THE PREDATOR — Review by Susan Granger

As this sci-fi franchise continues, Shane Black, who acted in John McTiernan’s 1987 “Predator,” has become its director. The story begins as a former Army Ranger sniper-turned-mercenary spots a UFO crashing into the Mexican jungle. Aboard the alien space ship, McKenna finds a Predator helmet and gauntlet – but not before the creature has annihilated the rest of his troop.

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THE WIFE – Review by Susan Granger

Six-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close opens the Oscar race with a stunning portrayal of a long-suffering woman who’s fed up with standing in her celebrated husband’s shadow. Her symbiotic story begins with the Castlemans in bed. Joan (Glenn Close) and her husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce) are eagerly awaiting an early morning phone call that confirms he’s won the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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SEARCHING — Review by Susan Granger

Reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock mysteries, this is a cool, computer-centric, psychological thriller, detailing how a distraught father attempts to find his missing Millennial daughter. As shown in a photographic montage, the Kim family of San Jose, California, has always been close, even when terminal cancer takes Pamela (Sara Sohn), leaving David (John Cho) a widower raising 16 year-old Margot (Michelle La).

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ALPHA – Review by Susan Granger

Set in Europe more than 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, this is an ‘origin’ fable about how a caveman first bonded with a wolf. Preparing for the annual Great Hunt, Chief Tau (Johannes Haukur Johannesson) is particularly concerned about his sensitive teenage son, Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who hasn’t quite mastered all the necessary skills. As his mother Rho (Natassia Malthe) says, “Keda leads with his heart, not his spear.”

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PAPILLON – Review by Susan Granger

If you saw Franklin Schaffner’s 1973 Steve McQueen/Dustin Hoffman adaptation of Henri Charriere’s best-selling autobiographical books (“Papillon” & “Banco”), you’d feel acute disappointment within the first 10 minutes of this decidedly mediocre version. In Paris in the early 1930s, Henri Charrier is a reckless safecracker who’s framed for murder and shipped off to a the notorious penal colony on the remote island of French Guiana,.

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THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS – Susan Granger

This seedy, noir-drenched, serial-homicide case involves the puppet cast of a beloved ‘80s children’s TV show who are being murdered, one-by-one, prompting a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private detective puppet to investigate. Phil Phillips (voiced by Muppet vet Bill Barretta) is hired by femme fatale Sandra White (Dorien Davies) to stop the killings, which he’s eager to do, since one of the stars was Phil’s brother Larry (Victor Yerrid) and the show’s only human actress, Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), was once Phil’s lover.

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