Archive | New Releases

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New Releases: October 3, 2014

Posted on 03 October 2014 by William Gatevackes

annabelle-poster1. Annabelle (Warner Brothers/New Line, 3,185 Theaters, 98 Minutes, Rated R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror): Okay, let’s talk about the doll. Granted, if a doll is going to be possessed by demons, it should look creepy. I get that.

But this doll just looks downright evil while it is sitting in the store. This is not a doll that you’d bring home to your pregnant wife for your unborn child. This is a doll you send to your worse enemy so it will haunt their dreams forever. At least Chuckie in Child’s Play looked adorable before the serial killer’s soul entered it. Heck, even if they went with a normal porcelain doll, that would have been better. Those are creepy in and of themselves! Purchasing a doll that practically screams “Buy me and you entire family will die!” makes me root for the cultists that will be doing the killing, because, really, you brought it on yourself.

This film, like The Conjuring, the film it was spun off from, is based loosely on a true story. Do you want to know what the kind of doll that was haunted in real life? A Raggedy Ann doll. An innocent, innocuous, non-threatening Raggedy Ann doll. Google it if you don’t believe me. Please do, because you’ll find a hilarious picture of the real doll in a glass display case festooned with warnings about not opening it.

gone girl poster2. Gone Girl (Fox, 3,014 Theaters, Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language):
A woman goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary. Her dutiful husband starts a search for her, asking help from the media and the police. However, what the police find leads them to believe she isn’t just missing–she’s dead. And all the evidence points to her husband as the killer.

The husband claims his innocence, as they always do. But if he didn’t kill her, who did? Or, is she really even dead at all.

I kind of pegged this film as the start of Oscar season. To say it was eagerly anticipated would be an understatement. The hype surrounding it was immense (Entertainment Weekly practically became an offshoot of the films publicity arm.) I guess we’ll have to see if the film is all that was advertised.

Left_Behind_-_Teaser_Poster3. Left Behind (Freestyle Releasing, 1,820 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, violence/peril and brief drug content.): Ladies and gentlemen, we might have our first apocalyptic thriller that is also a sign of the apocalypse.

I mean, how other would you describe the unholy pairing of latest Bible-thumping film in regular film’s clothing, a genre where a good plot and solid story takes a back seat to delivering the religious message, and Nicolas Cage, an actor is capable of delivering a good performance, but would much rather to chew scenery and deliver inane ticks instead of good characterization.

This is the latest adaptation of the Left Behind book series (12 in all, so, expect plenty of sequels if this one does well), rebooting the Kirk Cameron version from 2000. It details the Rapture and how certain people deal with it. The Rapture certainly is popular these days. Consider this one a scrubbed down version of This Is the End or a more action packed The Leftovers.

 

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New Releases: September 26, 2014

Posted on 25 September 2014 by William Gatevackes

boxtrolls poster1. The Boxtrolls (Focus Features, 3,464 Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor): In this day an age where computer animation is the rule and cel animation is quickly becoming archaic, it is good to see that there are people who still are interested in keeping stop-motion animation alive.

This film was done by the people who brought you Coraline and Paranorman and it adapts Alan Snow’s novel, Here Be Monsters. Its plot centers on an orphan boy named Eggs who is taken in by a subterranean race called the Boxtrolls. The Boxtrolls become Eggs’ family, and when an exterminator tries to eradicate the trolls, it is up to Eggs to save them.

The voice cast is top notch, not only with famous names (Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost) but also the biggest names in animation voices (Maurice LaMarche, Fred Tatasciore, Laraine Newman). It might be a good choice for older kids.

equalizer2. The Equalizer (Sony/Columbia, 3,236 Theaters, 131 Minutes, Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references) : If you were familiar with the TV series this film is based on, you’d know the concept was one of the best things about the show. An ad was placed in the newspaper reading, “Odds against you? Need help? Call the Equalizer. 212 555 4200.” If you answered that ad, you got an ex-CIA agent named Robert McCall (played brilliantly by Edward Woodward) who would work on your case no matter what it would be–a kidnapping or a stalker threatening you, a blackmailer or extortionist.

The film does away with that concept. In this one, Denzel Washington plays McCall as a man with a mysterious past and a unique set of skills he uses to try to save a young girl he has come to know from Russian mobsters. Maybe if this film gets a sequel, this McCall will start placing ads.

