Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw – With just one look at this trailer, you would know how obsessed I am with this movie from the moment I first got my eyes on it. The first spinoff from the Fast & Furious series features The Rock’s character of Luke Hobbs who is forced to team up again with Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw to take on a cyber-enhanced threat in the form of Idris Elba bent on destroying humanity. This movie is going to be big, crazy and full of ridiculous action and I am here for every moment of this over two-hour extravaganza. Movie fans are going to be delighted with this one.
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable – Some people are just born superhuman. Whether its strength of mind, character, skill or of brute nature, people are incredible ad this documentary showcases just one person in particular. At thirteen years old, Hawaiian surfer Bethany Hamilton was on pace to be the best in the world when a tiger shark attacked her, taking her arm. Four weeks later she was in the water, training to surf with one arm. Now, at the age of twenty-six, she is on top of the surfing world and continuing to blow peoples minds. This documentary is a glimpse into how Bethany got there with her immense spirit and perseverance. This is a special film about someone who can inspire the masses, something that the kids should check out. It’ll turn some heads. (Opens in Toronto and Vancouver)
Long Shot – I’m definitely a sucker for a Seth Rogen movie and a lot of the times the actors or actresses he is paired with adds to the draw, other than Barbra Streisand because no one should be subjected to The Guilt Trip. For this film, he stars with Charlize Theron in a romantic comedy about a hapless dork who finds himself reunited with the first woman he had a crush on, his former babysitter who is now embarking upon a campaign to be the next president of the United States. The movie was directed by longtime Rogen collaborator Johnathan Levine and I think it has rejuvenated the stale formula of the rom-com and made it more broadly pleasing. A little bit of a crude edge mixed into the great chemistry between the two well-cast leads makes this film a really funny two hours that will leave you smiling in the end.
The Intruder – A movie with a total weirdo trailer, this film has a couple played by Meagan Good and Michael Ealy moving into the country house of their dreams, purchased from Dennis Quaid’s character, a guy not really fully willing to give up his house. The movie gives off that stalker vibe with Quaid seemingly always hanging around in the background of shots for that easy jump scare and, really, that’s all there is to it. No thought or any inkling of brains went into this one other than Quaid giving a pretty gonzo performance in a film that doesn’t deserve it. This movie is at all times confused o what it wants to be. A horror? A thriller? A comedy? Softcore porn? No idea but it was terrible.
Domino – What in the sweet hell happened to Brian De Palma? He came from a school of elite filmmakers that includes Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg but hasn’t made anything noteworthy in over twenty years. The funny thing is I had no idea that this thriller starring Game Of Thrones actors Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice Van Houten was his movie until I looked into it and he may wish he hadn’t had anything to do with it. The film is about a Copenhagen police officer who seeks justice for his partner’s murder by a mysterious man with terrorist connections but the score is awful, the writing is confused and there is an odd ADR on every character. Don’t be duped by De Palma or Coster-Waldau’s names on this, it’s a giant turd.
The White Crow – I had no idea of this film’s existence when it was thrown on my doorstep but when I saw Ralph Fiennes name attached to it as director, as well as a small supporting role, I was interested. This marks his third time behind the camera, this film like his last is a biopic, the story focusing on an idealist dancer from the Soviet Union who longs to be an international star. To do this he must turn his back on Kruschev and his country and defect to follow his bright dreams. It all sounds good in theory but the story feels slow and plodding at an over two hour run time and unfortunately, the lead character Rudolf Nureyev is not likeable even in the slightest. Abrasive, arrogant and divisive, this may lend to how well first time actor Oleg Ivenko plays him but the movie just wasn’t for me.
Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie – Shout Factory has another Power Rangers movie? That’s right, besides having the 1995 big-screen version, every iteration of the television series and hopefully one day the reboot they have released this second film on Blu-ray for the first time and although many people are a bit clueless when it comes to this movie the fans that are in the know are celebrating this. The common bond that everyone could latch onto here, new fans and old, is the movie features the Jason David Frank played Tommy Oliver, also known as the awesome Green Ranger, although he is the Red Ranger in this. Confused? Me too but you know what? The movie is actually a lot of fun if you watch it with the right people, like my daughter the newly found Power Rangers addict.
The Leopard Man – Continuing the push on classic science fiction and horror movies, Shout releases the special edition of this movie from 1943 which was originally reissued in 1952 as a double feature with King Kong by RKO. The film pits man against nature as it follows a seemingly tame leopard used for a publicity stunt that escapes and kills a young girl, spreading panic throughout a sleepy New Mexico town. At just over an hour in length, this movie almost plays like a Ray Bradbury episode of extreme caution but exercised the rare notion of real-life horror in storytelling, which was rare for its time. The coolest thing about this Blu-ray is that it has a commentary track from William Friedkin, the legendary director of The Exorcist. Why? Who cares, it’s awesome.
