Movies out Today: 4 December 2015

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This week’s two biggest releases are all about nostalgia, with the new Peanuts movie vying for attention next to another trip down memory lane, Creed. You’ll be glad to know that both come very highly recommended, and we don’t have to bemoan modern movies ruining our childhood favourites. Damn, I guess we’ll have to find something else to be outraged over this week.

  • Creed

Adonis Johnson never knew his famous father, world heavy weight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa. Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo – the fierce rival who became his closest friend.

Call me a cynic, but I never would have expected Creed to be good, never mind 4.5/5 stars from Kervyn good. Resurrecting the Rocky franchise in a half-spin-off, half-sequel, Creed does what Rocky Balboa failed to do back in 2006, which is actually update the franchise and take it in a new, more plausible direction, while still paying excellent homage to its predecessors and staying true to its origins. Creed introduces some new blood in the form of Michael B. Jordan, but Stallone’s Rocky completely steals the show. Some critics have even been so bold as to claim it’s the best since the original, so if you’re a fan you won’t be disappointed.

  • Snoopy & Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved “Peanuts” gang make their big-screen debut, like they’ve never been seen before, in state of the art 3D animation. Charlie Brown, the world’s most beloved underdog, embarks upon an epic and heroic quest, while his best pal, the lovable beagle Snoopy, takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron.

Who doesn’t have fond memories of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts characters? Now brought to life once more for the big screen in The Peanuts Movie, they’re exactly how you remember them. Sweet and innocent and oh so familiar, this movie is like welcoming an old friend. With the right amount of nostalgia without feeling stagnant or ruining a classic, Snoopy & Charlie Brown gets 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Good Kill

In the shadowy world of drone warfare, combat unfolds like a video game-only with real lives at stake. After six tours of duty, Air Force pilot Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) yearns to get back into the cockpit of a real plane, but he now fights theTaliban from an air-conditioned box in the Las Vegas desert. When he and his crew start taking orders directly from the CIA, and the stakes are raised, Egan’s nerves-and his relationship with his wife (Mad Men’s January Jones)-begin to unravel. Revealing the psychological toll drone pilots endure as they are forced to witness the aftermath of their fight against insurgents, Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War) directs this riveting insider’s view of 21st-century warfare, in which operatives target enemies from half a world away.

Drone warfare is a serious hot-button topic, and anyone with any opinion about politics probably has something to say about it. Wrapping these sensitive political questions into a psychological character drama and held firmly in place by Ethan Hawke’s incredible, raw performance, Good Kill will certainly make you stop and think. Even if it might be hard to watch at times, it still earns 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Elsa & Fred

Elsa has lived for the past 60 years dreaming of a moment that Fellini had already envisaged: the scene in ‘La Dolce Vita’ at the Fontana di Trevi. The same scene without Anita Ekberg in it, but with Elsa instead. Without Marcello Mastroiani but with that love that took so long to arrive. Fred is a bit younger than Elsa and has always been a good man who did everything he was supposed to do. After losing his wife, he feels disturbed and confused and his daughter decides that it would be best if he moves into a smaller apartment where he ends meeting Elsa. From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into his life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live — be it more or less — is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases. Fred surrenders to Elsa’s frenzy, to her youth, to her boldness, to her beautiful madness.

I don’t know about you, but I read that blurb three or four times in a row and it still doesn’t make sense. It’s taken from the movie’s official website but, I dunno hey, it just didn’t click for me. Maybe I’m just super tired while I’m writing this (somewhere after 11pm on a weekday night), or maybe octogenarian romance movies just aren’t my thing. Either way, as much as I was unimpressed by the blurb, critics have been unimpressed by Elsa & Fred in general, calling it “light-weight”, “bland”, “cringe-worthy”, and (my personal favourite) “gooey”. Only rating it worthy of 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, Elsa & Fred plays off more less like a great Italian romance, and more like a TV sitcom.

  • Bus 657

When their attempt to rob a casino owned by the feared gangster Pope (Robert De Niro) goes awry and a shootout ensues, Vaughn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Cox (Dave Bautista) are forced to flee on foot and hijack city Bus 657 and take the passengers hostage. Now, in a high speed chase, Vaughn will not only have to outwit the police, led by Officer Bajos (Gina Carano) who are in hot pursuit, but he will have to contend with Pope’s maniacal right hand man, Dog (Morris Chestnut), in order to make it through the day alive. But we quickly learn that things are not what they seem, and Vaughn has more than one card up his sleeve.

I’ve noticed a weird trend. Every time a movie is renamed somewhere during production, and then released under different names in different territories, it turns out to be quite terrible. I don’t know why that is, but Bus 657 (a.k.a. Heist to the rest of the world) is no exception. It’s vapid and generic, made worse by the potential that sometimes flits across the screen, only for it to disappoint you again and again with just how… dull it is. De Niro, I expect better from you. Don’t pull a Nic Cage on us now.

Last Updated: December 4, 2015

Tracy Benson

All about movies, board games, cider, sci-fi, fantasy and geek culture.

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