Screen

Short Takes: Movie listings and reviews for December 14

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The Thousand Faces of Dunjia
Courtesy
Josh Bell, Mike D'Angelo, Jeffrey M. Anderson

Special screenings

Bolshoi Ballet

12/17, performance of The Nutcracker from Moscow, 12:55 p.m., $16-$18. Theaters: COL, ORL, SF, SP, ST, VS. Info: fathomevents.com.

Cinemark Classic Series

Sun 2 p.m., Wed 2 & 7 p.m., $5-$11. 12/17, 12/20, It’s a Wonderful Life. Theaters: ORL, SF, SP, ST

Flashback Cinema

12/17, 12/20, Elf, 2 & 7 p.m., $9-$12. Galaxy Cannery.

The MeshugaNutcracker!

12/19, broadcast of Chanukah-themed musical stage comedy, 7 p.m., $14-$16. Theaters: SF, SP, VS. Info: fathomevents.com.

Movie Matinee

12/15, 2 p.m., free. Summerlin Library, 1771 Inner Circle Drive, 702-507-3866.

Old Yeller 60th Anniversary

12/20, movie screening plus discussion with actress Beverly Washburn, 1 p.m., free. Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 S. McLeod Drive, 702-455-7340.

Regal Holiday Classics

Sat, noon, $5. 12/16, Elf. Theaters: AL, BS, COL, SS, TX, VS. Info: regmovies.com/promotions/holiday-classics-series.

Rocky Horror Live!

12/17, The Rocky Horror Picture Show plus live performances from Las Vegas production show stars, 8 p.m., $10-$15. House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, 702-632-7600.

Sci Fi Center

Mon, Cinemondays, 8 p.m., free. 12/16, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians plus live shadow cast, 7 & 10 p.m., $10. 5077 Arville St., 855-501-4335, thescificenter.com.

Women in Film

12/20, Big, 7 p.m., $16. Eclipse Theaters.

New this week

Ferdinand Two stars

Voices of John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale. Directed by Carlos Saldanha. 106 minutes. Rated PG. This loose adaptation of the beloved children’s book features Cena voicing the title character, a kind-hearted, nature-loving, non-confrontational bull who shuns fighting. The jokes are mostly painful, the voice work is perfunctory and the story’s themes are muddled. Even the animation and character designs are second-rate. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, DI, FH, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, VS

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Three stars

Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver. Directed by Rian Johnson. 152 minutes. Rated PG-13. The second installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy offers less comforting familiarity, but writer-director Johnson doesn’t quite have a handle on how to take the beloved sci-fi franchise effectively into (relatively) uncharted territory. He does his best work when he stops trying for narrative complexity and just stages some cool outer-space action. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, DI, DTS, ET, FH, GVL, GVR, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, TS, TX

The Thousand Faces of Dunjia Two stars

Da Peng, Ni Ni, Aarif Lee. Directed by Yuen Wo Ping. 113 minutes. Not rated. In Mandarin with English subtitles. A warrior clan in feudal China battles alien monsters in this nonsensical action-fantasy from veteran director and action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping. The story is a convoluted mess, the acting is broad and cartoonish, and the junky CGI clutters up any potentially graceful fight sequences. —JB

Theaters: TS

Wonder Wheel Two stars

Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple. Directed by Woody Allen. 101 minutes. Rated PG-13. Allen’s reheated 1950s-set morality play stars a passionate Winslet as a harried, unfulfilled wife and mother and a miscast Timberlake as a graduate student and aspiring playwright, both working at Coney Island. The story of their affair unfolds like a freshman drama class take on Tennessee Williams, all stagey, stilted and artificial. —JB

Theaters: GVR, SP, ST, TS, TX, VS

Now playing

American Made Three stars

Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright. Directed by Doug Liman. 117 minutes. Rated R. Cruise gives one of his most purely enjoyable performances in a while as pilot Barry Seal, who smuggled drugs, guns and intelligence for both cartels and the U.S. government in the 1980s. It’s a glib but relatively entertaining take on some serious real-life material. —JB

