The film’s final act stretches credulity and hangs its hat on an impossibly (albeit suitably Harlequin-esque and dreamy) farewell sequence. Still, it’s all but certain the intended audience will find in Five Feet Apart a cogent and watchable weepie worthy of marquee status at sleepovers.
At its least, Level 16 ranks as a very good episode of Black Mirror but at its best, it succeeds as a hybrid of the kind of dystopic paranoia we get from Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale with touches of sanitized malevolence from Stanley Kubrick.
Huppert is an actress of great depth, so playing a monster in the shallow end of the pool is no great accomplishment. But she is great at staring with piercing intent. And she knows how to make a scene.
Alita: Battle Angel is about a sweet but lethally trained hybrid girl. Fittingly, it feels like a hybrid story, pulled together from bits and pieces of Young Adult and genre action films, and is less than the sum of its parts.
There’s a sense of familiarity to The Prodigy, the latest in a half-century of “evil child” stories going back to The Bad Seed, and including The Exorcist and The Omen. It’s still effective, given the chills we get from a sweet-faced kid saying or doing something horrible in the dark.
There’s a kind of wannabe-hip quality to it all, but by the end, we’ve been so hammered by quirk (and numbed by bloody deaths) that we’ve forgotten what motivated this glib daisy-chain of revenge in the first place.
There are white-knuckle moments, notably Gloria’s crossing of the border with a heap of stuff that would raise troubling questions were she stopped and searched. Rodriguez puts us right there in the car beside her and it’s thrilling. But the outcome arrives a bit too pat, our heroine conveniently switching from cowed hostage to arms-wielding ass-kicker with dubious ease.
Conceptually ambitious and sporadically entertaining but more often confusing and ultimately kind of dumb, Serenity must have seemed appealingly high-minded on the page. But the zigzagging new thriller lands with a thud despite a skilled cast and writer/director Steven Knight’s commendable desire to scribble outside the lines of conventional narrative.
People expecting plenty of Laurel & Hardy style laughs will be disappointed, obviously, given the movie’s comedy-lions-in-winter theme. But this thoughtful portrait of a long-lasting professional marriage rings touchingly true.
Unfortunately, the director who came in too early for the superhero craze may now be revisiting it too late. The genre now monopolizes the multiplex, and it seems as if everything about comic books and superpowers and misanthropy has already been said. But Shyamalan still says it, in an unfocused movie with some interesting ideas, and so much expositional dialogue in place of action, it’s sometimes more of a lecture than a thriller.
Destroyer is all about Kidman as tortured, haggard detective Erin Bell. A single look into those bleary, bloodshot eyes alerts us to the fact that this character has been through the wringer. Destroyer is a forensic study of how Bell got this way. The trick, I suppose, is making us care.