Baltimore Sun


Reviews of movies showing in theaters or streaming online


‘BODIES BODIES BODIES’: From the sticky, slippery opening frames of “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” director Halina Reijn lets the audience know that we’re in for one silly-smart and deeply self-aware roller-coaster ride. This blackly comic horror riff is heavy on the social satire and sprinkled with scares, as Reijn, along with writers Sarah DaLappe and Kristen Roupenian (who contribute­d the screenplay and story, respective­ly), have intelligen­tly pulled together and reinterpre­ted traditiona­l horror tropes in order to send up the youth of today. The result is a horror film that’s a true triple threat: stunning, smart and wildly entertaini­ng. “They’re not as nihilistic as they seem on the internet,” Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) reassures her new girlfriend Bee (Maria Bakalova), en route to a “hurricane party” at the mansion of her childhood best friend David (Pete Davidson). Bee, with her quiet demeanor, accented English and humble, tomboyish clothing, is very different from Sophie and her longtime posse of outrageous rich kids. Sophie has her own sordid history with the group, and the tension among them bubbles, roiling to a boil throughout the long, bloody night that ensues. 1:35. 4 stars. — Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

‘BULLET TRAIN’: In “Bullet Train,” Brad Pitt plays a lovable-loser assassin (code name: Ladybug) bent on self-improvemen­t. He’s an easygoing sweetie, in the spirit of John Cusack’s gun-for-hire in “Grosse Pointe Blank,” to name one film you may wish you were rewatching instead of watching this one.

This one’s well made in its chosen attack. It’s fun for a while. And then, not so much. An adaptation of the 2010 Kotaro Isaka novel, one of his popular “Hitmen” series, “Bullet Train” has been cast, deftly, with actors ready to play. Even Pitt, never much in the verbal-facility or quicktime dialogue department, loosens up and finds an effective sweet spot at the intersecti­on of unkillable tough guy and exasperate­d bad-luck charm. For an Americaniz­ed version of Japanese source material (well, internatio­nalized, in terms of casting, but heavy on the Anglos), director David Leitch makes sound business sense behind the camera. 2:06. 2 stars.

— Michael Phillips,

Chicago Tribune


The DC Comics Cinematic Universe has mostly taken a dark, gritty approach to blockbuste­r comic book movies. But perhaps there’s another way to explore the world of the Justice League that’s a bit more warm, cuddly and friendly. That’s the thesis presented by the animated movie “DC League of Super-Pets,” which combines several elements that have already proven successful to create a family friendly access point to the worlds of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and their gang of superheroe­s. The voice cast is packed with favorite comedy actors, including Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Jemaine Clement, John Early and Marc Maron.

But most importantl­y, it teams Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in the lead roles of Krypto the SuperDog and Ace, a rescue mutt. Johnson and Hart have had quite the success in their odd couple pairing in films

such as “Central Intelligen­ce” and “Jumanji,” and “DC League of Super-Pets” relies on their lively banter to sell the enemies-tofriends story at the center of the film. 1:46. 2 ½ stars. — Katie Walsh

‘EASTER SUNDAY’: Years from now nobody’s going to watch “Easter Sunday” for lessons in how to frame and cut visual comedy, or the right number of dumbstruck OMG! reaction shots. And yet, years from now, “Easter Sunday” will still make a lot of people smile. The folks on the screen are the whole show, and this genial showcase for stand-up comic Jo

Koy has the advantage of showing off a wealth of Asian/Pacific American talent, pretty badly undervalue­d by establishm­ent Hollywood. 1:36. 2 ½ stars. — Michael Phillips


I could not possibly begin to explain just how these hot dog-shaped, banana-hued, gibberishs­peaking overlords came to infiltrate our culture at every level. The grasp these inexplicab­le animated creatures hold on cinema is insidious, and they

continue their reign of terror in their latest cinematic dispatch, “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” They’ve overthrown their masters in the “Despicable Me” franchise, wrestling top billing away for themselves. “The Rise of Gru” is just another “Despicable Me” movie, a supervilla­in origin story for beaky-nosed, scarf-wearing, evil aspirant Gru (Steve Carell). 1:27. 1 star. — Katie Walsh

‘NOPE’: In “Nope,” writer/ director Jordan Peele presents us with a big, shiny summer blockbuste­r — a cowboys and aliens riff built from the DNA of sci-fi spectacles of yore — and then proceeds to vivisect the very notion of a summer blockbuste­r before our eyes. He wants us to question the nature of image-making, and he starts at the beginning of film history, with photograph­er Eadweard Muybridge. In 1878, Muybridge crafted the first known example of the “moving pictures”: a two-second clip called “The Horse in Motion,” made up of sequential photograph­s of a jockey riding a race horse. That the jockey on the horse — the first person featured in the movies — is

Black, and unknown, is the starting point for Peele’s exploratio­n of seeing and the seen in “Nope,” which interrogat­es the power of images, who gets to create them, and who gets the credit. These are complex questions, but Peele has wrapped them up in an incredibly original, and entertaini­ng, piece of sci-fi filmmaking that is both unlike, and like, anything you’ve ever seen before. 2:10. 3 ½ stars. — Katie Walsh


This is co-writer and director Taika Waititi’s aggressive­ly nutty follow-up to “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017). That film zazzed up Thor’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe enough to justify more of the same. “Love and Thunder” establishe­s in the prologue the latest threat to intergalac­tic extinction: an ordinary soul on a planet far, far away, played by Christian Bale, wandering with his daughter in the desert. He suffers a grievous loss and then transforms into Gorr, the God Butcher, hellbent on wiping out those privileged paragons who, in this outing, forsake mere mortals left, right and center. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is learning, uneasily, to be a more progressiv­e and empathic specimen of godly hunk, a team player instead of a solo act. The storyline concerns, among other things, the children of New Asgard, swept up and kidnapped by Gorr. Their rescue leads the A-team straight to the enemy. 2:05. 2 ½ stars. — Michael Phillips


In 2018, retired zoologist Delia Owens, the author of the bestsellin­g 1984 memoir “Cry of the Kalahari,” published her first novel at age 69. “Where the Crawdads Sing” is set on the North Carolina coast in the 1950s and ’60s, threading romance and murder mystery through the life story of a young, isolated woman, Kya, who grows up abandoned in the marsh. The story is a bit far-fetched, the characteri­zations broad, but there’s a beauty in Owens’ descriptio­n of Kya’s relationsh­ip to the natural world. Her derisive nickname, “the marsh girl,” ultimately becomes her strength. The film is easily slotted into the Southern Gothic courtroom drama subgenre — it’s like “A Time to Kill” with a feminine touch. While the nature of adaptation requires compressio­n and elision, the film dutifully tells the story that fans of the book will turn out to see brought to life on the big screen. But in checking off all the plot points, the movie version loses what makes the book work, which is the time we spend with our heroine, Kya. 2:05. 2 stars.

— Katie Walsh

RATINGS: The movies listed are rated according to the following key: 4 stars, excellent; 3 stars, good; 2 stars, fair; 1 star, poor.

 ?? A24 ?? Amandla Stenberg, from left, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson and Rachel Sennott in “Bodies Bodies Bodies.”
A24 Amandla Stenberg, from left, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson and Rachel Sennott in “Bodies Bodies Bodies.”

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