Theaters: COL, TC, VS

A Bad Moms Christmas Two stars

Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn. Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. 104 minutes. Rated R. It’s barely November, but last year’s trio of bad moms (Kunis, Bell and Hahn) are already coping with the holidays—and with their own respective bad moms (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon). Just like the original, but louder and cruder. It’s a comedy sequel. —MD

Theaters: AL, DI, FH, GVR, ORL, RR, SC, SF, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Blade Runner 2049 Three and a half stars

Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. 163 minutes. Rated R. The long-awaited sci-fi sequel, starring Gosling as an android cop investigating a case that eventually (after many detours) leads to original blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford), is moody, methodical and meticulous, with stunning visuals, strong performances and an overlong sci-fi story that’s more ponderous than thrilling. —JB

Theaters: COL, ST, VS

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (Not reviewed)

Tyler Perry, Patrice Lovely, Cassi Davis. Directed by Tyler Perry. 101 minutes. Rated PG-13. Tough grandma Madea follows her granddaughter to a party at a supposedly haunted campground.

Theaters: ST, TC

Coco Three and a half stars

Voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt. Directed by Lee Unkrich. 109 minutes. Rated PG. Young Miguel gets trapped in the land of the dead during the Mexican Dia de los Muertos holiday in Pixar’s bright, family-friendly animated movie. Miguel’s quest is a mostly simple story about family bonds, but the journey is still well worth taking, thanks to the gorgeously realized world. —JB

Theaters: AL, CAN, CH, COL, DI, FH, GVL, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Daddy’s Home 2 (Not reviewed)

Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini. Directed by Sean Anders. 100 minutes. Rated PG-13. The shared parenthood of former rivals Brad (Ferrell) and Dusty (Wahlberg) is challenged when their own dads (played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson) come to visit.

Theaters: AL, CAN, CH, COL, DI, FH, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Despicable Me 3 Two stars

Voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda. 90 minutes. Rated PG. There’s a sense of tired obligation to the third movie in the animated series about reformed supervillain Gru (Carell), which runs barely 90 minutes and throws together a handful of haphazard storylines. Nothing in the plot carries much of an impact, despite the series of apparently momentous developments. —JB

Theaters: TC

The Disaster Artist Three stars

James Franco, Dave Franco, Alison Brie. Directed by James Franco. 103 minutes. Rated PG-13. Franco’s film about the making of notorious cult movie The Room is more of a loving tribute than an exposé. People unfamiliar with The Room may be underwhelmed by this mildly affecting story of friendship among misfits, but Franco packs the cast with enough comedy ringers to make the movie consistently amusing. —JB

Theaters: AL, GVR, PAL, RR, SC, SF, SP, TS

The Florida Project Three and a half stars

Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe. Directed by Sean Baker. 115 minutes. Rated R. Baker (Tangerine) chronicles the lives of marginally employed parents and unsupervised kids living in the garishly colored budget motels near Disney World outside Orlando. It’s a celebration of the camaraderie and optimism of people whose lives could be seen from the outside as desperate or sad. —JB

Theaters: SC

The Foreigner Two and a half stars

Pierce Brosnan, Jackie Chan, Charlie Murphy. Directed by Martin Campbell. 114 minutes. Rated R. Chan gets a refreshingly serious role as a London father who loses his daughter in a suspected IRA bombing and tries to find the killers, but the movie simply leaves him behind to focus on Brosnan in a showier role as a cabinet minister, as well as frequent, pathetic explanations of the plot. —JMA

Theaters: ST, TC

Geostorm (Not reviewed)

Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish. Directed by Dean Devlin. 109 minutes. Rated PG-13. A network of weather-controlling satellites is hijacked, causing worldwide disaster.

