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New Releases and Upcoming Movies
New & Upcoming Movie Releases
Bird People Release: September 12th Rated: TBD Cast: Josh Charles, Anaïs Demoustier, Roschdy Zem Genre: Drama | Fantasy | Romance Synopsis: In an airport hotel on the outskirts of Paris, a Silicon Valley engineer abruptly chucks his job, breaks things off with his wife, and holes up in his room. Soon, fate draws him and a young French maid together.
The Green Prince Release: December 5th Rated: PG-13 Cast: Mosab Hassan Yousef, Gonen Ben Yitzhak Genre: Documentary | Drama | Thriller Synopsis: The son of a founding leader in the Palestinian organization, Hamas, becomes a spy for the Israelis.
Extraterrestrial Release: November 21st Rated: R Cast: Brittany Allen, Freddie Stroma, Jesse Moss, Anja Savcic Genre: Horror | Sci-Fi Synopsis: A group of friends on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods find themselves terrorized by alien visitors.
V/H/S: Viral Release: November 21st Rated: R Cast: Justin Welborn, Emmy Argo, Emilia Ares Zoryan, Amanda Baker Genre: Horror | Thriller Synopsis: Follows fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation.
Happy Valley Release: November 21st Rated: TBD Director: Amir Bar-Lev Genre: Documentary | Drama | Sport Synopsis: A documentary that observes the year after Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's arrest on child sex abuse charges.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Release: November 21st Rated: PG-13 Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson Genre: Adventure | Sci-Fi Synopsis: In District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever, Katniss Everdeen works to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends.
Antarctica: A Year on Ice Release: November 28th Rated: PG Cast: Genevieve Bachman, Michael Christiansen, Tom Hamann, George Lampman Genre: Documentary | Adventure | Biography | Drama Synopsis: A visually stunning chronicle of what it is like to live in Antarctica for a full year, including winters isolated from the rest of the world, and enduring months of darkness in the coldest place on Earth.
The Babadook Release: November 28th Rated: TBD Cast: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Noah Wiseman, Tim Purcell Genre: Drama | Horror | Thriller Synopsis: A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.
Before I Disappear Release: November 28th Rated: TBD Cast: Emmy Rossum, Ron Perlman, Paul Wesley, Fatima Ptacek Genre: Drama Synopsis: At the lowest point of his life, Richie gets a call from his estranged sister, asking him to look after his eleven-year old niece, Sophia, for a few hours.
The Imitation Game Release: November 28th Rated: PG-13 Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech Genre: Biography | Drama | Thriller | War Synopsis: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.
Penguins of Madagascar Release: November 28th Rated: PG Cast: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch Genre: Animation | Adventure | Comedy | Family Synopsis: Super spy teams aren't born...they're hatched. Discover the secrets of the greatest and most hilarious covert birds in the global espionage biz: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. These elitists of the elite are joining forces with a chic undercover organization, The North Wind. Led by handsome and husky Agent Classified (we could tell you his name, but then...you know). Together, they must stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, from destroying the world as we know it.
Horrible Bosses 2 Release: November 28th Rated: R Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Chris Pine Genre: Comedy Synopsis: Dale, Kurt and Nick decide to start their own business but things don't go as planned because of a slick investor, prompting the trio to pull off a harebrained and misguided kidnapping scheme.
Life Partners Release: December 5th Rated: R Cast: Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Gabourey Sidibe, Beth Dover Genre: Comedy | Romance Synopsis: Two codependent best friends - one straight girl, one lesbian - and the man who comes between them.
Comet Release: December 5th Rated: TBD Cast: Emmy Rossum, Justin Long, Eric Winter, Lou Beatty Jr. Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi Synopsis: Set in a parallel universe, Comet bounces back and forth over the course of an unlikely but perfectly paired couple's six-year relationship.
