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New Releases and Upcoming Movies
New & Upcoming Movie Releases
Stalingrad Release: February 28th Rated: R Cast: Thomas Kretschmann, Yanina Studilina, Philippe Genre: Action, War Synopsis: A story centered on the battle of Stalingrad during WWII.
Non-Stop Release: February 28th Rated: PG-13 Cast: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Michelle Dockery Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller Synopsis: An air marshall must spring into action aboard an international flight.
300: Rise of an Empire Release: March 7th Rated: R Cast: Sullivan Stapleton, Rodrigo Santoro, Eva Green Genre: Action, Drama, War Synopsis: The Greek general Themistocles battles an invading army of Persians under the mortal-turned-god, Xerxes.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman Release: March 7th Rated: TBD Cast: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy Synopsis: Using his most ingenious invention, the WABAC machine, Mr. Peabody and his adopted boy Sherman hurtle back in time to experience world-changing events first-hand and interact with some of the greatest characters of all time. They find themselves in a race to repair history and save the future.
Need For Speed Release: March 14th Rated: TBD Cast: Aaron Paul, Chillie Mo, Dominic Cooper Genre: Action, Crime, Drama Synopsis: Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins.
Divergent Release: March 21st Rated: TBD Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance Synopsis: Beatrice Prior, a teenager with a special mind, finds her life threatened when an authoritarian leader seeks to exterminate her kind in her effort to seize control of their divided society.
Muppets Most Wanted Release: March 21st Rated: PG Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Salma Hayek, Christoph Waltz Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Crime Synopsis: While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by aKermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.
Noah Release: March 28th Rated: TBD Cast: Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy Synopsis: The Biblical Noah suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood.
A Haunted House 2
Release: March 28th Rated: TBD Cast: Marlon Wayans, Scott Burn, Gabriel Iglesias Genre: Comedy, Horror Synopsis: Having exorcised the demons of his ex, Malcolm is starting fresh with his new girlfriend and her two children. After moving into their dream home, however, Malcolm is once again plagued by bizarre paranormal events.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Maybe it's because I'm a father of a 2-year-old who's starting to navigate the world of movies that I'm sensitive to what goes into his tiny head. I want to be selective about what he watches and make sure that it's not garbage and is of quality entertainment; top shelf stuff like Pixar and some Disney and Dreamworks. I like to show him stuff that is geared toward children but also has complex character relationships, challeging stories and exposure to emotions that are crucial for life. As great as a lot of these films are none of them are something I would consider educational. Mr. Peabody & Sherman is not only entertaining as hell, but it's educational as well. Perhaps one of the first films I've seen that fits the description coined by Walt Disney, "Edu-tainment."
To start off saying that Mr. Peabody is educational may sound really boring but I assure you that it's not. Most of the film moves at a frenzied pace that holds the attention of even the most ADD-ridden kid. The movie is only 90-minutes-long but feels like you watched a half hour TV show. Maybe part of that is because the film is divided up into four different parts. Since the movie deals with time travel, of course, problems arise when they hop the cosmos of time and space and start to screw things up. Three different time periods are featured (Ancient Egypt, The Renaissance, Ancient Greece) and they each could stand alone as short films. Makes perfect sense since Mr. Peabody & Sherman is based on a TV Show.
Oh yeah, not a lot of people are aware that it's based on anything because it's from a show that existed 60-years-ago. Mr. Peabody's Improbably History was part of the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show and despite being ahead of its time and brilliant writing for a children's show, it's 60-years-old! I can't think of anything else outside of Mickey Mouse that has that sort of staying power and I'm not saying that Mr. Peabody does. It seems like something that someone in Hollywood bought the rights to decades ago and, damnit, they're gonna get their money out of it somehow.
The good news is that they hired the right director for the job. Rob Minkoff may not have the best reputation with his live action films (not sure anyone could be forgiven for 2003's The Haunted Mansion) but he's the guy responsible for one of the best, if not THE best, Disney movie of all time, The Lion King. Mr. Peabody & Sherman doesn't look or feel like that at all but you can tell that a steady and confident hand is behind the lense. Despite being corny at times, it's a really well-made movie.
It's seems crazy that some of the best movies to come out in 2014 so far are children's films but it's true. The Lego Movie is spectacular and now Mr. Peabody & Sherman is proving that "edu-tainment" is a reachable goal. There's humor for adults and kids all based around teaching great moments from history. Stanly Tucci (The Terminal, The Hunger Games series) is amazing as Leonardo Di Vinci and, of course, Ty Burrell (ABC's Modern Family, Dawn of the Dead) knocks it out of the park as Mr. Peabody. My son is too young to watch this at this point but when he turns 5 or 6, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is exactly the kind of movie I look forward to watching with him.
300: Rise of an Empire
It's hard to believe but the original 300 came out eight years ago! Seems just yesterday that the movie that made me both hate my body and question my sexuality ("300 is how gay it was on a scale of 1 to 10" - Sarah Silverman...still kills me) hit the theaters and became the highest grossing March movie release in history and proof that films released in winter can make hundreds of millions of dollars. It introduced us to a style of filmmaking that we'd never seen before and made us all wish we were of Spartan heritage (my wife actually is...I'm jealous). It really was an awesome movie in the way that geeks can enjoy something. Hoping to capture lightening in a bottle, Hollywood creates an unnecessary sequel and almost destroys all that the first one established.