Theaters: TC

Happy Death Day Three stars

Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine. Directed by Christopher Landon. 96 minutes. Rated PG-13. A spoiled sorority girl (Rothe) relives the day of her murder over and over again in this surprisingly entertaining (if completely silly) horror movie. The filmmakers have fun with the goofy premise, and Rothe gives a winning performance as the seemingly vapid hero who embraces her supernatural fate. —JB

Theaters: ST

It Three and a half stars

Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard. Directed by Andy Muschietti. 135 minutes. Rated R. This new adaptation of Stephen King’s classic horror novel takes on just half the story of seven friends who combat an ancient evil, focusing on the characters as children in the late 1980s. It’s a slick modern horror movie that loses a bit of personality but boasts effective scares and consistently strong performances. —JB

Theaters: TC

Jigsaw One and a half stars

Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Hannah Emily Anderson. Directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig. 92 minutes. Rated R. The Saw horror series returns after a long hiatus with no new ideas, merely rehashing the same elaborate death traps and moralistic lessons, and further convoluting the back story of serial killer Jigsaw. The performances are especially bad, and even the gore is uninspired. —JB

Theaters: BS, TC

Just Getting Started (Not reviewed)

Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, Rene Russo. Directed by Ron Shelton. 90 minutes. Rated PG-13. A former FBI agent and a former mob lawyer team up to stop a hitman at a Palm Springs golf resort.

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, DI, FH, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Justice League Two and a half stars

Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller. Directed by Zack Snyder. 121 minutes. Rated PG-13. This team-up of DC’s biggest superheroes is a simple, streamlined superhero story, with one hero (Affleck’s Batman) gathering others (including Wonder Woman and Aquaman) to take on a world-ending threat. The action is rote, the special effects are surprisingly poor, and the character interactions are only occasionally entertaining. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, DI, ET, FH, GVL, GVR, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SP, SS, TS, TX

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Two stars

Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. 141 minutes. Rated R. Egerton returns as an agent of ultra-secret spy agency Kingsman in the sequel to 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, with Moore as his latest adversary. For fans of the first movie’s cacophonous, CGI-filled assault on the senses, Circle offers a louder, brighter version that’s just as empty and even more exhausting. —JB

Theaters: ST, TC

Lady Bird Three and a half stars

Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein. Directed by Greta Gerwig. 93 minutes. Rated R. Gerwig’s solo writing and directing debut follows many of the familiar beats of the teenage coming-of-age story, but Gerwig gives it a personal specificity that sets it apart, depicting the sullen, sensitive title character (Ronan) with a low-key authenticity and a sharp (but not unrealistic) wit. —JB

Theaters: AL, FH, GVR, ST, VS

Last Flag Flying Three stars

Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne. Directed by Richard Linklater. 124 minutes. Rated R. Cranston, Fishburne and Carell play Vietnam vets who reunite, decades later, to bury one of their sons, killed in Iraq. The film is adapted from a novel that was a sequel to The Last Detail; director Linklater has severed the connection, changing names and details, but that robs the story of much of its poignancy. —MD

Theaters: VS

The Lego Ninjago Movie Two and a half stars

Voices of Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Jackie Chan. Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan. 90 minutes. Rated PG. The formula has worn a little thin by the third movie in the animated Lego franchise, which adapts a long-established toy line that’s already had its own TV series, necessitating a combination of serious, mythology-laden existing storylines with the new movies’ joke-heavy, self-aware style. It’s a well-made feature-length toy commercial. —JB

Theaters: TC

Loving Vincent Two and a half stars

Voices of Douglas Booth, Eleanor Tomlinson, Saoirse Ronan. Directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman. 94 minutes. Rated PG-13. Animated from hundreds of actual oil paintings, this biopic about artist Vincent Van Gogh is a visual achievement that stifles its own dull, contrived storytelling. A series of talking heads describe Van Gogh’s last days in a stilted investigation awkwardly incorporating the painter’s most famous images. —JB

