Annabelle Comes Home **1/2
Annabelle Comes Home
Daisy Ridley in Ophelia
is a sequel to Annabelle
(a bad movie), which spawned prequel Annabelle: Creation
(a good movie); all the Annabelles spin off from James Wan’s The Conjuring
series. Got it? No? Fortunately, there’s an effective pre-credits sequence in which Conjuring
anchors Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) give an expository recap of Annabelle’s purpose: To steal a human soul for a demon to eat, or something. Unfortunately, Annabelle Comes Home
falls somewhere between its predecessors quality-wise. Ed and Lorraine go away for the weekend, leaving their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) in the care of Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), whose friend Daniella (Katie Sarife) crashes the goings-on to use one of the evil artifacts from the Warrens’ trophy room to contact her dead father. Naturally Annabelle escapes, and a whole heapin’ helpin’ o’ demon hell-raisin’ follows. It’s intensely creepy for about 45 minutes, until the jump scares and blown lights kick in and it downshifts to mediocre horror. Wan and his cohorts are good at making shadows, smoke and mirrors freaky, but this time they phoned it in (literally, in some places). Annabelle deserves better. Opens June 26 at theaters valleywide.
Echo in the Canyon ***1/2
The fact that I enjoyed this enough to watch it twice in one day says more about my love of jangly Rickenbackers and The Byrds’s sweet, sweet harmonies than anything else, but if you’re any kind of pop music buff, this will be right up your alley. Featuring interviews by Jakob Dylan with Roger McGuinn, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Michelle Phillips, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and anyone else tangentially connected to the Southern California sound from 1965-1967, this documentary has its shares of meanderings, but director/former Capitol Records CEO Andrew Slater nails down what made it all happen: McGuinn and his pals wanted to play folk songs with electric instruments, so that’s what they did. That leaves lots of time for music pros yapping about such things as why George Harrison got the second-ever 12-string Rickenbacker (pronounced “Rick-en-BACK-er,” Tom Petty helpfully explains). There are also fine live and studio performances led by Dylan, and a group of totally-into-it contemporary singers, including Jade Castrinos, Regina Spektor, Cat Power and Beck, who gives everyone a nice reminder of how good he is when he’s not hiding behind bullshit posturing. It’s joyous. Opens June 28 at Broadway Centre Cinemas.
“It’s high time I tell you my story, myself,” says Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) at the outset of this adaptation of Lisa Klein’s novel—and that story feels like something generated by an algorithm specifically intended to infuriate a subreddit of Hamlet
-loving men’s rights activists. That’s not entirely a bad thing, as the narrative follows Ophelia from motherless tomboy to lady in waiting for Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts), and her romance with Prince Hamlet (George MacKay). Semi Chellas’ script provides passable imitation of Shakespearean wordplay in the 40 minutes that precede events familiar from Shakespeare’s Hamlet
, which makes it odd that she then chooses prosaic interpretations of famous lines (“to thine own self be true” becomes “be true to yourself”). But the focus remains firmly on the story’s women, altering key plot points to provide a perspective on characters whose societal roles are limited by gender, class and age. It could have played out as to-be-woke-or-not-to-be-woke stuff, but fortunately Ridley and Watts bring earnest performances to director Claire McCarthy’s well-crafted production. There’s at least occasional insight paired with a thumb in the eye to those who resist revisionist perspectives. Opens June 28 at Megaplex Gateway.
The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith **1/2
Call it a function of the times in which we live, but I find it hard not to be emotionally affected by stories of philosophical opponents finding common ground. Writer/director Mitch Davis returns to the memoirs of John Groberg (Christopher Gorham), as he brings his wife Jean (Natalie Medlock, replacing a pre-fame Anne Hathaway from the original 2001 film) and daughters back to his mission ground in Samoa when he’s called to be the mission president. Moral instruction is the central goal here—this is the kind of movie where someone who is doing bad things is literally punished by a bolt of lightning—but it’s still frustrating that Groberg is such a saintly husband, father and exemplar of righteous living. Still, while the central drama comes from not one but two life-or-death medical crises, Fire of Faith
pivots around the local Samoan Methodist minister (Ben Baker) dealing with his hatred for Mormons converting his people. Plentiful though the melodrama may be, there’s a potent humanity to a tale showing that hatred evolving and softening, and which suggests that miracles of love aren’t exclusive to any one faith. Opens June 28 at theaters valleywide.
See feature review
. Opens June 28 at theaters valleywide.