New movies: ‘Baby Driver,’ ‘The Beguiled,’ ‘Despicable Me 3,’ ‘The House’

In Movies & TV by April Snellingsleave a COMMENT

OPENING THIS WEEK

Baby Driver
In Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright’s eagerly awaited heist flick, there’s no such thing as a music cue that’s too on the nose; that’s kind of the whole point. The stellar soundtrack, which features artists as varied as the Damned, Sam and Dave, and Young MC, serves as plot point, motivation, and a sort of audio storyboard for the film’s stylish action scenes. Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) plays Baby, a young getaway driver who uses carefully curated mixtapes to drown out his chronic tinnitus and keep himself sharp at the wheel. Everyone is talking about it and no one will like you anymore if you don’t see it.

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The Beguiled
Sofia Coppola directed this adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel about a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) who inspires loads of psychosexual turmoil when he’s taken in by the headmistress (Nicole Kidman) of an all-girl boarding school. It’s already been adapted once, by Dirty Harry director Don Siegel, whose version co-starred Geraldine Page but handed over the spotlight to a pre-arguing-with-chairs Clint Eastwood. Expect Coppola’s version to place the focus more squarely on the pitch-perfect female cast, which also includes Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, and The Nice Guys standout Angourie Rice.

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Despicable Me 3

Steve Carell reprises his role as Gru, a mostly reformed supervillain tasked with raising three raucous orphans. This time he teams up with his brother, Dru (Carell again), to track down a mulleted bad guy voiced by Trey Parker. If you have kids, you’ll probably have to see it anyway. Sorry.
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The House
Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler star as a couple forced to turn their home into an underground casino to fund their daughter’s college education. Warner Bros. opted against screening the film for critics, which doesn’t bode well. But how bad can it be if Poehler is in it? Stop bringing up Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. I’m not listening.
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STILL PLAYING

47 Meters Down
If we’re lucky, the summer movie season offers up at least one sturdy shark thriller that isn’t a Syfy-branded exercise in schlock. Last year it was The Shallows, a slickly produced and surprisingly clever survival yarn that pitted a surfer against a lone great white. This year it’s 47 Meters Down, a low-budget, claustrophobic shocker that finds a pair of sisters trapped in a shark cage while several of the toothy predators swarm around them. By no means will it join the ranks of such modern aquatic classics as Open Water—and let’s not even invoke the name of a certain hallowed shark movie in this review—but it’s still a moderately effective diversion that earns its theatrical release by dint of top-notch underwater photography, jolting jump scares, and a few tense, well-staged set pieces.
AMC Classic East Towne 10
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Alien: Covenant
While it represents a return to the basic formula of Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, Alien: Covenant can’t recapture the visceral thrills or skin-crawling horror of the first outing. But it’s an effective, tightly crafted, and often engaging thriller that should feel corrective to viewers who disliked the metaphysical bent of 2012 prequel Prometheus. There’s still a lot of where-did-we-come-from pontification, but it’s firmly eclipsed by running, screaming, and sliding around on blood-slick floors. Oh, and it has a xenomorph.
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All Eyez on Me
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Baywatch
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Beatriz at Dinner
Salma Hayek stars as a Mexican-American massage therapist stranded at a dinner party thrown in honor of a boorish, stunningly racist real estate tycoon (John Lithgow). Helmed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl) and featuring an ensemble cast that includes Connie Britton and Chloë Sevigny, this darkly comic chamber piece has been called “the first great film of the Trump era.” I thought that was The Boss Baby, but whatever.
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Beauty and the Beast
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The Book of Henry
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The Boss Baby
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Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
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Cars 3
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The Case for Christ
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Churchill
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
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Everything, Everything
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The Fate of the Furious
I’m not sure what’s most impressive about the Fast and Furious franchise: That it survived the death of one of its main players, that it’s morphed into a blockbuster version of a G.I. Joe cartoon, or that, eight movies in, it’s still fun.
Probably the last one, since the wheels were starting to wobble in the seventh installment. Somehow, though, it’s back on track for the eighth outing. It’s still insane, of course. One scene has dozens of cars raining from the sky, and another sees Dwayne Johnson redirect an incoming torpedo with his bare hand. But while Furious 7 was a little too furious—all that noise and chaos is numbing when it never lets up—Fate benefits from a less manic pace that gives the cast some breathing room. It’s just the right amount of furious.
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Guardians of the Galaxy

