In Theaters This Weekend: 'Maleficent,’ 'Zombieland' Sequels, 'Jojo Rabbit' and More

8:15 AM 10/18/2019

by Umber Bhatti

From long-awaited action follow-ups to meditative dramas, this weekend's film lineup has an option for all types of movie lovers.

Maleficent Mistress of Evil Still 8- Disney Publicity-H 2019
Walt Disney Studios

Big-budget sequels are a theme at this weekend's box office. 

Angelina Jolie returns as the inscrutable fairy in Disney's live-action sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, with Michelle Pfeiffer joining the cast. 

Fighting for their lives once again, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg are back in Zombieland 2: Double Tap.  

Rounding out the rest of the weekend are A24's new moody sea drama The Lighthouse and Francois Ozon's By the Grace of God, which premiered earlier this year at Berlinale. 

Also opening Friday is Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit, with the New Zealander director offering a different kind of take with his anti-hate satire set in Nazi Germany.

Other movies bowing include the documentary Serendipity.

Read on to see what the critics at The Hollywood Reporter thought about each film.

  • 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil'

    Five years after Maleficent first hit theaters,  Jolie returns as the titular character in Disney's live-action sequel.  

    The movie kicks off with Maleficent's goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) all grown up and set to marry Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson). But Maleficent’s distrust of Aurora's soon to be mother-in-law, Queen Ingrith (Pfeiffer), leads the fairy to conjure up a plan to save Aurora and other inhabitants of the land.

    THR critic Todd McCarthy pans the film in his review for its refusal to take risks, writing, "[E]very conceivable button is pushed to achieve rote satisfaction in young viewers, while any notion of creating tension and suspense is dutifully ignored. Not for a moment is actual peril considered as something worthy of a dramatic climax."

  • 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    The original cast of Zombieland returns a decade later bringing along notable newcomers like Rosario Dawson and Zoey Deutch in this adventurous sequel. 

    When the gang embarks on a road trip, moving from their make-shift home in the White House to the Midwest, they're up against a new kind of zombie — one that has evolved into multiple strains.

    "Rounding up all the original's stars and throwing several more surviving human characters into the mix, the pic is plenty entertaining for those of us who, paradoxically, find zombies comforting in dark times," writes THR film critic John DeFore, adding that "taking another road trip with this crew is certainly worth a fan's time.”

  • 'The Lighthouse'

    In a follow-up to his 2015 debut, The Witch, director Robert Eggers is back with yet another perplexing tale set in New England. The Lighthouse follows Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson), who are tasked with taking care of a lighthouse on a secluded island. As the days drag on, the two struggle to keep their sanity.

    THR critic David Rooney praises the film's stars for their acting, writing that Pattinson and Dafoe "bring invigorating physicality to their performances, along with bracing shots of humor. … What is clear from the outset is that neither man will come out of their shared confinement intact but Eggers, his game actors and the impressively resourceful craft team … make their dizzying descent a transfixing spectacle.”

  • 'Jojo Rabbit'

    Set in the backdrop of War World II, Jojo Rabbit tells the story of a proud German boy, Jojo (Roman Griffin), with a very unexpected imaginary friend: Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). Once Jojo learns his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is secretly harboring a Jewish woman, he begins to reassess the lessons he's learned from his so-called friend.

    THR critic Todd McCarthy acknowledges a mixed reception is likely because of Waititi's treatment of the controversial subject matter. "The brash way in which the film plays extreme Nazi views for laughs and then twists them for emotional dividends will once again divide the public, and it's quite likely that younger viewers won’t be bothered by the film's fast and loose attitude," he writes.

  • 'By the Grace of God'

    Inspired by real-life events, By the Grace of God recounts one man's journey for justice in Lyon, France. Thirty years after being molested by his childhood priest, Alexandre (Melvil Poupad) decides to confront his attacker after learning he's returned to the area and still works with young boys.

    THR film critic David Rooney admits the pic is different than Ozon's usual witty style, but he nonetheless praises its bluntness. "This is a social justice film made with purposeful conviction and a quiet, never strident, sense of indignation," writes Rooney.

  • 'Serendipity'

    Artist Prune Nourry depicts her journey battling breast cancer in her directorial debut, Serendipity. The documentary, which first screened at this year's Berlinale, paints Nourry as an artist who won’t let anything — not even cancer — interfere with her work. From chemotherapy sessions to her detailed art exhibitions, audiences are given an up-close-and-personal look at Nourry's life.  

    THR critic Keith Uhlich writes that despite being the pic being a meditative look at illness, it's hard to get past the promotional feeling that imbues the doc. "For better and for worse, the film is both personal memoir and promo reel, and the emotions tend to be undercut by the self-marketing," he writes.