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Movie guide.

Four stars: superior. Three stars: good. Two stars: average. One star: poor. D (drug use), L (language), N (nudity), S (sexual situations, references), V (violence). Ratings by Film Critic Dann Gire, unless otherwise noted.

Picks

"Annihilation" -- Alex Garland's trippy, mind-bending science-fiction drama stars Natalie Portman as an ex-Army biology professor who leads an all-female expedition into the mysterious "Shimmer" to find out what happened to her soldier husband (Oscar Isaac). Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) L, S, V. 115 minutes. ? ? ?

"Black Panther" -- Ryan Coogler's bold, politically charged superhero action fantasy is a terrific, innovative film boasting a nearly all-black cast led by a buffed-up Chadwick Boseman. He plays an African prince who assumes the throne -- and superhero responsibilities -- after the death of his father. (PG-13) V. 135 minutes. ? ? ? 1/2

"Call Me By Your Name" -- A precocious teen (Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet), living with his parents in Italy in 1983, discovers the power of first love with an American graduate student (Armie Hammer) in Luca Guadagnino's unabashedly beautiful, but sometimes slow, Oscar-nominated film. Reviewed by Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press. (R) L, N, S. 132 minutes. ? ? ? 1/2

"Darkest Hour" -- Oscar front-runner Gary Oldman gives an extraordinary performance as Winston Churchill during a crucial month leading up to war with Hitler in Joe Wright's audience-pleasing Oscar-nominated historical drama, which underscores the power of rhetoric when infused with conviction. (PG-13) 125 minutes. ? ? ? 1/2

"Ferdinand" -- In a first-rate adaptation of the children's book, Spanish bull Ferdinand (voiced by John Cena) bucks his breeding and refuses to fight. He winds up on a flower farm and meets an unhinged goat (voiced by the wonderful Kate McKinnon) before he must face the meanest matador in Spain. Reviewed by Mark Kennedy, Associated Press. (PG) 107 minutes. ? ? ?

"Game Night" -- Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams experience a fun evening gone horribly haywire in this fast-paced, comic thriller directed by Wheeling native John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. (R) L, S, V. 94 minutes. ? ? ?

"I, Tonya" -- Margot Robbie gives her best performance yet in this outrageously entertaining reappraisal of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding who, in 1994, was involved in a scheme to injure rival Nancy Kerrigan. Robbie and co-star Allison Janney, as Harding's abusive mother, both earned Oscar nods for their roles. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) L, N, S, V. 121 minutes. ? ? ?

"Lady Bird" -- A lovingly composed portrait of a self-centered, yet empathetic teen (Saoirse Ronan) that bursts with wit, humanity, joy and truth. Directed by writer Greta Gerwig and nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Director and Actress. Reviewed by Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press. (R) L, N, S. 93 minutes. ? ? ? ?

"Molly's Game" -- Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin makes his directorial debut with this engaging fact-based drama, about a young woman who at one point ran the richest poker game in the world. Jessica Chastain is at the top of her nerviest, most icily self-controlled game. With Idris Elba and Kevin Costner. Reviewed by Ann Hornaday, Washington Post. (R) D, L, V. 140 minutes. ? ? ?

"Nostalgia" -- Interconnected stories link an insurance assessor (John Ortiz), a widow (Ellen Burstyn), a memorabilia dealer (Jon Hamm) and others. A deeply meditative movie about time, loss and the stuff we hold onto. At Chicago's River East 21, Landmark Century Centre and Century Evanston. Reviewed by Mark Kennedy, Associated Press. (R) L. 114 minutes. ? ? ?

"Paddington 2" -- This family-friendly sequel about a talking bear cub from Peru is an action-packed charmer with a wonderful message: There's good in everyone. Hugh Grant hams it up as a has-been actor whose theft of a special book lands Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) behind bars. Reviewed by Stephanie Merry, Washington Post. (PG) 103 minutes. ? ? ? 1/2

"The Party" -- A group of highly educated and highly dysfunctional people gather for an intimate dinner party in London in Sally Potter's wickedly funny black-and-white film. With Patricia Clarkson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Cillian Murphy and Timothy Spall. At Chicago's River East 21, Landmark Century Centre and Century Evanston. Reviewed by Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press. (R) D, L. 71 minutes. ? ? ?

"Peter Rabbit" -- James Corden's verbally fleet voice-overs and Domhnall Gleeson's perfectly pitched performance as Old Mr. McGregor's great nephew highlight this CGI-live action hybrid, crammed with a corny-copia of old-school slapstick and clever meta-shtick. (PG) 95 minutes. ? ? ?

"Phantom Thread" -- Daniel Day-Lewis gives a powerful performance as an obsessive dress designer in 1950s London who falls for a waitress (Vicky Krieps) in Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar-nominated ode to extravagance and tyrannical auteurism. Reviewed by Ann Hornaday, Washington Post. (R) L. 130 minutes. ? ? ? 1/2

"The Post" -- Meryl Streep snagged her 21st Academy Award nomination for her role as Katharine Graham in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated newsroom docudrama about The Washington Post's pursuit and publication of the Pentagon Papers. With Tom Hanks and Naperville's Bob Odenkirk. (PG-13) L, V. 116 minutes. ? ? ? 1/2

"The Shape of Water" -- Guillermo del Toro's dreamy, lavish fairy-tale ode to outsiders earned 13 Oscar nominations including Best Picture. A mute cleaning lady (nominee Sally Hawkins) falls in love with a merman (Doug Jones) held in a secret government lab during the Cold War. Also starring fellow Oscar nominees Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) L, N, S, V. 123 minutes. ? ? ?

