Somewhere inside writer-director Dan Fogelman’s drama “Life Itself” (Amazon/Stage 6) lurk the makings of a good movie.
For all its spells and incantations, the witchcraft-themed fantasy “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” (Universal) lacks magic. Though some of the humor works, the film makes little impression and registers as only passable entertainment.
“Unbroken: Path to Redemption” (Pure Flix) continues Zamperini’s story, this time with an emphasis on the woes that beset him after he returned home at the end of the global conflict and his eventual embrace of evangelical Christianity.
A crisis of faith can certainly serve as the basis for a compelling drama. In the case of the Evangelical film “God Bless the Broken Road” (Freestyle), though, the cards feel stacked, albeit for the right outcome, with the result that the protagonist’s doubts themselves seem unconvincing.
“The Nun” (Warner Bros.) is an ambitious undertaking with an immense budget and lush special effects the aim to rank as the “That’s Entertainment!” of Catholic-themed horror films.
Those on the lookout for an above-average thriller boasting both surprising plot developments and upright basic values will probably be pleased with “Searching” (Screen Gems).
As scripted by Daniel Casey and directed by brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker, “Kin” (Summit), a gritty but somewhat intriguing crime thriller with an overlay of science fiction, explores shades of right and wrong via a road trip through seamy swaths of Rust Belt and rural America. It’s a thoughtful film but one that can only be endorsed for a minority of grown-ups.
For parents and comic fans weary of the adult nature of many modern superhero films, a safe refuge can be found in the “Lego DC Super Heroes” movies. Arch, colorful and free of violence and profanity, these animated direct-to-video adventures often offer what more self-serious comics-based titles don’t, namely, fun.
From a moral point of view, “Eighth Grade” (A24), a low-key, moving blend of comedy and drama, is a bit of a paradox.
Occasionally, as in “The Happytime Murders” (STX), filmmakers become enamored of the idea of foul-mouthed, sexualized puppets, as if no one had considered this idea before and there were some fresh, original way of going at this.