MOVIES

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIES -

the tiger (Idris Elba) and the other jun­gle “peo­ple” pro­vide thrills, com­edy and the modern con­vic­tion that this threat­ened en­vi­ron­ment and these en­dan­gered species de­serve hu­mankind’s pro­tec­tion. Pulling ma­te­rial from both Ki­pling’s texts and the more fa­mil­iar (to modern au­di­ences) 1967 Dis­ney car­toon, the movie is at its best when it re­pro­duces the for­mal speech and re­spect­ful in­tent of the orig­i­nal sto­ries; it’s less grip­ping when di­rec­tor Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) al­lows the fan­tasy to suc­cumb to Dis­ney shtick, as in the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Baloo the bear (Bill Mur­ray) as a wise­crack­ing lazy­bones. The scari­est and most el­e­gant episode de­picts Mowgli’s en­counter with slith­ery, se­duc­tive Kaa (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son), the python; the weird­est in­volves a postKi­pling cre­ation, King Louie (Christo­pher Walken), a “gi­gan­to­p­ithe­cus” pre­sented as an an­thro­poid Col. Kurtz Bartlett 10. Kubo and the Two Strings (PG, 101 min.) HHH ½ Set in ancient Ja­pan, this un­usual fa­ble about a young boy (voiced by Art Parkin­son) ac­com­pa­nied on a quest by a talk­ing snow mon­key (Char­l­ize Theron) and a Gre­gor Samsa-style samu­rai bee­tle (Matthew Mcconaughey) is ide­ally suited for Laika En­ter­tain­ment, a stu­dio that has strug­gled since “Co­ra­line” — its 2009 de­but re­lease — to find ma­te­rial wor­thy of the un­canny ef­fect of the com­puter-en­hanced stop-mo­tion an­i­ma­tion that is the com­pany’s sig­na­ture. Vis­ually strik­ing at ev­ery turn and oc­ca­sion­ally even eerie (the float­ing witch sis­ters de­serve their own stop­mo­tion hor­ror movie), the film con­jures a fan­tasy logic that is more be­holden to myth and folk­lore than to comic books and Hol­ly­wood (in fact, Laika is based near Port­land); the box-of­fice profit won’t ap­proach Pixar lev­els, but cult rev­er­ence is as­sured. The de­but­ing di­rec­tor is Travis Knight, lead an­i­ma­tor on the pre­vi­ous Laika films, which also in­clude “Para­nor­man” and “The Box­trolls.” Col­lierville Towne 16, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema (in 3-D), Palace Cin­ema, Par­adiso. The Leg­end of Tarzan (PG-13, 109 min.) HHH The first ma­jor live-ac­tion Tarzan movie in three decades re­habs the prob­lem­atic and elides omits the in­de­fen­si­ble as­pects of Edgar Rice Bur­roughs’ story about a white baby raised by apes who proves to be the nat­u­ral lord of both jun­gle an­i­mals and black-skinned Africans; at the same time, the film em­braces the se­duc­tive “no­ble sav­age” fan­tasy of a new cen­tury-old Western pop myth that — as with “Franken­stein,” “Moby Dick” and “King Kong” — of­fers end­less, thorny av­enues for sex­ual, racial, po­lit­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal anal­y­sis. Set in the 1880s, this “Leg­end” in­tro­duces the cloth­ing-con­stricted John Clay­ton, Lord Greystoke (an ap­pro­pri­ately lithe and sculpted Alexan­der Skars­gaard) at a meet­ing at Num­ber 10 Down­ing Street, where the for­mer Tarzan — eight years out of Africa — sips tea with splay-knuck­led hands (“I grew up run­ning on all fours”) while lis­ten­ing to con­de­scend­ing gov­ern­ment re­ports on “the poor na­tives” of the Bel­gian Congo. Be­fore long, Greystoke and his proudly modern non“dam­sel”wife, Jane (Mar­got Rob­bie), are on a mis­sion that takes them back to Africa, where they shed their in­hi­bi­tions (and clothes) while join­ing real-life re­former Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Williams (a fun if anachro­nis­tic Sa­muel L. Jack­son) and var­i­ous tribes­peo­ple — as adept at vine-swing­ing as Tarzan — in a bat­tle against slave traders and the mer­ci­less Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), a dandy so sin­is­ter he gar­rotes his en­e­mies with a rosary made from Mada­gas­car spi­der silk. Like Brewer’s pre­vi­ous fea­tures (which in­volved pimp­ing, ra­di­a­tor-chained cap­tiv­ity and il­le­gal danc­ing), this is es­sen­tially a por­trait of love in ex­tremis that uses a fan­tas­ti­cal premise to chal­lege and re­ju­ve­nate its lovers; un­like most cur­rent “su­per­hero” sagas, which