Reel-View Ratings: The Bigger The Beard, The Better The Movie



A depressed, discontented self-help author (David Thewlis) can’t seem to find joy or meaning in anything in his life — everyone literally sounds to him like a deadpan Tom Noonan — until he meets the sprightly young Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who promises to be his savior from monotony … at least for a little while. OK, so that plot doesn’t sound incredibly engaging, but when it’s told entirely through stop-motion puppetry, well, that changes things. The sophisticated puppets are lifelike without being uncanny (and pull off the most realistically graphic sex scene you’ll see all year), and the overall attention to detail is nothing short of phenomenal. It’s a downer of a movie, but it’s a triumph, too.

Opens Jan. 22 at Kahala Theatre



Stop me if this sounds familiar: A young girl is torn from her idyllic life and forced to fight for herself and those she loves against overwhelming odds, all whilst torn between two handsome young men. Despite its intriguing alien invasion premise and occasional glimmers of originality, the film never quite rises above that Young Adult Clich Smoothie that it has been made to be. The action is notably restrained for a movie of this ilk, but star Chloe Grace Moretz is ill suited to be this kind of desperate, strained heroine, and most of her costars fail to make a real impression. The film wants to be a franchise (it’s based off a series of popular books), but it may better if the fifth wave is the last.

Opens Jan. 22 in wide release



The legendary teacher of Bruce Lee, Ip Man (Donnie Yen), is settling down in the final installment in this semi-biographical film trilogy. Ip is ready to set aside the nationalist struggles of his youth and become a revered teacher of Wing Chun in Hong Kong. Life never goes that way for martial arts masters, though. This is a more introspective take on Ip than the typical, as he struggles between his duty to family and his budding school, and the film manages to balance its commitment to high-flyin’ action and character with relative ease, though the plot itself is clunky and meandering. It’s not the best of the trilogy, but at least this hero has changed with time.

Opens Jan. 22 at Kahala Theatre