‘The Nice Guys’
(R; 116 minutes; Warner Bros.): “The Nice Guys” is set in the funky Los Angeles of 1977, in which a couple of stumblebums – a freelance enforcer by the name of Jackson Healy and a single dad and unlicensed private detective, Holland March – meet up and knock around in pursuit of a missing girl, and maybe a bigger caper, a conspiracy involving a porn king, the mob, who knows what else.
Healy and March are played, respectively, by Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, and the actors have an instant, jostling, riffing rapport. They meet cute – Healy sucker-punching March, busting some bones – and take it from there.
If there’s a straight man, it’s Crowe, but he’s pretty funny in a deadpan, brute-force kind of way, while Gosling displays a surprising knack for slapstick.
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The film borrows from noir traditions and pulp fiction, throwing a fresh coat of smart-alecky comedy over the whole thing.
Contains violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use. Philadelphia Inquirer
‘Ratchet and Clank’
(PG; 94 minutes; Focus Features): Based on a popular PlayStation game, the sci-fi animated feature “Ratchet & Clank” seeks to capture the kid-friendly audience as well as the gamer crowd, which has a familiarity with the space-based game characters. The film is a basic hero story about Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor), a young lombax (a cat-like creature) who dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers, only to find that the hero business is much more complicated than it seems.
Ratchet gets his opportunity to sign up when the planets of their galaxy are threatened with “deplanetization” by the evil overload Dreck (Paul Giamatti). He’s teamed with Dr. Nefarious (Armin Shimerman), an alien mad scientist, to equip his giant planet-blasting gun, and the two plot for world domination.
The film is obsessed with firepower, as the Ranger suits allow them to materialize different weapons into their hands at will. Coming from a video-game perspective, it makes sense; a user can cycle through customizable choices. But from a storytelling perspective, the obsession with guns in a movie aimed at children is troubling, in poor taste and is lazy writing to boot. Ratchet is much more interesting when he’s using his practical know-how and Clank’s smarts to outwit the bad guys.
Contains action and some rude humor. Los Angeles Times
‘The Huntsman Winter’s War’
(PG; 121 minutes; Universal): The filmmakers of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” have written Snow White entirely out of the sequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman.” The script acrobatics result in a bizarre prequel/sequel mash up where Snow White doesn’t show up in her own fairy tale.
The film focuses on two of the best elements from the first film: Charlize Theron’s wickedly beautiful and scheming Ravenna, a queen who desires power, and to be the fairest of them all, and Chris Hemsworth’s ruggedly hunky ax-throwing huntsman, Eric. Added to the mix is Ravenna’s sister Freya (Emily Blunt), a literal ice queen; and Sara (Jessica Chastain), a fellow huntsman and Eric’s true love.
The film feels disjointed and lackluster for the majority. The scenes and character introductions feel random, the time jump implausible, and no one is all that compelling, especially the lone male lead, Hemsworth. .
One bright spot in the film are the dwarves used for comic relief. Once you get past the digital shrinking of the actors, and the low-brow humor, they inject a much-needed levity, and Sheridan Smith almost steals the whole show as the sassy Mrs. Bromwyn.
Contains fantasy action violence and some sensuality. Tribune News Service
Also out Aug. 23
- “The Man Who Knew Infinity”
- “Maggie’s Plan”
- “Ash vs. Evil Dead”
- “The Duel”
- “Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3”
- “Castle: Season 8”
- “Elementary: Season 4”
- “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1”
- “Lucifer: Season 1”
- “Narcos: Season 1”
- “NCIS: Season 13”
- “Scandal: Season 5”
- “Superstore: Season 1”
- “The Strain: Season 1”
- “The Walking Dead: Season 6”