Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2015 Summer Movie Preview: July

I've already discussed the films that should be on your radar for the summer-season months of May and June, but July offers a long list of intriguing titles as well. With some bold new ideas as well as franchise spin-offs and continuations, July should offer a stellar crop of selections to choose from as well.

Honorable Mention: Arnold always said he'd be back, and he wasn't kidding! Terminator Genisys (July 1st) welcomes the former governor back to the franchise that helped launch his career. This time around Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and John Connor (Jason Clarke) team up with a terminator to try and stop judgment day from happening. Channing Tatum gave his best performance to date in 2014's Foxcatcher, but his loyal fans would label 2012's Magic Mike as the turning point of his career. Tatum returns as the star and co-writer of Magic Mike XXL (July 1st). Although I'm not a huge fan of animated films, I have enjoyed the Despicable Me franchise. The lovable little yellow guys get their own spin-off with Minions (July 10th). The Fault in Our Stars author, John Green, finds another adaptation of his reaching theatres this summer with Paper Towns (July 24th). In this story a shy teenager seeks out his longtime crush and neighbor after she mysteriously disappears. Hanna director Joe Wright creates his unique vision of "Neverland" with the film Pan (July 24th). Hugh Jackman stars as Captain Hook and Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily. And finally, I felt like the only person who wasn't overly impressed with the latest Mission: Impossible installment in 2011. The re-energized franchise unleashes Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation on July 31st. Tom Cruise reprises his role at Ethan Hunt on the quest to dismantle a highly-skilled rogue organization determined to destroy the IMF.

Trainwreck (July 17th)

Judd Apatow has cemented a firm legacy with comedy classics such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Apatow's upcoming comedy, Trainwreck, stars comedian Amy Schumer as a non-commital magazine writer who reluctantly falls for a sports doctor (Bill Hader) and contemplates the pros and cons of settling down. As a fan of Bill Hader, I was impressed with Trainwreck's debut trailer and I have lofty expectations for Judd Apatow's newest comedic endeavor.

Ant-Man (July 17th)

The Marvel universe continues to expand with Peyton Reed's Ant-Man. Paul Rudd stars as con-man Scott Lang who's recruited by him mentor,  Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), to help him pull off a heist that will ultimately save the world. With last year's successful new entry into the Marvel universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, we should all be excited for anything they release. Therefore, you can sign me up for Ant-Man this July.

Southpaw (July 31st)

After his phenomenal work in last year's Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal has really begun to establish himself as a premiere actor in Hollywood. This year he goes through an enormous physical transformation in Antoine Fuqua's Southpaw. Gyllenhaal headlines as a boxer whose life unravels just as he reaches the pinnacle of success. Despite my lack of affection for Fuqua's 2014 action-thriller, The Equalizer, if Gyllenhaal is on board, I'll definitely be checking it out. Southpaw arrives in theatres just before July expires.

*** Check out the preview for August

Monday, March 30, 2015

Southpaw and Spectre Trailers

Training Day director Antoine Fuqua disappointed me with last year's The Equalizer. However, I will definitely give him another chance to impress this July when he premieres the boxing drama, Southpaw. An almost unrecognizable Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Billy Hope, a bruising fighter who work his way to the top just as his world starts to crumble around him. Gyllenhaal gave an unbelievable Oscar-snubbed performance in Nightcrawler last year, and I'll watch just about anything he does at this point. Southpaw's boxing backdrop is just icing on the cake.

American Beauty filmmaker, Sam Mendes, took the reigns of the James Bond franchise with 2012's Oscar-winning Skyfall.  He returns this November with the highly anticipated follow up, Spectre. Daniel Craig reprises his role of James Bond as a cryptic message from his past directs him to a sinister organization. With the phenomenal Christoph Waltz in a villainous role, the sky is the limit for this newest installment. Check out the debut teaser trailer for Sam Mendes' Spectre below.

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Summer Movie Preview: June

Yesterday I discussed many of the major titles finding a theatrical release during the month of May. While Avengers: Age of Ultron will be a difficult film to top at any point of the summer, it appears as though June has its fair share of highly anticipated features as well.