Pioneer Release: December 5th Rated: R Cast: Wes Bentley, Aksel Hennie, Stephen Lang, Stephanie Sigman Genre: Thriller Synopsis: This conspiracy thriller is set in the early 80's, the beginning of the Norwegian Oil Boom. Enormous oil and gas deposits are discovered in the North Sea and the authorities aim to bring the oil ashore through a pipeline from depths of 500 meters. A professional diver, Petter, obsessed with reaching the bottom of the Norwegian Sea has the discipline, strength and courage to take on the world's most dangerous mission. But a sudden, tragic accident changes everything. Petter is sent on a perilous journey where he loses sight of who's pulling the strings. Gradually he realizes that he is in way over his head and that his life is at stake.
Wild Release: December 5th Rated: R Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Gaby Hoffmann, Laura Dern, Michiel Huisman Genre: Biography | Drama Synopsis: A chronicle of one woman's 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe.
The Pyramid Release: December 5th Rated: R Cast: Denis O'Hare, Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley, Christa Nicola Genre: Horror Synopsis: An archaeological team attempts to unlock the secrets of a lost pyramid only to find themselves hunted by an insidious creature.
Top Five Release: December 12th Rated: TBD Cast: Adam Sandler, Rosario Dawson, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart Genre: Comedy Synopsis: A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancé talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.
Exodus: Gods and Kings Release: December 12th Rated: PG-13 Cast: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver Genre: Drama Synopsis: The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.
Inherent Vice Release: December 12th Rated: R Cast: Jena Malone, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Joaquin Phoenix Genre: Comedy | Crime | Drama | Mystery | Romance Synopsis: In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
Mr. Turner Release: December 19th Rated: R Cast: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey Genre: Biography | Drama | History Synopsis: An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner's life.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Release: December 19th Rated: PG Cast: Robin Williams, Ben Stiller, Dan Stevens, Owen Wilson Genre: Adventure | Comedy | Family | Fantasy Synopsis: Larry spans the globe, uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.
Annie Release: December 19th Rated: PG Cast: Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale Genre: Comedy | Drama | Family | Musical Synopsis: Annie is a young, happy foster kid who's also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they'd be back for her someday, it's been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan. But everything's about to change when the hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Release: December 19th Rated: TBD Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett Genre: Adventure | Fantasy Synopsis: Bilbo and Company are forced to be embraced in a war against an armed flock of combatants and the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth.
Taken 3 Release: January 9th Rated: TBD Cast: Famke Janssen, Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Forest Whitaker Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller Synopsis: Bryan Mills, an Ex-government operative is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed as he is tracked and pursued, Bryan Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
It's a rare thing when a film version of a book is better than the book it's based on. I can only think of it happening one or two times. I read the entire Hunger Games series and found that the last book, the one this film is based on, was the worst. Maybe it's not enjoying a book that made the film seem so much better. Maybe it's because they split the book in half and were able to include far more than they ever could had they not done that. Maybe it was a seasoned cast and crew that's been together long enough that they're building a healthy stride. I don't know what it is but I'm thrilled because Mockingjay Part 1 is the best in the Hunger Games series so far.
I was thrilled when director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine) took over the series from the original director Gary Ross (Big, Seabiscuit). I think we all agree that the first Hunger Games film was a let down. The series by Suzanne Collins is so incredibly dark and he did a subpar job of making that feel dystopian. But with Catching Fire, Lawrence gave it the edge and action the series lacked so badly. It also didn't hurt that it was a much better book than the first one. In Mockingjay, Lawrence kicks everything up a notch and that's impressive considering how slow and boring the book was.
Since Jennifer Lawrence has taken the role of Katniss, she's been nominated for two Oscars. No doubt that she's kicked ass in other films but as far as The Hunger Games goes, she's been very unimpressive. It's almost like she was giving us a performance we expected to see in a film based on a Young Adult novel. In Mockingjay, however, she finally shows us why she's got a gold statue. Her performance in Mockingjay is the most heartbreak and emotion we've seen in the Katniss character in the entire series.
The rest of the cast helps that along as well since the caliber of actor is at a peak for Mockingjay. It's emotional watching the late Phillip Seymore Hoffman in one of his last roles because his performance is great! He's subtle but delivers some much-needed levity and power to a story that often lacks both. Julianne Moore (Children of Men, Boogie Nights) joins the cast as President Coin. She makes the character a lot warmer than it read in the book and that's good because it's one of the many things that makes this far better than the source material.