The big selling point of this film is Washington reuniting with the man who got him the Best Actor Oscar, Training Day‘s Antoine Fuqua. However, reviews have not been kind. Regardless, Washington could make even the worse dreck watchable.

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New Releases: September 18, 2014

Posted on 18 September 2014 by William Gatevackes

mazerunner21. The Maze Runner (Fox, 3,604 Theaters, 113 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images): So, I guess the secret to a best selling young adult novel is to be bleak and derivative?

If The Hunger Games married Death Note to Brave, this film marries The Lord of the Flies to ancient Greek myth.

The films is about an amnesiac boy who is released into a glade where other boys are being held prisoner. The only way out is through an impenetrable maze. However, the boy might hold the secret to defeating the maze and the path to freedom, if only the leaders of the society in the Glade will let him regain his memories.

The film has received good reviews but will audiences go for another high concept YA film where kids die? If they do, there are two more books in the series.

This_Is_Where_I_Leave_You_poster2. This is Where I Leave You (Warner Brothers, 2,868 Theaters, 103 Minutes, Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use):   Ah, the “dysfunctional family all forced to be under one roof” genre, that old chestnut. However, this one is a bit different as it was adapted from the novel by Jonathan Topper.

The dysfunctional Altman clan gathers together after their father passes, and they find that dad made one final request–that they all had to spend time with each other for a week. As combative as the siblings are, this could only lead to chaos or destruction or a tighter bond.

If you’ve seen these kinds of films before, you know you’ll get a little of the former before you get the latter. The cast is fantastic, but haven’t we’ve all seen this before?

awalkamongstthetombstones3. A Walk Amongst the Tombstones (Universal, 2,712 Theaters, 113 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, language and brief nudity): It might not be fair but it is inevitable–any film where Liam Neeson talks on the phone in the trailer will be compared to Taken. However, this film is slightly different.

Neeson plays a retired police detective who is hired by a drug dealer to find the men who murdered his wife. The killers are able to keep the cops at bay, but Neeson plays by a different set of rules. When he finds the killers, he might deliver his own justice to them.

This is based on a novel by Lawrence Block and Neeson’s character has appeared in 17 books. If this goes well, the actor might have another franchise on his hands.

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New Releases: September 12, 2014

Posted on 11 September 2014 by William Gatevackes

Dolphin_Tale_21.  Dolphin’s Tale 2 (Warner Brothers, 3,656 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated PG for some mild thematic elements): When I first saw ads for this one, I thought for sure that it was a direct to home video release. I mean, there’s no denying the fact that the first Dolphin Tale was a hit, but not one that I think would deserve a sequel, let alone one in movie theaters.

But a sequel we get. This time we follow Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail, as she tries to adjust after her poolmate and surrogate mother dies. Complecating matters is the fact that the humans at the aquarium have to find her a poolmate fast else Winter will have to go to another location.

The cast is back from the first one, so that’s good. The film might not be a bad way to spend a family visit to the movie theaters.

No_Good_Deed_2014_movie_poster1. No Good Deed (Sony/Screen Gems,  2,175 Theaters,84Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, menace, terror, and for language): Looking at this film, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve seen it before. There have been numerous films where trusting, naive people have inadvertently let psychos into their world, and soon end up fighting for their lives.The only difference is who the psychos are. They could be cops (Unlawful Entry, Lakeview Terrace), roomates (Single White Female), tenants (Pacific Heights) or ex-lovers (Fear, Fatal Attraction), or, as seen here, complete strangers.

This film has two things going for it, however:Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson. These are two of the best, if somewhat underrated, actors working today (and in Henson’s case, judging from what I saw at the Person of Interest signing at NYCC last year, one of the nicest too). And considering most of the movie will be a cat and mouse game between the two, they can only elevate the film.

Unfortunately, the film also has two things going against it. The film was originally supposed to come out in October of 2013, but was pushed back three times. Add this to the fact the film wasn’t screened for critics, supposedly because the studio didn’t want the secret plot twist to be released, you know, because film reviewers always reveal the twists in every film they review, and you have some solid evidence that the film might not be good enough for even Elba and Henson to save.

