Frank Marshall's The Little Mermaid is sincere, reverent, safe. What it isn't, and what the original continues to be, is a joyous blast.

After you've launched your car into outer space, I suppose there's nothing to do but wait for it to crash back down to Earth, and that's basically what happens in Fast X.

An excuse, as if one were needed, to re-team Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen, Book Club: The Next Chapter, while being a fairly traditional followup, is a very strange movie. By which I mean it really isn't a movie, but rather an opportunity to merely spend a cozy period in the dark watching four Hollywood legends of a certain age hang out in Italy and engage in sightseeing, slapstick, fashion parades, and the guzzling of liquor by the quart.

Before seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, I wondered, as I always do with these sorts of “finales” to long-running franchises, how difficult it was going to be to review Marvel Studios' latest without diving into spoiler territory. Thankfully, though, most of writer/director James Gunn's trilogy-ender can be easily discussed without addressing significant plot twists or which of our eccentric world-savers, if any, fail to make it to the end credits. It turns out the stuff that bothered me, which was about 80 percent of GotGV3, is right there in the open.

Running just shy of three hours and boasting all of its creator's evidently favorite touchstones that include foreboding A-frame houses, headless corpses, and full-frontal nudity for characters you don't necessarily want to see naked, writer/director Ari Aster's Beau Is Afraid is one of those movies that naturally engenders a “love it or hate it” tag. Yet while I can easily imagine audiences either adoring or loathing Aster's impassioned, insanely ballsy (in more ways than one) fever dream, I would argue that it's actually incredibly easy to fall into a middle camp: acknowledging the presentational greatness while also admitting that, in the end, it's a meandering, deeply confused wreck.

“Nicolas Cage is Dracula” is such a tremendous hook, and “Renfield wants to escape his toxic work relationship” such a fantastic premise, that it's truly unfortunate that director Chris McKay's and screenwriter Ryan Ridley's comedy thriller isn't more entertaining than it is.

For the professional talents at Ballet Quad Cities, this spring is all rite. Despite my proclivity for typos, that actually isn't one, as the Rock Island-based company – for the first time since 2014 – will stage Igor Stravinsky's 35-minute balletic masterwork The Rite of Spring, which will enjoy two performances at Davenport's Adler Theatre on April 22. But that opening sentence is also inaccurate, because Ballet Quad Cities' 2022-23 season-ender isn't entirely all Rite. A quartet of additional, shorter pieces in Act I will precede the Act II presentation of Stravinsky's work, with the entirely of the performance fittingly titled The Rite of Spring, Bolero, & More. As the dance company's Artistic Director Courtney Lyon says of the presentation as a whole, “We're bringing out some pieces that either haven't been seen since before COVID or that played to smaller audiences during COVID, and now we're able to bring them back on a full stage.”

Over the past quarter-century, there have been periods of time – runs of entire years, even – in which I couldn't have fathomed writing the sentence “I wish Ben Affleck made more movies.” Yet as I was driving home from the phenomenally enjoyable Air Jordan origin story Air, which Affleck directed from a stellar Alex Convery script, that was my primary thought, and I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Well … maybe just a little. The guy still has plenty of turkeys to live down.

Even though I couldn't define “paladin” or “druid” to save my soul, I had no difficulty following the storyline. That was kind of the problem. Though based on a role-playing game and not a comic book, this D&D felt like practically every Marvel storyline I'd been following since 2008.