traf­fic in moral am­bi­gu­ity, the movie is staunchly un­cyn­i­cal, with an en­tirely ad­mirable Tarzan and Jane whose un­con­di­tional love for each other spills over to the an­i­mal king­dom: Tarzan nuz­zles li­ons, reveres ele­phants and chooses sur­ren­der over vi­o­lence in a cer­e­mo­nial bat­tle with a great ape (the script af­firms cur­rent think­ing about the “hu­man­ity” of non-hu­man pri­mates). Also wel­come: The movie’s episodic, river­chase story struc­ture and old-school ac­tion-ad­ven­ture are rel­a­tively mod­est for a would-be fran­chise-ig­nit­ing block­buster; only the too fre­quently sub­stan­dard dig­i­tal ef­fects — sur­pris­ing for such an ex­pen­sive project — break the spell. Bartlett 10. The Light Be­tween Oceans (PG-13, 133 min.) A light­house keeper and his wife raise a baby they res­cue from an adrift row­boat. The cast in­cludes Michael Fass­ben­der, Ali­cia Vikan­der and Rachel Weisz. Col­lierville Towne 16, Cor­dova Cin­ema, Wolfchase Gal­le­ria Cin­ema 8. Lights Out (PG-13, 81 min.) HH ½ A metaphor for abu­sive code­pen­dency and its side­kick reper­cus­sions, shame and se­crecy, di­rec­tor David F. Sand­berg’s fairly ef­fec­tive fea­ture de­but imag­ines an an­gry ghost with a bale­ful long­time in­flu­ence on a frac­tured fam­ily that in­cludes a self-med­i­cat­ing mess of a mother (Maria Bello), a sweet-na­tured young son (Gabriel Bate­man) and a re­la­tion­ship-wary daugh­ter (Teresa Palmer, whose Goth at­tire and glower can’t hide her Cal­i­for­nia-by-way-ofAus­tralia surfer-girl glow). On the scale of scary, the movie ranks well above such re­cent fiz­zles as “The Gal­lows” and “The For­est,” but well be­low “Green Room” and “Don’t Breathe”; its over­re­liance on jump scares is re­gret­table, but its con­cept of a dark­ness-dwelling en­tity that steadily ap­proaches with each on-and-off flick of a light switch is gen­uinely creepy. Bartlett 10, Cine­planet 16, Cor­dova Cin­ema, Desoto Cin­ema 16, Ma­jes­tic, Palace Cin­ema. Me­chanic: Res­ur­rec­tion (R, 99 min.) Ja­son Statham re­turns as uber-as­sas­sin Arthur Bishop. Desoto Cin­ema 16, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema, Palace Cin­ema, Par­adiso, Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in, Wolfchase Gal­le­ria Cin­ema 8. Nerve (PG-13, 96 min.) Emma Roberts and Dave Franco par­tic­i­pate in a mo­bile on­line game even more dan­ger­ous than “Poke­mon Go.” Bartlett 10, Cine­planet 16. No Manches Frida (PG-13, 114 min.) A Span­ish-lan­guage com­edy about a ditzy bank rob­ber who poses as a teacher to ac­cess the loot buried be­neath a school. Par­adiso. Now You See Me 2 (PG13, 129 min.) HH “The Four Horse­men” are re­cruited by a venge­ful tech prodigy (Daniel Rad­cliffe) to pil­fer the pri­vacy-eras­ing soft­ware of a cor­rupt cap­i­tal­ist. Bartlett 10. Pete’s Dragon (PG, 82 min.) HHH ½ “Be open to look­ing” is both meta­phys­i­cal coun­sel and prac­ti­cal ad­vice in di­rec­tor David Low­ery’s pow­er­ful film about a lit­er­ally warm and fuzzy fire-breather with a prog­nathic jaw (a 1960s-70s Dis­ney atavism: see also Bagheera, Tig­ger, O’mal­ley the al­ley cat and the orig­i­nal “Pete’s Dragon”), func­tional wings and a power — in­vis­i­bil­ity — that lit­er­al­izes the story’s mes­sage that “just be­cause you don’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.” Oakes Be­g­ley stars as a wild or­phan boy liv­ing in the for­est with the help of El­liott, the friendly dragon (the premise links the boy to two of this year’s other movie heroes, Mowgli and Tarzan); Bryce Dal­las Howard and Robert Red­ford are the sym­pa­thetic park ranger and old-timer, re­spec­tively, who be­come not just dis­cov­er­ers but pro­tec­tors of Pete and El­liott after lum­ber­jack Karl Ur­ban and his crew re­al­ize a mon­ster might be more prof­itable than tim­ber. A re­make of a 1977 Dis­ney film that com­bined live ac­tion with tra­di­tional an­i­ma­tion (re­placed here by re­al­is­tic if styl­ized dig­i­tal an­i­ma­tion), the movie marks an en­tirely suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion to the big (stu­dio) leagues for di­rec­tor/co-writer David Low­ery, a mul­ti­task­ing stal­wart of mi­cro-bud­get cin­ema who has worked as an edi­tor, cin­e­matog­ra­pher and sound recordist on such no­table films as “Up­stream