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In theaters, “IT Chapter Two” manages to be scary and boring at the same time. Keanu Reeves brings a big package of fun to home video with “John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum.”

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John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum

By the time a film series hits the third installment, it’s usually a weak version of what made the first time out a success.

“John Wick: Chapter-Parabellum” is an exception to that rule.

It’s is basically just a shoot-em-up, but it’s done with such style, sophistication and conviction by all concerned, that it rises above the ordinary.

The audience at the screening I attended loved this movie. They cheered. They applauded. They laughed.

This is a big, big action movie, but it’s nice change of pace from the usual story of the future of the universe is at stake (Avengers/Captain Marvel). All that’s on the line here is Wick’s life, which is important to him, but not quite the same as the fate of all mankind.

In one way, it’s a conventional action movie, but in many ways it’s much better than that. By the way, according to Reeves, Parabellum is a phrase meaning prepare for war.

Recommended

Echo in the Canyon

“Echo in the Canyon” is fascinating documentary that looks at the music industry in California in the mid-1960s, an era that encompassed the Mamas and the Papa, The Beach Boys, The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield.

The musicians mostly lived in Laurel Canyon. Besides offering tremendous insight into the creative process of the musicians, the movie is a fascinating and enjoyable look at the Southern California lifestyle of the times.

Following a 2015 concert that featured music from that era, the filmmakers had Jacob Dylan (Bob’s son) interview many of the surviving musicians. These interviews were combined with footage from the concert. It’s wonderful hearing their joy and fondness for that era.

Highly recommended

Aladdin

The new live-action version of “Aladdin” is entertaining but it’s not going to be a classic.

By itself it’s not too bad, but compared to the original, it’s a big disappointment.

And unfortunately, anyone who saw the iconic animated version from 1992 with Robin Williams as the genie will consider the new version a weak effort, a fairy tale set in set in a mythical 18th century middle eastern country.

This time, Will Smith is the Genie, who has blue skin and a computer enhanced buffed out body.

They’ve updated the story, making the princess a more contemporary woman who wants to rule over her kingdom with justice and equality.

There are moment of high energy and lavish musical productions, but those moments can’t make up for the fundamental weaknesses of this movie.

Recommended, but don’t expect too much.

The Dead Don’t Die

“This is gonna end badly,” one of the characters in “Dead Don’t Die” says early in the movie and keeps repeating it throughout.

It does end badly for the characters, but it’s pretty funny too.

A movie written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver as small town cops fighting zombies is not going to be a typical movie.

It’s not perfect, but even if zombies in a small town is not a new plot, “The Dead Don’t Die” is off-center and funny. It’s helped also by a great cast that is allowed to give some very unexpected performances. Besides Murray and Driver, there’s Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover. Selma Gomez, Tilda Swinton.\, Carol Kane, Iggy Pop and Caleb Landry Jones.

There’s some pretty explicit gore, (It’s a zombie movie!), but they don’t overdo it.

Recommended

IN THEATERS

IT Chapter Two

Horror films (and comedies) should be shorter rather than longer.

After “It Chapter Two” lumbers to a close after two hours and 49 minutes, any interest in the characters or scary feeling generated by the story will have long since dissipated.

As a follow-up to “It” from 2017, “IT Chapter Two” has the characters returning to the small town of Derry to complete the job of killing the evil clown Pennywise.

They thought they had taken care of that in the first movie, almost three decades earlier, but they were wrong.

The same director and some of the writers are back in this continuation, but the first movie was too long (2 hours and 15 minutes) and adding another 35 minutes does not make things better.

It’s stylish enough with bursts of well-directed and edited terror, but the movie can’t sustain energy over the bloated running time.

All the characters from the first movie are back. They are presented in flashbacks to the earlier encounters with the clown and now, decades later, each must confront a secret about their life in order to finally eliminate the evil Pennywise once and for a all.

The acting is top notch, which is another disappointment. If this thing had been trimmed by 30 to 45 minutes, the overall quality of the production could have made this compelling entertainment.

Instead, we’re left with a lump of good ingredients that gradually melted down into an endless, boring failure.

Two Palm Trees. Good acting and some scary sequences but nothing to justify the endurance test of sitting through this thing.

FROM THE VAULT

Patterson

Adam Driver and Jim Jarmusch from “The Dead Don’t Die” previously teamed up for “Patterson,” a quiet and eloquent look at the smallest details in daily life.

HOW WE RATE THE FILMS

Home videos are simply rated recommended or not recommended.

New Releases are rated as follows:

Five Palm Trees: Must see

Four Palm Trees: Worth seeing on the big screen

Three Palm Trees: Recommended for home viewing or on the big screen

Two Palm Trees: OK if you’re not paying

One Palm Tree: Skip it. Save your money and your time.

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