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New Releases: September 5, 2014

Posted on 04 September 2014 by William Gatevackes

TheIdenticalposter1. The Identical (Freestyle Releasing, 1,956 Theaters, Rated PG for thematic material and smoking): There was a segment on the 1980’s version of The Twilight Zone called “The Once and Future King” that has stayed with me. The feature, written by George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame, detailed an Elvis Impersonator who is magically transported back to the 1950’s where he meets his idol. Elvis mistakes the man for his long deceased twin brother. The impersonator tries to use this to help Elvis avoid the mistakes he made in his career, but this causes friction that results in the death of the original Elvis. The impersonator then decides to assume the King’s identity and make the same choices he did as a tribute.

Maybe the writers of this one was sort of inspired by that show when writing this oddball film.

The film focuses on a pair of twins mistakenly separated in the 1930s. One stays with his sharecropper parents and becomes “Drexel Hemsley” an international recoding star. His twin becomes Ryan Wade, the son of a preacher who eventually becomes the world’s foremost Elvis…er..Drexel impersonator. Ryan becomes torn between following in his father’s legacy and a life on the stage and his desire to play his own music and playing Drexel’s.

Obviously, we are meant to think Drexel Hemsley is Elvis Presley. Blake Rayne, who plays Hemsley and Wade, is an Elvis impersonator. Hemsley sing Elvis-like song, stars in Elvis-like movies, and has Elvis-like moves. Kinda wonder why they have to use a pastiche here when the Twilight Zone didn’t need to.

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New Releases: August 22, 2014

Posted on 22 August 2014 by William Gatevackes

if I stay poster1. If I Stay (Warner Brothers, 2,907 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material): So, if Harry Potter beget Twilight, The Hunger Games beget Divergent, I guess The Fault in Our Stars beget this film.

Well, filmwise that is. The YA tearjerker novel that this film was adapted from came out three years prior to John Green’s opus. But surely the zeitgeist that book and film generated played a role in this film getting made.

This is the story of a young girl who is having an outer body experience after being put in a coma  by a car accident that killed her family. She must decide whether or not to stay amongst the living or join her family in death.

Frank_Millers_Sin_City _A_Dame_to_Kill_For_172. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (The Weinstein Company/Dimension Films, 2,894 Theaters, 102 Minutes, Rated R for strong brutal stylized violence throughout, sexual content, nudity, and brief drug use):  It has been nine years since the first Sin City, and we are finally getting a sequel. And this one adapts one of the better stories from the comics.

Once again, the film is an anthology of several different stories with different levels of interconnection. Some stories this time around act as a prequel to the last film, others as a sequel. You might need a score card to get the proper enjoyment from this film.

The first film was revolutionary in its style and subject matter. It was one of the best comic book adaptations of all time. Hopefully, this one can live up to its predecessor.

when the game stands tall poster3. When the Game Stands Tall (TriStar, 2,673 Theaters, 115 Minutes, Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking):  I am getting a We Are Marshall vibe from this film. It is a period football movie featuring a team that wears green and white who must regroup after being struck with a tragic loss.

However, this team is a high school team, one that won 151 straight games, and the tragedy is the death of one player, not a team full of them, but it still fits in formula found in pretty much every sports film in the last half century.

This is the most poorly reviewed film this week and the one released in the least amount of theaters. In other words, this is a film that the studio is trying to bury by leaving it out there on the dog days of August to die.

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New Releases: August 8, 2014

Posted on 08 August 2014 by William Gatevackes

turtles1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount, 3,845 Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence): I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Turtles because it was the American Dream: Comic Book Division. The concept was created by two friends (Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird) who took a joke the came up with and fleshed out, invested their tax refunds, and put out a cheap black and white comic featuring it. The comic lit the fuse of a cultural zeitgeist and earned the pair scads and scads of money. It was amazing.

However, Laird and Eastman sold the rights to the Turtles to Nickelodeon, a spoke in the corporate wheel that is Viacom, years ago so the property has lost its “small town boys make good” charm with me. So I can’t say I was as upset as I would have been with all the proposed changed Michael Bay was making to the concept with this film.

And it seems that the changes Bay was going to make–not having them as teenagers, mutants or turtles but rather as adult alien beings–have been done away with. However, we still have horrendous character design and Megan Fox, so it’s not all good. I would have thought this film would have had a hard time winning the weekend even without Guardians of the Galaxy being the juggernaut it seems to be. Now I see no hope in this film doing that good.

