Theatrical Releases: 300: Rise Of An Empire & The Grand Budapest Hotel
Seven years after the original “300”, Frank Miller’s “300: Rise Of An Empire” acts as more of a side-quel than a sequel, which jumps back to the dawning of the war and the origin story of Xerxes. Sullivan Stapleton takes the reigns as Themistocles, General of the Navy of Greece, as the war is taken to the sea. But it’s the ever enigmatic Eva Green who wows as the villain Artemisia, using her strength and beauty to become my favorite portions of the film. As good as the first film, in my opinion, hopefully we don’t have to wait seven years for the next film.
Wes Anderson is one of my all-time favorite directors and with his unique styling of comedy, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” does not look to disappoint. Filled with an ensemble cast from all of his previous films including Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Jason Schwartzman, along with some new faces like the young bell boy played by Tony Revolori. With his stark camera framing, earthy film quality, and dead pan humor, this will definitely fall in line with the rest of Wes Anderson’s, I guarantee it.
Starring Elijah Wood, “Grand Piano” takes the idea of “Phone Booth” and runs with it, placing Wood on stage as a nervous piano playing legend whose return to stage after five years is hijacked by the voice of homicidal John Cusack, who has a sniper pointed at the pianist. One wrong note and he’ll kill him. And to top it off, the highlight of the show is a number titled “the unplayable piece”. Wood plays this role to perfection and director Eugenio Mira brings to life something only Alfred Hitchcock could have produced.
Many people were drawn to the humor of “Kung Fu Hustle” which mixed dumb humor with the martial arts, however, I was not. Now, with the praise coming from the similar mix in “Journey To The West”, I can safely say I would likely not enjoy it. Following a bumbling demon hunter as he attempts to restore order, the demons range from giant fish to a man with one enormous foot. And with the crazy eyes and not-so-funny humor, I’m already certain I’m not missing anything.
There’s only a hand full of animated films that I will give myself over to throughout the year and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” is likely not one of them. I remember the hand drawn cartoon growing up, but I never remember Mr. Peabody being the father of Sherman, which I find strange. I know it’s a cartoon and a dog being the father of a boy shouldn’t creep me out, but it does. On top of that, the creators mined the voice talent from the ABC Network pool, with the three main voices coming from their shows. I’m not sure how I feel about Ty Burrell outside of “Modern Family” and without seeing this film, I guess I won’t really know.
The fact that the entire trailer for “Awful Nice” is wall-to-wall jokes, I have to give some credit to the film. Reminiscent of “Napoleon Dynamite”, two brothers reunite to attempt to flip and sell a lake house in Branson that was willed to them by their father. But one of the brothers is such a screw up, he eats food out of the trash and puts his pants on backwards without noticing and the delivery of these jokes is so deadpan that I have a hard time thinking I’ll never see this film.
Annette Bening, Ed Harris, and Robin Williams star in this psychological love story titled “The Face Of Love” that sees Bening’s character lose her husband (Ed Harris), only to meet a man years later that looks identical to him. Trying to keep it a secret from her family and trying to keep her dead husband’s pictures away from the new man, Bening looks amazing in this twist on a love story, that is so high concept and so filled with amazing talent that it will eventually have to be seen.
There’s an inclination for me to see most horror films no matter how bad they may look and “Haunt” is no different. When a new boy moves in, the girl next door ventures over to tell him the house is haunted and with some ancient box, they attempt to talk to the dead. Not shying away from scares or even sex, the film does catch me with some interesting visuals, and starring Jacki Weaver to some capacity, it makes this independent horror film even more worth seeing.
You know Alice Englert from that awful “Beautiful Creatures” film, but this year she’s the star of the Sundance selected horror thriller “In Fear”, that sees her and her boyfriend driving to a hotel in the woods, but finding themselves in a maze filled with terrifying moments and unexplainable happenstance. With rave reviews, a chilling trailer, and an endorsement from Sundance, on top of my existing love for horror films, there’s no way I’d miss this film.
75% MOST LIKELY
The biggest question coming out of the trailer for “Missing William” is why actress Courtney Ford is not in more things? Or why Brandon Routh isn’t in less things? This film sees them meeting again after being childhood sweethearts, but, record scratch, Ford’s character is getting married… until, dun dun dun, a fight breaks out a bar one night before the wedding and her fiance is punched out, hitting his head, and becoming a vegetable, giving the childhood lovers one more chance. As much as I want to have faith in this film, it’s just far too melodramatic for my liking.
My biggest question in watching the trailer for the documentary “Particle Fever” is whether or not the machine that referenced in creating a miniature “big bang” ever actually works and if all these scientists that have worked on it most of their lives get to see the fruits of their labor. And the trailer does not even hint at whether it will show the results or not and instead ramps up the moments before the event is to take place. To answer this question, I may just have to see the film.
An independent superhero film, with the visual styling of “Sin City”, this latest attempt to cash in on the superhero brand looks bland and washed out. The one highlight of the trailer and of the film is the continued work that actress Ashley Bell finds outside of her roles in “The Last Exorcism”, which I fully approve of, as she’s a bright young star that just hasn’t found the role that will drag her out of the “Exorcism” doldrums. Your typical home made superhero film, there’s not much here to latch onto.
Kung fu action films tend to rely wholly on the action sequences and vague titles like “The Respect” and “The Betrayal” and with “Special ID” that all remains the same. Donnie Yen, this generations answer to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li, as stated in the trailer, stars as the lead and for all accounts, he does have the leading man look. But with zero story to go off of and almost zero dialogue in the entire trailer, I have no idea what this film is about or why I should go and see it.
Where this idea came from to turn the classic “War of the Worlds” into an animated action film titled “War of the Worlds: Goliath”, we will never know. But the fact that it feels like every action cartoon I used to watch on Saturday morning television as a kid makes me want to avoid this film with all my being. I loved the “War of the Worlds” remake starring Tom Cruise and I very much want to see the original, but this has no place in being apart of the same brand name.