Film Reviews: New Releases for March 17


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Shazam!: Fury of the Gods - WARNER BROS. PICTURES

  • Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Shazam!: Fury of the Gods

Blueback **1/2
Writer/director Robert Connolly’s drama is such a thoughtful, low-key way of approaching the idea of budding environmentalism that it’s a disgrace it’s not at least somewhat bit extra dramatically partaking. Mia Wasikowska plays marine biologist Abby Jackson, who’s referred to as away from her analysis to her residence on the coast of Australia when she learns that her mom has had a stroke, inspiring flashback recollections of free-diving with mom (Radha Mitchell) as a baby (Ariel Donoghue) and teenager (Ilsa Fogg), and befriending a huge blue grouper she names Blueback. Connolly and underwater cinematographer Rick Rifici present pretty, serene pictures of the Australian reef ecosystem, conveying how the easy act of engaging with nature nurtures a love for it. But the varied subplots—including villainous however nameless real-estate builders, an eccentric fisherman (Eric Bana) and Abby’s first romance with an area boy (Pedrea Jackson)—all simply sort of lie there, partly because there’s a spark of vitality missing from Fogg’s efficiency. Even the mother/daughter reunion feels oddly blunted of its possible emotional impact via Wasikowska’s gently nostalgic thousand-yard stares. I’m grateful for a family-friendly narrative about the worth of activism that doesn’t really feel the necessity to shout stridently, nevertheless it swings too far in the different emotional path. Available March 17 in theaters.

Bono and The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman **
I’d like to know specifically whose thought it was to combine all of the stuff we get on this movie, because someone deserves to be held accountable. In part, it’s a retrospective of the 40-plus-year inventive partnership and friendship between U2’s Bono and The Edge—including commentary from longtime collaborators like producer Jimmy Iovine and photographer/filmmaker Anton Corbijn—tracing their history as teenage schoolmates by way of the inevitable bumps in being in a band collectively for thus long. Also partly, it’s a showcase for the new arrangements of basic U2 songs on their new release Songs of Surrender, in a sort of MTV Unuplugged-style efficiency at Dublin’s Ambassador Theatre, with visitor performers together with Glen Hansard. And additionally in part, it’s a strolling tour of Dublin with first-time visitor David Letterman, who finds time between sit-down interviews with Bono and The Edge to see some of the sights and clown with the locals. As proficient a director as Oscar-winner Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) may be, these items simply don’t work together, mixing bizarre attempts at comic relief with one of the unfailingly earnest celebrity music acts of all time—and that’s leaving apart whether or not you think the reworked songs are fascinating or an enormous creative mistake. By the time we finish with a brand new Bono/Edge composition impressed by and devoted particularly to Letterman, it’s onerous not to marvel if the complete thing is an elaborate put-on. Available March 17 via Disney+. (NR)

Boston Strangler **
See function evaluation. Available March 17 via Hulu. (R)

Inside ***
It’s sort of a brilliant concept: a “survival thriller” set not on a deserted island, derelict ship or distant planet, but in the midst of an urban cityscape. And for any such endeavor depending on a single isolated performer, it helps to have as intense a presence as Willem Dafoe. He plays an artwork thief named Nemo, who’s within the strategy of burgling a luxury apartment when the security system seals him in, with no capacity to contact anybody on the outside. The screenplay by Ben Hopkins, developed from a concept by director Vasilis Katsoupis, throws a quantity of curve balls at Nemo over a number of subsequent days—malfunctioning HVAC that keeps elevating the temperature, water that’s been shut off, etc.—then observes as he tries to MacGyver his method out of his dilemma. There’s not a lot else happening, despite giving Nemo a imprecise backstory suggesting he himself is a thwarted would-be artist, so it falls mostly on Dafoe to fill within the gaps by providing power to Nemo’s slow descent into maybe-madness, and a rising infatuation with a cleaning girl he sees through security cameras. Katsoupis’s path emphasizes how this opulent house is already a sort of tomb for the super-rich who reside there, and perhaps it requires lower than 100 minutes to make its point about creators vs. takers. It still remains surprisingly watchable in its claustrophobic rigidity, anchored by an actor who’s mere physical presence can be engrossing to observe. Available March 17 in theaters. (R)

