MOVIES OPENING FRIDAY
The 15:17 to Paris
Directed by Clint Eastwood, this film follows three real American friends: Anthony Sadler; Alek Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guardsman; and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone. While traveling together through Europe, they would become heroes during the early evening of Aug. 21, 2015, when they thwarted an attempted terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364, bound for Paris. ISIS terrorist Ayoub El-Khazzani had boarded the same train from Brussels to Paris. El-Jhanzani was armed with a Draco AK-47 assault rifle, a 9-millimeter Luger semiautomatic pistol and enough ammunition to kill all 500 passengers aboard. Eastwood asked Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone to portray themselves in the movie.
Overturned on appeal from R to PG-13: Bloody images, violence, some suggestive material, drug references and language — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse and the Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
A drama based on a 1997 Amarillo hate crime: Brian Theodore Deneke, 19, was killed in a deliberate hit-and-run attack by high school athlete Dustin Camp, 17. In the film, Brian (Dave Davis) is known for his green Mohawk hair style and passion for punk music, putting on concerts in a venue called Bomb City, a nickname for Amarillo. Radical appearances stir social intolerance within the community, particularly with a character called Cody Cates (Luke Shelton), a high school football player who stays with a group known as “white-hatters.” After losing a football game, Cody and other white-hatters have an altercation with several punks. The conflict ignites a series of hostile encounters between the two groups, climaxing one evening with a violent street fight. The night would soon become notorious for one of the more controversial hate crimes in modern American culture, questioning the morality of American justice.
Not rated — Alamo Drafthouse.
Call Me By Your Name
Oscar-nomination: Best Picture. A romantic, coming-of-age drama written by James Ivory, 89, and directed by Luca Guadagnino. Veteran filmmaker Ivory had intended to direct, but ended up writing the script and producing. In the summer of 1983, precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman ( Timothee Chalamet) is spending time with his family at their 17th century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver (Armie Hammer), a handsome doctoral student who is working as an intern for Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver spend the summer discovering the beauty of a shared, awakening desire that will alter their lives forever. Also featured: Michael Stuhlbarg as Mr. Perlman.
R: Sexual content, nudity and language — Alamo Drafthouse.
Fifty Shades Freed
Final installment of the film trilogy adapted from novels by British author E.L. James. Billionaire entrepreneur CEO Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) are a couple finding happiness with a BDSM sexual relationship. After accepting Grey’s proposal, Anastasia must adjust not only to married life, but to her new husband’s wealthy lifestyle and controlling nature. Believing they have left behind shadowy figures from their past, sinister events — attempted murder and kidnapping, mistrust and blackmail — come to light and jeopardize chances for happy endings.
R: Erotic sexual content, graphic nudity and language — Premiere Cinemas (includes IMAX), Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17 (includes XD) and Movies 16 (includes XD).
Peter Rabbit 3-D/2-D
Peter Rabbit, the mischievous and adventurous hero who captivated generations of readers, now stars in his own irreverent comedy with attitude. Peter’s feud with farmer Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates to greater heights as they rival for the affection of Bea (Rose Byrne), a warm-hearted animal lover living next door. James Corden provides the voice of Peter. Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Daisy Ridley provide voices for Peter’s triplet sisters: Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail.
PG: Rude humor and action — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse and the Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Kerns rating: HHH1/2
Bits of ham-handed dialogue sneak in, but Danish director Nicolai Guglsig avoids flag-waving. His movie is an entertaining tale about little-known horse soldiers, the first American military allowed to take the fight to the Taliban and al-Qaida allies in Afghanistan, mere weeks after the horrors of 9/11. Based on declassified accounts and Doug Stanton’s 2009 book “The Horse Soldiers,” the film focuses on the Fifth Special Forces Group and Capt. Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth), though inexperienced in war, pledging to bring everybody home alive. Guglsig focuses on Hemsworth, his initial lack of “killer eyes” and uneasy relationship with a Northern Alliance general (Abdul Rashid Dostum) whom he must befriend. Matters are helped by Nelson having been raised on a ranch and being comfortble on horseback — because many battles must be waged while riding into battle, automatic weapons blazing. Nelson knows Dostum needs the American bombers hidden 30,000 feet high in the clouds, but trust issues are not solved immediately. A crowd pleaser.
