PICK THE FLICK

                                                       in theatres these days 

 
 

 

 
 

 

In Theatres - July 2017

  Roomi Patel 

 
 

 

 
     
 

Finding Dory


Runtime: 1 hr. 43 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Animated, Comedy, Family
Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Diane Keaton, Ed O'Neill, Eugene Levy.
 


In the ravishing sequel to 'Finding Nemo,' Ellen DeGeneres' amnesiac tile fish learns to remember what life is all about.

“Finding Dory,” the ingeniously pleasing sequel to “Finding Nemo,” opens with a scene that merges our affection for a beloved character with a bit of a jolt. We see Dory, the friendly blue tang fish from the first film, back when she was a big-eyed toddler with a babyish gurgle, getting trained by her parents, Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton), to tell a stranger (any stranger), “I suffer from short-term memory loss.” The thing is, poor Dory really does — she can’t even remember the phrase! It’s no wonder that her parents are aghast with anxiety. In a flash, a character with a singular and beguilingly funny trait — the inability to remember almost anything for more than 10 seconds — comes at us in a whole new way. She’s no longer a daffy amnesiac. She’s a child fish with a serious disability.

Have the creators of “Finding Dory” gone all politically soft and sensitive on us — in response, perhaps, to the memory-challenged community? Hardly. They’ve done something better: figured out how to take an already perfect character and deepen her in an exquisitely satisfying way. Dory soon drifts away from her parents, and not just because she doesn’t know how to get back to them. She can barely remember that she has parents. As surely as the death of Bambi’s mother, this primal set-up rips a small emotional hole in the audience, one that we’re desperate to see filled. “Finding Dory” then leaps forward to one year after the first film, when Dory is an innocent grown-up with no idea of what she’s looking for. To figure that out, she must learn to stop forgetting.

Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, the co-directors of “Finding Dory,” have made a beautiful, rambunctious, and fully felt sequel — a movie totally worth its salt water. It’s a film that spills over with laughs (most of them good, a few of them shticky) and tears (all of them earned), supporting characters who are meant to slay us (and mostly do) with their irascible sharp tongues, and dizzyingly extended flights of physical comedy. The images never stop dazzling us with their awesome, tactile sheen ­— their oceanic incandescence. (Who needs 3D glasses? Even if you happen to see “Finding Dory” in 2D, just about every shot in it pops out at you with beauty.) In a summer of tepid and disappointing sequels, audiences from around the world will be grateful to encounter a sequel to a movie as beloved as “Finding Nemo” that more than lives up to the first film’s casually magical charms.

At this point, the Pixar films fall into a few distinct tiers of ambition and achievement. There’s the visionary top drawer: the timeless works of peerlessly witty, mind-opening artistry (all three “Toy Story” films, “The Incredibles,” “Inside Out”). There are the whimsically clever concoctions that may not, in the end, do more than entertain you, but they do it splendidly (“Cars,” “Monsters, Inc.” and its sequel, to name a few). There are the rare overly busy duds (“Cars 2,” “A Bug’s Life”). “Finding Nemo” may be in a category all its own. To this critic, it has never been quite in the top drawer — it lacks that full-on audacity of imagination. Yet it has so much zest, soul, and heart-of-the-ocean visual poetry that it’s still a movie you can cherish as a classic. It’s basically a sentimental odyssey: Can Marlin (Albert Brooks), the grumpy beleaguered clownfish, with the help of the winsomely forgetful Dory, locate his missing son? And that raises a challenge for the sequel. How can it be the same…but truly different?

In “Finding Dory,” our heroine, sparked by a split-second brain flash, remembers — before she forgets again — that she has parents, and that single momentary dislocation is enough to retrigger the feeling that her family is out there. It’s enough to tell her that she’s lost. So she decides to find them, with Brooks’ Marlin — and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) — in tow. If the movie were just one more extended underwater search, it might have played like glorified leftovers. And Dory, for a while, does seem the unlikeliest candidate on earth to be a sidekick suddenly placed center stage. Her epic personality tic threatens to become annoying. But Stanton and MacLane, working from a script by Stanton and Victoria Strouse, execute a minor marvel: Dory’s memory starts firing — not in a false, un-Dory way, but one jaggedly subliminal mind shard at a time, like a series of acid flashbacks. She’s still a fish who can really only see what’s right in front of her, and that, as before, is the beauty of Ellen DeGeneres’ vocal performance — her high-spirited myopic exuberance. Yet each new drop of memory triggers something in Dory, not so much a change in identity as a gain in dimension. She still knows very little, but she becomes someone who knows what she doesn’t know.

