Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Shaun the Sheep
Director: Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
PG; 1 hr. 25 min.
When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer, a caravan, and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it’s up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home. (Synopsis by Lionsgate)
Absurd, inventive, endearing, and hilarious. A nod to silent films in style and pacing, it constantly delivers laughs in a way few films can. One of the best animated films of the year. See it.
Director: Josh Trank and Joshua Trank
PG-13; 1 hr. 46 min.
FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy. (Synopsis by Fox)
If you didn’t think this Fantastic Four could be worse than the 1994 edition, you’d be sorely mistaken. The months of rumors were true, this is a mess of editing and plot devices that remove all audience engagement from the script. Skip it.
Rikki and the Flash
Director: Jonathan Demme
PG-13; 1 hr. 42 min.
Three-time Academy Award (R) winner Meryl Streep goes electric and takes on a whole new gig – a hard-rocking singer/guitarist – for Oscar (R)-winning director Jonathan Demme and Academy Award (R)-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody in the uplifting comedy Ricki and the Flash. In a film loaded with music and live performance, Streep stars as Ricki, a guitar heroine who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom, but is now returning home to make things right with her family. Streep stars opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, who plays her fictional daughter; Rick Springfield, who takes on the role of a Flash member in love with Ricki; and Kevin Kline, who portrays Ricki’s long-suffering ex-husband. (Synopsis by Tristar)
The premise is as hackneyed as it gets, but something keeps this from being a complete miss. There are moments of unexpected deep thought and real emotion scattered between the clichés. Unfortunately, they never fully transcend the flat parts of the script. Rent it.
Director: Joel Edgerton
R; 1 hr. 48 min.
Simon and Robyn are a young married couple whose life is going just as planned until a chance encounter with an acquaintance from Simon’s high school sends their world into a harrowing tailspin. Simon doesn’t recognize Gordo at first, but after a series of uninvited encounters and mysterious gifts prove troubling, a horrifying secret from the past is uncovered after more than 20 years. As Robyn learns the unsettling truth about what happened between Simon and Gordo, she starts to question: how well do we really know the people closest to us, and are past bygones ever really bygones? (Synopsis by Styx)
A film that successfully emulates the moral quagmires of Haneke with enough ambition left over to make this an exceptional thriller. Edgerton does a terrific job writing and directing his debut film. See it.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Director: Robert Schwentke
PG-13; 1 hr. 59 min.
THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world. (Synopsis by Lionsgate)
Too many plot points create a dumbed-down film that would only have been mediocre at best. Like its predecessor, there is a good idea here that never fully materializes behind the sheer amount of bad filmmaking at work. Skip it.