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January 27, 2022

Movie Review: 'A Cure for Wellness' not quite a comeback for Verbinski

Director Gore Verbinski has had his moments of success behind the camera — helming the classic horror/mystery “The Ring,” the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series and “Rango” — but his last outing in the director’s chair for 2013’s “The Lone Ranger” was a gigantic let down.

“A Cure for Wellness” is not quite what I expected or would have wished for from Verbinski, but it challenged me enough that I can say I’m excited for him to do something similar but not as convoluted or heavy.

There are moments when “A Cure for Wellness” shines, like the opening 20 minutes where we meet Dane DeHaan’s (“Chronicle,” “The Amazing Spider-Man”) Lockhart, a young and hungry executive tasked with retrieving his company’s CEO from a shady sanitarium on the foot of the Swiss Alps. The film leans heavily on DeHann’s performance and he does well enough to carry us from beginning to end.

Jason Isaacs’ (“Harry Potter,” “Black Hawk Down”) Volmer is the cerebrally intimidating puppet master of the “utopian” spa that serves as DeHann’s foil. The back-and-forth between the two works beautifully because of the sharp dialogue from Justin Haythe’s script. 

The problems with this film arise in the trudging downtime between their face-to-face meetings after the first act. Sure, watching DeHann sneak around on a pair of crutches to unearth the spa’s secrets is gripping for a time, but the tension is lost because the film slows to a crawl or sometimes is completely stagnant while Verbinski tries to shove in another creepy visual.

Don’t get me wrong, from the opening shot of metropolitan skyscrapers to the stomach-churning moments of torture, the cinematography is fantastic. But it’s just too much style and enough substance. Twenty minutes could have easily been shaved off the run time — the movie ends three times before the shoehorned final act comes around — and a scene with Mia Goth’s (“Everest”) Hannah at the tipping point of the movie still has me shaking my head because of how out of place it felt.

“A Cure for Wellness” is bloated and monotonous at times but Verbinski’s much-anticipated return to the horror/thriller genre also has a cringe-inducing charm and vision that is present enough to keep you — at the very least — interested and curious.

6/10

•••

BOX OFFICE REVIEW

1. “The LEGO Batman Movie”: $33,040,00 (Week 2); Warner Bros. Total gross: $97,606,314.

2. “Fifty Shades Darker”: $20,353,800 (Week 2); Universal. Total gross: $89,049,255.

3. “The Great Wall”:  $18,475,685 (Week 1); Universal. 

4. “John Wick: Chapter Two”:  $16,180,000 (Week 2); Lionsgate. Total gross: $58,372,083.

5. “Fist Fight”: $12,200,00 (Week 1). Warner Bros.

•••

COMING SOON

“Get Out” — A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate. 

     – Director: Jordan Peele

     – Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

“Collide” — American backpacker gets involved with a ring of drug smugglers as their driver, though he winds up on the run from his employers across Cologne’s high-speed Autobahn.

     – Director: Eran Creevy

     – Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley

“Rock Dog” — When a radio falls from the sky into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, he leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician, setting into motion a series of completely unexpected events.

     – Director: Ash Brannon

     – Cast: Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black

•••

OSCARS PREDICTIONS

• Best Animated Feature Film 

    – Who I want to win: “Zootopia”

    – Who will win: “Kubo and the Two Strings”

• Best Adapted Screenplay

    – Who I want to win: “Arrival”

    –  Who will win: “Moonlight”

• Best Original Screenplay

    – Who I want to win: “La La Land”

    – Who will win: “La La Land”

• Best Director

    – Who I want to win: “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle

    – Who will win: “Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins

• Best Supporting Actress

    – Who I want to win: Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”

    – Who will win: Viola Davis, “Fences”

• Best Supporting Actor

    – Who I want to win: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

    – Who will win: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

• Best Actress

    – Who I want to win: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

    – Who will win: Natalie Portman, “Jackie”

• Best Actor

    – Who I want to win: Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”

    – Who will win: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

• Best Picture

    – Who I want to win: “La La Land”

    – Who will win: “Moonlight”

•••

“For the Love of Flicks” is a weekly column written by Sports Editor Tony Nunez. For comments or suggestions, email [email protected]

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