Throughout most of director Shawn Levy's action comedy Free Guy, Ryan Reynolds walks and runs and drives around with an expression of awed, smiling wonder. That was pretty much my expression throughout the film, too.

While no one wants a repeat of 2020, the year actually did yield some good things – such as Ballet Quad Cities' partnership with Davenport's Outing Club, which will again host outdoor performances of the dance company's Ballet on the Lawn.

Writer/director James Gunn's re-imagining of David Ayer's Suicide Squad now outfitted with a “The” and an identifiable sense of humor – is almost inarguably a stronger piece of work than DC Films' five-year-old predecessor: more tightly structured, more visually audacious, almost entirely exposition-free. Yet it's still a rather depressing experience, because instead of finding ways to make the “old” movie better, Gunn appears merely to have found ways to make a Guardians of the Galaxy flick gorier.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra's family adventure may be as self-referential and avaricious as any of the Mouse House's live-action blockbusters, but the film's cheerful spirit and charm prove utterly infectious, and I wound up having more and more fun as the film progressed.

M. Night Shymalan's new cinematic freakout, inauspiciously yet evocatively titled Old, could easily be mistaken for a masterpiece if you don't understand a word of English.

Director Malcolm D. Lee's LeBron-James-meets-the-Looney-Tunes adventure, beyond feeling cynical and desperate, may be the most flabbergasting, relentlessly self-promoting entertainment I've ever endured. Lee's movie is constantly selling, yet the only thing it actually gave me was a headache.

With more praise (and some damnation) to come, I suppose the highest compliment I can pay director Cate Shortland's new Black Widow is that, in the grand scheme of things, this Marvel entry could hardly matter less.

Directed by Everardo Gout and written, as all of them have been, by James DeMonaco, The Forever Purge is the fifth and purportedly final (sure, whatever) installment in the popular series of horror thrillers, and offhand, it's hard to think of another long-running film franchise that has gotten more mileage out of being not bad.

F9: The Fast Saga opens like Days of Thunder, middles like James Bond, and closes like a Corona commercial. In between those mile markers, the movie also manages to suggest a lost Indiana Jones sequel, a live-action Road Runner cartoon, a week-ending episode of Days of Our Lives, and a biggest-bicep competition in which the only entrants are Vin Diesel and John Cena. Needless to say, I ate it all up with a spoon.

Promising nights of classical-theatre education blended with beautifully phrased entertainment, Genesius Guild presents its second show of the 2021 season in the July 3 through 11 run of Shakespeare's Life in His Works, a debuting exploration into the Bard's works boasting clips from classical favorites and narration written by 92-year-old Guild founder Don Wooten.

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