On DVD & Blu-Ray: November 25, 2014

At the age of sixty-one and twelve years after his last film in the role of James Bond I imagine Pierce Brosnan doesn't necessarily want to be starring in second rate excursions of Bond movies as someone called Peter Devereaux. I imagine he'd like to be making more calm, thought-provoking dramas or interesting character pieces, but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards for the poor guy. He seems to have tried his hand at making low-risk romantic comedies and dramedies all of which have seemed to fail to give his career any kind of life after his exit from his most famous role. He has played in this genre before outside of the Bond franchise with 2005's little seen The Matador, but not since have we seen Brosnan so blatantly admit to audiences that he misses playing the British Secret Service Agent. He would seemingly like to be a well-regarded leading man in more mature fare, but it is likely he sees no other options in maintaining his relevancy and so we will continue to get things such as The November Man (I hear they're already moving forward with a sequel to this!) until he finds a role that will earn him an Oscar (though admittedly probably much later in his life) that will leave his legacy as something of a real cinematic presence and not just as the guy who once played James Bond. That would be the ideal way for things to go, but if he is determined to live in the now rather than with some sense of perspective he may pigeon-hole himself into the guy who never got over being Bond. It is easy to see Daniel Craig moving on after his term in the suit (despite the fact his non-Bond efforts have either failed commercially, critically or both since taking over the role), but that is an article for another day. Now though, we are here to discuss The November Man and the merits of being a late-August theatrical release, a pre-Holiday home video release and how the fact this is a film as generic as anything we've seen all year. It will get a passing nod because there simply isn't much else going on. I like Brosnan, I always feel I'm rooting for him and I found myself doing that here even though, every few minutes, I had to ask myself where these characters were, where they were going or what exactly they were doing to further the plot. It's that kind of movie, but when the credits roll you shrug it off an move on, no harm done. Full review here. C

I somehow managed to make it through all of middle school, jr. high and high school without ever cracking open a copy of Lois Lowry's The Giver. This wasn't due to the fact I was trying to avoid the work; I can remember seeing other kids reading it all around me in my seventh grade year and the cover with the old man and his wiry beard is an image that will always strike me as intriguing, but for one reason or another I was never made to sit down and read it and by the time I was in high school it was a distant memory. Why a feature film adaptation hasn't been made before now is quite curious, but with the recent wave of young adult adaptations it is also pretty clear why we are getting a version of the story now. Unfortunately, despite the fact Lowry tapped into exploring the themes and ideas present here in a way that younger audiences might understand first this doesn't automatically mean the film version will be as appealing or revelatory. Today, we live in a world of Harry Potter and Twilight where books that teens actually read are turned into massive franchises ultimately marginalizing the literature. In this world every quasi-popular series has been taken and given the Hollywood treatment in an attempt to launch a franchise and if they fail they're never heard from again. It is a vicious game won only if you have a large enough, pre-determined fanbase. There have been some unfortunate casualties (Beautiful Creatures) and some that were dead on arrival and deserved to be (The Mortal Instruments). Still, as the pack exists right now it is The Hunger Games and then everyone else. There is an air of earnestness about this version of The Giver though from the construction of its aesthetic to the performances given by actors that would widely be considered above this material that it doesn't have to be the big kid on the block. Sure, it is another cautionary tale set in a dystopian future where one young person who has grown accustomed to a certain, strict way of life is declared different and breaks the societal rules that eventually lead him/her to discovering what the adults couldn't, but there is something sincere trying to be said here. There is an honesty to the production and a conviction in its story and ideas that is hard to shake while being completely satisfying as a movie-watching experience. Full review here. B

Sylvester Stallone has defied what it means to be restless. The guy is beyond restless, he is still hungry and at 68 that is truly astonishing. You might think he and half of his co-stars in this third flick in the Expendables franchise might be tired of going through the motions and introducing new characters who are old friends with simple backstories, but defy you they will and with The Expendables 3 Stallone and crew have turned up the volume while toning down the blood and the swearing. I will admit to always having a good amount of fun with these movies and never really seeing any need to complain as they know what they are and more or less deliver on what they promise. To that point, I actually enjoyed what I can remember about the second one more than what I can remember about the first largely due to that finale where Stallone along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis lined up and just gave us what we desperately hoped the first would deliver, not to mention the hand to hand combat showdown between Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme. I appreciated the mixing of Stallone's mentality with Jason Statham who more or less is leading a new wave of action heroes today. These were elements we are meant to enjoy because of what they represent within the context of pop culture society and so I was at least appreciative for the countless winks and nods, the bad dialogue and the blood that spewed everywhere because that's what audiences wanted and that's what this mixed bag of knitty-gritty 80's stars and newly relevant tough guys planned to deliver. As we come to the third chapter in the saga though it is as if you can feel the toll the last two adventures have taken on our aging actioners no matter how much they try to mask it. The new PG-13 rating wipes out a lot of the more honest aspects of what kind of relationships exist in a large group of all men and it certainly takes the CGI blood down a few notches (now there's just loud noises!), but the elements of a large cast and a big action scene every now and then are still here, but the energy is clearly stalling. Full review here. C

I actually enjoyed Daniel Radcliffe's other effort this year, Horns, but didn't get around to this rom-com originally titled The F Word. I would love to say that eventually I will get around to seeing What If, but at this point in time I wouldn't count on that happening until after the new year. Director Michael Dowse has great comic sensibilities that I've enjoyed in the past and the supporting cast of Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver and Rafe Spall is intriguing enough, so I genuinely hope I'm able to check this out soon.


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