Five Nights at Freddy’s PG-13 1h 49m

I never played the video games this movie is based on, so I went in blind regarding whether it’s faithful to the franchise. Mike (an excellent performance by Josh Hutcherson) is a young man raising his younger sister, 10-year-old Abby (Piper Rubio), all by himself. Due to anger management issues, Mike struggles to keep a job. His anger stems from the guilt he holds about his little brother Garrett’s disappearance when Mike was nine years old. Mike goes to an employment agency, and the only job available is as a security guard working the night shift at the former Freddy Fazbear’s restaurant (Freddy’s is a Chuck-E-Cheese rip-off with much scarier animatronic characters). Mike reluctantly takes the job. The first night, local police officer Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail) stops by. Vanessa gives Mike the run-down on the place, its lore and history. Mike is creeped out after Vanessa’s story. One evening, Mike takes Abby to work with him when he can’t find childcare, and her presence is the impetus for the animatronic characters to come to life. Why they come to life is the basis for the horror and frighteningly violent events  that ensue. 

As a straight-up horror film, this works quite well, as opposed to just a video game adaptation. Mike’s struggles, anxiety, and fear for Abby (and the audience’s fear for her) are all excruciatingly intensified throughout the film. There’s a solid sense of redemption for Mike at the end, some decent violence, and interesting kills. 

SEE IT IF YOU’RE DOWN WITH video game adaptations, the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game franchise, horror, Josh Hutcherson.  

The Marvels PG-13 1h 45m

Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is in space investigating a problem with the intergalactic jump system. Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) is Danvers’ best friend’s daughter. She’s a superhero in her own right, who now works for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) at the Earth end of the intergalactic jump system. Rambeau can manipulate magnetic fields and energy. Rambeau is investigating the same problem as Captain Marvel at the Earth end of the jump system. Young Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Ms. Marvel, who is currently on Earth, can turn light into objects thanks to a quantum band she inherited from her aunt. The three of them are all zapped at the same time by Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), the leader of the Kree, as he discovers and activates another quantum band. (Captain Marvel destroyed the Kree AI who enslaved her in the first Captain Marvel film; it’s about to come back to haunt her.) After the zap, whenever any of ‘The Marvels’ use their powers, they switch places with each other. This leads to some interesting and dangerous situations, especially for Kamala, who’s still learning the limits of her powers. Got all that? Good, because all three superhero ladies must now stop Dar-Benn’s rampage through the galaxy. 

This movie is about girl power, confronting your fears, and kicking butt. Sounds a lot like the other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies, doesn’t it? It has all the special touches, Easter eggs, one liners, literal cat herding, and excellent action too. It’s too bad the movie didn’t have a bigger opening. Was the SAG/AFTRA strike, which limited the actors’’ ability to promote the movie, the problem? Have audiences grown tired of the MCU? Or was it just that it was the second Captain Marvel movie? I’m not sure, but despite the blasé opening, the movie was a fun romp. I had a good time. 

SEE IT IF YOU’RE DOWN WITH the MCU movies; the Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Captain Rambeau characters; Brie Larson; Teyonah Parris; Samuel L. Jackson; Iman Vellani; Zawe Ashton. 

Three-sentence movie reviews:

Jules PG-13 1h 27m

Milton (Sir Ben Kingsley) is a retiree living in rural Boonton, Pennsylvania, when a UFO crashes in his backyard. This isn’t a ‘typical’ alien movie; it’s more about the loneliness of the elderly. The alien does have a profound effect on Milton in a sweet, but not treacly, way. SEE IT IF YOU’RE DOWN WITH alien movies, movies about retirees, Sir Ben Kingsley, Jane Curtain. 

Sisu  R 1h 31m

It’s the end of WWII and the Nazis are retreating from the Finnish Lapland using a scorched-earth tactic. Aatami “Sisu” (Jorma Tommila) is a legendary former Finnish soldier who’s discovered gold and is trying to take his treasure home. The retreating Nazis are in Sisu’s way and pay for it in a thrillingly and satisfyingly vicious way. SEE IT IF YOU’RE DOWN WITH WWII movies, ‘lone wolf’ movies, Tarantino-esque violent movies.

Alanna Smithee is a former employee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and a lifelong movie fan.