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Showing posts from 2019

MIDWAY (2019)

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On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked with devastating results. The United States entered WWII, beginning the clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy. As the war escalated, Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) and intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton (Patrick Wilson) desperately sought the upper hand for America. Gathered information led to the battle for control of Midway Island from June 4-7 in 1942. This confrontation became the pivotal turning point of the war in the  Pacific Theater.

Superb battle sequences and a solid ensemble cast bring this harrowing conflict to life. Director Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") is no stranger to delivering

TERMINATOR: DARK FATE

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In an altered future, the evil Skynet has been replaced by the deadly A.I. machines of Legion. Facing human opposition, this new cyberforce sends an upgraded Terminator, a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), back in time to eliminate their biggest threat: an unsuspecting Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). Cyborg soldier Grace (Mackenzie Davis) is sent by the Resistance to save Dani. The fugitives get unexpected help from Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Mankind's salvation is once again at stake.

The indestructible sci-fi franchise goes back to basics for this action-packed thriller. Producer James Cameron returns to the series for the first time since "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and brings

MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL

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The peaceful lives of Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) in the Moors are about to change. When the kingdom of Ulstead's Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) proposes marriage to Aurora, she accepts. A dinner to honor the upcoming union at the castle of King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) doesn't go as planned. A clash between future in-laws ends with Maleficent storming off and finding herself in danger. With the wedding in question, a war between humans and fairies is forthcoming.

Fans of the revisionist "Maleficent" (2014) will be enchanted once again with wondrous sets, costumes, effects and a sensational lead performance. This sequel, released 60 years after the debut of Walt Disney's animated "Sleeping Beauty" (based on Charles Perrault's tale "La Belle au bois Dormant"), suffers from

JOKER

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Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), working as a clown-for-hire, has dreams of becoming a stand-up comic in Gotham City. A rough upbringing and caring for ailing mother Penny (Frances Conroy) contribute to his mental health and downward spiral. After job problems and taking more than one beating, Arthur finally snaps - leading to a destined life of crime.

The darkest entry in DC Comics cinematic history, this standalone film is basically

DOWNTON ABBEY (2019)

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In 1927, excitement fills the halls of Downton Abbey. Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), his American wife Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) and their family and staff frantically prepare for a visit by King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James). As the fateful day approaches, anything can happen - and it does.

The smashing television drama of the aristocratic Crawley family and their staff comes to the big screen in grand fashion. After the success of "Upstairs, Downstairs", British and PBS audiences craved more

IT CHAPTER TWO

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It's been 27 years since the terrifying clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) terrorized the town of Derry, Maine and the young members of the Losers Club. Now Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only club member to stay in Derry, knows that Pennywise has returned. He summons his grown up pals to fulfill their childhood pact and end this menace for good.

The final cinematic chapter, based on Stephen King's 1986 novel and the sequel to "It" (2017), is a satisfying slam-bang horror epic. Nearly three hours in length, it covers

OFFICIAL SECRETS

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In 2003, British intelligence specialist Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) received an NSA classified memo about the United States seeking Britain's help. The mission was to gather compromising information for the purpose of blackmailing United Nations Security Council members into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Morally against an illegal war, Gun became a whistleblower and leaked the memo to the press. She risked everything by defying the government, including her life and marriage to Kurdish refugee Yasar Gun (Adam Bakri).

Another effective performance by Keira Knightley gives this true-life political drama a huge boost. Based on the

ANGEL HAS FALLEN

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President Trumbull's (Morgan Freeman) bodyguard, U.S. Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), is framed for an attack that kills all but Banning and the comatose president. The wounded agent becomes a hunted man - desperate to prove his innocence.

