April Movie Releases

Well hello there!

It’s April, and to some studios, it’s the unofficial start of the Summer Movie Season. Although, it doesn’t seem too much like the studios are pushing their huge films like previous years, but there are big films coming out before the end of the month. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

7th

Limited Release: Their Finest (Comedy Drama)

Based on the novel by Lissa Evans, a British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg. The film has a pretty impressive cast that includes Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Billy Nighy, Jack Huston, Paul Ritter, Richard E. Grant, Jake Lacy, Eddie Marsan Helen McCrory, and Jeremy Irons.

 

Limited Release: Gifted (Drama)

Frank (Chris Evans), a single man raising his child prodigy niece Mary (Mckenna Grace), is drawn into a custody battle with his mother (Lindsay Duncan). Directed by Marc Webb, the film looks like a great small film for everyone involved. Gifted also stars Jenny Slate, Joe Chrest, Julie Ann Emery, and Octavia Spencer.

 

Limited Release: The Void (Horror Thriller)

When police officer Carter (Aaron Poole) discovers a blood-soaked man limping down a deserted road, he rushed him to a local hospital with a barebones, night shift staff. As cloaked, cult-like figures surround the building, the patients and staff inside start to turn ravenously insane. Trying to protect the survivors, Carter leads them into the depths of the hospital where they discover a gateway to immense evil. The film has released some creepy looking trailers, and it looks like an old school horror film, so maybe it could be great. The film also stars Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Art Hindle, and Kenneth Welsh.

 

Limited Release: Colossal (Sci-Fi Comedy Drama)

This wacky sci-fi comedy written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) follows a woman (Anne Hathaway), who after being dumped by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) returns home and finds out her breakdown has given her – somehow – control over a giant monster in South Korea. The film has been getting a lot of love on the film festival circuit, and with a great cast and a director I really like, I’m looking forward toward this. The film also stars Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell and Tim Blake Nelson.

 

The Case for Christ (Drama – Pure Flix Entertainment, Triple Horse Studios)

Based on the book by Lee Strobel, and a true story of award-winning investigative journalist, and avowed atheist, applies his well-honed journalistic and legal skills to disprove the newfound Christian faith of his wife… and with unexpected, life-altering results. The film stars Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, Faye Dunaway, Robert Forster and Frankie Faison.

 

Smurfs: The Lost Village (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures)

A reboot and fully animated film now follows Smurfette (Demi Lovato) who finds a mysterious map and set a journey along with her friends Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Hefty (Joe Manganiello) through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history. Taking the film the fully animation route might be what the franchise needs after the poorly received CGI/live-action hybrid. The voice cast also includes Rainn Wilson as Gargamel and Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf.

 

Going in Style (Comedy – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM)

A reboot of the 1979 film that follows three retirees, who live off social security checks, decide tey have had enough and plan a bank heist, problem is they are heavily under qualified. I’ve never seen the original, but with the cast, it could work. Going in Style stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Matt Dillon, John Ortiz, Maria Dizzia, Ann-Margret, and Joey King.

 

14th

Limited Release: The Lost City of Z (Drama)

Based off the novel by David Grann, the film is a true-life drama centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who disappears searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s. The film looks very atmospheric and dark, and everything I’ve seen from the trailer has me really hyped up for this. The cast also includes Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Sienna Miller, and Angus Macfadyen.

 

Spark (Animated – Open Road Films, Gulfstream Pictures, ToonBox Entertainment, Redrover Co.)

Spark (Jace Norman), a teenage monkey and his friends, Chunk (Rob deLeeuw) and Vix (Jessica Biel), are on a mission to regain Planet Bana – a kingdom overtaken by the evil overlord Zhong (A.C. Peterson). The rest of the voice cast includes Hilary Swank, Susan Sarandon, Athena Karkanis and Patrick Stewart.

 

The Fate of the Furious (Action Adventure – Universal Pictures, Original Film, One Race Films)

When a mysterious woman known as Cipher (Charlize Theron) makes Dom (Vin Diesel) turn on those closest to him, the team will go through trials that will test them like they never have before. Let’s be honest here, you can laugh at how ridiculous these films are and they aren’t like “they used to be.” But, these films make a crap ton of money, and people – like me – watch them because there dumb fun. The move intriguing thing is how the films will handle Paul Walker. The cast of Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Natalie Emmanuel, Lucas Black, Jason Statham and Kurt Russell return along with new names like Theron, Scott Eastwood, Kristofer Hivju, and Helen Mirren.

 

 

21st

Born in China (Family Adventure – Walt Disney Company, Disneynature, Chuan Films)

A wildlife drama documentary that follows the families of endangered animals in China.

