WEEK OF FEB. 18
Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
PG-13; 95 mins
In the fast-paced action thriller SNITCH, Dwayne Johnson stars as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission — risking everything, including his family and his own life. (Synopsis by Summit)
Not the action film you expect. The Rock showcases some acting skill and manages to be more memorable than the explosions. It helps that the part offers him a chance at family and social drama, not just chases.
Director: Scott Stewart
PG-13; 95 mins
From the producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister comes Dark Skies: a supernatural thriller that follows a young family living in the suburbs. As husband and wife Daniel and Lacey Barret witness an escalating series of disturbing events involving their family, their safe and peaceful home quickly unravels. When it becomes clear that the Barret family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying and deadly force, Daniel and Lacey take matters in their own hands to solve the mystery of what is after their family. Written and Directed by Scott Stewart (PRIEST, LEGION) Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett and J.K. Simmons (Synopsis by Weinstein)
Nothing about this looks particularly scary or even worth watching. The only kudos it gets is for having the most unintentionally hilarious trailer this year—worth clicking on.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Director: Ben Affleck
R; 120 mins
Based on true events, Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis-the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies. (Synopsis by Warner Bros)
It’s one of the best films of 2012, as if the awards hype hasn’t given that away. Don’t miss it.
Director: Josh Schwartz
PG-13; 156 mins
Fun Size is a teen comedy centered on a sarcastic high school senior, Wren (Victoria Justice), who is eager to distance herself from her dysfunctional family by going off to college. Before that can happen, Wren’s mother, Joy, insists that she watch her little brother Albert on Halloween night, so Joy can go to a rager with her much younger boyfriend. When Wren gets distracted by an invitation to the party of the year, Albert disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters. Frantic to locate him before their mother discovers he’s missing, Wren enlists the help of her sassy best friend April, as well as Peng, an aspiring ladies man and co-captain of the debate team, and Peng’s best friend, Roosevelt, a sweet nerd whose crush on Wren clouds his better judgment. This unlikely foursome embarks on a high-stakes, all-night adventure to find Albert, crossing paths with outrageous characters every step of the way. (Synopsis by Paramount)
Not quite racy enough for the WB, but too much for Nickelodeon. The tween audience might be slightly more forgiving about the “humor.” Then again, I still wouldn’t feel right about letting my tween watch a mechanical chicken have its way with the back end of a Volkswagen.
Director: Joe Wright
R; 130 mins
The third collaboration of Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley with acclaimed director Joe Wright, following the award-winning box office successes Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, is a bold, theatrical new vision of the epic story of love, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s timeless novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard. The story powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart. As Anna (Ms. Knightley) questions her happiness and marriage, change comes to all around her. (Synopsis by Focus Features)
This slightly messy adaptation has the elements to engage the audience, but never does. It is more a visual statement than an emotionally engaging tale.
Director: Scott Derrickson
R; 109 miins
Sinister is a frightening new thriller from the producer of the Paranormal Activity films and the writer-director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Ethan Hawke plays a true crime novelist who discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a nightmarish experience of supernatural horror. (Synopsis by Summit)
Stupid and un-scary is no way to go through life. This is largely a composite of snuff-film vignettes with terrible acting in between. Everyone involved in this (Ethan Hawke??) can do better.
WEEK OF FEB. 11
Upcoming Theatrical Releases
A Good Day to Die Hard
Director: John Moore
R; 97 mins.
John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces. (Synopsis by IMDB)
It is a simple formula: every time some part of the plot shows up, have something blow up to distract the audience. This is cartoonish in a bad way; an idea that should have died hard before it ever became a film.
Director: Lasse Hallström
PG-13; 115 mins.
A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her. (Synopsis by IMDB)
The Nicholas Sparks-inspired script swings for the fences but continually strikes out. What is supposed to be a romantic film plays more like a stalker thriller. Stick to the stuffed bear and box of mystery-filled chocolates this Valentine’s Day.
Director: Richard LaGravenese
PG-13; 124 mins.
A supernatural love story set in the South, “Beautiful Creatures” tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. (Synopsis by Warner Bros.)
If Tim Burton got exactly one day to direct a “Twilight” film and then left the rest to Ricky the Craft Services guy, this is what you would get. There is a hint of a decent film here (for the genre). It might pass for the high school set trying to find something to see with their dates. “Mom! Drop us out back! Not in the front!”
Escape from Planet Earth
Director: Callan Brunker
PG; 89 mins.
The 3D animated family comedy catapults moviegoers to planet Baab where admired astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy, by-the-rules brother, Gary (Rob Corddry), head of mission control at BASA. When BASA’s no-nonsense chief Lena (Jessica Alba) informs the brothers of an SOS from a notoriously dangerous planet, Scorch rejects Gary’s warnings and bounds off for yet another exciting mission. But when Scorch finds himself caught in a fiendish trap set by the evil Shanker (William Shatner) it’s up to scrawny, risk-adverse Gary to do the real rescuing. As the interplanetary stakes rise to new heights, Gary is left to save his brother, his planet, his beloved wife Kira (Sarah Jessica Parker) and their adventure hungry son Kip. (Synopsis by Weinstein)
This is a pleasant film for the little kids, but lacks the charm of big brother Pixar’s offerings. It’s largely a re-hash of other cartoon romps, but manages to be enjoyable.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Director: Lee Hirsch
PG-13; 94 mins.
Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, Bully is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Bully follows five kids and families over the course of a school year. Stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals’ offices, the film offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children. (Synopsis by Weinstein)
Hirsch makes an emotionally powerful film, but one that never addresses the causes of or possible solutions for the complex problem of bullying. Still, the impact is undeniable and maybe the rawness of the kids’ pain is all we need as a society to find the solutions ourselves.
Director: Sam Mendes
PG-13; 145 mins.
In Skyfall, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. (Synopsis by the Official Site)
Previously reviewed by The Dagger.
Perks of Being a Wallflower
Director: Stephen Chbosky
PG-13; 103 mins.
Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a modern classic that captures the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up. Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a moving tale of love, loss, fear and hope-and the unforgettable friends that help us through life. (Synopsis by Summit)
A surprisingly well-put-together film for a first time director. The earnest take on high school love manages to be both sentimental and charming without become dangerously soppy. Not a perfect film, but even the flaws seem to make sense in the narrative of a flawed, young existence.
Director: Ben Lewin
R; 95 mins.
Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, The Sessions tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined – at age 38 – to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality. (Synopsis by Fox Searchlight)
Previously reviewed by The Dagger.