Color,” “Sun Don’t Shine” and Ken­tucker Aud­ley’s madein-mem­phis “Open Five.” In­die Mem­phis Film Fes­ti­val reg­u­lars may rec­og­nize the con­nec­tion be­tween this “Dragon” and Low­ery’s 2009 fea­ture “St. Nick,” a much smaller-scale story about chil­dren sur­viv­ing on their own in a woodsy en­vi­ron­ment; both movies dra­ma­tize the so-called magic and in­no­cence of child­hood with imag­i­na­tion and with­out con­de­scen­sion. Cine­planet 16, For­est Hill 8, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema, Olive Branch Cin­ema, Wolfchase Gal­le­ria Cin­ema 8. The Purge: Elec­tion Year (R, 105 min.) HH ½ With the tag line “Keep America Great”) in­spired by the sea­son’s scari­est se­rial (the Trump cam­paign), the third “Purge” film is more a grind­house “Hunger Games” chap­ter than the sharp­fo­cused ter­ror ex­er­cise of the 2013 orig­i­nal, as re­turn­ing writer-di­rec­tor James De­monaco pur­sues ca­ble tele­vi­sion-style long­form sto­ry­telling and overt so­ciopo­lit­i­cal mes­sag­ing over the an­thol­ogy hor­ror for­mat that would have been an ideal fit for the se­ries’ in­ge­nious foun­da­tional con­ceit (in the near-future U.S., all crime is le­gal for 12 hours on the day of “The Purge,” a new civic tra­di­tion that al­lows ci­ti­zens to let off steam, how­ever lethal). . Bartlett 10. Sausage Party (R, 83 min.) HHH The lat­est project from writ­ing/pro­duc­ing part­ners Seth Ro­gen, Evan Gold­berg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaf­fer. Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in, Wolfchase Gal­le­ria Cin­ema 8. The Secret Life of Pets (PG, 90 min.) An an­i­mated cats-and-dogs-and-more com­edy from Il­lu­mi­na­tion En­ter­tain­ment (the “Min­ions” stu­dio). Cine­planet 16, Desoto Cin­ema 16, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema, Ma­jes­tic, Olive Branch Cin­ema, Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in, Wolfchase Gal­le­ria Cin­ema 8. South­side With You (PG-13, 84 min.) HH ½ Imag­ine the first date of the future First Cou­ple. Par­adiso. Star Trek Beyond (PG-13, 122 min.) HHH Can-do out­erspace op­ti­mism of the late Gene Rod­den­berry’s lon­grun­ning science-fic­tion saga. Col­lierville Towne 16. Sui­cide Squad (PG13, 130 min.) HH A DC Comics ori­gin saga about a team of ruth­less, brutish and de­ranged su­pervil­lains.cine­planet 16, Col­lierville Towne 16, Cor­dova Cin­ema, Desoto Cin­ema 16, For­est Hill 8, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema, Ma­jes­tic, Olive Branch Cin­ema, Palace Cin­ema, Par­adiso, Stage Cin­ema, Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in. Sully (PG-13, 96 min.) Clint East­wood di­rects Tom Hanks in the story of air­line pi­lot Ch­es­ley “Sully” Sul­len­berger, who in 2009 landed US Air­ways Flight 1549 on the Hud­son River. Cine­planet 16, Col­lierville Towne 16, Cor­dova Cin­ema, Desoto Cin­ema 16, For­est Hill 8, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema, Ma­jes­tic, Olive Branch Cin­ema, Par­adiso, Ridge­way Cin­ema Grill, Stage Cin­ema, Stu­dio on the Square, Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in. Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles: Out of the Shad­ows (PG-13, 112 min.) A hard-shell se­quel. Bartlett 10. War Dogs (R, 114 min.) Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are hot­shot arms deal­ers in this fact-based po­lit­i­cal com­edy. Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in. When the Bough Breaks (PG-13, 107 min.) A sur­ro­gate mother goes psy­cho in a thriller star­ring Mor­ris Chest­nut and Regina Hall. Col­lierville Towne 16, Cor­dova Cin­ema, Desoto Cin­ema 16, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema, Ma­jes­tic, Olive Branch Cin­ema, Palace Cin­ema, Par­adiso, Stage Cin­ema, Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in. The Wild Life (PG, 90 min.) More an­i­mated an­i­mals: This time, the story of Robin­son Cru­soe is told through the eyes of a wit­ness par­rot. Cine­planet 16, Col­lierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cor­dova Cin­ema (in 3-D), Desoto Cin­ema 16 (in 3-D), Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema (in 3-D), Olive Branch Cin­ema (in 3-D), Par­adiso (in 3-D), Stage Cin­ema (in 3-D).

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