 

MV5BMjMwODI2ODc3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDQwNjkwMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_2. Into the Storm (Warner Brothers, 3,434 Theaters,89 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references): You wouldn’t think that tornadoes would be that great a form of entertainment. I’m sure that any one who has ever been caught in one would say that it was the opposite of entertaining to lose everything they owned, perhaps even a loved one, to the funnels.

I mean, we did have Twister, but that film focused more on the people who chased the tornadoes that their victims. This one is purely on the victims. And it is a “found footage” film as well to make it all the more realistic.

I think is what really tips this over the line from some escapism into a form of fetishism, just a step above a snuff film. If you want to see people dying in a tornado, go to the Midwest. Hopefully, after you get your jollies, you’ll join the Red Cross and help real victims of this weather pattern.

step-up-5-all-in-poster-3. Step Up: All In (Lionsgate/Summitt, 2,072 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive material): I am puzzled by few things in life, but the fact that they keep making Step Up film is one of the things that puzzle me. Okay, I know why they keep making them. Because they are mad cheap to produce and make a ton of money at the box office. What I don’t understand is what the appeal of these films are? Why do these films work where other formulaic yet better made film fail?

After starting with two films in Baltimore, the franchise has become a travelogue, starting with New York in #3, Miami in #4 and, now, Las Vegas.  Is it too early to put money down on Los Angeles for #6? And when to you think they’ll get to Step Up: Provo! ? Maybe it will be #27.

In this films, dancers from the other installments that are not Channing Tatum and have not been able to build a film career gather in Las Vegas to battle in the hopes of getting a job. Being that this is a fantasy, I’d imagine the dance jobs aren’t popping and locking behind Wayne Newton or dancing topless wearing a fathered headdress as a showgirl.

100 ft journey4. The Hundred-Foot Journey  (Touchstone/Dreamworks, 2,023 Theaters, 122 Minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality): This is what The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel hath wrought. We have a new genre where Indians have culture clashes with Europeans played by Academy Award winners in stories adapted from books.

Not that its a bad thing. Quiet, funny movies such as these are the true example of counter programming during the summer blockbuster season, and there is a market for these films.

This film features a snooty gourmand who gets upset when an Indian Food restaurant opens up across the street  from her haute cuisine restaurant. However, over time, she discovers the Indian family has the same love of food that she does, and they begin to bond. Eventually, she takes the Indian chef on as a protege.

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New Releases: August 1, 2014

Posted on 01 August 2014 by William Gatevackes

GuardiansOfTheGalaxyPoster1. Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney, 4,080 Theaters, 121 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language): Warning! Just wanted to alert those of you who were planning to see this film this weekend: it’s is no longer at 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s at 90%. Don’t know if that will keep you from the theaters this week, but thought you should know that so you can make an informed decision.

I kid, of course. The almost overwhelmingly positive reviews is just what this film needs. It is the least commonly known Marvel property that they have ever made a film out of, so anything that can bring people in is a good thing.

Five criminals find themselves thrown by fate into saving the universe. Will the collection of killers and thieves find a way to work together or is life as we know it doomed?

get_on_up_poster2. Get On Up (Universal, 2,468 Theaters, 138 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations):  It might seem strange to see this type of film released this time of year. Musical biopics are sure fire Oscar bait and Oscar bait usually hits theaters in December.

However, this is directed by Tate Taylor, whose last film, The Help, was released on August 10, 2011, and scored four Academy Award nomination. Perhaps the studio is hoping this film will reach the same demographic and have the same success when nominations come in.

This film tells the story of legendary R&B musician James Brown from his rise from poverty to superstardom. Chadwick Boseman, who is become the go-to guy for bio pics, stars as Brown and he is joined by two ladies Taylor got Oscar nominations for–Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, the latter winning the statue.

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New Releases: July 25, 2014

Posted on 25 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

hercules1. Hercules (Paramount, 3,595 Theaters,98 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences, violence, suggestive comments, brief strong language and partial nudity): It not often that Alan Moore calls for a boycott of his own films, and he has one of the worse relationships with Hollywood of any author. So why is he calling for one here,with this film?

