Opening this week

Big Hero 6 In a notable show of compassion for "rival" DC/Warner, Disney isn't even playing up the fact that its latest animated juggernaut is based on a Marvel comic. That way, nobody has to feel deliberately taunted by the reality that the Mouse House has turned two obscure Marvel titles into major releases in the space of three months, while the competition ... um ... well, there were lots of Wonder Woman outfits at a doggie costume contest I attended last weekend. So that market's still competitive, at least. (PG)

Birdman Michael Keaton was none-too-secretly pissed that his two stints as Batman left him with a messed-up hip and a bunch of "IOU nothing" slips from Hollywood's creative accountants. So let's all enjoy the fires of vengeance dancing behind his eyes as he takes on the role of a has-been actor haunted by his past role as a superhero. Early Oscar buzz points the way toward a sequel, And Jack Frost Was No Picnic, Either. See our full review online at (R)

Interstellar Christopher Nolan's latest sees veteran players Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway joining new muses like Matthew McConaughey for a three-hour epic about mankind's quest to save itself from an untimely demise. Nolan's longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister, sat this one out to direct Transcendence, which means he, too, knows a thing or two about dying before your time. (PG-13)

On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter Hey, somebody let Oliver Stone make a sequel to that lousy football movie? Not so fast there, oh ye of the short memory. This Sunday is a follow-up to Bruce Brown's 1971 doc about motorcycle racing, a sport photographed here for a new generation by Brown's son Dana. The kid must have gotten tired of tailgating on the old man's better-known obsession with surfing – or maybe even he decided that pastime was played out as screen material. But as long as Dana's eye remains keen and his lens clear, he can steal his pop's cufflinks for all I mind. (PG)

Wayward: The Prodigal Son The source material for this inspirational family drama could be the Biblical parable that makes the least sense to me as either theology or narrative. Ol' Prod effs up left and right, only to get treated like a D-Day hero when he finally deigns to stop; meanwhile, his brother, who's kept his nose clean since Day One, receives naught but the honor of cooking up the fatted-calf sliders for his good-for-nothing sib's ill-deserved homecoming party. Maybe filmmaker Rob Diamond has made something more philosophically coherent out of that classic of counterintuitivity – but until I see his cattle budget, I'm not holding my breath. (PG-13)

More by Brendan O'Connor


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