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Read on to find out what The Hollywood Reporter’s critics are saying about the weekend’s new offerings, and click here to see how they’re expected to perform at the box office.
The Magnificent Seven
Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke star in the action-packed remake of the 1960 feature film. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer, Southpaw), one of the movie’s most notable differences from the original is the vast diversity of the cast. Unlike the all-white cast of the first, Fuqua included a bow-wielding Native American named Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), a blade-slinging Korean named Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee) and a Mexican outlaw named Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) in the slew of seven mercenaries headed by Sam Chisolm (Washington). In John Sturges‘ 56-year-old original, the antagonist was Calvera, a Mexican bandito who terrorized the town; the new film’s villain is the ruthless white capitalist Bartholomew Bogue, played by Peter Sarsgaard. “The cast is OK and does its job, but no more; without question, several, if not all, of the actors in the Sturges film oozed far more attitude, charisma and sense of savvy,” wrote THR’s film critic Todd McCarthy in his review. Read the full review here.
From the producers of The LEGO Movie comes an animated comedy starring the voices of Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston and Kelsey Grammer. In their film, co-directors Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland have crafted a world where the once-prominent baby-delivery service Stork Mountain “has profitably reinvented itself as an Amazon-size, online package delivery business, Cornerstore.com,” writes THR’s film critic Michael Rechtshaffen. The story follows an up-and-coming employee of Stork Mountain, Junior (Samberg), as he attempts to be promoted to a corner office. Standing in his way, however, is the responsibility of firing the fumbling, well-intentioned human employee, Tulip (Katie Crown). Another obstacle is thrown into the mix when a young Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman) writes a letter to Stork Mountain asking for a younger brother with ninja skills. “While Stoller’s script follows a reasonably straightforward path, it’s one that encounters no shortage of offbeat inventiveness along the way, especially from a pack of shape-shifting wolves amusingly led by Alpha Wolf (Keegan-Michael Key) and Beta Wolf (Jordan Peele).” Read the full review here.
Age of Shadows (Miljeong)
South Korean director Kim Jee-woon (The Last Stand) brings to the screen the story of Korean freedom fighters who resisted the Japanese rule that lasted from 1910-45. Set in the 1920s, midway through Japan’s occupation of Korea, the film follows Korean police captain-turned-Japanese loyalist Jung-chool (Song Kang-ho) as he and his sadistic young Japanese partner Hashimoto (Um Tae-goo) attempt to thwart an explosives-gathering trip to Shanghai by the leader of the resistance movement, Kim Woo-Jin (Gong Yoo). “Several impressive action scenes sustain the tension and electrify this overlong, often hard-to-follow story about courageous Korean freedom fighters trying to overthrow Japanes,” writes THR’s film critic Deborah Young in her review of the film. “Non-Asian audiences lack the historical background to jump into the complicated story, but Kim’s fans will want to venture a look anyway.” Read the full review here.
Following an 18-year hiatus, Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse returns to the screen with an adaptation of the book by Rosalie Ham. The movie depicts Kate Winslet as ‘50s fashionista Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage, who has returned to her small-town home, Dungatar, in the Australian Outback for revenge. “While she’s home, Tilly, who trained as a dressmaker in Paris and struts through town in showstopping, curve-cradling couture, takes it upon herself to transform Dungatar’s frumpiest female denizens into glamour-pusses,” writes Jon Frosch, film critic for THR. “How that fits in with her revenge scheme is never quite clear, but logic be damned.” Read the full review here.
Based on the awe-inspiring true-story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), the film depicts the trials the young Ugandan chess prodigy had to confront on her way to the top, as well as the lessons she learned getting there. “The girl’s doubts are as evident as her accomplishments, but the finer points of Nalwanga’s performance must vie with a screenplay that doesn’t trust the audience to draw its own conclusions,” writes THR‘s film critic Sheri Linden in her review of the film. “Adapting sportswriter Tim Crothers’ book, Wheeler, who wrote Nair’s previous feature, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, takes every opportunity to hammer home its themes, leaving no Chess Metaphor About Life unturned or unuttered.” The film also stars David Oyelowo and Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o. Read the full review here.
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