 

Phoenix Forgotten (Sci-Fi Horror – Freestyle Releasing, Cinelou Releasing, Scott Free Productions)

20 years after three teenagers disappear in the wake of mysterious lights appearing above Phoenix, Arizona, unseen footage from that night has been discovered, chronicling the final hours of their fateful expedition.

 

Unforgettable (Thriller – Warner Bros., DiNovi Pictures)

A woman sets out to make life hell for her ex-husband’s new life. Honestly, I feel like I’ve the film already based off the trailer, and I’ve never been the biggest Katherine Heigl fan, so I’m going pass. The film also stars Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, and Whitney Cummings.

 

The Promise (Drama – Open Road Films, Survival Pictures, Wonderful Films)

Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, the film follows a love triangle between Mikael (Oscar Isaac), a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), and Chris (Christian Bale) – a renowned American journalist based in Paris. The trailer doesn’t really grab me as much as I thought it would, but I’m sure it will be good – hopefully. The film also stars Jean Reno, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rade Serbedzija, Angela Sarafyan and James Cromwell.

 

Free Fire (Action Crime Comedy – A24, Film4, Rook Films, Protagonist Pictures)

Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival. I didn’t know too much about this movie until I saw the trailer, and it instantly jumped to my must-watch list. The film looks like a crazy fun good time and it helps that it has an impressive cast too. The film stars Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, Enzo Cilenti, Babou Ceesay, Noah Taylor, Jack Reynor and Sharlto Copley.

 

28th

How to be a Latin Lover (Comedy – Pantelion Films, 3Pas Studios)

Finding himself dumped after 25 years of marriage, Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) who made a career of seducing rich older women, must move in with his estranged sister (Salma Hayek), where he beings to learn the value of family. The film also stars Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, Michael Cera, Raquel Welch, Omar Chaparro, Rob Riggle, Rob Huebel, and Rob Corddry.

 

Sleight (Sci-Fi Action Drama – WWE Studios, BH Tilt, Diablo Entertainment)

A young street magician is left to take care of his little sister after his mother’s passing and turns to drug dealing in the L.A. party scene to keep a roof over their heads. When he gets into trouble with is supplier, his sister is kidnapped and he is forced to rely on both his sleight of hand and brilliant mind to save her. The film stars Jacob Latimore, Seychelle Gabriel, Dule Hill, Storm Reid, Sasheer Zamata, and Brandon Johnson.

 

The Circle (Sci-Fi Thriller – EuropaCorp, IM Global, Likely Story, Playtone, Imagenation Abu Dhabi)

Based on Dave Eggers’ best-selling novel of the same name, the film follows Mae (Emma Watson), who lands a job at a powerful tech company called The Circle, where she becomes involved with a mysterious man. The film has Black Mirror-like vibe to it, and by the looks of it, always loveable Tom Hanks looks to play a villain-like character, who is the head of the company. The film also stars John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Ellen Wong, Nate Corddry, Poorna Jagannathan, Elvy Yost, Patton Oswalt and Bill Paxton.

 

What are you looking forward to?

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March Movie Release

Hello there!

Can you believe it’s March already? Anyway, besides it being my birth month(!) there are some great films coming out in March that we can look forward to. Also, a large amount of limited releases to some big films, so let’s start shall we?

 

3rd

Limited Release: Table 19

Ex-maid of honor Eloise (Anna Kendrick) – having been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text – decides to attend the wedding anyway only to find herself seated with 5 “random” guests at the dreaded Table 19. The rest of the cast includes Wyatt Russell, Amanda Crew, Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori, Stephen Merchant and Lisa Kudrow.

 

Limited Release: Headshot

Iko Uwais returns to his ass-kicking ways in this new action drama that sees him play a man who washes ashore with no memories after a serious head injury. As he tries to move on with the help of the doctor that helped (Chelsea Islan), his past comes back to haunt him and he must not only regain his memories, but fight back. I got the chance to see this last year at the Chicago International Film Festival, and while the film has some tonal shift problems, no one is watching this for the drama parts, they are watching for the highly entertaining and kick-ass fight scenes. Also the film has a little The Raid 2 reunion as Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yulisman appear. Also in the film is Sunny Pang.

 

The Shack (Drama – Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment, Netter Productions)

Based on the novel by William Paul Young, the film follows a grieving man (Sam Worthington) who receives a mysterious, personal invitation to meet with God at a place called “the Shack.” The film continues the trend of religious films getting a limelight, and with a cast like this and a powerful trailer, I don’t see this film falling on the wayside. The film also stars Radha Mitchell, Tim McGraw, Ryan Robbins and Octavia Spencer.

 

Before I Fall (Mystery Drama – Open Road Films, Awesomeness Films, Jon Shestack Productions)

Based on the novel by Lauren Oliver, February 12th is just another day in Sam’s (Zoey Deutch) charmed life until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over one inexplicable week, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s in danger of losing. The Groundhog Day with teenagers mystery angle may be enough to get some people in theaters, but I don’t think I’m sold on it. The film also stars Halston Sage, Diego Boneta, Elena Kampouris, Alyssa Lynch, Logan Miller and Jennifer Beals.

