Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

      Luke Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) is a world-class tracker. He always finds his target, and his hulking figure makes quite the impression. He has been bested only by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a disgraced ex-MI6 agent turned baddie. 

      The two are forced together again after Shaw’s estranged sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) steals a super virus that could end the world. The American and British governments think Hattie is a traitor. She justifies herself as a hero whose theft was the only way to keep the virus from Brixton (Idris Elba), a bio-engineered super soldier antagonistic to the Shaw family.

     Can Hobbs and Shaw figure out a way to work together? Or will their bickering doom the world?

     As a professional reviewer, it’s my duty to tell you this is not a good movie. The plot is needlessly complicated and dumb, the dialogue is the usual Fast & Furious nonsense and the action sequences are over the top. Hobbs & Shaw is not a good movie, but it is a very entertaining one.

     Continuing the Fast & Furious tradition, Hobbs & Shaw is a deliberately ostentatious cavalcade of fit men flexing and vehicles exploding. But breaking with tradition, Hobbs & Shaw actors have charisma and emotive power. It’s a revolutionary move for the franchise.

      The secret is the chemistry between the leads. Johnson’s bombastic energy is tempered by Statham’s more subtle charms. With Johnson’s hulking charm balancing Statham’s sleek, sarcasm, they are the perfect bickering pair. It also helps that Elba gives them the perfect foil. These men know exactly what kind of movie they’re in and ham it up accordingly. It’s a blast to watch. 

      Though a vast improvement over the dead-eyed mumbling of others in the series, Hobbs & Shaw is far from perfect. It’s too wedded to the themes of the Fast & Furious movies. It’s too long. The scene in Russia is a waste, while a great sequence set in Samoa with Hobbs’ family gets shortchanged.

     Still, you’re not buying a ticket to Hobbs & Shaw for plotting or cinematography. This is a movie for gleefully gobbling popcorn while watching in a crowded theater. 

So-Bad-It’s-Good Action • PG-13 • 135 mins. 

~~~ New this Week ~~~

The Art of Racing in the Rain

      Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) is a dog obsessed with philosophy and reincarnation. Denny, his owner (Milo Ventimiglia), is a racecar driver trying to get the girl. Enzo makes helping Denny part of his spiritual journey. 

     This is a dog movie. That means that at some point, there’s going to be a tear-jerking scene where the dog is in peril or dies. If that’s your type of movie, buy a ticket. If you find this type of story emotionally manipulative, don’t — though Enzo is a handsome dog and the comely human cast should be fun to look at, too. 

Prospects: Flickering • PG • 109 mins. 

Brian Banks

      Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge) was headed to USC on a football scholarship when he was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned. 

     Exonerated after a decade in jail, Banks pursues his NFL dream. Can he achieve the life stolen from him? Or is it too late? 

Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 99 mins.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

     Dora (Isabela Moner) was happy exploring the jungle for treasure with her parents. Exiled to an American high school, she feels lost. 

     But when Dora and classmates are kidnapped on a field trip, she becomes more impressive to her aloof peers. Can she get her classmates to safety and win them over?

      Dora and the Lost City of Gold should be a nostalgic treat for millennials who grew up watching the beloved children’s show. With cringe-inducing dialogue and kiddie humor, Dora might not be fun for viewers who have graduated from Nick Jr. 

Prospects: Flickering • PG • 102 mins. 


The Kitchen

      With their Irish mob-connected husbands locked up, Kathy, Ruby and Claire (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elizabeth Moss) expect to be taken care of. But their little envelopes of money don’t pay the bills. Mobsters who promised to help them tell them to remember their place — in the kitchen. 

     Instead, the women take to the streets, forming a rival mob of their own.

     Based on a comic book series, this gritty flick about a literal battle of the sexes should be fun. McCarthy, Haddish and Moss are fine performers with plenty of charisma.

Prospects: Bright • R • 102 mins. 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

      It’s a tradition in Mill Valley for teens to scare each other with tales of Sarah Bellows and her haunted house. So the kids who break into the old Bellows mansion expect thrills and chills. 

     What they find, however, is Sarah Bellows’ lost stories. They dismiss the stories — until they start coming true. Is Sarah Bellows still haunting Mill Valley? 

      Based on the book series that traumatized a generation, this is not for the skittish. Much like the books, this film earns its scares from its looks instead of its story. Don’t expect groundbreaking writing in the film, which is essentially a collection of urban legends. But with Guillermo del Toro producing, the scary aesthetics should be spot on. 

Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 120 mins. 

Them That Follow

      Maria (Alice Englert) believes in her father (Walton Goggins), a Pentecostal snake handler and leader of a devout following in the mountains of Appalachia. When Maria meets a boy she isn’t allowed to see, she wonders about the iron control her father exacts over his followers. 

      Maria must not only decide whether she believes in her father above all else, but also deal with a deadly secret hidden in the community. 

     This backwoods drama features an amazing cast, with Goggins joined by Olivia Coleman, Kaitlyn Dever and Lewis Pullman. It would be enthralling to watch this group read the phonebook. Better still to watch Goggins preach and lift snakes. 

Prospects: Bright • R • 98 mins.