Archive | New Releases

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New Releases: July 31, 2015

Posted on 30 July 2015 by William Gatevackes

Vacation Poster1. Vacation (Opened Wednesday, Warner Brothers/New Line, 3,411 Theaters, 99 Minutes, Rated R for crude and sexual content and language throughout, and brief graphic nudity, Rotten Tomatoes Rating at press time: 26% Fresh [84 Reviews]): So, is this a remake, a sequel or both? If it’s the former, I dread the inevitable remakes of the John Hughes classics that will surely come. If it’s a sequel, okay, that would be kind of inventive. But I think it’s the latter, which is problematic to say the least.

The basic plot is the same–a man takes his dysfunctional family on a cross-country vacation to the mythical Wally World from the first film—but it seems that they try to up the ante this time around. Now it’s Rusty (Ed Helms, because he’s a bigger star than Anthony Michael Hall or Johnny Galecki, I guess) instead of Clark. Instead of the gorgeous supermodel flirting with dad while driving on the highway, she gets hit by an oncoming tractor trailer. Instead of eating a sandwich with dog pee on it, they whole family wallows in raw sewage.

But bigger isn’t always better, especially when the original still stands up well today.

mission impossible poster2. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Paramount, 3,800 Theaters,131 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity, Rotten Tomatoes Rating at press time: 93% Fresh [101 Reviews]):This film shouldn’t be so enticing. The franchise is one year away from its 20th birthday, with only five installments to show for it. Its star is eligible for an AARP card, and is still trying to live down a legendary press junket from ten years ago which was notorious for him jumping on couches and calling morning show hosts “glib.”

But the film is getting spectacular reviews. Tom Cruise, at 53, looks 36 and does a lot of his own stunts, including the one in the trailer where HE HANGS FROM THE OUTSIDE OF A PLANE WHILE IT IS TAKING OFF. And the franchise stays fresh by adding new elements and recurring characters to the old favorites. And averaging a film once every four years seems to be a case of making sure there is a quality reason to bring everyone back.

So, this franchise might not have that much life left in it, but it appears that it has enough to bring audiences in.

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The Cut PIXELS Super Mario Brothers Post-Credits Scene

Posted on 26 July 2015 by Rich Drees

Pixels-1

Although there have been post-credit scenes in films before Marvel Studios came along, it really has been their use of them that has led a number of filmmakers to follow suit, ending their films with a quick spin on or revelation about what happened in the movie. At the least, it’s a fun thank you for the folks who have stuck around through the credits, at the most it serves to set up a hoped for sequel.

The folks behind this weekend’s Pixels, the alien-invaders-taking-the-form-of-classic-video-arcade-game-characters Adam Sandler comedy, had an idea for a post-credits scene to their film. This is what they had in their script –

PAN UP AND SPIN AROUND, so we face the Washington Monument, damaged but still standing. When we reach the top, we see a small figure on top, hands on hips, watching all this from high above.

Mario.

We zoom in on his face, and he smiles.

CUT TO BLACK

Now I know the first impulse is to say that the scene was cut as all involved knew that anyone who went to film would have run out of the theater as soon as the credits started rolling, if not before. Let’s face it, the reviews have not been kind to this movie, as it currently sits with a score of 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.

But director Chris Columbus explained the deletion to ScreenCrush thusly –

We tried it. There was a moment we even did a previs of it, we thought it was interesting but we wanted to kind of use him somewhere else. I don’t want to spoil the fact that he may be somewhere else in the film but … that ironically is a bigger moment for the audience than the ending with Mario.

Pixels is doing so-so at the US box office and is expected to not quite clear $24 million this weekend according to Deadline. But with the film picking up another $26 million or so overseas, it has already cleared more than half of its reported $88 million budget. So there is a glimmer of a possibility that there could be a sequel to the film, depending how the next few weeks play out. It’s not a foregone conclusion, but its also not entirely ruled out.

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New Releases: July 24, 2015

Posted on 24 July 2015 by William Gatevackes

pixels-movie-poster1. Pixels (Sony/Columbia, 3,723 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive comments, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 20% Fresh [84 Reviews]):When this high concept film was announced, we knew that the right approach to the material had to be made. After all, the plot of aliens responding to a tape of video games being played as an act of war and sending weaponized versions of the video game characters in order to destroy Earth is one that could come off as either campy genius or completely and utterly stupid.

The fact that the film would come from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company pointed towards the latter. However, having Chris Columbus, he of Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter movies, direct the film seem a step in the right direction.