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" -- The force is strong in Rian Johnson's ambitiously mounted "The Last Jedi." Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver reprise their roles in this smart, spectacular (though occasionally convoluted) chapter, the most operatic and conflicted of the film saga. (PG-13) V. 152 minutes. ? ? ? 1/2

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" -- Martin McDonagh's Coen-esque Oscar-nominated tale of a tough mother (Frances McDormand) doing whatever necessary to force a dying police chief (Woody Harrelson) to find the man who raped and killed her daughter seven months earlier. With Sam Rockwell. (R) L, S, V. 115 minutes. ? ? ? ?

Passables

"Early Man" -- A personality-challenged cave man (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) and his sidekick plot to regain their valley home from a ruthless villain. Sight gags and cartoon antics will thrill the kids, but the latest from Aardman Animations lacks the innovation of the studio's earlier, funnier works. Rated PG. 89 minutes. ? ? 1/2

"The 15:17 to Paris" -- Clint Eastwood takes his no-frills filmmaking to a whole new level, letting the three Americans (Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler) who thwarted a 2015 terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris play themselves. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (PG-13) D, L, V. 94 minutes. ? ?

"The Greatest Showman" -- You'll need to suspend belief for this splashy, sanitized and thoroughly fake portrait of P.T. Barnum. The musical does have its charms, though, mainly in leading man Hugh Jackman. Reviewed by Stephanie Merry, Washington Post. (PG) 105 minutes. ? ? 1/2

"Half Magic" -- Actress Heather Graham writes and directs her first movie, a timely relationship sex comedy encompassing several positive aspects, and a few negative ones, with something to say to women: Fulfilling men's needs and wants at the unfulfillment of your own doesn't work. At the Pickwick Theater, Park Ridge. (R) D, L, N, S. 100 minutes. ? ?

"Hostiles" -- Scott Cooper's elegantly photographed Western stars Christian Bale as a legendary Indian fighter who stumbles across a grieving mother (Rosamund Pike). Bale is the main star, but Pike dominates with a performance so raw and real that it sears the heart. (R) L, V. 135 minutes. ? ? 1/2

"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" -- Mismatched teens sharing the same detention get sucked into a game as very different avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan) in Jake Kasdan's body swap lark. Reviewed by Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press. (PG-13) L, S, V. 119 minutes. ? ? 1/2

"Maze Runner: The Death Cure" -- The final (and most spectacular) installment in this young adult trilogy has the heroes trying to evade capture and rescue their friend, the subject of nasty experiments. There's plenty of action, along with the usual action cliches. (PG-13) L, V. 142 minutes. ? ? 1/2

"12 Strong" -- This stirring, fact-based war drama sheds light on a small U.S. Special Forces unit that led an offensive in Afghanistan after 9/11 largely on horseback. With Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon. Reviewed by Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press. (R) L, V. 130 minutes. ? ? 1/2

Unpreviewed

"Aiyaary" -- An Indian army officer faces off against his rogue protg. In Hindi with subtitles. (NR) 157 minutes.

"Beast of Burden" -- "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe puts his wizarding ways far behind him as a pilot making a final drug run and weighing allegiances. (R) L, V. 89 minutes.

"The Chamber" -- A pilot and special ops team fight for survival when they become trapped underwater. (NR) 87 minutes.

"Den of Thieves" -- Elite bank robbers target the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve. Starring Gerard Butler. (R) L, N, S, V. 140 minutes.

"Detective Chinatown 2" -- Wang Baoqiang and Liu Haoran reprise their roles as detectives, now seeking whoever killed the son of New York's Chinatown godfather. In English and Mandarin. (R) L. 121 minutes.

"Every Day" -- Young love gets a whole new layer of complications when a 16-year old girl falls for a mysterious soul named "A," who takes on a new body each day. (PG-13) D, L, S. 95 minutes.

"Fifty Shades Freed" -- Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan return as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the final chapter based on E.L. James' erotic trilogy. (R) L, N, S. 105 minutes.

"La Boda de Valentina" -- When her boyfriend pops the question, a woman must return home to Mexico to face her politically connected, scandal-ridden family. In Spanish. (R) L. 107 minutes.

"Padmaavat" -- Period drama based on an epic poem about a queen seeking to protect herself from a ruthless king. In Hindi with subtitles. (NR) 164 minutes.

"Pad Man" -- A fictionalized account of a man who risked much to develop a low-cost sanitary pad in India. In Hindi with subtitles. (NR) 140 minutes.

"Samson" -- Taylor James stars as the biblical hero, who clashes with the Philistines and a beautiful temptress. (PG-13) V. 110 minutes.

"Sin Island" -- Career woes, infidelity and an obsessive woman threaten a marriage. (NR) 106 minutes.

"Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety" -- Best friends face off over whether one's fiancee is as perfect as she seems. In Hindi. (NR) 142 minutes.

"Welcome to New York" -- Chaos ensues -- in 3-D! -- when a fashion designer and recovery agent get involved in a big Bollywood event. In Hindi. (NR) 149 minutes.

"Winchester" -- Firearms heiress Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) builds a mansion to contain what she believes to be vengeful spirits of those killed by her family's guns. (PG-13) D, S, V. 99 minutes.
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Article Type:Movie review
Date:Feb 28, 2018
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