The third entry in the Banning saga is a spirited thriller that keeps this series alive. A flawed and predictable story gets in the way with

THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON

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Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young nursing home resident with Down syndrome, dreams of attending the professional wrestling school of his hero: The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). With a little help from his roommate Carl (Bruce Dern), he escapes the home to hopefully attain his goal. On the road, Zak connects with fugitive Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) - on the run for questionable dealings involving crab traps. Their friendship grows as he mentors Zak while traveling along the Southeast waterways to Tyler's destination of Florida. Eventually joining the pair is Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a nursing home worker sent to bring Zak back. Surprises await the trio on their quest.

Impressive performances lend credibility to this fanciful journey. Making his narrative feature acting debut, Zack Gottsagen is

THE KITCHEN

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When their mobster husbands are sent to prison, three 1978 New York City's Hell's Kitchen wives are left with little to survive on from the Irish mafia. Kathy (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby (Tiffany Haddish) and Claire (Elisabeth Moss) take matters into their own hands. They become experts at running the criminal organization and eliminating the competition.

This crime drama fails to cook up enough

FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW

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America's Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is recruited by the CIA to recover a deadly virus that's coveted by cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba). The virus has been injected into the body of rogue MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), framed for murder by Brixton and on the run. Hobbs reluctantly is partnered with old adversary Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), who happens to be Hattie's brother. The pair must learn to get along, find Hattie and save the world.

Happily, what you see in the trailers is what you get. Director David Leitch ("Deadpool 2") packs the screen with

ONCE UPON A TIME...IN HOLLYWOOD

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Fading star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double/friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) struggle to make their way in 1969 Hollywood. Having starred in the popular television western series "Bounty Law", Rick is now relegated to bad guy roles in episodic TV shows and pilots. Meanwhile, Cliff spends his time as Dalton's chauffeur/handyman and trying to hook up with Pussycat (Margaret Qualley), who is a member of the infamous Manson Family. Rick's next door neighbors are Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and his wife Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Lives are about to change.

Director/writer Quentin Tarantino's love of film, especially westerns, shines from

THE LION KING (2019)

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Ruler of the Pride Rock animal kingdom, King Mufasa (the voice of James Earl Jones) needs to train his young son Simba (voiced by JD McCrary) to someday rule. But the young heir is more interested in exploring and having fun with his female friend Nala ( the voice of Shahadi Wright Joseph). But tragedy strikes thanks to Mufasa's treacherous brother Scar (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Simba is forced into exile. Gaining new friends warthog Pumbaa (the voice of Seth Rogen) and meerkat Timon (voiced by Billy Eichner), the young prince grows up with no worries. When the adult Nala (the voice of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) escapes the harsh rule of Scar and his vicious band of hyenas, she finds the grown and carefree Simba (voiced by Donald Glover). Now he must face his responsibilities, defeat his uncle and become the rightful king.

The 1994 animated masterpiece gets an imposing makeover. The story and characters are the same, yet the look is different. Replacing the enchanting

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

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Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) needs a break after the Avengers battle against Thanos. A school trip to Europe provides the perfect vacation getaway and a chance to hook up with classmate MJ (Zendaya). But his plan gets interrupted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a visitor from an alternate Earth that has been destroyed by Elementals - powerful creatures in the form of elements like fire and water. Before Peter can woo the girl of his dreams, he must save the planet once again.

Twisty surprises, humorous teen angst and a dose of sci-fi action spin a

YESTERDAY

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Struggling musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is about to give up on this fading career, even with the encouragement of school teacher Ellie Appleton (Lily James) - his devoted manager and childhood best friend who's in love with him. But an accident during a mysterious global blackout changes his life. He wakes up in a world that never knew The Beatles ever existed. With a little help from their songs, Jack becomes a successful singer/songwriter. Will he find happiness? Will he lose Ellie? It won't be long before everything works out.

