Coming Soon Trailers: The Dark Tower, Detroit.

Movie Review: The Dark Tower (Spoiler Free.)

Coming Soon Trailers: The Dark Tower, Detroit.

Two of our most anticipated movies face off when The Dark Tower and Detroit go head to head.

Coming Soon Trailers: The Dark Tower, Detroit.

It’s a damn fine day in America when the three big movies duking it out this weekend feature excellent actors of color in the leads.  While I have mixed emotions about Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels, everything I’ve seen so far of the movie adaptation with Idris Elba looks aces.  Detroit, featuring John Boyega and Anthony Mackie, looks to be a powerful experience for audiences and has already been making waves in limited release.  I haven’t hear much early buzz for Kidnap, starring Halle Berry, but it looks decent.  I mean, it can’t be another Catwoman, can it?

On the home front, we’re in for a long weekend.  Eleven releases make their way to streaming this week, including one we featured on our look at Netflix’s August line-up.  I’m glad I’ve been saving up my Amazon reward points, because this week looks to be busy all around, as many of these flicks are surprisingly appealing.

Wide Release.

The Dark Tower.

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba)  is the last Gunslinger, an order of knights tasked with protecting the Dark Tower from evil and keeping order in their lands.  The Dark Tower is a cross-dimensional nexus that links every reality, but it is withering from constant assault from the forces of chaos, led by the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey).  Desperate to find and kill the Man in Black, Roland follows him to Earth where he finds an ally who may help him to finally reach the Dark Tower and set things right in all worlds.

See It?:  Yes.

I know that Sony has been flailing around looking for a hit, and so has produced movies of wildly varying quality.  For every Baby Driver there have been half a dozen Emoji Movies, Resident Evils, and Smurfs.  Similarly, The Dark Tower series itself is wildly inconsistent, ranging from awe-inspiring to rage-inducing.  I’m still on board.  The action is slick and stylish, and can border on the absurd, but I think it works.  God help me, and Sony, I think they got this one right.


A day at the park turns into a lethal chase when somebody grabs a young boy and tries to escape with him.  His mother (Halle Berry), without a phone, must pursue the kidnapper in her own vehicle, all while frantically trying to get the attention of the police and other motorists for help.

See It?:  See It on a Discount.

The start of the trailer is pretty off-putting with insipid dialogue and performances (oh god, I got Catwoman flashbacks…) When the action starts, though, this story gets going and I was hooked.  The action looks solid, Berry does harried/vengeful woman much better than doting mother, and the trailer made me interested in seeing how the script can sustain a chase sequence for duration of the film.  I’d catch a matinee or discount night in order to find out.

National Expansion.


During the race riots of the Detroit Rebellion, we witness the horrific events that transpired at the Algiers Hotel.  After a party gets out of hand, the police and National Guard fire upon civilians, and a sadistic cop with a hatred of minorities orchestrates a night of terror for the residents of the hotel.

See It?:  Maybe.

This film is reaping critical praise for its unflinching narrative, but also some vocal opposition by some who view the brutal depiction as akin to black suffering porn.  I’ve been looking forward to seeing this for a while now based on the track record of the director (Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Strange Days) and the talent involved (John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Will Poulter.) Unfortunately it’s not playing anywhere near me, so my initial reaction “wait for review” has turned to “it’s your call.”

Video On Demand.

The Legend of Ben Hall.

An outlaw and frontiersman, Ben Hall is no stranger to being wanted by the law.  When his old partner approaches him with one last robbery, he hopes to make enough money to leave Australia for good.  Things go poorly and Ben winds up with a bounty on his head and dead or alive status, making him a target with both the law and his former associates.

See It?:  Yes.

The performances and the action range from good to serviceable, but the real attraction for this Australian western is how meticulously the producers have tried to recreate a period-accurate portrayal of real-life legend Ben Hall.  There’s not enough westerns going around, so I can forgive some blemishes for such an ambitious undertaking.

Family Life.

Martin is an odd bachelor with no prospects until his desperate brother asks him to house sit for a few months.  When the family cat goes missing, Martin bumps into another person looking for a lost animal, and starts to form an attachment to her.  In order to win her over, he spins an elaborate lie about “his house” and “his former family” that works too well.  With his brother due home in a week, he must scramble to extricate himself from his own lies.

