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Film Listings, 12/20/18 – 12/27/18

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AQUAMAN

DON'T MESS WITH THE WET ONE! Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) claims his title as heir to Atlantis and saves the world, in Aquaman. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DC ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Dc Entertainment
  • DON'T MESS WITH THE WET ONE! Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) claims his title as heir to Atlantis and saves the world, in Aquaman.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Furious 7) directs the story of Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), who becomes Aquaman when he discovers he's heir to the underwater kingdom, Atlantis. Can he rise to the role, lead his people, and save the world? Is this a comic book movie? Yes and yes! (143 min.)

—Glen Starkey

AT ETERNITY'S GATE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, Before Night Falls, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) directs this biopic chronicling Vincent Van Gogh (Willem Defoe) during his tragic last days in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Rupert Friend stars as Vincent's brother, Theo; Oscar Isaac as fellow painter Paul Gauguin; and Mathieu Amalric as Vincent's physician and model, Dr. Paul Gachet.

Schnabel is a singular filmmaker, one who doesn't mind challenging viewers. His take on the final years of Van Gogh's life will definitely divide audiences. Its rottentomatoes.com aggregate is 82 percent favorable by critics but only 52 percent by audience. In the screening we attended, two women walked out midway through.

The film takes its time and is very interested in Van Gogh's psychology, his feeling of isolation, his aberrant behavior, and his unique way of seeing the world. If only Van Gogh could have seen how revered his work would become, maybe his life wouldn't have been such a tragedy. (110 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, Superman Returns) directs this biopic about Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and Queen, chronicling the band's rise to super stardom, Mercury's solo career and AIDS diagnosis, and their triumphant reunion and spellbinding performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert. (134 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BUMBLEBEE

BETTER BUG Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) discovers an old VW Bug in a junkyard that turns out to be Bumblebee (voiced by Dylan O'Brien), a Transformer bot in hiding, in Bumblebee. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ALLSPARK PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Allspark Pictures
  • BETTER BUG Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) discovers an old VW Bug in a junkyard that turns out to be Bumblebee (voiced by Dylan O'Brien), a Transformer bot in hiding, in Bumblebee.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) directs this new installment into the Transformers franchise. It's 1987, and a broken and battle-weary Bumblebee (voiced by Dylan O'Brien) is hiding in a junkyard when he's discovered by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a teen looking for her first car. Together, they'll team up in this sci-fi action adventure. (113 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

Pick

David Yates (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Legend of Tarzan) directs this J.K. Rowling screenplay, the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series, about magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who's enlisted by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to recapture escaped evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). (134 min.)

—Anna Starkey

THE FAVOURITE

SYCOPHANT Abigail (Emma Stone), a new servant to Queen Anne, connives herself into a position of power, in The Favourite. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ELEMENT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Element Pictures
  • SYCOPHANT Abigail (Emma Stone), a new servant to Queen Anne, connives herself into a position of power, in The Favourite.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

New

Yorgos Lanthimos directs this early 18th century period piece about two warring women seeking favor from ailing, prickly Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is the queen's longtime companion who essentially runs the country during a time of war. Newcomer Abigail (Emma Stone), a new servant to the queen, uses her charms to gain power of her own as she attempts to return to her aristocratic roots. (119 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FREE SOLO

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

I don't think I've ever sweated so much in a movie theater in my life. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin helm this raw and gripping National Geographic documentary chronicling 33-year-old rock climber Alex Honnold's incredible 2017 ascent up the face of El Capitan, a 3,000-foot-tall rock formation in Yosemite, without protective gear—the first in human history to accomplish the feat. (100 min.)

—Peter Johnson

GREEN BOOK

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Fair Oaks

Pick

Co-writer Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary) directs this biopic about African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who hires working-class Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as his driver on a music tour of the 1960s American South. Though they're very different people, they develop a warm and enduring friendship. This is one of those classic feel-good movies only a true cynic could reject. Both lead characters come out of the other side of the story improved. (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE GRINCH

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Co-directors Yarrow Cheney (The Secret Life of Pets) and Scott Mosier helm this animated adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story, narrated by Pharrell Williams, about a grumpy curmudgeon, the Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who plans to ruin Whoville's Christmas. Along the way, the Grinch encounters various inhabitants of the town including Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely), her mother, Donna Who (Rashida Jones), and Mr. Bricklebaum (Kenan Thompson). (86 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

HOLMES & WATSON

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Opens 12/25 at Park

New

Writer-director Etan Cohen (Get Hard) helms this comedic crime adventure about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective character, Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell), and his sidekick, Doctor Watson (John C. Reilly). (132 min).

