderland).

Unlike the original, however, this story centers on brand-new human characters rather than anthropomorphized animals. So don't expect to see anything on all fours talking, contrary to other recent Disney remakes like The Jungle Book and the upcoming Lion King. Timothy Q. Mouse still makes a fun cameo appearance, but his role as Dumbo's friend and protector gets transferred over to two human children, Milly and her brother, Joe. The siblings try to convince their father, circus worker Holt Farrier, that Dumbo has the ability to fly.

Of course, he scoffs at the fantastical notion, but can we really blame him? He is a dad in a Disney movie, after all. And as every good Disney parent knows, the first rule of parenting is: Never believe your children, especially when it comes to the supernatural. Second rule: Apologize to them later for not believing after the big "I told you so" moment.

Hiring one of the screenwriters behind three consecutive Transformers movies, Ehren Kruger, to adapt a cartoon about a baby elephant was a bold move. I'd love to have seen this CGI version of Dumbo take down some Decepticons. It's a really mixed bag, but I still feel like it's worth seeing on the big screen. There's enough visual majesty to warrant a theater viewing, despite a thin screenplay.

I'll probably check out the Blu-ray, too, when it comes out, just in case there's a deleted scene of Dumbo transforming into a Fiat convertible before duking it out with Megatron and Starscream. Move over Optimus Prime, there's an elephant in the room, and his name is Dumbo. (112 min.)

—Caleb

LITTLE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Co-writer/director Tina Gordon Chism (Peeples) helms this story about ruthless tech mogul Jordan Saunders (Regina Hall), who under tremendous life pressures is magically transformed into her younger self (Marsai Martin). With the help of her dedicated assistant, April (Issa Rae), Jordan hopes to find a way to revert back.

Though uneven and formulaic, Little benefits from a big heart and talented cast. Martin is especially good as the pint-size tyrant, but the one-joke premise quickly runs thin. Save this one for a rental. (109 min.)

—Glen

MISSING LINK

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10

Pick

Writer-director Chris Butler (ParaNorman) helms this stop-motion animated adventure about Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman), who's invited to the Pacific Northwest by Sasquatch—aka Mr. Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis)—who hopes Frost will take him to the Himalayas to meet his long-lost relatives the Yetis. With free-spirited adventurer Adelina Fortnight (voiced by Zoe Saldana), the trio sets out to find Shangri La.

I was really hoping for stop-motion animation along the lines of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs, Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa, or even Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie, but instead this seems to be a mix of stop-motion and green screen CGI. It's still undeniably visually arresting, but it's not nearly as quaint and charming as the previously mentioned films.

Frost, a crypto zoologist desperate to be accepted into a men's club led by Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry), keeps trying to find evidence of various mythical creatures. The film opens with his search for the Loch Ness Monster. Unfortunately, even though he discovers the creatures, coming back with irrefutable proof is difficult.

Piggot-Dunceby and the other members reject him and go one step further. They send henchman Willard Stenk (Timothy Olyphant) after Frost to thwart his Himalayan expedition. What follows is the trio's misadventures and Stenk's relentless pursuit.

There's some bad blood between Frost and Adelina Fortnight so part of the story is about their reconciliation, which frankly happens too easily to have any resonance.

Most of the film's humor is courtesy of Galifianakis' Mr. Link, a literalist who must learn to understand Frost's bone-dry sarcasm. The whole thing is cute enough, and the various characters learn their valuable lessons, but I was a bit underwhelmed.

It simply feels like the film's messages are overly obvious and telegraphed. Frost thinks of Mr. Link as a bumpkin unworthy of his respect and nowhere near his equal. Want to guess if that changes? Frost also thinks Piggot-Dunceby and the other "great men" of his club will give him prestige and credibility, but they—not Mr. Link—turn out to be the knuckle-draggers trapped in the past and fearful of the future. Frost thinks Fortnight needs a man like him but soon learns she doesn't need anything or anyone because she's self-reliant. Mr. Link thinks he needs to be with his Yeti brethren, but they reject him as being foreign and different. He learns he must find his own family through his friendships with others.

These are all great messages for kids, but they lack nuance. Should you bring your children to see this? Sure, spring for the matinee so you can see it on the big screen. Just don't expect to feel delightfully entertained yourself. I nearly dozed off a few times. (95 min.)

—Glen

THE MUSTANG

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Co-writer/director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre helms this drama about violent convict Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts), who's given a shot at rehabilitation via a therapy program involving wild mustangs.

Twelve years ago, Roman left his domestic partner brain damaged in an attack. He's well aware of his shortcomings and doesn't believe he's fit for reintegration into society, but that changes when he's placed in a rehabilitation program run by Myles (Bruce Dern), a rancher who assigns prisoners a specific wild mustang to train.

Predictably, things don't go well initially, but soon, another inmate with a way with horses, Henry (Jason Mitchell ), helps Roman, who learns as much from his horse as the horse learns from him.

There are some unexpected twists in turns in this well-worn redemption genre, and terrific performances by Schoenaerts and Dern breathe fresh life into it. It also features and ending you won't see coming and won't soon forget. (96 min.)

