Archive | New Releases

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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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New Releases: June 27, 2014

Posted on 26 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

taoe poster1.Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount, 4,233 Theaters, 165 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo): So, I’m getting the feeling that this franchise is pretty much unstoppable.

It gets lambasted by the critics, it sets box office records. Lose Megan Fox?  Replace her with a Victoria’s Secret model.The model doesn’t want to come back? Throw an unknown in there. Lose Shia LeBeouf? Replace him with Mark Wahlberg. As long as one giant robot beats the motor oil out of another giant robot, audiences will still come out in droves.

This film at least offers audiences something new. It gives Transformers fans their first look at the popular Dinobots on the big screen. Will there be a plot to pull them into the story? Probably not, but who cares.

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New Releases: June 20, 2014

Posted on 19 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

Jersey-Boys-Poster1. Jersey Boys (Warner Brothers, 2,905 Theaters, 134 Minutes, Rated R for language throughout):  The Broadway musical and touring show it spawned has a rabid following. People have memorized the track order of the Original Cast Recording. It is directed by one of the best directors working in Clint Eastwood, one with multiple Oscars.

Then why does the trailer for this film seem so boring?

Granted, part of the reason is because it seems like the film follows in the same rut many other musician biopics do: group of friends come together to form a band, they find the missing piece that launches them on the road to stardom, they become famous, a wild card in the group causes trouble, the friendships breaks down, eventually the problems cause the break-up of the band. The only difference is this time it’s a full musical.

Also, check out the logo on that poster. I could probably design a better logo. What? They couldn’t get rights to the musical’s logo? Were they pressed for time and had to use only what Microsoft Word had to offer?

If I were you, I’d wait until the Broadway tour comes back into town and see it then.

think_like_a_man_too_xlg2. Think Like A Man Too (Sony/Screen Gems, 2,225 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material): At least you can say this for this film, unlike Jersey Boys, which only brings John Lloyd Young from the original Broadway version, it brings back the entire cast from the first film, including Kevin Hart, whose career has boomed in the two years since the first one came out.

If the first film was When Harry Met Sally, this one is more The Hangover. The couples come to Las Vegas to celebrate a wedding and naturally get into all sorts of trouble in Sin City. What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, but that includes a number of what were good relationships prior to the visit.

The first film made eight times its budget worldwide, which is impressive no matter how you slice it. There is no reason to think this will not to the same–if not better.

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New Releases: June 13, 2014

Posted on 13 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

How to train your dragon 2 theatrical poster1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Fox/Dreamworks, 4,253 Theaters, 102 Minutes, Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor): So, I have a confession to make. I did not expect the first How to Train Your Dragon to be such a hit. I thought that mix of dragons and vikings would be too esoteric for the kids, and it would surely fail at the box office.

It appears that I underestimated the popularity of that pairing and the quality and craftsmanship Dreamworks puts into its films. That film made almost $500 million worldwide, which is enough for a sequel.

This time around, the war between the dragons and the vikings is over. However, the peace becomes uneasy as a new enemy threatens the partnership between the two. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) must find a way to lead his people and defeat the enemy, a job he’s not sure he wants to do.

Jonah Hill returns in this one as Snotlout. If you hate Hill, well, sorry, because…

22jumpstreetposter2. 22 Jump Street (Sony/Columbia, 3,306 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence): …because he’s in this one too! There’s no escaping Jonah Hill this week!

21 Jump Street benefited from Jonah Hill’s and Channing Tatum’s stars rising at the same time. One thinks that if the film arrived a couple years earlier, it would have died on the vine.

This time, the pair have graduated to college, still chasing down designer drugs, still squabbling like an old married couple. The question once again becomes what will happen first, will the partnership dissolve or will they catch the bad guys.

I wonder what will happen if this film becomes a hit. Because I don’t see these guys easily being able to fit into grad school.

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New Releases: June 6, 2014

Posted on 05 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

Edge_of_Tomorrow_Poster1. Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Brothers, 3,490 Theaters, 113 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material):  Okay, let me get it out of the way. “It’s a sci-fi Groundhog’s Day!”

That has been bandied around about this film, like that is somehow a bad idea. It’s not, and this film seems like it puts that concept to good use.

Based on the Japanese novel, All You Need is Kill, Tom Cruise plays a novice soldier who gains the ability to travel back in time. He uses this talent to become a seasoned veteran and one of the few who can fight off the alien horde.

It seems pretty solid. Too bad it is going to get massacred by the other movie opening this week.

the fault in our stars2. The Fault in Our Stars (Fox, 3,172 Theaters,125 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language):  If you are of a certain age, namely an old geezer like me, you might not be familiar with the book this film is based on, and might only know its author, John Green, from his You Tube video about the health care system.

You probably also weren’t at BookCon in NYC last weekend. It seemed like every other attendee had a t-shirt based on the book/film, and were buzzing about getting into the John Green panel–or complaining that they couldn’t get in.

So, this film I think is going to catch a lot of people by surprise. On the surface, it seems like treacly shmaltz. But that fan base is loyal and vocal and it has been getting fairly good reviews. Don’t be surprised if this film ends up number one at the box office, with a long run in theaters and a nomination or two come Oscar time.

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New Releases: May 30, 2014

Posted on 29 May 2014 by William Gatevackes

maleficent poster1. Maleficent (Disney, 3,948 Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images): The one thing I take away most from the trailer is how beautiful Angelina Jolie looks in it. I don’t know if it’s first time director Robert Stromberg’s skill with the camera (while this is his first directorial effort, he has won Oscars for his art design) or just Jolie’s natural beauty, but she is captivating, horns and all.

This, of course, is Disney’s attempt to parlay their rich history of bringing fairy tales to the big screen in animated form into live actions success. Since they had a big success with Alice in Wonderland, they decided to tackle Sleeping Beauty next.

This time, we focus on the evil Maleficent, a woodland fairy who takes a turn to the bad after a betrayal in her life. She takes out her anger on the innocent Aurora, but soon comes to realize that the girl might not have been the best target for her rage.

It should be interesting to see if this does well at the box office. After all, it is a film with a female lead, which Hollywood hates even more than digital pirates. But there is a lot going for it too. We shall see.

a million ways to die in the west poster2. A Million Way to Die in the West (Universal, 3,148 Theaters, 116 Minutes, Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material): Unlike some members of the FilmBuffOnline staff, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane. I have liked some of what I’ve seen of the Family Guy, I thought that Ted was a good film, but nothing really cries out as being riotous, appointment viewing.

But I am definitely in the minority when it comes to that. The surprise success of Ted is proof of that. So it is natural to expect big things from this film.

One thing I will give MacFarlane credit for is his ability to get stars you wouldn’t think he could get for his films. I mean, Liam Neeson? Yeah, he’s done things that might seem beneath him before. But Oscar-winner Charlize Theron? And she’s not the only Oscar winner in the cast.

This time, MacFarlane puts himself in front of the camera, and not behind a cartoon or stuffed bear. He plays a cowardly rancher who must learn the ways of the gun when an evil gunslinger comes to town looking for his missing wife.

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