Archive | New Releases

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

New Releases: April 18, 2014

Posted on 17 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

transcendenceposter1. Transcendence (Warner Brothers, 3,455 Theaters, 119 Minutes, Rated PG-13): If you saw the trailer for this film and thought, “Gee, I didn’t know Christopher Nolan had a new film out,” well, he doesn’t. This is the first film directed by his frequent cinematographer Wally Pfister.

The film does have a high concept sci-fi plot that might have piqued Nolan’s interest. Johnny Depp plays a researcher trying to develop a human-level artificial intelligence. When terrorists shot him with radioactive bullets, he must meld with the machine in order to save his life. In the process, his goal may be achieved, but at a very high cost.

This film should have been a slam dunk. But the themes have appeared in countless other films, early reviews are brutal, and Depp himself seems unwilling to talk about the film during a visit to the Late Show. These, my friends, are not good signs.

heavenisforreal2. Heaven is for Real (Opened Wednesday, TriStar, 2,417 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG): The Overly Religious genre picks up steam with another film, this one based on a best-selling book of the same name.

This film tells story of Colton Burpo, who, while having surgery, had an out of body experience where he claims he saw Heaven. There, he saw relatives he never met, recounted facts about them he didn’t know, and told of a Jesus who rides on a rainbow horse and a gigantic God overlooking it all. His family has to deal with this information and the negative attention it brings.

Depending on your views of Heaven, this film may or may not be for you. But it does have two Oscar nominees in the cast (Greg Kinnear and Thomas Hayden Church), so at least it will be well acted.

Opened Wednesday.

A_Haunted_House_23. A Haunted House 2 (Open Road Films, 2,310 Theaters, 87 Minutes, Rated R): So, A Haunted House did well enough to garner a sequel? Really?

Considering how the original only cost $2.5 million to make and made close to $60 million worldwide, yeah, it did. Buy low and sell high and all that. And considering that this one only cost $3 million to make, it has a good chance of being a hit too, no matter how stupid it is.

This sequel follows the events of the first one, all the while parodying the recent slate of horror films.

If this is your thing, okay. Go for it. I hold my parody to a higher standard, but that’s just me.

Bears_2014_film4. Bears (Disney, 1,720 Theaters, 77 Minutes, Rated G): Disney’s Earth Day tradition of nature documentaries continues again this year, and might actually provide the best bet for the week.

The film follows a family of Alaskan Bears as they go about their daily life. Expect some laughs, some tears and, if you’re not careful, you might just learn something.

This film is currently the best reviewed film over at Rotten Tomatoes (but, really, look at the competition) and might be worth a look. And if you just can’t handle that much cuteness, it is only 77 minutes long.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Releases: April 11, 2014

Posted on 10 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

Rio_21. Rio 2 (Fox, 3,948 Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated G): I found the first Rio to be an entertaining diversion. It wasn’t a great film, but I’ve seen worse.

It was certainly a film that didn’t seem like it would lend itself to a sequel. But when the original makes $484 million at the box office against a $90 budget, a sequel you will get.

The sequel takes Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway), the bird protagonists from the first film, several hundred miles to the north as they relocate to the Amazon. Strangely enough, their entire supporting cast relocates there too, including the evil Nigel  (Jermaine Clement), who vows revenge on the pair and their children.

Will this be enough to unseat Captain America:The Winter Soldier? We’ll see.

DraftDayMoviePoster2. Draft Day (Lionsgate/Summit, 2,781 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated PG-13): If you were to turn on the NFL Network right now, odds are you wouldn’t have to wait long until they start talking about the NFL Draft. The 79th installment of the yearly tradition will arrive in May, and what began as men reading names in a dingy hotel room has become a three-day extravaganza that has become a television event.

The reason why so many people tune in is because it has become drama personified. Fans watch closely, hoping that their team will draft the man who will turn their fortunes around, or make a deal that will make the team’s future bright.

