This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a green grumbler (The Grinch, featuring the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch and Rashida Jones), Nazi zombies (Overlord, starring Jovan Adepo and Wyatt Russell), a vigilante hacker (The Girl in the Spider’s Web, starring Claire Foy and Sverrir Gudnason), and an ambivalent addict (Beautiful Boy, starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet). What are the critics saying?
Various works of beloved author Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, have been adapted in several forms over the years, but his best-known character is arguably the titular grump from his 1957 story How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The tale was first made into an animated TV special in 1967, then a stage production, and eventually a live-action film starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch. This week, we get the latest incarnation of the character in Illumination Entertainment’s The Grinch, in which Benedict Cumberbatch voices the holiday curmudgeon who plots to ruin Christmas for the citizens of nearby Whoville. Critics say The Grinch’s animation is colorful and top notch, and while it feels tame compared to the 1967 special, it’s currently teetering on the cusp of Freshness, and it’s probably enjoyable enough for young viewers unfamiliar with the story.
Over the past decade and change, J.J. Abrams has made a career of elevating genre films into major blockbuster entertainment — or taking major blockbuster entertainment and gleefully infusing it with genre elements. This week, audiences will get a proper dose of full-on B-movie goodness with an A-list sheen in the Abrams-produced Overlord, a revisionist World War II horror-thriller courtesy of director Julius Avery. Jovan Adepo and Wyatt Russell star in the grisly creature feature, which follows a group of U.S. paratroopers who crash land behind enemy lines, only to come across a secret Nazi lab full of unspeakable horrors. It’s pulpy, visceral, and action-packed, and critics say it’s an entertaining thrill ride for viewers who don’t mind a bit of blood and guts in their popcorn.
Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s hugely popular “Millennium” series of novels were already made into a trilogy of films before David Fincher took a crack at adapting the first book again in 2011, with franchise aspirations. Now we get a new story — based on one of the series’ novels that Larsson didn’t write — with another new cast, and it would seem something has been lost in translation. Claire Foy dons the black leather and dragon tattoo as Lisbeth Salander, whose talents are enlisted to secure a dangerous piece of software from the NSA, and critics say the film fails to capture what previously made Lisbeth such a compelling presence. Eschewing complex character development for fairly standard spy-movie elements and favoring action over intrigue, The Girl in the Spider’s Web has style to spare but may not offer much in the way of substance.
Be prepared for a whole lot more of Timothée Chalamet. After turning heads with his performance in Luca Guadagnino‘s Oscar-winning Call Me By Your Name, Chalamet has signed on for a number of big films, working with people like Greta Gerwig (again) and Denis Villeneuve. Before all that, though, he appears in this drama alongside Steve Carell, and both of them have got people talking about awards. Based on the dual memoirs of writer David Sheff and his son Nic, Beautiful Boy traces Nic’s struggle with addiction that nearly tore his family apart, and critics say it’s an earnest depiction that’s beautifully acted and feels genuine, even if the narrative covers familiar ground. While it may not shed any new light on the nature of addiction, the film is a showcase for Chalamet and Carell, who make the most of their meaty roles.
There’s even more caramel, cakes, and camaraderie to enjoy in the fifth season of The Great British Baking Show.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release