Movie Watch: Amarillo film options for April 20 and beyond

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
Katherine Heigl loses it in "Unforgettable."
Courtesy Warner Bros.

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

In Amarillo theaters this week: Six (count 'em, SIX) new movies. Check here to figure out which ones you must see (or not).


New in theaters

Born in China

Pandas Ya Ya and Mei Mei are featured in "Born in China."
Courtesy Disney

Disney's now-traditional Earth Day nature documentary series continues with this look at the lives of four different animal species in China: pandas, golden snub-nosed monkeys, snow leopards and chiru (Tibetan antelopes). Filmmakers get up close and personal with the animals, a throwback to old-school Disney educational films and made possible in the wake of the success of such TV shows as Planet Earth (and, likely, PBS's Nature). "(T)he fact that these very different animals all happen to live in the same country isn’t enough of a narrative thread to weave these disparate tales together," writes The Wrap's Alonso Duralde, "but ... it’s hard to stay mad at any movie that offers so many close-ups of an insanely adorable baby panda." (G; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)

"Born in China" trailer


Free Fire

Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sam Riley and Michael Smiley star in "Free Fire."
Courtesy A24

This Tarantino-esque action comedy from director/co-writer Ben Wheatley (High Rise) is set almost exclusively inside an abandoned warehouse in the 1970s, where an absurd, feature-length shoot-out begins. Yes, nearly the entire movie depicts one long gun battle. "It’s one giant, unapologetic dose of bloody absurdity, and the talented cast (including Brie Larson, Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley) is clearly having a blast with the mayhem," writes IndieWire's Eric Kohn.(R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14)

"Free Fire" trailer



Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace star in "Gifted."
Courtesy Fox Searchlight

A brilliant young girl (Mckenna Grace) is raised by her uncle (Chris Evans) until a teacher (Jenny Slate) notices her prodigious intellectual gifts, ringing her back to the attention of her imperious grandmother (Lindsay Duncan). A custody battle ensues in this tear-jerker from director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). Reviews are mostly positive: "There are no surprises, and there aren't meant to be. Webb, working from a somewhat-scattered script by Tom Flynn, is pulling at your heartstrings. The thing is, it works. Sort of.  ... (Y)ou know you're being manipulated but you don't really mind, because it's fun to watch this bunch work," writes The Arizona Republic's Bill Goodykoontz. (PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some suggestive material; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)

"Gifted" trailer


Phoenix Forgotten

"Phoenix Forgotten" is a found-footage horror film based on a 1997 incident with mysterious lights being spotted over Phoenix.
Courtesy Cinelou Films

In 1997, some mysterious lights appeared over Phoenix, spawning no end of alien conspiracy theories. This found-footage horror film imagines a trio of teenagers who launch an investigation into those lights, only to disappear completely. So, The Blair Witch Project with little green men from outer space. It hasn't been screened for critics, so no reviews are yet available. (PG-13 for terror, peril and some language; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)

"Phoenix Forgotten" trailer


The Promise

Charlotte Le Bon, Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale star in "The Promise."
Courtesy Open Road

A traveling medical student (Oscar Isaac) falls for a young Armenian woman (Charlotte Le Bon) who's already in love with an American reporter (Christian Bale) in this historic drama set during the Armenian genocide in Turkey. Romance and war atrocities are hard to balance, and critics say director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) doesn't hit the mark. "It's a brutal war film, but it returns over and over to its ultimately unsatisfying romantic plot," writes NPR's Linda Holmes. (PG-13 for thematic material including war atrocities, violence and disturbing images, and for some sexuality; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)

"The Promise" trailer



Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl face off in "Unforgettable."
Courtesy Warner Bros.

An ex-wife (Katherine Heigl) who's still hung up on her former husband (Geoff Stults) blows a gasket when he gets engaged again (to Rosario Dawson). All hell breaks loose. Intriguingly, this was co-written and directed by women (Christina Hodson and Denise De Novi, respectively). Not as surprising: It hasn't been screened for critics. (R for sexual content, violence, some language, and brief partial nudity; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)

"Unforgettable" trailer


Special engagements

Eugene Onegin

"Eugene Onegin" trailer

The Met: Live in HD series continues with a streaming broadcast of this Tchaikovsky opera featuring Anna Netrebko in one of her most acclaimed roles. It'll screen at 11:55 a.m. Saturday at Hollywood 16. (NR)


The Graduate

"The Graduate" trailer

TCM Big Screen Classics presents the 50th anniversary screening of this countercultural classic. Remember, son: Plastics. It'll screen at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday in the Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16. (NR)


TED Cinema Experience

Ted Cinema Experience trailer

Go inside the TED Conference in these special screenings: the opening night at 7 p.m. Monday, the prize event (with a secret special guest) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and a highlight reel at 3 p.m. April 30. They'll all screen exclusively at the Amarillo Star 14. (NR)


Chonda Pierce: Enough

"Chonda Pierce: Enough" trailer

Christian comedian Chonda Pierce unveils her latest concert special, screening at 7 p.m. Tuesday at both the Amarillo Star 14 and the Hollywood 16. (NR)



"Alien" Day

Celebrate Alien Day — April 26, or 426, the name of the planet where the facehuggers were found — with a screening of the original Ridley Scott sci-fi horror classic. It'll play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Amarillo Star 14. (R for sci-fi violence/gore and language)


Still in theaters

Beauty and the Beast (AS-14, H-16); Before I Fall (Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, 7701 W. Interstate 40); The Boss Baby (AS-14, H-16); The Case for Christ (AS-14, H-16); CHiPS (WM-6); A Dog's Purpose (WM-6); The Fate of the Furious (AS-14, H-16 and Tascosa Drive-In, 1999 Dumas Drive); Fist Fight (WM-6); Going in Style (AS-14, H-16); John Wick: Chapter 2 (WM-6); The Lego Batman Movie (WM-6); Life (H-16); Logan (TDI); Power Rangers (H-16); Smurfs: The Lost Village (H-16); and The Zookeeper's Wife (H-16). (Click on titles for my reviews and on theaters for showtimes)



Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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