Earth is being reshaped by mysterious alien invaders. Their first wave took out electricity, the second caused earthquakes and tsunamis, the third was a virus leading to mass death, the fourth is the invasion of the planet, and the fifth…you’ll have to see the movie—no spoilers from me!
Judy Hopps is an ambitious little bunny. Stuck in a zillion-rabbit town, she longs to join the police force. Topping her class at the police academy, and despite the misgivings of her conventional, veggie-farmer parents, she heads off to Zootopia, the Big Carrot in the film’s all-animal universe, to forge a career in the ZPD.
Phoenix was one of the best films of 2015 (the U.S. release date): taut, nerve-racking, gorgeous in a lurid way. It has a Vertigo vibe, leaning heavily on Hitchcock’s German Expressionist influences, but marked with Angst of a more sociopolitical nature, as if the likes of F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang had shot films just after WWII instead of the two decades before. It begins with a woman, an Auschwitz survivor (played by Nina Hoss), entering a hospital for facial surgery to repair the damage done by brutal guards. She wants to look the way she did before, so her husband can recognize her. After the operation, she finds him waiting tables at a nightclub called Phoenix.
Director Wilson Yip returns to helm the third and ostensibly final installment in the Ip Man saga with Ip Man 3. As with the previous films, international star Donnie Yen returns to the role as wing chun legend Ip Man, and the film also, questionably, brings Mike Tyson on board as a ruthless and violent American real estate developer.
I’ve always wondered about Charlie Brown’s crush on the Little Red-Haired Girl. He’s of an age where girls are little more than a nuisance. But no matter: The Peanuts Movie’s plot centers on Charlie Brown’s stumbling attempts to convince her, and himself, that he’s something and not nothing.
Two bounty hunters, a sheriff, and a prisoner walk into a haberdashery store… Such is the rambling setup of this old-dark-house-in-a-storm whodunit shaggy-dog story that writer-director Quentin Tarantino has turned into his meta-Western, The Hateful Eight. The colorful, gabby characters have been thrown together on a stagecoach heading for Red Rock, Wyoming, but are forced to take refuge from a raging blizzard in a log-cabin abode, stuck waiting it out with a rogue’s gallery of grizzled ragamuffins trustworthy as far as you can spit.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2 is actually the fourth installment in the Hunger Games trilogy. Splitting the last book of a series into two movies can allow for complexity (i.e., Harry Potter), but here it should have been avoided. Part 1 is mostly filler, and even Part 2 has some pacing issues. If you’re new to The Hunger Games, start at the beginning. Of all the teenage dystopian movie series, this one is the best conceived: Underlying the action and drama, it’s a believable look at PTSD and the personal cost of brutal dictatorships. It also has, by far, the best acting.
Football Hall of Famer Mike Webster of the Pittsburg Steelers won four Super Bowl rings throughout his 17-year NFL career. He retired in 1990 and was enshrined seven years later, but his life would go downhill from there: Five years later, he was dead from a heart attack. The sad story would have stopped there if it weren’t for a junior pathologist in the Allegheny coroner’s office whose relentless search to know why led to the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. As more cases came to his attention, this Nigerian-born doctor took on one of the most powerful institutions in the world—the NFL.
Leading a fur expedition in the early 1800s, frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is left for dead by one of his companions who is afraid of being attacked by Native Americans. Somehow Glass survives and begins to hobble back toward civilization, facing many obstacles, looking to exact revenge.
Jack’s (Jacob Tremblay) fifth birthday is typical: He says good morning to the various objects in his home, brushes his teeth, then exercises with Ma (Brie Larson). Gradually, however, we realize that Ma was kidnapped seven years earlier by a sexual predator, and her son’s knowledge of the world extends no further than the inner walls of the tiny, locked shed he calls “room.”
I’ve seen some bad Star Wars movies and, well, The Force Awakens sure ain’t one of them. Yes, the plot is full of wild coincidences, implausible developments, and groan-inducing character moments. Worst of all, the events and even specific locations sometimes follow well-worn aspects of the classic canon a bit too closely. But these sins perhaps we can and should forgive. Filmmaker J.J. Abrams is a professed Star Wars fanatic, and his love and respect for the material have clearly guided this first new film since creator George Lucas divested himself of the fabled fantasy franchise.
A team of four Boston Globe journalists headed by Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) is searching for their next exposé when their editor-in-chief (Liev Schreiber) suggests they investigate pedophile priest John Geoghan: a controversial assignment for a newspaper with a 53 percent Catholic subscriber base. Six-hundred articles later, Boston’s Cardinal Law had resigned, and the church was forced to confront an international pedophilia crisis.
In this Goodfellas-wannabe drama, in order to go after and finally bring down the Mafia in the North End of Boston, the FBI are willing to make an “alliance” with South Side–controlling Irish-American gangster Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger. The Feds, in exchange for information about the Italians, are willing to look the other way on the activities of Whitey’s gang. This free pass, and having his rivals federally eliminated, allows this scary, unblinking, psychopathic monster to go on a murderous crime spree, muscling in on Mafia territory to grow into the biggest kingpin in Boston.
It’s been said that true genius is never appreciated in its own time. Some of the most brilliant minds in human history have challenged the status quo, pioneered their field, and changed the world with their groundbreaking ideas and their seemingly limitless creativity. But the flip side of that coin almost always meant that their personal eccentricities left a gaping void in their capacity for being likable human beings. The film Steve Jobs explores that theme at great length and begs the question: Just how much leeway should geniuses be allowed before we dismiss them as the douchebags they are?
Ever wonder what would happen if the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs missed Earth instead, enabling our prehistoric pals to evolve into the dominant animals on the planet, rather than man? Regardless of your answer, here’s The Good Dinosaur, a rare misfire from the esteemed Pixar gang. While we on the sofa are still wrestling with the ramifications of this bizarre setup, we’re introduced to a family of dino farmers: no, seriously, a pack of apatosauruses that harvests corn and plows the field with their blunt heads.