Capsule reviews of feature filmsMay 17, 2018 8:46am

May 16-- AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. 2.5 stars. A heaping 156-minute plate of plot spaghetti, as superheroes and supervillains chase six objects across time and space in a bid to control ultimate power in the universe. Just enough moments of humor to keep things watchable, but the movie is overcrowded with Avengers (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chadwick Boseman, and others) and subplots and the movie feels like a comedown after Black Panther. 2 hrs. 36 PG-13 (language)-Gary Thompson

BLACK PANTHER. 3.5 stars. Thoughtful, rousing new Marvel adventure from writer-director Ryan Coogler, who delivers the boilerplate blockbuster action components with a provocative story about a modern-day African king (Chadwick Boseman) dealing with threats (in the person of villain Michael B. Jordan) to his nation and his throne-a story that resonates in the real world. Strong roles for Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright, and Danai Gurira. 2 hrs. 20 PG-13 (violence)-Gary Thompson

BLOCKERS. 3 stars. Very raunchy though ultimately semi-sweet gross-out comedy about parents (Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz) who finds their daughters have made a pact to hook up on prom night, and takes steps to disrupt it. Directed by Kay Cannon. 1 hr. 42 R (language)-Gary Thompson

BLUMHOUSE'S TRUTH OR DARE. 1.5 stars. A bunch of college students Lucy Hale, Violett Beane) return from Mexico with a curse that requires them to play a deadly game of truth or dare. Derivative combination of "It Follows" and "Final Destination," also bogged down by needlessly complex internal logic. 1 hr. 40 PG-13 (language)-Gary Thompson

CHAPPAQUIDDICK. 3 stars. Sturdy docudrama about the events surrounding the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), killed when a car driven by Sen. Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) ran off the road was submerged in water. As Kennedy family fixers manage the news cycle, the movie becomes a relevant story of political power and its ability to impose narratives. With Ed Helms, Jim Gaffigan. 1 hr. 47 PG-Gary Thompson

THE DEATH OF STALIN. 3.5 stars. Writer-director Armando Iannucci's caustic black comedy is set in 1953, in the days surrounding the death of the murderous Soviet tyrant, but the scramble for power depicted, with its competing factions and "false narratives," is very much in tune with the craven political age of alternative facts and fake news. The deft comic cast includes Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Palin and Jason Isaacs. 1 hr. 44 R (language, violence)-Gary Thompson

DISOBEDIENCE. 2.5 stars. When a secular woman (Rachel Weisz) returns to her London orthodox neighborhood to attend the funeral of her rabbi father, the resurfacing forbidden passions spell trouble for the marriage of the rabbi's heir apparent (Alessandro Nivola). Soapy story elements clash with the movie's serious minded approach. With Rachel McAdams. 1 hr. 50 R (nudity)-Gary Thompson

THE ENDLESS. 3 stars. Effective, thoughtful, low-budget mystery about two brothers (Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead) who return to the cult they had escaped 10 years earlier. DIY special effects and offbeat ideas combine for a kooky-spooky atmosphere that holds up most of the way. 1 hr. 42 No MPAA rating-Gary Thompson

I FEEL PRETTY. 2 stars. Misfire about a woman (Amy Schumer) with low self-esteem who gets bonked on the head and wakes up thrilled with herself, exhibiting a sudden confidence that makes her attractive to men (Rory Scovel) and colleagues (Michelle Williams), helping her love life and career. The movie's central conceit is poorly dramatized, and the concept seems awkwardly retrofitted to accommodate Schumer's brash persona. 1 hr. 50 PG-13 (language)-Gary Thompson

ISLE OF DOGS. 3 stars. Droll stop-motion animation from Wes Anderson about a Japanese boy looking for his pet on an island full of trash and banished dogs. A bit of a shaggy dog tale, but the craftsmanship is first-rate. Featuring the voices of Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Liev Schreiber. 1 hr. 32 PG-13-Gary Thompson

LEAN ON PETE. 3.5 stars. When a 15-year-old race track worker (Carlie Plummer) learns that his favorite horse is ticketed for the glue factory, he sets out with the animal on a trek across the American West on a quixotic mission to save the horse and himself. Strange, harrowing, beautiful odyssey, well-acted by a cast that includes Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny. 2 hrs. 1 R (language)-Gary Thompson

LIFE OF THE PARTY. 2 stars. Mostly a misfire for Melissa McCarthy, starring in this one as a prim homemaker who cuts loose on campus after her husband files for divorce and she decides to re-enroll in college, studying alongside her daughter. WIth Maya Rudolph, Jacki Weaver, Stephen Root. Directed by Ben Falcone. 1 hr. 45 PG-13 (language)-Gary Thompson

MEASURE OF A MAN. 2 stars. A chubby teen (Blake Cooper) spends a transformative summer at a lake in this pleasant but unmemorable nostalgia piece, co-starring Donald Sutherland as the young man's mentor, Judy Greer and Luke Wilson as his squabbling parents. With Beau Knapp. 1 hr. 40 PG-13 (violence)-Gary Thompson

OVERBOARD. 2 stars. Good-natured but under-written remake of the Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn original. The genders are reversed and the story has been retrofitted to accommodate Mexican comedy star Eugenio Derbez, an arrogant playboy who gets amnesia and thinks he's the husband of the cleaning lady (Anna Faris) he's offended. Cross-cultural and bilingual, with Spanish dialogue subtitled in English. Eva Longoria co-stars. 1 hr. 50 PG-13 (brief nudity)-Gary Thompson

A QUIET PLACE. 2.5 stars. Generally effective horror movie about a farm family (John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds) trying to survive killer aliens that attack anyone who makes a sound. Easy to poke holes in the premise, but writer-director Krasinski makes the most out of the horror-movie hook. 1 hr. 30 PG-13 (violence)-Gary Thompson

RAMPAGE. 2 stars. When a DNA experiment causes his prized gorilla to become a supersized menace to Chicago, primatologist Dwayne Johnson takes action, along with a helpful scientist (Naomie Harris) and a government agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Bland effects movie, even with the addition of giant wolf and alligator. 1 hr. 47 PG-13 (language)-Gary Thompson

READY PLAYER ONE. 2.5 stars. Steven Spielberg adapts the Ernest Cline novel about renegade gamers (Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke) who go up against foes backed by a wealthy corporation to compete in a virtual reality game that rewards players fluent in 1980s pop culture. Some laughs, and decent action, but the movie is heavily animated, and the movie relies too much on special effects, which displaces acting and emotion. 2 hrs. 20 PG-13-Gary Thompson

THE RIDER. 3 stars. Interesting slice-of-life docudrama about a Sioux rodeo performer (Brady Jandreau) who has adopted the "cowboy" life, forced to re-evaluate his life when serious injuries threaten his career, so closely tied to his self-image. Directed by Chloe Zhao. 1 hr. 44 R (drug use)-Gary Thompson

TULLY. 3.5 stars. Alternately heart-wrenching and funny collaboration from director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody (the two also made Juno and Young Adult) about a mother with two children and another on the way who is overwhelmed until she gets unexpected help from a super-competent nanny (Mackenzie Davis). With Ron Livingston. 1 hr. 34 R (language)-Gary Thompson


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