See what The Hollywood Reporter's critics said about Friday's new releases.
This Friday is full of new releases.
Audiences will be able to see Captive State, a post-disaster sci-fi film starring John Goodman, as well as Five Feet Apart, a new teen romance starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson about two young hospital patients battling cystic fibrosis.
Other titles opening this weekend include Wonder Park, an animated pic about a young girl whose imagination comes to life in the form of a theme park; The Aftermath, a post-WWII-set movie starring Keira Knightley; and The Eyes of Orson Welles, a documentary depicting the more private life and art of the late titular film legend.
Read on to see what The Hollywood Reporter's critics said about this week's releases.
In this animated adventure, a theme park from a girl named June's (Brianna Denski) imagination comes to life. One day when she is wandering through the forest on her way home, she stumbles upon an old rollercoaster and climbs inside one of the cars. She is instantly transported to Wonderland, an amusement park she once created in her mind. Now, with the help of the park characters, June must find a way to put the wonder back in Wonderland before it disappears for good.
THR's Frank Scheck writes that the film "seeks to deliver an inspirational message about the power of imagination. But like so many animated movies these days, it buries its ideas in a visual and aural cacophony of frenzied action sequences designed to engage the shortest of attention spans. It also features a gallery of would-be adorable animal characters so obviously designed to fly off toy store shelves that you expect the merchandise to be on sale in the theater lobby."
The movie is set in a Chicago neighborhood after it was occupied by an extraterrestrial force for almost a decade. It explores both sides of the conflict: the dissidents and the collaborators.
"The film, about the aftermath of an alien invasion, is fairly bursting with ideas. So many, in fact, that it doesn't seem to have any clue what to do with them," writes THR critic Frank Scheck. "Visually murky, choppily edited and lacking both narrative clarity and well-defined characterizations, Captive State is a deeply frustrating viewing experience. It seems to be straining mightily for a future cult status which it doesn't deserve."
Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) is a cystic fibrosis patient living in a hospital with routines and restrictions preventing her from living a "normal" life. When Will (Cole Sprouse), a charming fellow cystic fibrosis patient comes into her life, Stella has a hard time ignoring their strong connection. As they grow closer, temptation to stay physically apart becomes more of a challenge.
"What starts as a promising film that takes the disease seriously and might even raise awareness about its challenges quickly turns into a romantic melodrama that checks all the familiar boxes," writes Caryn James in her review of the movie. "There are the mismatched personalities who somehow tumble into love, plus the will-they-or-won’t-they questions about sex and death. There are conveniently almost-absent parents, and for good measure a gay best friend. But there is not a believable spark between this Romeo and Juliet."
The Aftermath follows the story of Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke), a British colonel, and his wife, Rachael (Keira Knightley), who are trying to navigate postwar Germany. When they set out to find a new home, Rachael comes to find out Lewis made an unexpected decision: They will be sharing a home with a German widow (Alexander Skarsgard) and his daughter. Tensions rise when Rachael recognizes her feelings for the other man.
"A handsome period piece whose fine cast is matched by respected source material and the director of the well-received Testament of Youth, it has enough highbrow trappings to seduce some moviegoers who crave adult fare," writes THR critic John DeFore. "But where it might have been an old-fashioned melodrama with credible historical appeal, instead it suggests an old-school celluloid epic whose print has lost a reel or two."
This drama/romance follows Qiao (Tao Zhao), a woman with a mobster boyfriend (Fan Liao), through a story starting in 2001. As the story progresses, viewers see how the lives of these two people evolve over time, but also observe the ever-changing atmosphere of China through Jia Zhang-ke's eyes.
"The evolution of contemporary China, of course, has always been Jia's central theme as tradition has made a way for modernity," says THR's David Rooney. "Bringing both losses and gains, while Western influences and technology have pierced cultural insularity."
Filmmaker Mark Cousins opens up the visual world of Orson Welles, showing hundreds of never-before-seen pieces of art from the late filmmaker. Viewers will get to experience the inner world of the legendary director and actor as the documentary aims to bring the passions and power of this showman to life.
"Anyone who suspects that nearly all there is to say about Orson Welles has already been said is in for a surprise in The Eyes of Orson Welles," writes THR critic Todd McCarthy.
The Hummingbird Project follows Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (Alexander Skarsgard), cousins from New York who have created a master plan to make them millions: building a fiber-optic cable line from Kansas to New Jersey. But it will not be as straight-forward as they think — their boss (Salma Hayek) has it out for them and intends to beat them at their own game.
"Though this intriguing genre-hybrid might be just a little too odd for more mainstream success, this is a promising step in the right direction for Nguyen." says THR's Boyd van Hoeij.
Roman (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a convict in a Nevada prison who struggles to escape his rough past. While he is required to participate in "outdoor maintenance" for state-mandated social rehab, Roman is selected by a veteran trainer (Bruce Dern) to train wild horses. Through taming an especially unruly mustang, he finds a sense of his own humanity.
"A bedrock-solid performance by Matthias Schoenaerts is central to this humanist film, which is rooted in the belief that even broken people can grow," writes THR's John DeFore. "Tying his character's story to a single wild horse is a smart move both artistically and commercially."
Idris Elba's latest film, Yardie, centers around a young Jamaican man named D (Aml Ameen) who has never gotten over the murder of his older brother, Jerry (Everaldo Creary). D grows up under the supervision of a music producer named King Fox (Sheldon Shepard). When Fox sends him to London, D reconnects with his childhood love, Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), and his daughter, who he has not seen since she was an infant. Before he fully decides to change his life path, he runs into the man who killed his brother and is overcome with the need for vengeance — but at a cost.Here is what THR critic David Rooney had to say about Yardie: "In his feature directing debut, Idris Elba shows a decent grasp of the fundaments of old-fashioned, novelistic storytelling. But for a movie that throbs with the reggae-inflected beats of a punchy soundtrack, Yardie is a rather listless gangland saga, lacking the muscularity that the genre demands."