For a re­view of “Smurfs: The Lost Vil­lage,”

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In the first fewmin­utes of the an­i­mated film “Smurfs: The Lost Vil­lage,” I couldn’t help but won­der if this was go­ing to be a ter­ri­bly long ver­sion of the 1980s TV car­toon se­ries.

For­tu­nately, “Lost Vil­lage” found its own path and be­came a sweet story about Girl Power.

If you’re not fa­mil­iar with the char­ac­ters, the tiny blue Smurfs live in a re­mote vil­lage that’s hid­den from their neme­sis, the evil Gargamel ( Rain­nWil­son). Led by Papa Smurf ( Mandy Patinkin), the blue boys are aptly named by their char­ac­ter­is­tics, a la “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” So, there is a Clumsy Smurf ( Jack McBrayer), a Hefty Smurf ( Joe Man­ganiello) and a Brainy Smurf ( Danny Pudi). This is an­noy­ingly spelled out in the be­gin­ning of the film, in case you don’t get the point that Nosey Smurf ( di­rec­tor Kelly As­bury) is the creepy one.

One Smurf is dif­fer­ent from the rest — the lone fe­male of the bunch named Smur­fette ( Demi Lovato). Her back­story is that she was ac­tu­ally cre­ated by Gargamel from blue clay to in­fil­trate the Smurfs and lead him to their se­cret home. But Gargamel’s das­tardly plot was up­ended by Papa Smurf, who turned Smur­fette into a “real Smurf.” ( This was spelled out in the TV se­ries, so there are no spoil­ers here for true fans.)

“The Lost Vil­lage” deals with Smur­fette’s jour­ney to find out what kind of Smurf she re­ally is. It should be called “Smur­fette’s Search for the Lost Vil­lage.” When Smur­fette and her clos­est pals Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty find a map to a “Lost Vil­lage” in the For­bid­den For­est, it leads to the dis­cov­ery of one of the big­gest se­crets in Smurf­dom. Mean­while, Garag­mel tries to snatch them at ev­ery move.

The first two “Smurf ” films in this fran­chise, in 2011 and 2013, tried to meld the hu­man and Smurf worlds us­ing live- ac­tion and com­puter- gen­er­ated an­i­ma­tion with some suc­cess. This new film stays closer to the orig­i­nal comic book se­ries cre­ated by Bel­gian car­toon­ist Peyo in the late 1950s. The film is ded­i­cated to Peyo’s wife, Nine, who is at­trib­uted with choos­ing the hue of blue for the Smurfs.

It’s fit­ting, then, that the film takes the sim­ple premise of find­ing one’s in­ner beauty and turns it into a lov­ing trib­ute to fe­male em­pow­er­ment

“Smurfs: The Lost Vil­lage,” a Sony Pic­tures re­lease, is rated PG for mild ac­tion and rude hu­mor. Run­ning time: 91 min­utes. ½

“Go­ing in Style”

The el­derly bank heist film “Go­ing in Style” could be con­sid­ered a sort of geri­atric “Hell or HighWater.” In­stead of volatile young men, the bankrob­bers are slow- mov­ing re­tirees, but they’re just as an­gry at Amer­i­can bank­ing in­sti­tu­tions, which have swin­dled them out of their slice of the Amer­i­can dream in the form of shady mort­gages. Al­most a decade af­ter the hous­ing cri­sis of 2008, and the bit­ter­ness re­mains. This isn’t just a heist; it’s ret­ri­bu­tion.

While “Go­ing in Style” shares themes with last year’s sur­prise in­die hit, its premise is far older ( ahem). The film, star­ring Michael Caine, Mor­gan Freeman and Alan Arkin, is a re­make of a 1979 film of the same name, star­ring Ge­orge Burns, Art Car­ney and Lee Stras­berg. “Hid­den Fig­ures” writer/ di­rec­tor Theodore Melfi has up­dated the screen­play for the 2017 era, while “Scrubs” star and “Gar­den State” film­maker Zach Braff takes on the role of di­rec­tor.

But “Go­ing in Style” shares far more with “Hell or High Water” than the orig­i­nal in terms of so­cial com­men­tary and ul­ti­mate morals. It’s pow­ered by an en­gine of blue col­lar eco­nomic anx­i­ety, draw­ing on the very real fears about the loss of Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, So­cial Se­cu­rity and pen­sions. For our three main char­ac­ters, the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity that was promised to them for their golden years is ripped away by un­trust­wor­thy global cor­po­ra­tions and ex­ploita­tive banks.

