The Grinch Review

Illumination Delivers Another Perfectly Acceptable if not Necessarily Exceptional Animated Diversion in this Re-Telling of the Dr. Suess Classic.

Bohemian Rhapsody Review

This Queen biopic Fails to Transcend the Genre the Way its Subjects Transcended the Music Scene, but at Least the Music is Good.

Overlord Review

Overlord Combines the Terror of War with the Terror of a Zombie Apocalypse and Accomplishes Exactly what it Means To.

The Nutcraker and the Four Realms Review

An All-Star Cast Attempts to Usher The Nutcracker Story to a New Generation Via Disney Blockbuster, but Unfortunately the Results Fall Short of the Ambition.

A Star is Born Review

Bradley Cooper Writes, Directs, Sings, and Stars in this Fourth Incarnation of this Story Alongside Lady Gaga to Rapturous Results.

First Trailer for SECRET IN THEIR EYES

I love movies like this, but they are of course more appealing as I get older. As Hollywood pundits grow more and more jaded with the onslaught of action and super hero sequels that take up cineplex screens though there is certainly a need to acknowledge and appreciate films like the somewhat awkwardly titled Secret In Their Eyes. In what feels like a 90's drama that might have starred Harrison Ford and Jodie Foster that looks to bury itself in the murder mystery genre this remake of a 2009 Argentinian film of the same name is the type of entertainment we get from staying in on a Friday night and watching an episode of 48 Hours. There is no rhyme or reason as to why such a subject or story should elicit such enjoyment, but more a reaction and that is where this film will capitalize as well as doing so commercially with its exceptional cast. Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor are FBI agents who find themselves in the midst of the event that will mark everything before and everything after in their lives. In a case where Roberts character finds her daughter murdered it is both agents inability to let the case go after being unable to bring the killer to justice that will push them both to operate outside the law. Adapted and directed by Billy Ray (who's written The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips and the 2009 State of Play adaptation, but hasn't directed a film since 2007's Breach) this first trailer hints at a strong adult thriller with even stronger performances that will offer solid counter-programming from the aspiring (and likely inspiring) Oscar contenders with something purely interesting on a mature level. Secret In Their Eyes also stars Nicole Kidman, Dean Norris, Michael Kelly, Lyndon Smith, Joe Cole, Don Harvey and opens on October 23rd.  

On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 30, 2015

New Trailer for LEGEND Starring Tom Hardy

Brian Helgeland has written a number of high profile scripts that range from the acclaimed L.A. Confidential and Mystic River adaptations all the way down to Ridley Scott's 2010 attempt at reviving Robin Hood, but he has only directed a handful of features with the most recent being the straightforward, but solid Jackie Robinson biopic 42. With his latest project in which he serves as both the sole screenwriter and director Helgeland seems to be looking to make his biggest splash yet. With Legend, the writer/director has enlisted Tom Hardy (who just seems to be unstoppable at this point) to play both Ronald and Reginald Kray who were identical twin gangsters that essentially ran the London crime scene in the 1950's and 60's. With the second trailer for the film Universal is really beginning to sell this film as a must-see and the potential for greatness seems to be off the charts. With the success of Mad Max: Fury Road Hardy has become a more visible star than ever before and Legend seems perfectly poised to be that definitive performance that forever puts him on the map as one of the greats. If you've been watching a variety of movies for a few years now you already know the true talent that Hardy is, but based purely on the footage we're seeing here he's seemingly getting ready to make sure the rest of the world knows who he is. The film overall looks to be a massive gangster epic with a top shelf supporting cast that includes Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri, Tara Fitzgerald, and Taron Egerton. Legend opens everywhere on October 2nd. Check out the trailer after the jump.

Favorite Films of 2015 So Far...

It has been something of a strange year so far as much of what has garnered the most attention has been fine enough in my humble opinion, but more often than not just that and little more. Much of what I'm referring to here are the massively successful critical hits that are Mad Max: Fury Road and Inside Out. I enjoyed both of the aforementioned films and both would make my current top ten were this the actual end of the year, but considering we are just closing out the sixth month there is much more to see. The thing is, I've only seen Max and Inside Out once and have a sneaking suspicion that I will enjoy them more and more with each repeated viewing that will certainly happen before the end of the year and so there is plenty of time for things to change as well. I have also missed a few of the smaller films that have garnered critical praise that either didn't open in my comparatively smaller market or were only available to catch for a limited time that I wasn't able to make time for. I have yet to see Sundance winner Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, but hope to catch it this week when it opens in my area as well as catching up on the likes of Clouds of Sils Maria, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, Faults, The Duke of Burgundy and What We Do In the Shadows each of which have all been recently released on home video or are coming out soon. It is uncertain if any of these will leave an impression as big as some of their reviews would suggest, but I'm hopeful. Some of my choices are rather obvious as they will no doubt appear on 90% of year end top ten lists, but others I hope might not be and I've added a few close calls so as to round out a top ten for this point in the year. With so many highly anticipated releases coming this fall and winter none of these films are safe, but I'll be surprised if at least two or three of these films don't also end up on my year-end top ten, especially considering I'll have seen many of them more than once at that point.