—Glen Starkey

HOME ALONE

TROUBLEMAKER Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is accidently left behind on Christmas vacation, forcing him to fend for himself and fight off two burglars, in the 1990 classic Home Alone, screening on Dec. 21, at the Fremont Theater (free, but reserve tickets required at fremontslo.com). - PHOTO COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
  • Photo Courtesy Of Twentieth Century Fox
  • TROUBLEMAKER Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is accidently left behind on Christmas vacation, forcing him to fend for himself and fight off two burglars, in the 1990 classic Home Alone, screening on Dec. 21, at the Fremont Theater (free, but reserve tickets required at fremontslo.com).

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Friday, Dec. 21 (7 p.m.; free but pre-register at fremontslo.com)

New/Pick

Chris Columbus directs this classic 1990 John Hughes script about Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), a precocious 8-year-old who's inadvertently left at home when his family embarks on a chaotic Christmas vacation. Young Kevin must protect his home from two hapless burglars, Harry Lime (Joe Pesci) and Marv Merchants (Daniel Stern), who discover they're no match for the little troublemaker. (103 min.)

—Glen Starkey

INSTANT FAMILY

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Pick

Co-writer and director Sean Anders (Horrible Bosses 2, Daddy's Home) helms this story about Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne), who adopt three children, sending their lives into utter chaos. This well-intentioned dramedy explores the travails and triumphs of adoption, finding both comic and emotionally potent moments. (119 min.)

—Glen Starkey

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Saturday, Dec. 22, 10:30 a.m., in Fair Oaks

New/Pick

Director Frank Capra's beloved 1947 Christmas film starring Jimmy Stewart as a frustrated businessman who's shown by an angel what life would be like without him, will be screened for free during a food drive. Bring a can of food and watch the show! (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MARY POPPINS RETURNS

What's it rated? PG

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

New

Rob Marshall (Chicago Memoirs of a Geisha, Pirates of the Caribbean: One Stranger Tides Into the Woods) directs this sequel to the 1964 classic about a magical nanny who helps two neglected children reconnect with their father. This time around, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) returns to the Banks family children who are now adults. Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) lives with his three children—Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), Georgie (Joel Dawson)— and their housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters), in the same house on Cherry Tree Lane. With encouragement by Michael's sister, Jane (Emily Mortimer), and the help of lamplighter, Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Mary helps the new set of Banks children find the joy in life. (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

THE VIRGIN QUEEN Margo Robbie stars as Queen Elizabeth I, who must stave off treachery from both her male advisors and her cousin, Mary Stuart, in Mary Queen of Scots, screening exclusively at The Palm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOCUS FEATURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Focus Features
  • THE VIRGIN QUEEN Margo Robbie stars as Queen Elizabeth I, who must stave off treachery from both her male advisors and her cousin, Mary Stuart, in Mary Queen of Scots, screening exclusively at The Palm.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

Josie Rourke directs this biopic about Scottish Queen Mary Stuart's (Saoirse Ronan) attempt to overthrow her cousin, English Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). (124 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MORTAL ENGINES

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Christian Rivers (Minutes Past Midnight) directs Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw, a mysterious woman living on a mobile industrial city seeking revenge for her murdered mother. Co-producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh bring Philip Reeve's young adult novel, Mortal Engines, to life—set in a distant future where mobile cities hunt smaller engine-running towns and dismantle those they catch for raw materials.

What this film lacks in intertwining storylines it makes up for in action-packed and in-your-face sequences. Don't let the Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and King Kong) name across the top of the movie poster fool you—this film lacks his magic touch and fluid storytelling that we see in his previous work.

