CHIPS [R] D
With a growing list of television upgrades to the big screen (“The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Starsky & Hutch,” and “21 Jump Street”) that attempt to mine the action-comedy genre, you need more than a winking attitude and a mind full of filthy jokes to score. The action needs to rise from a place of authentic and be executed with efficiency and style. As writer, director, and star of “CHIPS,” the latest TV-to-feature reboot, Dax Shepard has an obvious love for the material and the scattershot approach to the jokes, but he forgot (or simply wasn’t aware) that the story is the necessary component to tie everything together. There are babies fresh out of the womb who could have outlined a better narrative, which is too bad that didn’t happen because then Shepard and Michael Peña could have settled in and enjoyed the ride or die vibe.
LIFE [PG-13] D+
“Life” wants to pretend that it’s a brainy sci-fi exercise, grounded by a team of scientists aboard an International Space Station that discovers an exploratory research pod from Mars with a rapidly evolving life form, but director Daniel Espinosa (“Easy Money,” “Safe House”) is all about the B-movie aesthetics. One by one, we get the requisite bloodletting and a few hints of character from more than just the generic alien. The result isn’t exactly thrilling because we know from the start that the movie is little more than an “Alien” knockoff (think “Species” prequel) with a slumming cast (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Rebecca Ferguson) and a glossy finish. The marketing tagline here might as well be “taste okay, less filling. That’s ‘Life.’”
T2: TRAINSPOTTING [R] B
That Danny Boyle is a canny filmmaker; not quite an auteur visionary, but a marvelously inventive and curious storyteller who knows how to balance style and substance. Remember he kicked off his feature career with twisted roommate noir of “Shallow Grave” and the raucously manic drug haze of “Trainspotting” before racing headlong into the sci-fi “Sunshine” and then back to earth for “Slumdog Millionaire,” which earned him an Academy Award for directing. Now, 20 years later, he’s checking back in Scotland with Renton (Ewan McGregor) and the “Trainspotting” crew to see if age has had any impact on them. They’re not quite wiser, but we see and appreciate how the rough edges have been sanded down. The razor’s edge still cuts, and in “T2: Trainspotting” we see that the deepest wounds are, as always, self-inflicted.