If you're like me, you'll wonder how a movie where (SPOILER ALERT) everyone but one person dies at the end can have a sequel. Well, in what is the only creative aspect of the film, it is both a prequel and a sequel. I love movies that do this. Rise of an Empire shows us what happened before, after and even during the events in 300 but from the perspective of a character named Themistokles, yes the one (if you know your Greek history) from Marathon, played by Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom, Gangster Squad). He tries to stop the Persian invasion from taking over Greece and wages his war on the water.
This choice to have the narrative jump in time becomes one of the areas where the film falls apart. It's hard to keep track of when certain scenes are taking place since it skips around in flashbacks and flash-forwards. This, however, is the least of its problems. The real issue comes from random newcomer Noam Murro taking over the directing since 300's Zach Snyder is still way too big to be bogged down with a sequel as silly as this. Sadly for Murro, we have no idea what he's capable of since the studio clearly told him that Rise of an Empire will look and feel like Snyder's vision of 300 in every single way. What sucks about this is that no matter how much you loved the look of 300, Rise of an Empire feels tired and played out showing you scene after scene after scene of everything you've seen before.
This is a real shame because so many people worked on such an FX-heavy film that any frame can be paused and it looks like a painting. But when someone shows up to a sequel, they expect to see something new since they could've saved the ten bucks and watched 300 again if they just wanted the same thing. The violence, the sex, the scantily-clad men with 8% body fat are all rehashed in sequences that don't blow you away anymore but instead make you exhausted.
The real shame is that the incredibly sexy Eva Green (Dark Shadows, Casino Royale) gives a wonderful performance as the ridiculously sadistic villain. She's over-the-top in every way but it works in a film that's already set in a hyper-reality. It's also fun to see a woman given the chance to show that girls can play baddies just as well as boys but her character is so superficially written that her wings are clipped in what could've been a more entertaining element of the film. Positively speaking, the one thing Rise of an Empire did well was make you want to watch 300 again.
Interview: Mackenzie Westmore
Mackenzie Westmore hosts "Face Off" on the Syfy channel and it happens to be one of Gavin's favorite shows.
And after he jokingly called Mackenzie a robot on Twitter, Gavin somehow managed to get an interview with her. Listen to it here:
Granted, I have not been keeping up with star Liam Neeson's career as closely as, I guess, I should have. I remember regarding him as a very serious and accomplished actor for most of my life. Maybe it was the Oscar win for Schindler's List or the underrated and heartfelt Love Actually. I think I should stop doing that since all he seems to do now are action films that are either the same thing over and over again or really, really bad. Non-Stop isn't bad. It doesn't join the ranks of Battleship, The Next Three Days or Clash of the Titans, but it does belong with the incredibly forgettable films of his career where it seems like he's in a pickle and has to punch and shoot his way out of it.
Non-Stop is an action murder mystery that takes place on a plane. Does that seem like a gimmick? At first, absolutely, but the premise of a Federal Air Marshal trying to stop a clever killer on a plane as an elaborate hijacking is at least interesting. What's really fun is that it feels like the 1974 classic Murder on the Orient Express. There is a killer in a trapped vehicle and everyone is a suspect. Whether it was intentional or not, I really enjoyed and appreciated that aspect of it even if it gets a little silly at the end.
Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra is a name that you shouldn't recognize because he's made some pretty awful movies like House of Wax, Orphan and the other Liam Neeson shoot-em-up Unknown. He does a relatively noble job making something out of almost nothing with some interesting choices to move the story along. He also shows us some things we've never seen before but that's probably because they're too silly to have been thought up prior to this, such as an elaborate fight scene in an airplane bathroom. I would've enjoyed the film a lot more if it wasn't as slick and over-produced as he made it considering the simplicity to which the great Sidney Lumet made Murder on the Orient Express.
A team of co-stars was assembled for this that each have the capacity for stellar performances. Anson Mount (AMC's Hell on Wheels), Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy (Argo, 12 Years a Slave) and Michelle Dockery (PBS's Downton Abbey, Hanna) are all wasted in roles that are as cliche and one-dimensional as you can get. The worst case of this is Lupita Nyong'o, who's nominated and will probably win the Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, in a role that has perhaps five whole minutes of combined screen time. In a movie where everyone is a suspect, these types of characters need to be deep, complex, suspicious and challenging. Sadly, in Non-Stop they are none of those.
I'm not a movie snob and I recognize that movies like this have their purpose in the culture of cinema. They're fun and silly and meant to be enjoyed for the 90 minutes you're staring at it and then forgotten about. What makes this one feel different is the motivation of the killer is deeply political and an important message. Fine, but don't put something like that in a movie where a gun rises in slow motion off the ground as the plane loses altitude just long enough for our hero to grab it in mid-air and fire it. Moments like that get an unintentional laugh from the audience. Again though, that's fine in the right movie; but if it happens moments after a character says the most interesting and profound statement in the film, you've made a lapse in judgement.