The new Netflix offering “Awake” is yet another apocalyptic sci-fi thriller with a gimmick. After the radiation from solar flares bombards the earth, people lose their ability to sleep. After a few days of universal insomnia, chaos reigns and civilization begins to crumble. A young mother, played by Gina Rodriguez, attempts to protect her children, one of whom is still able to sleep. Seems a shady government agency wants to dissect the little girl to see if they can find a cure. Rodriguez provides a solid performance that anchors the movie, but the action and plot elements seem to be cribbed from a number of other movies in the genre. “Awake” has an intriguing setup but doesn’t live up to its unique promise. If you’re suffering from insomnia, watching “Awake” just might provide the cure.
The lightweight comedy “Queen Bees” could have been called “Mean Girls: The Geriatric Edition.” “Queen Bees” features a sturdy cast of movie veterans doing the best they can to make something memorable out of a very tired premise. Eighty-eight-year-old Ellen Burstyn, one of the greatest actresses of her generation, stars as a woman who reluctantly takes up temporary residence at a luxury retirement home. To her dismay, she discovers that the cliques are worse than those from high school. To her delight, she also finds romance. The venerable cast includes James Caan, Ann-Margret, Loretta Devine, Jane Curtain and Christopher Lloyd, but the limp, overly familiar script and sluggish direction stymie their efforts. It’s like an episode of the “Love Boat” set in a senior center. The cast gets A’s, but “Queen Bees” gets a C-.
Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, Screenland.com, fineartsgroup.com and drafthouse.com.