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BAD BOYS FOR LIFE
(Action, R, 123 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany; and at the AMC 12 Corvallis and Regal Ninth Street, both in Corvallis). The third edition of the “Bad Boys” franchise starts as it must: With a gleaming Porsche swerving at impossible speeds through Miami traffic under the expert control of Will Smith, with Martin Lawrence growing very sick beside him. Yet it’s oddly flat and unfunny and has strayed so far from its gritty roots that it might be called “Bad Boys for Life Insurance.” Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have taken over from Michael Bay in the director's chair but the look of the film essentially mimics its predecessors. (Mark Kennedy, Associated Press)
(Fantasy/adventure, PG, 106 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany; and at the AMC Corvallis 12 and Regal Ninth Street, both in Corvallis). The only appropriate adjective for this “Dolittle” is “hasty.” Everything feels slapdash and half-rendered. Everyone on screen seems to be in a stumbling daze, especially Robert Downey Jr. as the frazzle-dazzled doctor. Do little? They could not have done less. Also features Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Harry Collett, Carmel Laniado, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson and Tom Holland. Directed by Stephen Gaghan. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
(Biographical drama, PG-13, 125 minutes, opening Friday at the Pix Theatre in Albany) Cynthia Erivo portrays Harriet Tubman, the 19th century African American woman who escaped from slavery and then led hundreds of others to freedom. It’s a stirring tribute to a truly iconic American. With Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, Clarke Peters. Written by Gregory Allen Howard, Kasi Lemmons; story by Howard. Directed by Lemmons. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
(Comedy, PG-13, 108 minutes, playing at the Darkside Cinema and the AMC Corvallis 12, both in Corvallis). Writer-director Taika Waititi delivers a timely, anti-hate fractured fairy tale AND turns in hilarious work as Adolf Hitler, imaginary friend to a 10-year-old German boy near the end of World War II. No, really. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Biography, PG-13, 118 minutes, playing at the Darkside Cinema in Corvallis). Renee Zellweger stars as Judy Garland in 1968, unhinged, financially strapped and on her way to London for a desperately needed nightclub engagement. While an impressive impersonation, Zellweger's performance never resonates as a fully fleshed-out biopic character portrayal. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times)
(Thriller, R, 132 minutes, starts Friday at the Pix Theatre in Albany; continues at the Darkside Cinema in Corvallis) Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, Bong Joon Ho's deviously entertaining thriller about two very different families is an ingenious weave of domestic dark comedy, class allegory and ultimately devastating tragedy. (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times)
(War action, R, 119 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany; and at the AMC Corvallis 12 and Regal Ninth Street, both in Corvallis). With brilliant, claustrophobically effective directing choices by Sam Mendes and strong, raw performances from young leads Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay, this heart-stopping World War I drama is a unique viewing experience you won't soon shake off. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times)
(Documentary, NR, 81 minutes, playing at Darkside Cinema in Corvallis) Brie Larson narrates this informative documentary on the magical world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth.
FORD V FERRARI
(Drama, PG-13, 152 minutes, playing at AMC Corvallis 12) Matt Damon is American car designer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale is British racer Ken Miles in this fact-based drama about the duo's efforts to challenge Italian automotive legend Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France in 1966. It’s an infectious and engrossing high-octane ride that not just motorheads will enjoy. With Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Ray McKinnon. Directed by James Mangold. (Mark Kennedy, Associated Press)
(Animated, PG, 103 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven join Elsa as she searches for the truth behind her powers in this sequel to the blockbuster 2013 animated musical. With the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee.