Under the sea, 13 year later, proves to be an even more ravishing place than it was in “Finding Nemo.” The swaying stalks of kelp are as majestic as the trees in “The Lord of the Rings.” An irradiated octopus looms like a nightmare Cyclops, and a big old grouchy hairy oyster who speaks in vaudeville rim-shot jokes isn’t all that funny, but check out his ginormous pearl! The gliding schools of fish and pulsating coral reefs glow like creatures out of a psychedelic rainbow fairy land — which, of course, is just what the bottom of the ocean is.

“Finding Dory,” like “Finding Nemo” before it, invites you to dive in with your eyes, which is why these movies are submersive daydreams for children. But it’s when the picture arrives at the Marine Life Institute, a theme-park conservatory ruled over with hilarious goddess-like force by the recorded voice of Sigourney Weaver on the loudspeaker, that the movie takes off as a swim-for-your-life slapstick adventure. Stanton and MacLane use the ocean as a mystic setting, but they use the Marine Life Institute the way Stanton used the spaceship in “WALL-E”: as a fantastical playground. In a laboratory, Dory meets Hank (Ed O’Neill), a scaly-slimy curmudgeon of an octopus who is also a chameleon (he blends into everything from a tiled wall to a metal stair banister to a “Hang in There, Baby!” kitty poster). Hank, for all his quick-change artistry, is a casualty of captivity — he just wants to curl up in a boxy aquarium somewhere. But bonding and redemption ensue, as does a voyage to the park’s ominous inner sanctum, a place where fish are placed into species containers and shipped off to deepest, darkest Cleveland, where they will live forever as joyless specimens. In a Touch Pool, children’s hands come down on the fish like bombs. The fight against the crushing of the spirit is built right into the Pixar aesthetic, and it’s part of what animates Dory. She’s looking to rejoin her parents, but she’s also looking to rescue and liberate them.

At a certain point, it will probably strike you that the title of “Finding Dory” seems like a misnomer (albeit a catchy one), since the story is all about Dory trying to find Charlie and Jenny. But, of course, it’s really about Dory discovering who she is after she gains the ballast of having a little bit of memory. But only a little bit. Dory’s glory is that her amnesia makes her totally responsive to life. She’s living in a pure existential state, unencumbered by the past, and that’s why she gets things done. Her way of solving problems becomes a credo (“What would Dory do?”), and it’s almost poetically funny when she herself adopts the credo. The movie, in the end, is about finding Dory. It’s about how the past, for her, isn’t really so past. It’s just the ability to remember life as we’re living it, one moment at a time.



Independence Day: Resurgence


Rated: Rated pg-13 Sequences of Sci-Fi Action, Destruction and Some Language
Runtime: 2 hr. 0 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox.

 


The gang's all back (minus Will Smith) as Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and friends join Liam Hemsworth and other new recruits in a fight against space invaders.

It's been 20 years since Independence Day blew up the White House and blazed new trails with blockbuster records. Now, the franchise is back with the instructively if somewhat literal-mindedly titled Independence Day: Resurgence. Obviously, audiences will not be asking if it is bigger, louder or a better showcase than its predecessor for state-of-the-art visual effects. No one really wants to know if most of the old cast that could be persuaded to come back have signed on again, and whether they are joined by a younger, sequel-ready generation of actors. And surely only a fool would query whether the new entry is full of ludicrous science, jokes that demonstrate it doesn't take itself seriously and world monuments being turned to sand-grain-fine rubble and toxic waste. Because the answer to all those questions is, duh, of course.

Surely, the only real questions anyone wants to know at this stage are just how many squillions will it end up making worldwide and is there a scene where a dog is saved at the last minute from immolation and flying debris. The answer to that last question is also, duh, of course (a cute little terrier-like pup this time, in place of the original's golden retriever).

