The Huntsman: Winter’s War

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach. Rated: PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some sensuality. If you saw 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman,” it should be pretty easy for you to decide whether to see the new film “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.” It’s not really a seqel, it tells a parallel story with some of the same characters. As with the first movie, there’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike – and they’re pretty much all the same things as in the first film. If you didn’t see the first film, there’s not a whole lot to enjoy about this one except the visuals, which are admittedly pretty stunning. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is separated into two stories. The first centers on Freya (Emily Blunt), sister of Ravenna (Charlize Theron) – the evil queen from the

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10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane

Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr. Rated: PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language Films like “10 Cloverfield Lane” rely heavily on the audience not knowing more than the point of view character, so this review will avoid spoilers. Whether you’ll think this is a good movie or not depends heavily on what merits you use to judge it. There are some plot holes and the ending has drawn thoroughly mixed reactions, but the acting is superb, the cinematography is solid, and the tension just keeps cranking up. Our point of view character is Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who wakes up after a car accident to find herself chained to the wall in a small concrete room. The room turns out to be part of an underground bunker belonging to Howard (John Goodman), who says he rescued her. He and

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Sword of Destiny

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Sword of Destiny

Directed by: Woo-Ping Yuen Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Harry Shum Jr., Jason Scott Lee Rated: PG-13 for martial arts violence and brief partial nudity When “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” came out in 2001, it introduced director Ang Lee to American moviegoers and popularized Chinese martial-arts films in the western world. Now, fifteen years later, we get a sequel based on the same series of books. Famed action choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping, who handled the elaborate fights on the original film (as well as the Matrix movies and others), is directing. If you want to see amazing fight sequences with elaborate and beautiful wirework and choreography, you must not miss “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Sword of Destiny.” Folks who loved the first film more for its story and tone than its swordwork may be disappointed. The only character to return from the first film is the reserved and powerful Shu Lien (Michelle

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Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2

Comedy sequels aren’t easy, and “Zoolander 2” has a whole lot stacked against it. For one thing, “Zoolander” came out in 2001, so the teens and twentysomethings who liked it then (myself included) are now 30-somethings. With that different an audience, but the tacit expectation that a sequel should be the same but more than its predecessor, “Zoolander 2” seems doomed. I went in without having rewatched the original in the intervening decade and a half, and with very low expectations – a combination that mostly succeeded in letting me have a good time.

Deadpool

Deadpool

“Deadpool” is one of those rare comic book adaptations that works for both the long-time fan and the newcomer. For those of us who’ve been longing for a feature film about the merc with the mouth, this is the movie we wanted. For folks who don’t even know who the heck Deadpool is, if you like black-as-sin comedy, gloriously over-the-top violence, and fourth-wall-breaking meta-commentary, this is the movie you want, too. There’s a reason this film broke all kinds of opening-weekend box office records.

Jane Got a Gun

Jane Got a Gun

Directed by: Gavin O’Connor Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Noah Emmerich, Ewan McGregor Rated: Rated R for violence and some language. Also contains an off-screen rape. A lot of Westerns have underlying themes of vengeance, the necessity of working together to survive in a harsh environment, and the mysterious loner who saves the day. “Jane Got a Gun” brings us a Western about assumptions – about how assuming things can destroy you, and how moving beyond them can save your life. It’s also just a straightforward good, character-focused story. The action is saved up for the end, but most assuredly does not disappoint. Jane (Natalie Portman) is the core of the film, the focus of the story both in and out of flashbacks. When her fiance failed to return from the Civil War, she went West. When the film opens, she is married, has a young child, and also has a gang of bad folks

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The Forest

The Forest

Directed by: Jason Zada Starring: Natalie Dormer, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Taylor Kinney, Eoin Macken, Rated: PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and images “The Forest” feels like a mediocre remake of a Japanese horror movie. Alas, it is not a remake (which would at least point us toward a possible good time), it’s just a mediocre movie. The plot has some promise: a woman looking for her lost twin sister in a forest widely reputed to be full of angry ghosts. Unfortunately, the filmmakers went the route of jump-scares and “scary” makeup we’ve seen a million times, and set the movie in Japan for no apparent reason. To make matters worse, the film never really addresses the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death in Japan, and that the forest is not only real but one of the most popular locations for suicides in the world. Our heroine, blonde and serious Sarah (Natalie Dormer),

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The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight

Written & Directed by: Quentin Tarantino Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth Rated: R (for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity) Quentin Tarantino has settled into his groove and is polishing his craft. His latest production, “The Hateful Eight,” is very Tarantino. There’s plenty of graphic violence, humorous and profane dialog, and a general sense of over-the-top-ness. He seems to get a real charge out of having his actors use racial slurs which, while they are context-appropriate, is a bit grating. What “The Hateful Eight” does have in spades is thoughtful, unhurried cinematography, and carefully-paced sequences of dialog that are somehow just as intense and suspenseful as a prolonged action sequence would be. The story is set some years after the Civil War. Bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is trying to take his latest catch, Daisy Domergue

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Legend

Legend

Directed by: Brian Helgeland Starring: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Christopher Eccleston, Rated: R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual and drug material. The Kray twins were gangsters in London’s East End during the 50s and 60s. Between the various biopics based on their lives, the autobiographies they wrote separately and together, and the numerous books about their exploits, they are pretty well-known even outside of the UK. Tom Hardy plays both twins in “Legend,” the latest film version of their story. If you’re on the hunt for a gangster movie, it will hit the spot. Reggie and Ronnie Kray were both notoriously violent. Reggie also had a good head for business, but had to keep his brother under control – Ronnie was schizophrenic and not always willing to take his meds. The film opens with Reggie pulling strings to get Ronnie out of a psychiatric prison. We then follow them as they rise in

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The Last Witch Hunter

The Last Witch Hunter

Directed by: Breck Eisner Starring: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Julie Engelbrecht, Michael Caine, Elijah Wood Rated: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images Vin Diesel is famous for his work in movies where he generally plays a big, strong guy who speaks softly but can kick you across the country and back. He’s also famous among nerds for being a huge, huge nerd himself. In fact, the story and titular character in “The Last Witch Hunter” grew out of Diesel talking about one of his Dungeons and Dragons characters with a filmmaker friend. Even better, it’s a surprisingly good film if you like supernatural action stories. In the world of “The Last Witch Hunter,” witches aren’t human. They look human when they want to, and in the modern day many of them live peacefully among humans. The peace is kept by a longstanding truce between the Witch Council and The Axe and Cross,

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