With "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2" leading the way, and with a new "Pirates of the Caribbean" coming next week, this has been a Summer of sequels thus far. This week is no different, as we get the latest installment in the "Alien" franchise with "Alien: Covenant." It's the biggest movie opening this weekend, but it's not the only one: Several other, smaller films are set to hit theaters this weekend as well.
So are any of them worth watching? Here are our reviews of new movies coming out in theaters, Friday, May 19, 2017:
This movie received the "full review" treatment: Check out our full review of "Alien: Covenant" here.
“Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary”
"Chuck" is a movie that will feel very familiar to most...that's because it is based on the boxer Chuck Wepner, the real-life inspiration for Rocky Balboa, a character and a film that everybody has seen. Wepner (played by Liev Schreiber, who has simply never been better) was hand-picked to get a title shot against new Heavyweight Champ, Muhammad Ali (Pooch Hall) in the mid-70s and it was mainly a gimmick: The "Bleeder from Bayonne, New Jersey," as Wepner was known, could take a punch, but mostly, he was the top-rated white contender at the time...it was a fight Ali needed to expand his reach. Little did the Champ know, this Wepner fellow had incredible stamina and heart, and he ended up going nearly 15 Rounds with Ali, bucking all odds. Because we know the story that this story inspired, it does hit upon some genre cliches, but the "big fight" sequence in this film happens only 30 minutes in...this tale is much less about boxing and much more about how a man who came from nothing manages his 15-minutes of fame. Schreiber gives a stand-out, knock-out performance, but the supporting cast - filled out with Elisabeth Moss, Ron Perlman, an almost unrecognizable Naomi Watts and Morgan Spector as Sylvester Stallone himself - will really have you up on the ropes. Grade: B+.
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport. Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes. Rated R. Starring: Liev Schreiber, Elisabeth Moss, Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, Pooch Hall, Morgan Spector. Directed by Philippe Falardeau ("My Internship in Canada," "The Good Lie," "Monsieur Lazhar").
"Everything, Everything" is the film-version of the lauded young adult novel of the same name by first-time author Nicola Yoon and follows the story of teenager Maddy (Amandla Stenberg), who has a rare condition that prevents her from leaving the house. When a hunky (creepy?) new boy Olly ("The Kings of Summer"'s Nick Robinson), moves in next door, he is instantly smitten and starts communicating to Maddy threw his adjacent bedroom window. In a nutshell, Olly and Maddy fall in love, the sort of innocent "first love" that teenagers tend to experience. Olly breaks Maddy out of her shell, both figuratively and literally, as Maddy learns more and more about her condition and her life. To teenagers - especially those who read and liked the book - I could see how this movie might be entertaining, but for the rest of us adults, this is an implausible and hokey mess. What's wrong with "Everything, Everything"? Pretty much everything. Grade: C-.
Genre: Drama, Romance. Run Time: 1 hour 36 minutes. Rated PG-13. Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Taylor Hickson, Ana de la Reguera. Directed by Stella Meghie ("Jean of the Joneses").
Strong performances drive "The Lovers," a strange but effective film about an old married couple who reignite some sparks through infidelity. Tracy Letts and Debra Winger play Michael and Mary, a pair that have simply been together too long. They lead a banal, unimaginative existence, but both are harboring major secrets. Michael is cheating on Mary with a half-crazed, needy yoga instructor (Melora Walters) while Mary is in a relationship with Robert (Aidan Gillen, from HBO's "Game of Thrones" and "The Wire.") Both promise their side relationships that they will divorce soon, but when Michael and Robert's estranged son (Tyler Ross) comes home to visit, it complicates both of their timelines. In ways they can't explain, the cheating somehow connects them in ways they haven't experienced in quite a while. All of this may seem a bit strange and quirky, and it is. But the wonderful Debra Winger and character actor Tracy Letts are simply amazing here. The movie isn't quite balanced enough to be overly effective, with Letts getting much more screen time than Winger, and some of the character's motivations aren't fully explained...add this to the fact that we are never quite shown just what each of them see in their flings...and "The Lovers" leaves a lot to be desired. But seek it out for the performances. Grade: B.
Genre: Drama. Run Time: 1 hour 34 minutes. Rated R. Starring: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Lesley Fera, Aidan Gillen, Melora Walters, Tyler Ross. Written and Directed by Azazel Jacobs ("Terri," "Momma's Man," "Nobody Needs to Know," "Danger 44").
“The Wedding Plan”
"The Wedding Plan," not to be confused with Adam Sandler's "The Wedding Planner," is a romantic-comedy from Israel, starring newcomer Noa Koler. She plays Michal, an Orthodox Jewish woman who learns just one month before her wedding that the groom is not in love with her. This doesn't stop Michal from moving forward with the wedding though. While this set-up may make you think this is a "Bride-zilla"-style comedy, it isn't at all. Writer/Director Rama Burshtein instead creates a wonderfully eccentric main character that we root for right from the start, and although this is a comedy, it isn't a romp. Those not familiar with the Orthodox Jewish culture may miss a lot of the thematic elements - and the film is sub-titled - but don't let that stop you from checking out "The Wedding Plan." Noa Koler is an actress to watch. Grade: B.
Genre: Comedy, Romance. Run Time: 1 hour 50 minutes. Rated PG. Starring: Noa Koler, Oded Leopold, Dafi Alferon. Written and Directed by Rama Burshtein ("Fill the Void").
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”
This movie was not reviewed but opens this weekend.
All of these movies open locally on Friday, May 19, 2017 (check for show times).
Next week reviews include: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," and "Baywatch."