That is part of what this film is trying to tap into. It has the full cooperation of the NFL, and the script was on the legendary Blacklist. However, hardcore fans might not appreciate the liberties filmmakers took with the concept, ranging from the World Champion Seattle Seahawks having the number one pick (not that they’d know the Seahawks would win the Super Bowl, but they’d have to know the Hawks would have a better record than the Browns) to certain less-than-legal shenanigans done by Kevin Costner’s character.

oculus-poster3. Oculus (Relativity, 2,648 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated R): There are a few things sadder than a horror film released in April, especially ones with limited advertising and lower than normal theater counts. Just like a teenager abandoned in a deserted cabin in the middle of a haunted woods, this film has just been put out there to die.

Which is not to say that this film doesn’t have a lot going for it. That is one damn creepy poster over there. And it has a cast which features no A-list actors but a lot of popular genre favorites (Karen Gillan, Katee Sackoff, Rory Cochrane). And it’s Rated R, just like every horror film should be.

The film deals with a pair of siblings. The brother is just being released from prison for killing his father, an act he says was encouraged by a possessed mirror. He just wants to get on with his life, but his sister really believes the mirror is haunted and wants her brother’s help to get to the bottom of thing. It will not end well.

Comments (1)

Tags: , ,

New Releases: April 4, 2014

Posted on 03 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

captainamericawintersoldierposter1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney, 3,938 Theaters, 136 Minutes, Rated PG-13): After what I thought were disappointing efforts in Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, I felt that chinks in Marvel’s cinematic armor were beginning to show. That led me to have serious doubts about this film. Cap is my second favorite Marvel character, and to have his next movie be directed by a pair of brothers with little big screen or action movie experience didn’t help matters any.

But the advance buzz for the film has been overwhelmingly positive. The film has an 89% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes, rarefied air for comic book film. And people have been saying that the film is the best Marvel film to date.

So, yeah, my doubts have been replaced by a giddy, childlike anticipation for the film. I’ll be seeing the first showing tomorrow. FilmBuffOnline Head Honcho Rich Drees has already seen the film, and I’m sure his thoughts will be up on the site soon. And, if Rich lets me, my thoughts will be published not long after.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

New Releases: March 28, 2014

Posted on 28 March 2014 by William Gatevackes

noahposter1. Noah (Paramount, 3,567 Theaters, 138 Minutes, Rated PG-13): What’s the deal with all these Biblical epics all of a sudden? I’m getting the feeling like I am back in the 1950s. Can’t wait for bobby sox and snarling singers from Tupelo, Mississippi to make a comeback as well. We’ve already had Son of God. We have this one this week, and soon, Christian Bale playing Moses in Exodus.

This film, naturally, focuses on Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood. With the advances in special effects technology, it makes sense that this one would make a comeback here.

The film has a great cast and is a story that is part of all the three major religions. But it seems to be more violent and more dark than any other version I have known about. We’ll see how it does, and if it will open the door for more Bible films.

sabotage poster2. Sabotage (Open Road Films, 2,486 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated R): The next stage of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s post-Gubernatorial film career continues. No, it’s not a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic, but a film that seems to meld the dark, gritty action dramas that were popular when Arnie was in office with more of his “plot only used to serve the action scenes” style of filmmaking that was popular in Arnie’s heyday.

The plot involves the ultimate team of DEA agents who take down a drug cartel. When some of the confiscated drug money comes up missing, the drug cartel begins killing the members of the team. It’s up to Arnie’s character to get down to the center of the mystery and get revenge for his fallen comrades.

I know this is not the kind of movie where you are supposed to think a lot about the plot, you just sit back and enjoy the explosions and shootings, but this plot makes my head hurt. Why would the cartel be killing DEA agents over a small sliver of the billions the agency confiscated being presumably in an agent’s pocket. Isn’t the fact that the confiscated all that money at all be enough to make them angry to go on a kill spree?

I’m sure the reason will come down to a plot twist that is stupid, predictable and needless.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , ,

New Releases: March 7, 2014

Posted on 07 March 2014 by William Gatevackes

MrPeabody&ShermanPoster1. Mr. Peabody and Sherman (Fox/DreamWorks, 3,934 Theaters, 92 Minutes, Rated PG): There are feature films based on cartoons based of shows your kid watched. There are cartoons based on shows you watched. This here is a cartoon based on show your parents might have watched.

