Three very different ‘R’-rated films open in local theaters this weekend

From left, Alisha Weir in Abigail, Henry Cavill in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, and Jesse Eisenberg in Sasquatch Sunset. (Courtesy)

Traditionally the summer movie season kicks off on Memorial Day weekend, but with last year’s actor’s and writer’s strikes creating a bit of a backlog, movie fans have been treated to a smorgasbord of summer-type releases since “Dune: Part Two opened on March 1.

This weekend is no different for Northwest Arkansas movie fans as three movies that usually would be summer-type releases open in the middle of April.

All three are rated “R,” which is a bit of an oddity. Most studios aim for “PG-13” releases in hopes of casting a wider net at the box office. It will be interesting to see which one of these three does the best at the box office on their opening weekend and if any of them have legs?


This incredible gory comedic monster flick will likely be a crowd pleaser for the horror set.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, which has an 85% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, quite a bit, but honestly I would have gotten a much bigger kick out of the movie if the trailers and TV commercials had not given away the fact that it is a vampire movie.

The setup for the movie is that a group of specialists, who do not know each other, have to work together to kidnap the daughter of an “underworld” figure.

Weird and bloody things begin to happen, but it’s halfway through the film before it is revealed that the kidnap victim isn’t the victim at all but a ravenous pre-adolescent vampire hungry for blood and sport with its food.

Had the advertising and promotion of this movie kept that fact a secret, the film would have been much more effective, but it’s still a clever, fun monster flick if the buckets of blood aren’t too much for you.

Alisha Weir is an excellent child actress, and her wild performance makes the film work. Melissa Barrera of the “Scream” franchise is also solid in the film as is Kevin Durand and Kathryn Newton as three of the kidnappers.

The movie is somewhat of a reimagining of a 1936 Universal monster film. I won’t reveal the title of that film to keep the one secret about this movie that the trailers and commercials didn’t give away.

(R) 1 hr. 50 min.
Grade: B

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

This action/spy comedy is basically director Guy Ritchie’s take on 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds” or 1967’s “The Dirty Dozen,” starring Henry Cavill as Gus and Eliza Gonzalez as Majorie.

You will be hard pressed to find a better looking leading couple in any movie released this year.

The film also features the likes of Alan Ritchson, Henry Golding, Alex Pettyfer and Cary Elwes is a golden supporting cast who are used effectively, but maybe too sparingly.

The film revolves around the British’s development of a covert military operations unit to fight the Nazis during World War II that later inspired Ian Fleming to develop his classic secret agent character James Bond for a series of novels, which inspired dozens of film adaptations since the 1960s.

If you liked Guy Ritchie movies in the past, you’ll probably enjoy this one, too, but it’s a bit too familiar and safe to be considered as one of his better efforts. I enjoyed it, but I dote on action movies. This one is solid, but nothing that you haven’t seen before. The movie has a 71% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

(R) 2 hr.
Grade: B-

Sasquatch Sunset

As a movie, “Sasquatch Sunset” makes for a decent trailer.

That’s the best I can say for this drag of a dark comedy about the lives of a pack of Sasquatch.

There’s enough story and bodily function jokes for a long “Saturday Night Live” sketch or maybe a 30-minute TV comedy, but the skunk apes put on screen by directors David and Nathan Zellner are just a hair more exciting and entertaining than watching any rerun of “Wild Kingdom.”

For those who are too young to know, “Wild Kingdom” was a wildlife documentary show that ran on TV in the 1960s and ‘70s when there were just three broadcast channels and PBS. A new iteration of the show began in October of 2023, the internet tells me.

The movie is basically what is life like for a Bigfoot family as humans begin to encroach on their territory and lifestyle.

The film, which has a 72% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, stars Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg in unrecognizable Sasquatch costumes that are very convincing, but the movie itself, while well shot, is just a bore.

There aren’t enough sex, poop, and pee jokes in the world to make something like this entertaining.

(R) 1 hr. 29 min.
Grade: D

New in Local Theaters – April 19, 2024

  • Abigail (R) 1 hr. 50 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight
  • The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (R) 2 hr. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight
  • Sasquatch Sunset (R) 1 hr. 29 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle
  • Hard Miles (PG-13) 1 hr. 48 min. (trailer)
    Malco Razorback, Malco Towne

Classic Corner – No Way Out

The summer of 1987 was a big one for Kevin Costner with two films opening within weeks of each other.

“The Untouchables,” a fine remake of the old radio and TV cops and robbers show, received most of the buzz, and it is a worthy movie with great supporting performances by Sean Connery and an almost unrecognizable Robert De Niro as the rotund gangster Al Capone.

However, the other film, “No Way Out,” is an excellent thriller that packs a walloping ending that made me want to turn right around and watch the movie again.

Costner plays U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tom Ferrell during the height of the Cold War. He is brought to work at the Pentagon under the direction of Secretary of Defense David Brice (Gene Hackman) with the mission to ferret out a Soviet spy.

Ferrell quickly becomes entangled in an affair with a lively and lovely woman named Susan Atwell (Sean Young), who is also Brice’s mistress.

Any more of a setup would ruin the movie that features strong performances by the aforementioned trio as well as Will Patton as Scott Pritchard, Brice’s general council flunky.

All these years later, it remains one of Costner’s best films, and that’s saying a lot.

Hackman’s supporting role as Brice is juicy. He’s a despicable politician. As sticky sweet as a glazed donut on the outside, but as rancid as maggot-infested beef underneath. Patton’s Pritchard is up to something, but it’s hard to know what, but he’s just too snotty to actually be a good guy.

The movie, particularly its soundtrack, is dated by today’s standards, but if you can struggle past the whole 1980s of it, the film directed by Roger Donaldson still works incredibly well. Nearly 40 years later, the film remains a stunner and a fine piece of filmmaking by all involved.