A HIDDEN LIFE
(Historical drama, PG-13, 180 minutes, playing at Darkside Cinema in Corvallis). In 1940s Austria, a farmer is jailed for refusing to sign a loyalty oath to Hitler, as his wife and children suffer without him. This is a Terrence Malick film, so you can count on feeling dazzled by spectacular shots of heaven on Earth, and impatient at the sheer overpowering deliberateness of it all. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL
(Action/comedy, PG, 123 minutes, playing at the Regal Albany; and at the AMC Corvallis 12) Director Jake Kasdan returns to the ‘90s family adventure film series he rebooted in 2017, and amps up the jaw-dropping hijinks and more stars playing personas vastly different from theirs. It’s a one-joke movie, but the joke still has some mileage left. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black return; Danny Glover, Danny DeVito and Akwafina hop aboard. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
(Legal drama, PG-13, 136 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12). Solid, meat-and-potatoes docudrama filmmaking, if you don’t mind a first-rate story of systemic injustice undercut by second-rate dialogue. Call it a split decision, or something like that. Stars Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Tim Blake Nelson, Rob Morgan and Rafe Spall. (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)
(Murder mystery/comedy, PG-13, 130 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) An all-star ensemble is under suspicion when a family patriarch (Christopher Plummer), who also happens to be a wealthy crime novelist, is found dead in the study of his remote mansion. With Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig and Lakeith Stanfield. Directed by Rian Johnson. It’s “Murder, She Wrote” with a side of political activism, two great tastes that taste great together.
LIKE A BOSS
(Comedy, R, 83 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12). Best friends Mel (Rose Byrne) and Mia (Tiffany Haddish) launch their own beauty company. When it runs into debt, more trouble -- of the comic kind, of course -- ensues when famous cosmetic mogul Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) steps in to take over. Directed by Miguel Arteta.
(Drama, PG, 134 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12 and Darkside Cinema, both in Corvallis) There is a wild urgency to Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” that hardly seems possible for a film based on a 150-year-old book. But such is the magic of combining Louisa May Alcott’s enduring story of those four sisters with Gerwig’s deliciously feisty, evocative and clear-eyed storytelling that makes this “Little Women” a new classic. Stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen. (Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press)
SPIES IN DISGUISE
(Animated, sci/fi, action, PG, 101 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12). The film takes its premise and inspiration from the 2009 animated short by Lucas Martell, “Pigeon: Impossible,” and therein lies all you need to know about “Spies in Disguise,” a strange tonal mashup that turns the hypermasculine and hyperviolent world of glamorous spies, in the vein of James Bond or “Mission: Impossible,” and turns it into kid-friendly family entertainment. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
(Sci-fi/action/drama, PG-13, 141 minutes, playing at the Pix Theatre in Albany through Thursday; the Regal 7 in Albany; and at the AMC Corvallis 12 and Regal Ninth Street, both in Corvallis) J.J. Abrams' "The Force Awakens" brought new life to the “Star Wars” franchise rinsing out the dour taste of “The Prequels.” After Rian Johnson’s second installment, “The Last Jedi,” Abrams returns, with co-writer Chris Terrio, to close out the series of nine films that started over four decades ago. What a shame then, that it all goes out with a fizzle rather than a bang. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
(Comedy/crime/drama, R, 135 minutes, playing at the Darkside Cinema in Corvallis) By now, we shouldn't be too surprised by this cultural contradiction known as Adam Sandler. It's obvious that Sandler, the actor, is capable of extraordinary range — not in the traditional, Meryl Streep sense, but a range of incredibly good ("Punch-Drunk Love") to painfully bad (the horrendous "Jack and Jill") and incredibly good again, as in this frenetic, compulsively watchable, exhausting and exhilarating collaboration with Josh and Benny Safdie. He's backed by an excellent cast, including Idina Menzel, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield and Kevin Garnett in a pivotal role: himself. (Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press)
(Science-fiction/horror, PG-13, 95 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and AMC Corvallis 12). Written by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozad, the specter of “Alien” haunts “Underwater,” a damp riff off and tribute to the 1979 extraterrestrial horror thriller. Director William Eubank distinguishes the formulaic film with a jittery artfulness rendered in shades of gray and green, but what elevates the B-movie is the presence of Kristen Stewart, who is both a movie star and a great actress. Vincent Cassel, T.J. Miller, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher, Jr., and Mamadou Athie costar. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)