Read what The Hollywood Reporter's critics said about this weekend's upcoming releases.
This Friday is stacked with new movies for audiences to enjoy.
Teen romance fans can head to theaters for After, a story originally based on Wattpad fan fiction, starring Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, There's also Little, a comedy starring Marsai Martin, following a woman who gets turned into a middle-school girl and has to find her way back to adulthood.
Other movies opening this weekend include Hellboy, which reintroduces the half-demon superhero who must make a decision to save the world from ultimate doom, or protect the supernatural world; Teen Spirit, starring Elle Fanning, tells the Cinderella story with a twist, as a young girl explores her talents and attempts to leave her small English town.
Read on to see what The Hollywood Reporter's critics have to say about Friday's releases.
Hellboy is back for another run on the big screen. This action-packed adventure follows the half-demon superhero, Hellboy (David Harbour), as he heads to the countryside of England to battle destructive giants. Upon arrival, he meets The Blood Queen, Nimue (Milla Jovovich), an ancient sorceress looking to avenge a previous betrayal. Caught in between the supernatural and the human, Hellboy finds himself trying to stop Nimue — but without destroying the world.
"Neil Marshall's Hellboy isn't lousy because nobody wants it, nor only because it fails to live up to both its big-screen and its printed predecessors. It's just lousy," writes critic John DeFore. "Bloated, vastly less funny than it aims to be and misguided in key design choices even when it scores with less important decisions, the film does make bold choices that might've paid off under other circumstances. But these aren't those circumstances."
Black-ish actress Marsai Martin stars in and executive produces Little, a comedy pitched by the young actress at age 10. The film follows brutal tech mogul Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall), who gets turned into a kid again (Martin) when she insults a young girl. With the help of her assistant, April (Issa Rae), Jordan must find a way to return back to adulthood — but not without some childish fun.
"A heartwarming allegory about the long-term affects of bullying on the psyche of a child and the adult that she eventually becomes, it’s a movie that is as fun and carefree as we would wish any confident, self-accepting teenage girl to be," critic Beandra July writes. "Like Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade, Little seems to have tapped into a burgeoning genre for adult audiences: the horrified look-back at the cruelties of adolescence through the lens of a modern teen girl you can't help but love."
Mr. Link's (Zach Galifianakis) beastly appearance is a misleading testament to his fun-loving and curious character in director Chris Butler's latest animation feature, Missing Link. The story follows Mr. Link as he decides to leave his life in the Pacific Northwest to go and find his long-lost relatives from around the globe. Recruiting Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), and being joined by explorer Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), the trio embarks on the peril-filled journey that leads to finding family in unexpected places.
Critic Michael Rechtshaffen writes about Annapurna Studio's newest release. "That brand affection will likely be put to the test with the studio’s fifth release, Missing Link, a globe-trotting Victorian-era adventure that, while often a magnificent sight to behold, never goes the distance in terms of engaging characters and involving plotting," writes Rechtshaffen. "Additionally frustrating matters is the artistic decision to combine the heavily stylized humans and animals with photo-real elements like fabrics and weaponry, which, while making a bold statement, can also be jarringly distracting. The end result, especially coming after 2016’s highly rewarding Kubo and the Two Strings, can’t help but feel like a letdown."
Set in the first century, the film centers on a young woman named Mary Magdalene (Rooney Mara), who departs from her quiet fishing village to follow Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix). She sets out to find a new way of life, as the societal standards of the time are restraining and unforgiving. Mary finds herself at the heart of Jesus' ministry as she lays her life down to follow him.
"Mary Magdalene is an uneasy viewing experience, ponderous and disjointed in places, constantly straining for a gravitas it never quite achieves. But it is also an admirably bold effort, crafted with conviction and a strong aesthetic vision," writes THR's Stephen Dalton.
Elle Fanning stars as Violet, a shy young woman who dreams of leaving her town to pursue her passion of singing. With the help of an unexpected mentor, she participates in a local competition that challenges her talent and integrity. Accompanied by a spunky pop soundtrack, Teen Spirit is a new take on the Cinderella story.
"Although British-made Teen Spirit features lashings of EDM-influenced, heavily produced pop music, the kind that sells downloads by the zillion on digital retail platforms, this making-of-a-star drama is old-fashioned and corny, and not in a good way," writes critic Leslie Felperin. "A writing-directing debut for actor Max Minghella (The Handmaid's Tale), Spirit is supposedly set partly on Minghella's home turf, the Isle of Wight (the south coast English island where Minghella's father, the late director Anthony Minghella, also grew up). And yet the film is curiously lacking in a strong sense of place."
Based on Anna Todd's Wattpad novel, After depicts the story of Tessa (Josephine Langford), a hardworking college student who is dedicated to her family and high school sweetheart. Amid the pressure of succeeding in school, she meets dark and troublesome Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin). As Tessa and Hardin's romance heats up, she starts to question her own life path and more.
"Only the most naïve audience members will find the climactic revelation about Tessa and Hardin's relationship shocking, and only they will swoon at the inevitable happy ending," reviews THR critic Frank Scheck. "The melodramatic goings-on are accompanied by the sort of pop music seemingly designed less for a film soundtrack than a Spotify playlist. Director Jenny Gage, whose previous teenage girl-themed documentary All This Panic provided useful training for this assignment, lends a suitably glossy sheen to the proceedings."
A Kurdish female battalion led by commander in chief Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani), fights the Islamic State to take back their town in Girls of the Sun. Meanwhile, a French journalist (Emmanuelle Bercot) risks her life to cover to intense fight. Through their encounter, Bahar's life path resurfaces.
"Pulling out the big guns to depict the tragic plight and battlefield heroics of Kurdish female soldiers who bravely took on the forces of ISIS, Girls of the Sun (Les Filles du soleil) is at once mildly harrowing and completely over-the-top, intermittently intense yet so unsubtle it winds up doing damage to its own worthy discourse," writes critic Jordan Mintzer.
Director Yuen Woo-Ping brings back the excitement of the Ip Man universe with this martial-arts action film. Following his defeat by Master Ip, Cheung Tin Chi (Jin Zhang), struggles to support his son in Hong Kong. It isn't long until stakes rise and he has to fight once again.
THR's Elizabeth Kerr writes about the latest martial arts feature to hit Hong Kong cinema. "Working from a script by the team that penned the trilogy, produced by [Donnie] Yen and blessed with Zhang Jin reprising his role as loser Cheung Tin-chi, all the elements for a swift, creative wuxia entertainment are present and accounted for, among them exciting fights, luscious 1960s costume design and So. Much. Property. Damage," writes Kerr. "Master Z may not do the business of Yip’s trilogy, but a decent festival run and more than respectable box office in the markets where Ip Man succeeded is a given, particularly with Yuen's name (The Matrix, Kill Bill) attached. The only downside could be Ip Man overkill: A fourth entry in Yip’s series is on the horizon."
Wild Nights With Emily shines a new light on the iconic American poet Emily Dickinson (Molly Shannon), who was thought to be a recluse. Emily spends her days writing, baking and engaging in a romantic relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan (Susan Ziegler). While trying to get her work published, she runs into some trouble with a group of male literary gatekeepers who refuse to take her seriously. To her surprise, Emily's work attracts a female editor who also sees Emily as a cover for her own love triangle.
THR's John DeFore reviews the biopic: "The merits of its scholarship may be a moot point, as the humble production and peculiar tone of Wild Nights will likely — despite the draw of star Molly Shannon, a standout presence in some recent indies — limit its appeal largely to the English and Queer Studies departments of universities across the country."