“Army of the Dead” (Action/Horror: 2 hours, 27 minutes)

Starring: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Tig Notaro and Omari Hardwick

Director: Zack Snyder

Rated: R (Strong bloody violence, gore and language throughout, some sexual content and brief nudity/graphic nudity)

Movie Review: Another zombie movie that has an eclectic group killing the walking dead via gory means. They are an interesting and comical group, even if they are over the top. 

Scott Ward (Bautista) leads a ragtag unit of former trained military personnel and talented civilians into downtown Las Vegas to recover $200 million. Their task will not be easy. They must face multitudes of zombies, which now includes some alpha zombies led by their alpha general (Albert Valladares). 

“Army of the Dead” is the second zombie movie for Zack Snyder, after “Dawn of the Dead” (2004). He is known for comic book and superhero movies such as “Justice League” (2017/2021) and “300” (2006). This movie, like some of his other movies, has an abundance of visual effects and over-the-top action bits. Combine these aspects with a unique cast, Snyder creates an engaging zombie movie.

Snyder creates a wide range of neat characters in “Army of the Dead” led by masculin star Dave Bautista. At two hours-plus, the action is as energetic as the group of personalities. Snyder adds to the zombie genre with the feel of 1970s horror. He takes time to build his story and his characters to evolve as his story does similarly. Along the way, audience are treated to lengthy entertainment.

Grade: B- (An army of dead-on entertainment offered.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“Spiral: From the Book of Saw” (Crime/Horror/Mystery: 1 hour, 33 minutes)

Starring: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Rated: R (Sequences of bloody violence, gore, torture, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use)

Movie Review: This ninth addition to the “Saw” series tries to take a different turn to update that cinematic franchise that started with “Saw” (2004) by Australian filmmakers James Wan and Leigh Whannell. 

“Spiral” creates a new timely tale to promote social justice via its big-named stars Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. However, it merely creates more of the same; material as with its eight prequels. They take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past.

Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Rock) is a veteran detective. After reporting a colleague for framing a suspect, fellow police officers do not like Detective Banks, who is the son of famous former police chief Marcus Banks (Jackson). 

Soon, a series of gruesome murders take place involving corrupt police officers that are eerily similar to the Jigsaw murders. Detective Banks and his new rookie partner, Detective William Schenk (Minghella), take charge of the investigation. Detective Banks finds himself at the center of the murderer’s attention.

The “Saw” movies are all morbid. They are bloody murders one after the next. Surprisingly, several law-enforcement friends and acquaintances appreciate these movies. Will they like this one?

“Spiral” features a plot about police officers being targeted by a killer wanting justice. The theme corresponds with some present sentiment regarding law enforcement and social justice today. While the narrative may be timely, it is very similar to other “Saw” movies, so “Spiral” feels like a hiccup that will not stop.

Grade: C+ (A copycat Jigsaw entertainingly delivers more passé material.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“Those Who Wish Me Dead” (Action, Drama: 1 hour, 40 minutes)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Finn Little Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult

Director: Taylor Sheridan

Rated: R (Strong Violence and profanity)

Movie Review: Angelina Jolie is always enjoyable as an action star. However, this does not appear as an action movie fully. It is more a crime photoplay that plays like a survival movie.

Hannah Faber (Jolie) is a smokejumper, a firefighter. She still suffers from PTSD after failing to rescue children trapped in a major forest fire. In a seemingly similar situation, Faber encounters Connor (Little), a boy who witnessed assassins (Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult) kill his father. 

Faber must save Connor, who has information that will incriminate some powerful people. Faber and Connor struggle to survive as a major forest fire surges toward them.

The best part of this movie is the bond between Faber and Connor. They form a familial bond that thrives among the action scenes and a raging fire. Director Taylor Sheridan (“Wind River,” 2017) is also a writer. He received an Oscar nomination for “Hell or High Water” (2016). So he knows how to keep his movie on track.

While the movie feels like something one would see decades ago, it entertains nicely with agreeable characterizations and action sequences, yet it also contains missteps.

Some of the dumbest assassins exist in this movie. They cause more attention to their secretive cause than the people they chase. This is where the movie becomes tediously stereotypical clutter. 

Otherwise, “Those Who Wish Me Dead” offers a nice escape. It features the classic good people beat the evildoers and concludes

Grade: B- (For those who want an engaging survival movie …)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“Profile” (Drama/Thriller: 1 hour, 46 minutes)

Starring: Valene Kane, Shazad Latif and Christine Adams

Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Rated: R (Profanity and disturbing imagery)

Movie Review: Based on actual events, “Profile” takes a unique plot and executes it through modern technology. Albeit, if you dislike reading, this is not the movie for you. Audiences get to watch a journalist communicate with family, boyfriend, coworkers and a Muslim fighter who romances her through multiple social media.