Any movie that can transport me back to the 60s for a couple of hours gets

TOY STORY 4

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Relegated to the closet of his kid Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw), Woody (the voice of Tom Hanks) is feeling left out. Hiding in her backpack at school orientation, he sneakily gets her a spork and other materials from the trash to make a craft toy. The result is Forky (the voice of Tony Hale), Bonnie's beloved homemade toy who thinks he's trash and is drawn to garbage cans. Woody suddenly has a purpose in life: convince Forky he's a toy and protect him. But when Bonnie takes the whole gang on her family's road trip, Woody and Forky get separated from the group and must find their way back to the family camper. On this adventurous journey, Woody unexpectedly reunites with his long-lost, and now independent, friend Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts) and also makes some new friends.

The ideal series' ending of "Toy Story 3" gets upstaged by

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL

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After encountering an alien during her youth, Molly (Tessa Thompson) is determined to join the secret Men In Black organization that monitors and polices extraterrestrials on Earth. Worming her way in as a recruit, she allies herself with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth)  - the MIB hero who saved the planet years ago. They are sent by U.S. branch head Agent O (Emma Thompson) to the London headquarters, run by H's ex-partner Agent High T (Liam Neeson), to check on problems that may include an inside mole. Securing a destructive weapon and keeping it out of the hands of enemy aliens is imperative - or the world could cease to exist.

This by-the-book sci-fi adventure fails to capture

DARK PHOENIX

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While a team of X-Men attempts to rescue astronauts on a space mission gone wrong, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) gets possessed by a mysterious cosmic force - turning her into the Dark Phoenix with heightened powers. As her anger goes out of control, Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) and the X-Men must find a way to save her and the world.

The X-Men's latest fast-moving adventure is indeed dark-edged and at times

ECHO IN THE CANYON

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After the Beatles and the British music invasion in the early 1960s, musicians flocked to the recording studios of Southern California to not only emulate the sound, but to create their own. The fusion of folk and rock led the new wave of musical creativity with The Byrds - centering in Laurel Canyon. From 1965 through 1967, the California Sound exploded with the songs of groups like The Mamas and the Papas, The Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield.

This fascinating documentary explores an influential span of time in American pop music like no other film before it. Executive Producer Jakob Dylan, front man for The Wallflowers and son of Bob Dylan, expertly and entertainingly

ROCKETMAN (2019)

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The early life and career of superstar Elton John (Taron Egerton), born Reginald Dwight, unfolds as a musical fantasy. During a group therapy session, Elton reflects on his difficult childhood with cold mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard), sympathetic grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones) and distant disapproving father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh). Learning to play piano at an early age leads him to a life in music. A lasting friendship and songwriting partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) results in many chart hits. But not all goes smoothly. A relationship with manager John Reid (Richard Madden) ends badly. Drugs and alcohol enter the picture. Ups and downs follow - and life goes on.

Dazzling musical numbers, sets and costumes sparkle on the big screen in a biopic that truly captivates. This is the type of film that rises or falls on

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (2019)

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Secret experiments have revived the ancient monster Godzilla and other gigantic creatures. The three-headed King Ghidorah seeks domination over mankind with help from Rodan and other Titans. But Godzilla, along with Mothra and human members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch, attempt to stop this threat to the world.

This monster-sized, expensive-looking "B" popcorn movie delivers exactly what the trailers promise. For this reason alone it

ALADDIN (2019)

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While trying to survive on the streets of Agrabah, Aladdin (Mena Massoud) finds the girl of his dreams, who turns out to be Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). Following her back to the palace, the young thief is captured by Grand Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari). Seeking the power of a lamp hidden in a dangerous magical cave, Jafar uses the street rat's skills to retrieve it. While trapped in the cave, Aladdin discovers that rubbing the lamp releases Genie (Will Smith), who has the ability to grant three wishes. Using a wish to become a prince, Aladdin must defeat the powerful Jafar to win his princess.

Elaborate sets, solid performances, marvelous CG effects and fabulous music inhabit this live-action re-imagining of Disney's 1992 animated classic. This colorful extravaganza has

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM

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After having killed an Italian crime lord inside The Continental Hotel, super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is on the run. The High Table, an international assassin's guild whose members find sanctuary at the hotel, has placed a $14 million contract on Wick. Having lost all hotel privileges, John is excommunicado and must defend himself from the world's most ruthless professional killers while trying to get the bounty on his life removed.