—Glen

PENGUINS

What's it rated? G

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

click to enlarge SOLO STEVE Narrated by Ed Helms, Penguins tell the story of an Adélie penguin named Steve, who's on a quest to find a mate and start a family. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DISNEYNATURE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Disneynature
  • SOLO STEVE Narrated by Ed Helms, Penguins tell the story of an Adélie penguin named Steve, who's on a quest to find a mate and start a family.

Pick

Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson co-direct this documentary about Steve, an Adélie penguin on a quest to find a mate and start a family. Ed Helms narrates.

This beautifully filmed documentary, which required 16 cinematographers filming over three years, plays up its subject's inherent charm. The story of Steve's struggle to mate is relentlessly endearing, and Ed Helms' wonderful narration makes the film shine even brighter. Kids will love it and so will you! (76 min.)

—Glen

SHAZAM!

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

click to enlarge KID AT HEART A young boy transforms into the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi), but as he's having fun testing his new powers, an evil doctor hunts him to steal the powers for himself, in Shazam! - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. AND DC ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros. And DC Entertainment
  • KID AT HEART A young boy transforms into the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi), but as he's having fun testing his new powers, an evil doctor hunts him to steal the powers for himself, in Shazam!

Pick

Horror director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation) successfully steps out of his comfort zone to helm this superhero fantasy about 14-year-old foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who is chosen to inherit magical powers from a dying wizard (Djimon Hounsou). All Batson needs to do is say the magic wordthe wizard's name, Shazam!to transform into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) with super strength, flight, and other abilities.

Still a kid at heart, the heroor "champion" as the wizard refers to himrevels in his new powers, testing them out with his foster brother, Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), the first person Batson trusts with his secret. Meanwhile, the insidious Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), a mad scientist who dedicated his life to finding the original Shazam, seeks to hunt down Batson in order to extract his powers and adopt them himself.

From the trailers, the film looks like Deadpool for kids, but after seeing the final product, I think a more appropriate description would be a cross between Harry Potter and Big for superhero fans. The film opens with an origin for Sivana, cleverly devised to mirror Batson's origin later; he's chosen by the same dying wizard as a child decades before. Unfortunately, Sivana fails the wizard's test when he is tempted by "the Seven Deadly Sins." The sins are literally represented as physical demonic monsters that play an intricateand quite terrifyingrole in Sivana's destiny.

Sivana is devastated by the wizard's rejection, who tells him he'll never be worthy enough to inherit his powers. I won't spoil all the details, but the following scene is quite brutal for a kids' movie and includes the darkest use of Bing Crosby's "Do You Hear What I Hear?" I've ever seen put on film. I'm not always a fan of cheerful music juxtaposed with dark material for the sake of irony, but this one works so perfectly. The lyrics proclaiming the birth of the messiah really set the stage for Sivana's future role as an antichrist figure.

It's a lot to take in, but wow. Believe the hype! The film's universal acclaim since its release is well deserved. Like Wonder Woman and Aquaman, Shazam! builds its own world and mythology while still retaining the features of a shared universe (there are plenty of references to other DC heroes throughout the film to make that point clear). Overall, Shazam! works on so many levels: an intriguing fantasy, a moving family drama, and a brilliant comedy. Drop whatever you're doing and go see it rightShazam! (132 min.)

—Caleb

STOCKHOLM

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy

click to enlarge SYNDROME Ex-con and bank robber Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke) begins to develop a relationship with bank employee Bianca Lind (Noomi Repace), in Stockholm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DARIUS FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Darius Films
  • SYNDROME Ex-con and bank robber Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke) begins to develop a relationship with bank employee Bianca Lind (Noomi Repace), in Stockholm.

New

Writer-director Robert Budreau (Born to Be Blue, That Beautiful Somewhere) helms this crime dramedy about the 1973 bank robbery and hostage crisis that generated the term "The Stockholm Syndrome." When his heist goes sideways and he takes hostage in the bank, ex-con Lars Nystrom (Ethan Hawke) demands the release of his old crime partner from prison. As the hostage situation grinds on, Lars begins to develop a relationship with bank employee Bianca Lind (Noomi Repace). (92 min.)

—Glen

WOMAN AT WAR

What's it rated? Not rated

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

click to enlarge ECO-TERRORIST Environmental activist, Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), has second thoughts about her crusade against the Icelandic aluminum industry when her long-forgotten application to adopt an orphan child from Ukraine gets approved, in Woman at War. - PHOTO COURTESY OF VILLAGE PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Village Pictures
  • ECO-TERRORIST Environmental activist, Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), has second thoughts about her crusade against the Icelandic aluminum industry when her long-forgotten application to adopt an orphan child from Ukraine gets approved, in Woman at War.

Benedikt Erlingsson directs, co-writes, and co-produces this comedic thriller about an environmental activist (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) crusading against the Icelandic aluminum industry. But her life changes when her long-forgotten application to adopt an orphan child from Ukraine finally gets approved.

The film uses a light touch to explore the issues of environmentalism—eco-terrorism never seemed so droll—but it will leave an impact. Plus, it's a lot more fun to watch than An Inconvenient Truth! (in Icelandic, English, Ukrainian, and Spanish; 101 min.) Δ

—Caleb

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey. Contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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