At a time when theaters are filled with world-ending stakes, here's a film where the greatest drama is how the steak is prepared. Yes, Downton Abbey is back. The landmark public television show that gave us all an escape from our busy lives has been adapted for the big screen. But it's a present that's been stuffed in a package that can't fit six seasons' worth of characters and what they've been up to since the series ended. It's 1927 and the king and queen are visiting Downton. Will they fancy the estate? Will they drool over the food? It's the sort of event that would jump off the screen over the course of several TV episodes but makes for a boring time at the movies. Still, it's a treat to see the Crawley clan and their staff again. Fans will no doubt delight in watching good ol' Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) politely ordering around assistant cook Daisy (Sophie McShera) downstairs. Upstairs, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Tom Branson (Allen Leech) are calling the shots, in hopes of keeping the snooty Countess (Maggie Smith) out of trouble. If you don't know who these people are, you're not alone. Only those familiar with the show will know what's going on (some of the characters aren't even named). Director Michael Engler and writer Julian Fellowes have done extensive work on the series, yet they don't have much experience with movies, and it shows in the plodding pace and lack of character development. I could go on about the film's shortcomings, but like the filmmakers, I'm cramped for space. PG. ASHER LUBERTO. Dine-In Progress Ridge 13, Vancouver Mall 23, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Cornelius, Eastport, Laurelhurst, Living Room, Oak Grove, Bridgeport, Cascade, Cinema 99, City Center, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd, Sherwood, Tigard, Scappoose, Studio One.
Slathered in makeup and capped by a swirl of short dark hair, Renée Zellweger makes for a magnificent Judy Garland in Judy, a cinematic re-creation of the London concert series Garland gave months before her death in 1969, plus several flashbacks. Director Rupert Goold captures the extremes of Garland's life, including her alcoholism, her miserable marriages, and the harrowing abuse she endured at the hands of Hollywood studio head Louis B. Mayer (Richard Cordery). Yet Goold proves incapable of imagining there might have been more to Garland than her talent and her traumas. Even when the film flirts with brilliance—most memorably during the long night Judy spends chatting and eating eggs with two gay men who have found joy and solace in the sound of her voice—it is hampered by the aura of artificiality that clings to so many biopics. Like Freddie Mercury before her, Garland gets stuck with a movie too stiff and small to convey the glorious immensity of her presence. Zellweger's restless movements and throaty vocals may be a treat, but they can't make up for the fact that Judy isn't really about Judy Garland. It's about a subpar filmmaker leeching off her greatness, hoping in vain it will rub off on him. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Dine-In Progress Ridge 13, Living Room.
Rambo: Last Blood
- Early on in First Blood, Sylvester Stallone’s green beret and the sheriff of a small town named “Hope” argue over the meaning of the word “boring.” Thirty-seven years later, Rambo: Last Blood settles that debate by showing us something truly dull. In the fifth—and supposedly last—installment in the franchise, John Rambo’s adopted daughter (Yvette Monreal) has been kidnapped by an army of racial stereotypes in Mexico, who have made her their sex slave. The Alexander the Great of action movies has taken on Burma, Vietnam, Afghanistan and even the U.S. But can he defeat the home country of Trump’s worst nightmare? Adrian Grunberg’s xenophobic border parable comes across as a MAGA-fueled fantasy that also borders on stupid and idiotic. In his scheme for revenge, Rambo lures the gang to his ranch in the U.S., where the bone-crunching takes place via Home Alone-style death traps. Before you know it, an underground lair is filled waist high with bodies. The problem is that Grunberg has also killed any sense of fun. He’s ripped the heart out of what made the first film a classic: campy action and a Stallone who cared. Rambo may still be able to beat Ethan Hunt, James Bond and Jason Bourne in a fight, but no action star can beat a bad script. R. ASHER LUBERTO. Dine-In Progress Ridge 13, Mill Plain 8, Vancouver Mall 23, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Cornelius, Eastport, Oak Grove, Bridgeport, Cascade, Cinema 99, City Center, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, Sherwood, Tigard, Scappoose, Studio One.