‘Wellness’ a valiant attempt at a better movie

Images courtesy 20th Century Fox.

5/10 Between Pirates of the Caribbean, The Ring and Rango, Gore Verbinski’s consistently popular movies have grossed $3.72 billion worldwide, making him the 10th-highest grossing director in the world.

With a projected opening of $6-8 million, A Cure for Wellness isn’t going to do much to pad those totals.

The psychological thriller starts with Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a brash, ambitious sales executive, sent to retrieve his company’s CEO, Pembroke (Harry Groener), from a wellness center at the foot of the Swiss Alps known for the local water supply’s rejuvenating properties. Driving back from first visiting the center, of which he is immediately suspicious, Lockhart breaks his leg in an accident and is admitted for treatment. Crippled and with no cell reception, Lockhart is trapped in an extended nightmare of eels, teeth and toilet levers.

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‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ is the hardcore action movie you need

Guns. Lots of guns. Image courtesy Summit Entertainment.

9/10 John Wick: Chapter 2 is awesome! Everybody go see it.

After John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returned from retirement as an assassin in the previous film, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) calls in an old favor from him. Wick is given a suicide mission he cannot refuse — and also one for which success means he’ll be hunted for the rest of his life.

The original, a surprise hit from October 2014 that all but begged for a followup, was hailed for its minimalism and realistic action, and Chapter 2 piles and piles and piles on more of the same.

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‘Fifty Shades Darker’ isn’t even good for a laugh

Images courtesy Universal Pictures.

1/10 Listen

Spanking isn’t kinky. It’s not even sexually explicit, it mostly exists in the context of corporal punishment. These movies are about this supposedly hardcore relationship that climaxes out at spanking and I just

Fifty Shades Darker picks up where Fifty Shades of Grey left off — just after Ana Steele (Dakota Johnson) leaves Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) because she can’t handle spanking. Grey quickly gets her back, promising to just date her and not make her sign some insane contract, and they have a relatively normal, happy relationship for the rest of the movie.

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‘Batman’ a fun satire for all ages

Image courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

7/10 The Lego Batman Movie is harmless. It’s perfectly placed counter-programming for parents looking to bring their kids on a Valentine’s date, fluffy and inoffensive.

In the movie, Batman (Will Arnett) is at his crime fighting peak, but is assailed on all fronts by his life’s emptiness. It’s immediately clear that he’s lonely not because no one wants to be around him, but because he won’t accept the love that’s offered to him. He’s unwilling to validate the Joker (Zach Galafianackis), who takes solace in being his greatest villain. He’s infatuated with new police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), but not willing to formally work with her. He denies Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes) as his father figure and refuses to pay attention to Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), whom he absent-mindedly adopts. When faced with a larger challenge than he’s ever dealt with, Batman must learn to accept help and friendship.

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‘Rings’ a flavorless snoozer

Rings feels remarkably similar to The Bye Bye Man, an equally bland, poorly acted C-horror movie obsessed with its own mythos that just released. Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures.

‘Member The Ring? The movie that single-handedly launched the short-lived J-horror period in the early ’00s? It was really popular.

Fifteen years ago.

In the soft reboot Rings, trouble comes to paradise when Julia (Matilda Lutz) and her boyfriend, Holt (Alex Roe), are separated by his going to college. When Holt mysteriously stops returning her texts, Julia goes after him and discovers him embroiled in a cult-like extra credit group devoted to studying an unsettling video tape which curses viewers to suffer seven days of hallucinations and then die — unless they can get someone else to watch. Julia watches Holt’s tape to save him, but experiences harsher hallucinations faster than anyone else in the study group and eventually discovers she can access an entirely different video. Ringleader and incredibly irresponsible anthropology professor Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) theorizes that Samara (Bonnie Morgan), the spirit who haunts the video, has selected Julia for something special.

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