PICKS OF THE WEEK
“The Good Dinosaur” (PG) — In a timeline where dinosaurs avoided extinction and developed a little civilization, one young apatosaurus named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) befriends a wild little mammal critter named Spot (a feral human child). The little dinosaur — and his pet boy — are taken from home by a violent storm, and learn to overcome fears against breathtaking animated backdrops of Western landscapes. It has all of the visual splendor we’ve come to expect from PIXAR, but the storytelling seems mighty pedestrian compared to what the studio has done in the past. It’s a surprisingly by-the-numbers tale of a lost boy trying to find his way, but it also includes a fun bit where Sam Elliott (whose voice has more Western tones than a Monument Valley sunset) voices a grizzled T-Rex rancher.
“Spotlight” (R) — This based-on-a-true-story film gives a riveting and relevant look into the world of investigative journalism, without the pomp and bombast of sanctifying the investigators. The Boston Globe has a special section called Spotlight, reserved for longer-term, deep-dive stories. Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton) leads a team including Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams as they take on the live-wire topic of child abuse in the Catholic church, and the systems that keep it covered up. It’s an important movie, especially for the way it depicts journalists not as Saints of the Truth, but as passionate people doing a hard job. Keaton and crew are humble and open to admitting mistakes. The story is made that much more powerful by keeping the heroes human.
“Secret in Their Eyes” (R) — A group of counter-terrorist investigators are shaken to the core when they find the daughter of one of their own has been brutally murdered. Jess (Julia Roberts) carries the grief with her for 13 years after her daughter’s killer is let go. Her colleague and friend Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) continued working on the case all that time, and brings a new lead to Jess and district attorney Claire (Nicole Kidman), setting off a violent vendetta. There’s tense drama and a stellar cast, but it’s unfortunately bogged down in the trappings of an overlong police procedural.
DOG OF THE WEEK “Extraction” (R) — A veteran CIA operative (Bruce Willis, looking like he’s still wondering why he got out of bed for this) has been kidnapped, and the only one who can save him is his son (Kellan Lutz, Generic Action Guy). There’s a techno-MacGuffin that could kill the whole Internet, so Generic Action Guy has gotta grimace and punch and shoot as best as he can until he fixes it. In all of 80 minutes, just about every cliche is checked off (bar fight, girl sidekick with romantic past, nightclub fight, warehouse standoff) and every one is left untouched and intact, like a hobbyist’s collection.
TV RELEASES “Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song” “Jesus of Nazareth: The Complete Miniseries” “No Rin: The Complete Series” “Warehouse 13: The Complete Series” “Royal Shakespeare Company: The Merchant of Venice” (c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.