MIDNIGHT SUN [PG-13] D
It is important that I go on the record at the start, letting readers know that I am an unabashed fan of the Adam Shankman adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel “A Walk to Remember,” which starred Mandy Moore as a sheltered teen with a terminal illness who falls in love with a troubled peer (Shane West). For all its mawkish sentiment, the movie crafted a rich collection of supporting characters working in some sense of narrative unity (if only to squeeze every single tear they could from audiences). Somehow director Scott Speer and his creative team felt the need to strip any and all essence of life and interconnectedness away for “Midnight Sun,” intent on leaning completely on the gimmicky crutch of a young woman’s illness – a condition that makes exposure to sunlight lethal. The one-note feel means that, even adding up all of the characters, “Midnight Sun” fails to create any degree of multi-dimensionality. There’s no reason to shed a tear or waste a moment with this blank canvas.
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [PG-13] D+
With newly-minted Academy Award-winner Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”) hanging around only as a producer of this installment of the would-be “Pacific Rim” franchise, there wasn’t much to hope for, especially since the series also lost its mojo (the heroic death of the Idris Elba character) and its nominal star (Charlie Hunnam, curiously absent with no explanation given). But Steven S. DeKnight, executive producer of the first season of the Netflix/Marvel series “Daredevil,” wisely showcases the undeniable charisma of John Boyega, as the son of Elba’s Stacker Pentecost, and fashions a competent visual framework full of larger than life robots battling outsized monsters that makes “The Transformers” movies look like an incoherent mess. But, Boyega alone can’t overcome the simplicity of a thread-bare premise with no hope of rising beyond what would have been a straight-to-video fate back in the day.