For those of you that don’t know. Mr. Peabody is a superintelligent dog and Sherman is his adopted son. They travel through time via a machine Peabody invented called the WABAC machine. The characters made their debut as part of a segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show called Peabody’s Improbable History “way back” in 1959. Yes, the character DreamWorks and Fox want you to take your kids too are old enough to start receiving AARP benefits.

There are quality people involved in the production, but I fear the film might go the same way as the live-action Rocky and Bullwinkle & Underdog films, two other concepts eligible for the senior discount at Denny’s, into the category of box office failure.

300RiseOfAnEmpireMondo2. 300: Rise of an Empire (Warner Brothers, 3,470 Theaters, 102 Minutes, Rated R):
When they first started talking about a sequel to the film 300, armchair historians had to ask, “Huh?”

Because 300 was based on a true story, and the way it worked out, and the way it was portrayed on the screen, it did not leave room for a sequel.

They worked around it by focusing on another area of the Persian attack on Greece. This time, it’s Athens at the forfront of the battle, who must meld their naval superiority to the fighting abilities of the Spartans if they have any hope of defeating Xerxes. Lucky for them, the Spartans are out for revenge for what happened in the first film.

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , ,

New Releases: February 21, 2014

Posted on 20 February 2014 by William Gatevackes

3daystokillposter1. 3 Days to Kill (Relativity, 2,872 Theaters,113 Minutes, Rated PG-13): So, I’m glad that Kevin Costner has used the buzz his Man of Steel performance generated to restart his movie career. He’s having quite the resurgence, with two movies coming out this film season.

Of course, it would have been nice if the first film back wasn’t just Taken tossed in a blender and mixed up a bit.

Costner plays an ex-secret agent who tries to reconnect with his teenage daughter (Hallie Steinfeld). The twist is that it’s not her that’s going to be taken, it’s him–by a deadly disease. However, he is offered an experimental drug that could prolong his life if he takes just one last job.

pompeiiposter2. Pompeii (TriStar, 2,658 Theaters, 98 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Stop me when this sounds familiar. A common, lower-class yet really good looking man falls in love with a girl of wealth and privileged. Unfortunately, the girl is to be wed to a rich and powerful man, a man who can and will do anything to destroy the poor young man. The wealthy man finally separates the two as a big disaster occurs. Now the boy has to reunite with the girl if he has any hope of saving her from certain death.

If you are hearing the strains of Celine Dion, you might not have to call a doctor. The plot of this film, at least on paper, is very similar to Titanic, only with an exploding volcano instead of a shipwreck, 1800 years earlier, and with a red color palette instead of a blue one.

The only weird thing about this is that it took Hollywood this long to copy that format for another run at the big bucks.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Releases: February 14, 2014

Posted on 13 February 2014 by William Gatevackes

robocopposter1. RoboCop (Opened Wednesday, Sony/Columbia, 3,372 Theaters, 108 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Typically, the Valentine’s Day weekend is not the type of holiday where opening a film on the Wednesday before will do a film a lot of good. But when there’s not one, not two, but THREE remakes being released on the same weekend (Sign of the Apocalypse #665), it makes sense to give your remake a little breathing room.

Especially when your remake is one of the most useless remakes of all time. The original RoboCop was a classic. It stood as awesome, cyberpunk action film and also a comment the action films of the day. It was also a commentary on Reagan’s America, the commercialization of American society, the march of technology replacing humans in the workforce, the mindless pap of Television and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you look hard enough, you could see a new thing the film was satirizing every day.

It would be hard to replicate all of that in a remake, and it looks like they didn’t even bother trying. The fact that this version is rated PG-13 shows the producer cared nothing other than making a cheap ripoff of the original. I mean, any film that stars Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton can be bad, but there will be entertaining parts in it. But I don’t expect much from this film.

winterstale pster2. Winter’s Tale (Warner Brothers, 2,965 Theaters, 118 Minutes, Rated PG-13): You can’t have a Valentine’s Day weekend and not have a romance or two (or three). If you like your romances quasi-original, you only have one choice–this film.

