Arctic

⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: PG-13 for language and some bloody images.

Theater: Edina.

 

This nearly silent yet gripping survival tale set on a frozen landscape isn’t what you would expect from the former YouTube sensation billed as“MysteryGuitarMan,” but Joe Penna’s debut feature film is a fine reminder of how cinematic language can and should transcend the spoken word.

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen plays Overgård, a man who has survived a plane crash in a punishing polar landscape. The narrative doesn’t bother with back story for him, or even with an explanation for his plight. There is no fiery crash, and the film is all the better for this restraint.

All we know is Overgård is digging S.O.S. messages into the snow, bunking in the downed aircraft, dutifully winding up his distress signal and catching fish with an elaborate rigging system. Now and then he looks up to the sky, taking in the weight of the situation. Mikkelsen is truly captivating in these moments — emotions barely but tangibly crossing across his face.

The film loses some of its luster when a rescue helicopter crashes and Overgård saves the female co-pilot (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir). As good as Mikkelsen is, and as compelling as the film is, it is frustrating that the female character is nothing more than dead weight the male hero drags across the tundra.

Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

 

Happy Death Day 2U

⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: PG-13 for violence, language, sexual material and thematic elements.

 

The 2017 horror thriller “Happy Death Day” took a “Groundhog Day” concept — a woman must relive the day of the protagonist’s murder, over and over — and put it in service of a largely uninspired movie. But unlike the 1993 Bill Murray comedy, some people never learn from their mistakes, no matter how often they repeat them. Case in point: this sequel.

The story involves a genius college science major (Phi Vu) who has built a time machine that creates alternate timelines in which the identity of a killer (yes, there’s another one) changes. Soon the woman from the first film (Jessica Rothe) becomes the center of the film’s, and the murderer’s, attention. But this time, it isn’t just the woman who is threatened, but her friends.

Returning director Christopher Landon leans even harder into a tone of satire that was only hinted at in the first film. Although showing promise, ultimately the film doesn’t live up to its aspirations, losing its thread in a “Scooby Doo”-style adventure.

Pat Padua, Washington Post

 

Alita: Battle Angel

⋆½ out of four stars

Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and profanity.

 

To call this long-awaited collaboration between Robert Rodriguez (director/co-writer) and James Cameron (producer/co-writer) a lousy movie isn’t entirely accurate. It’s more like four lousy movies.

An adaptation of a 1990s Japanese graphic novel about an amnesiac cyborg (voiced by actress Rosa Salazar), the film lives up to its visual heritage by merging live action with computer-generated composites of machine and human. But it’s hard to follow where this movie goes, in no small part because the film itself has trouble finding a path.

The film veers, almost aimlessly, through various stories. It’s easy to see why Cameron (“Avatar”) and Rodriguez (“From Dusk Till Dawn’) might have been drawn to the story. At its core, however muddled, there are classic sci-fi themes of class and what it means to be human. But none of them amounts to much.

Hau Chu, Washington Post