Of course, the final product has Kevin James as President of the United States and Peter Dinklage in a mullet. With that as an example of the film’s wit, no wonder it has been getting the reviews it has.

papertownsposter2. Paper Towns (Fox, 3,031 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for some language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity – all involving teens, Rotten Tomatoes rating as of press time: 59% Fresh [58 Reviews]): Quentin once had a childhood crush on his neighbor Margo. That has all but passed, but there’s enough of it around that when Margo steals into Quentin’s bedroom at night and asks for his help in a quest for revenge, he is more than happy to oblige.

Quentin is interested in renewing his friendship with Margo the next day at school, but she never shows. When she doesn’t show for the next few days and is declared missing, Quentin enlist his friends to try and find her. During the investigation, Quentin, quoting Alan Jackson, learns “a lot about livin’ and a little ’bout love.”

If this premise seems a bit far fetched or loopy, it really doesn’t matter. This film is adapted from a John Green novel, and the cult that surrounds him will make this one a hit.

Southpaw_poster_usa3. Southpaw (The Weinstein Company, 2,772 Theaters, 123 Minutes, Rated R for language throughout, and some violence, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 54% Fresh [110 Reviews]): The boxing movie as a Cinderella story. Rocky started it, and it continued it through Cinderella Man, The Fighter and others. It has become a time honored trope, so much that it is hard to bring anything new to it. Director Antoine Fuqua, of Training Day fame, and writer Kurt Sutter, the man who brought you Sons of Anarchy, decide to go grim and gritty with their take on the genre.

Boxer Billy Hope had it all. He held the Light Heavyweight Title, he had money, a beautiful wife, and awesome kid and a life that many other people would envy. Unfortunately, a public brawl between him and a rival boxer ends with his wife dead. This starts Billy on a downward spiral where he loses everything else. When he hits bottom, he needs to find the strength to pull himself back up and become the man who will be able to take care of his daughter.

Even with the new angles added, the story seems formulaic. But this one might be worth a look, as Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is already getting Oscar buzz, something almost unheard of this time of year.

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Review: ANT-MAN

Posted on 19 July 2015 by William Gatevackes

ant-man posterIf you were disappointed because Edgar Wright left this film, then you’re really going to be disappointed after seeing this film. That’s because Wright’s fingerprints are all over the film, yet he is nowhere to be found.

Yes, this is an Edgar Wright film. He and Joe Cornish are still credited with story and part of the screenplay (the latter shared with Adam McKay and Paul Rudd). And if you are a fan of Wright’s work, you’ll be able to pick his parts of the film out almost immediately.

For example, one of Wright’s most prominent trademarks is the jump-cut scene, where he presents a part of the story in a series of staccato images that say what they need to say in a concise and exciting way. In my opinion, it’s a trait that proves his genius and a big part of what I love about his films.

In Ant-Man, there are four or five scenes that you just know that Wright and Cornish wrote for this jump-cut style. However, Peyton Reed, either by conscious choice or lack of the ability to do so, presents these scenes with the pacing of a turtle trying to cross a molasses-covered roadway. The difference between the scenes as Reed directs them and the way they were intended is painfully obvious, and creates a disconnect  with the audience. Unfortunately, this also makes us more aware of the other flaws in the film, flaws such as dodgy motives, underdeveloped characters and gaps in logic that we might not have had time to notice in the faster pace Wright works in.

rudd as scott lang ant-manThe film opens as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) leaves prison after serving three years for a Robin Hood-like bit of computer theft . He is desperate to go straight so he can provide a good role model for his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston), but he’s not even able to keep a job at Baskin-Robbins due to his criminal record. Soon, an old prison pal by the name of Luis (Michael Peña) seduces Scott back into a life of crime with a sure-fire robbery of a billionaire ex-military guy. 

However, the only thing Scott finds in the billionaire’s vault is what he thinks is a motorcycle suit. After he puts the suit on, he realizes it allows him to shrink to ant size. The theft was orchestrated by the suit’s creator, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) as a test of Lang’s skills. See, Pym’s protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), has used Pym’s designs to create his own shrinking battle suit, one he is willing to sell to the highest bidder, no matter who that bidder will kill with it. Pym wants Lang to steal the designs from Cross to keep them from being used for nefarious purposes. Lang quickly signs on, much to the chagrin of Pym’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lily), who wanted the assignment for herself.

