Six new releases storm into the mid-valley this weekend, but the biggest buzz surrounds John Krasinski's offbeat horror flick, "A Quiet Place," and the political satire "The Death of Stalin," from the creator of "Veep."
Also new this week are a pair of very different comedies centered around teenage sexuality: In "Blockers," parents unite to stop daughters from having sex, while the wry and sometimes brutal "Flower" is an offbeat exploration of adolescent sexuality.
For older audiences, "Chappaquiddick" examines the notorious Ted Kennedy-Mary Jo Kopechne accident and Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren hit the road in the tepidly reviewed "The Leisure Seeker."
2 ½ stars
(Comedy, R, 100 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) Three sets of parents do everything they can to prevent their daughters from having sex on the night of the prom. This often-gross comedy takes a while to rev up, but it’s often laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to the cast. You just wish they had a little more to work with. John Cena and Leslie Mann lead the cast. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
2 ½ stars
(Drama, PG-13, 101 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Director John Curran’s drama examines the 1968 scandal that marred Ted Kennedy’s political career and killed 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne. It’s a low-key, generally absorbing if somewhat lackluster procedural that ominously reflects on the darker shadows that loom behind even the brightest shining political hopes. Jason Clarke and Kate Mara star. (Jake Coyle, Associated Press)
THE DEATH OF STALIN
3 ½ stars
(Historical satire, R, 97 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) Director Armando Iannucci delivers an audacious and hilarious send-up of the grab for power that followed the Soviet leader's demise in 1953. But as in the case of all satires that resonate, "The Death of Stalin" goes deeper than balloon-popping punch lines. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Comedy-drama, R, 93 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) A sexually curious teen (Zoey Deutch, in a star-making performance) forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally unstable stepbrother. It loses its way a bit near the end, but at its best, it’s a refreshingly wry (if brutal) commentary on our societal mores regarding adolescent sexuality. Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott co-star. (Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
THE LEISURE SEEKER
(Drama-comedy, R, 112 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) An English professor grappling with dementia and his wife hop into their aging Winnebago for a road trip to Key West. Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren star, but the movie is an uneasy and undercooked combination of breezy humor and moments of painful realism. (Rafer Guzman, Newsday)
A QUIET PLACE
(Horror, PG-13, 90 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) John Krasinski is the director, co-writer and co-star (with his wife, Emily Blunt) of this neatly spun and well-crafted thriller about a family that must maintain complete silence to avoid stirring deadly monsters. That's a pretty nifty setup to keep the tension going from moment to moment. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Comedy-drama, no MPAA rating, 95 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) After her English instructor, John (Josh Hartnett), suddenly disappears from class, a Tokyo “office lady” (Shinobu Terajima) sets out on a comedic odyssey to track him down in Southern California. This cross-cultural shaggy-dog tale doesn’t break any new ground, but director Atsuko Hirayanagi locates both a sharp vein of absurdist comedy and a bitter, melancholy undertow. (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times)
READY PLAYER ONE
3 ½ stars
(Sci-fi adventure, PG-13, 140 minutes, playing at the Pix and the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) In a dystopian future, everyone spends as much time as they can in a virtual-reality universe where events can have lasting and serious real-world consequences. Adapting Ernest Cline's sci-fi novel, Steven Spielberg has created an eye-popping, mind-blowing, candy-colored, fantastically entertaining (albeit slightly exhausting) virtual-reality fantasy adventure. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
TYLER PERRY’S ACRIMONY
(Thriller, R, 120 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) A faithful wife (Taraji P. Henson), tired of standing by her devious husband (Lyriq Bent) becomes enraged when it becomes clear she’s been betrayed.
I CAN ONLY IMAGINE
(Drama, PG, 110 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) This true story follows the life of Bart Millard, lead singer of the Christian band MercyMe, who loses his father to cancer. The lose inspires Millard to write the hit song “I Can Only Imagine.” J. Michael Finley stars, but the cast also includes Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins and Cloris Leachman.
PACIFIC RIM UPRISING
(Sci-fi fantasy, PG-13, 110 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) It’s a second round between the Jaegers, gigantic robots controlled by human pilots, and the monstrous Kaiju, huge creatures from the deepest oceans. This sequel to the Guillermo del Toro original stars — oh, who cares? It’s gigantic robots vs. huge monsters, people! (If you must know, John Boyega stars, and the movie unleashes his considerable screen charisma.) (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
(Animated, PG, 86 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) In this sequel to “Gnomeo and Juliet,” the gnomes move to London. But when gnomes mysteriously start disappearing, it’s a case for the famous detective Sherlock Gnomes. Style points at least for the title pun.
(Comedy, PG-13, 109 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) A senior in high school comes out as gay in this fantastic high school comedy that’s grounded, funny and heartwarming, tonally located somewhere between “Lady Bird” and “Mean Girls.” Nick Robinson stars, with Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford and Alexandra Shipp, in this film that occupies some of the middle ground between to terms with his simply a fantastic high school comedy that’s grounded, funny and heartwarming. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
(Action adventure, PG-13, 118 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Star Alicia Vikander is absolutely terrific in this stripped-down origin story of the video game heroine. But the special effects sequences aren't all that special, and many seem designed to distract us from the hokey, dopey, paper-thin plot. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
A WRINKLE IN TIME
(Fantasy action, PG, 115 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the Regal 4 in Corvallis) Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon star in this adaptation of the young adult classic by Madeleine L'Engle. We should be moved and exhilarated by a story involving leaps of faith and the powerful magic of love, but this journey is felled by a torrent of New Age babble, underwhelming special effects and a final act that falls flat. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Sci-fi thriller, R, 115 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12). In this bold and innovative sci-fi horror thriller from the director of "Ex Machina," Natalie Portman plays a biologist venturing into a mysterious environmental disaster zone to find her missing husband. Her work here rivals her Oscar-winning turn in "Black Swan." (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Comedy, action-adventure, R, 100 minutes, playing at the Regal 4 in Corvallis) Max and Annie’s weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s brother, Brooks, arranges a murder mystery party. But when Brooks is kidnapped, is it part of the game? Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Sharon Horgan and Kyle Chandler star. Winning chemistry among the stars help keep this agreeable and generally clever comedy afloat. (Lindsay Bahr, Associated Press)
3 ½ stars
(Sci-fi action-adventure, PG-13, 134 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Director Ryan Coogler delivers a flick that somehow lives up to the hype, as he brings Marvel’s black superhero to the big screen. Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright star, but it’s Coogler who electrifies the comic-book movie with a new perspective and a rare talent for marrying naturalistic character development with spectacle muscle. (Jake Coyle, Associated Press)
2 ½ stars
(Animated, PG, 93 minutes, playing at the Regal 4 in Corvallis) James Corden, Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Sam Neill star in this animated adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s books. The animation technology is top-notch, but the gentle spirit of Potter’s books is subsumed into a chaotic, violent mayhem, manically soundtracked to the day’s hits. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)