First Trailer for DADDY'S HOME Starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg

As it was father's day weekend it comes as no surprise that Paramount Pictures decided to release the first trailer for the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg reunion that will be hitting theaters this Christmas and is appropriately titled, Daddy's Home. Given The Other Guys is one of the most underrated comedies of the last few years and that Ferrell has been hitting a few speed bumps lately (though Sundays Fatal Adoption may be the best move the star could have made for his career while also being the most unexpected) I am really rooting for this one to work, but I can't help but feel about the trailer the same way I did when I saw the initial preview for Get Hard. I want Ferrell to be funny, I want him to be successful so that more people will convert and understand why his fans, myself included, find him as funny as we do, but dammit if this doesn't initially look like another misstep. There is hope in the fact that this might be rated-R (which I'm not saying is necessary to be a good comedy, the aforementioned The Other Guys was PG-13 and flourished, but the R-rating certainly gives the comic actors room to flourish) given it is directed by Sean Anders (Sex DriveThat's My Boy, Horrible Bosses 2). Each of Anders credits are willing to go the distance for whatever joke needs to be made, no matter how dirty and while Sandler's film is my least favorite of Anders trio I still laughed at large portions of it. I'm hoping this effortless quality of comedy comes through in the final product as Ferrell and Wahlberg are almost as good together as Ferrell and Reilly and there should be more than enough to work with between them and this premise. Daddy's Home also stars Linda Cardellini, Thomas Haden Church, Alessandra Ambrosio, Paul Scheer, Hannibal Buress and opens on December 25, 2015.

LOVE & MERCY Review

It may have been pre-ordained that I was going to somewhat adore Love & Mercy given my track record with music biopics, but it should be stated up front that this is not a Beach Boys film, but more a pure character study of the man considered the brainchild of that iconic band. The Beach Boys were never a group I paid especially close attention to given the height of their fame was in the mid-sixties when my parents were barely learning to walk, but their music is not necessarily so much timeless as it is lasting and somehow always integrates itself into your conscious at some point in your childhood. After all, you only need to hear their songs once and with the melodies being as catchy as they are you'll be repeating them days later even if you didn't realize you were listening to them. The summer and sun phase of The Beach Boys is what they're best known for, but if Love & Mercy has anything to say about this it's that these songs were hardly the best examples of what type of symphonies were taking place in Brian Wilson's head at the time. In the truest sense of the words this is a character study that takes a character at two vastly different points in his life and finds the correlation in how they are connected by the same being. Like the subject at the center of it, there is something inherently soulful about the film. It never plays into the trappings of a musical biopic because, if nothing else, Wilson's quest was to try and figure out how to participate in the music business without having to deal with all the extra responsibility that comes along with it outside of simply creating the music. Wilson wanted nothing to do with the aspects of the business that were simply existent to fuel ones ego or for instant gratification. Instead, Wilson simply made music in order to get it out of his mind and onto the vinyl so that he might have a record of his creations. More than this even, the music was an expression of his feelings and most of the time, was the only way he was able to accurately express them at all. It is in this realm of thinking that writer Oren Moverman (I'm Not There) and director Bill Pohland zero in on Wilson's state of mind and how it influenced this style of a generation and where that mind went once everyone else stopped paying attention.