Antman screen grabThe reason given for Pym choosing Scott over Hope is that Scott is expendable and Pym dares not to lose his daughter. This is where the questions begin, because if he was that concerned about her, why did he have Hope work as his inside woman in Cross’ company, keeping tabs on an man who has no compunction about killing an employee for as little as speaking up in a meeting. And why wouldn’t Hope be a better choice, as she already has a high level access in the company, and would be able to sabotage the development of Cross’ suit from the inside. She wouldn’t even need the Ant-Man suit to do it either.

In addition to that, Pym is a man who doesn’t want his technology used by the military, unless he is the one to use it. Cross has a highly advanced, weaponized version of the Ant-Man suit he created himself, yet still is obsessed with stealing Pym’s outdated 1980’s version of the technology. Cross is another edition of the poorly defined Marvel villain. He constantly reminds us that he is the “jilted protege of a father-figure-like mentor (with nary a flashback to back that up),” yet comes off more as a raving lunatic who completely ignores his expressed motivation at the end just to give the film a slam bang finale.

antman stillWho do we blame for these contradictions? Wright and Cornish? McKay and Rudd? Reed? Marvel Studios’ interference?  One from column A, one from column B? All of the above? Regardless, the studio would have been better off if it either delayed the movie, scrapped all of Wright’s stuff, and then started over or, you know, just let Wright direct it.

Which isn’t to say that the film is all bad. The effects are spectacular, the acting is great and there are moments of fun action and witty comedy. It’s just that it seems like without Wright at the helm, the film is like a jacket three sizes too big for Reed to wear, a jigsaw puzzle with miss-matched pieces. The result is a disappointing film.

 

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New Releases: July 17, 2015

Posted on 17 July 2015 by William Gatevackes

ant-man poster1. Ant-Man (Disney, 3,856 Theaters,117 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, Rotten Tomatoes Rating at press time: 77% Fresh [151 Reviews]): After a tumultuous journey to the screen, this film has finally arrived.

Being a big Edgar Wright fan, I had a secret hope that this film would be awful. Yet, as a fan of comic book films, I also want it to be a success. Such conflicting feelings put a hamper on my desire to see. Typically, I’d have seen it by the time this post hits the web. Now if I see it this weekend, I see it this weekend. if not, well, that’s okay too.

Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a petty their who is hired by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to engage in a bit of industrial espionage. The safety of the world is at stake, and helping him is a suit that allows him to shrink to ant size.

Trainwreck_poster2. Trainwreck (Universal, 3,157 Theaters,125 Minutes, Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use, Rotten Tomatoes Rating at press time: 87% Fresh [97 Reviews]): Amy Schumer is an unparalleled genius. Her Inside Amy Schumer is one of the best sketch shows to ever air on TV, and she is a master of marrying vulgar humor with biting social commentary and coming up with something riotously funny. She is getting a lot of notice and acclaim for the show, and one of the side benefits is the opportunity to write and star in a feature film.

Amy play a woman named, well, Amy, a writer for a famous men’s magazine who lives a promiscuous lifestyle. Monogamy is for dummies is her motto. But that attitude changes when she meets a charming sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader). Will Aaron be enough to make Amy change her freewheeling ways? Or is their relationship just a brief respite from Amy’s carousel of one-night stands?

This film is directed by Judd Apatow, but, outside of Hader, none of the Apatow Repertory Players appear in the film. However, fans of Schumer’s TV show will recognize a number of familiar faces mixed in with intriguing cameos from a diverse range of actors including John Cena, Tilda Swinton, Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei.

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New Releases: July 10, 2014

Posted on 10 July 2015 by William Gatevackes

Minions poster1. Minions (Universal, 4,301 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated PG for action and rude humor, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 54% Fresh [115 Reviews]): Okay, Hollywood. I know that it’s summer and all, but come on. Theater counts should be announced by Box Office Mojo by Thursday night. Okay? I like having a correct number up there, else it looks sloppy. And I don’t like hunting for them.

This film focuses on the adorable, Twinkie-like critters from the Despicable Me films. We see how they came upon their chosen profession and we join them as the serve their first master, the world’s first female supervillain, Scarlet Overkill (Voiced by Sandra Bullock). Their task: steal Queen Elizabeth’s crown.

Universal is expecting big things from the Minions, hoping for a $100 million opening weekend. Considering how many kids make a beeline to Minions merchandise, that might be a safe bet.

gallows poste2. The Gallows (New Line, 2,720 Theaters, 81 Minutes, Rated R for some disturbing violent content and terror, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 15% Fresh [39 Reviews]):The TV ads try to equate the killer in this film with classic horror villains of the past due to his use of a noose as his weapon of choice. They should also play up the “killings taking place in a high school during a special event” gimmick as well. Granted, a school play is relatively minor compared to the prom, but it still counts.

