The Thing

(R) ★★★☆☆

A paleontologist (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) joins a research team in Antarctica that has made a discovery in the annals of UFOs. Which is to say, they’ve found one. Dutch-born, first-time feature director Matthijs van Heijningen remakes John Carpenter’s 1982 cult classic rather well, tightening the screws carefully, doling out gore, flame-throwing and creature features with a deft hand. Winstead is good, and the film’s patience delivers its ickiest, nastiest moments in memorable ways.

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The Big Year

Movie Review

The Big Year

By Tribune Media Services

An all-star cast has nothing to work with in this diffident attempt at a birding comedy. Divorcee Brad (Jack Black) dreams of besting the birding record-holder, a contractor (Owen Wilson) who once identified 732 separate species in a “big year.” Steve Martin enters the mix as a competitive industrialist. Brad dives headlong into this world, meeting along the way a fellow obsessive played by Rashida Jones. The script’s so muted, though, that it neglects to make the characters any sort of funny.

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