Theatrical Releases: Dracula Untold & The Judge

DRACULA UNTOLD || October 10th, 2014

Addicted-poster From the moment the trailer for “Addicted” starts, it feels completely over-dramatic. With a needy female character spouting words like “our love is forever… always will be” and an affair that spawns off the shittiest proposition ever (“let me paint you, so when you’re not here, I can satisfy myself with the mere thought of you”), this feels like a mixture of Tyler Perry and Lifetime Original Movie, as the female character deals with some sort of sex addiction which is not made particularly apparent. Whoever Zane is, I want nothing to do with her erotic fiction or the schmaltz that is this movie.
PASS
AlexanderAndVeryBadDay-poster Disney’s attempt at a “Diary Of A Wimpy Kid” film, their new film “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” steals its name from a children’s book that really has nothing to do with the short story itself. In the book, Alexander is subject to his terrible day and that is it. In the film, Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) makes a birthday wish that his family members will all have a horrible day too. The wish comes true and the entire day is filled with vehicular accidents, fire starting, and kangaroo punches. Starring Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner for no apparent reason, this is non-offensive, family film-making at its absolute basic level.
DraculaUntold-poster Luke Evans takes on the age old character of Dracula, in a re-imagining of his origin story, kicking off Universal’s attempt at recreating “The Avengers” success with their monster movies. Set as the prince of a small kingdom, Vlad The Impaler has made a quiet life with his wife (Sarah Gadon) and son. But when the sultan (Dominic Cooper) arrives and demands 1,000 of the kingdom’s sons for his giant army, Vlad makes the ultimate choice in defying, venturing to a mythical mountain where a demon lives, one of the first vampires. Playing loose with the mythos of vampires, “Dracula Untold” rises above its horrible trailer with strong visuals and a fresh story of the legendary character, but it fails to wow and speeds through its epic moments much too quickly.

TheJudge-poster Robert Downey Jr. takes his first huge step away from “Iron Man” with his strong dramatic turn in “The Judge”. Returning home for his mother’s funeral, he finds his stone cold father, played by Robert Duvall accused of murder. With a huge rift between the father and son, the struggle to get his father to ask for help becomes the main conflict of the film, with Billy Bob Thornton doing his best to put the judge (Duvall) away. Also starring the gorgeous Vera Farmiga, it will be nice to see Downey put aside his armor for one film and show off his true acting talents.
THEATER
KillTheMessenger-poster Another Avenger taking a break from the action is Jeremy Renner, as he steps into the political conspiracies of Washington in “Kill The Messenger”. Renner plays a journalist that stumbles upon what could be a monster of a conspiracy involving the origin of the crack epidemic in America. Based on the real life story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb, the eventual rabbit hole that Webb descends into threatens not just his safety, but the safety of his family, showing just how ruthless our nation’s politicians can be.
THEATER
StVincent-poster Bill Murray takes on the role of cranky old neighbor in “St. Vincent”. When recently divorced Melissa McCarthy moves in next door with her son, Murray’s already limited patience is tested. But when he meets the boy and forms a connection, he decides to become part-time babysitter, which involves taking the boy to strip clubs to see his pregnant prostitute played by Naomi Watts and to the tracks where the boy’s lunch money is spent gambling on horses. There is an endearing quality to the entire film and Murray delivers a knockout performance that proves that he still has it. Whether that is enough to translate into an Oscar nomination is yet to be seen.

Whiplash-poster The best film of the year thus far, “Whiplash” is everything the critics have said it to be. The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year, J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller deliver two of the most standout performances of the year as well, as music conductor and student, where a set of drums becomes so much more. Simmons is relentless as he harnesses his best Will Knight in screaming, tormenting, and throwing things at his players. Simmons has such a handle on his character that if he is not nominated for an Oscar, there will be an outrage. The overall message of the film about passion, drive, and the next big thing are matched only by the visceral effect many of the sequences has on the viewer. This will be a tough film to beat this year (no pun intended).

