FILM NEWS: APR. 11-17 | Cinema Clips | Salt Lake City Weekly

FILM NEWS: APR. 11-17 

New This Week, Special Screenings, and Current Realeases

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[not yet reviewed]
Reboot of the comic-book demon (David Harbour) fighting on behalf of humanity. Opens April 12 at theaters valleywide. (R)

[not yet reviewed]
It's like Big, but reversed, as a woman (Regina Hall) wishes to become her younger self (Marsai Martin). Opens April 12 at theaters valleywide. (PG)

Mary Magdalene
[not yet reviewed]
Tale of a woman (Rooney Mara) who becomes a follower of Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix). Opens April 12 at theaters valleywide. (R)

Missing Link 1.5 Stars
He's a relic from the distant past. No, not Mr. Link (voice of Zach Galifianakis), a sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest, but the Victorian-era adventurer who "discovers" him, Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman). A cruel, selfish bully, Frost is on a quest to prove his worth to a London gentlemen's club by bringing a mythic monster before its members in order that they might admit him, and he's decided on the sasquatch. Perhaps it's meant to be ironic or amusing that the giant, fur-covered Mr. Link—who is gentle, thoughtful and eloquent—is a better person than Frost, but Frost is, quite literally, cartoonishly awful, and he's the hero of this animated children's movie. The plot ends up making no sense, not least because, enragingly, the most significant journey this movie takes is the one that sees a woman—Adelina Fortnight (the voice of Zoe Saldana), the widow of Frost's former partner—tasked with the tedious chore of shaping Frost into a better person. Cheap "comedy" (crotch injuries; grossouts; "funny," "exotic" people) rounds out the retro attitudes. You know, for kids! Opens April 12 at theaters valleywide. (PG)—MaryAnn Johanson

Transit 3.5 Stars
See review on p. 42. Opens April 12 at Broadway Centre Cinemas. (NR)

The Wind 2 Stars
There's a mysterious chemical balance to great horror cinema between slow-burning suspense, booga-booga scares and thematic undercurrents, and this frustrating collaboration between writer Teresa Sutherland and director Emma Tammi never quite strikes it. Somewhere on the American frontier plains in the 1800s, Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard) comes to believe that some kind of supernatural force haunts her surroundings, much to the consternation of her skeptical husband, Isaac (Ashley Zukerman). The narrative weaves back and forth in time—between the aftermath of a traumatic event, and the arrival of neighbors (Julia Goldani Telles and Dylan McTee) months earlier—and drips out revelations with an acceptable degree of suspense. Yet there's a disappointing shortage of real gets-under-your-skin terror and a wispy subtext that flits between gaslighting, the existential loneliness of housewives and some sort of commentary on the consequences of Manifest Destiny. While Gerard and Telles offer strong performances, it would be nice to think that a supernatural thriller will ultimately deliver something unsettling, whether it's what you're seeing, or what you're asked to think about. Opens April 12 at Tower Theatre. (R)—Scott Renshaw


The Infiltrators
At Rose Wagner Center, April 17, 7 p.m. (NR)

They Shall Not Grow Old
At Park City Film Series, April 12-13, 8 p.m. & April 14, 6 p.m. (R)

White Walls Say Nothing
At Main Library, April 16, 7 p.m. (NR)


Dumbo 2 Stars
Disney's ongoing self-cannibalization is a problem not because they're trying to remake perfect films, but because they keep creating duplicates that lack a soul. Director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger set their story in 1919, with the big-eared elephant baby born into a traveling circus and soon discovering his ability to fly. That specific shift is a smart decisions, providing some semblance of a narrative through-line. Yet this is a story so packed with subplots and new characters that it feels like every five minutes, the creative team is trying out something else they hope will stick with an audience. Nobody seems clear that the only reason this story is beloved is because of an adorable, sad, lonely baby elephant. Finding something new in this narrative doesn't necessarily mean finding something true. (PG)—SR

Pet Sematary 1.5 Stars
Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) moves his family to the woods outside a small New England town and discovers things that are meant to be terrifying—fog, strange children, pets behaving oddly—but there's little fear or even any genuine spookiness when it turns out the forest near their home harbors a preternatural secret. The unexpected deaths that haunt the family, past and present, should be disturbing and moving, but it all leaves us feeling nothing beyond occasional accidental amusement at its manipulative cheapness and eye-rolling tedium at the straightforward deployment of genre banalities. It's as if, perhaps, an attempt to find a middle ground between authentic, profound dramatic tragedy and cheesy schlock gorefest settled on a completely unsatisfying middle ground—as if this were preferable to either other option. "Elevated horror" this ain't. (R)—MAJ

Shazam! 2 Stars
At last, a comic-book movie makes it explicit that superhero stories are, at their core, adolescent-male power fantasies. Fourteen-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is chosen by a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) to be his champion, complete with a spandex-clad grownup body (Zachary Levi) possessing caped-crusader abilities. From the get-go, the premise of Billy's elevation to superhero is confused at best and suspect at worst; if you squint, you might discern a watered-down motif of "with great power comes great responsibility." It's a slog for the movie to get Billy to an encounter with ill-conceived putative villain Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), who seems to have all the same powers Billy has. He's just a generic villain—and I guess it's fair to say he's as generic as the rest of the clichés here. (PG-13)—MAJ

Us 2.5 Stars
Jordan Peele can't quite re-create Get Out's improbable alchemy of comedy, deft allegorical writing and effective horror filmmaking. The story follows a family—Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o), Gabe (Winston Duke) and their two children—on a vacation where they're tormented by doppelgangers. Superficial pleasures abound, from Nyong'o's alternately terrifying/terrified dual performance, to set pieces that inspire both laughs and gasps. But there's a frustrating hole where the thematic center should be, particularly after Peele's climax undercuts everything he might be trying to say about the chickens of America's ignored underclass coming home to roost. He gets so ambitious about building a mythology for jokes and scares that he appears unable to settle on one idea to pull them all together. (R)—SR

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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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