Theaters: VS

The Man Who Invented Christmas Two stars

Dan Stevens, Christoper Plummer, Jonathan Pryce. Directed by Bharat Nalluri. 104 minutes. Rated PG. This cloying pseudo-biopic purports to tell the story of how Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, contorting itself to make one-to-one connections between the author’s life and the fictional story. Stevens is overly manic as Dickens, the supposed real-life details ring false, and the uplifting message is completely unearned. —JB

Theaters: COL, SC

Marshall Three stars

Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens. Directed by Reginald Hudlin. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13. This biopic about civil rights activist Thurgood Marshall (Boseman) is really about one case early in his law career, when he teamed with a white Jewish lawyer (Gad) to defend a black chauffeur accused of rape. The courtroom drama is pretty entertaining, even if it’s completely predictable and often played very broadly. —JB

Theaters: TX, VS

The Mountain Between Us Two and a half stars

Kate Winslet, Idris Elba. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad. 111 minutes. Rated PG-13. Handsome, brooding doctor Ben (Elba) and beautiful, passionate photojournalist Alex (Winslet) find themselves stranded in the snowy Utah mountains following a plane crash. As a survival drama, Mountain is visually striking if a bit dull, and its inevitable turn toward romance is sappy and unconvincing. —JB

Theaters: TC

Murder on the Orient Express Two and a half stars

Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. 114 minutes. Rated PG-13. Director and star Branagh never quite finds a good reason for yet another screen version of Agatha Christie’s famous 1934 mystery novel starring snooty Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. He packs the cast with stars and adds distracting visual flair, but it’s all just window dressing for a musty, exposition-filled plot. —JB

Theaters: CH, GVR, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

My Friend Dahmer (Not reviewed)

Ross Lynch, Anne Heche, Dallas Roberts. Directed by Marc Meyers. 107 minutes. Rated R. A dramatization of the life of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer during his teenage years, as seen through the eyes of his friends and family.

Theaters: GVR, VS

Roman J. Israel, Esq. Three stars

Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo. Directed by Dan Gilroy. 129 minutes. Rated PG-13. Washington does some of the most strenuous acting of his lengthy career as the title character in this portrait of a socially awkward lawyer whose strict code of ethics gets challenged by a morally ambiguous slickster (Farrell). The film itself is nearly as labored as Washington’s performance. —MD

Theaters: ST, VS

The Star (Not reviewed)

Voices of Steven Yeun, Aidy Bryant, Keegan-Michael Key. Directed by Timothy Reckart. 86 minutes. Rated PG. A group of animals led by an intrepid donkey play an important part in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Theaters: AL, BS, CH, COL, PAL, TX

The Swindlers Two and a half stars

Yoo Ji-Tae, Hyun Bin, Bae Seong-Woo. Directed by Jang Chang-Won. 117 minutes. Not rated. In Korean with English subtitles. A group of con artists working for the police (or are they?) attempt to catch a notorious embezzler who faked his own death (or did he?) in this silly, convoluted—but occasionally entertaining—Korean thriller. The plot is dopey and the characters are thin, but there are a few stylish set pieces. —JB

Theaters: VS

Thelma Three and a half stars

Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins, Henrik Rafaelsen. Directed by Joachim Trier. 116 minutes. Not rated. In Norwegian with English subtitles. This mesmerizing story about a teenage girl whose repressed sexuality manifests itself in dangerous telekinetic and telepathic powers is a bit like Carrie reimagined as a Scandinavian art film, but the constant threat of otherworldly peril gives even the slower moments a sense of the unpredictable and unsettling. —JB

Theaters: VS

Thor: Ragnarok Three stars

Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett. Directed by Taika Waititi. 130 minutes. Rated PG-13. The third movie starring Marvel superhero and Norse god of thunder Thor (Hemsworth) is an improvement over the previous two, adding a colorful ensemble and a strong dose of humor (maybe a little too much) to the typical Marvel story of stopping a world-ending (but underused) villain. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, DI, ET, FH, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, TS, TX

