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Serenity

A story too ridiculous to miss — once it streams

© Aviron Pictures / A fishing boat captain’s peaceful life is shattered when his ex-wife tracks him down, desperate for help against her rich but abusive husband.
     Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) has carved out a sun-soaked life on the idyllic island of Plymouth. When not hunting a fish he’s named Justice, he runs charter-fishing trips for rich clients.
      The sudden appearance of his ex, Karen (Anne Hathaway), throws him for a loop. The love of his life and mother of his child left him and took their son, hoping to find a man who could give her the life she wanted.
      With Frank Zariakas (Jason Clarke), Karen is rich beyond her wildest dreams. But he’s an abusive brute who terrorizes her. Karen turns to Baker to get rid of Frank. Her plan: a fishing trip with no return.
       On its surface, Serenity is one of the crop of terrible movies studios release in January, when they’ll get little notice. Leaving it at that is a disservice to Serenity. It isn’t a terrible movie, it is THE terrible movie. Its absolute insanity, awful storytelling and baffling plot twists elevate it to the pantheon of movies so bad they’re entertaining.
      Taking the credit (or blame) for this beautiful disaster is director Steven Knight (Locke), who pulls the rug out from under viewers with a plot twist so wild you’ll want to tell all your friends about it.
      Elevating the film from bad to entertainingly horrendous are two perplexing performances from Oscar-winning actors. McConaughey offers his typically laconic performance, which could be an acting choice or the best he can do with such a script. Hathaway vamps up every scene with her best femme fatale impression as a mash-up of both Turners (Kathleen and Lana), pouting, batting her eyes, cajoling and seducing. Her fantastically campy performance nearly makes you forget how bad the movie is.
        I cannot encourage you to pay box office prices for the peculiar pleasure of seeing a movie so bad as Serenity. However, I recommend highly that you gather your friends for a streaming party. Make a game of it, writing down what you each think the plot twist will be, then laugh as the movie one-ups even the craziest suggestions.
      This is a movie that must be seen to be believed. Just promise me you won’t spend $13 to laugh at it. 
Bonkers Film Noir • R • 106 mins.
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Miss Bala
      While visiting a friend in Mexico, makeup artist Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) gets more education in border politics than she bargained for. After the friend goes missing, Gloria’s return depends on her outsmarting both the cartels and the DEA.
        This remake of a Mexican thriller seems to have less to do with global politics than with extended action sequences. That may not be a bad thing; action movies are often fun, and we could use more women action heroes. Rodriguez is a likeable performer who’ll make it easy to root for Gloria.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 104 mins.
 
They Shall Not Grow Old
      Legendary filmmaker Peter Jackson steps out of The Shire to honor the 100th anniversary of the First World War with a moving documentary about those who served. He meticulously combines rare footage of soldiers on the frontlines, interviews conducted with veterans in the 1960s and letters from soldiers to create a picture of the men who faced a conflict of unprecedented scale. 
      The documentary is a powerful example of how film can make historic events and figures relatable. This is a beautiful tribute to the memory of the World War I generation and a great historic document. For younger viewers, it may be too strong a history lesson. There is disturbing footage of real battles and bodies. 
Prospects: Bright • R • 99 mins.