R: War violence and language — Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
Kerns rating: HHHHH
Best Animated Feature nominee. A pairing of gorgeous, breathtaking animation with a fun and unpredictable script. Story and visuals keep adults involved, and characters — yes, even skeletons — enchant younger viewers. The story is set around Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The film’s ability to educate in terms of traditions — from family ofrendas to alebrijes, or animal spirit guides — is a bonus to its entertainment value.
PG: Thematic elements — Movies 16.
Kerns rating: H
Yet another of the insulting, predictable features that Liam Neeson sadly has made a habit of sleepwalking through. He has simply grown comfortable dispatching Bad Guys in quickie action pictures. The story grows more silly with each twist telegraphed well in advance. Cue the fistfights, breakaway glass and gunshots no one hears.
PG-13: Intense action/violence, and language — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
Kerns rating: HHH
Best Picture nominee. Director Joe Wright’s film is written to spotlight British prime minister Winston Churchill — and Gary Oldman stars and commands the screen. There is history in his island nation only gradually warming up to a prime minister who favors war with Nazi Germany over any pretense of a negotiated peace with Adolf Hitler. Parliament feared the annihilation of the English Army at Dunkirk, never dreaming that Churchill’s wild plan to rescue stranded forces with non-military personnel and civilian boats could actually work.
PG-13: Thematic material — Movies 16.
Den of Thieves
The story focuses on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, expected to protect the LA branch of the Federal Reserve, where reportedly more than a million dollars in cash is taken out of circulation and destroyed. But on this day, a crew of seasoned bank robbers plans to pull off a heist.
R: Violence, language and sexuality — Premiere Cinemas, Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
Kerns rating: HHH
Director Carlos Saldanha could not resist placing a bull in a china shop, with predictable results. Yet it remains an amusing tale, a loyal adaptation of 1936 children’s book “The Story of Ferdinand,” written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, a story not seen on screen since the Disney cartoon in 1938. Attempts to escape cannot keep the bull out of the ring, where the best scene finds Ferdinand blinded by a red cape. Kate McKinnon is a hoot as wisecracking goat Lupe.
PG: Rude humor, action and thematic elements — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
Forever My Girl
Liam Page (Alex Roe) and high school sweetheart Josie Preston (Jessica Rothe) were the golden couple of Saint Augustine, La., until Liam left her at the altar and ran away for a shot at fame. Eight years later, mLiam returns to his tiny home town. Life has one more surprise awaiting him. .
PG: Thematic elements including drinking, and language — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
The Greatest Showman
Kerns rating: HHH
Hugh Jackman impresses in his dream role of P.T. Barnum, but there is precious little story exposition between songs. Deserving applause is choreography by Ashley Wallen. The musical introduces Barnum as a risk-taking visionary, first opening a wax museum and later befriending outcasts Tom Thumb amf Bearded Lady (the charismatic Keala Settle). Barnum winds up fist-fighting one half of conservative society, while entertaining the other half with a show laying the groundwork for his future.
PG: Thematic elements, including brawl — Premiere Cinemas, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Kerns rating: HHHHH
This 2017 drama from writer-director Scott Cooper again proves the western is not dead — although taking a darker approach examining characters on the edge, affected by lives of brutal violence on the frontier. The main characters, cavalry captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) and Northern Cheyenne war chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), developed bitter hatred over years of bloody battles. The story opens in 1892. Blocker, nearing retirement, receives his most distasteful assignment; threatened with a lost pension should he not comply, he is ordered to escort Yellow Hawk, who contracted cancer during seven years of confinement, and his family from a New Mexico fort to ancestral grasslands in Montana.Crossing paths with marauding Comanche, dangerous fur trappers and racist whites, survival odds are slim. Bale is incredible as a man questioning his own humanity; he is heartbreaking during his “I had a friend” monlogue, and dodges a racist tag when he calls Henry, a black Buffalo Soldier, the best soldier he’s ever known … and may also mean best friend. Bale learned to speak Northern Cheyenne, which grants enhanced authenticity.
R: Violence and language — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Kerns rating: HHH
Alternately depressing and amusing, director Craig Gillespie’s storytelling experiments deliver a profane and darkly comedic view of blue collar figure skater Tonya Harding. The movie reminds viewers that U.S. figure skating champion, and future Olympian, Harding was a top skater — she was the first American female to complete a triple axel in competition — but never would be regarded as the sport’s American sweetheart or grace a Wheaties box. What viewers want to know about is the “incident,” the 1994 kneecapping of Harding rival Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver), although the characters involved would be more at home in a Coen Brothers movie. Margot Robbie, whose skating merges so smoothly, and Allison Janney deliver terrific performances as Harding and mother LaVona, respectively. Even those entertained likely won’t leave with any altered opinions.
