By Tony Beal


“Dune: Part Two”
Paul Atreides leads the Freman to take control of the planet Arrakis, no matter the cost.

The existence of a “Dune” adaptation that captures the spirit and themes of the original without sugarcoating is nothing short of miraculous. This is before we even delve into the intricacies of “Dune: Part Two.” Denis Villeneuve exerts complete control over every element, from the thrilling worm rides to the serene shots of people perched on sand dunes watching the sunset. Each scene resonates with its own significance. The cast delivers outstanding performances, with Austin Butler, Zendaya, and Javier Bardem embodying the diverse ideologies central to the film’s narrative with finesse. Notably bold, the movie ventures into darker territories than most recent blockbusters dare to tread. It portrays not the rise of a hero, but the ascendancy of a villain—a true tragedy.
“Drive-Away Dolls”
Two friends find themselves in the middle of a criminal conspiracy during a road trip.

This movie is a treat for those who relish a good dose of the zany, as it wholeheartedly embraces its B-movie roots. Think exaggerated characters, over-the-top dialogue, and an irresistibly silly mood throughout. For fans of this genre, it’s a total riot—as it was for me—with a cast that perfectly embodies the film’s outlandish spirit. There’s an unexpected sweetness to the movie as well, with themes of friendship and love at its core, anchored by the excellent cast of Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan. While the film’s runtime is just over 80 minutes and feels a tad bloated, this may well contribute to its quirky charm and homage to classic B-movies. Above all, it’s downright hilarious, offering every character a chance to deliver a memorable line. Ethan Coen hasn’t lost his touch, and alongside his co-writer and wife, Tricia Cooke, they both flaunt considerable talent.

A cosmonaut, on a mission that’s more personal than it seems, finds it can be the potential solution to his life problems.
Adam Sandler showcases his remarkable acting prowess once again, delivering a subdued performance laced with guilt. Yet, it’s Paul Dano’s voice role as a giant space spider that leaves the most profound impact, balancing emotional detachment with a sense of curiosity. Johan Renck, the director acclaimed for the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” brings his visually stunning and fluid camerawork to the fore, creating an immersive sensation of solitary space exploration. The film’s momentum falters somewhat with cuts back to Earth; these segments might have been more effective as visions or flashbacks rather than a concurrent narrative, and they tend to make the film feel longer than necessary. Nonetheless, the film’s genuine and bold approach makes it a commendable addition to the genre.


“Ricky Stanicky”
Three friends hire an actor to play a made up friend who gets them out of trouble.

At the one-hour mark of “Ricky Stanicky,” it dawned on me that the film was only just setting the stage for its main plot, with a scant 50 minutes remaining. The movie seems like a relic from the early 2000s, and not in a nostalgic way. Peter Farrelly seems to be reaching for the comedic heights of his earlier works, pre- “Green Book” acclaim, but that magic is noticeably absent. Instead, we’re left with a film that oscillates between being obnoxious and simply distasteful, its humor lacking consistency and finesse. The jokes are tired and overly labored. The cast appears disengaged, with the notable exception of John Cena, who strives to inject a semblance of boldness into the mix. Alas, the movie’s execution is rudimentary at best, reminiscent of a novice student project rather than a polished production. “Ricky Stanicky” feels like a film that missed its era by over a decade and might have been best left there.

April 5
“The First Omen”
“Monkey Man”
“The People’s Joker” (Limited)

April 12
“Civil War”
“Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”
“Sasquatch Sunset” (Limited)
“Sting” (Limited)
“The Greatest Hits” (Hulu)

April 19
“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”
“Spy X Family Code: White”
“Villains Inc.”
“Wildfire: The Legend of the Cherokee Ghost Horse”
“Rebel Moon: Part Two – The Scargiver”

April 26
“Unsung Hero”