Film Reviews: New Releases for April 26 | Buzz Blog

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for April 26

Challengers, Boy Kills World, Humane, Alien 45th anniversary

Posted By on April 25, 2024, 9:42 AM

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click to enlarge Bill Skarsgård in Boy Kills World - ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
  • Roadside Attractions
  • Bill Skarsgård in Boy Kills World
Alien 45th Anniversary ****
Nearly a half-century into its existence—with detours into all manner of genres, meditations on humanity and battles with Predators—the franchise centered around the “xenomorph” with acid blood and that telltale double-jaw never improved on the story that started it all. Director Ridley Scott’s insinuating prologue, prowling through the hallways of the Nostromo as the crew members—including first officer and soon-to-be action icon Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)—awaken from their hypersleep, sets the stage for the way that Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett’s story is fundamentally about a corporation valuing its economic assets more than it values the expendable humans, and about the way an entity with power exerts that power with little concern for the people it harms. It’s all right there, including the grumbling of blue-collar Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto) about getting underpaid, and in the intimations of sexual violence that pervades many of the film’s most disturbing scenes. The alien itself remains a stunning work of horrifying design art by H.R. Giger, but it’s not the villain here. The villain is greed and power, packed into a masterful “and then there were none” haunted-house structure. It holds up as one of the greatest horror tales ever filmed, depressingly, because its thematic elements have never stopped being unsettlingly relevant. Available April 26 in theaters. (R)

Boy Kills World **1/2
The voice of H. Jon Benjamin makes everything better, but there’s nothing he can do when filmmakers don’t realize what can make their movie unique. In a dystopian future, a deaf-mute man (Bill Skarsgård) trains with a mysterious shaman (Yayan Ruhian) to achieve a single-minded purpose: avenging the murder of his beloved younger sister (Quinn Copeland) by the society’s dictator (Famke Janssen) and her ruling family. That would typically be the stuff of a standard “badass hero goes on a vengeance-driven killing spree,” except that the protagonist’s internal monologue is provided by veteran voice actor Benjamin (Archer, Bob’s Burgers), and his loopy line readings serve something that, for most of its first hour, feels more like a winking parody of stuff like John Wick, as Skarsgård dispatches adversaries with weapons including a box cheese grater and a snowman’s carrot nose. It’s a fun spin on the genre—right up until the third-act revelations, in which director Moritz Mohr and his screenwriting team stop the movie dead in its tracks for a ton of exposition and a shift in tone that makes it little more than a copycat version of the movies it was otherwise spoofing. There’s so much that’s distinctively fun about the juxtaposition of Skarsgård’s imposing physicality and Kubrick stares with Benjamin’s deadpan words that it’s a huge disappointment when Benjamin suddenly, and inexplicably, goes silent. Available April 26 in theaters. (R)

Challengers ***1/2
See feature review. Available April 26 in theaters. (R)

Humane **1/2
Somewhere inside Michael Sparaga’s script for Humane is an actual withering satire of the privileged class trying to escape the consequences of their actions, rather than the kinda-generic exercise this often turns into. It’s set in a near-future where environmental catastrophe requires every country to reduce its population through (for now) voluntary euthanasia. Retired broadcast anchorman Charles York (Peter Gallagher) gathers his four children—government-apologist academic Jared (Jay Baruchel), scandal-ridden pharma exec Rachel (Emily Hampshire), recovering addict Noah (Sebastian Chacon) and struggling actor Ashley (Alanna Bale)—to inform them of his own decision to volunteer, until the situation abruptly goes sideways. What follows turns into a horror-movie spin on back-stabbing-rich-family dramas like Succession, spiked by Enrico Colantoni’s wonderful performance as a “just doing my job” government functionary who reveals a somewhat darker side. Unfortunately, there’s not much juice to the mayhem offered up by director Caitlin Cronenberg—another filmmaking scion of horror legend David Cronenberg, with a much less nutso sense of body horror than dad or brother Brandon—as the story focuses considerably more on internal conflict than on what it means to behave like the end of the world won’t really affect you all that much. There are effective individual moments sprinkled throughout, like propagandistic ads praising those who sacrificed their lives for their families, but Humane lacks the acidic sensibility to land big punches that let us know whom we should—and shouldn’t—be rooting for. Available April 26 in theaters. (R)

About The Author

Scott Renshaw

Scott Renshaw

Scott Renshaw has been a City Weekly staff member since 1999, including assuming the role of primary film critic in 2001 and Arts & Entertainment Editor in 2003. Scott has covered the Sundance Film Festival for 25 years, and provided coverage of local arts including theater, pop-culture conventions, comedy, literature,... more

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