Fear in fazing, festive forms
‘Sicario’: Centered and vicious
In the Denis Villeneuve crime drama “Sicario,” Emily Blunt plays an embattled FBI agent who gets recruited into a mission meant to disrupt the activities of a brutal drug cartel in Mexico.
Not fully knowing what she’s gotten herself into, idealistic Kate Macer (Blunt) nonetheless jumps at the chance to be part of the team led by shady government official Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), and works alongside the mysterious asset Alejandro (Benicio del Toro).
She soon finds herself fighting in a brutal drug war that blurs the lines between good and evil, and law and order—and learns more about her allies’ less-than-savory plans than she bargained for.
Blunt is able to memorably convey the crumbling of Kate’s centered idealism during her baptism of fire, but it is Del Toro’s Alejandro who gets to wreak havoc, exhibiting thinly veiled viciousness and a steely determination to further his own agenda.
Like the recent gritty crime drama series “Narcos,” the film manages to depict the unsettling chaos and frightful nature of an escalating drug war. It’s disturbing, solidly crafted and shocking, with gripping portrayals that show the contrasting and personal sides to the bigger picture.
‘Goosebumps’: Kid-friendly caper
Jack Black stars as surly author RL Stine in “Goosebumps,” inspired by a series of spooky children’s books by the real Stine, who has a cameo in the film.
The fictional author’s daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) befriends a fellow teen, their new neighbor Zach (Dylan Minnette), who accidentally releases some scary mythical monsters from their enchanted prisons.
The warden of these villainous creatures, Stine holds them captive in locked books on his shelf—and must work with his new neighbor to get the dangerous escapees back to their “cages.”
The film feels like a contemporary iteration of “Jumanji” and “Zathura,” with its supposedly fictional beings springing to life in that reality to menace, perplex or pester its main characters.
But to “Goosebumps’” credit, it is its own kid-friendly caper, an adventure that doesn’t quite translate as truly frightful, but some scenes involving more visually spectacular dangers like a Sasquatch, a giant bug and a werewolf are intense enough to keep young and old viewers alike awed and amused.