(PG; 96 minutes; Warner Bros.): Tom Hanks plays Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who landed a plane bound from LaGuardia airport to Charlotte on the Hudson River in 2009, after his craft was struck by a flock of Canada geese. But this is no simplistic tale of heroism and crack timing – although they’re in there. Instead “Sully,” which Clint Eastwood directed from a script by Todd Komarnicki, introduces viewers to a man wracked by second thoughts and nightmare visions of what could have happened had he made the wrong decision. What’s more, he’s not the only one with doubts: The film’s framing device is an investigation held by the National Transportation Safety Board, whose extensive simulations and computer algorithms suggested that Sullenberger probably had the engine power and time to make a safe landing back at LaGuardia, or in New Jersey.
Sporting a head of cropped white hair and a modest mustache, his face a sallow mask of discomfort with sudden fame and attention, Hanks is the perfect actor to play Sullenberger, whose reserve and low-key assuredness may remind the audience of the title character the actor played a few years ago in “Captain Phillips.”
Beautifully filmed in and around a wintry Manhattan, and featuring spectacular sequences re-creating that iconic landing and rescue on Jan. 15, “Sully” is also suffused with a particularly mournful sense of poignancy.
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Contains some peril and brief strong language. Washington Post
‘The Magnificent Seven’
(PG-13; 132 minutes; Sony): “The Magnificent Seven” is a great deal of fun. Building on the sturdy narrative foundation provided by Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic “Seven Samurai” – a village under siege by bandits rescued by seven brave warriors – director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) spruces up the Western hero tropes found in John Sturges’ equally classic 1960 “Magnificent Seven.” He also mixes in quite a few nods to Clint Eastwood’s body of work, including moments that evoke “Hang ’Em High,” “Pale Rider” and especially “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” The result is a simplified but highly enjoyable picture, packed with sweeping Western vistas and massive quantities of gunplay.
The most Eastwoodlike element of this new “Seven” is Denzel Washington, stepping into the Yul Brynner role as the ultracool leader of the group. His hard glare is Eastwood tough and his air of steely authority evokes memories of the Man with No Name.
The new seven are more ethnically diverse than in Sturges’ picture, and this time all the action is kept north of the border. There’s a Native American (Martin Sensmeier), an Asian (Byung-hun Lee) and a real Latino (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a welcome corrective to the hilariously weird miscasting of German Horst Bucholz as a Mexican in the Sturges version. It also stars Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio.
Contains extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material. Seattle Times
(PG; 87 minutes; Warner Bros.): Writer-director Nicholas Stoller delves into the family-friendly animated genre in this little movie about where babies come from. Or where they used to come from. In this world, the old wives’ tale about storks delivering bouncing bundles of joy is history: The birds have been relegated to delivering packages for CornerStore.com after one became too attached to a baby.
The film starts out as a workplace sitcom, as our protagonist, Junior the stork (voiced by Andy Samberg), is fired up for a promotion from boss Hunter (Kelsey Grammar).
In the human world, Nate (Anton Starkman), an only child, longs for a baby brother to play with while his preoccupied parents (Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston) tend to their real estate business. He discovers an old pamphlet offering baby delivery from the storks, sends off a letter and, through Tulip’s misguided helpfulness, the baby factory is fired up once more.
The big message of the film is that family is what you make of it. That this resonant a message comes in such a wildly weird and funny package is a pleasant surprise.
Contains mild action and some thematic elements. Tribune News Service
Also out Dec. 20
- “The Disappointments Room”
- “Dad’s Army”
- “It Had to Be You”
- “Maximum Ride”