As most futuristic stories begin, a narrator recounts the story of the earth and how "the ancients" destroyed it in only 60 minutes with destructive technology. In case you were wondering, the ancients are the present population—yeah, you heard me, you reading this review are part of the ancients' population.

Anyway, in order to survive with whatever resources are left, cities and towns have been built on top of engines so they can freely roam the muddy terrain in constant search. Cities that are obviously inhabited by the upper class prey on smaller towns and literally swallow them up and search them for scrap technology to continue leading their somewhat successful lives. It's very Hunger Games-esque, as the screen closes in on London's population, cheering and applauding as their city swallows up a town.

The town they're rummaging through for goods contains Hester Shaw, a runaway seeking bloody revenge on the city's lead engineer, Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), who murdered her mother. Seeking the opportunity, she stabs Thaddeus once but is stopped by one of the city's historians, Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan). Tom was a huge believer in Thaddeus and his work until he started to question whether Thaddeus had harmed Hester's mother, so Thaddeus pushes Tom down the city's garbage chute and out into the deserted world.

Tom's left in the mud to fend for himself and to make sense of who Thaddeus really is and what he's done to others in order to get to the top. He's left with the company of Hester, whose no-nonsense, lone-wolf vibe isn't so easy to deal with.

Turns out Hester is so angsty because of her troubled upbringing. After her mother's death, a robot with superpowers raised her, but that's a whole psychological can of worms. That robot wanted to get rid of Hester's sadness by turning her into a robot and erasing her memory, but Hester left and started her quest to kill Thaddeus, since he's a colossal jerk.

There are a couple more side stories within this film that I think take away from the issue at hand. Thaddeus is building something powered by old, dangerous pieces of technology that could eliminate other people. I guess he wants to be a dictator of sorts. So there's that, mixed with a rebellion population (very Star Wars) that lives in a city in the sky, a love story with Hester, a sanctuary village, and that crazy robot who once was a human.

It's a lot of little stories meshed into one, and it's not done very well. It feels like we're just getting to know one character ... and then wait a second, here's a clumsy plot twist. It's just kind of a corny movie with all the bells and whistles of a Jackson film. The action scenes are epic, like when the deranged robot chases Hester and Tom, or an airplane fighting scene, with explosions and all that good stuff.

Also, thumbs up for having a diverse and almost entirely unknown cast except for Weaving and an unrecognizable Stephen Lang—he's the crazy robot guy. I have to say a lot of strong roles in the film were done by women, which is something I'm all for. This is Hilmar's first leading role, but you might recognize her from The Romanoffs or Anna Karenina.

Overall the film is fun to see in theaters but don't expect much in terms of storyline. (129 min.)

—Karen Garcia

THE MULE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

See Split Screen.

ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Park (ends 12/24)

New

This is a PG-13 version of the formerly R-rated Deadpool 2, a sequel directed by David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) about irreverent former mercenary-turned-mutant superhero Wade "Deadpool" Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). This time around, he convenes a team of fellow mutants to protect a supernaturally gifted young boy, Russell "Firefist" Collins (Julian Dennison), from the vengeful, time-traveling mutant, Cable (Josh Brolin). (119 min. minus whatever they had to cut for a PG-13 rating.)

—Glen Starkey

POLAR EXPRESS

What's it rated? G

Where's it showing? Saturday, Dec. 22 (7 p.m.; free but pre-register at fremontslo.com)

New/Pick

Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forest Gump) directs this 2004 animated adventure comedy about a boy (voiced by Tom Hanks, who also voices Father, Conductor, Hobo, Scrooge, and Santa Claus) who rides the Polar Express to the North Pole as he learns about friendship, bravery, and the Christmas spirit. (100 min.)

—Glen Starkey

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-directors Phil Johnson and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia) helm this animated sequel in which Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) follow a Wi-Fi router in their home arcade, Litwak's Family Fun Center, to explore a strange new world: the internet.