INSIDE OUT Review

In the latest from Pixar they delve deep into the limbic system and develop the group of forebrain structures into something of an imagination land of their own, completely powered by personified emotions that manage our most treasured possessions-our memories. While the limbic system includes a number of sections of the brain including the hypothalamus, the amygdala, and the hippocampus what is more important is that these hard to pronounce names are what allow the human brain to develop and exercise such abilities as motivation, emotion, learning and again, memory. That Pixar, including director Pete Docter (Up) and his team of writers and animators, have been able to create a world out of this cerebral cortex (that actually grows thicker as you learn to use it) is the first of many accomplishments with Inside Out. That they are able to somehow use this platform as a way to dissect and discuss the passage of time, the stages of life and the love a child has for life and the parents who love that child is pretty incredible. This also puts them in a prime position to explore the type of territory they are best known for. Eliciting emotion is a difficult task for any piece of celluloid, but especially when the characters and situations intended to elicit those emotions are created from scratch-physical being and all. So, what makes the studio as a whole so capable of doing this time and time again? The answer seems to be in that it’s very keen on how these thoughts are presented. Yes, the characters are of an extremely cute quality with their variety of bright colors and their distinctive voices provided by a talented cast, but that these characters hold the power of the mind so precious to their imaginary hearts forces the audience to take the most minor of events that affect them as tragedies in our own hearts as well. This, combined with the fact the film deals (again) with the inevitable changes of life that come with growing up and how hard those changes can be to accept and adapt to allow for Inside Out to settle firmly into the ranks of Pixar’s most celebrated, even if it’s not it’s best.

DOPE Review

Dope is something of an exquisitely stated thesis with the outer shell of a "drug deal gone bad" movie understated by the culture within where this rather typical (for the area and in the movies) excursion occurs. There is an angle that feels like the drug plot in Dope is necessary to make the movie feel more exciting, but that it actually makes this unique take on black culture all the more generic. Director and writer Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood) smartly uses both of these preconceptions to his advantage by allowing the regularity of a drug deal and the race and culture typically related to such going-ons to highlight the point he is intending to make. The main ideas here are simple: to not sell yourself short and to not settle for what's expected of you; seemingly talking as much about one's predestination due to their inherent preferences as he is the color of their skin. That Famuyiwa is able to somewhat blur this line of not simply defining people by their baseball stats, but for the character they display is what he really wants to explore which he does magnificently by cultivating the affinity we all have for nostalgia to display how we tend to believe it was somehow better in someone else's time despite us really knowing the reality was never as pleasant as the high points in pictures paint. There is a whole treasure trove of ideas and concepts within Dope and some are more highlighted than necessarily explored, but Famuyiwa does a solid job of capturing the essence of what is necessary to get his point across here. This essence is as present in the musical stylings chosen to power the movie along as it is the slang verbiage and dated styles that Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his co-horts rock throughout. Dope is certainly nothing short of an independent-minded take on a subculture that is more than under served, but as a movie it somewhat lacks that definitive spark that actually sets it apart as something exceptional. There is something muddled and incoherent about the way it chooses to lay out its ideas which is odd because I rather enjoyed the freewheeling editing choices, but walking out and considering what I'd taken away from the film it came down more to the broad strokes than the brass tacks when it would seem Malcolm's genius is in the details.

First Trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s SICARIO

It must be Thursday as the trailers continue to show up though I'm not sure why Lionsgate decided to release the first trailer for the latest from Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) today. Given there's not much to attach it to this weekend I'm guessing we'll see it before Terminator Genisys in a few weeks in hopes of getting people into the film this fall given the action aspect, but given this is coming from Villeneuve I expect it to be a lot more than the standard drug cartel/action flick. Coming off its well-received premiere at the Cannes Film Festival it was not only Villeneuve's direction that garnered praise, but the exceptional cast as well as the cinematography of Roger Deakins and the script from Taylor Sheridan (Sons of Anarchy). The trailer presents a tense and lawless world that slings Emily Blunt's novice police officer from Tucson across the border to Mexico where violent warfare is constantly erupting. With a pair of mercenaries by her side Blunt's character is enlisted to try and help track down a cartel high on the totem pole and hopefully add a win to the FBI's war on drugs. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro co-star as the mercenaries and members of a government task force with Del Toro seeming to have a deservedly showy role here. Sicario will open on September 18th in limited release before expanding wide on September 25th which is similar to the Prisoners release date two years ago. With the nationwide expansion date the film will open opposite the Nancy Meyers comedy The Intern, Hotel Transylvania 2 and the Kate Beckinsale-fronted horror film The Disappointments Room. Hit the jump to check out the trailer.

First Trailer for KUNG FU PANDA 3

By the time time Kung Fu Panda 3 comes out it will have been nearly five years since we last saw Po and the Furious Five on the big screen. It's hard to believe there is even enough excitement to garner another installment in this Jack Black-fronted series as the sequel seemed to come and go with little buzz despite being rather solid in my opinion, but certainly a lesser version of the original. While I have enjoyed both installments in the adventures of Po Ping so far, I can't help but be somewhat weary of this third chapter that will complete what is at least the first trilogy in the Kung Fu Panda saga. If not for the several delays that the project has been subject to, but now for the decided upon release date of January 29, 2016. Typically, January is a wasteland that isn't exactly reputable for producing quality movies, but I understand Dreamworks motivation in that it cleared out of its December release date (just as everything else has) for Star Wars and has chosen its current date as it will open in both America and China the weekend before the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebration that will only boost the sequel's profile. As for the teaser itself, it's a nice bit of an exchange between Black's Po and new character Li (Bryan Cranston) that sets up the basic premise. Kung Fu Panda 3 also features the voices of Rebel Wilson, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim and will play in 3D.

