Long Shot (2019)
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel, Andy Serkis, Alexander Skarsgard, O’Shea Jackson Jr
Duration: 125 minutes
KRS Releasing Ltd
The romantic comedy, directed by Jonathan Levine (Snatched, 50/50, Warm Bodies), follows a gifted and free-spirited journalist named Fred Flarksy (Seth Rogen) who has a knack for getting into trouble.
One day he unexpectedly runs into Charlotte, a smart and accomplished politician and soon realises that she was his former babysitter and childhood crush.
When she decides to run for the presidency, Charlotte impulsively hires Fred as her speechwriter, much to the chagrin of her trusted advisers.
The film received generally positive feedback, with most critics praising the chemistry between the two main protagonists. Others criticised the film’s attempt at political satire.
Ian Freer of Empire magazine wrote: “Finding laughs in the current global political quagmire is a tough ask. But Long Shot manages to spin a winning mixture of warm-hearted fantasy and comedic edge. And Rogen and Theron shine.”
Similarly, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone described the film as “a gleefully retro and raunchy funfest that walks a minefield of sexist traps it can’t always dodge”. He continued: “The fact that the rom and the com both land is a tribute to Theron and Rogen.”
Joyce Slaton of Common Sense Media, expressed doubts about the end result: “It’s easygoing, studded with genuine-belly-laugh jokes, and has a great cast, but this political romcom loses points for being both utterly predictable and outrageously unrealistic.”
And Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The pleasingly adolescent absurdities soon regress to grindingly infantile and the raunch grows repetitious until the comedy wears out its welcome.”
Released in the US early this month, the film has so far grossed $32.7 million in box office receipts worldwide.
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Empire: 4 stars
The curse of La Llorona (2019)
Director: Michael Chaves
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola, Roman Christou
Duration: 93 minutes
KRS Releasing Ltd
Michael Chaves, who directed several short films but is best known for the TV series Chase Champion, is making his feature-length directorial debut with a supernatural horror film revolving around a Mexican oral legend.
The plot revolves around the ghost La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) who stalks children at night in 1970s Los Angeles.
A social worker (Linda Cardellini) and her children are drawn into a frightening supernatural realm and their only hope of surviving its deadly wrath is a disillusioned priest who practises mysticism to keep evil at bay.
The film received quite poor reviews although critics say it still manages to scare.
Joe Leydon of Variety described it as “an efficiently formulaic shocker inspired by the centuries-old Mexican legend of the titular bogeywoman)”.
Sandy Schaefer of Screen Rant wrote that despite a lack of originality and substance, the film makes for an entertaining funhouse ride of a movie set in The Conjuring universe”.
However, the critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is not a very positive one: “Content to coast on jump scares rather than tap into its story's creepy potential, The Curse of La Llorona arrives in theatres already broken.”
Despite these claims, the $9 million production has fared well at the box office. Released over the Easter weekend in the US, it has already grossed $115.2m worldwide.
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Empire: 2 stars
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Billy Magnussen, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad
Duration: 128 minutes
KRS Releasing Ltd
The popular Middle East folktale from the One Thousand and One Nights collection gets a live-action adaptation.
We all know the story, also thanks to Disney’s 1992 animated movie of the same. It is about young Aladdin who embarks on a magical adventure after finding a lamp that releases a wisecracking genie, here played by Will Smith.
Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott landed the other two main roles, those of Aladdin and Jasmine respectively.
The film is being released internationally, including Malta, on Friday and although critics seemed a bit sceptical at first, first reactions at early screenings were positive.
Critics said the movie is “fairly good”, that there’s believable chemistry between Massoud and Scott, Smith’s take on the Genie, is fun and the jokes are strong. The song and dance numbers are also said to deliver.
Some lamented about Guy Ritchie’s direction, the length of the movie, and the role of the deceptive sorcerer and villain Jafar (played by Marwan Kenzari).
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
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