Wednesday, September 3, 2014

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


The Maze Runner – Adventure/Sci-Fi – Sep 19
Plot Summary: Thomas suddenly wakes up in a mysterious community of boys. His memory has been erased. He is forever trapped there unless he wants to take his chances in the deadly maze. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Wes Ball. Actors Involved: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Patricia Clarkson. Quality Potential: Medium. The Maze Runner is 20th Century Fox’s attempt to get in on the dystopian young adult bonanza started by The Hunger Games and continued by Divergent. As for the film itself, it looks visually impressible. First-time feature director Wes Ball come from an animation and digital effects background, so he is well suited for this type of film in terms of getting the look of things right. As for the performances and narrative, that is the real question of whether or not this will be good. Ball does have a strong young cast of mostly lesser known actors (especially in the States) and the film tonally feels a bit like Lord of the Flies. The film played at this year’s San Diego Comic Con to good buzz from fans of the novel. Interestingly, though, 20th Century Fox does not seem to be pushing the marketing of this film very hard yet. What are they waiting for? There is almost zero buzz. Being that there is really not much to see in term of blockbuster-like cinema in September, this might be worth checking out for a big, fun cinema experience. Trailer: Here.

The Equalizer – Action/Thriller – Sep 26
Plot Summary: Robert McCall is a former black ops commando who dropped off the grid, faking his own death. He lives quietly in Boston; however when a young girl named Teri is harassed by Russian gangsters, McCall decides to step in – bringing up the demons he buried in the past. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Antoine Fuqua and cinematographer Mauro Fiore. Actors Involved: Denzel Washington (also a producer on the film), Chloe Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas, Bill Pullman, Haley Bennett, Melissa Leo, and David Harbour. Quality Potential: Low. The big draw of The Equalizer seems to be the reteaming of Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington – the pair made Training Day together. Yet, this film looks incredibly generic and boring. It is the same as every other recent action/thriller. Sure, it will probably be enjoyable to watch Washington destroy a bunch of bad guys for a seemingly good cause, but it is nothing new or interesting. Maybe I am wrong and the film will have dramatic and emotional depth with fleshed out characters. I hope I am wrong. I generally have enjoyed Fuqua’s films. He usually delivers strong action and decent characters (his last, Olympus Has Fallen, was pretty bad though). Trailer: Here.


The Boxtrolls – Family Adventure/ Comedy – Sep 26
Plot Summary: Eggs is a young orphaned boy who has been raised by the underground cave-dwelling trash collectors known as the Boxtrolls. The Boxtrolls are feared by the townspeople. They do not know anything about them and believe them to be monsters. Out of this fear, they hire an evil exterminator to kill all the Boxtrolls. Now, it is up to Eggs to save his friends. Key Filmmakers Involved: Co-directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi and brilliant composer Dario Marianelli. Voice Actors Involved: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Ben Kingsley, Richard Ayoade, Nick Frost, Jared Harris, and veteran voice actors Jim Cummings. Quality Potential: Medium. The Boxtrolls is the new film by Oregon-based animation studio Laika, a studio built off the financing of Phil Knight and the talent of Henry Selick. Laika’s first two features are the very good Coraline and ParaNorman. Graham Annable worked on both those films and Anthony Stacchi worked on an earlier Selick film James and the Giant Peach. The Boxtrolls has a great voice cast and looks very funny. It is yet another contender for best film of September. Trailer: Here.

Two Night Stand – Romantic Comedy – Sep 26
Plot Summary: Megan and Alec hook up for a one night stand. It goes okay, but they both want to move on with their respective lives separately. There is a problem, however. They are stuck together – snowed-in by a terrific snowstorm. Maybe they can give it a second try and sparks will fly? Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Max Nichols. Actors Involved: Analeigh Tipton, Miles Teller, Jessica Szohr, Leven Rambin, and Scott Mescudi. Quality Potential: Medium/Low. Two Night Stand looks very generic – even by romantic comedy standards. The film is also Max Nichols directorial debut. What could be its saving grace, however, is that it features fantastic leads Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller. They are both great young actors and if they have strong chemistry the film could be quite fun. Trailer: Here.


The Drop – Crime Drama – Sep 12
Plot Summary: Bob Saginowski works for a neighborhood bar in Brooklyn that is used as a money drop by the mob. One day, the bar is robbed, and the mob suspects that Bob and his cousin Marv might be involved. Bob now must negotiate a dangerous way forward and hopefully recover the money. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Michael R. Roskam, composer Marco Beltrami, and production designer Therese DePrez. Actors Involved: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, and John Ortiz. Quality Potential: Medium. The Drop looks like a fairly generic crime drama, with broad characters that are somewhat overplayed in the genre. That said, however, it might actually be pretty good too. It features a strong cast and director Michael R. Roskam’s first feature Bullhead is a very good crime drama (The Drop is his second). Maybe not in theaters, but as a rental this might be worth checking out. Trailer: Here.

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