No-Spoilers Movie Reviews

Coming soon to a Redbox kiosk near you:

Terminator: Genisys
Don’t hurt your brain figuring out the time-traveling shenanigans. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy this fascinating re-imagining of the 1984 film about artificial intelligence gone bad.

Jason Clarke (The Great Gatsby) is a scary-intense John Connor and Jai Courtney (Divergent) is an earnest, less jaded Kyle Reese. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) goes full-throttle feisty as Sarah Connor, so much so that even your feminist friends will want her to relax for a few minutes and get laid already.

Yes, the filmmakers could’ve injected more humor. Arnold saying “bite me” and “I’ll be back” is cheesy. But we’re feeling nostalgic for the ’80s, so all is forgiven.

Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) delivers the best line in the entire movie. It’s worth the wait.

Trainwreck
This year’s It Girl of comedy has written her first feature film, and it rocks. Moviegoers catapulted Amy Schumer firmly into the triumvirate – with Melissa McCarthy (Spy) and Kristin Wiig (Bridesmaids) – of funny women who can carry a Hollywood movie.

Schumer plays a men’s magazine writer who – thanks to her dad’s words of wisdom when she’s a kid – believes monogamy is unrealistic. She’s spent her adult life amassing a dizzying array of one-night stands. Then she’s assigned to write an article about a sports doctor, Aaron (Bill Hader), who happens to be a nice guy and quite possibly a keeper. World view: obliterated.

Hader is a swoon-worthy leading man, a major departure from his usual roles. Schumer is as good in serious moments as she is funny ones. And LeBron James steals his scenes as a protective, Downton Abbey-obsessed BFF.

Tomorrowland
Britt Robertson and George Clooney play a teen science whiz and former boy-genius inventor who risk their lives to discover the secrets of a futuristic utopia in another dimension. The story captures the inspiration and sense of wonder you remember from The Wonderful World of Disney (if you’re an aging GenXer like I am). While I appreciate the technology that goes into animated films, it’s just not the same as live-action Disney classics such as The Cat from Outer Space, The Love Bug, Return from Witch Mountain, The Parent Trap, and Pollyanna.

Tomorrowland’s thesis is captured in Albert Einstein’s famous quote, Imagination is more important than knowledge, which figures prominently in one shot. This is a kid-friendly movie with great messages about family, friends, and the value of dreamers in our society.

Ex Machina
One of my besties and I planned to see Ex Machina at The Lyric, the local indie movie theater. Then she heard it was science fiction and refused to go. I was disappointed. “What did sci-fi ever do to you?” I asked.

I finally saw it. (Thank you, Redbox.) Boy, did my friend miss out. Writer Alex Garland’s directorial debut is chilling and thought-provoking. Like his other screenplays (28 Days, Sunshine) Ex Machina is an intellectual moviegoers’ dream. No phasers or starfighter battles.

Domhnall Gleeson is a young programmer selected to evaluate an eerily human-like female AI (artificial intelligence). The actor disarms audiences with his fresh-faced innocence, a direct contrast to co-star Oscar Isaac as the enigmatic company CEO. Isaac displays an intensity and intelligence that will win him an Academy Award one day. (An Oscar for Oscar.) Newcomer Alicia Vikander steals scenes with every controlled gesture and word.

Is creating AI a bad idea? By the movie’s closing scenes, you may feel compelled to take a sledgehammer to every electronic device you own. Or not. Go ahead, worship your cell phone. You’ve been warned.

Welcome To Me
Uncomfortable. That’s how this quirky indie film will make you feel. Writer Eliot Laurence and actor Kristin Wiig give us a rare glimpse into the world of borderline personality disorder. Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a woman who wins the lottery, quits taking her psychiatric medication, and buys her own talk show so she can share stories, recipes, and life lessons with an audience, à la Oprah.

Wiig is best known for comedy, but loyal fans know she is also capable of breaking your heart into a dozen pieces with dramatic roles. The swan-obsessed main character in Welcome to Me stumbles her way through cringe-worthy moments with family, friends, co-workers, and lovers. By the end of this (endearingly) bizarre tale, you’ll appreciate the awkward ugly duckling in yourself, and others, a bit more.

Katherine Valdez doesn’t receive a dime from Redbox, in case you were wondering. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @KatValdezWriter and www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com.

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