Hollywood’s ‘Master of Disaster,’ director Roland Emmerich, is best known for big screen spectacles like “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow.” He gives the famous South Pacific WWII battle “Midway” that same splashy, special effects-heavy treatment. While the action sequences are impressive the human drama is soapy and superficial. Stars like Woody Harrelson and Dennis Quaid give it their best, but only the Japanese characters seem authentic. Still, “Midway” is a fitting tribute to those who served and sacrificed.
The broad and goofy John Cena comedy “Playing With Fire” plays a bit like “Kindergarten Cop” with firemen. A group of California smoke jumpers rescue three kids from a fire and realize that their babysitting skills are lacking. If you’re over the age of six, don’t expect many laughs from this juvenile and labored effort.
“Tel Aviv on Fire” is a winning Israeli comedy about a Palestinian man who stumbles into a job as a TV writer. Things get complicated when an Israeli border officer forces him to alter the plotline of a politically charged soap opera. While this movie won’t bring peace, it finds common ground and a respite from conflict.
Antonio Banderas reunites with acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar for the eighth time in “Pain and Glory,” a wistful and melancholy drama about an aging filmmaker reflecting on the joys and regrets of his life. Yes, it’s a semi-autobiographical work that provides Banderas with his best role in years.
Also opening this week, “Last Christmas” is a holiday rom-com starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. Ewan McGregor stars in “Doctor Sleep,” the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s sequel to “The Shining.” “Cold Brook” is a fairy tale about middle-aged enlightenment. “Danger Close” is an Australian Viet Nam war drama. “Love is Blind” is a comic drama about a woman unable to see or hear her mother.