Six years have passed since the events of Wreck-It Ralph, and Ralph and Vanellope are still best friendsclose as "peanut butter and bacon," Ralph says at one point. When Vanellope's game, Sugar Rush, is in danger of being unplugged and scrapped for parts after its steering wheel breaks, the pair seek help in the world of the internet, a realm completely unknown to the duo and the other pixelated inhabitants of Litwak's arcade. Ralph and Vanellope start at eBay (or "eBoy" as Ralph continuously calls it), where a Sugar Rush steering wheel is up for auction. The wheel would save Vanellope's candy kingdom home from destruction, but will the pair be able to raise enough money to bid for the item in time? (112 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman co-direct this animated action adventure co-written by Phil Lord and co-produced by Christopher Miller (the duo best known for directing The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street). Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) becomes the Spider-Man of his version of reality, then crosses into a parallel universe where he teams with other realities' Spider-Men and a Spider-Woman to stop a an evil that threatens all realities.

Superhero team-ups are most satisfying when the juggling of characters is completely undetectable. The audience shouldn't be thinking about which character's turn it is in the spotlight, rather why the characters work so well together. For example, what is it that makes Nicolas Cage's Spider-Noir (a gritty, 1940s private investigator version of Spider-Man) and John Mulaney's Spider-Ham (an anthropomorphic pig whose secret identity is Peter Porker) such a perfect pair?

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse pulls this off but also picks the right point-of-view to watch the story unfold through: Miles Morales, a teenager who gets spidey powers after being bit by a genetically altered spider while tagging an abandoned subway station. Morales returns to the station later to investigate, only to uncover a plot concocted by crime lord Wilson Fisk—aka Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber)—to collide dimensions in order to access parallel universes, but at a deadly cost.

What a time it is to be alive for superhero fans. Live action comic book adaptations have been inarguably dominating the box office for the last decade, so where can we go from there? Animated adaptations of costumed crime fighters aren't new, in home video and television at least. But the big screen treatment for these "cartoons" (a term that Peter Porker considers derogatory) was a rarity ... until this year, if the trend catches on.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse does for Marvel what Teen Titans Go! To The Movies did for DC earlier this year: It takes these characters places that live action couldn't possibly allow (I could be eating these words in a year or so). Despite the comparison to a quite sillier film, Spider-Verse is surprisingly just as earnest as it is humorous. No matter how many one-liners, knee-slappers, and instances of breaking the fourth wall there are, the stakes feel real. Morales is a full-fledged character we root for and sympathize with all the way through. I'm starting to understand why Spider-Ham found the term "cartoon" so demeaning. (117 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

SECOND ACT

IMPOSTER Former big-box store worker Maya (Jennifer Lopez) is hired on Madison Avenue under false pretenses, forcing her to use her street smarts to get ahead, in Second Act. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STX ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Stx Entertainment
  • IMPOSTER Former big-box store worker Maya (Jennifer Lopez) is hired on Madison Avenue under false pretenses, forcing her to use her street smarts to get ahead, in Second Act.

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

New

Peter Segal (Tommy Boy, Anger Management, 50 First Dates, Get Smart) directs Jennifer Lopez as big-box store worker Maya, who keeps getting passed over for promotion. With the help of a computer-smart kid, she reinvents herself online and parlays her new identity into a posh new job on Madison Avenue, proving that street smarts can outsmart book smarts. (103 min.)

—Glen Starkey

VICE

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Opens 12/25 at Downtown Centre

New

Writer-director Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers) helms this biopic dramedy about Washington, D.C., bureaucratic insider Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), who became George W. Bush's (Sam Rockwell) vice president, using his power to reshape the U.S. and its foreign policy. (132 min.)

—Glen Starkey

WELCOME TO MARWEN

IMAGINE Based on an inspirational true story, Steve Carell stars as Mark Hogancamp, who survives a severe beating and finds an innovative way to help his recovery, in Welcome to Marwen. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS AND UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Dreamworks And Universal Pictures
  • IMAGINE Based on an inspirational true story, Steve Carell stars as Mark Hogancamp, who survives a severe beating and finds an innovative way to help his recovery, in Welcome to Marwen.

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park

New

Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump) directs this inspirational true story about Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), who survives a severe beating and creates a miniature town and fantasy friends to aid in his recovery. (116 min.) Δ

—Glen Starkey

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and others. You can contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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