Archive | New Releases

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New Releases: May 29, 2015

Posted on 29 May 2015 by William Gatevackes

san andreas poster1. San Andreas (Warner Brothers, 3,777 Theaters, 114 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language, Rotten Tomatoes: 50% Fresh [98 Reviews]):  Once upon a time, disaster movies were all the rage. If you went to the movies in the 1970s, odds are the theater was showing an film about an airplane in danger of crashing (the Airport series), a cruise ship capsizing (The Poseidon Adventure series), a building on fire (The Towering Inferno) or even, yes, an earthquake (Earthquake).

These films ruled the cultural landscape for almost a decade. Earthquake inspired an amusement park attraction at Universal Studios. The Airplane! films were a parody of the genre. The films starred the biggest stars of the day and made a bunch of money at the box office.

So, if there was ever a genre that could benefit from a reboot in the CGI era, it’s the disaster film. There have been a few attempts to restart the concept over the years (1997’s Volcano and Dante’s Peak, 1998’s Deep Impact and Armageddon , 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow, 2009’s 2012), but maybe this time the concept will come back to stay.

aloha poster2. Aloha (Sony/Columbia, 2,815 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments, Rotten Tomatoes: 14% Fresh [70 Reviews]):  There is a sad quality about the career of Cameron Crowe. He had an unparallelled run from 1989 to 2000 as a writer director, with every film he made during that period was a classic of sorts–Say Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous.

He became the closet thing we might have had to a modern day Woody Allen. Big name stars lined up to work with him, and he seemed to have the Midas touch for his actors during awards season.

Then came Vanilla Sky. And Elizabethtown. And We Bought A Zoo. It was slump that would have gotten a baseball player sent to the minors. What we once thought was a can’t miss writer/director was missing all the time.

And look at this film. It seems inconceivable that any film starring this cast could ever rate less than 20% on the Tomatometer. But, here we are. Oh, Cameron Crowe, where have you gone.

 

Theater counts and Tomatometer scores were accurate as of press time. The numbers might change after publication of this article.

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New Releases: May 22, 2015

Posted on 22 May 2015 by William Gatevackes

Tomorrowland_poster1. Tomorrowland (Disney, 3,972 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language, Rotten Tomatoes: 50% Fresh [123 Reviews]): The trailers made this film seem like it would be an excellent, kid-friendly sci-fi adventure. It made you even forget that this is yet another attempt to turn a Disney parks attraction into a film franchise.

The one problem I had with the first trailers is figuring out how the scenes I saw would fit together in a full out film. It seems the film also had a problem with keeping the magic and wonder going. FilmBuffOnline head honcho Rich Drees has a review of the film so you can see what i mean.

I think a disappointing movie is worse than a completely awful movie. Squandered potential is a whole lot worse than no potential whatsoever.

Poltergeist_2015_poster2. Poltergeist (Fox, 3,200+ theaters, 93 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense frightening sequences, brief suggestive material, and some language, Rotten Tomatoes: 44% Fresh [43 Reviews]): Should we be remaking Poltergeist? And I don’t mean in the sense that every remake is somewhat pointless. I mean, the original was a classic and really didn’t need to be remade. But I’m speaking of another way.

The original is legendary for its being cursed. Five people in the franchise died too soon, including the two actresses that played the daughters (so, make sure your life insurance is paid up, Saxon Sharbino and Kennedi Clements). Whether or not you put much stock in that is up to you, but I would want to risk remaking a cursed film.

The trailer shows some of the classic moments from the original reworked for today’s audiences. I wonder if they are going to recreate the swimming pool scene and if they will use real corpses again this time.

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New Releases: May 15, 2015

Posted on 15 May 2015 by William Gatevackes

mad max fury road poster1. Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Brothers, 3,702 Theaters, 120 Minutes, Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images, Rotten Tomatoes: 99% Fresh [184 Reviews]): Mad Max is the grand father of the post-apocalyptic thriller. It made a star out of Mel Gibson (for better or worse) and became an enduring cult classic. It spawned two sequels then went away for 30 years.

But now it’s back, with original director George Miller at the helm. Miller also is back as co-writer, joining comic book scribe Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris (who acted in the first film). This time, Max becomes embroiled in protecting a group of women looking to escape a desert warlord who means to enslave them.

That’s all I really have to say about this, except to tell you to look at the Rotten Tomatoes score above. That is a legit 99% fresh, with a whopping 182 “Fresh” reviews. You almost never see a summer blockbuster with those numbers.

