Theatrical Releases: Insurgent & The Gunman

INSURGENT || March 20th, 2015

Backcountry-poster Thrilling camping films are becoming quite the regular thing these days, with the casual campers getting lost in the woods, coming across strange men, and braving the wilderness, but even “Backcountry” looks to have some quality moments, with some high end production quality and some taglines like “does for the woods what Jaws did for the ocean”. It also doesn’t hurt that it stars somewhat recognizable actress Missy Peregrym. And building the tension at the end of the trailer with the bear outside the tent is absolutely genius.
50% PROBABLY
TheGunman-poster At face value, “The Gunman” actually doesn’t look half bad. Sean Penn starring in the lead with Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, and Ray Winstone filling out the supporting roles and you’ve got yourself one hell of a cast. But having been apart of the marketing company that provided some work for the film, I heard absolutely nothing but poor reviews for the film, leading me to believe that there is not much there. The storyline follows an ex-special ops gunman facing a liquidation at the hands of a former partner and in being in their crosshairs, his love interest finds herself in danger as well. Plenty of opportunities for Penn to provide his trademark angst, but much too similar to Liam Neeson’s schtick.
PASS
Insurgent-poster Not quite as impressive as say “The Hunger Games” series has been on the big screen, “Insurgent” provides a nice revisiting of the previous film, “Divergent,” with the returning cast filling out most of the film, with Shailene Woodley providing the lead while Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Theo James, Jai Courtney, and Kate Winslet all return. The new cast consists of Naomi Watts in her new dark hair and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer. Instead of setting up the entire world with this film, the sequel has a little chance to spread its wings. Having pissed off the factions leader in the previous film, Woodley’s character now looks to break in again and end this war before it can really begin, but of course she becomes the key to opening some mysterious box that could set the world on its horrible ways once again. The effects all look impressive, but there’s something hollow in general about this film.
RENTAL
Tracers-poster Boy follows girl into life he doesn’t understand. Boy gets in over his head and finds out he’s been played. Boy tries to get himself and girl out alive. “Tracers” is by the book, as Taylor Lautner plays an extreme bike messenger who slams into the life of a parkour female in the ranks of a local parkour gang. With Lautner needing more money, he decides life in the gang is worth it, not to mention nookie from the very attractive female, played by up-and-comer Marie Avgeropoulos who almost makes me want to see this if it weren’t for some terrible acting by Lautner and a by-the-numbers storyline.
PASS