Honorable Mention: A smattering of early reviews are in for Bridesmaids director Paul Feig's newest comedy, Spy (June 5th), and they're all overwhelmingly positive. Feig once again looks to his favorite collaborative partner, Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy, as a paperwork-pushing CIA analyst who volunteers to step into some real field work in order to bring down a dangerous arms dealer. Horror fans have clung to the Insidious franchise since James Wan's 2010 original installment. However, this time around the popular director hands the keys over to the franchise's scribe, Leigh Wannell, for Insidious: Chapter 3 (June 5th). This time around we're given a prequel following physic Elise Rainier's first encounter with a dark entity that's terrorizing a teenage girl. The 2015 Sundance Grand Jury prize winner, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (June 12th), received rave reviews and features Nick Offerman in a drama about a teenage filmmaker who befriends a cancer stricken classmate. As I've stated time and time again, I thoroughly enjoyed Maya Forbes indie comedy, Infinitely Polar Bear (June 19th), at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Mark Ruffalo arguably gives a career-best performance as a bipolar father who reluctantly agrees to take care of his two young daughters while his wife ventures back to graduate school to help provide for the family. Family films are typically money-printers and many expect Disney PIXAR's Inside Out (June 19th) to be no exception. After a girl is uprooted from mid-west living to San Francisco, each of the animated emotions living in her "headquarters" battle for control of her mind.

Entourage (June 5th)

Through eight roller coaster seasons that spanned from 2004 to 2011, the HBO hit series, Entourage, will make its long-awaited big-screen debut. Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his trio of best friends fearlessly take on Hollywood with the backing of their main confidant, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). While little has been revealed about the plot lines surrounding the Entourage film, all of the show's loyal fans have been clamoring for its release. And on June 5th, we're finally going to get ... Victory!

Jurassic World (June 12th)

Steven Spielberg dazzled audiences back in 1993 with the cinema classic, Jurassic Park. Appropriately set 22 years after the original, up-and-coming director Colin Trevorrow's highly anticipated return to the franchise, Jurassic World, is due for a colossal release this June. Guardians of the Galaxy star, Chris Pratt, headlines the film centered on a successfully fading dinosaur theme park at Isla Nubar that rushes a new attraction in order to bring back clientele. Needless to say, things go massively wrong. Trevorrow really impressed me with his 2012 indie sci-fi drama, Safety Not Guaranteed, leaving me extremely interested in this new installment.

Ted 2 (June 26th)

Seth MacFarlane transitioned flawlessly from an animation king (as the creator of Family Guy and American Dad) to a big-screen comedy director with the 2012 box-office smash, Ted. Grossing north of $500 million worldwide in ticket sales, a sequel was all but guaranteed. This summer Mark Wahlberg and the voice of Seth MacFarlane return in Ted 2. The film follows the foul-mouthed teddy bear after his wedding to Tami-Lynn, and the couple decides to have a child. However, the courts prohibit Ted from doing so unless he can prove he's a person. Within reason, Ted 2 could easily be a successful comedy sequel. Yet, the chance of it surpassing the original seems pretty unlikely. Either way, Ted 2 is sure to be one of the summer's biggest entries.

*** Check out the previews for July and August

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2015 Summer Movie Preview: May

After a bit of a break from the blog (courtesy of a wonderful 85-degree spring break in Florida and some exciting news that I'll be announcing in the near future), I'm back on track with my first installment of the 2015 Summer Movie Preview. Over the next week I'll be highlighting some of the most intriguing films arriving in theaters throughout the summer months, but today I begin with May.

Honorable Mention: The beloved Barden Bellas return to shock the a cappella world by trying to become the first American team to win a prestigious organized worldwide singing competition in Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15th). George Miller debuted his post-apocalyptic Mad Max franchise in 1979 on the shoulders of star, Mel Gibson. More than three decades later the auteur returns to its universe with the highly anticipated prequel, Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15th), starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. After taking a trip on the festival circuit, Andrew Niccol's ethical drama, Good Kill (May 15th), stars Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot who begins to question the morality of his profession. Horror fans will have to welcome another 80s remake to the genre with Gil Kenan's Poltergeist (May 22nd), thankfully Sam Rockwell is in the leading role which the idea of a return to the franchise stomach-able. May's closing weekend boasts the highly anticipated action-thriller, San Andreas (May 29th), which features Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a rescue-pilot who seeks to save his estranged daughter after violent earthquakes destroy California.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1st)

After grossing more than an unfathomable $1.5 billion in worldwide box office revenue in 2012, Marvel delivers the massively buzzed-about sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. The film begins with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) attempting to revive a peacekeeping movement. Yet, when one of his powerful creations, a robot named Ultron with impeccable Artificial Intelligence capabilities, goes rogue and turns on his creator, the Avengers must battle this villainous foe. Initial sneak peaks into the film support a dark-tone and a summer blockbuster for the ages.

