“Dark Places”: Charlize Theron is a goner girl in ludicrous mystery

Dark-Places-laundromat

“Dark Places” opens Friday at Star Cinema. R, 1;54, two stars out of four.

A man sits in prison. He may not have committed the crime he’s convicted of. So why doesn’t he fight? Is he afraid? Is he protecting someone?

Or, as in the case of “Dark Places,” is the real solution to the mystery so silly and convoluted that he’s embarrassed to even say it out loud in a courtroom.

Adapted from the novel by Gillian Flynn, famous for “Gone Girl,” “Dark Places” starts off in a promising place and devolves quickly from there. Writer-director Gilles Paquet-Brenner (“Sarah’s Key”) completely loses the emotional thread of the story in a tangle of red herrings, false scares and wasted performances.

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“Mad Max: Fury Road”: What a lovely day for an apocalypse

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“Mad Max: Fury Road” opens Friday at Point, Palace, Star Cinema and Sundance. R, 2:00, four stars out of four.

I saw George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” at a 10 p.m. late screening, and, writing this at 2 a.m., I just can’t recommend it as a sleep aid.

I can recommend it every other way imaginable. Miller’s ferocious, grotesque, beautiful film is every bit the equal of its original trilogy from the ’80s, and throws down the gauntlet for every action film made since. You had CGI, $100 million budgets, all the tools at your disposal, “Mad Max” seems to ask all those other films — what were you doing with it, anyway?

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“A Million Ways to Die in the West”: How the West was wan

A Million Ways to Die in the West

“A Million Ways to Die in the West” opens Friday at Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema and Sundance. R, 1:56, two and a half stars out of four.

“I’m not a hero,” Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) says at one point in “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” “I’m the guy in the crowd who makes fun of the hero’s shirt.”

Nailed it in one, Seth. “West” is at its best when MacFarlane, in his first lead acting role after creating shows like “Family Guy” and the movie “Ted,” has his character standing on the sidelines, riffing. The central joke of MacFarlane’s Western spoof (which he also directed, co-wrote and produced) is that Albert is a hapless sheep farmer who hates the Old West, and the best parts of the film are Albert’s hilariously foul-mouthed rants on how lethal everything is around him, from rattlesnakes to cholera to frontier doctors.

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