Elusive Illusionists Resurface For Another Mesmerizing, Mindbending Adventure
It’s been three years since we last saw the world’s greatest illusionists, aka the Four Horsemen, playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the FBI. Now, the master magicians have resurfaced for a mesmerizing, mindbending adventure which ups the ante in terms of both audacity and visual capture.
This bombastic, bells-and-whistles sequel is given to wowing the audience via a combination of spectacular stunts and a dizzying array of exotic locales. Just don’t expect much in the way of a coherent plot and this pretentious, globe-trotting fantasy will never disappoint you.
Directed by Jon M. Chu (Jem And The Holograms), the picture co-stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Dave Franco who reprise their lead roles as Merritt, Daniel and Jack, respectively. Lizzy Caplan rounds out the principal cast as Lula, replacing Isla Fisher as a members of Four Horsemen. The A-list ensemble also includes Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, as well as Daniel (“Harry Potter”) Radcliffe and Sanaa Lathan.
After needlessly filling in a superfluous bit of backstory from 1984, the movie fast-forwards to the present where we find our heroes being blackmailed by Walter Mabry (Radcliffe), a billionaire bad boy bent on world domination. He has designs on “The Stick,” a powerful computer chip which will afford him unfettered access to the back door of every computer on the planet.
Of course, the skeptical quartet proves adept at staying a step ahead of the megalomaniacal misanthrope. For, instead of accommodating the creep, they proceed to flaunt their seemingly-supernatural powers in daring displays of hocus-pocus.
Yes, the group is supposedly worried about restoring its tarnished reputation, too. However, that concern definitely takes a back seat to staging a series of increasingly-implausible magical acts.
Plus, there’s a healthy competition among the four which has each endeavoring to outdo the other. The ensuing ever-escalating feats make great fodder for an eye-popping blockbuster, even if what’s served up on screen is purely a product of cartoon physics.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Running time: 115 minutes
Tomboy-Turned-Dancer Seeks Acceptance In Atmospheric, Coming-Of-Age Drama
Toni (Royalty Hightower) is an 11-year-old girl growing up in the rough projects of inner-city Cincinnati. The prepubescent adolescent keeps out of trouble by hanging out at the local recreation center with her big brother, Jermaine (Da’Sean Minor) and his BFF, Donte (Antonio A.B. Grant, Jr.). Trouble is, Toni has developed a reputation as a tomboy because she’s spent so much time training to be become a boxer, mostly out of admiration for Jermaine, an amateur champion.
Everything changes the week Toni decides to join the girls’ dance team that also practices in the gym. Since she is already athletic enough, her initial challenge rests in just learning the steps and perfecting the choreography. Meanwhile, a side benefit is that she gets to enjoy the sort of female camaraderie she’s missed by being immersed in a macho sport dominated by guys.
Unfortunately, Toni still has a hard time finding acceptance by the tight-knit group of girls. And that endeavor is further frustrated when her teammates start suffering from mysterious fainting spells. Will the newcomer be fully embraced, or might she be blamed for this inexplicable development?
So unfolds The Fits, an ethereal, coming-of-age drama effectively exploring a tentative tweener’s rigorous rites-of-passage. The movie marks the promising directorial debut of Anna Rose Holmer who has managed to make a decent movie on a micro-budget.
Short on dialogue, long on atmospherics, The Fits feels like a solid student flick that hasn’t quite been fleshed out to feature-length format. Nevertheless, future star Royalty Hightower ‘s inspired performance as the protagonist, here, is reminiscent of Kerry Washington’s in her first picture, Our Song, a similarly-modest, ghetto-based production.
A mellow meditation on a beautiful, little black girl beginning to bloom!
Good (2 stars)
Running time: 72 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening June 17, 2016
Central Intelligence (PG-13 for violence, sexuality, nudity, crude humor and brief profanity) Unlikely-buddies comedy about a nerdy accountant (Kevin Hart) who is lured into the world of international espionage by a childhood friend-turned-crack CIA agent (Dwayne Johnson). With Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet and Aaron Paul.
Finding Dory (PG for mild mature themes) Ellen DeGeneres plays the title role in this animated sequel to Finding Nemo which finds the forgetful fish embarking on an epic journey to find her long-lost family. Voice cast includes Albert Brooks, Idris Elba, Kate McKinnon, Albert Brooks, Bill Hader, Ed O’Neill, Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton.
Argentina (Unrated) Folklore documentary exploring the heart of the Argentine culture, including the nation’s dance and musical heritage. (In Spanish with subtitles)
Cosmos (Unrated) The late Andrzej Zulawski’s final film, an adaptation of Witold Gombrowicz’s novel of the same name, reinterpreted as an exploration of desire at a rural retreat by a law school dropout (Jonathan Genet), his unemployed friend (Johan Libereau) and the newlywed daughter (Victoria Guerra) of the owner (Sabine Azema) of the guesthouse. With Clementine Pons, Jean-Francois Balmer and Andy Gillet. (In French with subtitles)
The Last King (Unrated) Costume drama, set in Norway in 1206, revolving around how the birth of the monarch’s (Benjamin Helstad) illegitimate son touched off a civil war which altered the country’s course of history. With Anders Dahlberg, Asmund Brede Elke and Elg Elgesem. (In Norwegian with subtitles)
My Love, Don’t Cross That River (Unrated) Tale of undying love about 100-year-olds Jo and Gye-Yeoi Kang, a Korean couple that’s been happily married for 76 years and counting. (In Korean with subtitles)
No Stranger Than Love (R for profanity) Romantic comedy about a married man (Colin Hanks) who mysteriously disappears into a hole in his mistress’ (Alison Brie) living room floor when she tells him she loves him. With Justin Chatwin, Mark Forward, Lisa Berry and Christopher Cordell.
Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (Unrated) “The Making of” documentary revisiting a couple of Mississippi adolescents’ seven-year effort to remake their favorite film: Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Seoul Searching (Unrated) Fact-based coming-of-age dramedy, set in the ’80s, recounting how the Korean government created special summer camps where foreign-born kids from mixed backgrounds might learn about their roots. Co-starring Jessika Van, Justin Chon and Teo Yoo. (In Korean, English and German with subtitles)
Tickled (R for profanity) Journalistic documentary revolving around reporter David Farrier’s hard-hitting investigation into L.A.’s little-known world of competitive tickling.