Ever wonder if it’s possible for excellent actors to save stilted dialogue? A game cast gives it their all but there’s only so much they can do with the latest X-Men prequel, “Dark Phoenix.” Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jessica Chastain nearly work miracles with the script, but it’s still a big disappointment. It takes real filmmaking skill to create tension in a story when the audience already knows the fate of the characters. “Dark Phoenix” isn’t quite able to rise from the ashes.
The loveable critters from the 2016 animated hit are back in “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” Patton Oswalt takes over the voice role of Max vacated by Louis C.K. Max and his pal Duke, voiced by Eric Stonestreet, go on a memorable trip to a farm with their family. This beautifully animated movie is sweet and clever but doesn’t quite capture the magic of the first entry and loses steam in the final act. Still, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” will no doubt please the kids.
The sad final days in the life of William Shakespeare are the focus of the melancholy drama, “All is True.” Kenneth Branagh stars as the Bard of Avon as well as serving as director. Judi Dench plays his longsuffering wife Anne and Ian McKellen portrays his wealthy benefactor, the Earl of Southampton. It probably goes without saying that “All is True” is beautifully acted and produced. Trouble is, it’s quite mournful and slow moving. It’s for Shakespeare aficionados only.
Also opening this week, Olivia Cooke stars in “Katie Says Goodbye” a drama about a naïve young woman who becomes a prostitute. “The Child Remains” is a horror film about a haunted inn. John Lithgow and Blythe Danner star in an eccentric senior love story, “Tomorrow Man.”