Tomorrowland (May 22nd)

Based on a theme park world known throughout the Disney landscape, Brad Bird's Tomorrowland makes for an optimistic early summer treat. With a script from Lost's writer Damon Lindelof, the films follows a science-loving teen (Britt Robertson) and a former boy genius (George Clooney) who hope to unmask all of the secrets surrounding a shocking new world that they discover. Expectations continue to grow with Tomorrowland but, despite my reservations, we're guaranteed a visually-pleasing treat.

Aloha (May 29th)

As a huge fan of the entire cast surrounding Cameron Crowe's latest effort, Aloha, I can say with all sincerity that there are few people as excited as I am for its release. Bradley Cooper stars as Brian Gilcrest, a disliked US Weapons consultant who returns to a military base in Hawaii for a job. While there he finds himself caught up in the difficult task of receiving permission from locals to proceed the mission, as well as a love triangle between a former girlfriend who he let get away (Rachel McAdams) and the spry female soldier (Emma) assigned to assist him with his job. Co-starring Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin and Danny McBride, on the surface Aloha possesses all the makings of a spectacular romantic comedy.

*** Check out the previews for JuneJuly and August

Friday, March 20, 2015

Paper Towns and Infinitely Polar Bear Trailers

John Green's novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was adapted into an exceptional film thanks fantastic performances from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Now, another Green novel, Paper Towns, will make its big screen debut in 2015. Nat Wolff stars as Quentin a quiet high school teen with a lifelong crush on his free-spirited neighbor, Margo. After she goes missing one day, Quentin and his friends find clues that send them on an adventure to find her. Check out debut trailer for the upcoming teen flick release, Paper Towns.

Debuting at the 2014 Sundance Festival, Maya Forbes' hysterical and heartfelt comedy, Infinitely Polar Bear, was an absolute gem. Finally, the impressive indie film in expected to make a limited release in 2015. Mark Ruffalo gives one of his finest performances as a bipolar father experiencing marital problems, who takes on the daunting task of overseeing his daughters to help save his marriage while their mother relocates to another state to return to school. Although no release date has been formally announced, Infinitely Polar Bear is a fantastic feel-good movie you won't want to miss.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Best Sci-Fi Films of the 2010s so far

With this month's release of Neill Blomkamp's imaginative sci-fi adventure, Chappie, I've decided to use March's Movie List of the Month to highlight the best science fiction films so far this decade (click here for February's list). Although Chappie won't be found on the final list, Blomkamp did manage to produce one of the finest sci-fi features of last decade, District 9. And just as a disclaimer, it was a bold move but I have included one major parameter with the list. I've omitted any superhero movies from contention, so keep that in mind.

Honorable Mention: Chronicle, Cloud Atlas, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Gravity

#5. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

I don't know about you, but I like my sci-fi with a little bit of a romantic twist. I remember seeing a trailer for George Nolfi's The Adjustment Bureau in 2011 and thinking how peculiar its premise looked. When a fast-rising politician and a ballerina unexpectedly cross paths, their budding romance is put to the test by a secret unknown society tasked with keeping order in the world. It sounds strange, right? However, a wildly creative script and two magnificent lead performances from Matt Damon and Emily Blunt propel The Adjustment Bureau to elite sci-fi status ... and hats have never been so cool!

#4. Source Code (2011)

Another spectacular sci-fi film burst onto the scene in 2011, Duncan Jones' Source Code. Jones, the biological son of famed musician David Bowie, left him own imprint on the world as an artist with the 2009 indie sci-fi hit, Moon. And just a few years later, we were given an equally effective sci-fi tale starring Jake Gyllenhaal. When a soldier wakes up in someone else's body, he discovers that he's part of an experimental government program desperate to foil a mass bombing on a train. After his amazing performance in Nightcrawler last year, we all know how talented Gyllenhaal is as a performer. He proves exceptional in Source Code alongside standout turns from co-stars Vera Farmiga and Michelle Monaghan.

#3. Looper (2012)

Critics and audiences alike adored Rian Johnson's 2012 sci-fi feature, Looper. This time-travel themed story pits a contemporary mob assassin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) against his future self (Bruce Willis) once it's discovered that the mob wants to "close the loop". Despite being a bit of a lengthy affair that journeys every which way, Looper unravels as an action-packed and creative adventure from the brilliant mind of Rian Johnson (Brick). Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano co-star in this effective sci-fi treat that delivers an absolutely unforgettable finale.

