FILM: Latest movie reviews

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“LOGAN ” — 3.5 stars — Hugh Jackman makes his last stand as the razor-clawed Wolverine, protecting a young girl who may share some of his traits. “Logan” is not a kids’ movie. It’s viscerally violent — lots of claws-through-the-face shots — and emotionally profound as it explores the relationship between Logan and Professor X (Patrick Stewart). 2 hr. 17 min. R (strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity).

“THE SHACK” — 2 stars — Tragedy plunges a man into a deep depression causing him to question his faith, until he’s mysteriously summoned to a modest shelter in the wilds of Oregon. Adapted by John Fusco, Andrew Lanham and Destin Cretton, the story is nested inside a flashback narrated by Tim McGraw’s character, a pastor named Willie, and takes a leisurely non-linear path to get to where it’s going. Mack had a rough childhood marred by domestic violence, forging his understanding of God as wrathful, punishing and judgmental. That worldview is only further exacerbated by the abduction of his youngest daughter, Missy (Amélie Eve), snatched from under his nose during a family camping trip. 2 hr. 12 min. PG-13 (hematic material including some violence).

“BEFORE I FALL” — 2 stars — A sort of emo teen variant on “Groundhog Day,” “Before I Fall” has at its center a sweet-faced high-school girl named Sam (Zoey Deutch), who’s kind of mean. Sam hangs with her friends, Lindsay (Halston Sage), Ally (Cynthy Wu) and Elody (Medalion Rahimi), who are also quite mean, and they giggle in the cafeteria and get drunk at parties and, in the early minutes of the film, die in a car crash. But no, we’re not going to pack up our popcorn and go home just yet: The story rewinds, and the day starts over again. Sam has a chance to not be so mean, and to live her life the right way. 1 hr. 39 min. PG-13 (mature thematic content involving drinking, sexuality, bullying, some violent images, and language — all involving teens).

“FIFTY SHADES DARKER” — 2 stars — Dull sequel to the smash-hit original, adapted from the E.L. James novels about a woman (Dakota Johnson) and her on-again, off-again romance with a billionaire playboy (Jamie Dornan) who is into S&M. The title to the sequel is a bit misleading, since the two get along just fine in this installment, which owes as much to “Cinderella” as it does to erotica. With Kim Basinger and Marcia Gay Harden. 1 hr. 55 min. R (strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language).

“FIST FIGHT” — 2 stars — Charlie Day plays a teacher who gets a colleague (Ice Cube) fired, leading to a showdown brawl in the parking lot after school. The fight is unexpectedly epic, but the comedy leading up to it is not. With Jillian Bell, Tracy Morgan. and Dean Norris. 1 hr. 31 min. R (language, sexual content, drugs).

“GET OUT” — 3 stars — Jordan Peele’s horror movie about a black man (Daniel Kaluuya) who heads to mansion country to meet the parents (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener) of his white girlfriend (Allison Williams). Conceptually clever, though not always as scary as it could be, with a winning supporting role for Lil Rel Howery. 1 hr. 43 min. R (violence, bloody images).

“THE GREAT WALL” — 2 stars — A big-budget Chinese-American action-fantasy starring Matt Damon as a mercenary who helps the Chinese army (led by Jing Tian) repel an invasion of fearsome creatures. A merger of Chinese and American talent (Zhang Yimou directs) heralded as the wave of the future, but the results here are not that promising. 1 hr. 44 min. PG-13 (fantasy action violence).

“JOHN WICK: CHAPTER TWO” — 3 stars — Action-packed sequel again starring Keanu Reeves as the underwold’s most fearsome hitman, this time squaring off against the world’s most adept assassins (including Common) in scenes of highly stylized violence that build to crescendos of comic absurdity. At better than two hours, though, the movie feels over-stretched. With Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne, reunited with his co-star from “The Matrix.” 2 hr. 2 min. R (strong violence throughout, nudity, language).

