Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.
Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Denham
Synopsis: This is one of the Best Picture nominees this year, and is based on a true story about a young Indian boy who is separated from his family and, eventually, adopted by a couple in Australia. As an adult, the boy begins a search for his birth family to let them know he's OK, and it takes him on a beautiful and fascinating journey. This is a great film, and a well-told story. To learn more about my take on its place in this year's Academy Awards race, see Wednesday's post. But this is an optimistic and powerful film, and one well worth checking out this Oscar season.
Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and some sensuality.
Verdict: Four stars out of four.
The Space Between Us
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Carla Gugino, and Gary Oldman
Synopsis: If you’re a frequent moviegoer, you’ve doubtless seen the trailer for “The Space Between Us.” It’s the story of a boy born on Mars who longs to be on Earth, and the Earth girl he pines for. The trailer has been making the rounds for a while. It was originally slated for a summer 2016 release, then the film got bumped to fall 2016 and finally to February 3, 2017. It hasn’t gotten great reviews and it didn’t draw big crowds last weekend. But I’d contend it’s the ideal kind of film for this time of year. It’s not overly complicated, but it has an innocent sweetness to it that makes it the perfect kind of date movie. And, after all, ‘tis the season for movie dates. This film is the anti-“Fifty Shades Darker,” and offers a good alternative to those looking for a breezy love story this time of year. This is a movie that pretty much gives away the entire plot, and all its twists, in the trailer. Though I will admit the ending goes in a slightly different direction than I was expecting. Still, it’s not hard to figure out what’s going to happen with this film. The charm is in watching a fish-out-of-water story for Gardner, who only knows Earth culture through classic films, and the love-story between him and Tulsa. And that’s something director Peter Chelsom knows how to deliver having directed romances like “Shall We Dance” and “Serendipity” in the past. And that all works fine in this film, too. The film is a showcase of a swath of the American West, and there’s plenty of decent performances from Butterfield, Robertson, Gugino and Oldman. As I said, the “twists” at the end are fairly predictable, and the movie ends in a slightly less optimistic place than one might have expected, but this works as a date movie. It’s not overly complex or deep, but it’s enjoyable. So if you’re looking for something light and fun this Valentine’s Day with a touch of romance, this movie fits the bill.
Rating: PG-13 for brief sensuality and language.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
Friday, February 10 — "Fifty Shades Darker," "The Lego Batman Movie," "John Wick 2"
Friday, February 17 — "The Great Wall," "A Cure for Wellness," "Fist Fight"
Friday, February 24 — "Get Out," Collide," "Rock Dog"