This is the weekends only non-remake, but it is an adaptation. However, supposedly the film stays from the book quite a bit, hence the quasi-original nomenclature.

The novel is brought to the big screen by Akiva Goldsmith, who competes with Nicolas Cage for the title of Oscar winner with the most embarrassing entries on his resume. He won the award for writing A Beautiful Mind, but also has stinkers like Batman & Robin and Lost in Space on there too. This marks his debut as a feature director, so there is a lot at risk here.

The film deals with a robber who falls in love with a doomed woman who lives in the house that he robs. When the burglar discovers he has powers of reincarnation and rebirth, he decides to save the woman.

endlessloveposter3. Endless Love (Universal, 2,893 Theaters, 103 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The original Endless Love was primarily known for three things: 1. a minor controversy over a 14-year-old Brooke Shields being cast in an R-Rated, sexually explicit film, 2. being the film debut of Tom Cruise (and Ian Ziering and Jami Gertz, but those debuts don’t get as much play) and 3. the cheeserrific Diana Ross/Lionel Ritchie song that the film had spawned. None of those three things will be in play this time around.

What we have left is the tale of two, star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of the tracks whose love brings them together despite their families efforts to keep them apart.

This marks the second remake in a row for Gabriella Wilde, who starred as Sue Snell in last year’s Carrie. She’d better watch out or else she’ll be typecast.

aboutlstnightposter4. About Last Night (Sony/Screen Gems, 2,253 Theaters,100 Minutes, Rated R): If this remake has one thing going for it, its the fact that it has retained the R Rating of the original. No dialing back the premise to get some more kids in the audience. That might not make it a great film, but at least it’s a truer one (Although it is 13 minutes shorter. Wonder how that plays).

This is a remake of the Demi Moore/Rob Lowe adaptation of David Mamet’s play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago. It details the path two couples take from nightclub hook-up to serious relationship. Only this time around, it is with an all-black cast.

The actors are talented and the subject matter still as timely. But, unfortunately, it might get swamped by the other films opening this weekend.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , ,

New Releases: February 7, 2014

Posted on 06 February 2014 by William Gatevackes

thelegomovieposter1. The LEGO Movie (Warner Brothers, 3,775 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG):
When this film was first announced, I thought it would suck on ice. Much like the Stretch Armstrong film, I didn’t think there would be a way to translate this toy on to the big screen.

Then I saw the trailers for the film, and they looked really good. It seem to have a goofy sense of humor and an irreverent tone. Whether this comes through on the regular film or not, I don’t know. But I am surprised that the trailer was as good as it was. Add that to the fact that you can see members of the DC Comics, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other pop culture properties on screen together, you have a pretty big draw.

The film deals with an ordinary minifigure who is mistakenly believed to be the Masterbuilder, a powerful architect who can save LEGO land from the evil Lord Business.

 

monumentsmenposter2. The Monuments Men (Sony/Columbia, 3,083 Theaters, 118 Minutes, Rated PG-13):
Typically, when a movie is delayed, that is never a good sign. However, in this case, I am willing to make an exception.

This is George Clooney’s latest and it was originally scheduled for December of last year, but Clooney wanted a little more time to do post-production work on it. But the film has a cast to die for, one that you can’t see creating a bad movie even if they tried. So I think this one might be safe to go to.

The film is based on the true story of a military group who is brought together to rescue priceless works of art the Nazis stole and to return them to their rightful owners.

vampiressuckatschoolposter3. Vampire Academy (The Weinstein Company, 2,676 Theaters,104 Minutes, Rated PG-13):
Yet another attempt to bring a popular series of YA novels to the big screen, and by this point they have all but given up. I mean, it has the lowest theater count, and the advertising has been far less than for other attempts at the genre.

This seems to be a “Twilight meets Harry Potter” as it details the goings on at an exclusive academy for vampires and their guardians. There is a lot of romance, betrayal, and in-fighting.

I expect this film to die a quick death at the cineplexes and we’ll have to see what else comes along the pike to try and fill the Hunger Games’ shoes.