#2. Interstellar (2014)

One of the most important aspects of any science fiction story is a filmmaker's desire to push boundaries, and perhaps no other visionary can compare to the great Christopher Nolan. Love him or hate him, he challenges himself and the audience with iconic pieces of cinema like last year's space adventure, Interstellar. With earth's resources fading quickly, a former pilot is called upon to journey deep into the farthest reaches of the cosmos to find some way to sustain human life. Nolan's lengthy, yet mesmerizing, tale features another excellent role from Matthew McConaughey, as well as third act for the ages. Although Interstellar was mostly snubbed during this past Oscar ceremony, it will most likely live on as 2014's most memorable film.

#1. Inception (2010)

Not only does director Christopher Nolan hold the second spot on my list, by a wide margin, he has a firm handle on the top spot as well. Keeping in context with how much cinema has evolved over the past five years with the extensive use of CGI, Inception truly broke the barrier at the turn of the decade. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, a thief banned from his home country and unable to ever see his children again. All until a powerful figure stumbles into his life with a very simple proposal. If Cobb can implant an idea into a CEO's subconscious using a dream-sharing technology, then he'll be granted immunity and able to reunite with his children. 

As a polarizing film that's been mocked and scorned almost just as much as it's been praised by its loyal fans, Inception's beauty transcends far beyond its controversial and ambiguous final shot. Like many others obsessed with the ending, I had a brief moment of fixation on knowing what does (or doesn't) happen to that spinning top. However, the fact that Cobb can turn away from that spinning top so easily and head for his children simply reinforces that the audience should be able to do exactly the same. Inception is a genius effort from a truly amazing and groundbreaking science fiction filmmaker.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tomorrowland (New) and Ride Trailers

Academy Award winner Brad Bird brings the anticipated summer blockbuster, Tomorrowland, to the big screen this May. Britt Robertson stars as a teen consumed by scientific curiosities who teams with a former boy-genius (George Clooney) on an adventure to unravel the secrets of an unknown world in their collective memory. It sounds a bit puzzling, but based on the futuristic theme land at Disney theme parks across the globe, Tomorrowland could very well possess all the makings of the next big Disney hit.

Despite making its festival premiere in November, Oscar winner Helen Hunt's Ride will arrive in select theaters this year. As writer, director and star Hunt takes center stage as Jackie, a mother who ventures to California to convince her recent drop-out son (Brenton Thwaites) to give up his dream of surfing and return to school. With Luke Wilson also on board in a supporting role and clocking in at a brisk 93 minutes, Ride appears to have all the necessary ingredients for a successful indie dramedy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rapid Reviews: Chappie and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Visionary filmmaker Neill Blomkamp captured the imagination of audiences worldwide with his thought-provoking 2009 sci-fi masterpiece, District 9. His follow-up effort, Elysium, was far less impressive, but the feature still managed to push the envelope thanks to Blomkamp's original ideas. Now in theaters is the director's third film, Chappie, which happens to be yet another bold science-centric adventure.

Clearly a modern re-imagining of the 80s classic, Short Circuit, Dev Patel stars as a computer programmer who figures out how to maximize artificial intelligence and give machines the unique ability to think and feel like humans. Completely aware that he's onto something revolutionary, the programmer goes against his superior's wishes and uploads the software to a robot that's destined for the scrap heap. However, unfortunate circumstances place the super-advanced robot, Chappie, in the possession of a group of thugs intending to use him for crime.

For as clever and cerebral as Chappie is, the feature's remarkable themes and hidden potential aren't explored nearly enough. Instead, Blomkamp glosses over these immense possibilities in exchange for a highly action-packed story that gives an overabundance of screen time to Hugh Jackman's unnecessary character. As a result, all of the beauty and mystique surrounding Chappie falls victim to gun fire, explosions and futuristic mayhem that adds no depth to the story whatsoever. Chappie culminates as a mediocre film that squanders some exceptional potential.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

In 2011 director John Madden debuted a very profitable little indie dramedy called, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The charming little story followed a collection of aging goof balls who venture to India in hopes of a luxurious retirement. Instead, their greeted by a rambunctious and young entrepreneur named Sonny (Dev Patel), who slowly turns a not-so dreamy hotel into an iconic residence for the elderly.

