Theatrical Releases This Week
Director: Shawn Levy
A gritty, white-knuckle, action ride set in the near-future where the sport of boxing has gone high-tech, Real Steel stars Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter who lost his chance at a title when 2,000-pound, 8-foot-tall steel robots took over the ring. Now nothing but a small-time promoter, Charlie earns just enough money piecing together low-end bots from scrap metal to get from one underground boxing venue to the next. When Charlie hits rock bottom, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son Max (Dakota Goyo) to build and train a championship contender. As the stakes in the brutal, no-holds-barred arena are raised, Charlie and Max, against all odds, get one last shot at a comeback. (Synopsis by Dreamworks)
My early lampooning of this one appears to be justified. This would be the best movie ever if I was a seven-to-10-year-old boy. Unfortunately I have (slightly) more discriminating taste. That said, I have a feeling Cahall is going to buy me a copy of this to put next to “Beaches” in his ongoing quest to ruin my movie collection. Combine the fanboy thrill of giant robot fights with sappy sentimental family drama and you get…absolutely nowhere. Worth noting is that director Shawn Levy is (criminally?) responsible for the “Night at the Museum” franchise and the “Cheaper By the Dozen” remake. So if you enjoyed those, feel free to blow 20 bucks on this.
The Ides of March
Director: George Clooney
The Ides of March takes place during the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, when an up-and-coming campaign press secretary (Ryan Gosling) finds himself involved in a political scandal that threatens to upend his candidate’s shot at the presidency. (Synopsis by Sony Pictures)
George Clooney pens his second political drama. Early reviews are mixed, mostly due to the subject matter. One thing that’s clear is this isn’t going to live up to the expectations of “Good Night and Good Luck,” his first foray into screenwriting. The cast is stellar, but can they breathe life into their characters?
Director: Vera Farmiga
Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut, “Higher Ground” depicts the landscape of a tight-knit spiritual community thrown off-kilter when one of their own begins to question her faith. Inspired by screenwriter Carolyn S. Briggs’ memoir, This Dark World, the film tells the story of a thoughtful woman’s struggles with belief, love, and trust-in human relationships as well as in God. (Synopsis by Sony Classics)
More mixed reviews, dependent again on the subject matter. Detractors claim it is condescending, repetitious, and boring for the less religiously inclined. On the contrary, first time director Vera Farmiga is the source of most the praise for her pensive, visual style.
Machine Gun Preacher
Director: Marc Forster
When ex-biker-gang member Sam Childers (Butler) makes the life-changing decision to go to East Africa to help repair homes destroyed by civil war, he is outraged by the unspeakable horrors faced by the region’s vulnerable populace, especially the children. Ignoring the warnings of more experienced aide workers, Sam breaks ground for an orphanage where it’s most needed-in the middle of territory controlled by the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a renegade militia that forces youngsters to become soldiers before they even reach their teens. But for Sam, it is not enough to shelter the LRA’s intended victims. Determined to save as many as possible, he leads armed missions deep into enemy territory to retrieve kidnapped children, restoring peace to their lives-and eventually his own. (Synopsis by Relativity Media)
Gerard Butler’s entry to usurp Hugh Jackman for worst movie of the week. Spraying bullets everywhere in the hope that one will hit the mark, this is a confusing mess. See “Hobo with a Shotgun” instead.
DVD Releases This Week
Director: Justin Lin
Former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) on the opposite side of the law. Dwayne Johnson joins returning favorites Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon and Don Omar for this ultimate high-stakes race. Since Brian and Mia Toretto (Brewster) broke Dom out of custody, they’ve blown across many borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom. As they assemble their elite team of top racers, the unlikely allies know their only shot of getting out for good means confronting the corrupt businessman who wants them dead. But he’s not the only one on their tail. Hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) never misses his target. (Synopsis by Universal Pictures)
They just keep making these, don’t they? There’s cars, there’s Ludacris, some cars, interchangeable action stars, and more cars. At least it wasn’t as bad as “Tokyo Drift.”