 

Logan (Action Adventure – 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Donners’ Company)

In the near future, a weary Wolverine (Hugh Jackman’s last performance) cares for an ailing Professor X (potentially Patrick Stewart’s last performance) in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant in Laura Kinney aka X-23 (Dafne Keen) arrives, being pursued by dark forces. The film has done nothing but impress fans and media outlets – who saw over 40-plus minutes of the film – so now that we get to see the whole film, I can’t wait to see how they close out this big run for Jackman. Logan also stars Boyd Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, Doris Morgado, and Elizabeth Rodriguez.

 

 

10th

Limited Release: Raw (Horror)

When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her. The French film has been making waves at film festivals and those lucky enough to see it, and based off the trailers, I can see why.

 

Kong: Skull Island (Action Adventure – Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures)

King Kong is back! The film follows a team going to uncharted territory, mainly, Skull Island where they encounter a myth – and king of the island: King Kong. The film looks absolutely great, and I can’t wait to see how they handle this new King Kong. Kong: Skull Island has an impressive cast of Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, Thomas Mann, Jason Mitchell, Tian Jing, John C. Reilly, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Goodman.

 

17th

U.S. Release: T2: Trainspotting

Danny Boyle gets the band back together for the sequel to the cult following film Trainspotting. The film see the crew come back for some more misadventures.

 

The Belko Experiment (Action Thriller – High Top Releasing, BH Tilt, Orion Pictures, MGM, The Safran Company)

Written by James Gunn, in a twisted social experiment, a group of 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogata, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed. The film looks absolutely crazy, and with the Battle Royal and Office Space comparisons floating around, it sounds like we’re in for a fun ride. Josh Brener, Michael Rooker, Tony Goldwyn, John Gallagher Jr., Sean Gunn, John C. McGinley, and David Dastmalchian also star.

 

Beauty and the Beast (Musical Fantasy – Walt Disney Pictures, Mandeville Films)

An adaptation of the classic fairy-tale about a Belle (Emma Watson) who falls in love with a cursed and monstrous prince (Dan Stevens). This film has some major shoes to fill. Major. The animated to a lot of people, including myself, is a classic so hopefully it’s at least half-way descent. The film also stars Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Sline, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

 

 

24th

Limited Release: Wilson (Comedy Drama)

Based on a the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, who also scripts the film, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged man reunites with his estranged wife and meets his teenage daughter for the first film. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer, Cheryl Hines, Laura Dern and Margo Martindale.

 

Life (Sci-Fi Thriller – Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Skydance Media)

An international space crew discovers life on Mars. However, on their way back home the crew is put in danger from said lifeform. It should be interesting to see the film handles the material, but with a cast like this, I can’t imagine this being bad. At least one can hope. Life stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, and Hiroyuki Sanada.

 

CHiPs (Action Comedy – Warner Bros., Primate Pictures)

Directed and written by Dax Shepard, the adventures of two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers, Jon Baker (Shepard) and Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherllo (Michael Pena), as they make their rounds on the freeways of Los Angeles. There are already people saying this isn’t the CHiPs they grew up with, but the trailer makes the film look like a lot of fun to be honest. I wasn’t looking really forward to it, and I’m still not completely sold, but at least I’m looking forward to seeing what it could lead to. The film also stars Rosa Salazar, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Bell, Adam Brody, Ryan Hansen, Jessica McNamee, Justin Chatwin and Vincent D’Onofrio.

 

Power Rangers (Action Sci-Fi Fantasy – Lionsgate, Saban Entertainment)

Based on the popular 90s show, a group of high-school kids are chosen to protect the world from an ancient evil with their new found super abilities. Look let’s face it, this has the chance of being cheesy as hell, but that’s kind of the point of Power Rangers, so that complaint won’t work. And honestly, the trailers so far have been pretty great – says the childhood fan in me. The film stars Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Dacre Montgomery, singer Becky G., and Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa.

 

31st

The Boss Baby (Animation – 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks Animation)

Based on the book by Maria Frazee, a suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying baby pairs up with his seven-year old brother to stop the dastardly plot of the CEO of Puppy Co. I’m not too excited about the film, it hasn’t really grabbed me, although I’m sure there will be an audience. The voice cast includes Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin and ViviAnna Yee.

 

Step Sisters (Comedy – Broad Green Pictures, Los Angeles Media Fund)

An African American sorority girl resorts to desperate measures to get into a top law school. The film stars Megalyn Echikunwoke, Eden Sher, Alessandra Torresani, Gage Golightly, and Matt McGorry.