First Trailer for THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

With Minions opening a little under a month from now Illlumination Entertainment has released the first look at what they will be offering up to audiences next summer. There is hardly any dialogue in this two and a half minute clip, but more a broad introduction to what seem to be the numerous characters involved in a story that mirrors Toy Story, but with pets. This will really be a test as far as quality is concerned for Illumination as this will be their first non-Despicable Me based film since 2012's The Lorax which did plenty well financially, but wasn't exactly in line with the surprise gem that Despicable Me was two years prior. I wasn't even a huge fan of Despicable Me 2, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to Minions as all of the trailers I've seen look pretty hilarious. All of that said, The Secret Life of Pets seems to have a lot going for it as this teaser trailer really sets up the kind of comedy the film intends to deliver while tapping into those "it's so true, that's why it's so funny" elements that pet-owners will be able to laugh at and recognize while children will simply lap it up because it's animals doing funny things. Given the voice talent on hand and Illumination stalwart Chris Renaud in the directors chair along with Yarrow Cheney I can only be optimistic for what is to come with this picture. The Secret Life of Pets voice cast includes Louis C.K., Jenny Slate, Bobby Moynihan, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress, Albert Brooks and opens on July 8, 2016.

JURASSIC WORLD Review

Come what may, the initial experience one has with Jurassic World can certainly be seen as nothing short of impressive. Considering my leveraged expectations and my unease around any Jurassic Park sequel to be able to pick up on a solid enough story that validated continuing the series I went into the fourth film in the dino-series hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. Fortunately, director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) and his team have found a fine excuse to return to the "clouded island" as this new film is set in real time, twenty-two years after the events of Steven Spielberg's original. The events of that film are acknowledged and referenced in a way that proves, despite his continuing mishaps, that Dr. John Hammond (the late Richard Attenborough) was never able to give up on his dream of creating this tourist attraction featuring living biological dinosaurs cloned from prehistoric DNA. In light of this, Trevorrow and the three other credited screenwriters on this gig, present the audience with a vision of every possibility and beyond that Hammond could have ever imagined and that Dr.'s Grant and Sattler along with the pleasingly pessimistic Dr. Malcolm denied spectators so many years ago. While The Lost World and Jurassic Park III felt more like missed opportunities than anything else, the one thing Jurassic World indisputably gets right is that it takes advantage of the opportunity set up in the first film by delivering the audience to a fully functioning Jurassic Park and not only puts on display how it could actually work, but shows that it has been running smoothly for some time. It is somewhat refreshing that Trevorrow and his script don't focus as much on the aspects of man again attempting to play God despite the main conflict here being an extension of what Dr. Hammond was doing in the first film, but rather this movie has its sights set on something a little more current, slightly dumb when first hearing the pitch and yet ultimately rewarding in realizing there has been some serious thought into where to take such a strand. Without saying much more, Jurassic World is first and foremost a fun summer thrill ride that doesn't take itself too seriously and delivers on what it knows audiences want from it.

First Trailer for THE PROGRAM Starring Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong

It's been a while since we've heard anything about the Lance Armstrong biopic starring Ben Foster as the famous cyclist, but today brings us the first trailer for Stephen Frears' new movie that we've learned (via the trailer) is now actually titled The Program. While I never followed Armstrong or his sport too closely one would have had to have been living under a rock to not know about the performance enhancing drug scandal that climaxed with Armstrong's appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show in January of 2013 where he admitted that the accusations against him were true. Frears' film documents the rise and fall of Armstrong focusing in large part on the doping scandal. The film is based on David Walsh's book, Seven Deadly Sins, with an adapted screenplay from John Hodge (The Beach, Trance) and will no doubt touch on the fact the cyclist won the Tour de France seven times and survived his battle with cancer, but not without the looming fact of the drug scandal hanging overhead further examining how things changed in the minds of those who adored and supported him once it was exposed he was in fact taking performance enhancing drugs. Along with Foster, The Program also stars Chris O'Dowd, Guillaume Canet, Lee Pace and Jesse Plemons. As of now there is no U.S. distributor, but the film will hit theaters on September 23 in France and in Germany on October 8. Here's hoping those of us stateside are granted the opportunity to see the film sooner rather than later.