Buckets of bloody gore and an endless stream of kick-butt battles

LONG SHOT

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Recently unemployed journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) gets a big break when he reunites with his first crush, and former babysitter, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) - the U.S. Secretary of State who's about to make a run for the presidency. She hires Fred as her speechwriter. Not exactly a snappy dresser, he  doesn't fit in with Charlotte's staff or her upscale lifestyle. But this mismatched pair somehow connect during a global trip to advance the rising politician's agenda. Romance blossoms and problems arise.

Chemistry between the stars and a humorous script make

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

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After the devastating Infinity War, the fate of what's left of mankind is in the hands of the surviving Avengers. The remaining superheroes have resigned themselves to their changed lives, but the arrival of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) brings a glimmer of hope. The task is monumental: defeat Thanos (the voice and motion-capture of Josh Brolin), recover the six Infinity Stones and attempt to change history.

This emotionally-draining blockbuster is the ultimate fan salute. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, along with producer Kevin Feige, have successfully

PENGUINS (2019)

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In the cold Antarctic wilderness, a male Adélie penguin named Steve joins others of his species on the journey to the nesting grounds. After the trials and tribulations of building a nest, Steve seeks and finds a mate to start a family with. Becoming a first-time father of two, he finds that raising kids can be difficult. Harsh storms and predators, such as the gull-like birds called skuas and leopard seals, get in the way of an idyllic life. But this determined penguin is up to the challenge.

Breathtaking cinematography coupled with a heartfelt story make

SHAZAM!

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Troubled teen Billy Batson (Asher Angel), constantly running away from foster care, is placed in another home but is reluctant to fit in. After defending his new "brother" Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) from bullies at school, he finds himself magically transported to the lair of The Wizard (Djimon Hounsou), who wants him to become the next super-powered defender against evil. Loudly uttering the word SHAZAM!, Billy turns into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) - retaining his teenage mind. With the help of Freddy, he slowly discovers what his astounding abilities are. While foolishly wasting these newfound capabilities, a deadly threat arises. Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) and his evil forces want Batson's powers and will stop at nothing to obtain them.

Action, humor and heart with a positive message make

DUMBO (2019)

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After losing an arm during the war, former horseback-riding sharpshooter Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) returns to the struggling traveling circus of Max Medici (Danny DeVito) hoping to revive his career. Max puts Holt, who must provide for his young son Joe (Finley Hobbins) and daughter Milly (Nico Parker) after the death of his wife, in charge of the elephants. Good fortune smiles on the circus when newly purchased pachyderm Mrs. Jumbo gives birth to Baby Jumbo. A laughingstock because of his big ears, the re-named Dumbo can fly - making him a star attraction. Drawing the attention of powerful businessman V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), Medici is conned into partnering with Vandevere in his giant entertainment venture called Dreamland and teaming Dumbo with aerial artist Colette Marchant (Eva Green). But dangerous secrets lurk in the shadows of this theme park.

Director Tim Burton puts his quirky touch on this live-action remake of Walt Disney's magnificent animated delight, res…

HOTEL MUMBAI

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A group of young Islamic terrorists from Pakistan attacked Mumbai, India in 2008. Part of this horrendous event included a siege at the Taj Hotel. Staff members, including Chef Hemant Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and waiter Arjun (Dev Patel), risk their lives to protect guests. Among those trapped are American David (Armie Hammer), his wife Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi), their newborn child and nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). Desperation leads to sacrifice.