But when it comes to box-office prospects, this could be a tricky one to call. Jurassic World recently proved that reboots of 1990s-era properties can draw big numbers with the right kind of retro-fitting. But then again, as many a busted flush has shown recently, brand-name recognition and massive marketing campaigns aren’t enough to guarantee returns. In the endless rinse-and-repeat cycles of contemporary sci-fi-inflected action movies, set-pieces that ID4 helped popularize in the first place, and which its sequel reprises, look a little stale here because they have already been ripped off and rejigged countless times. Monument destruction, for example, is taken to heroic new heights in Resurgence as Malaysia's Petronas towers are carried halfway around the world to send London's Tower Bridge falling down, like the first round in some kind of architectural destruction tournament.



Central Intelligence

Rated: Rated pg-13 Crude and suggestive humor, some nudity, action violence and brief strong language.
Runtime: 1 hr. 57 min.
Genres: Comedy, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman.

 


Mild-mannered accountant Calvin (Kevin Hart) is stunned when he runs into an old high-school classmate named Bob (Dwayne Johnson) -- once an overweight and frequently bullied teen, Bob is now a CIA agent who's in perfect shape. However, their reignited friendship turns dangerous when Bob asks for Calvin's help with a crucial mission involving the hacking of U.S. spy satellites. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (We're the Millers).



The Shallows


Release Date: Jun 24, 2016
Rated: Rated pg-13 Bloody images, intense sequences of peril, and brief strong language.
Runtime: 1 hr. 27 min.
Genres: Horror, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Rupert Smith
Cast: Cali Fredrichs.

 



In the taut thriller The Shallows, when Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only 200 yards from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of Nancy’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fortitude.



The Conjuring 2


Rated:
Rated r Terror and Horror Violence
Runtime: 2 hr. 13 min.
Genres: Horror
Director: James Wan
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Frances O'Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon Delaney.
 


 

Husband-and-wife paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) help a single mother living in 1977 London, who claims that she and her children are being terrorized by supernatural forces. Frances O'Connor, Franka Potente, and Simon McBurney co-star. This horror sequel was penned by sibling screenwriting duo Chad and Carey Hayes, and directed by James Wan.



Free State of Jones


Rated: Rated r Brutal battle scenes and disturbing graphic images.
Runtime: 2 hr. 19 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama
Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Keri Russell, Sean Bridgers.

 


In this historical war drama inspired by true events, Matthew McConaughey plays a Mississippi native named Newt Knight, who leads an armed rebellion of struggling farmers and slaves against the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Written and directed by Gary Ross, The Free State of Jones co-stars Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Mahershala Ali.



Now You See Me 2

Rated: Rated pg-13 Violence and Some Language.
Runtime: 2 hr. 9 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Jon M. Chu
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Radcliffe.

 


THE FOUR HORSEMEN [Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzie Caplan] return for a second mind-bending adventure, elevating the limits of stage illusion to new heights and taking them around the globe. One year after outwitting the FBI and winning the public’s adulation with their Robin Hood-style magic spectacles, the illusionists resurface for a comeback performance in hopes of exposing the unethical practices of a tech magnate. The man behind their vanishing act is none other than WALTER MABRY [Daniel Radcliffe], a tech prodigy who threatens the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet. Their only hope is to perform one last unprecedented stunt to clear their names and reveal the mastermind behind it all. Summit Entertainment presents a K/O Paper Products production a Jon M. Chu film.



X-Men: Apocalypse

Rated: Rated pg-13 Brief Strong Language, Action and Destruction, Sequences of Violence and Some Suggestive Images.
Runtime: 2 hr. 23 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult.




The X-Men are forced to confront an ancient mutant called Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) in this comic-book adventure set in the 1980s. Eager to take over the world and remake it in his own image, Apocalypse recruits mutants to act as his powerful "Four Horsemen" -- among them is the tortured Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who believes humanity might be a lost cause after a personal tragedy. In time, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his charges must work together to save the planet from this threat. New additions to this X-Men team include the elusive Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), fiery Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and telepathically gifted Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, and Olivia Munn co-star.


 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review


Rated: Rated pg-13
Runtime: 2 hr. 16 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Peter Mayhew, Domhnall Gleeson, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher.
 


