This week’s new releases are between a slacker-turned-super-agent, dizzyingly death defying stunts in the best use of IMAX to date, a brutally good movie about the war on drugs between the US and Mexico, a disappointing retelling/prequel of a classic movie, and four movies on limited release, all wildly different but all highly praised.
The Walk is the true story of a young dreamer, Philippe Petit, and a band of unlikely recruits who together achieve the impossible: an illegal wire walk in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. With little more than nerve and blind ambition, Petit and his ragtag crew overcome daunting physical obstacles, betrayals, countless close calls and overwhelming odds to beat the system and execute their mad plan.
If you are in any way, shape or form afraid of heights, you should give The Walk a wide berth. But if you want to be spectacularly impressed by the use of IMAX and 3D as a storytelling device instead of a gimmick (finally!), then this is the movie for you. It does have some minor let-downs, the story is slow to get started and the accents leave something to be desired, but the end result is a 4/5 Star movie that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
American Ultra is a fast-paced action comedy about Mike (Eisenberg), a seemingly hapless and unmotivated stoner whose small-town life with his live-in girlfriend, Phoebe (Stewart), is suddenly turned upside down. Unbeknownst to him, Mike is actually a highly trained, lethal sleeper agent. In the blink of an eye, as his secret past comes back to haunt him, Mike is thrust into the middle of a deadly government operation and is forced to summon his inner action-hero in order to survive.
Even though Nima Nourizadeh’s directing is competent but not exceptional, and Max Landis’s script draws too heavily from other films that have pulled it off better, American Ultra is still a satisfying movie. Yes it lacks in some departments, but with decent performances by both leads (even Kristen Stewart) and a full use of its R-rating, Kervyn thought it was good enough for 3/5 stars.
In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elite government task force official to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past, the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive.
Sicario is an incredibly ambitious film, but it pulls it off with aplomb. From the outstanding performances by Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro to the visceral story-telling and the brutal, scathing message, it all combines to a highly recommended 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.
There’s no mincing words, Pan is a mess. I can’t say I’m surprised, there’s no good reason for it to exist and yes, while that in and of itself is not what makes the movie bad, it seriously contributes. Besides for having no point, it’s frantic and rushed, relying too heavily on special effects to cover up the fact that it’s just going through the motions script-wise. The ending is open enough to hint at potential sequels, but hopefully the 33% on Rotten Tomatoes makes them rethink that idea.
A critical hit and audience favorite out of the Sundance Film Festival, in DOPE, Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is carefully surviving life in a tough neighbourhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself.
Even though it suffers some setbacks, Dope is smart, fresh and free of teenage angst. Written with wit and exuberance, even if it doesn’t quite know where it’s going or what the message is, it’s still funny and irreverent, earning 87% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet
Set in a Mediterranean sea-side village, Kamila (Salma Hayek) cleans house for exiled artist and poet Mustafa (Liam Neeson), but the more difficult job is keeping her free-spirited young daughter, Almitra, (Quvenzhané Wallis) out of trouble. The three embark on a journey meant to end with Mustafa’s return home – but first they must evade the authorities who fear that the truth in his words will incite rebellion.
Some heavyweight talent was involved in the making of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet and it certainly shows. It goes without saying that the animation is stunning and each of the eight independently produced vignettes is masterfully done, but the way that they are strung together makes the story start to drag and lose focus. Nevertheless, it’s still a thrillingly beautiful movie with a gentle message, scoring 69% on Rotten Tomatoes.
A snapshot in time-the film chronicles the story behind the 1955 LIFE magazine photo thread by Dennis Stock of then-rising star, James Dean, and gives us an inside look at some of Hollywood’s most iconic images and into the life of a gifted, but troubled man.
Life has so far divided critics. While some are saying that the performances are excellent, others are saying that the roles were woefully miscast. One describes it as interesting, while another describes it as listless. I guess the most median description is that it’s incredibly professional, but very hard to love. Despite this, Life currently has 65% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In a gripping true story set during the height of the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) finds himself caught between two superpowers when he challenges the Soviet Empire. Also starring Liev Schreiber and Peter Sarsgaard, PAWN SACRIFICE chronicles Fischer’s terrifying struggles with genius and madness, and the rise and fall of a kid from Brooklyn who captured the imagination of the world.
Chess has never been terribly thrilling to me, but thankfully Pawn Sacrifice chose not to focus on the game, rather delving into the fascinating, eccentric mind of its lead character and the knife-point political tensions of the Cold War. Tense and compelling, Pawn Sacrifice racks up 72% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Last Updated: October 9, 2015