KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This week, we get some little movie set in a galaxy far, far away. Russ and Shawn give us the lowdown on the yet another "Star Wars" episode, plus an eccentric sci-fi flick set in the 1960s and the latest drama from Woody Allen.
1) STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (PG-13)
Walt Disney Pictures
Is the Force with the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise? Packed with action, vitality, humor and pleasing familiarity, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is just what fans want. It's impossible to talk about the plot without offering any spoilers, but I will say this much: Mark Hamill is terrific in the best turn of his career. As Yoda might say, "Gives a great performance, he does."
Shawn says: This is the most nuanced Star Wars movie yet. And finally there is a bit of character development and genuine story structure. Finally! There is plenty of action and lots of unexpected twists. It ain't perfect but it works. Good to see that this franchise is moving closer to greatness.
RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 4 Popcorn Bags
2) THE SHAPE OF WATER (R)
You can always count on filmmaker Guillermo del Toro to deliver visually arresting and atmospheric cinema. “The Shape of Water” is no exception. This adult sci-fi fantasy is really an oddball love story featuring an aquatic humanoid creature and an emotionally-damaged, mute cleaning woman in 1960s Cold War America. Sally Hawkins leads a terrific cast. “The Shape of Water” is ravishing to behold and works in spite of, or perhaps because of, its stubbornly eccentric sensibilities.
Shawn says nothing more than a retelling of beauty in the beast. But it is clever and visually stunning.
RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags
3) WONDER WHEEL (PG-13)
In Woody Allen's new movie, a character played by Kate Winslet yells, “Enough with the bad drama.” My thoughts, exactly. “Wonder Wheel” could be described as Tennessee Williams-lite. Winslet plays an unhappy waitress married to a boozy carousel operator, played by Jim Belushi, at New York's Coney Island amusement park in the 1950s. She carries on an affair with a lifeguard and wannabe playwright, played by Justin Timberlake. The talented cast imbues Allen's screenplay more heft than it deserves, especially Winslet who gives an inspired performance. Too bad it’s wasted in this dramatic misfire.
Shawn says Woody Allen badly misfires. Nothing Kate Winslet could do to save this one.
RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 1 Popcorn Bag
ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK, “Ferdinand” is an animated offering about the gentle bull with a big heart. It features the voice talent of John Cena. “Kaleidoscope” is a British psychological thriller starring Toby Jones.
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