Wednesday, June 4, 2014

At the Movies – June 2014 – Part 2: Hollywood Films

Romance and Rom-Coms:

The Fault in Our Stars – Romance Drama – Jun 6
Plot Summary: Two teenagers living with cancer, Hazel and Gus, fall in love (and then I am guessing sad stuff happens). Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Josh Boone. Actors Involved: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern, and Sam Trammell. Potential to be Good: Medium. The Fault in Our Stars has the potential to be 2014’s young adult breakout film. It is playing to rave reviews in its advanced screenings and its star Shailene Woodley who certainly seems poised to be Hollywood’s next young breakout star (following Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone in the last couple years). All that said, however, I am not completely convinced by director Josh Boone. His first feature Stuck in Love was very mediocre and overwritten with ruminations on life and love intended to be profound that were really just boring genre clichés. But, this film is not really targeted at me – it is for teenagers (who often find clichéd things profound) and it very well could explode and resonate extremely well in that demographic. It is probably worth checking out for fans of emotionally taxing romance dramas (like A Walk to Remember). Trailer: Here.


Jersey Boys – Musical Drama – Jun 20
Plot Summary: The story of four Jersey boys from the tough part of town who come together to form the 1960s music group The Four Seasons. Key Filmmakers Involved: Producer-director Clint Eastwood, cinematographer Tom Stern, and production designer James J. Murakami. Actors Involved: Christopher Walken, John Lloyd Young, and Vincent Piazza. Potential to be Good: Medium. Jersey Boys is based on the Broadway musical (of the same name). I like that Clint Eastwood is going with a mostly unknown cast (who hopefully can sing). The film looks absolutely drenched in nostalgic sappiness. Tom Stern’s cinematography is too much. It almost looks as if the whole film were created with green screens. It does not look or feel authentic or real (which I am guessing will work against the narrative and the ability for the film to fully resonate with viewers). I love musicals, but I have almost no interest in seeing this film. It looks like an expensive VH1 special. But, Clint Eastwood can be a very good and effective director, often making wonderful films like: The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Letters to Iwo Jima, and Gran Torino (but, let us be honest, this was Eastwood’s last actually great film). Trailer: Here.


Edge of Tomorrow – Action Sci-Fi – Jun 6
Plot Summary: Lt. Col. Bill Cage must die and be reborn every day. That is the only way the human race can survive a massive alien attack. Stuck in a time loop, Cage hones his skills until presumably he figures out how to save the world. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Doug Liman, writer Christopher McQuarrie, and cinematographer Dion Beebe. Actors Involved: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Lara Pulver, Jeremy Piven, Noah Taylor, and Brendan Gleeson. Potential to be Good: Medium. Edge of Tomorrow is basically a sci-fi version of Groundhog Day. It has a fun cast and a good set of filmmakers behind the project – given that this is intended purely as a popcorn blockbuster. Tom Cruise really seems to have made a strong creative partnership with writer (and sometimes director) Christopher McQuarrie following Jack Reacher. After this project, McQuarrie is also slated to direct Mission: Impossible 5. Doug Liman, who generally makes very entertaining films, could really use a hit. His last success was Mr. & Mrs. Smith (and his last really good film was The Bourne Identity). This is worth checking out for fans of big sci-fi action films. Trailer: Here.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Family/Adventure – Jun 13
Plot Summary: Five years have passed since Hiccup and Toothless united dragon and Viking. Now, Hiccup longs to know his mother and ventures further and further away from home searching. Also, a new danger looms, threating Hiccup and all his friends and family. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Dean DeBlois. Voice Actors Involved: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, America Ferrera, Djimon Hounsou, and Craig Ferguson. Potential to be Good: High (especially if you liked How to Train Your Dragon, which almost everyone did). How to Train Your Dragon 2 looks to be a bit more ambitious story wise but hopefully also stay true to the first film’s fun tone and strong sense of humor. The film has been extremely well received during its advanced screenings. Writer-director Dean DeBlois has a strong track record with Lilo & Stitch before starting his How to Train Your Dragon trilogy (part three is due in 2016). This is a must-see for fans of the original film and family oriented animated adventure. Trailers: Here.

Transformers: Age of Extinction – Action – Jun 27
Plot Summary: Some amount of time has passed since the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Humanity has found a way to beat back the aliens that so threatened them. Mechanic Cade Yeager lives a peaceful life on his farm with his family; however, he makes a discovery that changes everything. He decides to repair a beat-up old truck only to reveal that the truck is really the alien Optimus Prime. Now, Cade and his family are in grave danger. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director-producer Michael Bay, executive producer Steven Spielberg, cinematographer Amir Mokri, and composer Steven Joblonsky. Actors and Voice-Actors Involved: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, T.J. Miller, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, Titus Welliver, Ken Wantanabe, John Goodman, and Peter Cullen. Potential to be Good: Low. Transformers: Age of Extinction looks a lot like all the other Transformers movies from Michael Bay: loud, busy, messy, ridiculous, and poorly written (also, this one has dinosaur Transformers in it for some reason). But maybe it will be better. It does feature all new characters, giving Bay a chance to deliver better characters this time (but that probably will not happen). If you love the Transformers films then just ignore me, as you will love this one too. I personally just find them to be brash, lesser blockbusters, though they are somewhat entertaining (except Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, that film is unwatchable). Trailer: Here.

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