EDITORIAL: The Rise & Fall of the Found Footage Movie

This offering of something of a delayed review concerning Project Almanac comes on the heels of giving it a look yesterday as it has become available on all home video viewing formats. I was interested in the film purely from a standpoint of the fact it was delayed several times which was somewhat obvious given the "found footage" nature of the film. Made for $12 million (not counting marketing costs) the film ended up making $22m domestically and $32m internationally, but while the actual film is fine enough in itself if not completely mediocre as far as time travel flicks are concerned it is something of a mystery why the found footage aspect was necessary and if it makes it a better, more interesting film. The whole found footage gimmick can be utilized in interesting ways; I'm not saying it's a bad idea all the time, but it is a cheap option that was initiated by The Blair Witch Project that became seen as innovative in the wake of its release and gained big returns on a tiny budget. Blair Witch, while the pioneer, was not the one to kick the trend into high gear though as even that films sequel was shot in a more traditional manner. No, it wasn't until a decade later that producers and other assumed studio drones realized they could capitalize on this method that produced cheap products to gain big returns when Paranormal Activity, through a remarkable viral campaign, made almost $200m on a measly $15,000 budget.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 9, 2015

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 Review

There is something to be said for a scary movie that can make you legitimately feel chills in the dead of summer. Granted, summer doesn't actually begin until June 21st, but as the third chapter in the Insidious saga somewhat oddly comes to us on the first weekend of June rather than in the midst of fall I was rather cautious as to if this release date was more a strategy to cover up the lack of quality with the excitement of summer or if it was simply time for Insidious to play with the boys of summer. Due to the fact director James Wan, who guided the first two films in the series to great success before taking on Furious 7, exited and both the scripting and directing duties were handed over to Wan's longtime collaborator, Leigh Whannell there was reason to be hesitant. It certainly seems Whannell has at least been paying attention and taking notes since the two first collaborated on Saw over a decade ago as Insidious: Chapter 3 is a sufficient if not significant piece of horror that does its job in terms of getting you to jump at the right time while adding depth to some of the more interesting characters in the previous two films. The downfalls aren't so much downfalls in that they make the movie any worse than it might have been, but more in the fact they simply allow the film to be adequate and exactly what one would expect without striving to be anything more. This makes for a rather pleasant viewing experience that fulfills expectations and plays into ones predictions for how things may go, but unlike Chapter 2 it doesn't delve narratively into new territory, but more recreates the first film with a new set of characters that just so happens to take place prior to the events that occurred in the Lambert household. Lin Shaye is your connective strand as psychic Elise Rainer tough she is hardly the central character. What is more disappointing than anything is that this third film doesn't take on the story that was hinted at in the end of Chapter 2 that might again deal with the red-faced demon from the original, but instead seems to be saving that for the fourth film inevitably making Chapter 3 feel like little more than a footnote.

First Trailer for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2

It's somewhat hard to believe The Hunger Games franchise is coming to a close, though I'm sure in three to four years time there will be some type of spin-off or prequel that will need to come to the big screen. Nonetheless, it seems as if the first film in the franchise opened just the other day. Granted, Harry Potter was a much longer journey and I didn't get caught up in the Twilight saga so this is really my first time dealing with a shorter series that I've actually become so invested in. What is strange about The Hunger Games series though is that I do tend to care less about them in between installments despite having read all of the books and still being interested in the film interpretations when they come around; which is more than I can say for the Veronica Roth series. With both parts of the series finale being filmed simultaneously last year, it has been a long time since even the actors have been close to the material and with Mockingjay - Part 1 feeling more like a blip on the radar than a worthy chapter in the story of Katniss I can only hope this final film really delivers on what its source material executed rather well. If this first trailer is any indication I'm feeling fairly optimistic we're still in good hands with director Francis Lawrence. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Julianne Moore, and Donald Sutherland all return when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 opens November 20, 2015.