All these three pals want is their own piece of the pie— so they set out to get­ting them­selves some pie. Caine, as Joe, is the ring­leader, who finds in­spi­ra­tion dur­ing a bank rob­bery, where the crim­i­nal tells Joe that our cul­ture has a duty to take care of its elders, which surely isn’t the case in the present­dayU. S. of A.

This bit­ing cul­tural cri­tique is the stuff that re­ally draws blood in “Go­ing in Style,” not so the stale gen­er­a­tiongap jokes that make up its com­edy. It seems the movie’s go­ing to be all riffs about cof­fee prices and chang­ing tech­nol­ogy and the won­ders of med­i­cal mar­i­juana these days, but thank­fully that fades to the back­ground while the trio set their plan in mo­tion.

You can’t watch Michael Caine take on a role like this and not think of the clas­sic gang­ster and heist roles that made him a star in the 1960s and ’ 70s, in films like “Get Carter” and “The Ital­ian Job.” There are shades of that here, but he’s been de­fanged for this more fam­i­lyfriendly crime film. He’s break­ing the law for friend­ship and fam­ily, and “Go­ing in Style” eggs him on ev­ery step of the­way.

For a di­rec­tor who made a state­ment with 2004’ s “Gar­den State” ( although the years haven’t been kind to that film), and even with the whim­si­cal “Wish I Was Here,” it’s odd that “Go­ing In Style” is di­rected so anony­mously by Braff. It’s just a ser­vice­able guid­ing of the story along its track, with a few stylis­tic flour­ishes here and there. Over­all, it doesn’t bear any stamp that it’s Braff’s work ( which could be a good thing for him).

“Go­ing in Style” ex­presses a kind of anti- cap­i­tal­ist, work­ing- class rhetoric that serves as a mo­men­tary balm for ex­is­ten­tial eco­nomic wor­ries, but it’s the kind of fan­tasy that only ex­ists in the movies. Fun to watch, but ul­ti­mately just a fa­cade.

“Go­ing In Style,” aWarner Bros. Pic­tures re­lease, is rated PG- 13 for drug con­tent, lan­guage and some sug­ges­tive ma­te­rial. Run­ning time: 96 min­utes. ½


The deadly dance of sol­diers and land mines has an in­her­ent drama that can make for grip­ping sto­ry­telling. Since the start of the cen­tury, we’ve seen this with films from Den­mark ( the Os­car- nom­i­nated “Land of Mine”), Eng­land ( the sear­ing “Kilo Two Bravo”) and Bos­nia (“No Man’s Land”).

Now, there’s the more meta­phys­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal “Mine” though it’s the weak­est — and ar­guably least re­al­is­tic— of the group. But a com­mit­ted per­for­mance by Ar­mie Ham­mer, who’s on screen from­start to fin­ish as an Amer­i­can sol­dier who has stepped on a mine and can’tmove, keeps it from be­ing a com­plete dud.

Ham­mer is Mike, a sniper on amission in an un­named North African coun­try with his fel­low sol­dier and best friend, Tommy ( Tom Cullen). ButMike daw­dles pulling the trig­ger on a sus­pected ter­ror­ist — he’s not con­vinced they’ve got the right guy — al­low­ing their po­si­tion to be dis­cov­ered. They’re chased across the desert and into a mine field.

Tommy doesn’t make it and Mike could be next if he lifts his foot. Through it all, he has to deal with armed tribes­men, wild an­i­mals, a sand­storm, the heat, the cold, an enig­matic Ber­ber, and the enig­matic Ber­ber’s daugh­ter as well as hal­lu­cino­genic, taunt­ing vi­sions from his trou­bled past — all with­out tak­ing a step.

As di­rected by the Ital­ian team of Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro, the Ca­nary Is­lands- filmed “Mine” shim­mers with a dusty au­then­tic­ity and the first half- hour is shot through with sus­pense. But as more of Mike’s cliched back story be­comes clear over the course of a long 106 min­utes, the film be­comes al­most as much of an en­durance test for the au­di­ence as it is forMike.

“Mine,” a Well Go USA En­ter­tain­ment re­lease, is un­rated with vi­o­lence, strong lan­guage. Run­ning time: 106 min­utes. ½


The Warner Bros. Pic­tures re­lease “Go­ing in Style” stars, from left, Alan Arkin, Mor­gan Freeman and Michael Caine.

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