Pitch_Perfect_2_poster2. Pitch Perfect 2 (Universal, 3,473 Theater,115 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for innuendo and language, Rotten Tomatoes: 70% Fresh [114 Reviews]): Continuing our Australian theme, we welcome Australian Rebel Wilson into the New Releases post. Hi, Rebel!

Pitch Perfect was an unexpected success, making over $115 million worldwide against a $17 million budget. With that kind of profit margin, a sequel was inevitable.

This time around, the Bellas have set out to win an international acapella competition in order to refurbish their good name. This will be tough, as no American team has ever won the tournament before.

This film is directed by actress Elizabeth Banks, her first full-length feature behind the camera.

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New Releases: May 8, 2015

Posted on 08 May 2015 by William Gatevackes

Hot_Pursuit_2015_poster1. Hot Pursuit (Warner Brothers, 3,003 Theaters, 87 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual content, violence, language and some drug material, Rotten Tomatoes: 6% Fresh [66 Reviews]): Yes, look upon the fate of the female actor of a certain age in Hollywood. Reese Witherspoon, 39, is coming off an Oscar nomination and has a statue at home already. Sofia Vergara, 42, has numerous Golden Globe and Emmy nominations to her credit. Yet the only way they have they are able to participate in the summer movie season is if they team up for a mind-numbingly awful take on Midnight Run.

Granted, both could have said no (Witherspoon has trouble passing on awful movies ~~cough cough~~This Means War~~cough cough~~), but the options for both are probably slim and this film probably seemed like the best option for them. When the biggest gag they us is dressing up Witherspoon like Justin Bieber, it is really beneath both their talents.

Witherspoon plays a bungling cop who is tasked with protecting Vergara, a drug dealer’s widow, a task she is fully expected to fail at. Instead, she manages to keep Vergara safe from all the hitmen and dirty cops who are after her.

D train poster2. The D Train (IFC, 1,009 Theaters,97 Minutes, Rated R for strong sexual material, nudity, language and drug use, Rotten Tomatoes: 46% Fresh [56 Reviews]):  Dan (Jack Black) wants to be cool, and he has found the perfect way to get there. He is going to bring the local boy who made good, Oliver (James Marsden), back home in time for their 20th high school reunion. Dan is willing to do whatever it takes. But what it takes is a night of passion with Oliver. How far is too far, and how will Dan get back if he goes there.

It shouldn’t be a spoiler to say that there is a sex scene between Black and Marsden in the film–it has been the main focus of the publicity for the film. I don’t know if that is a good thing–that we’ve come so far that a same sex hook up can appear in a film without people breaking out the torches and pitchforks, or a bad thing–that is being exploited for publicity and presented as something weird and unsettling.

 

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New Releases: April 24, 2015

Posted on 24 April 2015 by William Gatevackes

The-Age-of-Adaline-movie-poster-203x3001. The Age of Adaline (Lionsgate, 2,991 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for a suggestive comment, Rotten Tomatoes: 56% Fresh [62 Reviews]):   The world is fascinated by immortality. Everyone tries to figure out the secret of living the longest, and when people reach the century mark, it becomes fodder for Today Show segments and human interest stories.

Adaline is over 100 years old. However, she looks to be 30, tops. A magic accident gives her the gift of immortality. Unfortunately, it is not the best gift, as Adaline has to become a recluse, putting aside any chance of love so she doesn’t have to watch the her boyfriends and lovers slowly die in front of her eyes.

However, she comes across an man some 75 years her junior, a man whose love might make the risk of letting someone mortal in close worth it. Unfortunately, Adeline knew the young man’s dad in his youth. That will tend to complicate things a bit.

This does call to mind the May 1905-December 2013 romance that was the basis of Twilight, but this film at least has the gumption to at the very least play lip service to the moral implications of an immortal dallying with a mortal.

 

little boy2. Little Boy (Open Road Films, 1,045 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic material and violence, Rotten Tomatoes: 7% Fresh [27 Reviews]): A film no one has heard of opening at over 1,000 theaters? A cast full of actors who have all seen better days at the box office yet should be appearing in better films than this? Yep, you guessed it! Another religious-themed film is being foist upon us!

I’d typically give a plot blurb here, but I decided to with the one Mammoth Advertising provided IMDB, because it is just rich:

LITTLE BOY is a powerful and moving film about a little boy who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring his dad home from World War II alive. The heartwarming story will capture your heart and lift your spirits as it reveals the indescribable love a little boy has for his father and the love a father has for his son. Set in the 1940s, LITTLE BOY is an instant cinematic classic that captures the wonder of life through the eyes of an 8- year-old little boy. Written and directed by Smithsonian Institute Award winning director Alejandro Monteverde, LITTLE BOY highlights themes of faith, hope and love in the face of adversity.

