Movie Guide: Capsule reviews of current films (2023)

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The following capsule reviews of recent releases, long runs and revivals come from various wire services, as noted:

RATINGS: G -— Suitable for all ages. PG -— Parental guidance recommended. PG-13 -— Parental guidance strongly suggested. R -— Restricted; anyone under 18 must be accompanied by adult. NC-17 -— No children under 17.

★ ★ ★ ★ Excellent ★ ★ ★ Good ★ ★ Fair ★ Poor

12 Strong

Drama. Tells the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban. Stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon and Michael Pena. A remarkable story inspired "12 Strong," but the story actually told by "12 Strong" is a different remarkable story. Maybe the story is slightly different, and maybe it's a lot different, but one thing is for sure — it happens to different characters. This is a bit of a problem. Hemsworth is appealing, and Michael Shannon, as the radio operator, plays a nice guy for once, and it suits him. Best is Navid Negahban as General Dostum. But the movie is too long and the battle scenes are difficult to follow. (R for war violence and language throughout) ★★ (Mick LaSalle, Hearst Newspapers)

Call Me by Your Name

Drama. In northern Italy in 1983, 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) begins a relationship with visiting Oliver (Armie Hammer), his father's research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape. "Call Me By Your Name" celebrates the mystery and power of sexuality, and all its attendant danger, exaltation and tenderness. Luca Guadagnino propels the action not through quick cutting but through Timothee Chalamet's remarkably sure-footed performance in the central role. Likewise, Armie Hammer's performance is a brilliant exercise in subtlety.(R for sexual content, nudity and some language) ★★★ (M.L.)

The Commuter

Thriller. An insurance salesman (Liam Neeson) on his daily commute home is contacted by a mysterious stranger (Vera Farmiga) and forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on his train before the last stop. Liam Neeson's action movies have a built-in appeal, and it should not especially concern us that this movie is very close to a commuter-train remake of Neeson's "Non-Stop," set on an airplane. This is a winning formula, and if the ocean liner version of this movie were to open next week, I'd be happy to see it. (PG-13 for some intense action/violence, and language) ★★★ (M.L.)

Darkest Hour

Drama. During the early days of World War II, the new British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or fight on. Across the veil of years, we have seen tall Churchills, obese Churchills, sloppy Churchills, gross Churchills and scowling bulldog Churchills, and yet not one movie or TV Churchill has come close to giving us the man in full, both in look and spirit, until Gary Oldman in "Darkest Hour." For viewers interested in history, the fascination of this performance — the sense of actually seeing events we have only imagined — has no comparison in impact besides that of Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln." "Darkest Hour" is a persuasive window into history, and so arresting in its portrait of one of the 20th century's most important leaders that every minute of it is absorbing. It runs for two hours, and its only flaw is that it doesn't go on for six or seven more. Some movies are just so good that they make you feel grateful to the people that made them. "Darkest Hour" is one of those movies. (PG-13 for some thematic material) ★★★★ (M.L.)

Den of Thieves

Action. A gritty crime saga that follows the lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff's Dept. and the state's most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank. Stars Gerard Butler, 50 Cent and O'Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube's son). Cops and robbers, robbers and cops. It's a classic genre, from children's games to cinema. And it's the spine of Christian Gudegast's directorial debut, the LA crime noir flick "Den of Thieves." It's a film that wears its inspirations openly, with a whole lot of "Training Day," "Rampart," "The Usual Suspects" and "Inside Man" in the mix. With excellent cinematic craftsmanship and some clever twists, "Den of Thieves" just about places itself within that canon, even when it's too enamored of its own tricksiness. While the pace is methodical and steady, Gudegast establishes great tension throughout, using careful reveals and systematic storytelling. (R for violence, language and some sexuality/nudity) ★★ 1/2 (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)

Forever My Girl

Drama. After being gone for a decade a country star returns home to the love he left behind. Like so many of the best country songs, "Forever My Girl" doesn't leave much up to interpretation. Good intentions go a long way with the family-friendly romance, about a country music star who leaves his fiance at the altar, then comes back into her life. It's not always a bad movie. But it's a poorly made film, with rough edits, distracting staging and plot contrivances that can be predicted to the moment. Perhaps worst of all, there's an almost startling lack of chemistry between the leads, as if they performed their scenes a year apart from each other on different continents. (PG for thematic elements including drinking, and for language) ★ 1/2 (Peter Hartlaub, Hearst Newspapers)

The Greatest Showman

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Musical. An original musical about P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. Also stars Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson. There's idiotic, and there's magnificent, but "The Greatest Showman" is that special thing that happens sometimes. It's magnificently idiotic. It's an awful mess, but it's flashy. Having an actor as talented and likable as Jackman definitely helps. (PG for thematic elements, including a brawl) ★ 1/2 (M.L.)