R: Pervasive language, violence and sexual content/nudity — Premiere Cinemas.
Insidious: The Last Key
Kerns rating: HH 1/2
Lin Shaye impresses as elderly parapsychologist Elise Rainier, but one almost need cheat sheets to keep up. Be reminded that Elise died in the first “Insidious.” Screenwriter Leigh Whannell kept her alive only by writing a prequel and then a sequel to the prequel. In the film’s modern setting 50 years later, Elise receives a telephone call from a man who lives in her childhood home, where an entity Elise accidentally freed as a child continues to feed on souls.
PG-13: Disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and language — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (3-D/2-D)
Kerns rating: HHH1/2
Credit writing, casting and performances for this stand-alone sequel being so entertaining. High school detention is populated by types: skinny nerd Spencer (Alex Wolf); football jock Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), pretty-turned-vain selfie-taker Bethany (Madison Iseman), and shy bookworm Martha (Morgan Turner). These four find a mysterious game console (Jumanji), and are sucked into the game and transformed into their choice of adult avatars. The nerd becomes a smoldering, muscular adventurer (Dwayne Johnson), the jock is now a small whiner (Kevin Hart), a shy bookworm gives way to a Lara Croft-type (Karen Gillan), and sexy Bethany trades her body for that of middle-aged cartographer Jack Black. Adult avatars, however, maintain teenage personalities and fears. Kudos to director Jake Kasdan, who introduces one message about overcoming insecurities and another involving the four opposites pooling strengths and working together if they are to survive. Black steals scenes by channeling his much-too-believable inner Bethany.
PG-13: Adventure action, suggestive content and language — Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Kerns rating: HHHH
Best Picture nominee. Characters are introduced via familiar conflicts, be it teenage rebellion, or an early relationship with one or the other failing to adequately translate the sexual signs. But director Greta Gerwig adds unexpected colors to the familiar. Unruly Catholic high school senior Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is alternately funny and sweet, or aggravating and rude. She can be a tough character to like, making one appreciate Ronan’s approach. Laurie Metcalf shines as the mom working double shifts as a nurse. Some of the better scenes arrive with Metcalf holding nothing back, yet unable to hide maternal feelings.
R: Language, sexual content, graphic nudity and teen partying — Movies 16.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
The final chapter of a trilogy, following “The Maze Runner” in 2014 and “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trial” in 2015. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) again leads his group of escaped Gladers. To save their friends, they break into a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all.
PG-13: Cci-fi violence and action, language, and thematic elements — Premiere Cinemas, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Kerns rating: HHHH
Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut is as seamless as his scripts previously helmed by Danny Boyle, David Fincher and Rob Reiner. Within Sorkin’s comfortable juggling of time, title character Molly Bloom is seen as an Olympic-level freestyle skier apparently doomed by a horrific accident. A middle-of-the-night arrest by FBI agents, wielding automatic weapons, also is witnessed before viewers truly begin to understand how a young former athlete could wind up running the country’s slickest, high-stakes poker game for more than a decade. Lessons learned among the powerful in Hollywood eventually find Bloom setting up the Big Apple’s most exclusive, decadent and dangerous man cave, in which the rich and famous — and perhaps the mob — think nothing of a mandatory quarter million dollar buy-in for a weekly poker game.
R: Language, drug content and some violence — Premiere Cinemas.
Enjoying rave reviews. Paddington Bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and marmalade wherever he goes. One fine day, he spots a pop-up book in an antique shop. Feeling it would be the perfect present for his aunt’s 100th birthday, Paddington embarks on a series of odd jobs to earn enough money to buy it. When a thief, played by Hugh Grant as a narcissistic actor with a case of costumes, steals the prized book, Paddington is blamed and imprisoned.
PG: Some action and mild rude humor — Tinseltown 17.
Kerns rating: HHHH
Best Picture nominee. Writer-director-cinematographer Paul Thomas Anderson’s oddly titled eighth movie is cold, elegant, often beautiful. Production design (Mark Tildesley), costumes (Mark Bridges) and Jonny Greenwood’s score command attention as Daniel Day-Lewis is introduced as a fashion god dictating changes in haute couture in 1955 London. He is not a likeable character, though, seeking companionship and and finding his series of women distracting; he cowardly depends on dominant sister/partner Cyril (Lesley Manville) to dump all to the curb. The House of Woodcock changes when he opens a door to working class Alma, played brilliantly by Vicky Krieps, defiantly stands her ground.
