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A DOG’S WAY HOME
(Drama, PG, 96 minutes, playing at the Regal 4 in Albany) A canine travels 400 miles to reunite with her human. With Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Edward James Olmos and the voice of Bryce Dallas Howard. Written by W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon; based on the book by Cameron. Directed by Charles Martin Smith. (1:36) PG.
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
(Drama, R, 119 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Based on a novel by James Baldwin and adapted by Barry Jenkins ("Moonlight"), this gripping movie — a timeless romance, a social commentary and more —features some of the most artfully crafted dialogue and some of the finest performances of any movie this year. Newcomer KiKi Layne makes a spectacular screen debut as a teen in love with a man (Stephan James) falsely accused of rape.
ON THE BASIS OF SEX
(Biography, PG-13, 120 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 and Pix in Albany, the Darkside in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12). This is a well-intentioned and occasionally inspirational but mostly flat "origins story" about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's nascent career and her lifelong love affair with her husband, Marty. The British actress Felicity Jones never seems particularly well-suited for the role of the future Supreme Court justice. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Science fiction, PG-13, 107 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) A neuroscientist uses his work to replicate his family members after they're killed in a car accident. With Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Emily Alyn Lind. Written by Chad St. John; story by Stephen Hamel. Directed Jeffrey Nachmanoff. (1:47) PG-13.
(Drama, PG-13, 125 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) An ex-con (Kevin Hart) lands a job as a “life auxiliary” for a wealthy investor who is quadriplegic (Bryan Cranston); the two strike up an unlikely relationship in this plodding remake of a French hit that never seems sure what to do with Hart. The cast includes Nicole Kidman and Julianna Margulies. (Katie Walsh, Tribune Media Service)
(Horror, PG-13, 100 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Six strangers visit a mysterious building to experience the escape room -- a game where players compete to solve a series of puzzles. Terror strikes when they soon learn each room is an elaborate trap that's part of a sadistic game of life or death. The cast includes Deborah Ann Woll and Tyler Labine.
3 ½ stars (Comedy biography, R, 121 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) During the 18th-century reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), her longtime friend (Rachel Weisz) and a new servant (Emma Stone) vie for the monarch's affections. The three stars bring out the best in each other in a bawdy, darkly funny, sharp-edged, foul-mouthed comedy of very BAD manners. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Drama, R, 121 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis; in Japanese, with English subtitles) The latest offering from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda is about a family living in cramped conditions in Tokyo that makes ends meet by shoplifting. When the family finds a tiny girl shivering and neglected, they steal her too. Quiet and charming for its first half, but things aren’t quite what they seem. (Moira MacDonald, The Seattle Times)
LEAVE NO TRACE
(Drama, PG, 109 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) An emotionally damaged war veteran (Ben Foster) and his loyal teenage daughter (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, a natural) leave their comfortable home to risk life-threatening conditions in the woods. The mournfully beautiful film is a brilliant and timely and telling statement about the difference between the haves and the have-nots. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Biography, R, 132 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Christian Bale, unrecognizable, stars as former Vice President Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s wild, creative and self-reflective biopic. McKay idn’t set out to make a balanced biopic, but his intrusive moralizing mars what is otherwise an unyielding and necessary search party on a mission to excavate Cheney's soul. It's both frustrating and fitting that McKay never finds it. Amy Adams delivers a ferocious performance as Cheney’s spouse, Lynne. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)
(Comic book action, PG-13, 143 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) DC’s underwater hero makes a big-screen splash in a movie that is pure camp and wildly entertaining. Give credit to director James Wan for concocting the biggest, wildest aquatic adventure that he could. Jason Momoa, Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard and Patrick Wilson star. (Katie Walsh, Tribune Media Service)
2 ½ stars
(Sci-fi action, PG-13, 113 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) This uneven prequel finds something that was missing in the earlier “Transformers” flicks: heart. The movie is structured a little too closely to a John Hughes teen flick from the 1980s, but Bumblebee himself is irresistable: He’s just an intensely loyal big old goofball. Hailey Steinberg stars. Travis Knight, of Portland’s Laika Studios, directs. (Katie Walsh, Tribune Media Service)
MARY POPPINS RETURNS
3 ½ stars
(Musical, PG, 130 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) While it would be all but impossible to match one of the most beloved and acclaimed musicals of all time, "Mary Poppins Returns" is a sequel worthy of the name. Emily Blunt is sensational, along with a stellar supporting cast including Lin-Manuel Miranda, in this wall-to-wall smile of a movie: big of heart and large in scale, brimming with show-stopping musical numbers. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
3 ½ stars
(Comedy-drama, PG-13, 130 minutes, playing at the Pix in Albany and the Darkside in Corvallis) Viggo Mortensen plays a thick-headed lunk from the Bronx and Mahershala Ali is the musician he's driving through the South in 1962, and both are nothing but believable. This is a friendship story, and one of the best times I've had at the movies this year. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
(Animated adventure, PG, 117 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) The best "Spider-Man" movie yet, and one of the best 2018 films of any kind, is peppered with clever visual touches and crackling good inside jokes. The story about a new Spidey meeting versions of the character in alternate universes is a brilliant, exuberant, soaring and original adventure. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Drama, R, 116 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Another misfire from Clint Eastwood, this one adapted from a New York Times Magazine article about a 90-year-old who worked as a mule for a drug cartel. The movie is packed with racist stereotypes and appalling treatment of women and feels like a strange rough draft. The cast includes Bradley Cooper, Andy Garcia and Laurence Fishburne. (Katie Walsh, Tribune Media Service)
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
(Animated adventure, PG, 112 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) The hapless video game "villain" (John C. Reilly) from "Wreck-It Ralph" and his sharp-witted friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) venture out of the arcade into the World Wide Web in search of a replacement part. There were times when the sweet-natured animated adventure was brimming with so much stimuli, I had to remind myself to laugh. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Music biography, PG-13, 135 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) The greatly gifted Rami Malek is given zero chance to create a believable, in-depth portrayal of Queen leader Freddie Mercury in this shamelessly scripted biopic. What a crushing, unmitigated, stunningly inept and astonishingly tone-deaf disaster. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)