First Trailer for Ridley Scott's THE MARTIAN Starring Matt Damon

I picked up Andy Weir's novel, The Martian, a few months back and plan on beginning to read it within the next few days. Naturally, my goal is to finish Weir's book before the film version arrives this Thanksgiving, but while that sounds completely plausible I have a bad habit of taking long breaks in between books. That said, I will at least have a strong point of visual reference once I do begin to read the novel as the first trailer for director Ridley Scott's (Gladiator, Alien) film adaptation has now premiered and gives away slightly more than I wanted or expected it to. Over the last few weeks we have received a barrage of marketing material in the form of stills as well as an introductory video yesterday to the Area 3 crew before the launch of their mission to mars. With the trailer though, we get our first glimpse at the tone of the film and Scott's visual style this time around. I have really relished in his visual approach for his last few films (Prometheus naturally coming to mind) and that seems to have been applied here as well. The visuals are stunning and, without knowing more of the story than what the trailer indicates, the narrative seems to have some exceptionally gripping aspects that I hope push this further than the rather lackluster efforts he's delivered as of late. The guy simply turns around projects so quickly it's hard to see how he can take the necessary care, but at the age of 77 it's likely not wise to argue with then man. The Martian stars Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover and opens in 3D on November 25th. Hit the jump to also see the featurette released yesterday as well as several stills from the film.

First Trailer for Steven Spielberg's BRIDGE OF SPIES Starring Tom Hanks

It has been three years since Steven Spielberg's Lincoln and in that time and as the director is getting older a swell of anticipation has grown for his next project. With every new film to come from the man who helped create the summer blockbuster we seem to value it more and more and today, to coincide with next weeks release of Jurassic World no doubt, we have the first trailer for Bridge of Spies. Spielberg's first collaboration with Tom Hanks since the little-seen, but rather solid The Terminal in 2004 follows Hanks as a Brooklyn insurance lawyer who is dragged into the thick of Cold War politics when the CIA recruits him to negotiate with the Soviets for the release of an American spy pilot. Spielberg has a knack for swerving between the kinds of films he makes as far as full-on popcorn flicks and rather serious historical dramas are concerned and this is clearly in the latter category. If the trailer is any indication, this seems to be more in the vein of something along the lines of Schindler's List or Munich rather than an all-out war picture such as Saving Private Ryan or War Horse (which some may see as Spielberg's greatest misstep in his more serious offerings over the last few years). With the script coming from Joel and Ethan Coen with Matt Charman (who has only had one other feature produced so far) also contributing I have high hopes for this film and hope that it can deliver on the promise of its individual factors to be a major Awards player as we no doubt all expect it to be. Bridge of Spies also stars Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance, Scott Shepherd, and Austin Stowell (Whiplash) and arrives in theaters October, 16th 2015.

First Trailer for Z FOR ZACHARIAH

Coming out of Sundance earlier this year there was a lot of talk surrounding director Craig Zobel's (ComplianceZ for Zachariah and it's rather stellar cast. Looking on IMDB confirms what the trailer hints at in that the three leading characters are the only ones in the film and as the trailer indicates Margot Robbie, Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor seem to be giving some profound performances as they each navigate their way though a fertile valley that has somehow been spared from nuclear war. While the focus of the trailer is clearly outlining some kind of love triangle tension between the three characters it is clear that Zobel, working from a script by Nissar Modi from a book by Robert C. O'Brien, is playing with a wider range of emotions and implications with this post-apocalyptic story. It is unclear what exactly these emotions and tensions as a result of such feelings will lead to, but given the heightened state of distrust and worry the atmosphere automatically suggests it isn't difficult to see that things will lead to some intimate and unexpected places. I enjoy the work of each of these actors as well as appreciate Compliance despite its stressful and irritating story and this trailer certainly has me interested in what Zobel has decided to try next. I certainly hope that I will be granted the opportunity to see this on the big screen despite the horribly photoshopped poster suggesting it something akin to a direct-to-DVD feature you could find at any Redbox. Here's to hoping Z for Zachariah's scheduled release of August 20th ends up being a wide release and not a limited theatrical with VOD option. Hit the jump to check out the trailer and the aforementioned horrible poster.

SPY Review

Ladies and gentleman, Melissa McCarthy has brought us her version of Austin Powers and while it more or less diverts the James Bond tropes through a slew of supporting characters this is very much a breaking the mold kind of movie that not only puts a woman in the lead where a man typically reigns supreme, but a woman that looks like McCarthy who, per usual, recognizes where she fits into the Holywood lexicon and more or less takes a big ole dump on those expectations. Being unwilling to yield to anyone's pre-determined set of guidelines for what it takes to be an actress, a comedian or now, an action star, has made McCarthy one of the hottest properties around and with Spy she delivers a kind of definitive comedy that will seemingly launch her into the stratosphere of commanding her own franchise. Much like Mike Myers in 1997 McCarthy has used the same popular and well-known template of the spy thriller to lampoon any and all of the typical beats that Ian Fleming's most famous spy and his many imitators have acted out over the years. Opening with the more dashing version of Bond in Jude Law's Bradley Fine as he infiltrates a high class party to commandeer a nuclear bomb that has somehow managed to end up in the wrong persons hands we are taken through the scenario as expected until Fine comes face to face with Tihomir Boyanov (Raad Rawi) and the first of those many expectations are turned on its head and given a certain freshness that not only makes an audience member excited to see what the film will do with each scenario to come, but keeps us consistently laughing as both the sight gags and the one-liners the film delivers are expertly set-up and executed so as to get the biggest pay off. Needless to say, both McCarthy and frequent collaborator Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) know what they're doing at this point and they use their assumed short-hand to create not only a solid, credible comedy in a world of sub-par and sloppily put-together comedies, but they so clearly know how to draw on the strengths of each cast members talent as well as the archetypes of the genre so that it all seems to effortlessly pull together to create a hugely funny and entertaining time.

