A stunning Holocaust drama, young adults battling invaders and Robert De Niro in a stinker

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Chloë Grace Moretz stars as Cassie who, starting on “the last normal day of my life” tells of an alien invasion from outer space as she sees it from her small Ohio town. In a series of waves, power is knocked out, buildings are shaken, cities are swamped and people are killed by avian flu. Then we learn the aliens are among us and look just like us. You can’t trust anyone. Liev Schreiber, as an army colonel, says a 5th Wave is coming but doesn’t know what it will be. He sends all the local children to military training. Cassie misses the bus and spends most of the film following its route to find her young brother. We get the odd vision of her carrying both an automatic rifle and a teddy bear. And linking up with two hunky guys and ever-more improbable plot-turns. Pretty standard stuff of its type. Note young Maika Monroe though. We saw her last year in It Follows. She’s outclasses Moretz in being confrontational and tough. (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5

DIRTY GRANDPA: It’s a mystery how good actors get into terrible movies like this. I mean, Robert De Niro doesn’t need the work, does he? Zac Efron might, but not Aubrey Plaza (she’s popular on TV), Zoey Deutch (six other movies this year) or Danny Glover. He’s on screen for only a minute or two and is now stuck with this title on his resume). And it is bad, possibly making a run for “worst of the year.”


 De Niro plays a widower who, now that he’s free of his wife, wants to go to Florida and “do” some college girls. Only, he uses stronger language than that. And many times. He cajoles his about-to-be-married grandson (Efron) into driving him there and lures him into one embarrassing situation after another. In something of a highlight, Efron does a naked song and dance with a stuffed toy covering his privates. De Niro earlier pronounced it a “nice dick” and there’s a follow-up joke when they share a bed. The problem is almost none of this is funny. The dialogue is leaden including a particularly painful line about Queen Latifah in a hot air balloon. And there’s much more. It just keeps on getting worse as it goes along. Who found the money to make this? It should be studied in film school. (Scotiabank and suburban theatres) ½ out of 5

THE MASK: Here’s a curio that’ll be of interest to movie buffs. This is the first 3-D movie and, they say, the first horror film, ever made in Canada. Horror it’s not but as a 3-D fantasy it’s worth watching. It was made back in 1961 by Toronto director Julian Roffman and actually got some distribution in the US. The style is definitely a knock off of b-movies that came to us from down there at the time and most of the way looks like a low-budget TV show.  There’s even a William Castle-like introduction by an “authority on masks” expounding on “the darkest hidden recesses of the human mind.”


They reveal themselves in three dream-like sequences as a character on-screen puts on a mask and we are alerted to put on our red-eye, green eye 3-D glasses. We see ancient altars, monk-like figures, snakes oozing out of skulls, a boat like a coffin, fireballs, and more. An archeologist gets agitated claiming the mask has hypnotized him. Before he commits suicide he sends it to his shrink who thinks it can help him study the human mind. A cop noses around investigating. The story is clumsy, seemingly an addiction metaphor, and there’s little style in the presentation, but the three surreal sequences are watchable and the whole production has been restored sharp. (The Cinematheque Fri and Sat) 2 ½ out of 5 

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THE BOY: It may have a good idea, but I don’t know because the film wasn’t previewed around here. That arouses the usual suspicions though. In the film, a young American woman (Lauren Cohan of “The Walking Dead”) hires on as a nanny in an English country house. Her charge is a life-size doll. It looks exactly like the child the couple lost years before. Worse, it objects to being neglected. Is it alive? Is it an illusion? The one review I found on-line didn’t find it particularly compelling or well-made. (International Village and suburban theatres) 

IP MAN 3: He’s famous for training Bruce Lee and has been portrayed in several movies, most notably in Kar Wai Wong’s art film, The Grandmaster. This one, directed by Wilson Yip, is much more run of the mill, the third in a trilogy, and seemingly not an accurate biopic. Ip Man fights a property developer in Hong Kong to save his son’s school. Mike Tyson is that villain and yes, Donnie Yen, the star does have a martial arts go with him. And several others. The fighting is great; the story is terrible, says a friend who’s seen it. (International Village and Silver City Riverport) 

More in New Movies

Coming back to Downton Abbey, Brad Pitt on a space trip in Ad Astra and Robbie Robertson’s tales of The Band

Also: some angry race relations, a cool Miles Davis, a Chinese surprise and a 5th from John Rambo

Angry history in Official Secrets, dubious flash in Hustlers and a muddle in The Goldfinch

VIFF has just added this: Michael Moore will be here to show and give a creator talk about the film that made his career: Roger and Me. It was the most popular documentary where it premiered at VIFF...
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