Moving On **1/2
After a mixed career spanning more than a century of on-screen entertainment, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have earned the proper to determine when and with whom they work. So if they solely wish to work with one another—as it would seem over the previous a number of years—at least this provides a simpler showcase than 80 for Brady did. Fonda and Tomlin play Claire and Evelyn, outdated faculty pals who reunite after many years for the funeral of their mutual pal Joyce, and doubtlessly for a little bit of score-settling: Joyce’s husband Howard (Malcolm McDowell) sexually assaulted Claire 45 years earlier, and Claire might simply be up for slightly mild murder. Writer/director Paul Weitz isn’t precisely the best filmmaker for the kind of dark-tinged comedy required for this premise, however he does present the best vibe for the extra restrained character moments, together with Claire’s reconnection with her ex-husband (Richard Roundtree). More significantly, he gives Fonda and Tomlin precise characters to work with, inspecting completely different shades of what it’s like to achieve an age the place you’re excited about regrets and limitations. There’s a meandering high quality to the screenplay—it’s not clear what precisely the point is of a subplot the place Evelyn provides sympathy to a gender-questioning youngster—but it’s at least considerably satisfying to spend time with these two actors, in roles that make the most of their lengthy history collectively. Available March 17 in theaters. (R)

Shazam!: Fury of the Gods **1/2
When it involves his distinctive superhero character in the Shazam! movies, I’m not convinced that Zachary Levi understands the assignment. This follow-up to the 2019 unique finds Levi once again taking part in the magically-enhanced alter-ego of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who fights alongside his foster siblings against ancient goddesses (including Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu) with a grievance towards the wizard (Djimon Hounsou) who gave him the Shazam powers. Some now-familiar world-threatening CGI shenanigans ensue, that are concurrently a bit extra playful than other latest comic-book adventures and a bit more keen to introduce real, non-anonymous death. But the massive problem here is that a lot of the narrative is still built across the idea of a teen-turned-titan in tights, and Levi’s interpretation of adolescent behavior feels much less like a complement to Angel’s efficiency and extra like a musclebound model of the Steve Buscemi “how do you do, fellow kids” meme. There’s considerably extra charm in Jack Dylan Grazer’s performance as Billy’s foster-brother Freddy—a physically handicapped youth reveling in the idea of bodily energy and a potential first romance (with West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler)—and a stronger connection between him and Adam Brody’s work because the caped hero version of Freddy. While the whole package deal is engaging enough more often than not, it’s onerous to not feel like we’re specializing in the incorrect member of the Shazam-ily. Available March 17 in theaters. (PG-13)

Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb ***
Director Lizzie Gottlieb’s profile of two titans of the literary world proves to be fascinating, aside from the reality that its title turns out to be slightly deceptive. The subjects are Robert Caro and the filmmaker’s own father, Robert Gottlieb—the former a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and writer of the landmark, ongoing multi-volume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson; the latter Caro’s longtime editor, with credits that embody classics like Catch-22, Beloved, Jurassic Park and extra. Each man presents perception into the method of what they do, with fascinating details that address Caro’s immersive research and Gottlieb’s philosophy of offering “an clever and sympathetic response to the text.” It’s generally nice stuff, with the caveat that the operating time is ultimately weighted in direction of Caro’s work and the hidden facts he uncovered, and understandably so. But Lizzie Gottlieb additionally informs us early on that each males opted to not let her cameras document everything of how they work collectively, which does find yourself feeling like a bit of a bait-and-switch for a movie that appears to be promising a perspective on how they collaborate, how they argue over instructed adjustments, and how a great editor makes an excellent writer’s work even higher. As a lot as we be taught about the two subjects individually, the movie might more accurately have been subtitled The Adventures of Robert Caro and the Adventures of Robert Gottlieb. Available March 17 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (PG)


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