Even though the outcome is known, tension throughout makes this a riveting thriller. After a quick setup with the arrival of the terrorists, director Anthony Maras maintains

THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT

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Getting information from the exchange in Kansas to Wall Street's New Jersey data bank the fastest can mean billions of dollars to traders. Hustler Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and his nerdy, but brilliant, coder cousin Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) hit on the idea of laying fiber-optic cable in a straight line to carry the data between the two points. They quit their jobs under high-powered Wall Street CEO Eva Torres (Salma Hayek) after securing financing and hiring chief engineer Mark Vega (Michael Mando) to oversee the huge project. Obstacles include tunneling under national parks, homes, mountains, swamps and private lands. Getting permission from all involved, including the opposing Amish, is a daunting task. Also in the way is former boss Torres, who backs a data delivery by microwave plan. A millisecond, the speed of a hummingbird's single wing-beat, is at stake.

While the plot gets bogged down with too many complicated technical details, Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsg…

CAPTAIN MARVEL

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A war wages in outer space between the warrior Krees and the shape-shifting Skrulls. Kree military commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) leads a team, including his superpowers endowed protégé Vers (Brie Larson), against the Skrulls and their leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). After a battle, Vers is captured. During her escape, she crashes into a Blockbuster store on Earth in 1995. Soon she's on the radar of young S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). With the Skrulls on her trail, Vers must deal with the situation while having flashes of a past life.

Solid performances and almost non-stop action keep

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL

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In a post-apocalyptic world, cyborg scientist Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds robotic remains in a junkyard and rebuilds his discovery - naming her Alita (the voice and motion-capture body of Rosa Salazar) after his deceased daughter. The wide-eyed teen awakens with no recollections of her previous life, but is rebellious and determined to become a Hunter-Warrior in the bleak Iron City. Befriending Hugo (Keean Johnson), a robotic parts dealer, the cyborg teen becomes involved in Motorball - an arena, gladiator-style death race that's controlled by Vector (Mahershala Ali) and Ido's ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly). The victor gets the promise of reaching the utopian sky city of Zalem, which hovers above the grim metropolis. But flashes of memories from her past and mysterious enemies get in the way of Alita's goals.

Immersive 3D and massive special effects highlight this technically

COLD PURSUIT

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As a snowplow driver and recently named Citizen of the Year in a Rocky Mountains resort town, Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) leads a good life with wife Grace (Laura Dern). But when their son is found dead, he becomes distant from his spouse and is obsessed with eliminating those responsible. The body count begins to rise as Nels works his way up the chain - leading to violent drug kingpin Viking (Tom Bateman) and a final confrontation that includes a rival gang.

This grisly revenge drama is laced with dark-edged humor. Based on the 2014 Norwegian film "In Order of Disappearance" (original title "Kraftidioten") starring Stellan Skarsgård, the loose remake feels

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING

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Running away from bullies, young teen Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) stumbles upon the legendary Sword in the Stone. Pulling Excalibur from the stone, the youth is now tasked with saving the present-day world from the evil enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), who was powerful during the reign of King Arthur and is ready to rise with her army to rule mankind. With the help of Merlin (Patrick Stewart), now transformed into a nerdy youth (Angus Imrie), Alex must convince friends and foes to become knights in his quest to stop the malevolent sorceress.

A mostly youthful cast energizes this inventive update of the mythical sword legend. Director/writer Joe Cornish deftly keeps

GLASS

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David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a security guard with super powers, seeks to put an end to the killing spree of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a murderer with multiple personalities controlled by The Beast. A deadly encounter between the two gets them captured and sent to an asylum under the care of psychiatrist Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson). Another patient, Elijah Price/Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), has a connection to the new residents that could have devastating results.

Director/writer M. Night Shyamalan's latest big screen effort is

STAN & OLLIE

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Embarking on a live stage tour of Britain in 1953, Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) are looking to revive their declining popularity. The comedy duo's film career is pretty much behind them and Ollie has major health issues. But audiences are slowly building and Stan is seeking backing for a movie spoof of Robin Hood. While their relationship is strained, the boys get a needed lift when wives Ida Laurel (Nina Arianda) and Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson) join them in England. The show must go on.

Remarkable performances dominate this loving tribute to Laurel & Hardy. Makeup and prosthetics play a big part in