THE RISE OF
Get out those dusty light-sabers.
Forty-two yeas after George Lucas’ pioneering space opera, filmmaker J.J. Abrams helms the impressive third movie in the third round of the “Star Wars” adventures and concludes the series which introduced Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo and Darth Vader and began “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Fans should savor the exciting, quick-paced finale with its satisfying conclusion that ties up mysteries and offers startling surprises. The feature also pays proper tribute to Resistance leader General Leia (the late Carrie Fisher)..
The newest incarnation of the Jedi fighters, Rey (Daisy Ridley), ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and ex-Storm Trooper Finn (John Boyega), are pitted against the resurgent Sith aka The Dark Jedi and their not-so-fresh-from-the-grave leader Emperor Palpitine (Ian McDiamid). In addition, after embracing the Dark Side, Leia and Solo’s son Ben (Adam Driver) has morphed into Kylo Ren, the bloodthirsty leader of the evil First Order.
While hurtling through space in a quest to locate the Sith planet Exogol, Rey, Finn, Poe, Wookiee Chewbacca (Jonas Suotamo) and android C3-PO (Anthony Daniels) realize that their Resistance team has to deal with Kylo Ren and his forces, who are also after Palpitine.
The expertly created special effects include explosions and massive air battle sequences as part of the continuing war between the decimated Resistance and its enemies.
Rated PG-13 3 Stars
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s feline fantasy leaps from the stage to the screen, retaining its humor, drama and glorious music while adding the wonders of digital fur technology. The poetry of T.S. Eliot inspired Webber to pen the all-cat spectacle which is directed by Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech,” “Les Miserables”).
After being dumped in the cat’s alley, Victoria (Francesca Hayward) is initiated into the tribe of Jellicles, which includes Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), Bombaluria (Taylor Swift), Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson), Bustopher Jones (James Corden), Rum Tum Tupper (Jason Derulo) and Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson). Idris Elba slinks through each scene as the villainous Macavity.
Rated PG 3 Stars
Portraying Fox News star Megan Kelly, Charlize Theron does more than act like Kelly. With the aid of prosthetics, the Oscar-winning actress literally becomes the famous blond Fox anchor. Theron’s mannerisms and facial expressions remain totally convincing. Other Fox women, including whistleblower Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), eventually spill the beans about the continuing sexual harassment by Fox founder and boss, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow has an uncanny resemblance to the actual Ailes), in director Jay Roach’s dark expose.
Rated R 3 Stars
A HIDDEN LIFE
In his last few movies, acclaimed filmmaker and Austin, Texas resident Terrence Malick has focused on symbolic, ethereal and visually stunning motifs. But with “A Hidden Life,” the writer/director blends his signature poetic style with a compelling, true narrative about Austrian farmer Franz Jagerstatter (August Diehl), a man of principle whose refusal to salute Adolf Hitler leads to horrific consequences.
The poignant parallel stories of August and his beloved wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) unfold in a heartbreaking and powerful saga of love and spiritual strength.
Rated PG-13 4 Stars