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ALEXXANDAR MOVIE REVIEWS: ‘Eternals’ lasts an … eternity | Local News

“Eternals” (Action/Adventure: 2 hours, 37 minutes)

Starring: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie

Director: Chloé Zhao

Rated: PG-13 (Violence and action, strong language, sexuality)

Movie Review: “Eternals” feels like eternity. It is a lengthy movie capturing the relationships of 10 characters. They are an interesting group, yet their story has a messy execution.

Early humanity thrives in 5000 B.C. Mesopotamia. There, the Eternals arrive to save them from the Deviants, several monsters sent to destroy humanity. 

Eternals must put down the Deviants and await further orders from their supergiant god Arishem. Approximately 7,000 years later, we see the Eternals still fighting the Deviants they thought they had destroyed. Turns out, a bigger mystery exists that will test the group’s resolve to fight as a unified group.

The Eternals’ mission is to save Earth but who will save movie audiences from this convoluted superhero plot?

What saves this movie from failure is its talented cast including headliners Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie. This is a large cast, and this movie attempts to make them all influential. Some of the people are less interesting than others. Rather than making this a character-driven screenplay, it should have been a plot-centered one.

A larger cast does not allow one ample time to care about these superheroes. They are already a lesser part of the Marvel Universe. Academy Award-winning director and writer Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland” 2020) and fellow writers create a neat place to visualize them. However, the story is a muddle of substories that do not inspire one to care about their shortcomings and tribulations. Superhero movies are not the thing for these writers.

While not the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe feature, “Eternals” does offer nice visual effects and action scenes. It is a temporary escape and a fleeting moment for Marvel.

Grade: C+ (It entertains but is not eternally good.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas.

“Red Notice” (Action/Crime: 1 hour, 57 minutes)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Rated: PG-13 (Strong violence, sexual references and profanity)

Movie Review: Action, comedy and three big-name stars make “Red Notice” enjoyable. It is fun until you realize the characters are not convincing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation sends profiler John Hartley (Johnson) to aid Interpol’s capture of the world’s second most prolific art thief, Nolan Booth (Reynolds). 

“The Bishop” (Gadot), the world’s most prolific art thief, cons the men, making it appear that Hartley and Booth were working together to steal famous ancient Fabergé-type eggs that belonged to the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Interpol issues a red notice for Hartley and Booth’s arrest. The lawman and the thief become reluctant partners to clear their names.

Johnson, Reynolds and Gadot are likable, beautiful people. They are good performers. They provide some laughs, such as Johnson wearing hairnet about 33 minutes into this movie runtime. It is a shame the script does not match them.

“Red Notice’s” script by director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Skyscraper,” 2018) regurgitates comedy action bits. A scene in this movie is very similar to the last James Bond Movie “No Time To Die.” Another seems as if it is from Johnson’s last movie, “Jungle Cruise.” Multiple scenes from “Red Notice” appear a hodgepodge of scenes from other, better movies.

Grade: C (Here is your notice: it is skippable.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas.

“The French Dispatch” (Comedy: 1 hour, 47 minutes)

Starring: Bill Murray, Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Timothée Chalamet

Director: Wes Anderson

Rated: PG-13 (Nudity, sexual references, violence and profanity)

Movie Review: Wes Anderson’s artistic screenplay is an engaging love letter to newspaper journalists. He tells his narrative in chapters, each sharing connected characters who have an association with a fictional American publication titled “The French Dispatch Magazine.” 

The head of that newspaper outfit is Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray), a near-retirement editor. He runs a staff of dedicated people who know their coverage area.

For lovers of Wes Anderson’s style of moviemaking, one will not be disappointed. The cast’s odd appearances and quirky behaviors and the artsy set designs create a visual escape to a semi-whimsical world. The addition of attention-getting narration with some old-school and some animation intermixed provide neat cinematic features.

The cast is a very large group, many having worked with Anderson before in similar movies. Every few scenes, a new actor graces the big screen. The entrances are almost distracting, but such debuts match the multiple stories, whimsical set designs and other visual aspects such as costume, hairstyles and makeup.

Anderson is an artist, a cinematic maestro. His movies are an eclectic mix of narrative moviemaking. If you love his work, “French Dispatch” continues his award-winning style.

However, an honest approach to Anderson’s work also must yield that his all-too-common style. His movies feel familiar in the sense that once you have seen one, you have seen them all. Still, his ongoing style remains that of a talented filmmaker.

Grade: B (Extra! Extra! Read all about it.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas.

“Spencer” (Drama: 1 hour, 57 minutes)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall and Sally Hawkins

Director: Pablo Larraín

Rated: R (Profanity)

Movie Review: “Spencer” covers a slice of the life of Princess Diana appealingly. It is well-acted by Kristen Stewart. This movie is more of a psychological study of Princess Diana during an intense moment of her life. This drama takes its time to create a discernible atmosphere of anxiety.

With their marriage falling apart, Princess Diana (Stewart) spends about three days during the Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England. Diana’s time with family is intense and she feels the marriage is suffocating her. The time with her in-laws convinces her to divorce Prince Charles.

Stewart is good at playing well-known women undergoing high levels of stress. Check out her performance as Actress Jean Seberg in “Seberg” (2019), another role to confirm this. A talented and beautiful woman, Stewart’s great attribute as an actress is her ability to create a sense of authentic realism for her roles. She does so here as Diana.

Just as able with creating realness for his characters is Director Pablo Larraín. He made First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy just as tangible in “Jackie” (2016). He and screenwriter Steven Knight (“Dirty Pretty Things,” 2002) create a nice main character during a trying moment in her life.

Larraín and Knight create tension for audiences. They make viewers wait for the moment Diana meets the Windsors, her royal in-laws. Nearly 32 minutes pass before Diana interacts with adult members of the royal family. This gives audiences a chance to know Diana as portrayed by Stewart. It also creates a bit of angst for audiences. Diana stalls encountering other royals. Her delays are anticipation for viewers.

Stewart is a major part of this movie. She is the core of this movie. Her performance is worthy of accolades.

Also noteworthy is Timothy Spall. His creepy, domineering demeanor as Major Alistar Gregory is an effective antagonist of this movie. He embodies the leash the royal family has on Diana. Spall is effective and his scenes with Stewart are some of the best scenes of this drama.

Minus Sally Hawkins as Maggie, Freddie Spry as the royal chef and child actors Jack Nielen and Freddie Spry, who play Princes William and Harry, the other cast members are mere background props sadly. So, audiences must get to know Diana’s relationships with others via conversations with staff and her kids — and the staff is just as adverse to her well-being as the royal family. This is brilliant in that it creates a sense that she is indeed in an elite prison.

This movie uses visualizations as much as it does words. Observers of “Spencer” have a chance to know Diana based on her actions. This is good but a soap-operatic moment or two may have enlivened some scenes. Such scenes would also remove some of the slowness of Diana’s self-reflective moments and the distracting Anne Boleyn visions to show similarities between the two women.

However, Stewart is enough. She shines as Diana and she is a good reason to see “Spencer.”

Grade: B (Not the apex of royalty, but Spencer is a noble affair.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas.

Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has been reviewing movies for more than 20 years for The Valdosta Daily Times.

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