Upcoming Theatrical Releases
The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
PG-13; 126 mins.
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. (Synopsis by Lionsgate)
The series is getting stretched to the breaking point, and the “all the action stars” trope is wearing thin with repetitive relapses into lazy formulaic plot, overdone explosions, and underdone violence. It is a cartoon verging on parody that is getting stale. Rent it.
Director: Phillip Noyce
PG-13; 89 mins.
The haunting story of THE GIVER centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined – a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all – a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before. THE GIVER is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. (Synopsis by Weinstein)
This labor of love for Bridges hits the main themes of the novel, but fails to capture its soul. Stripped of that element, the novel actually has a fairly boring premise (individualism!) that pushes the film towards “Hunger Games” territory. Even so, it is a decent enough adaptation. Rent it.
Director: John Michael McDonagh
R; 105 mins.
CALVARY’s Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good priest who is faced with sinister and troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish. Although he continues to comfort his own fragile daughter (Kelly Reilly) and reach out to help members of his church with their various scurrilous moral – and often comic – problems, he feels sinister and troubling forces closing in, and begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary. (Synopsis by Fox Searchlight)
This philosophical take on the state of the Church in the wake of the current crisis is a superior black comedy. Gleeson dominates the screen while the story intricately unpacks the implications of the failure of the priests. See it.
Upcoming DVD Releases
Muppets Most Wanted
Director: James Bobin
R; 105 mins.
Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe’s most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid, Dublin and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine-the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog-and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two, portrayed by Ricky Gervais. The film stars Tina Fey as Nadya, a feisty prison guard, and Ty Burrell as Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon. (Synopsis by Disney)
Though this new romp struggles to live in the shadow of its immediate predecessor, it does an adequate job. Some of the notes are sour and the whole production feels like an afterthought—but it’s still the Muppets and it’s good to see them back in theaters. Rent it.