Steve’s Blu-Ray Geek Out:
The Illusionist – I’m very happy to see this film hit Blu-ray as it was an insanely brilliant mystery that got lost in the shuffle of Christopher Nolan making The Prestige, another magician film that ended up overshadowing this smaller release. Starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel, this film follows a magician who uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing in turn-of-the-century Vienna and was my first exposure to the works of director Neil Burger in narrative film, who unfortunately kind of topped out with this one. This movie is a very cool watch and it’s fascinating to point out that CG isn’t used for the tricks but some real sleight of hand trained by British magician James Freedman and American magician and legend, the late Ricky Jay.
FM – Arrow Video and their releases do something to me week to week that I’m unprepared for. They educate me to movies I have never heard of and sometimes these movies become epiphanies of cinema love that I must impart onto others and this is a prime example. FM is anti-establishment and rebel attitude rolled into a late seventies romp. In short, it is about a mutiny that ensues when a radio station’s management decides to increase the number of commercials they play, including army recruitment ads. Rebellious DJs and other employees hijack the station and play only music before the authorities intervene and the classic battle between the free and the lawmakers begins. This movie blew me away with its cool factor and was the first cinema release to feature a song by Queen, We Will Rock You. Yes, this is a groundbreaking movie that you didn’t know existed. You’re welcome.
The Boxer – An almost forgotten Daniel Day-Lewis movie, something that sounds ridiculous to even type out, I wonder why no one talks about this incredible re-teaming of this legendary actor and director Jim Sheridan, the man that helped him get an Academy Award for My Left Foot. The film is about Danny Flynn, a man who is released from prison 14 years after “taking the rap” for the IRA and tries to rebuild his life in his old Belfast neighborhood. Co-starring the great Emily Watson, this film is full of nuance and brilliance with Day-Lewis going all method and training as a boxer for three years in preparation. As a cinema fan, there is no movie like a Daniel Day-Lewis movie so thank you Shout Factory.
Dear White People: Season 3 (Netflix) – Adapted from a critic lauded movie from 2014, this Netflix series is about a group of black students attending an overly white Ivy League college and sparked a boycott immediately with its season one, with people being offended over its trailer, calling it racist. Now we are at season three and this show keeps rolling with brilliant writing from the original film’s creator Justin Simien in a time that I think is so important for this show to exist. The more we keep the conversation of race going through media like this the more we may be able to affect some change.
No One Saw A Thing: Season 1 (SundanceTV) – An intriguing new docuseries that came out of the blue, this will be some bait for you Making A Murderer and true crime fans out there. This series examines an unsolved and mysterious death in Skidmore, Missouri, during 1981, after a resident is shot dead in front of almost sixty townspeople, who deny having seen anything. How weird is that premise? And to be a true story is just baffling to me. This comes from documentarian Avi Belkin, who has an upcoming movie called Mike Wallace IS Here later this month, but I’m all about this mysterious six-episode show. How can this be possible?
Four Weddings And A Funeral: Season 1 (Hulu) – Based on a massive hit comedy from the mid-nineties that help launch Hugh Grant as an international star, I’m really unsure of its shelflife in this modern time but mostly I’m concerned that it has zero relevancy to today’s viewers and wonder if any of it’s target demo will even know the original. Aimed at a more teen and early twenties audience, this is a direct translation of the film but shepherded to Hulu by Mindy Kaling which is really the biggest reason I brought this. Coming off the hit of Late Night, I really hope this one is good as I’m a fan of the source material.
The Red Sea Diving Resort (Netflix) – The market on Netflix original films is always expanding and this is the latest to land, a historical thriller starring Chris Evans and The Wire’s Michael Kenneth Williams from Gideon Raff, the creator of the Showtime series Homeland. In a nutshell, the film is a look at Israel’s Mossad agents and their attempt to rescue Ethiopian Jewish refugees from Sudan in 1977. With Evans and Williamsjust being the tip of the iceberg of talent in this movie, you would think that this is a solid pick for your weekend but the reviews have landed and they are a little tepid, saying that the character development is flat and the film doesn’t capture the genuine nature of the incident. Bummer.
Pennyworth: Season 1 (Epix) – The DC Universe related television series keep on coming with this new prequel show that has landed on the American cable channel Epix of all places. Not to be confused with the recently finished Fox show Gotham that had a younger Alfred Pennyworth, loyal butler to Bruce Wayne and medic and everyman to the Caped Crusader Batman, this show features Britsh actor Jack Bannon in the role, harkening back to his days working for Bruce’s father Thomas. The show will undoubtedly delve into Pennyworth’s past as a British special forces officer and looks quite intriguing. The reviews are favorable enough to have me excited.