In this thrilling continuation of the epic space opera, ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), scrappy desert dweller Rey (Daisy Ridley), and droid companion BB-8 get caught up in a galactic war when they come across a map containing the whereabouts of the vanished Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). They soon embark on an epic adventure that brings them face-to-face with heroes from the past, as well as new villains such as Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order, a fascist regime that has emerged from the ashes of the old Empire. Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, and Anthony Daniels return to reprise their roles as, respectively, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and C-3PO. Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Gwendoline Christie co-star. J.J. Abrams directed from a script he co-wrote with Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. The film also features new contributions from composer John Williams and sound designer Ben Burtt, whose familiar palette of sounds have helped define the Ben Burtt universe.



Point Break

Rated: Rated pg-13 Violence, thematic material involving perilous activity, some sexuality, language and drug material.
Runtime: 1 hr. 53 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure
Director: Ericson Core
Cast: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Teresa Palmer, Ray Winstone, Delroy Lindo.
 


In the fast-paced, high-adrenaline “Point Break,” a young FBI agent, Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey), infiltrates a cunning team of thrill-seeking elite athletes – led by the charismatic Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez). The athletes are suspected of carrying out a spate of crimes in extremely unusual ways. Deep undercover, and with his life in imminent danger, Utah strives to prove they are the architects of this string of inconceivable crimes. The film is replete with the most daring athleticism ever seen in a motion picture. These action adventure feats are performed by elite athletes representing the world’s best in class in big-wave surfing, wingsuit flying, sheer-face snowboarding, free rock climbing, and high-speed motorcycling.


 

45 Years

Rated: Rated r Brief Sexuality and Language.
Runtime: 1 hr. 35 min.
Genres: Drama, Romance
Director: Andrew Haigh
Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Dolly Wells, Geraldine James, David Sibley.

 



As they are preparing to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary, Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate (Charlotte Rampling) are stunned to learn that the body of Geoff's ex-fiancée Katya has been found, more than 50 years after she disappeared during a vacation in Switzerland. This discovery prompts Kate to dig more deeply into her husband's previous relationship, which leads to further unforeseen revelations in this gripping drama.



The Hateful Eight

Rated: Rated r Strong Bloody Violence, Some Graphic Nudity, Language and Violent Sexual Content.
Runtime: 2 hr. 47 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir.

 


The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth and his fugitive Daisy Domergue, race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as “The Hangman,” will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road, they encounter two strangers: Major Marquis Warren, a black former union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix, a southern renegade who claims to be the town’s new Sheriff. Losing their lead on the blizzard, Ruth, Domergue, Warren and Mannix seek refuge at Minnie's Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie’s, they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. Bob, who’s taking care of Minnie’s while she’s visiting her mother, is holed up with Oswaldo Mobray, the hangman of Red Rock, cow-puncher Joe Gage, and Confederate General Sanford Smithers . As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our eight travelers come to learn they may not make it to Red Rock after all.


 

The Revenant

Rated: Rated r Strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity.
Runtime: 2 hr. 36 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Lukas Haas.

Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. THE REVENANT is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Academy Award® winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu.


 
Concussion

Rated: Rated pg-13 Thematic material including some disturbing images, and language.
Runtime: 2 hr. 3 min.
Genres: Drama
Director: Peter Landesman
Cast: Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Stephen Moyer, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks.
 


Filmmaker Peter Landesman (Parkland) wrote and directed this sports-themed drama based on Jeanne Marie Laskas' GQ article "Game Brain," about the potentially horrific cost of playing football. Pittsburgh-based neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) discovers a degenerative brain disease now known as CTE in the autopsies of several deceased pro-football players, but after presenting his research, he finds himself under fire from the NFL.


 

The Peanuts Movie


Release Date: Nov 06, 2015 RealD 3D
Rated: Rated g Cartoon/Animation Action
Runtime: 1 hr. 26 min.
Genres: Animated, Family
Director: Steve Martino
Cast: Bill Melendez, Rebecca Bloom.

 


The delightfully hilarious gang from The Peanuts returns after 35 years for their silver screen debut. Join Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and friends on a new epic adventure while Snoopy tracks down his nemesis, the Red Baron. Charles M. Schultz's iconic characters are brought to life in state of the art 3D animation from Blue Sky Studios, the creators of the Ice Age films.



Spectre


Release Date: Nov 06, 2015
Rated: Rated pg-13 Language, Intense Sequences of Action, Sensuality, Some Disturbing Images and Violence
Runtime: 2 hr. 28 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Naomie Harris.
 