Four years later and Madden returns with a slightly unexpected sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sonny and his main confidant, Muriel (Maggie Smith), desire to expand their blossoming product all while a slick old friend named Kushal puts a damper in Sonny's wedding planning. It's a nice treat to see the old cast reunited, however the second go-around doesn't quite match its predecessor.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel attempts to get by on more of the same charm it demonstrated in the first installment, however weaker storylines and an over-extended cast generate a mounted running time that doesn't flow so smooth this time through. While the original certainly had a bit of hokiness to it, the sequel drowns itself in fairy-tale sentiment that ultimately runs its course. There are definitely a fair amount of laughs to ease the audience from start to finish, but cliche subplots reign supreme in this unnecessary follow-up from John Madded.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron (NEW) and Furious 7 Trailers

As I've indicated with my poll question of the month (upper right hand corner of the site), 2015's summer blockbuster season could be one of the biggest ever. Placed firmly in the center of this intriguing crop of films is Joss Whedon's highly anticipated sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. When Tony Stark re-initiates a peace-keeping program, things go terribly wrong when his latest creation, a powerful robot with advanced artificial intelligence named Ultron, plots to destroy humankind. Arriving in theaters on May 1st, check out the newest and most informative trailer yet for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

While I'm admittedly not up to date with my Fast & Furious knowledge, the cash-printing franchise returns this April. The 7th installment follows Deckard Shaw in his deadly pursuit against Dominic Toretto for killing his brother. Everyone's familiar with the tragic circumstances surrounding Paul Walker's untimely death and its effects on Furious 7. With James Wan set to direct, this should be a stellar farewell to one of the franchise's biggest stars.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Unfinished Business

Film: Unfinished Business

Starring: Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers), Tom Wilkinson (Selma) and Dave Franco (Neighbors)

Director: Ken Scott (Delivery Man)

U.S. Release: March 6th, 2015 (Rated R)

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 91 minutes

Vince Vaughn broke out onto the scene in Doug Liman's 1996 indie comedy, Swingers. Nearly 20 years later and the tall and imposing funny man is still taking front and center roles on an annual basis. However, it's been a dozen years since the smash hit Old School debuted and even a decade since Wedding Crashers took the world by storm, so clearly Vaughn's quality of work has been watered down over time. But for as much flack as he receives for falling off the proverbial cliff in his most recent endeavors, I've always believed that contemporary films like Delivery Man, The Internship and The Watch are far more mediocre than unbearable. And in his latest comedic effort, Unfinished Business, we're given a comparable level of Vaughn that we've grown accustomed to over the years.

Dan Trunkman (Vaughn) works his tail off for a large company traveling all over the place and missing out on his family's lives. So when he's asked to take a 5% pay-cut in salary after delivering an extremely profitable year, Dan channels his inner Jerry Maguire and decides to start up his own company and compete against the big boys. And to make matters worse, the only two men he manages to recruit for the team are an aging old-timer (Tom Wilkinson) and an intellectually lacking newbie named Mike Pancake (Dave Franco).

There are plenty of hits and misses sprinkled all throughout the raunchy and riotous comedy, Unfinished Business. One of the most notable deficiencies looms over the film's dramatic story centering around the main character's family life. Issues surrounding bullying feel extremely out of place and forced into the script, almost to the point of being distractedly bad. Furthermore, Unfinished Business tries to amp up its R-rating with tasteless humor surrounding female and male nudity that violently screams lazy writing. The feature possesses a bit of an identity crisis as it struggles to differentiate itself between a vulgar road-trip comedy and an endearing family film. Failing to fully commit one way or the other, Unfinished Business ultimately loses itself and the audience in the process, proving to be yet another run of the mill comedy in Vince Vaughn's lengthy filmography.

Despite my less than rewarding remarks regarding director Ken Scott's latest film, Unfinished Business is by no means a dreadful viewing experience. While the general story is unimaginative and the tone is unbalanced, a collection of quirky and off-kilter characters help ease the audience through a brisk 91-minute running time. The most memorable performance comes from the rising star, Dave Franco, who's downright hilarious as the "special" member of the trio. Tom Wilkinson is no slouch either, as a miserable old man desperate to let loose on their European adventure. And finally, an exceptional turn from the always wonderful Nick Frost, in a brief but effective role, all but reaffirms the strengths of the film's supporting characters.

