This weekend at the movies, we’ve got lost toys (Toy Story 4, featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Annie Potts), murderous toys (Child’s Play, starring Aubrey Plaza and Brian Tyree Henry), and a Cold War spy (Anna, starring Sasha Luss and Luke Evans). What are the critics saying?
“Do we really need another Toy Story movie?” For a significant chunk of moviegoers, that was the first question that came to mind when Toy Story 4 was announced, but here we are, almost a decade after Toy Story 3, and it looks like the wait was worth it. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and most of the rest of the voice cast are back — albeit in a slightly more limited capacity — in a new adventure that centers on a homemade toy named Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) who’s having trouble comprehending and accepting his own existence. Woody takes it upon himself to help Forky fit in, and in the process, he reconnects with an old friend and begins to reexamine his own choices. It was always going to take a monumental achievement to make a return trip to this universe worthwhile, and by most accounts, critics say first-time director Josh Cooley has succeeded. The Certified Fresh Toy Story 4 is yet another triumph for Pixar that somehow manages to find poignant new ways to tug on heartstrings and entertain audiences of all ages, and with a supporting voice cast of new characters that includes Christina Hendricks, Key & Peele, and Keanu Reeves, this one is poised to be another hit.
Speaking of sentient toys that belong (or once belonged) to a boy named Andy, we’ve also got Lars Klevberg‘s reboot of Child’s Play hitting theaters this week. Now, this one was made without the involvement of original series creator Don Mancini, who himself is planning a Child’s Play TV series, or Brad Dourif, who was replaced by Mark Hamill as the voice of killer doll Chucky. The origin story is also different this time around, as Chucky is no longer the reanimated soul of a serial killer, but simply an out-of-control A.I. robot whose only crime is that he loves too intensely. The object of his affections? A lonely tween named Andy (Gabriel Bateman) whose single mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza) gifts him the killer doll for his birthday. Critics say this modernized take on Child’s Play is both more timely and a little less interesting, and while the film often seems aware of its own silliness, it doesn’t always fully commit to one tone. Still, it’s a mostly entertaining romp with some gruesome kills, a healthy sense of humor, and, for some, likely a few surprises.
Going all the way back to La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element — and more recently with Lucy — writer-director Luc Besson has enjoyed pretty consistent success with action films driven by female protagonists, even if his work outside those parameters hasn’t always been quite as impressive. He returns to that well again in this week’s Anna, which is unmistakably a familiar tale, but mostly because it sat on a shelf for a year while the similarly themed Atomic Blonde and Red Sparrow beat it to theaters. Former supermodel Sasha Luss plays the titular character, a Cold War era KGB agent literally posing as a model who gets wrapped up in an international tug of war between her agency and the CIA; car chases and double-crosses ensue. Unsurprisingly, Anna was not widely screened for critics, so we currently only have the bare minimum number of reviews to generate a Tomatometer score. For what it’s worth, the few critics who have chimed in so far say the movie bears some recognizable Besson trademarks, and whether you find them entertaining or bothersome will largely depend on your affection for his previous work.
Das Boot possesses the atmospheric pressure of its cinematic forebear while adding new depth to its compelling ensemble, making for a riveting international production.
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