That play is called The Gallows and over 20 years ago, a student lost his life at the school during a performance of it. On its anniversary, the school drama club decides to revisit the play to honor the kid who died. Big mistake.

This is filmed in the “found footage” style, a horror trope as prevalent as the iconic killer or high school horror, only not so far removed as to make it quaint or unique as of yet.

selfless poster3. Self/Less (Focus Features, 2,400 Theaters, 113 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, some sexuality, and language, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 21% fresh [63 Reviews]): I don’t mean to be cruel, but if you had the chance to transfer your brain into another person’s body, would it be Ryan Reynolds? No offense to Mr. Reynolds, but he’s pushing 40. He might still have abs that you can open beer bottles with, but his hair is starting to hike backwards. Wouldn’t you pick someone younger, someone with a whole lot more life to live?

Anyway, the premise of the film is that rich, yet cancer-stricken Ben Kingsley has his consciousness transported into Reynolds’ body. He thinks the body is a blank slate he can simply take over. To his horror, he discovers Reynolds was once a living, breathing human being himself, and his consciousness is starting to reboot and reassert itself.

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New Releases: July 1, 2015

Posted on 01 July 2015 by William Gatevackes

terminator-genysis-poster-1. Terminator: Genisys (Paramount, 3,600 Theaters,125 Minutes, Rated PG – 13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language, Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 26% Fresh [89 Reviews]): The first trailer for this movie got me. Having Reese come back in time not to the victim Sarah of the first movie but the badass from the second? Cool. A T-1000 sent back to 1984 to kill her instead of the out dated T-800? Cool. Finding a way to make Arnold’s advanced age play into the story? Cool.

Then the film had to release a trailer showing John Connor as the bad guy. That wasn’t cool. As a matter of fact, it was stupid. It makes the entire franchise pointless. Think about it for a second (and that will really be all you need), if Skynet can turn humans into robots, why would they ever need to send the T-series’ back in time? If anything, send the robot-making T-5000 back in time maybe five years, have them turn the resistance into robots, and there you go: resistance crushed.

Hey, we have to suspend disbelief in order to make this franchise work. But this film takes advantage of that. Maybe instead of going for “cool” moments, it should have spent some time on making it a good story.

magic mike poster2. Magic Mike XXL (Warner Brothers, 3,350+ Theaters, 115 Minutes, Rated R for strong sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use, Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 57% Fresh [88 Reviews]):   Magic Mike was a unparallelled success, making over $167 million at the box office with only a $7 million budget. It helped make Channing Tatum more of a star, and ended up on a lot of critic’s top ten lists. So, even though the film ended with Tatum’s character giving up on stripping, you knew there had to be a sequel.

Gone are Steven Soderburgh (from the director’s chair, that is. He’s still on board as cinematographer and editor), Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughey. The film takes place three years after the first one, as Mike is called out of retirement to join his former co-workers for one final show.

The critics aren’t as kind to this one as they were the last one, but even with its budget doubled (to $14.5 million), it will be very hard for this one not to be a hit.

faith of our fathers poster3. Faith of Our Fathers (Pure Flix, Wide release, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for brief war violence, Rotten Tomatoes Rating: N/A [Only two reviews are listed at press time, one positive, one negative]):  When the Supreme Court ruling that Gay Marriage was legal, certain members of the religious right start claiming that there was a war on religion in this country. Well, the only war we have here at FilmBuffOnline is against bad movies. And this one looks like a stinker.

This is the latest in the recent spate of religious themed films, but from the side that favors a heavy hand in its religious propaganda over subtly sneaking it in ‘girl’s night out” or “fish out of water” films. It focuses on a forty-something named John Paul George (his father was a Beatles fan) who is going through an existential crisis on the eve of his wedding because he misses his dad, who died in Vietnam. On a trip of discovery, he meets Wayne, the son of his father’s best friend in ‘Nam, who also died in the war, and learns more about dear ol’ dad from letters that Wayne has. Apparently, the letters deal with conversations  John’s dad had with Wayne’s over the value God has in your everyday life. As similar conversation occurs between the devout John and the heathen Wayne as the men travel to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. D.C. I bet the heathen comes around in the end.

There’s nothing one with having a message in you movie, but it has to be a movie first. Any film that has a Beatles fan name his son John Paul George (What? No Ringo in the bible?) and have the two main characters in a film with a war element named John and Wayne will not be the most subtle of films. The God-heavy trailer seems to bear this out. You get the impression that films like these want to act like John and convert heathens back into the fold. But you can’t do that if the vehicle you use to do this is so poorly made.