Critics, including myself, have often accused Hollywood of bleeding books dry of every last drop of box office profit when they split them into several movies. Sometimes it works as in the last Harry Potter book and other times it's a terrible and tragic failure like in The Hobbit. In the case of Mockingjay, it's wonderful! Letting this story play out like a chess game is exactly what it needed. They also take the liberty in showing us things that aren't in the book at all. I very suspenseful scene at the end is talked about in a few sentences in the book yet puts us on the edge of our seats in the film; and sequences of uprisings in other Districts are shown and are some of the highlights of the film.
I understand that some people may call this boring because there is downtime building up to a revolution. But as someone who's read the book, I can assure you that it's better this way. Francis Lawrence is making the absolute best film one can make from a book that let down most of the its readers. His cast is committed to his vision and are executing it with precision. Even as a fan, I didn't look forward to this and now that I've seen it, I can't wait to see what he does with Mockingjay Part 2.
Dumb and Dumber To
What has happened to The Farrelly Brothers? These guys were not only responsible for making three of the funniest movies of the '90s but three of the funniest movies in the last 25 years! Dumb and Dumber, Something About Mary and Kingpin are amazing and never seem to totally lose their luster. After that it was flop after flop after flop. Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, Fever Pitch, The Heartbreak Kid, The Three Stooges...these are some of the worst comedies of the last 25 years. A lot of people thought that a sequel to Dumb and Dumber looked desperate but, you know, these guys could use a little desperation.
First thing that needs to be addressed is that it's been 20 freaking years since the original. When we first met Lloyd and Harry they were harmless halfwits that were bumbling innocents that tried really hard not to screw things up but did because they didn't know any better. Now they look old and are still just as stupid but there seems to be a level of deviousness to them. I didn't mind that as much as I did the age of Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels. They're both in their 50s (Daniels in his late 50s) and it's sad because it looks like two autistic adults that have been abandoned by society and family.
The good news is that the Farrelly Brothers swing for the fences on every joke and when you do that you either strike out big or hit a home run; that's exactly what happens. Most of what we get treated to are strike outs but those home runs make it worth sitting through. Carey is back in the saddle and it's so nice to see. Don't get me wrong, I love serious Jim Carey. His performances in Man on the Moon, The Majestic and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are so great to see. But there's also something refreshing and nostalgic about seeing him acting like a total moron. Daniels on the other hand always felt forced in that role but because the guy is so talented he makes it work.
The plot for Dumb and Dumber To actually works. It follows the boys across the country on a quest to reunite Harry with his estranged daughter but end up, once again, getting tangled in a murder plot fueled by greed. It's not Shakespeare but it's what you expect. The Farrellys don't try to reinvent the wheel, which is good because we came to see dumb comedy done right. A third of the time we get it too and that's enough for me to recommend people give it a viewing. It's nice to have something where you can remove your brain for 90 minutes and laugh; I just wish I laughed a little more often.
The end credits may have suckered a better rating out of me than this deserves. It shows clips of the 1994 film with scenes from the 2014 one and you can hear an audible "awe" coming from the audience when you see it. Sure it's cheesy but I was 14-years-old when I saw it the summer before my sophomore year of high school with my best friends. If I'm duped into feeling that age again for a split second while I laugh at the same two idiots that made me do it back then, so be it!
The Theory of Everything
When you see a movie that you have a profound interest in it makes it difficult to review it. One reason is because you're biased from the beginning because you want a film about the subject you love to be great. The other reason is you're too hard on it because you're too close to the subject to begin with. In the case of The Theory of Everything the subject is the astrophysicist and one of the smartest people to ever live, Stephen Hawking. I've been obsessed with him for many years now and watching a film about his life was thankfully better than I thought it would be and more thrilling than I could've imagined.