AmourFou-poster What a strange little period piece. Taking a twist on the modern love story, “Amour Fou” follows an eccentric man who does not seek a partner in life but rather a partner in death. Offering pistols and a murder-suicide pact to his fair damsels, there is one young woman that actually falls for his smooth talking and seemingly justified Romeo and Juliet like proposal. This short trailer does all it needs to in laying out the tone of this film and setting its odd premise, but it screams short film more so than a feature.
PASS
CantStandLosingYou-poster Following the memoir of rock guitarist Andy Summers formerly of The Police, told through his dialogue and candid photos taken during his time with one of the most famous rock bands of all-time, “Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police” feels more like a labor of love rather than a documentary, as Summers weaves the tale of meeting Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland. Unabashed and unfiltered, he tells all the nitty-gritty details about the bands rise and fall, how Sting was out the door far before he actually left, and eventually their reunion some 20 years later, following Sting’s solo success.
PASS
DannyCollins-poster Inspired by a true story, “Danny Collins” tells the story of an aging musician who suddenly comes across a 40 year old undelivered letter addressed to him from John Lennon that probably would have changed his life. Al Pacino plays the title character musician, who after finding the letter, returns to his roots to make up for lost time with his son, played by Bobby Cannavale. Pacino looks to be in top form, as he tries to win his way into the hearts of those around him, including hotel manager Annette Benning and Bobby’s wife, played by Jennifer Garner. Unfortunately this feels way too after school special and does not quite reach the point of being earnest.
PASS
DoYouBelieve-poster Too. Much. Drama. Following in the footsteps of “Gods Not Dead,” the creators look to capitalize on its audience and produces another religious based film titled “Do You Believe?” which is basically the “Crash” of the religious film world, where 12 different intersecting stories all come across the seem of God and faith, allowing a pastor’s story of the cross to reflect in each of the character’s lives. Starring big names like Sean Astin, Cybill Shepherd, Lee Majors, and Mira Sorvino, I will give the writers credit for crossing all types of faith from an old couple that is devout to a doctor who believes he should get all the credit for saving lives instead of people claiming miracles. But unfortunately these wholly faith based films do very little for me.
PASS
Ghoul-poster2 Combining found footage and cannibalism sounds like a creepy idea, but at least as far as the trailer for “Ghoul” is concerned, the idea in practice is far less so. With a somewhat low budget feel, the film acts as a mockumentary where a group of young people investigate a Ukrainian village where famine once caused the townspeople to cannibalism. Apparently based on some actual accounts, the film becomes your run-of-the-mill conjuring of spirits through a pentagram, where possession and lost in the woods scenarios play almost painted by numbers. Maybe someday they’ll capitalize on how cool cannibalism and found footage could actually meld into a decent horror film, but not yet.
PASS
GrowingUpAndOtherLies-poster Coming of age films are not just for teenagers and “Growing Up & Other Lies” attempts to display that. Jake is a twenty-something that is giving up on his dreams of being an artist in New York City and moving back to his hometown in the Midwest. But before he goes, he enlists the help of his three oldest friends in an adventure to walk the entire length of Manhattan as one last hurray in reliving their glory days. It is always great to see Adam Brody acting and as always he looks in top form, but besides he and Amber Tamblyn, the film lacks a decent cast and feels like every other coming of age/reliving glory day dramedy.
PASS
TheHuntingGround-poster Despite how shocking it may seem to some, it should come as no surprise, at least since the Paterno-Sandusky incident, that big college campuses do cover up certain indiscretions that could give their college a bad name. But thanks to people speaking up and documentaries like “The Hunting Ground,” the truth eventually comes out and people are allowed to form opinions and set up ground rules that actually help stop the continued perpetration of things like rape on campus. How colleges can let men get away with rape by brushing it off or sweeping it under the rug is beyond me, but hopefully this documentary finds who it needs to find to continue the stop of these horrific acts.
PASS
Jauja-poster Even Viggo Mortensen cannot save this Western set in Patagonia. In “Jauja” (pronounced how-ha), he plays a Captain in the 1800s that accepts an engineering job for the Argentinian army. With his daughter in tow, she creates a stir among the ranks, being the only female in the area. When she runs away with one of the boys, Mortensen ventures into enemy territory to find them. Shot in a strange aspect ratio and rather dull despite being labeled as astonishingly beautiful and gripping, I often find it hard to pass up Westerns but with a film that misses its mark like this one, I have no problem passing.
PASS
Kumiko-poster After mistaking the film “Fargo” for a documentary, the title character of the film “Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter” sets off from her life as a manager in Tokyo to the cold tundra that is North Dakota, searching for a fake briefcase full of money that she believes is real. Darkly comedic and starring the Academy Award nominated Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”), the film is deftly photographed and highly original, even being labeled as “one of the best films to ever premiere at Sundance” by David Ehrlich of Film.Com. To me, that makes it a must see.
75% MOST LIKELY
Metalhead-poster Here’s what can draw me to a film that I ordinarily would not give a chance. If the trailer is cut in an interesting way, that can draw me in. With “Metalhead,” a family feels like they’re losing control on their daughter and someone asks the mother what she’s afraid of when she lays awake at night waiting for her daughter to come home. What follows is a brilliant montage of moments from the film showing exactly what the heavy metal rocker chick does when she’s away from her parents. The film looks just dark enough to warrant a viewing.
25% MAYBE
ShesLostControl-poster Had “She’s Lost Control” felt a little bit higher quality and contained a better known cast, it could be something that carried some weight, as a woman works as a sex surrogate, teaching men how to be intimate so that when they meet the right person, it will work out. But when the line between professional and personal is blurred with her new client Johnny, the film spirals into obsession and redrawing that line that was lost. I was on the edge of possibly wanting to see this, as it does at times feel dark, but ultimately, it’s a bit on the stale side.
PASS
Spring-poster Melding a horror film and a love story together, “Spring” tells the story of a young man running from his past through the Italian coast. That is, until he meets the love of his life in an Italian girl who he instantly connects with and starts a romantic relationship with. But as the trailer unfolds, you find that she is keeping some secrets, and not just some dangerous ones… but some deadly ones. All great horror films make parallels to everyday situations and this one is the perfect example of how new love can cloud your judgment, even in the most extreme cases.
50% PROBABLY
SwordOfVengeance-poster Going from even a well-made television series like “Game Of Thrones” to watching a trailer for the new film “Sword Of Vengeance” is tough to do, but “Thrones” has such high quality and such attention to detail, that everything else pales in comparison. “Sword” is your average medieval action film, with an attempt to draw the same medium as a film like “300” but with less bravado and even less attention to detail.
PASS
TheWalkingDeceased-poster And the spoof films keep on coming, this time capitalizing on the huge craze that is AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. Playing up the inside jokes from the television show, “The Walking Deceased” lays into the stupid humor with reckless abandon. Jokes like the Sheriff crying over the loss of Twitter and nerds playing zombie role-playing games in the middle of the zombie apocalypse spells out exactly why films like this just should not get made. But unfortunately, someone will go see this film and reaffirm to whoever made it that at least they got that one person in a theater to see it.
PASS
Zombeavers-poster Unless I’m looking for some attractive women in bikinis or some God awful zombie puns, there is not much in “Zombeavers” that would make me actually want to see it. But how often do you get to see “From the producers of American Pie, Cabin Fever, and The Ring” in reference to a film? This horror comedy apparently delivers some great tongue-in-cheek dialogue and some practical beavers that are absolutely ridiculous, but even for that I’m not sure I could devote the time needed to actually giving this film a chance.
PASS

THEATER

RENTAL

  • Insurgent

MOST LIKELY CATCH ON NETFLIX (75%)

  • Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter

PROBABLY CATCH ON NETFLIX (50%)

  • Backcountry
  • Spring

MIGHT CATCH ON NETFLIX (25%)

  • Metalhead

PASS

  • Amour Fou
  • Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police
  • Danny Collins
  • Do You Believe?
  • Ghoul
  • Growing Up & Other Lies
  • The Gunman
  • The Hunting Ground
  • Jauja
  • She’s Lost Control
  • Sword Of Vengeance
  • Tracers
  • The Walking Deceased
  • Zombeavers

HELL NO

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