Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Director: Raja Gosnell
PG; 100 mins.
The Smurfs team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel since she knows a secret spell that can turn the evil sorcerer’s newest creation – creatures called the Naughties. (Synopsis by IMDB)
Someone should tell everyone involved in this film that kids aren’t idiots. This didn’t need to be this dumbed down. Unless they think everyone in their target audience is enthralled with the colors and shapes of the Teletubbies, the bar was set too low.
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
R; 109 mins.
A DEA agent and a naval intelligence officer find themselves on the run after a botched attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel. While fleeing, they learn the secret of their shaky alliance: Neither knew that the other was an undercover agent. (Synopsis by IMBD)
Yet another film in search of a genre. This either needed to be a bloody action flick or a goofy action-comedy. Trying to be both does not work. Nothing new to see here.
Upcoming DVD Releases
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Director: Jon M. Chu
PG-13; 90 mins.
In this sequel, the G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence. (Synopsis by Paramount)
A big, loud movie that manages to be less entertaining than watching your kids smash their G.I. Joe toys together on the living room floor. The first one was awful, this one somehow got worse.
Released during the week of July 19
Director: James Mangold
PG-13; 136 mins
Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons. (Synopsis by IMDB)
Just about anything would be better than “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” This just manages to squeak past. When the most talked-about part of the movie is the marginally inappropriate dream sequences involving Jean Grey, you are off to a bad start. Parents be warned: your teenage son is going to want to see this a few times. And not for his love of the X-Men. It is a good effort, but it seems far too familiar. It has more depth than a typical summer comic movie, but that only gets you so far.
The To Do List
Director: Maggie Carey
R; 104 mins
Featuring an all-star comedy cast including Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader,Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Rachel Bilson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, DonaldGlover, Scott Porter, Andy Samberg, Connie Britton and Clark Gregg, “The To Do List” is a comedy about close friends and a special summer project, loosely inspired by the real-life adventures of first-time writer/director Maggie Carey. Set in 1993, valedictorian Brandy Klark wants to shed her uptight image before college, so she assembles a to do list of all the “activities” she missed out on in high school. Quickly realizing that she’s way out of her depth, Brandy solicits her best friends, older sister and burnt-out boss for their help and advice. If the group is going to complete the list by September they’ll need plenty of imagination and very open minds. (Synopsis by CBS Films)
A movie possessing a lot of filler with some genuinely funny moments. As a sex comedy it is deliberately awkward, yet filled with potential. It does get high marks for flipping the traditional high school sex comedy to a female perspective.
Director: Ryan Coogler
R; 84 mins
Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler’s FRUITVALE STATION follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day. Oscar’s life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area – and the entire nation – to its very core. (Synopsis by Weinstein)
A movie which takes a hard subject and makes an audience experience it without prejudice is a rare treat. There is a natural flow to this film that, despite the subject matter, makes it an easy watch. That is a good thing, because the social relevance has never been higher. Don’t miss this one.
Director: Danny Boyle
R; 101 mins
Simon (James McAvoy), a fine art auctioneer, teams up with a criminal gang to steal a Goya painting worth millions of dollars, but after suffering a blow to the head during the heist he awakens to discover he has no memory of where he hid the painting. When physical threats and torture fail to produce answers, the gang’s leader Frank (Vincent Cassel) hires hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to delve into the darkest recesses of Simon’s psyche. As Elizabeth begins to unravel Simon’s broken subconscious, the lines between truth, suggestion, and deceit begin to blur. (Synopsis by Fox Searchlight)
Previously reviewed by The Dagger.