That makes it sound like every Stephen Spielberg movie, including extra helpings of E.T. and Saving Private Ryan, crammed into a blender and blended to make liquid gold, doesn’t? Just hand over the Oscar now, right?

As of this writing, the film only has two positive reviews. Two. And one of them was from Rex Reed, which shouldn’t count. STAY AWAY!

ex machina poster3. Ex Machina (Opening Wide, A24, 108 Minutes, Rated R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence, Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh [141 Reviews]):   So, no theater count for this one, but it is supposedly opening wide nationwide. Hopefully, this will be coming to a theater near you. If not, well, there’s always Little Boy.

Caleb (Domhnall Gleason) wins a contest to spend some time with his company’s reclusive yet brilliant CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac). But it turns out to be a working vacation as Nathan charges Caleb with testing is new A.I. system, Ava, housed in an eerily seductive female form. But it is Caleb who will be tested when Ava turns out to be more human than she seems.

The film has been getting a lot of good press and the reviews are very good. And if you want to see Gleason and Isaac in a sci-fi before they share the screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, well, here you go.

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New Releases: April 17, 2015

Posted on 17 April 2015 by William Gatevackes

Paul_Blart_-_Mall_Cop_2_poster1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sony/Columbia, 3,633 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated PG for some violence, Rotten Tomatoes: 0% fresh [8 Reviews]):  I thought Paul Blart: Mall Cop was an enjoyable film if you looked at it as a parody of the Die Hard brand of films, with the ultra schlubby Kevin James pointing out the absurdity of the ‘average joe fighting terrorists” concept.

However, even saying that, there really was no need for a sequel. Well, other than the fact that the first one made a boatload of money that is.

This time, Blart heads to Las Vegas to attend a security guard convention. Unfortunately for him, his teenage daughter is kidnapped in conjunction with a art heist. Blart has to prove that even if you take the cop out of the mall, you can’t take the cop out of the man.

Unfriended poster2. Unfriended (Universal, 2,739 Theaters, 82 Minutes, Rated R for violent content, pervasive language, some sexuality, and drug and alcohol use – all involving teens, Rotten Tomatoes: 72% Fresh [50 Reviews]):  I have the distinct displeasure of having someone I am friends with on social media die. He’s gone, but his profile remains. It is creepy to be reminded of his birthday, or, worse, having games I play encourage me to send lives to him. He will celebrate no more birthdays, and the lives won’t help him now.

I do not wish to make light of my friend’s passing. It’s just that there is truth in the unsettling fact that a person’s cyber life can sometimes go on longer than their physical one. That is the real world horror this film is built upon, and I find that films that build upon real world fears are a slice above the average horror movie field.

On the year anniversary of her suicide, Laura Barns’s social media accounts reactivate. Her frenemies believe someone is playing a prank on them, but the CyberLaura knows things only the dead Laura would know about them. It looks like Laura is back from the dead and she is looking for vengeance. And she won’t stop until each and every one of her so-called friends joins her in the grave.

monkey kingdom3. Monkey Kingdom (Disney, 2,012 Theaters, 81 Minutes, Rated G, Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Fresh [27 Reviews]): In what has become an Earth Day tradition, Disney is releasing yet another nature documentary.

This time, the film follows a group of monkeys in  Sri Lanka who must deal with finding a new home when a rival monkey tribe forces them out of their home. Complicating matters the fact that one of the displaced group is a new mother, and must undergo the arduous journey with an infant.

If you are looking for a fun, educational and wholesome film to take you kid to this weekend, this one might just be the ticket. If you need more encouragement, portions of the ticket sales go to Conservation International.

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New Releases: April 10, 2015

Posted on 10 April 2015 by William Gatevackes

thelongestrideposter1. The Longest Ride (Fox, 3,364 Theaters, 139 Theaters, Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action, Rotten Tomatoes: 28% Fresh [70 Reviews]): Hey, kids! It’s time for another “Nicholas Sparks Movie Checklist” where we run down the latest adaptation of Sparks’ work and see how many of his overused tropes the film has (using the lovely template Cracked.com came up with as a guideline)! Ready? Let’s go.

1. Does it have a romance between two pretty, white people? Yes, Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson are two pretty, white people.