Deep down, I think we all knew we’d only get one Guardians of the Galaxy. Sure, there’ll be sequels, tie-ins, crossovers, and probably spin-offs as long as they keep making money. But James Gunn’s gonzo 2014 space opera was wonderful in part because it felt so fresh and different—it was weird, irreverent, and stylistically and tonally unmoored from everything that came before it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In other words, it was, by its very nature, a phenomenon that’s almost impossible to replicate.
Even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn’t quite Guardians of the Galaxy, though it comes pretty darn close. It’s goofy, imaginative, and eye-popping, and it all but dares you not to have fun. Maybe the difference is that now we know what to expect, and Gunn has a formula to which he must diligently adhere. I guess having a rulebook is kind of a drag, even if you’re the one who wrote it. There’s also the looming specter of the upcoming Infinity War crossover that will tie together the Guardians and Avengers franchises. It’s hard to shake the feeling that, as Gunn and his intergalactic misfits are reeled into the Avengers orbit, there’s some pressure to stand up straight and act a little more like a conventional superhero movie.
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The Hero
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It Comes at Night
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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
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Kong: Skull Island
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The Lost City of Z

Aidan Monaghan

Writer-director James Gray, the art-house favorite behind such films as We Own the Night and The Immigrant, seems an unlikely steward for the kind of old-fashioned adventure epic that’s been in short supply since the death of Sir David Lean. But with The Lost City of Z, about British Maj. Percy Fawcett’s quest to find a lost Amazonian civilization, Gray doesn’t just resuscitate an all-but-lost genre; he retains its classic sensibilities while purging it of affectation, making for an experience that hearkens to another era while feeling entirely modern. Equal parts thrilling and contemplative, Z is old-school cinema, devoid of stylistic tics and refracted through a decidedly contemporary lens. It’s a thematically sophisticated, intellectually engaging story of exploration couched in the pulpy trappings of a men’s adventure magazine. Even when Fawcett and co. are dodging arrows and fighting off piranhas, the pacing is unhurried and even hypnotic.
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Megan Leavey
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The Mummy
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My Cousin Rachel
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Paris Can Wait
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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
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Rough Night
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Snatched
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Transformers: The Last Knight
What exactly do you need to know? It’s the fifth installment in the Transformers franchise, Mark Wahlberg is in it, and it was directed by Michael Bay. Everything will freaking explode. (Except for co-star Sir Anthony Hopkins’ dignity, which seems to be more of a sputtering, slow-burning affair.) The official plot synopsis is “The Transformers leap into action once more,” so at least Paramount is being honest about the fact that it doesn’t know what’s going on here either.
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Tubelight
Set against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and co-starring Beijing actress Zhu Zhu, Tubelight is the latest Bollywood film to court the booming Chinese box-office market. Promo materials describe it as “an entertaining family drama… about the power of doing good.” Surprisingly enough, Dennis Quaid is not in it.
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Wonder Woman

It’s taken 76 years for Wonder Woman to get her own feature film—Superman went from his first appearance in Action Comics #1 to his 1951 feature film debut in Superman and the Mole Men in only 13, if you’re keeping track of such things—and contrary to everything you might expect, given the recent track record of the DC Extended Universe, it’s worth the wait. Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring the born-for-the-role Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman doesn’t just get the DCEU back on track after three stunningly miscalculated efforts. Thanks to a genuine affection for its source material and a successful bid to co-opt the nimbleness that makes Marvel films so entertaining, Wonder Woman stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the finest superhero films ever made.
AMC Classic Knoxville 16
Regal Knoxville Center Stadium 10
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April Snellings

April Snellings is a staff writer and project editor for Rue Morgue Magazine, which reaches more than 500,000 horror, thriller, and suspense fans across its media platforms. She recently joined the lineup of creators for Glass Eye Pix's acclaimed audio drama series Tales from Beyond the Pale, an Entertainment Weekly “Must List” pick that has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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