Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reel Facts & Opinions: Four Good Reasons to See a Movie this Weekend

The Summer Movie Season may be dwindling, but it is not leaving quietly. While most weekends give us one or two choices at most, this coming weekend offers four choices in four different movie-genres; action, sci-fi, fantasy, and drama…making for the most unique weekend of the year so far. Here are the four good reasons to hit the theatre this weekend and what to expect.
LUCY -  Scarlett Johansson (HER, THE AVENGERS), is injected with a serum which allows her to access parts of her mind which no other human can…making her a living weapon. Morgan Freeman co-stars in this Luc Besson film.

Expectation: LUCY sounds a lot like the Bradley Cooper vehicle LIMITLESS from 2010, which basically used the same plot device. It’s an interesting idea in a new setting, although this is certainly not the first time we’ve seen Scarlett play a sexed-up asskicker. However, Luc Besson has proven that he can bring complexity to his work (LEON THE PROFESSIONAL) and the fun (THE FIFTH ELEMENT).
HERCULES – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as the mythical, muscle-bound hero. Directed by Brett Ratner, it also stars Joseph Fiennes, Ian McShane, and John Hurt.

Expectation: The work of director Brett Ratner has been all over the place. His work has ranged from good (RED DRAGON) to just-OK (X3: THE LAST STAND) to downright terrible (RUSH HOUR), so it’s tough to predict which Ratner will show up this time. It’s worth noting that this version of Ol’ Herc is based on the Radical Comics version by Steve Moore…and this does seem like the role The Rock was born to play.  
BOYHOOD – Director Richard Linklater filmed this movie over a period of 12 years with the same cast; an approach which allows us to see newcomer Ellar Coltrane as a six-year-old in the beginning of the film, and an 18-year old at the end. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette co-star.

Expectation: The idea of making a movie over a dozen years is mind-blowing, and literally seeing a boy become a man on-screen is fascinating. The trick is, if you’re going to use a filming technique that no one has ever done before, then the movie has to show us something we’ve never seen before; otherwise it’s just a gimmick to get us through the gate. Richard Linklater has been successful in bringing the drama (BEFORE MIDNIGHT, BEFORE SUNSET), and has proven he can get good performances out of a younger cast (SCHOOL OF ROCK), so there is a lot to look forward to in this tale about growing up.
A MOST WANTED MAN – The late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman stars in this drama about a  half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant who arrives in Hamburg’s Islamic community to lay claim to his father’s fortune, which draws the attention of many interested governments. Anton Corbijn directs this suspenseful thriller which co-stars Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Nina Hoss.

Expectation: Director Anton Corbijn had decent success with his George Clooney vehicle THE AMERICAN in 2010, which showed his knack for international espionage stories. But this all comes down to the role held down by the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Not only is this our last chance to see him in a legitimate film role before he has his last bow in the stupid-assed HUNGER GAMES franchise next year, but this is also his first time in the lead role since THE MASTER in 2012. Hoffman has proven that he can shoulder the burden of the center of a movie’s universe, and it is usually an amazing thing to see. This Blogger’s Big Bold Prediction: Hoffman will earn a posthumous Oscar nomination for this film.

LUCY, HERCULES, BOYHOOD, and A MOST WANTED MAN reach wide-release July 25th.

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