“MOONLIGHT” — 4 stars — A true American masterpiece, the sophomore feature from Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”) is a heady mix of brutal social realism and poetry as it tells the coming age story of a young black gay man from the Miami ghetto. Divided into three parts, it tells the story of Chiron as a 10-year-old, a high school student and a 20-something professional as he wrestles with external forces he can’t control including poverty and drug crime and internal desires he cannot ignore. Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes give memorable performances as Chiron. With André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali. 1 hr. 50 min. R (some sexuality, drug use, brief violence, and profanity throughout).

“ROCK DOG — 2 stars — An animated comedy about a dog named Bodi (Luke Wilson) who dreams of being a musician. After a radio literally falls into his life, Bodi leaves his post as a guard dog in the mountains and heads for the big city. There’s lots of comic action as well as some suspenseful sequences in which wolves attack a peaceful village of sheep. 1 hr. 20 min. PG (action and language.)

“THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE” — 3 stars — Witty animated sequel to the surprise hit original, with Will Arnett providing the voice of lonely recluse Batman, who changes for the better when he falls for the police commissioner’s daughter (Rosario Dawson) and adopts an orphan (Michael Cera) who becomes Robin. Fast-paced, full of jokes that draw from the long history of Batman comic books, movies and television shows. Also featuring Zach Galifianakis as the voice of The Joker. 1 hr. 30 min. PG (rude humor and some action).

“A DOG’S PURPOSE” — 2 stars — The meaning of life is explored through one pooch and his humans. We follow the lives of a pup voiced by Josh Gad: first, briefly, the stray puppy; then a red retriever named Bailey in the 1960s and ’70s; Ellie, a German Shepherd K-9 police dog; Tino, a chubby ’80s corgi; and finally Buddy, a neglected St. Bernard with a long road home. For all his shapes, forms and lives, it’s always Bailey inside there, retaining all the memories and experiences along the way. 2 hrs. PG (thematic elements and some peril).

“SPLIT” — 3 stars — M. Night Shyamalan who made something of a comeback with the small budget found footage horror pic “The Visit,” continues the trend with this intensely creepy, engaging and entertaining psychological thriller featuring a virtuoso performance by James McAvoy (“The Last King of Scotland,” the “X-Men” series) as deranged killer with 23 distinct personalities who abducts three teenage girls he plans to feed to a demonic beast he believes is emerging as his 24th personality. Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan) is terrific as one of the hostages, the strong-willed, disturbed outcast Casey. 1 hr. 57 min. PG-13 (disturbing thematic content and behavior, violence and some profanity).

“LA LA LAND” — 4 stars — Some kind of transcendent magic happens in Damien Chazelle’s starry-eyed musical, with one foot (in tap shoes) firmly planted in the past, and the other (in taps, too, of course) planted in a me-first, modern-day world. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the struggling Los Angelinos who fall in love despite a mutual wariness, walking and talking, singing and dancing, amid a swirl of classic Hollywood references. Not quite perfect, but its imperfections, and its embrace of passion over cynicism, are part of the charm. 2 hrs. 8 min. PG-13 (profanity, adult themes).

“HIDDEN FIGURES” — 3 stars — Taraji P. Henson, Octavio Spencer and Janelle Monáe are terrific in this feel-good family movie about a group of black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the 1960s. The true story is about overqualified scientists who could only get jobs crunching numbers for their white male bosses, but who overcame prejudice to make their own mark on the space program. Where it lacks as serious history, the film makes up for with an empowering social message. The ensemble casts includes Kevin Costner, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali and Aldis Hodge. 2 hrs. 7 min. PG (thematic elements and some profanity).

“LION” — 3 stars — Australian TV director Garth Davis (“Top of the Lake”) makes his feature debut with this heart-breaking, if sometimes maudlin, true story told in two parts. In the first, a 5-year-old boy in India becomes separated from his impoverished family and ends up being adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). In the second part, the boy has grown up to be a young man (Dev Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire”) who goes back in search of his lost family. 1 hr. 48 min. PG-13 (thematic material and some sensuality).

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