 

The Zookeeper’s Wife (Biography Drama – Focus Features, LD Entertainment, Scion Films)

Based on the book by Diane Ackerman, the film tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) and Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain), who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the Nazi invasion. The trailer looks powerful, but I hesitate only because it looks like the trailer gave a bit too much away. The film also stars Daniel Bruhl, Michael McElhatton, Anna Rust, and Iddo Goldberg.

 

Ghost in the Shell (Action Crime – Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG)

Based off the popular anime film, a cyborg policewoman (Scarlett Johansson) attempts to bring down a nefarious computer hacker (Michael Pitt). The trailers have set a pretty good sense of the tone, and since I have no real connection to the anime, I think it looks pretty good. The film also stars Pilou Asbeek, Michael Wincott, and Takeshi Kitano.

 

What are you looking forward to?

‘The Maze Runner’ Review

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Dir: Wes Ball

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario and Patricia Clarkson

Synopsis: Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

Based on the popular Young Adult novel of the same name by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is another entry into the YA dystopian novel adaptation movies. I haven’t read the book, although I did start with the intention of finishing before the movie came out but that didn’t happen. So this review will be based on the movie alone, which I thought wasn’t going to be good. To my surprise, The Maze Runner was rather enjoyable despite falling – or following depending on how you view it – into some of the same tropes as other YA adaptations.

 

Thomas (O’Brien) wakes up in an elevator with no memory of how he got there, his life, or even his name. The elevator stops and soon he’s surrounded by other young men who are all looking at him. He finds out that the place he’s in is called “The Glade,” a large environment filled with trees, forest, a lake, and other small things that allows everyone to live off the land. What Thomas soon realizes is that the Glade is surrounded by a gigantic concrete maze that is filled with secrets, one that could lead to a way out, and the dangerous Grievers.

 

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When Thomas enters the Glade, he learns that everyone has been there for three years. He immediately gets close to the chosen leader of the “Gladers” in Alby (Ameen), Newt (Brodie-Sangster), and the youngest member of the group Chuck (Cooper). Thomas is curious about everything, which makes some of the Gladers, more specifically Gally (Poulter), a little bit antagonistic toward Thomas because Gally wants to stick to the rules that have kept them alive for so long.

 

One of the things the movie suffers from is “information dumping.” Since Thomas acts as our surrogate, he’s told a lot of information by the characters about his new surroundings. Mostly by starting with “We call them…” it’s not really annoying, and it stops once movie gets to the midway point, but it does give us some vital information. One example is “Runners” which Minho (Lee) is the leader of. Runners – obviously – run the maze and try to figure out a way out.

 

Things go out of whack when the first girl, Teresa (Scodelario), comes to the Glade and automatically points out Thomas. This makes everyone, especially Gally, start to second guess why Thomas and even Teresa are there. It also doesn’t help that once Teresa shows up and Thomas goes into the maze with Minho and finally discovers something that could lead them out, Grievers start to attack.

 

Teresa_1

 

The cast here is highlighted by Ameen, Brodie-Sangster, Lee and Poulter. Their supporting roles really give you a sense of brotherhood and make you believe they really have been there for three years trying to get out of their prison. O’Brien does okay as Thomas. For being the lead he doesn’t really bring a lot of charisma or leadership to the role. I understand that Thomas is still trying to figure out who he is and what’s happening but maybe O’Brien wasn’t the best choice for the role (of course says the guy who is not an actor), luckily he has a standout scene near the end. The other odd end is Kaya Scodelario, who beside Patricia Clarkson in a cameo appearance, is the only female in the cast. Scodelario, who puts on a questionable accent, doesn’t really do much besides question why she’s in Glade and what her connection to Thomas is (which even in the end is a bit iffy).

 

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One of the best things is how director Wes Ball builds the world. Which really that much of a surprise considering his amazing looking and well done short film called Ruin (which I highly recommend watching http://youtu.be/doteMqP6eSc). The design of the maze looks somewhat low-tech and but also has a futuristic look and feel to it, but then again, all the Gladers have to fight and defend themselves with is knifes and wooden spears.

 

The best part is the maze. Unfortunately for a movie called The Maze Runner there sure isn’t a lot of maze running. However, when they are in the maze it’s highly engaging and actually thrilling. Ball does have a great sense of knowing what to show and how fast everything should move and more importantly when to stop or slow down.

 

All in all, The Maze Runner isn’t perfect but it is highly enjoyable and arguably the better of the dystopian YA movies out there so far. It does have a “Lord of the Flies” feel to it but Wes Ball manages to bring some cool aspects and great action sequences with a young cast that is still growing. The ending feels a bit wonky and serves as a set up for future sequels (which has already been announced) and really takes the steam out of everything that they put together.

 

The Maze Runner

4 out of 5