Well, this particular version of the myth was based on a comic book from Radical Comics. The book was written by Steve Moore, who, while no relation to Alan, was his friend and mentor. Radical denied Steve financial compensation if the film, changing an earlier agreement, and an angry Steve asked for his name to be taken off any promotional materials for the film. Paramount and Radical complied…until Steve Moore died in March.

Then the powers that be behind Radical and the film company decided to pay their respects to the deceased Steve, and were sure to mention the film at the same time. This seemed to Alan Moore as the testimonies were just a tacky way to get a little more publicity, so, to honor his friend. Alan Moore asked for a boycott of the film.

Moore’s interview about the boycott can be read over at Bleeding Cool and I’ll be talking about it in a couple of weeks when it comes up in my History of the Comic Book Film feature. But this is another strike against a film that has a lot of strikes against it already. The Legend of Hercules opened in January and was a major flop. Dwayne Johnson is good box office for the franchises he joins, but isn’t really good at starting them himself. And, two words: Brett Ratner. So, there are plenty of reasons for people not to see this film already.

Lucy_2014_film_poster2. Lucy (Universal, 3,172 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality): I consider this film as a litmus test as to whether or not we will ever get a Black Widow film. The prevailing wisdom is that people won’t see women in genre action films, and the The Hunger Games and Divergent series are the exceptions that prove the rule.

This one, which stars the Black Widow herself, Scarlett Johansson, seems like a pretty good action flick. So, if the “women can’t sell tickets” rule is true, we’ll see here. And if this one bombs, there’s no hope for a Black Widow film.

The film focuses on a young woman who is kidnapped and forced to be a drug mule. When the experimental drug canister breaks open inside her, the increases her brain’s capacity, giving her superpowers. She uses these powers to get revenge on her kidnappers.

and_so_it_goes_ver33. And So It Goes (Clarius Entertainment, 1,760 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements): Can we stop a second and talk about Rob Reiner as a director for a second? This is the man who directed This is Spinal Tap. And this started a ten year span of of great film after great film: The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally…, Misery, A Few Good Men.

Then he made North and things went down hill from there. While he had some success (namely, The Bucket List), most of his output is disappointing. His last two films were Flipped and The Magic of Belle Isle. Does anybody remember them? Or ever heard of them? Need I say any more?

And now he’s delving in the AARP Rom Com genre, and it actually seems like a step up!?! That is so very sad to see.

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New Releases July 18, 2014

Posted on 18 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

planes 2 poster1. Planes: Fire & Rescue: (Disney, 3, 826 Theaters, 83 Minutes, Rated PG for action and some peril): So, I would have never bet that Cars, the most lackluster movie in the Pixar catalog, would get a sequel. It did. I never thought that it would get a spin-off. It did. I never thought the spin-off would do enough to earn a sequel. It did, and here we are.

This one follows Dusty (Dane Cook) as he retires from the world of competitive racing to enter a more relaxing field, the life of a wildfire attack plane. In the process, he learns what it means to be a true hero..

The film is getting better reviews than its predecessor, but, then again, it’s hard for it not to. And considering the competition it is up against, it might just be your best bet this week.

sex-tape-film2. Sex Tape (Sony/Columbia, 3,062 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use): Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) have decided punch up a lackluster sex life by making a sex tape. The friskiness leads to a marathon love making session, but when the video is uploaded to the cloud and sent to all their family and friends, the pair have to track down every copy of it before it becomes and issue.

The concept is pretty implausible. I mean, I don’t know much about the cloud, but I figure that it doesn’t really have a mind of its own and you control what goes on it or not. It doesn’t upload things automatically.

The trailer had a few good moments, but the film itself is being savaged by critics. So it will be interesting to see if this film can recapture the magic Diaz, Segel and director Jake Kasdan had with their hit, Bad Teacher.

purge anarchy poster3. The Purge: Anarchy (Universal, 2,805 Theaters, 103 Minutes, Rated R for strong disturbing violence, and for language): Since we are talking about implausible concepts….

The first film, centered on a night when any crime whatsoever if legal for 12 hours for one day a year, focused on a family trying to defend their heavily fortified house from intruders that are out to kill them. The sequel flips the switch a bit and shows us five people trying to survive on the streets of Los Angeles as the Purge is going on.

The original made $89 million worldwide against a  $3 million budget. This one’s budget is only $9 million. So, it doesn’t really have to do all that good at the box office for us to get a third one.

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