OPENING Thursday: Independence Day: Resurgence
Aliens invade Earth again in Independence Day: Resurgence (PG-13), and this time it's a sneak attack.
Not the extraterrestrial assault itself; those ginormous spaceships couldn't sneak past anyone. Incredibly, 20th Century Fox declined to show this sequel to critics until Thursday's screenings nationwide.
For readers new to our game, that's a pretty clear signal that Independence Day: Resurgence stinks. There's no other reason why a studio spends an estimated $200 million on a movie, then about half as much to market it and keeps it hidden. Clearly Fox aims for a huge opening weekend haul from uninformed moviegoers before the bad news spreads.
Even Will Smith is skipping this sci-fi sequel, and he made After Earth.
Smith's character is dead now, so his son (Jessie Usher) takes the fighter jet joystick. Jeff Goldblum returns as a professor of pregnant pauses, while Brent Spiner's eccentric scientist returns from the apparent dead. I wouldn't count on Bill Pullman's president sticking around long.
Another clue of how bad Independence Day: Resurgence could be: Blake Lively smells blood in the water, her shark thriller The Shallows (PG-13) confidently moving up a week.
Lively plays a surfer stranded on a rock close to shore, with a hungry great white swimming around. As the tide gets higher, survival chances get lower. This one could turn out to be a summer sleeper. Sharks have been known to sell movie tickets before.
Free State of Jones
Each trailer for Free State of Jones (R) leaves me imagining Matthew McConaughey drawling: "Well, all wrong, all wrong, all wrong." Not much here feels all right.
McConaughey portrays Mississippi farmer Newton Knight, leading a rebellion of land owners and slaves to secede from the Confederacy. Haven't we agreed yet that movies like this, The Blind Side and Cry Freedom in which black problems are solved by white saviors really aren't good ideas? And no role should allow McConaughey to emote as intensely noble as previews show.
HAPPY 100th: ROALD DAHL
You won't need a golden ticket Sunday to celebrate that it's been 100 years since Roald Dahl was born, when Turner Classic Movies presents special screenings nationwide of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The 1971 fantasy favorite stars Gene Wilder, above, as a mysterious confectioner teaching hard-candy lessons to brats, except for sweet young Charlie (Peter Ostrum), of course.
Screenings will be at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at several Tampa Bay theaters including Sundial 19 in St. Petersburg, Park Place Stadium 16 in Pinellas Park, Centro Ybor 20 in Ybor City, Woodlands 20 in Oldsmar, Citrus Park 20 in Tampa and Regency 20 in Brandon. Encore presentations are scheduled Wednesday, at the same times and locations.
Even though Dahl's actual birthday is Sept. 13, it sounds like a scrumdiddlyumptious warmup for Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Dahl's The BFG, in theaters July 1.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 Weiner: A political train wreck who's more than a punch line.
2 The Lobster: A wonderfully absurd sort-of romance starring Colin Farrell.
3 Finding Dory: Good sequel to a great movie, and that's okay.
4 Maggie's Plan: Greta Gerwig is a 21st century Carole Lombard.
5 Central Intelligence: Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make a great comedy team.
(Dates subject to change)
July 1: The BFG; The Legend of Tarzan; Swiss Army Man
July 8: The Secret Life of Pets; Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
July 13: The Infiltrator
July 15: Ghostbusters
July 22: Star Trek Beyond; Ice Age: Collision Course; Lights Out; Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
July 29: Jason Bourne; Bad Moms