Mini Review - The Call of the Wild
The Call of the Wild (out Feb 20) is a family drama that follows a muscular St. Bernard-Scotch Collie mix and his journey across the United States. I wasn't convinced by the CGI animals and the content feels very safe and "watered down" compared to Jack London's 1903 novel. It’s an unadventurous adventure. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - The Professor and the Madman
The Professor and the Madman (out Feb 20) is the story of two men who had a major part in writing the first Oxford English Dictionary in the late 19th Century. Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, sporting thick beards and equally thick Scottish accents, are doing the best with the material but ultimately, the finished product doesn’t make an impact. Grade: C.
Mini Review - Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog (out Feb 13) is a simplistic family film that lacks creativity. More for kids than adults. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Fantasy Island
Fantasy Island (out Feb 13) puts a horror-thriller spin on the popular 1970s TV series. A group of strangers meet on a mysterious island where they expect to have their fantasies fulfilled. There's a nice build of intrigue in the first half but the choppy screenplay, dumb characters and weak finale add up to a not-so-memorable whole. Grade: B-.
Mini Review - Emma.
Emma. (out Feb 13) is a light-hearted comedy based on Jane Austen's famed novel. From the stunning costumes to the striking, symmetrical cinematographer, first-time director Autumn de Wilde has created a beautiful, intoxicating world. That said, the richness of the setting doesn’t fully stretch to the characters themselves. Star Anya Taylor-Joy is terrific but a few of the supporting players are shallow and simplistic. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Richard Jewell
Richard Jewell (out Feb 13) is the anti-Spotlight. Rather than showing the good that journalists can do, it highlights the ramifications when media outlets publish “exclusives” based on misinformation and the salacious way in which the public lap it up. It's based on a true story from 1996 and there's plenty to think about. Strong performances. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - A Guide to Second Date Sex
A Guide to Second Date Sex (out Feb 13) is about two awkward people on a very awkward date. It's not a bad idea for a comedy (acknowledging that we've seen it done before) but the filmmakers have gone with clumsy, over-the-top scenarios that get tired quickly. Wish it took more chances or had more multi-dimensional characters. Grade: C+.
Mini Review - Colour Out of Space
Colour Out of Space (out Feb 6) is a sci-fi thriller about a family (headlined by Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson) who see some really weird stuff after an asteroid lands on their remote farm. Director Richard Stanley creates intrigue during the opening hour but the film lacks a big pay-off in the final act. Grade: B-.