Full Trailer for THE WALK Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Upon seeing the initial teaser trailer for Robert Zemeckis’ latest endeavor late last year I wasn't too excited for what it was promoting. The story of Philippe Petit had already been documented in the critically acclaimed documentary Man On Wire and it seemed unlikely that Zemeckis’ film would be able to match that acclaim or even what made the documentary so fascinating and that's not even taking into consideration that a dramatized version of these events hardly seems necessary. Still, the narrative film is coming and it has Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the lead so it will inevitably be discussed, but what I can't tell is if this movie wants to be more of an Oscar-contender or if it simply wants to be an exhilirating thrill ride that really capitalizes on the IMAX and 3D aspects of its production. The marketing is certainly driving this angle home, but this second, full trailer for the film also highlights the heist-type aspects of the film given Petit and his crew were not allowed to go to the top of the twin towers, string a wire between them and attempt to tightrope walk between them. The trailer is much better than what I would have initially expected from the film and the fact this trailer came with the announcement that this will be the opening night film at the New York Film Festival this year only makes me all the more curious. I wish we didn't live in a culture where we had to think of films simply as Oscar-type films and those for pure entertainment, but we typically do. Maybe The Walk can break that frame of mind. The film also stars Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Clément Sibony, César Domboy and opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D on October 2nd.

First Trailer for EVEREST

I originally put Southpaw near the top of my most anticipated list of the year simply because of the work Jake Gyllenhaal has been putting out lately and I have more of a trust in director Antoine Fuqua than that of Baltasar Kormakur‘s (Contraband, 2 Guns). Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Kormakur's last feature, but more for the chemistry between the two leads than anything else. Everest seemed to be a movie of ensemble rather than a leading turn from Gyllenhaal thus indicating Southpaw as the better pick, but after this trailer I'm simply excited to see this film regardless of rankings or how much screen time each actor is given. Speaking of actors and ensembles Kormakur has put together quite a cast here as alongside Gyllenhall we have the like of Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright, Emily Watson and Keira Knightley. Telling the true story of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered this looks to be a rather rousing drama that seems to be both beautifully shot and incredibly tense. The group of actors provided with a screenplay by Mark Medoff (Children of a Lesser God) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) can hopefully only indicate Kormakur is also pushing himself to new limits with this one as it might actually have some awards potential should it be as good as its credentials promise.Universal Pictures has released an official and international teaser trailer that you can view after the jump. Everest opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D on September 18th.

New Trailer & Posters for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION

When it was announced in January that the fifth Mission Impossible film would be shifting from its planned Christmas release to the summer movie season in an attempt to clear the way for Star Wars: The Force Awakens it could seemingly only mean good things for the fifth installment in the Tom Cruise action series. Paramount could have easily moved this back to summer 2016, but the fact they went with this summer would seemingly show real faith in what they'd seen from new series director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) and Cruise thus far. The proof of this faith is showing stronger than ever in the theatrical trailer for Rogue Nation as it not only delivers the kind of suspense and action we've come to expect from the series, but reinforces the aspects of the gadgetry involved that are always required to push the boundaries of believability. I will always have a fair amount of faith in McQuarrie if not for his limited directorial efforts, but for penning one of my favorite films of all time in The Usual Suspects. Unfortunately, he didn't write the script for Rogue Nation, but instead that job went to Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3). Regardless, this fifth outing that comes on the heels of the wildly successful Ghost Protocol looks interesting in its approach of dealing with an anti-IMF. Above all, this newest (and hopefully final) trailer allows us to forget this was ever a movie intended to come out much later in the year and rushed to the finish line five months early, but instead is a film destined for summer box office success that solidifies Cruise as a force to be appreciated. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation also stars Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney, Alec Baldwin and opens on July 31st.

