When “The Fast and the Furious” debuted in 2001, it was inspired by a true story about LA street racers. Now that we’re on the eighth entry, the series has morphed into an over-the-top sci-fi action extravaganza that makes James Bond adventures seem like realistic documentaries by comparison. In “The Fate of the Furious,” Vin Diesel’s Dom Torretto has gone rouge, joining forces with villain Charlize Theron in an attempt to steal nuclear codes and take over the world. It’s all an excuse for well staged cinematic mayhem, most of it computer generated. While it’s rousing and goofy fun, it all can be summed up in the name of one of its stars: Ludacris.
Young McKenna Grace gives one of the best child performances you’re likely to see in “Gifted,” the story of a seven-year-old math genius whose guardian uncle, played by Chris Evans, tries to help her fit in while fending off her meddling, manipulative grandmother. Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate and Lindsay Duncan round out a fine cast. The performances elevate this touching tale that, in lesser hands, could have been as corny as a Lifetime TV movie.
“Colossal” is a well-acted cinematic experiment that doesn’t always work. Still, you have to give it credit for originality. Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway and KC’s Jason Sudeikis star in this sci-fi drama about an alcoholic woman who discovers that her movements manipulate a giant monster that’s destroying Seoul, Korea. It’s an allegory as overwhelming as its destructive creature, but it’s thoughtful even in its weaknesses.
Also opening this week, “Bokeh” is a sci-fi drama about a couple on a romantic vacation in Iceland who suddenly find that they’re the only people left on Earth. “My Life as a Zucchini” is a stop-motion film from Sweden about an orphan boy struggling to find his way. It was an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature.