Movie Watch: Amarillo film options for Aug. 23 to 30, with 'A.X.L.,' 'Happytime Murders,' more
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By Chip Chandler — Producer
New in Amarillo theaters: Puppet murders, robotic dogs and a Hamilton star's electric film debut. Plus, some genuine classics get special screenings.
New in theaters
Teen outsider Miles (Alex Neustaedter) finds robotic military dog A.X.L. (which stands for "Attack, Exploration, Logistics") and bonds with it to the consternation of scientists trying to track down the robo-mutt. No reviews yet for this kid-friendly adventure film. (PG for sci-fi action/peril, suggestive material, thematic elements and some language; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)
"Beautifully Broken" trailer
This faith-based drama follows the lives of three fathers — a refugee, a prisoner and a dad whose daughter has a painful secret — as they converge unexpectedly. No reviews have been released yet. (PG-13 for mature thematic content involving violence and disturbing images, and some drug material; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14)
Collin (Daveed Diggs) is three days away from finishing probation when he witnesses a police shooting. Terrified to come forward, the incident shakes him and his relationship with his white best friend and coworker Miles (Rafael Casal) — a microcosm of the racial tensions enveloping the rapidly gentrifying Oakland where the film is set. Diggs (Hamilton) and Casal (a spoken-word artist) wrote the film together, and director Carlos Lopez Estrada makes his feature debut. The newcomers' energy is a highlight, according to several positive but mixed reviews. "(Diggs) and Casal together are electric, and I only wish Blindspotting didn’t so easily distract itself from its central pair. But there’s an upside to the film so eagerly jumping from anguish to slapstick, from social drama to buddy movie. Blindspotting is, like the Oakland it so dearly loves, always many things at once," writes the Associated Press' Jake Coyle. But RogerEbert.com's Odie Henderson loved the film wholeheartedly because of its embrace of surrealism: "This movie swings between high drama and low comedy, and between terrifying danger and sweet moments of near-romance. Then it climaxes with an intense, brilliant monologue that is an almost otherworldly dare, a piece of performance art that some viewers are bound to question. Like all great movies, Blindspotting is a force to be reckoned with and wrestled with. No matter where you land in your assessment, your expectations are guaranteed to be shattered." (R for language throughout, some brutal violence, sexual references and drug use; click here for showtimes at Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, 7701 W. Interstate 40)
The Happytime Murders
"The Happytime Murders" trailer
Brian Henson (son of Jim, brother of Kermit) directs this off-color comedy set in a world where humans and puppets coexist. Cast members of a classic children's show are turning up dead, so a human detective (played by Melissa McCarthy) and a puppet one must team up. It's stirred up a little controversy already, and initial reviews are not promising: "The Happytime Murders is not 'so bad it’s good.' It’s just bad: a boring flop, an unfunny comedy where nothing’s at stake. The plot is shot through with inexplicable inconsistencies, and the jokes and quips are so leaden that they thud like flamed-out turds. If you’re feeling too optimistic about the world, then it’s the film to see," writes Vox's Alissa Wilkinson. (R for strong crude and sexual content and language throughout, and some drug material; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
"Operation Finale" trailer
The hunt for Adolf Eichmann, who sent thousands to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps, is recounted in this historical drama from director Chris Weitz. Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) stars as Mossad agent Peter Malkin, opposite Oscar winner Ben Kingsley as Eichmann. Reviews are mixed: "(T)he film is hobbled by a vision of Adolf Eichmann that doesn’t find a way to touch his interior life so much as it preserves his mystique as an office manager in evil wolf’s clothing," writes Variety's Owen Gleiberman. (PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and related violent images, and for some language; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
RiffTrax Live: Krull
"RiffTrax Live: Krull" trailer
2001: A Space Odyssey
"2001: A Space Odyssey" trailer
Western Film Event
"The Searchers" trailer
The Center for the Study of the American West will conclude its two-day screening event focused on iconic Western films with John Huston's The Unforgiven on Aug. 23. It will screen at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 in the Amarillo College Concert Hall Theatre on the Washington Street campus. Admission is free. Call 806-651-5238.
"South Pacific" trailer
The TCM Big Screen Classics series continues with a 60th anniversary presentation of the Rogers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific at 2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 26 and 29 at both Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16.
"Rudy" anniversary trailer
Aug. 31 to Sept. 6: Immerse yourself in all things Potter with Wizarding World XD Week at Hollywood 16. All eight Harry Potter films and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them will screen at various times throughout the week. Festival pass is $25, and individual admissions are $5 each.
Sept. 7: Inspirational family drama God Bless the Broken Road is scheduled to open nationally, but advance tickets are not yet on sale. Additionally, the indie drama Puzzle, about a harried mother finding renewal in putting together jigsaw puzzles, is scheduled to open at Westgate Mall 6.
Sept. 9 and 12: The TCM Big Screen Classics series continues with a presentation of the Rogers & Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music at 2 and 7 p.m. Sept. 9 and 12 at both Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16.
Sept. 13 and 15: Biblical stage drama Moses will feature massive sets, special effects and live animals in a production filmed before a live audience. It'll screen at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 and 12:55 p.m. Sept. 15 at Amarillo Star 14.
Sept. 14: Crime drama White Boy Rick is scheduled to open nationally, but advance tickets are not yet on sale.
Sept. 21: Incendiary political documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, children's fantasy film The House with a Clock in Its Walls and drama Life Itself are scheduled to open nationally, but advance tickets are not yet on sale.
Sept. 23 and 26: The TCM Big Screen Classics series continues with a presentation of the seminal teen angst drama Rebel Without a Cause at 2 and 7 p.m. Sept. 23 and 26 at both Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16.
Sept. 28: Horror film Hell Fest, a modern-day retelling of Little Women, comedy Night School and animated feature Smallfoot are scheduled to open nationally, but advance tickets are not yet on sale. Additionally, the Glenn Close drama The Wife, about a writer's spouse who questions her life choices when her husband wins the Nobel Prize, is scheduled to open at Westgate Mall 6.
Sept. 30 to Oct. 3: The Studio Ghibli Fest 2018 continues with fantasy adventure My Neighbor Totoro at both Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16. An English-dubbed version will screen at 12:55 p.m. Sept. 30 and 7 p.m. Oct. 3, with a subtitled version screening at 7 p.m. Oct. 1.
Listings at a glance
Click on titles for my review and on theaters for showtimes.
Alpha (AS-14, H-16); Ant-Man and the Wasp (H-16); Avengers: Infinity War (WM-6); A.X.L. (AS-14, H-16); Beautifully Broken (AS-14); BlacKkKlansman (H-16); Blindspotting (WM-6); Christopher Robin (AS-14; H-16; Sandell Drive-In, 12 S. Center Drive in Clarendon; and Tascosa Drive-In, 1999 Dumas Drive); Crazy Rich Asians (AS-14, H-16); The Darkest Minds (WM-6); Deadpool 2 (WM-6); The Equalizer 2 (AS-14, H-16); The Happytime Murders (AS-14, H-16); Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (AS-14, H-16); The Incredibles 2 (H-16); Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (AS-14); Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (AS-14); The Meg (AS-14, H-16); Mile 22 (AS-14, H-16); Mission: Impossible — Fallout (AS-14, H-16); Ocean's 8 (WM-6); Operation Finale (AS-14 and H-16 beginning Tuesday); Slender Man (AS-14, H-16); Solo: A Star Wars Story (WM-6); The Spy Who Dumped Me (H-16 and Tascosa); Tag (WM-6); and Upgrade (WM-6).