Now kiss! Images courtesy Columbia Pictures.
2/10 Woe unto you, Dark Tower. You did not deserve this.
The Dark Tower stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as the gunslinger and the man in black, respectively. The monikers were used in marketing to disguise that they bear the two silliest first names in English, Roland and Walter. The movie is named after a gigantic black tower that we never get to visit, which protects all worlds from darkness — and yes, that is as detailed an explanation as you get.
Walter is an omnipotent immortal wizard who wants to destroy the tower. He does this by bombarding it with the brains of psychic children. Roland is the last of a line of warriors sworn to protect the tower, but became disillusioned long ago when Walter murdered his entire family. They are brought together by Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), the most powerful psychic child in all the world. Walter wants to kidnap him and bombard the tower with his brain, like he does, but Roland decides to protect him.
Harsh contrast, clear composition, striking image. Images courtesy Focus Features.
8/10 Atomic Blonde is an intentionally confusing, icy cool synthpop-noir with some fun gender reversals that turns what was a unique action franchise into a growing movement in the genre.
In November 1989, Berlin is aflame with civil unrest as communism collapses and the wall is about to come down. British intelligence agent James Gasciogne (Sam Hargrave) is killed while in possession of a list of all double-agents in the city, and Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron, who also produces) is assigned to retrieve it. Broughton is sent into a nest of scorpions where nothing is as it should be, a powder keg of agents gone native, botched defections and general buffoonery.
Based on a 2012 graphic novel called The Coldest City, Atomic Blonde screams of source material more interesting than the final product, but its harsh style and a great cast carry it through.
Alpha. Images courtesy STX Entertainment.
7/10 There’s two things I wanted from Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets — immerse me in a fun, visually dazzling adventure full of strange creatures and impossible physics, and don’t be shockingly sexist. One out of two is not good enough.
In the 28th century, Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are federal officers on Alpha, the city of a thousand planets. After recovering the last surviving member of a species that can replicate any material it consumes, they become caught up in a mystery involving a missing planet, a pearl that could power 10 spaceships and a mysterious, growing dead zone inside the city.
Image courtesy Warner Bros.
9/10 Dunkirk isn’t just a movie, it’s a sensory experience.
The film tells the story of the Miracle of Dunkirk, the 1940 British operation in which 338,226 soldiers who had been pinned down at Dunkirk beach after losing the Battle of France were evacuated. The story is told from three perspectives, all of which take place over different periods of time. On the beach, an army private named Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) spends a week desperately trying to find a way back to England. On the sea, Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) refuses to give up his yacht and ventures to into war himself as the Navy requisitions civilian boats for the evacuation. He spends a day crossing the English Channel, picking up stranded troops as he goes. In the skies, Royal Air Force pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) burns through his last hour of fuel furiously protecting the beach from German bombers.
They change Gordon’s name to Gardener for the movie. Again, not a problem, just, why? Images courtesy Amazon Studios.
1/10 The Big Sick sits at 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes after earning an audience favorite award at March’s South by Southwest and the second-largest studio purchase — $12 million — at January’s Sundance Film Festival.
It is actively, aggressively bad. I could see the argument that the lead creatives made the movie they wanted to make, but with that comes the acknowledgement that the movie they wanted to make is self-absorbed and boring and actively hinders the audience from engaging with it.
The Big Sick is the heavily fictionalized story of writers Kumail Nanjiani (himself), who also stars, and Emily V. Gordon (Zoe Kazan). Nanjiani, a struggling Chicago stand-up comic, and Gordon meet at one of his sets and begin dating. After a big dumb fight that didn’t happen in real life, Gordon develops a mysterious lung infection that calls for a medically induced coma. Nanjiani and her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano), wait in the hospital for her to become well again.