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The Kingsman spy agents and LEGO toys are back on the big screen in Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Anticipated biopics are also hitting theaters this weekend, with Emma Stone and Steve Carell portraying Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, respectively, in Battle of the Sexes and Jake Gyllenhaal as Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman in the drama Stronger.
Read on to find out what The Hollywood Reporter‘s critics are saying about the new offerings (as well as which film will likely top the weekend box office).
Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges star as the newest crop of American spies to join forces with London’s Kingsman agents Colin Firth, Taron Egerton and Mark Strong to defeat the common enemy. Chief film critic Todd McCarthy seemed content with the sequel based on the Kingsman comic after watching the action flick. He writes in his review that despite the long running time (141 minutes), “this fleet-footed, glibly imaginative international romp stays on its toes and keeps its wits about it most of the time, with entertaining and pointedly U.S.-friendly cast additions that should provide an uptick from the $414 million raked in worldwide by Kingsman: The Secret Service.”
The LEGO Ninjago Movie
Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Munn, Zach Woods, Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, Kumail Nanjiani and Michael Pena bring the voices of the beloved toys to life based on the TV series of the same name. THR critic John DeFore writes in his review that the film gets the family amusement job done for the kids: “A perfectly adequate family film for kids who love watching things they’ve seen many times before (which is to say, most kids), it offers plenty of chuckles for their parents but nothing approaching the glee of that first Lego Movie.”
The horrors of social media turn a popular college student’s life upside down as her high friend count in Facebook and IRL turns gruesome after she rejects a friend request from a cyberstalker. THR critic Frank Scheck writes that the film starts with promise in exploring technology-based anxieties but “squanders the opportunity to explore them in a meaningful manner by resorting to tired horror movie tropes.” Scheck also warns that although the film is filled with gruesome killings, seeing the words “An unknown error has occurred. Please try again later” will bring on a shudder. Read the full review here.
Battle of the Sexes
The Little Miss Sunshine husband-wife directorial team’s latest comedy stars Emma Stone as professional tennis star and equal rights activist Billie Jean King, who agrees to a highly-publicized tennis match against forgotten No. 1 player Bobby Riggs (Carell), who declares he can beat any female professional player. Stone tells THR, that the man vs. woman showdown shines a light on “love, social change and discovering who you are” by focusing on the personal and professional challenges faced along the way, including equal pay, sexist attitudes and King’s struggle to come to terms with her sexuality. McCarthy calls Stone’s real-life character portrayal a “terrific turn,” the directorial effort “finely tuned”and all in all a “sure-fire early fall winer” and “grand human comedy” when describing the film in his review.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany channel how the Boston Marathon bombings affected one particular victim, his girlfriend, family and friends, as the tragic event leaves Jeff Bauman (Gyllenhaal) a double amputee with life-changing injuries and a long physical and emotional road to recovery. THR critic Deborah Young says the bottom line is that the film is “solid, straightforward and touching.” Read the full review here.
Victoria & Abdul
Queen Victoria’s unlikely real-life relationship with Indian servant Abdul Karim during her final years is explored in the comedy-drama where Judi Dench reprises her role as the queen from Mrs. Brown (1997). According to THR critic David Rooney, “the sizable constituency that turns out for glossy period drama of this kind will embrace the sumptuously appointed Victoria & Abdul as a moving account of an isolated old woman finding joy and lightness in her final years. The fact that it’s graced by another unimpeachable performance from Dench should only sweeten the deal for the Focus Features release.” Read the full review here.
The best documentary winner at this year’s Tribeca film festival chronicles the life of dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, who spent a decade with Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company.
The film brings awareness to schizophrenia as it follows a young woman who is released from a mental hospital and returns to live with her boyfriend in their L.A. apartment. Scheck writes, “Despite Anna Schafer’s gripping performance in the lead role, this deeply personal effort is too narratively sluggish to sustain attention.”
Viewers join Kirsten Dunst on an emotional rollercoaster as the actress portrays a medical marijuana dispensary worker whose cannabis experience mixes with her feelings of loss (due to her mother’s death), causing her to explore a state of paranoia and isolation. The feature is the directorial debut from L.A.’s designer sister duo Kate and Laura Mulleavy — co-founders of the fashion label Rodarte — who took the helm to direct and dress longtime friend Dunst, whom Kate says was the first actress to wear their clothing back during her Spider-Man 2 days.
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