That journalist is Amy Whittaker (Kane). In 2014, a British journalist goes undercover to infiltrate the Islamic State’s digital propaganda channels to discover how the men recruit young European women. Whittaker pretends to be a young woman and recent convert to Islam. 

She meets a charismatic Abu Bilel Al-Britani (Latif). Soon, Whittaker and Bilel are dating online and planning to meet. Despite Whittaker’s boyfriend, sister and coworkers indicating she is getting in too deep, the journalist finds she must get her story.

Kane and Latif are mesmerizing. Their romance, although fake on both sides, is captivating. They manage to have more chemistry than couples in many romance movies.

The movie makes Kane’s associations with others appear strictly online. Director Timur Bekmambetov (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” 2012) and his fellow writers forget that life also exists off electronic devices for their characters.

However, “Profile” is a good movie. It is worth a nearly two-hour vacation from social media outlets.

Grade: B (A profile in journalism, stay logged on.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“Finding You” (Drama/Romance: 1 hour, 55 minutes)

Starring: Rose Reid, Jedidiah Goodacre and Vanessa Redgrave

Director: Brian Baugh

Rated: PG (Language and thematic elements)

Movie Review: Modern romances have become too formulaic. Two people take approximately three-quarters of a movie to get together only to break up and get back together by the end. 

“Finding You” features a romance that is lackluster to the point that the script needed a side story featuring Vanessa Redgrave, who becomes the movie’s most interesting character.

Finley Sinclair (Reid), a talented aspiring violinist, plans a nice stay in a small coastal village in Ireland for her college semester abroad program. On her flight overseas, she acquires an airplane seat next to Beckett Rush (Goodacre), a famous young movie star. 

Sinclair finds the actor arrogant and exasperating. Unexpectedly, Beckett is staying at a family-owned bed and breakfast where Sinclair is also lodging. They form a friendship that leads to more.

As a romance, this movie has two leading stars who lack chemistry. The observation is like watching a woman go on a date with her best friend who is gay. They have one romantic moment but it appears like a rent-a-date moment. 

Instead, audiences do have a diversion. An interesting story exists about Cathleen Sweeney played by Vanessa Redgrave. She is a grumpy woman living in a retirement home who Sinclair befriends. Sweeney’s story becomes the more interesting part of this movie and Redgrave plays her in an aggressively charming manner. 

Reid and Goodacre appear as amiable people. They just do not click here in a memorable manner. They appear in a movie that is decent and easy to watch. Sadly, it is also just as easy to forget.

Grade: C (Leaving you hidden and finding you not.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

 “Scoob!” (Animation/Adventure: 1 hour, 34 minutes)

Starring: Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, and Frank Welker

Rated: PG (Violence, language and rude/suggestive humor)

Movie Review: “Scoob!” may entertain younger audiences; its hodgepodge eclectic characters and its wayward story are an overload. This is the perfect narrative to prove one cannot put every character you like in a movie without it becoming muddled. “Scoob!” is all over the place.

Fred Jones (Efron), Daphne Blake (Seyfried), Velma Dinkley (Rodriguez), Shaggy Rogers (Forte) and Scooby-Doo (Welker) are Mystery Inc. The gang investigates paranormal places, proving the hauntings are hoaxes. Their latest case involves them racing to stop an apocalyptic release of the ancient ghost canine Cerberus, and Scooby-Doo plays a major part to save Earth.

The story is a scattered, fast-paced action and adventure movie. Too many characters, each clashing because of their oddness. The moments typically create divergent stories that are unneeded.

Besides the Mystery Inc crew, “Scoob!” contains older cartoon characters that only mature audiences of yesteryear will remember. The list includes Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) and Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan). One can also expect to see other characters from Hanna-Barbera Productions. Again, too many personas are present that writers try to make equally important.

Writers also have another failing. They portray the men as simpletons, yet the women are caring, intelligent and tech-savvy. This is becoming an all too notable trend in modern movies. In portraying women as intelligent and brave, screenplays do not have to make the other sex the opposite or lesser.

“Scoob!” offers plenty of action wrapped in an adventure. Its too plentiful cast and divergent stories create a movie implementing diversity with little substance.

Grade: D+ (Scooby Dooby Don’t.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has reviewed movies for The Valdosta Daily Times for more than 20 years.

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