What's interesting about The Theory of Everything is that it's directed by James Marsh. The reason why is because Marsh is a documentarian. Granted, his films feature far more recreation than actual footage (like his Oscar-winner Man on Wire) but he's still someone who loves to tell a true story from the people who lived it. In the case of The Theory of Everything it was based on the book by Hawking's ex-wife Jane, who's played amazingly subtle by Felicity Jones (Amazing Spider-man 2, Like Crazy). She's charming, beautiful and strong as one of the best roles of her career but it doesn't hold a candle to Eddie Redmayne.
Stephen Hawking is a very challenging character to portray. It's not just the physical limitations but it's everything else about him. The man has a warm and inspiring soul the exudes even though he can no longer talk. Redmayne gives the performance of his career playing Hawking before and after his disease takes hold. He is unrecognizable and absolutely worthy of an Oscar nomination. His previous roles in mostly British period films and most notably in Les Miserables have been impressive but nothing like this. (LISTEN TO MY INTERVIEW WITH HIM BELOW)
The one thing that's disappointing is that the film moves very slowly; stretching a two-hour run time into feeling more like three. It held my attention but that was due to my fascination with Hawking. I doubt that someone who knew nothing about it would be as entertained. Marsh misses opportunities by zipping right past some of the only dramatic moments in Hawking's life, aside from his disease, and doesn't develop them at all. Lots of attention is paid to so much of his early life and developing relationship with Jane Hawking that once we get into the really interesting aspects of his career and their marriage we're ushered along at a quicker and disappointing pace. Because of that the film feels pretty lopsided.
Some films come along that act as a tribute to some of the greatest people in history. Some films do that and are still very entertaining. The Theory of Everything is a wonderful, touching tribute but lacks in the scope of entertainment it could have fulfilled. But the performances are so great that a viewing should be necessary to help people appreciate one of the smartest men to ever live and the love he shared with a patient woman.
Listen to Gavin's interview with one of the stars from "The Theory of Everything," Eddie Redmayne:
Big Hero 6
When Disney releases a movie the world takes notice and can't wait to see it. It's hard to believe that that wasn't the case there for a while. After Walt's death the studio had a series of bombs and was in financial trouble until The Little Mermaid. They then had another recession, not making a single massive animated hit from 1994 till 2010's release with Tangled. Sure, Pixar films kept the studio alive but Pixar makes Pixar and Disney just releases them. The good news for the world though is that Disney animation is back on top since then releasing films that keep getting better and better. I'm happy to say that Big Hero 6 keeps the streak alive.
I don't know anyone who thought that Frozen was not only going to be one of the top grossing films of 2013 but THE top grossing animated film of all time. It was a massive success and it was a cultural impact. You can't expect the next time up to the plate to be a Grand Slam on that scale but many people did. Big Hero 6 was released in the unfairly massive shadow of Frozen but still does a stellar job of casting its own. Since Disney alternates making films (stereotypically) for boys and girls, this one is obviously geared toward boys and hits the target true.
The film follows a boy who continues the robotics work of his older brother in cultivating a healthcare robot named Baymax, who is brilantly designed as a large, loving marshmallow. After his older brother is killed and a villain reveals himself, Baymax is used as a weapon to fight evil. This creates all kinds of parables that mostly stick the landing. The film teaches right from wrong, coping with the death of a loved one, revenge and doing what's right. None of it is heavy-handed and all are lessons that translate.
What's the most impressive to me is that it's the first collaboration between Disney and Marvel since Disney purchased them for $3 billion a few years ago. Both are companies that have a long and prolific history of molding the minds of children and seeing the two empires work together is the stuff of dreams! Aside the creation of Baymax are several of Hiro's friends who all are given special powers based on actual science that exists. When each character is revealed in a montage the 10-year-old boy inside me got goosebumps and wanted to be one of the members of the Big Hero 6.
I'm not 100% sure why Disney excludes songs from their films for boys but I wish they wouldn't. Maybe I'm comparing it to Frozen too much but Big Hero 6 had a small amount of emptiness and I wonder if that was because there was no show-stopping "Let It Go" moment. That being said, the action sequences are pretty intense and amazing which helps you overlook the flabby and weak justifications for a bad guy. The whole film feels like a comic book movie for kids told by the masters of children's storytelling. My two-year-old son loved it so I can only imagine that 10-year-old boys everywhere will wet themselves.