R: Language — Movies 16.
Pitch Perfect 3
Kerns rating: H1/2
Far from perfect. Any chemistry previously shared by collegiate a cappella group the Bellas is nonexistent in this dreadful sequel. Anna Kendrick returns as Becca, and Hailee Steinfeld as Emily. Neither impress between songs, and Rebel Wilson’s attempts at comedy and profane one-liners are not funny.
PG-13: Crude and sexual content, language and action — Premiere 1inemas.
Kerns rating: HHHH1/2
Best Picture nominee. Important on historical and cultural levels. Meryl Streep’s brilliant work as a shy Katharine Graham who inherited the power of Washington Post publisher, is the actress’ most subtle, and powerful, work in years. Steven Spielberg paints Graham as a role model for all women. Yet when comparing newspaper movies, “The Post” lack the dark thrills within director Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 reportorial detective story “All the President’s Men,” and falls shy of the nuts-and-bolts of investigative reporting that drives Tom McCarthy’s 2015 Oscar winner “Spotlight.” Still, “The Post” deals with real happenings during 1971, and carries power as a story about men and women who risk lives and careers for freedom of the press and government accountability. The film ably recreates the atmosphere of pre-computer newsrooms. Fine supporting work includes Ben Odenkirk’s journalist who finds Ellsberg. Tom Hanks plays defiant Post editor Ben Bradlee, but perhaps lacks the crackling fire of Jason Robards in the role in 1976.
PG-13: Language and war violence — Movies 16.
The Shape of Water
Kerns rating: HHHHH
Best Picture nominee. Sally Hawkins is a darkhorse in the race for Best Actress at the Oscars. She is incredible as mute, lonely Eliza Esposito, who forges a relationship with an amphibian male imprisoned in the government lab that she helps clean each night. Bookend narration by Giles, Richard Jenkins’ gay character, emphasizes imaginative filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s original fairy tale, and much more. This fairy tale blooms into a tragic, destined-to-fail romance influenced by the director’s affection for 1954’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Del Toro reveals an affection for horror films, tension-packed escapes, government conspiracies and, surprise, dreamy 1930s musicals — all within an original romance where everyone colors outside the lines. Cinematographer Dan Lausten creates amazing images in a flooded apartment, and composer Alexandre Desplat delivers a romantic score.
R: Sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language — Alamo Drafthouse and Movies 16.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Kerns rating: HHHHH
Best Picture nominee. Conflict is no stranger. Frances McDormand delivers a personal, powerful performances as Mildred, a divorced mother whose daughter was raped and set on fire seven months earlier. Furious that such a heinous crime never was solved, McDormand provides cruel, accusatory reminders on billboards near town, meant to embarrass the local police chief. In the hands of writer-director Martin McDonagh, the film gains intensity via its refusal to introduce or identify recognized villains. The screenplay — like the film, its key performances and McDonagh’s direction, all deserving awards consideration — is a mixture of wrenching drama and dark comic moments constructed with jaw-dropping surprises and twists.
R: Violence, language and sexual references — Movies 16.
Kerns rating: H
Good luck figuring out what convinced actress Helen Mirren to star in a horrid haunted house movie co-directed by Michael and Peter Spierig. The real house in San Jose that inspired the story was financed by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester repeating rifle fortune, as a structure with seemingly no beginning or end. After her husband dies, Sarah (Mirren) is convinced that her family is threatened by ghosts of those killed with guns. Using her inheritance, Sarah designs a mansion to keep out dangerous spirits. Construction continues 24 hours a day, every day, for decades. The result stands seven stories tall, with hundreds of rooms. The architecture often is a puzzle — with rooms meant to either calm the ghosts of those killed, or, in the case of angry ghosts such as a Confederate soldier, keep them locked away with 13 nails. Naturally, the Winchester company’s board of directors is convinced Sarah is bonkers and, just to make sure, bribes psychiatrist Eric Price (Jason Clark) to observe Sarah and find her certifiable. Price, however, becomes no match for the house. Unfortunately, Hollywood’s first anti-gun horror movie may leave viewers far more sleepy than scared.
PG-13: Violence, disturbing images and intense sequences — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse and Tinseltown 17.
Star ratings, reviews are by A-J Media film critic William Kerns.