Lost City mildly amusing, Infinite Storm is harrowing, X a bloody throwback

City a mildly amusing romp

Chemistry is everything in movies like The Lost City, a sometimes funny, sometimes exciting adventure film starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. The two stars have just enough of a spark between them to make their characters' coupling seem plausible, while the reversing of the movie couple paradigm – this time the woman in question is obviously older than her male counterpart – is a welcome change. However, the plot is nothing you haven't seen before.

Bullock is Loretta Sage, a burnt-out romance novelist going through the motions on her latest book tour with Alan (Tatum), the male model who graces the covers of her bodice-rippers. Things take a turn when the author is kidnapped by Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), an eccentric billionaire in search of a lost artifact. After reading Sage's latest novel, he thinks she has clues to its whereabouts. Alan sets out to South America to rescue her, with chaotic results. The movie runs in fits and starts, a laugh or a thrill generated here or there. A brief appearance by Brad Pitt as a resourceful adventurer is effective, while Bullock and Tatum are fine, which is an apt description of this popcorn flick you'll forget about by the time you get to your car. In Theaters.

Ending mars harrowing Storm

There's a great deal to admire in Malgorzata Szumowska's Infinite Storm, a mostly true story of an incredible rescue undertaken by a bullheaded woman of uncommon determination and fortitude. Taking place in 2010, the setting is New Hampshire's brutal Mt. Washington. Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) encounters a blistering storm while out on an oft-taken trek, so severe that she starts back to safety. However, she hears a voice crying in the wind, one she follows despite her better judgement. Miraculously, she finds a young man wearing a thin coat and tennis shoes, slowly freezing to death. Despite his resistance, Bales takes it upon herself to drag this lost soul off the mountain.

Szumowska effectively recreates the horrific storm the duo must combat, as well as the vast open spaces they must traverse. Rather than the latest superhero epic, this is sort of film that should be shown in the IMAX format. It's an engrossing story until the pair reach safety; screenwriter Joshua Rollins manipulates events so he can shoehorn a message about grief and healing. It all feels too convenient and nearly undercuts the poignant sections that preceded it. In theaters.

X an effective bloody throwback

It's obvious Ti West is a student of horror films. His work on The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers are firmly rooted in the haunted house movie tradition, features that drip with a sense of dread. He knows full well an effective atmosphere is necessary to generate genuine thrills – a simple rampaging monster or killer won't do.

His latest, X, is a throwback to the grindhouse horror and adult films of the 1970s. The premise is hardly original – a group of young adults cluelessly stumble into a horrific situation they're powerless to combat, their callous attitude towards the environment they find themselves in spelling their doom.

West recreates the B-movie aesthetic of the movies he's alluding to, a washed-out palette seen through a seemingly grainy lens, all of which contributes to the sordid nature of the tale. West effectively rachets up the tension by delaying the requisite bloodletting, which is done with a relative sense of restraint. Equally effective is Mia Goth, who provides us with a fierce final girl we root for from the start. In theaters.

About The Author

Chuck Koplinski

Writing for Illinois Times since 1998, Chuck Koplinski is a member of the Critic's Choice Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association and a contributor to Rotten Tomatoes. He appears on WCIA-TV twice a week to review current releases and, no matter what anyone says, thinks Tom Cruise's version of The Mummy...

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