Automata-poster “Automata” is like a distant sister film to the Will Smith science fiction film “I, Robot”. Setting up the robot’s rule book (calling them protocols) and then obviously breaking them, this time the robots are portrayed as refugees hiding from the destruction of the humans that made them. Seeking to protect Antonio Banderas’ character, who is simply an insurance agent for the robotics corporation, a post-apocalyptic action movie ensues. With some great visuals and an interesting enough story (“I, Robot” is still a great action film to this day) I have a slight inclination to see it.
25% MAYBE
AwakeTheLifeOfYoganda-poster Ever wonder where the term “yoga” comes from. We obviously know it from the past time that men and women flock to with their mats in hand, but the term comes from the teachings of Yogananda, who believed there was a connection between the body and spirituality. “Awake: The Life of Yogananda” is a documentary delving into the life of the guru who had and still has a huge following, but with this gift of reaching people also made him a target. Drawing some amazing parallels and enlightening moments during this man’s time, the trailer alone tells enough interesting facts to feel informative on its own.
PASS
TheCanal-poster With all the thrillers about husbands who have deceased wives coming out lately, “The Canal” fails to really catch on and will probably even end up failing to surprise, as I already have strong guesses as to how the film ends already. As the husband in this film tries to figure out why he is seeing ghosts and why his fingerprints are on a hammer that killed a local girl, all he can do is attempt to get others to believe his story. Seeing this figure in mirrors and on film, no one else, including his young son seems to be seeing anything and as the police close in on him as the main suspect, all he can do is eventually chant “the canal” for some reason.
PASS
CatchHell-poster Ryan Phillippe makes his directorial debut with “Catch Hell” in which he also stars lead. Playing a playboy actor who is kidnapped after sleeping with another man’s wife, he locked in a shed with where the redneck husband and his simple minded friend set out to torture him. None of this feels particularly original and even with the talented Phillippe, I question why he chose this specific film to make his debut. With several plot holes already apparent, this is not a film I see myself seeing, but it will be interesting to see if Phillippe continues his directing and what project he works on next.
PASS
DanceOff-poster The last thing this world needs is another dancing movie, especially with the flagship in the genre “Step Up” already beginning its decent. So for independent film-makers to turn to this sort of genre is just sad. If there is one thing to be said about “Dance-Off”, at least it tries a little harder in setting up a story, taking two separated childhood friends and throwing them back together on opposite ends of a dance competition, but still the melodrama seeps through and all the dialogue feels forced and straight off of the Lifetime channel. If I never see another trailer for a dancing movie it will be too soon.
PASS
DeadSnow2RedVsDead-poster 2009 brought up the zombie comedy “Dead Snow” about a group of people in the middle of nowhere suddenly attacked by zombie Nazis. “Dead Snow: Red Vs. Dead” sees the survivor returning with a zombie arm surgically sewed on having thought it was his arm. Introducing Martin Starr into the series, the conflict sees the nerds teaming up with the survivor to take on the zombie Nazi army, even creating an army of their own. Garnered the best zom-com since “Shaun of the Dead” there are some hilariously great moments in the trailer, like the man being thrown through the ceiling, falling down the stairs, and being attacked again.
50% PROBABLY
TheDevilsHand-poster Amish girls never looked so hot. “The Devil’s Hand” tells the tale of six Amish girls born on the same day, with a prophecy that all but one of them would be killed and the remaining girl would become the devil’s hand. The film looks like it takes place in multiple generations, but that is somewhat unclear. Regardless, Jennifer Carpenter is the big name here, also playing an Amish woman that appears to be up to no good. There really are not enough films involving Amish communities and a horror film feels like the perfect genre to go there, I am just not sure this one is entirely what it is cracked up to be.
PASS
DisappearanceOfEleanorRigby-HimHer-poster Having already seen “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them”, the version of the film that the studio had Ned Benson cut to appease the masses, this weekend sees at least the limited release of the two separate films “Him” and “Her” which are shown from the separate characters’ perspectives. Although Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy were brilliant in their roles, there was an obvious depth missing because of the cut down version and with this being one of the first film experiences of its time, seeing two different films, about the same events from two characters perspectives sounds revolutionary and must be seen.
THEATER
EvolutionOfACriminal-poster Where is the voice over? Something is missing from the trailer for “Evolution Of A Criminal”, a documentary produced by Spike Lee. Blending documentary elements with fictional re-enactments and a “personal essay” from the film-maker, none of this is even the slightest bit clear from the trailer, which relies completely on slow motion shots and hardly there music with humming that really offers little insight into what drives this film. With nothing to go on, there is zero chance I will see this film.
PASS
TheHouseOctoberBuilt-poster “The Houses October Built” is a found footage mockumentary about a group of people headed out to find the scariest haunted houses in America. But when none prove to be that scary, suddenly they find themselves in the backwoods with some very strange occurrences, including an awesome scene where a large group of masked creepers stand outside their RV in the dark. What could be either a truly scary horror film or a lackluster attempt, regardless, I am normally willing to give horror films the benefit of the doubt, with my real hope being that found footage films stay in the independent world and quit being made by big budget Hollywood people. That being said, this is still from the producers of “Insidious” and “Paranormal Activity”.
