A wartime romance, jealous ex-wife and cute wild animals are among what's hitting theaters this weekend in The Promise, Unforgettable and Born in China. Also releasing is Brie Larson and an all-star cast in Free Fire, as well as the documentaries Citizen Jane: Battle for the City and The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki.
Read on to find out what The Hollywood Reporter's critics are saying about the weekend's new offerings (as well as which film will likely top the weekend box office).
Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac star in the Armenian genocide drama where an Armenian medical student and an American journalist both fall in love with the same woman (played by Charlotte Le Bon). THR critic John DeFore writes of director Terry George's period film that earned a screening at the Vatican: "This will not enjoy the critical support given to George's Hotel Rwanda; compared to that flawed but affecting picture, this one looks like it was stamped by a cookie cutter." Read the full review here.
It's the jealous ex-wife vs. the new woman as Katherine Heigl and Rosario Dawson face off over leading man Geoff Stults in Warner Bros.' thriller. THR critic Sheri Linden files the film under "guilty pleasures" and writes that director Denise Di Novi "steadily turns up the heat on a lethal bouillabaisse of sex, domesticity and juicy archetypes - a recipe that's equal parts Fatal Attraction, Charles Perrault and Nancy Meyers." Di Novi told THR at the film's premiere that she hopes the characters in the film would be relatable from the pressure they felt to be perfect. Read the full review here.
Born in China
John Krasinksi narrates Disney's nature doc full of the cutest members of the Middle Kingdom wildlife, including panda bears, snow leopards and monkeys. THR critic Justin Lowe writes that the film is "predictably cute and surprisingly affecting." He adds in his review, "If all of the overemoting can be ignored, Born in China delivers gorgeous visuals in its close-up perspective on some of the world's rarest wildlife species, as well as the imposing habitats they call home."
In a nod to vintage action films, Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, and Jack Reynor star in the '70s thriller about an arms deal that goes wrong and results in an epic gun battle between two rival criminal groups. THR critic Stephen Dalton, writes in his review that the packed star power is not enough for the Martin Scorsese-produced film: "Alas, for all its stellar talent, Free Fire is a scattershot exercise in genre homage that ultimately misses the target." Read the full review here.
Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
A story of what happens when citizens fight back for the betterment of their society is documented in Citizen Jane. Matt Tyrnauer's doc chronicles journalist/ social activist Jane Jacobs who challenged and defeated New York City urban planner Robert Moses' plans to tear down city neighborhoods to make room for large housing projects and superhighways. The bottom line, according to THR critic Frank Scheck, is that the film is a "compelling account of successful community organizing." Read the full review here.
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki
A rising small-town Finnish boxer with an opportunity to win the 1962 featherweight championship title grapples with balancing his professional and personal life as he finds himself falling in love. THR critic David Rooney writes that the black and white film is a "knockout." Rooney adds, "So gracefully does The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki sidestep the formulaic mold of struggle, perseverance and simple victory or defeat that it could almost be considered an anti-fight picture. Either way, the film's delicate balance of humor, melancholy and sensitive human insight should ensure that it goes a few rounds on international specialty screens." Read the full review here.