Unfinished Business is a typical early year release that's easy to sit through, but just as easy to forget. There's no harm in this wacky comedy, but there aren't many perks either. If you want to indulge in some thoughtless humor for an hour and a half, here's your chance. Just make sure that you expect a quality of film comparable to many of Vince Vaughn's other recent works.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

DVD Outlook: March 2015

After February's DVD selections included a pair from my Top 10 Films of 2014, it was reassuring to see March follow suit with some of last year's finest offerings. And since the weather hasn't seemed to warm up yet in many part of the U.S., this time of year may be perfect for you to catch up on some hot titles!

Foxcatcher - 4 stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)

While I recommend my top film of 2014, Bennett Miller's true crime drama, Foxcatcher, I do so with many reservations. Anyone with local ties to the story of American's most wealthy murderer, John E. du Pont, or any fans of the freestyle wrestling community are sure to find plenty to enjoy with the film. Channing Tatum gives an overlooked and magnificent turn as Olympic Gold Medalist, Mark Schultz, a shy and quiet athletic star who could never escape the enormous shadow of his more outspoken and beloved older brother, David (Mark Ruffalo). Yet, when a multi-millionaire named John du Pont (Oscar Nominated Steve Carell) pinpoints Mark as the perfect candidate to run his lavish training facility in hopes of restoring America's standing in the world's wrestling community, the impressionable athlete graciously accepts the opportunity to pave his own path. What transpires between this trio of men is creepy, disturbing and utterly devastating. Although Foxcatcher refuses to spell out every detail and requires the audience to make their own connections, Bennett Miller conjures up a gripping story with slowly mounting tension that explodes in an unforgettable finale. (March 3rd)

Interstellar - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)

While my top recommendation, Foxcatcher, is a polarizing film that some will love and many will hate, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is an epic sci-fi journey that's more appropriate for general audiences. Matthew McConaughey stars as Cooper, a former pilot-turned-corn farmer raising his children in a resource-ridden America set in the near future. And after Cooper stumbles across a secret NASA-like experiment designed to thrust a group of explorer's into the depths of space in order to find a new home for humanity, he agrees to leave his children and pilot the mission. Nolan manages to bend and shape everything we understand about time and space in this Oscar-winning feature filled with breath-taking special effects and a superb score from Hans Zimmer. Interstellar is a mightily ambitious film that sports an occasional plot hole, but they become easy to overlook in a story of this magnitude. (March 31st)

The Imitation Game - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)

My third main suggestion of the month is another Oscar-winning film (Best Adapted Screenplay), that's ironically still out in select theatres nationwide. However, if you're looking to avoid those lofty ticket prices, then The Imitation Game is a fine choice for either DVD or Blu-Ray in a home setting. Oscar Nominee Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the real life mathematician, Dr. Alan Turing, who was selected by the British Army to head a team of cryptographers tasked with cracking the German's enigma code during the heart of World War II. The anti-social and smug mathematician must learn to communicate and open up his ideas to the rest of the team in order to help Britain win the war. The Imitation Game is a fine film on just about every level. There isn't anything that's specifically amazing about the feature, but it's a really solid watch that's guaranteed to be enjoyed by anyone who encounters it. (March 31st)

Honorable Mention: Two other films I really enjoyed this year were the Chris Rock comedy, Top Five (3/17), and Jean-Marc Vallee's Oscar-recognized film, Wild (3/31). Another pair of Oscar films that I didn't love are also arriving to DVD this month, Angelina Jolie's Unbroken (3/24) and the adapted musical Into the Woods (3/24). Two major blockbuster sequels that  I haven't seen will be available as well, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (3/24) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (3/6). And finally, if you're seeking some decent independent films, a pair of 2014 Sundance selections that I thought were all right include the drama Song One (3/24) starring Anne Hathaway and the pretentious comedy Listen Up Philip (3/10) featuring Jason Schwartzman.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Poll Question Results: February 2015

The new Will Smith film, Focus, debuted to a strong weekend box office of $19.1 million, high enough to earn the top spot. February's Poll Question of the Month centered around Will Smith's career work asking, "What's your favorite Will Smith film". The top vote-getter was Smith's 1997 blockbuster, Men in Black, which captured 36% of the votes. Close behind and tied for second place were Independence Day and I am Legend (21% each). And finally, tied for last place were another pair of films, namely The Pursuit of Happyness (for which Smith was nominated for an Academy Award) and the original Bad Boys (11% each).

You can participate in March's poll question of the month, located in the top right corner of the site, which takes a look at 2015's biggest summer blockbusters. Be sure to cast your vote and let me know which 2015 blockbuster you're looking forward to the most!