Thursday, August 1, 2013

At the Movies – August 2013 – Part 2: Hollywood Films

Serious Films:

Paranoia (Robert Luketic) – Drama/Thriller – Aug 16
Plot Summary: Adam Cassidy is an entry-level employee at a powerful corporation, looking to rise quickly through the ranks. To do so, he takes on the dangerous job of corporate espionage, spying on his boss’s former mentor in order to steal secrets. Filmmakers: Director Robert Luketic is not really known for making thrillers, working mostly in the rom-com genre (Legally Blonde, The Ugly Truth, and Killers). However, he did make the pseudo-thriller 21, which is probably his best film to date (unless you really like Legally Blonde). He is working with composer Junkie XL, cinematographer David Tattersall (Gulliver’s Travels), and production designer David Brisbin (Sinister). Cast: The film stars Liam Hemsworth and co-stars Amber Heard, Harrison Ford, and Gary Oldman. Josh Holloway, Embeth Davidtz, Lucas Till, Julian McMahon, and Richard Dreyfuss feature in support. Expectations: Paranoia looks like a decent thriller. It has a great supporting cast (Ford and Oldman as competing titans of industry!), but Liam Hemsworth still needs to prove that he can carry a movie. My main concern, however, is that director Robert Luketic has a fairly mediocre track record – thus its potential for being great is almost nonexistent (despite the solid supporting cast). It is probably not worth shelling out theater money for this, but maybe it is worth checking out as a rental (assuming the reviews are not too terribly awful). Trailer: Here.

Closed Circuit (John Crowley) – Mystery Drama/Thrillers – Aug 30
Plot Summary: After carrying out an attack, a despised terrorist is put on trial in Brittan. Lawyers Martin and Claudia (who are also former lovers) decide to take on the terrorist’s defense, only to find themselves thrust into danger as they uncover secrets the British Government would rather remain hidden. Filmmakers: Director John Crowley is back with his fourth feature. Of his first three, two are decent and one is quite good – the drama Boy A. He is working with Joby Talbot (Son of Rambow), cinematographer Adriano Goldman (Jane Eyre), and production designer Jim Clay (Children of Men). Cast: The film stars Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall. Julia Stiles, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Ciaran Hinds, Jim Broadbent, and Riz Ahmed feature in support. Expectations: Closed Circuit looks like a good British mystery/thriller and features a great cast. This has the potential to be one of the better thrillers of the summer. I, for one, am looking forward to renting it (I may even catch it in theaters). Trailer: Here.


2 Guns (Baltasar Kormakur) – Crime Thriller – Aug 2
Plot Summary: DEA agent Bobby and Naval Intelligence officer Stig are tasked with investigating one another, only to realize they have been both set up by the men each believed the other was stealing money from. Now in the know, they decide to team up to take these men down. Filmmakers: Baltasar Kormakur is carving out a nice niche for himself as a Hollywood action movie director with Contraband and now this (let us just hope that this is better than Contraband). He is working with composer Clinton Shorter (worked on Contraband as well), cinematographer Oliver Wood (Safe House), and production designer Beth Mickle (Drive). Cast: The film stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, while featuring Paula Patton, James Marsden, Bill Paxton, Edward James Olmos, and Fred Ward in support. Expectations: 2 Guns looks like an entertaining action crime thriller with strong genre leads, but I do not expect it to be much more than throwaway escapist fun. Kormakur’s Contraband was not particularly impressive as either an action film or thriller, but as a somewhat entertaining rental it was fine – and that is what I expect from this, though the combination of Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg (assuming their chemistry meshes onscreen) might elevate it a bit. Trailer: Here.

