This weekend at the movies, we have an identity thief with happy feet (Leap!, featuring the voices of Elle Fanning and Nat Wolff), the beginning of a martial arts legend (Birth of the Dragon, starring Philip Ng and Billy Magnussen), a comedic ode to Instagram (Ingrid Goes West, starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen), a former teen idol plunged into the criminal underground (Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson and Jennifer Jason Leigh), and a pastor at a crossroads (All Saints, starring John Corbett and Cara Buono). What are the critics saying?
There’s a journey of a thousand steps between a film’s conception and its theatrical debut, and Leap!
is a perfect case in point. When this 3D animated adventure musical premiered overseas late last year, it was titled Ballerina
— and it isn’t just the movie’s name that’s changed over the last several months: Paper Towns
star Nat Wolff replaced Dane DeHaan
in the voice cast, which was also expanded to add Mel Brooks
vet Kate McKinnon
. Tinkering aside, this is still the story of a 19th-century orphan (Elle Fanning) who’s determined to be a ballerina, with all the triumphing over odds and toe-tapping musical numbers you’d expect — and critics say that’s essentially the problem, describing Leap!
as a middle-of-the-road offering that’s neither as funny nor as uplifting as it tries to be. The kids may not mind, but they probably won’t be talking about it on the ride home, either.
Only 32 at the time of his passing and poised at what seemed to be just the start of a potentially long-running film career, Bruce Lee
‘s legacy has grown exponentially since his untimely death in 1973. A number of the details surrounding the martial arts master’s life have been shrouded in myth and legend along the way — as evidenced by this weekend’s Birth of the Dragon
, which dramatizes the 1964 showdown between Lee and Wong Jack Man, a rising star in the Bay Area’s more traditional martial arts ranks. The reasons for their fight have been debated by historians for years, so it’s probably best not to look for strict accuracy out of this production from director George Nolfi
(The Adjustment Bureau
), but you can probably count on some well-choreographed fight scenes, as well as a potentially fascinating glimpse of Lee’s early development of the martial arts style that would eventually make him famous. Sadly, since Birth of the Dragon
wasn’t screened for critics, we still don’t have a clear picture of its critical fate; in the meantime, we’re inviting you to peer into the future by playing another thrilling round of Guess the Tomatometer.
Rather than straining to reach the blockbuster brass ring again, Robert Pattinson has made some admirably eclectic choices in the years since the Twilight
franchise ended, and although not all of them have paid critical dividends, a couple of his more recent features have earned the rehabilitated heartthrob some of the most positive reviews of his career — and this weekend’s Good Time
, starring Pattinson as a failed bank robber trying to work his younger brother and himself out of a desperate situation, looks like it might be the best of the bunch. Directed by the Safdie brothers
(Heaven Knows What
, Lenny Cooke
), the movie’s strong visual style helps distinguish it from less ambitious crime dramas, and it’s all anchored by a Pattinson performance that’s drawn virtually universal acclaim. Glittery vampires might get all the chicks, but with his pinup days behind him, Pattinson looks like he’s having the time of his career — and audiences who head out to see Good Time
appear to be in store for plenty of what the title promises.
The generation gap has always been fertile ground for storytelling, but it’s awfully tricky to make observations about a culture clash without seeming out of touch with one side or the other — or worse, outright condescending. On paper, Ingrid Goes West
, starring Aubrey Plaza as a woman who befriends a social media celebrity played by Elizabeth Olsen and begins stalking her, seems ripe for this particular downfall: not only does it tackle a trendy technology that’s widely derided by those who don’t use it, it boasts a leading lady who’s known for her snarky screen persona. But appearances can deceive, and rather than the glib comedy it might have been, critics say Ingrid
is a movie with a lot more on its agenda than hitting easy targets. Reviews describe an of-the-moment film that makes some fairly deep observations — and more than a few pundits have suggested Plaza’s performance might be the best of her career.
For filmgoers seeking more traditionally uplifting fare this weekend, there’s All Saints
, starring Northern Exposure
vet John Corbett as a guy who trades in his job in sales to become a pastor — only to discover he’s supposed to close his church and sell the land it sits on. Inspired by an influx of Burmese refugees, he decides instead to put his flock to work by turning the property into a farm, hopefully keeping the building open in the bargain. All Saints
is based on a true story, so you can turn to your favorite search engine to find out how it ends; unfortunately, we can’t give you an idea of how it’ll fare on the Tomatometer, because reviews haven’t started coming in yet. You know what that means — give use your best guess!
What’s New on TV
Likeable characters add realism and heart to the tongue-in-cheek humor and high-octane action that fuels The Tick.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D (2017) , a 3D reissue of James Cameron‘s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, is at 100 percent.
- Clash (Eshtebak) (2017) , a drama viewing Egypt’s recent political upheaval through the interactions between dissidents detained in a police wagon, is at 94 percent.
- Beach Rats (2017) , a coming-of-age drama centered around a Brooklyn teenager’s efforts to define his sexual identity, is at 85 percent.
- The Villainess (Ak-Nyeo) (2017) , a drama about an assassin’s complicated efforts to build a “normal” life, is at 80 percent.
- Polina (Polina, danser sa vie) (2017) , about a ballerina whose career ambitions are thrown out of whack by her newfound fascination with contemporary dance, is at 77 percent.
- England Is Mine (2017) , a biopic about the early years of future Smiths frontman Morrissey, is at 54 percent.
- Red Christmas (2017) , starring Dee Wallace as a woman whose dreams of one last Christmas in the family home are threatened by a mysterious stranger, is at 50 percent.
- Bushwick (2017) , which imagines the bloody unrest that erupts in the titular New York neighborhood after Texas attempts to secede from the United States, is at 42 percent.