 

A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.


 

Spotlight


Release Date: Nov 06, 2015
Rated: Rated r Some language including sexual references
Runtime: 2 hr. 8 min.
Genres: Drama
Director: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci.
 


A group of Boston Globe reporters uncovers a shocking cover-up that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. SPOTLIGHT—tells the true story of the Globe's tenacious "Spotlight" team of reporters who spent a year investigating allegations of abuse within the Catholic Church, ultimately revealing decades of deception at the highest levels.



Wrecker


Release Date: Nov 06, 2015
Genres: Action/Adventure, Horror, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Michael Bafaro
Cast: Anna Hutchison.
 


Best friends Emily and Lesley go on a road trip to the desert. When Emily decides to get off the highway and take a “short cut,” they become the target of a relentless and psychotic trucker who forces them to play a deadly game of cat and mouse.



Lost in the Sun


Release Date: Nov 06, 2015
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Trey Nelson
Cast:Josh Duhamel, Josh Wiggins, Lynn Collins, Emma Fuhrmann, June Griffin Garcia.

 


In this dramatic thriller a petty thief, John (Josh Duhamel) and his cohort Louis (Josh Wiggins), a recently orphaned teen boy, embark on a road trip adventure that involves multiple robberies and results in a strong connection between the two.



Brooklyn


Release Date: Nov 04, 2015
Rated: Rated pg-13 A Scene of Sexuality and Brief Strong Language
Runtime: 1 hr. 45 min.
Genres: Drama, Romance
Director: John Crowley
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent.

 


"Brooklyn" tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that.


 

Avengers: Age of Ultron


Rated: Rated pg-13 Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Sction, Violence and Destruction, and Some Suggestive Comments.
Runtime: 2 hr. 21 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson.
 


They're building a giant machine now, a machine made of movies. To participate in the machine's agenda of taking your money, it will not help to begin by looking at this perpetual motion installment and working backwards, trying to catch up. You must, at least, return to the first Avengers film, the first Thor movie and both Captain America chapters, or you must instead have a thorough superhero briefing from a Comic-Con attendee who has already logged the hours for you. Otherwise, Avengers: Age of Ultron will be merely loud, densely detailed, and incomprehensible for 141 minutes.

We begin in mid-battle, and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) are busy slow-mo flying through the air to triumphantly kick at HYDRA evildoers. Somewhere during this frenzied roar, a bad person says, "Can we hold them?" and another bad person responds, "They're the Avengers..." Meaning no, dummy, you can't hold them. Nobody can hold them. Not even what's coming next can hold them, and Thing Next is an unstoppable robot army led by an ultra-Libertarian super-intelligence named Ultron (perfectly voiced by James Spader). Even that. They're the Avengers. Unless the title of the movie is Avengers Something Whatever Fighting Jam, Part 1 they're going to win.

Like any effective terrorist -- and if these films are about nothing else, they are about unseen forces invading us from all directions and how fear guides our responses -- Ultron has only ideology to guide it and access to the most complex of human technological achievements, the better to decimate everything that gets in its way.

And the frequent confusion attending this real age of terrorism is matched by the confusing messages that accompany the Avengers. It's a world of alien aggressors that require nothing less than extreme displays of destructive force as a corrective. The most trustworty of those destructive forces are benevolent corporate and militaristic entities that will save you. Maybe. Because you can't trust anyone, sometimes even those saviors. But we're all in this together so, uh, sorry, you simply have no other choice. Comforted yet?

Writer-director Joss Whedon's humanism is never far away, and it tempers those no-win scenarios with comic ensemble dialogue that wouldn't feel out of place on an old episode of Roseanne (his first writing credit). Packed with a disgruntled family's worth of characters already, Age of Ultron crams in several new ones -- Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) -- as well as sequel-seeding details the observant and experienced will pick up on, even as they fly past the rest of you. And by "you," I mean me -- something about Infinity Stones that I expect future films will walk my brain through, even though, yes, I know, they've made cameo appearances in the other movies.

To his credit, Whedon juggles these franchise-fulfilling facts efficiently and the story's competing character agendas with light touches of humor and warmth, even if the characters themselves have become known by some shorthand tics and quirks. (Cap hates profanity, goes the best running gag.) You've visited with these particular guardians of the galaxy before, no need to remediate, and the new batch still feel like welcome additions. One question, though: how sardine-tin-like is this hero train going to become when the actual Guardians of The Galaxy climb on board? Hulk is going to eat that raccoon and pick his teeth with that tree.