I, Tonya

Drama. A darkly comic take on competitive ice skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) rising among the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships until her future is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband (Sebastian Stan) intervenes by trying to eliminate her rival. Also stars Allison Janney. Often riotous yet sobering "I, Tonya" is a pointed satire on athletic ambition and class conflict that's fueled by a biting sense of humor and knockout performances: Janney is absolutely electric and foul-mouthed as Tonya's mother, and Robbie turns in the best performance of her young career. (R for pervasive language, violence, and sexual content/nudity) ★★★ 1/2 (Cary Darling, Hearst Newspapers)

Insidious: The Last Key

Horror. Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet — in her own family home. It's hard not to admire "Insidious: The Last Key," the latest prequel in the demon-chasing franchise, for showcasing a 70-something, kickass heroine (the marvelous Lin Shaye) who has guts, guile and good humor. The "Insidious" franchise may be running out of places to go, but Shaye appears to be just getting started. (PG-13 for disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language) ★★ (David Lewis, Hearst Newspapers)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Adventure. Four teenagers discover an old video game console and are literally drawn into the game's jungle setting, becoming the adult avatars (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan) they chose. A winning comedy that offers more star power than one might expect from a sequel to a so-so film. (PG-13 for adventure action, suggestive content and some language) ★★★ (Carla Meyer, Hearst Newspapers)

Lady Bird

Comedy. The adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year. Actress Greta Gerwig has previously collaborated with other filmmakers, both in writing and direction, but "Lady Bird" is the first movie in which she's been completely in charge — and she is better off on her own. Gerwig has made a good-hearted film, a kind film, and not kind in an empty-headed, generalized sort of way, but in a way that's alert and intelligent about people's feelings. Saoirse Ronan plays the title character at a fever pitch, earnest and aggressive, as if every moment were a matter of life and death. (R for language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and teen partying) ★★★★ (M.L.)

Paddington 2

Comedy. "Paddington 2," sequel to the charming 2015 children's live-action film featuring a computer-animated, talking bear, lacks some of its predecessor's spark. But it is so warm-hearted and well-acted (and animated) that a slight drop-off in quality hardly matters. (PG for some action and mild rude humor) ★★★ (C.M.)

Phantom Thread

Drama. Set in 1950s London, Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis in what he says is his final screen performance) is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, who becomes his muse and lover. A reteaming of Day-Lewis and his "There Will Be Blood" writer-director, Paul Thomas Anderson. Paul Thomas Anderson is getting there. He is a great director of scenes, not of movies, but in "Phantom Thread" he has devised a film that hangs in from start to finish, his first since "Boogie Nights." His strengths and weaknesses are as apparent as ever, but here his strengths are stronger and his weaknesses obscured. The result is not just a film to wrestle with and talk about, but enjoy. There is no director better at starting a film, and no director of commensurate talent who has been worse at ending one. And "Phantom Thread" follows that pattern, in the sense that its opening scenes are brilliant, and its closing is barely effective — gimmicky and unconvincing. (R for language) ★★★ (M.L.)

The Post

Drama. Steven Spielberg directs this timely story of the partnership between The Washington Post's Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), the first female publisher of a major U.S. newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. presidents. (PG-13 for language and brief war violence) ★★★ (M.L.)

The Shape of Water

Fantasy Drama. In a 1960s research facility, a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) forms a relationship with an aquatic creature, against the wishes of shadowy government entities. "The Shape of Water" is writer-director Guillermo del Toro's first real attempt at a masterpiece since "Pan's Labyrinth" in 2006, and he comes closer this time than last. It is, frame by frame, a beautiful-looking film, and not only beautiful, but of a piece. Del Toro imagines a whole world, one that has never existed before, and then creates it with a meticulousness and fidelity that can inspire awe. (R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language) ★★★ (M.L.)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Action. The penultimate entry in the George Lucas-created space opera nonology finds Rey joining Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past. Not quite in the same league as "The Force Awakens," but an improvement over "Rogue One." (PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence) ★★★ (M.L.)

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What is the website for movie recaps? ›

What Are Movie Review Sites? Movie review sites like IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic are great places to find out what a movie is all about. They can also be useful for finding out if your favorite actor has been in other movies you may have missed.

What is the best source for movie reviews? ›

Internet Resources - Movie Reviews
  • Rotten Tomatoes. Movies, Movie Reviews, Critic Scores, Showtimes and Movie Trailers - The Ultimate Movie Database!
  • IMDB - Internet Movie Database. It's a huge collection of movie information. ...
  • Roger Ebert - movie reviews. ...
  • Metacritic.
Mar 2, 2023

Is IMDb better than Rotten Tomatoes? ›

Simply, iMDB offers a lot more information on movies and shows. Many argue that reviews are more reliable from Rotten Tomatoes, mainly because it is operated by film critics and those that went to film school. Whereas, iMDB allows anyone to vote and write reviews on movies and television shows.

What are the 5 movie ratings? ›

MPAA has five rating categories

The new ratings system began with four categories: G (general audiences), M (mature audiences, changed in 1969 to PG, parental guidance suggested), R (restricted, no children under 17 allowed without parents or adult guardians), and X (no one under 17 admitted).

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The other five competitors in the top 10 list are (43.4K visits in April 2023), (17.5K visits in April 2023), (30.1K visits in April 2023), (85.1K visits in April 2023), and gomovies-online. link (204.6K visits in April 2023).

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How do I find forgotten movies? ›

If you know some of the information, like the genre or the year it was released, you can start scrolling through Internet Movie Database (IMDb). This database has every movie you could imagine and information about them including clips, photos, plot, genre, length, director, actors, and more.

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