Kick-Ass 2 (Jeff Wadlow) – Action Comedy – Aug 16
Plot Summary: In the wake of Kick-Ass murdering his father, Red Mist forms a posse of masked criminals to rain terror upon the city, ultimately hopefully allowing Red Mist to take his revenge on Kick-Ass and Hit Girl as they put their costumes back on to try and stop him. Meanwhile, Kick-Ass and Hit Girl settle into their ordinary lives as high school students, but crave action. They form a group of costumed normal citizens to help them fight crime and stop Red Mist. Filmmakers: Taking over for Matthew Vaughn (who directed Kick-Ass and is staying on as the sequel’s producer), writer-director Jeff Wadlow finds himself behind the camera. Wadlow made the decent mixed martial-arts B-movie Never Back Down, but this will be his first mainstream release. That said, apparently Kick-Ass creator and Fox’s comic-book property consultant Mark Millar thinks highly enough of his work on this to task him with writing Fox’s upcoming X-Force film. Wadlow is working with composers Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson (both of who worked on Kick-Ass), cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones (The Woman in Black), and production designer Russell De Rozario (who also worked on Kick-Ass). Cast: Returning to the series is: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lyndsy Fonseca, Morris Chestnut, and Clarke Duke. New to the cast is: Jim Carrey, Iain Glen, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison, and Ella Purnell. Expectations: Kick-Ass was one of the most entertaining films of 2009, and is still one of the better comic-book films to date. Accordingly, I was very much looking forward to Kick-Ass 2 – that is until Matthew Vaughn dropped out of directing and was replaced by Jeff Wadlow (who has up until this point made B-movies). However, my fears have somewhat been quelled by the funny and entertaining footage I have seen from the movie (but still, I doubt Wadlow will bring the same cinematic style that made Kick-Ass special). I am looking forward to seeing Kick-Ass 2, but I do not expect too much going in. Trailer: HereReview: Here.


Planes (Klay Hall) – Family Adventure Comedy – Aug 9
Plot Summary: Dusty is a cropdusting plane with big dreams. He wants to compete in a famous aerial race. The only problem is – he is afraid of heights. However, with the help of his mentor Skipper, Dusty hopes to overcome his fears and make his dreams a reality. Filmmakers: Director Klay Hall makes his major feature debut with Planes, but his second animated feature overall – his first being the straight-to-DVD Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure. He also worked on many episodes of King of the Hill. Hall is working with composer Mark Mancina (Tarzan) and production designer Ryan Carlson (Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil). Head of Disney’s Animation Studio John Lasseter (who is also one of the founders of Pixar) is overseeing the project. Cast: The voice-cast includes: Dane Cook as Dusty and Stacy Keach as Skipper, while Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Brad Garrett, Larry the Cable Guy (voicing his Cars’s character Mater), Cedric the Entertainer, and Sinbad feature in support. Expectations: Planes looks like it was meant as a straight-to-DVD spin-off of Cars (as it takes place in the same universe) that Disney decided was good enough to merit a theatrical release. I am somewhat surprised that Pixar would allow Disney to take one their properties and put out their own animated film (but of course this is the new Pixar that made Cars 2 solely to make lots of money and not because it was going to be a good film). It looks like a decent family film, but nothing special from Disney. Trailer: Here.

Plot Summary: David Burke is a loser. He has nothing going for him. One day, however, he is given a big opportunity – to import a massive shipment of marijuana over the border from Mexico for the fee of $100,000. The only question is how. And then he thinks over it – he will just pose as the typical American family coming back from vacation. To do this, he hires a fake family made up of local misfits he knows. What could go wrong? Filmmakers: This is director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s third feature. He is best known for the comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. We’re the Millers returns him to more straightforward comedy (after the misstep that was The Mysteries of Pittsburg). He is working with composers Ludwig Goransson (Community), Theodore Shapiro (The Big Year), cinematographer Barry Peterson (21 Jump Street), and production designer Clayton Hartley (Step Brothers). Cast: Jason Sudeikis stars with co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, and Will Poulter. Molly C. Quinn, Nick Offerman, Ed Helms, Kathryn Hahn, Ken Marino, and Thomas Lennon feature in support. Expectations: We’re the Millers looks potentially very funny. Plus, it has a good comedic cast. For fans of R-rated comedies, this is probably a worthwhile rental. Trailer: Here.

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