Peter Rabbit

⋆⋆½ out of four stars

Rated: PG for rude humor and ­cartoon violence.


The animation in this new adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s books is top-notch, but the gentle spirit of the source material is subsumed into a chaotic, violent mayhem, manically soundtracked to the day’s hits.

Will Gluck directed and co-wrote with Rob Lieber this adaptation of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” the story of naughty rabbit Peter (James Corden), who can’t help but snack from Mr. McGregor’s garden.

This version ups the ante significantly in the Garden Wars, especially when Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill) dies, and his fastidious nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) comes to Windermere. Thomas, hoping to sell off his uncle’s property, finds that the “vermin” have moved in.

The photorealistic animation is truly breathtaking, especially in the first few moments of the film. The rabbits are extraordinarily lifelike, with their individual strands of soft fur and shiny eyes.

But it’s all put in service of a shockingly savage and brutal war between Peter and his crew (Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-Tail, Benjamin Bunny) and the fussy Thomas.

Peter takes the feud entirely too far, and the movie descends into a truly sadistic display of violence, as poor Thomas is pounded, pummeled, battered, bruised, shocked and exploded at the paws of the brutal bunnies.

The filmmakers try to aim for a high note at the end with a message about owning your actions and taking responsibility, even if you are a talking bunny wearing a blue jacket. But when a bunny misbehaves as Peter does, apologies are necessary all around — including to the audience of the film.

Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service



Fifty Shades Freed

⋆½ out of four stars

Rated: R for sex.


“I feel like I’ve been here before,” says Anastasia Steele, now Grey (Dakota Johnson), wandering through the forest to an old abandoned mansion. So do we. The phenomenon started out as “Twilight” fan fiction, then turned into runaway bestselling novels that stirred the loins of nice middle-class women around the world. The “Fifty Shades” franchise concludes with “Fifty Shades Freed,” which provides mainly a sense of relief that it’s over rather than the orgasmic climax promised on the posters.

While the first film in the series wrestled the source material into something that would work with a wider audience, this focuses entirely on keeping the fans satisfied. And logically so; at this point, they’re likely the only ones still around.

After a wedding and whirlwind honeymoon in France, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia are drawn back to Seattle by the specter of Ana’s former boss, the leering Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson, “The Knick”), who has undergone a transformation from shamed book editor to criminal mastermind bent on destroying their world.

There are still traces of the klutzy, credulous Ana, but the newly minted Mrs. Grey spends more time in the driver’s seat on this film, at one point actually weaving Christian’s high-powered car through traffic in a high-speed pursuit. She can do a mean parallel park, too.

Now that the Greys have put a ring on it, there isn’t much more for them to do other than negotiate which sex toys they’ll try next. By now we’ve been in and out of the red room so often that it’s completely lost its intrigue. The sex scenes feel more like an afterthought, included to remind us why the series became such a phenomenon.

Anna Hartley, The Wrap