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B-rated films 'Atomic Blonde' and 'A Ghost Story' are the latest to debut in theaters

Atomic Blonde (Focus Features)

ATOMIC BLONDE (2017)

Score: B

Rated R for extreme violence -- 120 minutes

"An all fight, no love action movie that left me cold"

2003 was a very good year for South African-born actress Charlize Theron. That was the year that she received her Best Actress Academy Award for playing a serial killer in the film, MONSTER.

2015 was a very good year for movie goers such as myself. In our eyes, Theron became the female "Mel Gibson" for her amazing physical performance in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. I really liked that film.

2017 is yet another milestone year for Charlize Theron. Playing British spy MI-6 agent Lorraine Broughton in ATOMIC BLONDE -- she blows every other actress or actor in Hollywood out of the ice cold water. Nobody else can do what she does physically. She has created a lethal James Bond character without the sex, humor, or warmth. In ATOMIC BLONDE, she is a killing machine in what is a very dark violent film. The action takes place in a dark Berlin -- during late 1989 when the Wall is about to come down.

ATOMIC BLONDE serves up a very different kind of violence. The action never quits. Each scene is stylized with the coordinated choreography of a director who is a veteran stuntman and stunt coordinator. Director David Leitch chose his crew carefully. The film has excellent art direction. The use of shading and colors is most effective. The film has shades of Leitch's wonderful film JOHN WICK (2014).

The fight scenes are unbelievable because 41-year-old Theron did her own stunts.

As so often the case with far too many American films of late, the script is lacking something. In the case of ATOMIC BLONDE, there is a coldness throughout. Theron plays a spy that we really don't care about. We may applaud her style, but there is absolutely no emotional connection. A few may be turned off by an intense lesbian love scene. Unfortunately, many of the sequences are just too long. It is the length of these scenes and the common flash-back format that left me cold. The 120-minute script by Kurt Johnstad should have been shortened.

Theron -- who became an American citizen ten years ago, is joined by five great actors in this film: James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddy Marsan, Toby Jones, and Sofia Boutella.

ATOMIC BLONDE is based on the graphic novel "The Coldest City" written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart. The artistic opening is brilliant.

A GHOST STORY (2017)

Score: B

Rated R -- 87 minutes

"A haunting ghost story is now open in Las Vegas"

This film is from A24, the same studio that brought us last years Oscar-winning MOONLIGHT. Directed by David Lowery, the film co-stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

Having two weeks to think about and write this review, it has not been easy to find the right words. I have so many mixed feelings about this film. Not the acting nor the production values. This is an excellent, excellent film. But it is not for everybody.

A GHOST STORY is a very spiritual film. This is also a very metaphysical film about truth and speculation. This is a film about life and death; haunting and the after-life. Dialogue is almost nonexistent.

On many levels, it is a haunting story intensified by the use of lighting, sound, and music. Not everyone is going to enjoy seeing a movie about a dead man's ghost, the mourning of his wife, and the reality that every one of us will say our last goodbye.

Two weeks have passed. And I am still haunted. That is the only reason why I have awarded a B rating. A GHOST STORY is unforgettable. This film is currently showing in Las Vegas exclusively at the Century Suncoast and Regal Green Valley Ranch.

AN UPDATE ON LAST WEEK'S TWO "A" RATED MOVIES

DUNKIRK received an A- from CinemaScore. I also scored DUNKIRK with an A-. It got the all-important box office first place with a first-weekend box office total of $50 million from 3,720 domestic theaters. Current domestic box office for six days is now at $69 million on a budget of $100 million.

Last week, I wrote how lonely it felt being the only Las Vegas film critic sitting in the reserved press row section for the local screening of GIRLS TRIP.

I awarded GIRLS TRIP an "A" rating. GIRLS TRIP received the very rare "A+" national rating from CinemaScore. Equally impressive was coming in second place with a first-weekend box office of $20 million from 2,591 domestic theaters. Current domestic box office for six days is now at $42 million on a budget of $19 million.

RECENT CINEMASCORE A+ MOVIES

If you really liked any of the following films, you might just consider putting GIRLS TRIP at the top of your "big screen movies to see" list. They each received the very rare A+ national rating from CinemaScore:

  • HIDDEN FIGURES
  • THE HELP
  • THE BLIND SIDE
  • AMERICAN SNIPER
  • MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS

ON DECK NEXT WEEK

DETROIT (2017)

This intense film is loosely based on a true story that took place during the summer of 1967 when Detroit burned. It was and remains one of the darkest moments during the civil unrest that has taken place in the United States.

This R-rated movie belongs to Oscar-winning director KATHRYN BIGELOW, responsible for THE HURT LOCKER and ZERO DARK THIRTY. This is not an easy movie to watch. Racism and the contradiction of police brutality do not easily build a movie audience. Some would argue that 1967 and 2017 are not so different when talking about job discrimination, residential segregation, and heavy-handed law enforcement.

I strongly recommend you research "The Algiers Motel Incident."

DETROIT opens nationwide next Friday, August 4, 2017.

Looking ahead to what's coming this summer? Bob Fisher has the blockbuster box office guide to this summer's movie season!

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