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Releases: January 31, 2014

Posted on 30 January 2014 by William Gatevackes

ThatAwkwardMomentposter1. That Awkward Moment (Focus Features, 2,809 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated R): So begins phase two of Zac Efron’s transition (he hopes) to more mature films. Phase one involved PG-13 fare such as The Lucky One and supporting roles in marquee dramas such as Parkland and The Paperboy. He’s coming out with both R-Rated barrels blazing, with this first and Neighbors coming second in May.

That’s always a tricky prospect. Sure, his High School Musical audiences are all mostly old enough to follow him to R-Rated films, but will they want to? Teen idols are something their fans grow out of instead of growing up with.

This film features three buddies whose find their pact to all stay single together in danger when they accidentally fall into real relationships.

labordayposter2. Labor Day (Paramount, 2,584 Theaters,111 Minutes, Rated PG-13): You get the impression that this film was meant to be Oscar Bait. It has actors with Oscar credentials (Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet), has an Oscar nominated writer-director (Jason Reitman) and made a tour of the festival circuit and had a brief open in Los Angeles before opening wide here.

However, its complete and utter lack of nominations is telling, as is its release at the tale end of the period when Oscar favorites are typically released. You don’t have to look at Rotten Tomatoes and the 36% percent fresh it has at this writing to see that we might have a stinker on our hands.

The film, which is based on a novel, tells a coming of age story of a young boy who has to deal with changes brought when an escaped convict enters his and his mothers life. If that seems implausible, ask me about the romance that develops between the convict and his mom. I won’t bother with the drowned baby coincidence.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Releases: December 20, 2013

Posted on 19 December 2013 by William Gatevackes

walking-with-dinosaurs-movie-poster1. Walking with Dinosaurs (Fox, 3,231 Theaters, 87 Minutes, Rated PG-13): By now you should have seen the TV ads for this films. You know the ones. They go: A film so realistic, you’ll think your were there. Or something like that.

Then immediately afterwards the dinosaurs start talking.

I’m not a science genius or anything, but I don’t think the dinosaurs were able to talk, let alone speak English. Let alone get in adventures and comment on each others farts. There goes your realism.

So, what you end up with is a more accurately animated, more crude The Land Before Time. And if that’s the case, just rent The Land Before Time.

american_hustle_ver6_xlg2. American Hustle (Opening Wide, Sony/Columbia, 2,507 Theaters, 138 Minutes, Rated R): Okay, I’m going to say this right off the bat. This movie is about Rocket Raccoon teaming up with Batman, Lois Lane and Mystique to take down corrupt politician, Hawkeye.

There. Got that out of my system. What this film really is David O. Russell uniting his cast from The Fighter (minus Melissa Leo and Mark Wahlberg) with his cast from Silver Linings Playbook, adding Jeremy Renner, putting them in awful clothes and even worse hair styles and having then tackle the ABSCAM scandal of the 1970s.

That’s enough to have the critics go ga-ga over this film. It’s got a whopping 94% fresh over at Rotten Tomatoes. This isn’t surprising, as the last few Russell movies when over well.

Personally, I can’t understand it. The Fighter,  which I liked, was essentially Rocky with sibling rivalry thrown in. Silver Linings Playbook, which I didn’t like as much, was basically a goofy romantic comedy with a serious overtone dealing with mental heath issues. Don’t get me wrong, the films were good, the cast was Oscar caliber, but the films themselves and Russell’s directing was rather pedestrian.

Anyway, it appears I’m in the minority. I’m probably also in the minority in thinking that Christian Bale’s acting leans more towards hammy scene chewing than stunning character creation here.

movies_saving-mr-banks-poster3. Saving Mr. Banks (Opening Wide, Disney, 2,111 Theaters, 125 Minutes, Rated PG-13):  A story about Walt Disney’s struggles to get Mary Poppins on the big screen, put out by Disney. I’m sure this will be fair and balanced.

Disney is very protective of its icons, and there’s no bigger icon that Walt himself. So it would be interesting to see how he’s going to be portrayed here.

However, he is played by Tom Hanks, so, even if it is not accurate, it will be interesting. And he’s playing off of Emma Thompson as P.T. Travers, which should make for some cinematic sparks.

 

Comments (1)