Movie Watch: Amarillo film options for Aug. 3 to 10, plus review of 'Atomic Blonde'
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
In Amarillo theaters this weekend: A long-awaited Stephen King adaptation, a tense look back on a volatile race riot and Halle Berry as a desperate mom. Plus, my review of Atomic Blonde.
New in theaters
The Dark Tower
Stephen King's magnum opus — which encompasses eight novels and several comic books, and is part of a connective tissue that links almost all of King's books — comes to the big screen in an oft-delayed adaptation starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Elba is Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, who traverses different dimensions to stop the Man in Black (McConaughey) from taking over the titular tower and remaking all realities. King's books incorporate elements from Westerns, Arthurian legends, sci-fi and horror, making this series particularly hard to adapt — not to mention its length and complexity, which are somehow pared down to a 95-minute film. Early reviews are harsh. "Heaven knows, the books offer more invention than could fit in one feature film, but in their effort to introduce newcomers to this world, the filmmakers make the saga's contents look not archetypal but generic and cobbled together," writes Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore. (PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)
"The Dark Tower" trailer
Motor City erupted in riots during the long, hot summer of 1967, sparked by years of racial oppression and unrest. In this docudrama — written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the team behind Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker — focuses on a shocking incident at the Algiers Motel during the heart of the uprising. Three black men were killed and seven others, plus two white women, were severely beaten after Detroit police officers and the National Guard swarmed the hotel on the incorrect suspicion that a sniper was in the area. It's a volatile topic, but the film is getting quite strong, though not quite rave, reviews. "Bigelow has crafted a portrait of the 1967 Detroit uprising that manages to be both history lesson and incendiary device, even if it sometimes sputters. ... (T)his unreconciled and incomplete film does an unusually good job of terrifying and unsettling us, before sending us back out into a world that’s more like 1967 than we’d care to admit," writes the Village Voice's Bilge Ebiri. (R for strong violence and pervasive language; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
Halle Berry stars as a single mom whose son is snatched while they're enjoying a day at the park. She immediately jumps in her car and takes after the kidnappers in this B-movie thriller, the latest such film on her resume. "As it hurtles along ... Berry tracks through concerned to manic to freaking-the-freak- out, morphing into a lay-it-all-out-there lioness protecting her six year-old. ... (Berry) never lets on that she’s not all-in, never lets us forget the stakes. Even as she never stops reminding us of those stakes in a running monologue that only an Oscar winner with a producer credit must have insisted be added to a limited if fiercely focused script," writes Movie Nation's Roger Moore. (R for violence and peril; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
Newsies: The Broadway Musical
Extra, extra! Newsies: The Broadway Musical will return for one more bow in theaters after screenings in February and March. The musical was recorded live on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles with a cast of vets from its Broadway run (including Jeremy Jordan) and its national tour. I saw it when it originally screened in February and found it to be a total joy, even though I was never a huge fan of the Disney musical that inspired the stage adaptation. It'll screen at 12:55 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Amarillo Star 14.
Cinemark's Classics Series will celebrate the 25th anniversary of this modern Western classic directed by and starring Clint Eastwood with screenings at 2 p.m. Sunday and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday. (R for language, and violence, and for a scene of sexuality; H-16)
DCX MMXVI — In Concert
"DCX MMXVI — In Concert" trailer
The Dixie Chicks hit the road again in 2016 for a sold-out tour that was captured for DCX MMXVI — In Concert, screening at 7 p.m. Monday at the Amarillo Star 14. The tour featured the band's iconic hits "Wide Open Spaces" (penned by Amarillo native Susan Gibson), "Goodbye Earl" and "Not Ready to Make Nice," as well as an acoustic set highlighted by a cover of Beyonce's "Daddy Lessons."
Drum Corps International: Big, Loud & Live 14
"Big, Loud & Live 14" trailer
Fifteen of the top drum corps will battle it out in Drum Corps International: Big, Loud & Live 14 at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10, streaming live at both the Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16. The event will feature corps competing in the 2017 DCI World Championship preliminaries live from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. If you've never seen a DCI event, drum corps are like marching bands on steroids, adrenaline and possibly other, even more illegal substances. They're intense, heart-pounding and hellaciously fun.
Still in theaters
Stylish, sleek and brutal, Atomic Blonde is a bruising film with a killer starring performance by Charlize Theron. So does it matter that the movie doesn't exactly make sense?
Don't get me wrong. I think I understand all of the twists and turns the spy thriller takes as it follows British spy Lorraine Broughton's attempts to find a top-secret list of spies in 1989 Berlin, just as the wall is collapsing and the both the east and west sides of the city are in chaos. Does that mean that they're entirely logical or believable? Don't make me laugh. But are they fun to watch? Sure!
Theron is an absolute dynamo in the role, throwing herself into the part with ferocity. She performs her own stunts, and director David Leitch (a former stuntman himself who went on to direct John Wick) really tests her limits throughout in a series of long, seemingly unbroken takes depicting Broughton's ferocious fights against KGB agents and anyone else foolish enough to cross her path.
The only two real exceptions, generally, are James McAvoy's David Percival, MI-6's main man in Berlin, and Sofia Boutella's Delphine Lasalle, a new French spy watching Broughton with not-entirely-professional interest. Percival knows his way around both parts of the city so well that he's a necessary evil for Broughton, and Delpine is just hot.
John Goodman and Toby Jones play important roles as CIA and MI-6 chiefs who are interrogating a bruised Broughton after the mission in a framing device that probably adds a little to the confusion, but both men are always such strong additions to any film that it's churlish to complain too much.
But again, don't worry too much about the story. Enjoy the breathtaking fights, Theron's icy coolness, McAvoy's glee and Boutella's sensuousness, and forget all the rest. (R for sequences of strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
Atomic Blonde (AS-14, H-16); Baby Driver (H-16); Baywatch (Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, 7701 W. Interstate 40); The Boss Baby (WM-6); Captain Underpants: The Epic First Movie (WM-6); Cars 3 (H-16); Despicable Me 3 (AS-14, H-16); Dunkirk (AS-14, H-16 and Tascosa Drive-In, 1999 Dumas Drive); The Emoji Movie (AS-14, H-16 and TDI) 47 Meters Down (H-16); Girls Trip (AS-14, H-16); Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (WM-6); Megan Leavey (WM-6); The Mummy (WM-6); Spider-Man: Homecoming (AS-14, H-16 and TDI); Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (AS-14, H-16); War for the Planet of the Apes (AS-14, H-16); and Wonder Woman (H-16). (Click on titles for my reviews and on theaters for showtimes.)