See It?:  Yes.

This is one of those movies that gets its hooks into you despite having a repugnant main character.  Hell, because of its repugnant main character.  Like a car wreck in slow motion, I could not look away from this.  There’s a bit of comedy, which I hope doesn’t overshadow the really thorny premise.  The trailer makes me desperate to know how it all turns out, so it’s done its job well.

Hilleman: A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children.

A documentary about Maurice Hilleman, the man who created the MMR vaccine, and how his work on it went widely unnoticed despite the life-saving effects of his creation. (no trailer link available, the link below goes to the site that has the trailer embedded.)

Hilleman documentary website.

See It?:  Yes.

While a bit formal and traditional, this is an engaging biopic about the doctor who helped tame some of the deadliest childhood diseases in the world.  That anti-vaxers are tripping all over themselves to trash the film is just added icing on the cake.  With all the garbage docs about vaccines out there, its nice to have one based on history and facts.

Volumes of Blood.

A couple looking at buying a home are given a gory tour where every room leads to a blood-soaked vignette.

See It?:  Skip it.

I usually like anthologies, but the production values on this are beyond poor and everything seems like it was stolen from better and more recognizable films.

Alien: Reign of Man.

With Earth on the edge of disaster, a team of space explorers is sent to a distant planet that may hold the key to revitalizing the world.

See It?:  For Parody Purposes Only.

This film looks like somebody is earnestly copying Ridley Scott’s Prometheus/Alien films with elements of Pitch Black thrown in.  It is such an un-self-conscious rip off, it almost approaches the watchable.  Sure, the CG is dog shit and the acting is the standard arm flailing nonsense you’d find in a knock-off…but there’s a certain charm.  Maybe wait for Rifftrax to get their hands on it.

The Mason Brothers.

When a bank heist goes wrong and kills their brother, two high-stakes thieves try to unravel which one of their accomplices set them up.

See It?:  Ha Ha Ha…Nope.

Oh no.  You’re not catching me again with a shitty indie heist movie!  Never again!!!

From self-proclaimed “visionary director” Keith Sutliff comes a robbery of a film that steals its style from Christopher Nolan and Heat, and its plot from Reservoir Dogs, all while floundering around with bad acting and a bad script.  Wow, we’re two for two when it come to over-eager knock-offs.


A documentary exploring the wide spread use of performance enhancing drugs in sports and the massive Russian Olympic scandal that blew the lid off doping.

See It?:  Yes.

Well crafted and visually interesting, you don’t need to really care about the subject to get caught up in the moving parts of this story.

Brave New Jersey.

A small town in New Jersey is caught unawares during the War of the Worlds hoax broadcast and promptly lose their minds.

See It?: Yes.

This is a funny and charming play on a famous (and mostly apocryphal) radio event.  I like the characters, I like the slightly gonzo style, and I like the setting.  This may not be high art, but its a smart and engaging little comedy.

Fun Mom Dinner.

A group of school moms get together and overcome their initial differences to discover the parts of their lives they’ve neglected because of motherhood.

See It?:  Skip It.

Haven’t we seen a dozen of these all ready?  The jokes are flat and the performances lifeless.  Go see any of the million other movies like this that have come out recently, like Girls Night.

68 Kill.

A kept man will do anything to please his thrill-seeking girlfriend.  When she gets wind of a large amount of cash being held by their landlord, she talks him into stealing it…but she has plans to turn a simple robbery into a gory blood soaked thrill ride.

See It?:  Yes.

I wanted to dislike this…but it just works.  An over-the-top plot that actually has its shit together and cheesy performances that are actually rock solid.  This movie is way better than it deserves to be on the technical merits, and it allows the crazy story to live and breathe.  Kudos.

Some Freaks.

Two marginalized teens discover that their relationship may have only ever have been a marriage of necessity when the young lady goes away to college and finds her own identity.

See It?: Yes.

This is a great little drama.  Both leads are well acted and well crafted.  They both grow and change in ways that make you feel for them, despite their failings.  I hate that dramas like this have to label their awkward characters as freaks and geeks, but this film manages to take and own the label.  Another surprise gem.


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