To tide us over until the second phase of 2015’s blockbusters kicks in, this week there’s a choice between three comedies, two thrillers and one sanctimonious melodrama. Enter at your own risk!
A suspenseful adventure thriller directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald, centering on a rogue submarine captain (two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law) who pulls together a misfit crew to go after a sunken treasure rumored to be lost in the depths of the Black Sea. As greed and desperation take control onboard their claustrophobic vessel, the increasing uncertainty of the mission causes the men to turn on each other to fight for their own survival.
A balanced combination between character driven drama and high intensity action, Black Sea may let you down with a few stretches of the imagination in terms of plot, but Jude Law’s performance holds it all together long enough to score 82% on Rotten Tomatoes.
While We’re Young
Noah Boaumbach’s comedy WHILE WE’RE YOUNG stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a childless New York married couple in their mid-forties. As their other friends all start having children, the couple gravitates toward a young hipster couple named Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried). He’s an aspiring documentary filmmaker, a vocation Josh already has. Soon the older couple begins enjoying the energy they feel hanging out with the younger generation, but eventually Josh begins to suspect his new best friend might not be as straightforward and trustworthy as he thought.
Partly sharp satire, partly soppy sweet but mostly angsty social commentary, While We’re Young has managed to impress critics for an overall 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite its few drawbacks, mainly that it was uneven in parts and lacked depth where it counted, While We’re Young is still being lauded as one of Ben Stiller’s best movies to date.
A Royal Night Out
On V.E. Day in 1945, as peace extends across Europe, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are allowed out to join the celebrations. It is a night full of excitement, danger and the first flutters of romance.
A Royal Night Out is tacky, light, utterly forgettable and absolutely not grounded in reality, but makes for a passable evening of entertainment, even if it’s completely far-fetched and the actors don’t have their accents spot on all the way through.
Dwayne McLaren (Liam Hemsworth) dreams about escaping small town life in Cut Bank, Montana, “the coldest spot in the nation,” with his vivacious girlfriend Cassandra (Teresa Palmer). When Dwayne witnesses an awful crime, he tries to leverage a bad situation into a scheme to get rich quickly but he finds that fate and an unruly accomplice are working against him. Thrust into the middle of a police investigation spearheaded by the local sheriff (John Malkovich), everything goes from bad to worse in this all-American thriller.
While Cut Bank could have been a solid thriller, instead it loses itself in too many predicable clichés and ends up under-acted, uninspired, unoriginal and unappealing, scoring only 32% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In RIDE, when an editor from The New Yorker (Helen Hunt) follows her son (Brenton Thwaites) to LA after he drops out of college to surf and find himself, she ends up being the one thrust into a sea change of self-discovery. In this comedy written and directed by Helen Hunt, she befriends a limo driver (David Zayas), rediscovers her sexuality with a younger surf instructor (Luke Wilson), and begins to heal her fractured relationship with her son and herself.
Written and directed by Helen Hunt, Ride is ultimately a vanity project. It might surprise you by being clever at times, and Hunt’s acting is on point as usual, but Ride’s sitcom-esque script is tired and overwritten, and the overly eager-to-please directing is a let-down, washing up with 48% on Rotten Tomatoes.
God’s Not Dead
Present-day college freshman and devout Christian, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. As other students in the class begin scribbling the words “God Is Dead” on pieces of paper as instructed, Josh find himself at a crossroads, having to choose between his faith and his future. Josh offers a nervous refusal, provoking an irate reaction from his smug professor. Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that “God Is Dead,” he must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals. With almost no one in his corner, Josh wonders if he can really fight for what he believes. Can he actually prove the existence of God? Wouldn’t it just be easier just to write “God Is Dead” and put the whole incident behind him? GOD’S NOT DEAD weaves together multiple stories of faith, doubt and disbelief, culminating in a dramatic call to action. The film will educate, entertain, and inspire moviegoers to explore what they really believe about God, igniting important conversations and life-changing decisions.
Thanks to that lengthy synopsis, you probably don’t need to watch God Is Dead now, and you probably don’t want to either. It’s a ham-fisted Christian melodrama with an obvious agenda and a completely predictable outcome, barely to be enjoyed by only the most unshakably devout. Everyone else will probably just be offended.
Last Updated: July 17, 2015