Disney’s Halloween season offering is a sequel to a 2014 hit that flipped the script on “Sleeping Beauty,” turning the evil sorceress into a heroine. Angelina Jolie is back in the titular role of the gargantuan production, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” Apparently, the filmmakers wanted to make a kiddie version of “Game of Thrones,” giving us a story that is more about war and palace intrigue than fairytale fantasy.
The tone shifts are jarring and the visuals, while very impressive, are so frenetic that they weigh the movie down. Parents should be warned that the body count is high, the bad guys are humans and the story may be a bit too dark for little kids. But Jolie’s sly performance is the movie’s saving grace. She provides more magic with an arched eyebrow than all of the special effects combined.
Natalie Portman gives it her all, but the over-directed arthouse drama “Lucy in the Sky” is a misfire. The movie is a fictionalized version of the case of former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak who was infamously tried in 2007 for the attempted kidnapping of a romantic rival. The premise asserts that astronauts have some kind of existential crisis after having flown in space. “Lucy in the Sky” is flashy, but spacey.
The whacked out midnight movie comedy “Greener Grass” takes place in a pastel-colored alternate universe suburbia where one woman slowly takes over the life of her best friend. While it generates some twisted laughs, the movie’s peculiar absurdist sense of humor makes it a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.
“Villains” is a comic thriller with Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe as a couple of small time crooks who get more than they bargained for when they break into the home of some hardcore sadists. It’s a modestly involving little creeper.
Also opening this week, “Zombieland: Double Tap” is a sequel to the hit 2009 horror comedy. “Monos” is a drama about an American woman taken hostage by teenage commandos in Latin America. “Loro” is an Italian comic drama about infamous industrialist and politician Silvio Berlusconi.