Poltergeist


Rated: Rated pg-13 Intense Frightening Sequences, Brief Suggestive Material, and Some Language.
Runtime: 1 hr. 33 min.
Genres: Horror
Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kyle Catlett, Saxon Sharbino, Jared Harris.
 


It's hard out here for a ghost. Always having to think up new ways to scare suburban people in movies. You make the kids' toys come alive and play creepy music, and all the other ghosts hold up signs with straight 1.5s across the board. You're like, "Ok, then, what if I flick the lights on and off a lot?" and your so-called best ghost-friend says, "Paranormal Activity," while yawning right in your face.

The poor malevolent entities of Poltergeist have no such friends to steer them away from the overdone tropes of ghosting. They go about their business in the most rote manner possible, never once deviating from the tactics employed in the original 1982 Poltergeist, much less from all the films that stole from it over the past three decades.

The story is the same. A mom (Rosemarie DeWitt) and a dad (Sam Rockwell) and their three kids move into a house built on an old cemetery. Did the developers move the bodies or just the gravestones? One guess. The TV comes on and talks to the youngest daughter (Kennedi Clements). She says, "They're here." That clown doll does some stuff. The light, it gets gone into.

Throwing a tiny little wrench into the tedium is Jared Harris as a TV ghostbuster with his own hashtag (#thishouseisclean. Seriously.) and Jane Adams, as a paranormal researcher. They were once married, which leads to the only moments of human friction or character interest in the 90-minute running time. There is no other spark of life or death or fear or humor or horror happening in this film.

Poltergeist is a colossal misfire, a barely breathing waste of time from producer Sam Raimi, director Gil Kenan and screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire. And it asks a sad old question: besides being a horrible idea in the first place, a film-history-taunting, money-grubbing remake, the very definition of cynicism, how do talented people collaborate and create something this lifeless? And actual ghosts are not allowed as an answer, because there are none.

Anyway, then it's over. Visual cues hint at a sequel. Finally, something to scare you.


 

Pitch Perfect 2

Runtime: 1 hr. 55 min.
Genres: Comedy
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Katey Sagal.
 


Pitch Perfect 2 begins with a crazy, performance-based, wardrobe malfunction, one that, in the film's words, exposes the "down under" region of one of the a cappella Bellas. For this accidental offense they are mocked, chastised, and stripped of most of their rights to perform and compete. If only Janet Jackson didn't exist, the searing hot shame heaped upon the entire group in the movie's first five minutes would more resemble exaggerated comic farce than, you know, how things actually are.

But the Bellas have been here before -- so has the audience, thanks to an imagination-bereft script -- and felt the scorn of the all-powerful world of competitive, collegiate a cappella. They shake it off and move on, finding loopholes in both the rules of eligibility and member recruitment to look forward to competing in the World Championships. No American team has ever won, but because this isn't a film made in 1975, guess who's going to break that losing streak?

Taking over directorial duties this time, producer and co-star Elizabeth Banks knows how fan service works, and she delivers a competent sequel to please them. The cast -- Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hana Mae Lee, Chrissie Fit, Ester Dean -- returns, each one easing back into her established role, with Beca (Kendrick) and Fat Amy (Wilson) getting the best gags and solo song moments. Hailee Steinfeld joins the team as incoming freshman/aspiring songwriter Emily, probably to lay the groundwork for Pitch Perfect 3, something that will almost certainly come to pass.

Padding comes in the form of a corporate-retreat-style team-building montage; a rivalry with a generic, stern, Sprockets-style team from (where else?) Germany; romantic troubles for Fat Amy; an internship for Beca at a recording studio; and, best of all, a freestyle a cappella battle sequence that takes place in the underground lair of a complete stranger (played by David Cross), who has recruited some unlikely competitors and who demands that they all sing "songs about butts."

