Film reviews: new for February 4


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  • Lionsgate Movies
  • John Bradley, Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry in moon fall

Jackass forever **1/2

Depending on the individual segment you are watching in the last Donkey feature, track master Johnny Knoxville’s hair is either dyed or naturally grey, which feels like a metaphor for the strange experience it is – watching a bunch of 50-year-old guys still treat their bodies the way they used to when they were 30 – one-year-old guys. While a few new faces have been added to this latest parade of mayhem, Knoxville core band Steve-O, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Ehren McGhehey et al. always bear the brunt of the punishment, which always falls into three basic categories: people catapulted into the air; people threatened by dangerous animals; and people – well, guys, in particular – get screwed. Maybe you’ll recognize an inner college kid who finds some of these elements amusing, though it’s hard to imagine anyone in the audience laughing as hard at what’s happening to these people as their friends. And that really highlights the fact that Donkey has always been less about the stunts themselves and more about that uniquely male quality of turning your buddies’ pain into your cheerfulness (which makes adding a female to the cast feel really weird). Still, the aging of the main Jackass-es makes for a grittier experience than those films were before. The closer Knoxville gets to his age Bad Grandpa character of Irving made up like a pensioner, the harder it is to laugh at the damage that is increasingly difficult to recover from. Available February 4 in theaters. (R)

Moonfall ***
God bless Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla ’98, 2012) to find out exactly who he is as a filmmaker after more than 30 years of career: someone who delights in subjecting humanity to apocalypses. His latest cataclysm-heavy adventure involves a discovery that the moon has shifted its orbit and is months off a collision course with Earth, inspiring a desperate mission involving NASA acting chief Jocinda Fowler (Halle Berry) , disgraced former astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson), and conspiracy theorist KC Houseman (John Bradley), who is convinced the moon is actually a structure created by aliens. The expected fragmented family dynamics are of course part of the narrative, including Wilson’s relationship with his rebellious teenage son (Charlie Plummer), and they’re as thoroughly superficial as they tend to be in the film’s formula. disaster. Bradley’s performance adds at least some energy to a cast that generally seems to sleepwalk to the end of the world, so it’s almost entirely left to how much madness Emmerich can inject into his doomsday scenarios. And the guy who gave us “Ahead of the Ice Age” in Two days later comes with pleasant ridiculousness like “gravity waves” that turn a standard car chase into a chance to surf uprooted bits of the landscape. I haven’t always appreciated the self-awareness that Emmerich brings to his big dumb blockbusters, but when the cameo appearance he employs for a government conspiracy exposition evokes jfkit’s hard not to smile. Available February 4 in theaters. (PG-13)

Sunset **
How long can a smolder burn before it feels like someone is trying to cook a steak with a desk lamp? Writer/director Michel Franco’s psychodrama opens with a British family vacationing in Acapulco – siblings Neil (Tim Roth) and Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), plus Alice’s mostly adult children – before the fun is only interrupted by a disturbing call that Neil and Alice’s mother is dead. At the airport to go home, Neil pretends to have forgotten his passport, and has to go back to the hotel, except he didn’t, and he doesn’t. So why does Neil abandon his sister in times of need, pretending to work with the consulate, then completely ignoring calls as he hooks up with a local woman (Iausua Larios)? That’s the big question, and Roth maintains a decidedly enigmatic demeanor throughout, as Franco either shoots him from a distance or focuses on the back of Roth’s head, as if challenging us to guess what what might be going through Neil’s head as he abandons the world. . The police presence on the beautiful beaches and the persistent sound of sirens portend darker developments to come, and indeed there comes a time when something actually come. But is the reward worth the 80 minutes spent in the presence of a man’s impassiveness, and only the vaguest sense of what he’s running from? Available February 4 in theaters. (R)

The Wolf and the Lion **
Based on this feature and Mia and the white lion, it’s clear that director Gilles de Maistre is keen on building stories around cute animals and their relationship with well-meaning people. It’s a shame it has such an awkward narrative structure trying to sustain that animal cuteness. Here we have the story of a 20-year-old music student named Alma (Molly Kunz) who returns to the Canadian wilderness for the funeral of the grandfather who raised her. While she’s there, a plane carrying a lion cub captured for the circus crashes nearby, and the baby lion is adopted by a mother wolf, resulting in the young lion and a cub becoming “siblings.” adoptive. Unsurprisingly, the film is quite enjoyable while the little creatures are rambunctious, and even once they’ve grown up and are still having fun together. It’s the rest of the story that’s hugely confusing, starting with the sense that he equates forced circus performance with scientific research as equal evils perpetrated on wild animals, then moving on to the late addition of a young boy (Rhys Slack) as a sort of secondary protagonist. There’s even an oddly inappropriate attempt at humor for this ostensibly family-friendly film, involving Alma’s godfather (Graham Greene) dodging another relationship obligation. Natural beauty is naturally beautiful, and children will likely become invested in the fate of animals. When humans are involved, however, not much happens here. Available February 4 in theaters. (PG)

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