2. Is there an obstacle that makes their love impossible? At least two. He’s a bull rider, and the danger is too much for girl. And she has a job in New York, which will keep them separated.

3. Is there a flashback to World War II? Yes. Alan Alda’s character’s reminiscence of his wartime romance guides the young lovers.

4. Is one of the lovers holding back a deep dark secret? Yes!

5. Does somebody die? Come on, it’s Nicholas Sparks! He’s killed more people than malaria! I don’t know who, but either Eastwood gets stomped on by a bull or Alda dies of a heart attack. If not both.

6. Is there schmatzy sentimentality? In droves!

7. Will people go see it? Sigh. Yes.

woman in gold poster2. Woman in Gold (Opening in Wide Release, The Weinstein Company, 1,504 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief strong language, Rotten Tomatoes: 53% Fresh [93 Reviews]): When the Nazi drove the Jewish people from their homes, they swooped in and stole all of their possessions. Many priceless works of art were confiscated this way, and many of this artwork made it into state run galleries. Since many of the original owners didn’t make it out of World War II alive, you can find a number of these gems in German and Austrian galleries to this very day.

But what if the owner or their descendant survived? Certainly these galleries would rush to return the stolen art to their original owners, right? Not so in the case of Gustave Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.  When Bloch-Bauer’s niece tried to retrieve the painting from an Austrian state run gallery, instead of the painting, she got a ten year legal battle.

This movie tells the tale of of that battle. Not to throw a spoiler at you, but you can view the painting in New York’s Neue Galerie today.

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New Releases: April 3, 2015

Posted on 03 April 2015 by William Gatevackes

fast-furious-71. Furious 7 (Universal, 4004 Theaters, 137 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for prolonged frenetic sequences of violence, action and mayhem, suggestive content and brief strong language, Rotten Tomatoes: 82% Fresh [113 Reviews]): I saw Fast & Furious 6 and fell in love with the franchise again. The first film was surprisingly good, but then the quality dipped as stars left, came back and left again.

But the sixth installment was mindless fun. Just sit back and watch the characters go through the basic plot line and be entertained by the fancy cars and the impressive stunt work. I looked forward to this installment quite a lot.

Then series star Paul Walker died during filming, causing the film to be delayed. That would be enough to cast a pall over any film, but the fact that he died in a high-speed car accident made the shadow over the film even bigger. And, if that wasn’t enough, this film’s plot is propelled by the on-screen death of one of the characters in a car wreck. All of a sudden, mindless fun became a morbid curiosity.

I guess it would be up to us to not let the real world events behind the film influence our enjoyment of the film. I’m just not sure I could do that.

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New Releases: March 27, 2015

Posted on 27 March 2015 by William Gatevackes

Home_(2015_film)_poster1. Home (Fox, 3,708 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor, Rotten Tomatoes: 40% Fresh [68 Reviews]):   Oh is from an alien race decides to hide out on Earth to escape an enemy. Tip is a little girl who was separated from her mother when the aliens relocated the humans to Australia. Both are on the run–Oh because he revealed his race’s location to their enemies, Tip to find her mother. They join together, teach each other stuff along the way, and try to fix all the wrong Oh and his fellow aliens did.

The film is based on Adam Rex’s 2007 book, The True Meaning of Smekday. It was original titled Happy Smekday! and supposed to come out over the Thanksgiving holiday. The fact that it was delayed is never a good thing, but this film is produced by DreamWorks, so it should be a slice above your normal CGI animated fare.

get hard poster2. Get Hard (Warner Brothers, 3,175 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity, and drug material, Rotten Tomatoes: 29% Fresh [87 Reviews]):  James King (Will Ferrell) is going to prison after being wrongly convicted of tax evasion. And he’s going to get eaten alive in there. His only hope to survive the experience is to be trained on how to be “hard,” so tough that the other convicts want to have nothing to do with him. For this, he chooses his ex-con car washer Darnell (Kevin Hart)to give him lessons. Only one problem: Darnell has not spent a day in jail his whole life.

This film has the chance at being a witty satire on race relations and the way the legal system treats whites and blacks diff–oh, who am I kidding. This is a Will Ferrell movie. He is to damn juvenile to get anywhere near wit, let alone satire.

