Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Director: Paul Greengrass
PG-13; 130 mins
Captain Phillips is director Paul Greengrass’s multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is – through Greengrass’s distinctive lens – simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award (R) winner Tom Hanks), and his Somali counterpart, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). Set on an incontrovertible collision course off the coast of Somalia, both men will find themselves paying the human toll for economic forces outside of their control. (Synopsis by Sony Pictures)
One of Tom Hanks’ best performances, and a true story that sticks mostly to facts over dramatizations. If you missed “Gravity” last week, catch this as the second half of a double feature. It’s another of the year’s best films.
Romeo & Juliet
Director: Carlo Carlei
PG-13; 118 mins
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare’s epic and searing tale of love, is revitalized on screen by writer Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) and director Carlos Carlei (The Flight of the Innocent). An ageless story from the world’s most renowned author is reimagined for the 21st Century. This adaptation is told in the lush traditional setting it was written, but gives a new generation the chance to fall in love with the enduring legend. With an all-star cast including Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Paul Giamatti and Stellan Skarsgaard, it affords those unfamiliar with the tale the chance to put faces to the two names they’ve undoubtedly heard innumerable times: Romeo and Juliet. Every generation deserves to discover this lasting love. (Synopsis by Relativity)
Something for Shakespeare fans to watch, I guess. I’m not sure anyone was clamoring for another Romeo & Juliet movie, but this is a pretty smooth if uninspired telling of the tale.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
R; 107 mins
In MACHETE KILLS, Danny Trejo returns as ex-Federale agent MACHETE, who is recruited by the President of the United States for a mission which would be impossible for any mortal man – he must take down a madman revolutionary and an eccentric billionaire arms dealer who has hatched a plan to spread war and anarchy across the planet. (Synopsis by Open Roads)
In case you forgot, this is a sequel to the cleverly named “Machete.” And if you watched that clip, you now don’t need to see this film—it’s more of the same, just with worse jokes.
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
PG; 97 mins
WADJDA is a movie of firsts. This first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia is the story of a young girl living in a suburb of Riyadh determined to raise enough money to buy a bike in a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. Even more impressive, WADJDA is the first feature film made by a female Saudi filmmaker. In a country where cinemas are banned and women cannot drive or vote, writer- director Haifaa Al Mansour has broken many barriers with her new film. (Synopsis by Sony Classics)
Hollywood again provides us with a glimpse into Muslim society with a(nother) film about women’s repression in Saudi culture. It is a noble cause, but the well has gone dry with this particular brand of imperialistic guilt. This is actually a pretty good film that unfortunately is going to be lost in the recent tide of Muslim culture films.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
PG-13; 100 mins.
A crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help, facing uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash. Father and son must learn to work together and trust one another if they want any chance of returning home. (Synopsis by Sony)
One of Shyamalan’s better films of late—which means it is still pretty terrible. The story never gets much beyond a cross between a video game and a chase flick. Will Smith should have thought better before subjecting both his and Jaden’s career to this misfire.
The Hangover Part III
Director: Todd Phillips
R; 112 mins.
“The Hangover Part III” is the third and final film in director Todd Phillips’ record-shattering comedy franchise. This time, there’s no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right? But when the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off. (Synopsis by Warner Bros.)
Did this redeem the horrendous second outing? Does anyone still care? Answers: Not really to both. It’s just about as bad as the second film, almost overly violent, and does little to salvage the mess the franchise has become. Steer clear.
Director: James DeMonaco
R; 85 mins.
If on one night every year, you could commit any crime without facing consequences, what would you do? In The Purge, a speculative thriller that follows one family over the course of a single night, four people will be tested to see how far they will go to protect themselves when the vicious outside world breaks into their home. In an America wracked by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity-includingmurder-becomes legal. The police can’t be called. Hospitals suspend help. It’s one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this night plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking. When an intruder breaks into James Sandin’s (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide. Directed by James DeMonaco (writer of Assault on Precinct 13 and The Negotiator), The Purge is produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister), Platinum Dunes’ partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (The Amityville Horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), as well as Sébastien Kurt Lemercier (Assault on Precinct 13). (Synopsis by Universal)
Previously reviewed on The Dagger.