In the realm of comedy sequels, expecting improvement on an appealingly out-of-left-field first installment is like expecting to win the lottery. Second chapters like this are business decisions, not artistic visions. If your eyes are peeled for cameos by Cover Girl, Pantene, M & Ms, Voss water and Volkswagon, that'll become clear enough. But given that set of real-life circumstances, where abject failure is the most frequent outcome, Pitch Perfect 2 succeeds in ascending to the ranks of affectionate, slight, and reasonably funny second acts. It won't replace one moment of the original in any fan's heart or iTunes playlist. But it carries itself well enough. And there's a "Cups" shout-out. That's what you want, right? Or almost? At least?



The Transporter Refueled


Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Camille Delamarre
Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Gabriella Wright, Anatole Taubman, Samir Guesmi.
 


The producers of Lucy and the Taken trilogy bring you the next adrenaline-fueled installment of The Transporter series, THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED, starring newcomer Ed Skrein as Frank Martin, the most highly-skilled transporter money can buy. The stakes are greater and technology better, but the same three simple rules apply: never change the deal, no names and never open the package. When Frank is hired by cunning femme fatale Anna and her three stunning sidekicks, he quickly discovers he's been played. Anna and her cohorts have kidnapped his father (Ray Stevenson) in order to coerce Frank into helping them take down a ruthless group of Russian human traffickers. Fueled by revenge, he will break all his rules and stop at nothing to rescue his father in this action-packed thrill ride across the French Riviera.



Contracted: Phase II

Runtime: 1 hr. 18 min.
Genres: Drama, Suspense/Thriller
Cast: Matt Mercer, Peter Cilella, Marianna Palka, Morgan Peter Brown, Laurel Vail.
 


It’s spreading… After Contracted unleashed the world’s most horrifying virus, this sequel picks up the story as newly infected Riley (Matt Mercer) races against time to contain the outbreak, even as it ravages his own body. As he digs deeper into its origins, Riley attracts the attention of a Detective (Marianna Palka, Good Dick) who doubts his innocence, and BJ (Morgan Peter Brown, Absentia) himself, who holds the key to the virus – and perhaps the destruction of mankind as we know it, leading to a blood-soaked finale you have to see to believe. Hang on to your barf bags, buckle up, and get ready for the genre ride of the year.



A Walk in the Woods

Runtime: 1 hr. 44 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Director: Ken Kwapis
Cast: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Kristen Schaal, Mary Steenburgen.
 


In this new comedy adventure, celebrated travel writer, Bill Bryson (Academy Award winner Robert Redford), instead of retiring to enjoy his loving and beautiful wife (Academy Award winner Emma Thompson), and large and happy family, challenges himself to hike the Appalachian Trail - 2,200 miles of America’s most unspoiled, spectacular and rugged countryside from Georgia to Maine. The peace and tranquility he hopes to find, though, is anything but, once he agrees to being accompanied by the only person he can find willing to join him on the trek - his long lost and former friend Katz (Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte), a down-on-his-luck serial philanderer who, after a lifetime of relying on his charm and wits to keep one step ahead of the law – sees the trip as a way to sneak out of paying some debts and sneak into one last adventure before its too late.



Memories of the Sword

Runtime: 2 hr. 1 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama
Cast: Lee Byung-hun.
 


As the greed and excess of a corrupt Monarchy threatens to destroy the once-glorious Goryeo Dynasty, three legendary warriors lead a revolt to overthrow the empire and save its people. But when deceit and betrayal costs the life of a master swordsman, a plot for justice and revenge is set into motion, raging for decades between the two survivors. Starring Byung-hun Lee (Terminator Genisys, The Good The Bad The Weird), Memories of the Sword is a lavish epic that blends tragic historical drama with thrilling swordplay and martial arts.



Unsullied


Runtime: 1 hr. 33 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Director: Simeon Rice
Cast: Rusty Joiner, Erin Boyes.
 


When car trouble strands track star Reagan Farrow (Murray Gray) in the Florida boondocks, she accepts an offer of help from a pair of charming strangers (Rusty Joiner and James Gaudioso) only to find herself trapped in a brutal backwoods nightmare. After Reagan awakens in an isolated dark room, she manages to escape and take refuge in the forest. Relentlessly pursued by the savage sociopaths who kidnapped her, Reagan will need all of her inner strength and resourcefulness in order to survive in Unsullied, a gripping thriller that marks the feature-film directing debut of NFL superstar Simeon Rice.
 

Source: Jason Buchanan, Rovi

 

Courtesy: Roomi Patel