This film might have one redeeming quality. In looking for images for this film, I saw still featuring Allison Brie in some lingerie. So, this film, like Blades of Glory (which has Jenna Fischer in lingerie) will have a crush worthy woman from a popular sitcom scantily clad, if you are into that sort of thing.

it-follows-poster3. It Follows (Opening in wide release, Radius-The Weinstein Corporation, 1,218 Theaters,100 Minutes, Rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language, Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Fresh [118 Reviews]): A lot of bad things can happen after you have sex on the second date. You can catch a nasty STD, you can get pregnant, you can get the cold shoulder, you can get a overly possessive stalker, or you can get a curse that causes a supernatural being to follow you constantly until it catches you and kills you.

Jay gets the last one, and it ruins her life. She teams up with her friends, who can neither see nor hear the very real being chasing her, to find a way out of the curse without ruining another person’s life.

You seldom see a horror film this well reviewed.It has all the qualities of a classic–it is not to short but not too long, it is R Rated and makes good use of the rating, and it’s hook is an allegory for a number of other real life horrors. I’m not a big horror guy, but I might want to see this one.

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New Releases: March 20, 2015

Posted on 20 March 2015 by William Gatevackes

Insurgent_poster1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Lionsgate/Summit, 3,875 Theaters, 119 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language, Rotten Tomatoes: 35% Fresh [104 Reviews]):  That adaption of that YA novel set in a dystopian alternate reality where a female protagonist fights against an oppressive, class-based ruling party.

No, not that one. The other one.

This film picks up after the last one, with Tris and Four on the run as full scale war has broken out amongst the factions. However, a mysterious box is found and the secrets it holds can cause all the fighting to come to an end. Unfortunately, it can only be opened by one Divergent in particular–Tris. Tris needs to enter enemy territory to open the box, and what secrets she learns from the box might make it hard to leave the territory alive.

gunman poster2. The Gunman (Open Road Films, 2,816 Theaters, 115 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality, Rotten Tomatoes: 15% Fresh [95 Reviews]):   Do you think that Sean Penn got wind of how much money Liam Neeson has been making in the recent past and called his agent and demanded to get in on the “old guy shooting and punching things” racket.

Because, just look at this: a well-respected actor (albeit Penn has Oscar wins under his belt, where as Neeson only has a nomination) trapped in a revenge plot traipses across Europe to track down the person who did him wrong, punching and shooting things along the way. They even got the director of Taken to do the film, for goodness sakes.

Okay, there are differences. Penn plays an assassin on the run due from someone connected to a killing he made years ago.  He hides out in Europe, trying to find out who is coming after him. So, it’s not the same, but still, I’d have expected better of Sean Penn.

Do_You_Believe _poster3. Do You Believe? (Pure Flix, 1,320 Theaters,115 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, an accident sequence and some violence, Rotten Tomatoes: No percentage, as only three reviews have been counted [1 good, 2 bad]): I have a simple rule for films to be included in this column–the films have to be in at least 1,000 theaters. I do this to save time (Because it’s hard to write about 3 films a week, let alone 10) and so I don’t cover films here that most of the country will never get the chance to see in theaters. This is not a perfect system because there are important films that don’t get featured here (for instance, I believe the only Oscar nominees I covered were American Sniper and Selma) while films like this, which even with its 1,000+ theater count is judged to be so obscure that the film is in danger of losing its Wikipedia page, I feel the need to cover.

This is another entry in the “Christian film” genre that is inexplicably popular these days, this one more overt in its holy roller-ness that others. It stars what would have been an all-star cast if the film came out in the 1980s or 1990s, including one Oscar winner (it’s only Mira Sorvino, but it counts) and Golden Globe winner in Cybil Sheppard. It’s fun to look at the cast and try to figure out which ones are doing this film because they really believe in the message and which ones are doing it just because it’s been a long time between paychecks. They all play the type of stereotypes that you’d find in a Jack Chick comic–the doctor who thinks he is god, the homeless person who hasn’t given up hope, the parent that blame God for their daughter’s death. etc–all who go through a spiritual awakening through their either long standing, newly found or recently reignited belief in God.

I get the feeling these films are made by the devout to reach out to the lapsed Christians, the inquisitive agnostics and the angry atheists as a way to bring them back into the fold. However, even if any of those groups wanted to see the film, the treacly and heavy handed way these films hammer their message into their viewers would only serve to entrench those doubters in more. But, in reality, the only people these movies preach to is the already converted. So, the point of these films are moot.

If you are sick and tired of this particular brand of propaganda, there is cause to rejoice. Ted McGinley is in the film. Ted McGinley exists only to kill once popular forms of pop culture dead. So his appearance in this film means that the genre has jumped the shark, and will soon go away.

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