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New Releases: June 26, 2015

Posted on 26 June 2015 by William Gatevackes

ted2 poster1. Ted 2 (Universal, 3,442 Theaters, 115 Minutes, Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use, Rotten Tomatoes Rating at Press Time: 44% Fresh [80 Reviews]): So, the first Ted was a mildly funny, yet not classic film, in my opinion (Other members of the FBOL staff my disagree). It didn’t seem to be the kind of film that would become a major box office success, but it did. So, here we have the sequel.

This time around, Ted (voice of Seth McFarlane) is trying to adopt a child with his human wife, Tami-Lyn (Jessica Barth). This is complicated when Ted finds out the government considers him to property, not a living being. Thus starts Ted’s legal battle to declare himself “human,” with his “Thunder Buddy” John (Mark Wahlberg) helping him out all the way.

The humor will be insultingly crude. If your tolerance level for that sort of thing is high, then you might enjoy this film. If not, look elsewhere.

max poster2. Max (Warner Brothers, 2,855 Theaters, 111 Minutes, Rated PG for action violence, peril, brief language and some thematic elements, Rotten Tomatoes Rating at press time: 44% Fresh [39 Reviews]): I don’t know which is weirder, a kid-friendly film revolving around the loss brought on by a military death, or a modern day film with a war dog as a protagonist.

Max is a military dog whose handler is killed in Afghanistan. He doesn’t take it well, and is sent stateside to his handler’s surviving family. Together, they work to mourn their shared loss and move on with their lives.

The film has a great cast, but seems to be a bit too schmaltzy for the subject matter. And I think the themes might be a bit too mature to take your puppy loving kids too.

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New Releases: June 19, 2015

Posted on 18 June 2015 by William Gatevackes

inside out poster1. Inside Out (Disney, 3,946 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 99% Fresh [134 Reviews]): Hard as it is to believe, but it has been two years since we have been graced with a Pixar film. Of course, it was not supposed to be that way. The Good Dinosaur was supposed to be released last year, but massive creative difficulties caused it to be delayed (it should come out this November).

That, combined with lackluster response to their last three films (Cars 2, Brave and Monster University) and successes at other CGI animation studios–including Disney’s in-house arm–might cause some to believe that the normally reliable Pixar is experiencing a creative downturn. A lot is riding on this film as a sign that Pixar’s quality is still there. Early word leads us to believe that it might be.

The film focus on five emotions of a girl named Riley (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust) as they try to work together to try and help Riley though a difficult relocation from Minnesota to California.

DOPE POSTER2. Dope (Open Road Films, 2,002 Theaters,103 Minutes, Rated R for language, drug content, sexuality/nudity, and some violence-all involving teens, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 90% Fresh [69 Reviews]): It’s a depressing sign of getting older when films show a nostalgia for an era you have complete cognizant memory of. I could opt out of the abundant amount of 1980s nostalgia because I only turned 8 when the decade began. The early part of the 80s is a hazy, foggy blur to me. The 90s? Well, I was completely and utterly aware of that decade. And every time I hear Nirvana on an oldies channel, a part of me dies.

Nineties nostalgia plays a part in this film, as a unique bonding element for three socially awkward teens in present day Inglewood, California. Their love of the MTV Raps generation pretty much consigns them into never being cool. However, a chance invite to an underground party gives them the opportunity to see how the hipper half lives.

It’s the classic coming of age story told from a fresh and unique perspective. I just wish it didn’t make me feel so old in the process.

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New Releases: June 12, 2015

Posted on 12 June 2015 by William Gatevackes

Jurassic_World_poster1. Jurassic World (Universal, 4,273 Theaters, 124 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril, Rotten Tomatoes Score (at press time): 70% Fresh [157 Reviews]):  I have never been as fascinated by dinosaurs as most boys today are. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I never acquired the love of all things paleolithic that most members of the XY chromosome set have.

That being said, I enjoyed the first film and will watch the sequels if and when they are on. But the concept seemed to run its course. Of course, when there is money to be made, the course will continue.

This film is set a natural 22 years after the first one, and the one bad idea to come out for that film–that a dinosaur theme park be opened to the public–has come to pass. Miraculously, there has been no eating of guests during the park’s lifespan, but the novelty is starting to wear off and attendance is down. This compels the powers that be to genetically create a “super dinosaur” to bring guests back. However, the fact that they got away with playing god one time doesn’t mean they will always succeed at it. Once the new breed of dinosaur develops homicidal tendencies, all hell breaks loose.

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