New Releases this week are typical for this type of year–a mix of Oscar Contenders opening on wide releases and studio dregs typically relegated to January. Let me tell you which is which.
1. Patriots Day (Opening wide, Lionsgate, 3,120 Theaters, 133 Minutes, Rated R for violence, realistically graphic injury images, language throughout and some drug use, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 78% Fresh [102 Reviews]): The bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon is still fairly fresh in our minds. The tragedy of the attack, the many victims and the heroic men and women who tracked down the culprits are still in our national consciousness.
Needless to say, a delicate hand is needed to bring that story to the screen. Director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg aren’t really known for being all that delicate. But reviews seem to indicate that they have succeed in capturing the right tone.
Wahlberg plays a composite Boston police officer who the audience follows during the attack and in the events that follow. John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons and Michelle Monaghan appear as well.
2. Monster Trucks (Paramount, 3,119 Theaters, 104 Minutes, Rated PG for action, peril, brief scary images, and some rude humor, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 29% Fresh [51 Reviews]): I get the feeling this film got its start when an executive at either Paramount or Nickelodeon said in a meeting, “Dude, you know what would be cool! If we took a monster truck…and put a real monster inside it! That would be so awesome!” Then some poor underling had to construct a film around that horrible idea.
Proof of how bad this film is lies in the length of time it took to hit theaters, It was filmed in 2014, back when Lucas Till was only a little bit too old to be playing a high school senior, and was originally supposed to come out in May of 2015. Then December 2015. Then March of 2016.
And are monster trucks really all that big a draw with this films kid-friendly demographic? I mean, I know monster truck rallies are still around. I know that kids still like them. But enough to risk $125 million on a film about them?
3. Live By Night (Opening Wide, Warner Brothers, 2,822 Theaters, 128 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 32% Fresh [100 Reviews]): With all the brouhaha about Ben Affleck stepping into the role of Batman, his burgeoning directorial career seems to be overlooked. Well, he’s back in that realm again.
Affleck once again adapts a Dennis Lehane work for the screen (he adapted Lehane’s Gone Baby Gone), this time a tale of a gangster during the prohibition era, and time fertile with fodder for many a crime drama.
However, even though Affleck seemed to be on pace to become the next actor/writer/director auteur, this film seems to be a misstep. And a refutation of his claims that he takes his time on a project to get things right.
4. The Bye Bye Man (STX Entertainment, 2,220 Theaters, 96 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for terror, horror violence, bloody images, sexual content, thematic elements, partial nudity, some language and teen drinking, Rated R for strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 23% Fresh [27 Reviews]): So, it being Friday the 13th, we get a horror film this week. It is a spin on the whole sub-genre where you say a evil spirit’s name a certain number of time or in a certain location, it comes. This film adds a tricky extra clause to it: he’ll come even if you think of his name. So, basically, you’re screwed.
Another twist is that the bad guy is the root of all evil in the world and has forced a number of serial killers to kill all their victims. That’s good if you don’t think about the real world applications of it, because eventually you’ll come to a realization that Adolf Hitler who would have been a kindly art teacher if he didn’t say “Bye Bye Man” and then it all falls apart.
And I hope it doesn’t count if you write it, because, damn, everybody around me is in big trouble.
This film was also bounced around the schedule, originally planned for and October 2016 release, before it was moved back to June 2016 before delayed to this week.
5. Sleepless (Open Road Films, 1,803 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: N/A [No reviews published at press time]): Okay, there are some pretty bad films being released this week. Only one is above 35% fresh ate Rotten Tomatoes. But all of them have been shown to critics to get their opinion. Not this film. How bad must it be that it is kept away from critics yet a film about a monster living in a truck isn’t?
The film is a remake of a French film called Sleepless Nights and stars Jamie Foxx as either a corrupt cop or an undercover cop who is pretending to be corrupt (the trailer isn’t clear) whose son is kidnapped after a drug deal gone bad. Michelle Monaghan makes her second appearance of the weekend as an IA detective, and is joined in the cast by T.I., David Harbour and Gabrielle Union.
To complete the trifecta of having all the new film be rescheduled, this film was moved back from February to take advantage of the MLK weekend.