25% MAYBE
IAmAli-poster Offering the deepest look that we have ever seen of Muhammad Ali, “I Am Ali” delves into interviews with his family, friends, and opponents in the ring to discover the man behind the gloves. With actual recordings of the legend as well as archival footage and photographs, this documentary is about as close as you can get to a person that has passed away, chronicling this figure from beginning to end. Presented by the producers of the Academy Award winning “Searching for Sugar Man”, you never know if this will pop up in the Best Documentary Feature category at the Oscars.
25% MAYBE
Kite-poster2 Recently I told a friend that there was no way you could get me to watch anime (at least action anime). Now, having seen the trailer for “Kite”, a live action film based on the anime of the same name, I realize that the only way to get me to see anime is if you make a live action version of it. Perhaps its the animation styles or the strange themes and stories, but anime turns me off. But give it an awesome visual style in life action, give it an R rating with a strong, gorgeous female lead, and add Samuel L. Jackson in a supporting role, at “Kite” ends up being something that is right up my alley.
RENTAL
MeetTheMormons-poster2 What this has to do with Mormons, the trailer does not make clear, but with a title like “Meet The Mormons” you think it would be. Perhaps the film-makers are trying to break the stigma attached to Mormons and how they are projected in the media, but with only the tagline “six ordinary individuals, six extraordinary stories” this documentary could literally be about anything. The trailer depicts these people living normal lives and attaches absolutely nothing to them besides their careers and slight hints at personality.
PASS
OneDirectionWhereWeAre-poster How many films can be made about a single boy band? “One Direction: Where We Are – The Concert Film” is the latest one for the mega-group, which sees them performing at a huge venue and offering a backstage pass before and after their show. With interviews and footage of the show itself, fans of the band will probably be pleased. But to the outsider, like me, this looks a lot like the last film they released, if not more in the present rather than where they came from. From the looks of these guys, they are a lot less exceptional than previous boy bands like “New Kids On The Block” and “NSYNC” but regardless, every generation has them and One Direction is not going anywhere.
PASS
TheOvernighters-poster Set in Williston, North Dakota, home of a recent oil boom, people out of work have flocked to the community in hopes of finding work. But with the neighborhoods unable to support all the new residents, many of the workers are living in their cars. “The Overnighters” follows a local pastors program in letting people stay the night at the church despite an uphill battle fought with the community who do not want to see these people taking over their quaint neighborhood. Even though Midwest documentaries often catch my eye, this one seems a little too redneck for me to really delve into.
PASS
ThePact2-poster Having still yet to see the first horror installment of the “The Pact”, from 2012 and starring “Arrow” actress Caity Lotz, the sequel aptly titled “The Pact II” sees the return of whatever was on a killing spree in the first film and also brings Caity back into the fray. Also starring Camilla Luddington, the least that can be said for these films is that they cast some gorgeous women as pawns in their horror shows. With some interesting visuals like someone climbing out of the floor boards through a rip in the carpet, this falls under the horror films that I will give the benefit of the doubt to.
25% MAYBE
Static-poster Starring Milo Ventimiglia (“Heroes”) and Sara Paxton (“The Innkeepers”) in this home invasion film with strong alien undertones (do not quote me on that), “Static” sees a stranger coming across a couple’s home at night and the basics of an invasion film following, complete with people peaking through windows when you are not expecting it and running and hiding in the home despite the intruder’s advances. With zero clue as to what the intruders might be or if Paxton is involved with them or if she is what she says she is, my interest is definitely peaked.
25% MAYBE
Stuck-poster Failed one night stand movies are on rise lately, with the recent release of “Two Night Stand” which saw a snow storm cause a one night stand to turn into more. Now, “#Stuck” turns a one night stand into one night and an entire day in a car stuck together, replacing the non-existent Los Angeles snow with a dead stop traffic jam. Madeline Zima is hot and this type of romantic comedy seems right in her wheelhouse, offering the sexy, take off your clothes roles that we know her from along with some funny moments alongside the awkward Joel David Moore.
75% MOST LIKELY
YoureNotYou-poster ALS continues to be on the rise of awareness everywhere, this time in a feature film “You’re Not You”, starring Hilary Swank. She was never a huge selling point for me, but pair her with the enigmatic, free style of Emmy Rossum and suddenly I want to see this movie. Hired as Swank’s in home caregiver, Rossum helps her to see that her life is not over and that there are still things to be excited about. Timothy Olymphant plays Swank’s nice guy husband and with a strong cast and perhaps some strong emotional moments, this film is much better than any ice bucket challenge.
25% MAYBE

THEATER

  • Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  • Dracula Untold
  • The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
  • The Judge
  • Kill The Messenger
  • St. Vincent
  • Whiplash

RENTAL

  • Kite

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

  • #Stuck

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • Automata
  • The Houses October Built
  • I Am Ali
  • The Pact 2
  • Static
  • You’re Not You

PASS

  • Addicted
  • Awake: The Life Of Yogananda
  • The Canal
  • Catch Hell
  • Dance-Off
  • The Devil’s Hand
  • Evolution Of A Criminal
  • Meet The Mormons
  • One Direction: Where We Are
  • The Overnighters

HELL NO

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