Upcoming Theatrical Releases
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Director: Ridley Scott
PG-13; 2 hr. 26 min.
From acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Prometheus) comes the epic adventure “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. (Synopsis by Fox)
If this looks like a bloated leftover from “300,” you aren’t too far off. The real problem is that this is a Bible story with a script that tries to pretend it is secular. It misses on many levels—except for the large-scale, epic action scenes. Skip it.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
R; 1 hr. 59 min.
With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years of reckless, destructive behavior, she makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, driven only by sheer determination, Cheryl hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. WILD powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddens, strengthens, and ultimately heals her. (Synopsis by Fox Searchlight)
There is strength in letting your film breathe. Nothing fancy. No grandstanding about “returning to nature.” Just a simple, unflashy story that results out a raw emotional drama. See it.
Director: Chris Rock
R; 1 hr. 41 min.
Pulsing with the rhythm of his greatest stand-up, Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE takes things to the next level, reveling in the high and the low, and blending a star-studded comedic romp with an irresistible romance. TOP FIVE digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today-holding it all up to the light in the way only Chris Rock can. Mingling echoes of Woody Allen and Dick Gregory with the energy of Kanye West and Jay Z, TOP FIVE is an original and radically new kind of American movie. Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, TOP FIVE tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career-and the past-that he’s left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah. The film is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. The Co-Producers are Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West; the Executive Music Producer is Questlove. (Synopsis by Paramount)
Rock always had a goal to capture his standup comedy on film, and this comes pretty close to that energy. More satisfying is that it moves him away from his recent poor movie choices and into something we will remember, and enjoy. See it.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Director: Patrick Hughes
PG-13; 2 hr. 6 min.
In THE EXPENDABLES 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team come face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, now is making it his mission to end The Expendables — but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet. Lionsgate and Millennium Films present a Nu Image production. (Synopsis by Lionsgate)
The gimmicky return of our action stars of yore has run its course. This is exactly the film you think it is; save a few bucks. Skip it.
Dolphin Tale 2
Director: Charles Martin Smith
PG; 1 hr. 47 min.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon Entertainment’s “Dolphin Tale 2” continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and recovery-thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic tail-made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie “Dolphin Tale.” The film reunites the entire main cast, led by Harry Connick, Jr., Oscar (R) winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”), Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell, and, of course, the remarkable dolphin Winter as herself. Charles Martin Smith, who directed “Dolphin Tale,” wrote the sequel and is again at the helm. It has been several years since young Sawyer Nelson (Gamble) and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Hospital, headed by Dr. Clay Haskett (Connick, Jr.), rescued Winter. With the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Freeman), who developed a unique prosthetic tail for the injured dolphin, they were able to save her life. (Synopsis by Warner Bros.)
Perhaps this didn’t need to be made. The first film would have worked just fine as a standalone piece. Yet, this could be much worse (ahem…“Free Willy 3”) than it turned out. It’s easy family fun that engages with a simple, honest tone uncommon in modern cinema. Rent it.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
PG-13; 2 hr. 1 min.
From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team-the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits-Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand-with the galaxy’s fate in the balance. (Synopsis by Walt Disney)
Sure, maybe Disney made this film as a test case for what it could do with the Star Wars franchise? You know what? Who cares? This is fun. A lot of fun. And it’s gritty with a general air of “let’s see what we can get away with.” Best of all, it works. See it.