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Two and a half stars

Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson. Directed by Martin McDonagh. 115 minutes. Rated R. McDonagh’s third film, starring McDormand as the outraged mother of a murdered teen, is quite taken with its own cleverness, to the detriment of storytelling and characterization. The strong performances smooth over some of the rough spots, but not enough to make up for the shifts in motivation and tone. —JB

Theaters: GVR, ORL, SC, ST, TS

Unexpectedly Yours (Not reviewed)

Sharon Cuneta, Robin Padilla, Julia Barretto. Directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina. 120 minutes. Not rated. In Filipino with English subtitles. Two former high school classmates find themselves drawn to each other while planning a class reunion decades later.

Theaters: ORL

Wonder Three stars

Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson. Directed by Stephen Chbosky. 113 minutes. Rated PG. Adapted from R.J. Palacio’s 2012 children’s book about a 10-year- old boy (Room’s Tremblay) born with facial disfigurements, Wonder observes the fallout when his parents (Roberts and Wilson) finally decide it’s time for him to attend school with his peers. It’s partly a complex drama, partly an earnest anti-bullying PSA. —MD

Theaters: AL, CH, COL, FH, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SF, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

JMA Jeffrey M. Anderson; JB Josh Bell; MD Mike D’Angelo

Theaters

(AL) Regal Aliante

7300 Aliante Parkway, North Las Vegas, 844-462-7342 ext. 4011

(BS) Regal Boulder Station

4111 Boulder Highway, 844-462-7342 ext. 269

(CAN) Galaxy Cannery

2121 E. Craig Road, North Las Vegas, 702-639-9779

(CH) Cinedome Henderson

851 S. Boulder Highway, Henderson, 702-566-1570

(COL) Regal Colonnade

8880 S. Eastern Ave., 844-462-7342 ext. 270

(DI) Las Vegas Drive-In

4150 W. Carey Ave., North Las Vegas, 702-646-3565

(DTS) Regal Downtown Summerlin

2070 Park Center Drive, 844-462-7342 ext. 4063

(ET) Eclipse Theaters

814 S. Third St., 702-816-4300

(FH) Regal Fiesta Henderson

777 W. Lake Mead Parkway, Henderson, 844-462-7342 ext. 1772

(GVR) Regal Green Valley Ranch

2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, Henderson, 844-462-7342 ext. 267

(GVL) Galaxy Green Valley Luxury+

4500 E. Sunset Road, Henderson, 702-442-0244

(ORL) Century Orleans

4500 W. Tropicana Ave., 702-889-1220

(PAL) Brenden Theatres at the Palms

4321 W. Flamingo Road, 702-507-4849

(RP) AMC Rainbow Promenade

2321 N. Rainbow Blvd., 888-262-4386

(RR) Regal Red Rock

11011 W. Charleston Blvd., 844-462-7342 ext. 1756

(ST) Century Sam’s Town

5111 Boulder Highway, 702-547-1732

(SF) Century Santa Fe Station

4949 N. Rancho Drive, 702-655-8178

(SHO) United Artists Showcase

3769 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 844-462-7342 ext. 522

(SP) Century South Point

9777 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-260-4061

(SC) Century Suncoast

9090 Alta Drive, 702-869-1880

(SS) Regal Sunset Station

1301-A W. Sunset Road, Henderson, 844-462-7342 ext. 268

(TX) Regal Texas Station

2101 Texas Star Lane, North Las Vegas, 844-462-7342 ext. 271

(TS) AMC Town Square

6587 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-362-7283

(TC) Regency Tropicana Cinemas

3330 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-438-3456

(VS) Regal Village Square

9400 W. Sahara Ave., 844-462-7342 ext. 272

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