OPENING THIS WEEK
Hunt for the Wilderpeople On the heels of a showing at Sundance – and, far more prestigiously, the Florida Film Festival – comes this story of a 13-year-old in New Zealand who takes it on the lam rather than get shuttled to yet another foster home. Director Taika Waititi made the acclaimed vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows and will next pit the God of Thunder against the Hulk in the third Thor picture – so honestly, there's no telling what that Kiwi kid might encounter on his journey. Not to mention that his foster uncle, who accompanies him on said flight, is played by Sam Neill – whom some of us will never be able to think of as anything but the son of Satan. Have fun out there, fellas! (PG-13)
The Legend of Tarzan Good old Tarzan: You just can't keep him down. But boy, does Hollywood keep trying. From Bo Derek deep-throating a banana to Andie MacDowell acting as a ventriloquist dummy for Glenn Close, there've been more ignominious moments attached to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Lord of the Apes than to almost any iconic adventure character. In a few weeks, we'll know if any specific element deep-sixed this latest iteration of the vine-swinging franchise, which is already tracking poorly as the critical holiday weekend looms. Maybe the character has just finally outlived his relevance. That's what happened to the Lone Ranger, right? Oh, wait – Johnny Depp with a dead bird on his head. (PG-13)
The Purge: Election Year I've always been a big supporter of cheapo shock flicks that purport to make a statement about social justice. Sure, they're usually clumsy, on-the-nose and exploitative of the very violence they claim to condemn. But nobody's perfect, right? Given those realistic parameters, the first Purge picture knocked at least one of my socks off; any movie that ends with the line "This country has taken everything from me" has an intrinsic appeal to my inner John Carpenter. So I guess I should be championing this third installment, in which a lady senator who's also the front-runner for the U.S. presidency tries to shut down the annual Purge, only to get caught up in it. Delightfully timely, right? Well, more in concept than in tone, given that Pulse has drained a lot of us of our appetite for recreational violence, even when it's ostensibly in the service of pop-political satire. I'm actually kind of surprised that the release of this film wasn't at least postponed a few weeks. Then again, not even the revelation that a Cincinnati man had cited the series as his inspiration for killing two people got the studio to blink. So full speed ahead, I guess – just consider this your trigger warning. (R)
The Call-Up An elite cadre of gamers has to battle for their lives within a virtual-reality environment erected by a sinister corporation. British-made and dropped in a few U.S. theaters without so much as a how-do-you-do ... unless you count every movie made in the '90s as a teaser. (NR)
The Music of Strangers Morgan Neville, director of the acclaimed documentaries 20 Feet From Stardom and The Best of Enemies, follows a tour by the Silk Road Ensemble, an eclectic group of musicians brought together by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. OK, Cosmo Kramer: This is your trigger warning. (PG-13)
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