ENTOURAGE Review

Having never seen a single episode of HBO's hit series surrounding a group of friends that follow their up and coming movie star friend to the promise land of Hollywood I went into the feature film version with no expectation and no knowledge of what I was getting into. Four years after the series has ended, the film and its co-creator/co-writer/director Doug Ellin gives fans of the show a recap of what these guys have been up to while introducing newbies, such as myself, to the core characters and the molds from which they come. If you're as unaware as I then the only thing you'd probably heard about Entourage was the fact it was produced by Mark Wahlberg and was loosely based on his experiences as a naive kid from Boston learning to navigate this strange world of the wealthy that is all in the name of making movies and making a lot of money from those movies. Money is power in Hollywood and there is no greater power and yet in what is barely an hour and forty-five minute movie the glamour already began to wear thin, the pointless partying and finagling was understood to be the norm on any random Tuesday afternoon, but like most of these peoples lives, there is no substance to the going-ons of this movie that documents their exploits. What this says about the series, I'm not sure, but I know that it gives me no further interest in going back to see what all the fuss was about my junior year of high school. Instead, I'm more curious as to how much of a payoff this is for fans of the series that have been waiting for more closure or further adventures since the show wrapped in 2011. All of that said, given the premise and clear tone of what we're dealing with here, I don't know what more you could expect from a feature-length version of this kind of story. It is smarmy to the max, repulsive even in some aspects and slightly sickening depending on how much thought you care to give it. The execution unfortunately is unlike its characters in that it feels minimal and rather ordinary when, at the very least, it should be anything but that.

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD Review

There were a lot of questions surrounding director Thomas Vinterberg's interpretation of Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd from me personally. Having never touched the source material I didn't have a clue what surface the story skimmed and given this was clearly a period piece intended for a specific audience with a specific purpose I wondered why it might be making its debut so early in the year. Would Fox Searchlight not even care to grab a costume design nomination or did they know this would likely get lost in the shuffle of awards season? In all respects, the right choices seem to have been made as questions of quality and profundity surround every turn in the film. Clearly, this is melodrama, but is it simply melodrama with pedigree because of its Victorian era-setting? It is easy to defend these older works, these definitive works as they made way for the conventions we see run rampart today, but the key for modern film adaptations, and maybe this is unfair, is that they find something new and fresh to bring to the table, a reason to tell this story again. Of course, many will testify that simply keeping these stories alive is reason enough to tell them again and while I'm almost positive Vinterberg and screenwriter David Nicholls have streamlined much of Hardy's novel in order to make it a two-hour love story modern audiences may understand without the hindrance of cultural differences it still feels very unmoving despite largely dealing with life-changing events that are clearly meant to appeal to our emotions. There are the usual good things to be said about the cast, Craig Armstrong's beautiful score and the gorgeous, natural cinematography of Charlotte Bruus Christensen, but when your last film was The Hunt, a movie that elicited a more visceral reaction than any other in recent memory, one would think your follow-up might evoke more than just a groan of complacency despite touching on some always relevant and interesting themes.

On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 2, 2015

SLOW WEST Review

There is something that stings about John Maclean's directorial debut that goes further than the typical resonance a western might have with me. Raised in a time when the western had become something of a genre of tropes and little more, Slow West is eager to create a film not of the place in time that has been crafted by nostalgia, but more in the vein of the intense harshness this location at this period in time actually represented. The West at the turn of the century was not for the faint of heart and Maclean is sure to hit this point hard. He is clearly messing with the aforementioned tropes that typically made up large portions of westerns made after the 1950's, but even further than this he brings a different aesthetic than what we typically expect from westerns which inadvertently throws ones expectations for a loop resulting in a film that is strangely engaging, darkly humorous and overall oddly fascinating. Everything about Slow West feels rather slight, as if any character or any scenario might fall apart or render insignificant at any point, but as the film continues to play out and Maclean's script allows each characters arc to naturally unfold it reveals a very specific set of goals. That is almost to say the film has something substantial to say when in reality it is more about making a statement or observation concerning a time that happened not so long ago with people we hardly recognize. Of course, I have no real idea of what Maclean's intentions were with the film or what drove him to write a western, much less make it his first directorial effort, but what effectively comes from his story is the grand significance of our shifting humanity. At the tail end of the film, and this isn't to spoil anything, there is a montage or recap of every single life that has been taken throughout the course of the film. It isn't to drive home how fragile life is, but more to reinforce the nature and brutality of the time. Life wasn't worth as much back then, which is good for us who can now sit back and call this entertainment, but it's something worth noting in our current state. It's a rather extraneous concept when given the content of the film, but Slow West is just weird enough that it kind of makes sense.