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What’s new in movie theaters: The Batman and After Yang

After reigning at the box office for nearly three months thanks to Spider-Man: No Way Home and Uncharted, Tom Holland will encounter a foe that even he can’t beat on March 4: Batman. Warner Bros. has unleashed the latest iteration of one of its most valuable characters with Matt Reeves’ The Batman. In a rare move, no rival studio is set to launch a wide-release movie that weekend or the next, with all of Hollywood anticipating (and hoping) the Dark Knight can pump as much cash into the industry as his Marvel counterpart did in December.

Besides Batman, there are other movies being released in theaters that target different audiences. This weekend, Colin Farrell sheds his Penguin prosthetics and stars as a grieving father in the near future in After Yang. It’s all part of an ongoing process that Hollywood hopes will get the box office back to where it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Batman

Most positive review: “In ways far more unsettling than most audiences might expect, The Batman channels the fears and frustrations of our current political climate, presenting a meaty, full-course crime saga that blends elements of the classic gangster film with cutting-edge commentary about challenges facing the modern world.” — Peter Debruge, Variety

Average review: “For nearly three hours (Pattinson’s Batman) gives great mood — and while that is not quite the same thing as a great movie, writer-director Matt Reeves (CloverfieldDawn of the Planet of the Apes) nearly wills it to be in his sprawling, operatic update.” — Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

Most negative review: “The terrain is crowded, and if you’re going to make another Batman movie, you’d better have something new to say. Perhaps a fresh approach to the material? Maybe an actor so amazing in the title role that he makes it all seem new again? In The Batman, we get neither.” — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Consensus:  The Batman is a successful reinvention of a popular franchise. Its dark and grim approach is a perfect platform for Robert Pattinson’s melancholy portrayal of the Dark Knight.

After Yang

Most positive review: After Yang is a beautiful film, both in how it looks and in what it evokes. It’s not flashy or dramatic, and very little actually happens. But isn’t that truer to how we live?” — Emily Zemler, Observer

Average review: “But After Yang, noble yet inert, struggles to come alive. It’s less the deliberate pacing than the film’s hushed tones, whispered dialogue, and mannered movements that give [director] Kogonada’s calm chamber piece the airlessness of a very well-styled terrarium.” — Jake Coyle, Associated Press

Most negative review: “Kogonada brings much poetry to the depiction of Jake coming to identify with Yang. Montages that play with asynchrony and repetition capture the unnatural, mysterious process of coming to inhabit a different position in the world via technology. But after a certain point, the direction of After Yang’s sympathies starts to feel, well, misdirected.” — Pat Brown, Slant Magazine

Consensus:  Thoughtful and introspective, After Yang‘s slow pace and plotless narrative may not be for all, but those seeking an intelligent adult drama this weekend won’t be disappointed.

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