Coming Soon Trailers: The Foreigner, Happy Death Day.
Jackie Chan has a new thriller out on my birthday…oh, and some other movies come out this week as well.
I don’t know if Jackie Chan can save the box office with his new film, The Foreigner, but I’m as excited for this movie as I’ve been for a flick all year. Seeing as how The Foreigner is already crushing box offices in Asia, Chan may be just what we need. I know what we don’t need – Happy Death Day, a horror movie that is the millionth movie in recent memory to use the Groundhog’s Day time loop gimmick. We just had a teen horror movie that used that gimmick last year. Hollywood really likes to bang their head against the same closed door over and over again!
On the home market, we have a very busy week with some interesting projects. From the makers of Bone Tomahawk comes a brutal prison drama starring Vince Vaughn that actually looks legit. We also have a remake of an early Francis Ford Coppola film, Dementia 13, an inspiring documentary about the role of education in children’s’ lives around the world, and a drama about a hockey player stranded on a mountain. OK, wow, I really just typed that. Well, let’s see if it’s any good!
A man named Quan with a violent past (Jackie Chan) tries to escape his ghosts by moving to the UK with his daughter, only to have tragedy strike. When his daughter is killed in a terrorist bombing tied to former Irish rebels, Quan will stop at nothing to find the men responsible and make them pay. Standing in his way is a government official (Pierce Brosnan) who has his own unspeakable secrets.
See It?: Um, YES!
Chan has never really left the movie biz, though his acclaim has somewhat diminished in the west outside of voice work. That’s unfortunate as he’s making the best movies of his career lately. Police Story: Lockdown was a fantastic crime drama and Little Big Soldier was a clever and entertaining addition to the Chinese historical epics that have dominated the Asian market. While he still makes comedies, he’s shown that he’s not afraid to tackle any genre and he is willing to make a dark and gritty movie. The Foreigner is probably his darkest film to date, and director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) is more than capable of making a rough and tumble action thriller.
Happy Death Day.
A young college student wakes up one day with a strong sense of deja vu. Her day seems very familiar…right up until the point where she is brutally murdered. Having to relive her final day over and over, she sets out to find out who killed her and if she can escape her gruesome fate.
See It?: Nope.
This time-loop schtick has got to take a rest. We’ve just seen it way too many times, from science fiction films like Edge of Tomorrow, to thrillers like Source Code, to horror films like Before I Fall. That last one came out this year! Besides this over-used gimmick, this film feels like a combination of Final Destination and Scream, two other horror staples that have been done to death. Nothing new to see here, so give it a pass.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.
A biographical drama about the man who created Wonder Woman, and the women in his life who provided much of the inspiration and creative impetus behind the famous Amazonian super heroine.
See It?: A Surprise Yes.
I know Wonder Woman is big business right now, but I was dubious about a biographical drama about the love triangle at the heart of her creation. This trailer convinced me that this film is worth your time, with fine performances and a story that doesn’t pull punches. I just think lots of people expecting super hero stuff and Wonder Woman front and center are going to get their stars and garters in a twist come opening day!
A biographical drama about the early career of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American supreme court justice. When a white boss accuses her black chauffeur of sexual assault, Marshall must argue the case alongside another inexperienced young lawyer and contend with a society that has found his client guilty based on race before the trial even begins.
See It?: Catch a matinee.
I like what Chadwick Boseman brings to the role, and I think the trailer has enough voltage to catch attention. There is the wider social justice arc married to a tight legal drama. I can’t quite see running out to catch this on the big screen opening day, but I think it will be well worth your time as a matinee.
Video on Demand.
The Great Day.
A documentary that follows several children from around the world as they reach milestones in their educational careers, from vying for scholarships in India, to training for the Olympics in Cuba.
See It?: Rent It.
A solid premise with a wide geographical and cultural appeal, I like what is on display here. There’s plenty for all to enjoy in this documentary, and it’s well shot and paced.
A house filled with secrets thrusts a family into a nightmare involving a masked killer and a vengeful ghost.
See It?: Yes, Alongside the Original.
This movie can stand on its own. There are plenty of creepy visuals and interesting twists in that elevate the cursed house genre. I think the real appeal, though, is in seeing what this film brings to the table in regards to remaking Coppola’s first film, which is often neglected by fans of that famous director’s work.
Alex & Eve.
A modern Romeo and Juliet story with socio-cultural nuances based on a hit Australian play. Alex is a Greek Orthodox man who is being forced into an arranged marriage, but is secretly in love with Eve, a Lebanese Muslim woman, who is also facing an arranged marriage.
See It?: Skip It.
Despite the serious notes of star crossed lovers seperated by religion, this film feels more like My Big Fat Greek-Orthodox/Muslim Wedding. The characters are broad and the comedy is heavy on slapstick, which robs the film of gravity when it wants to get romantic or serious.
A professional golfer in the LPGA returns home to Greece after a televised meltdown that threatens to end her career. Back home, she tries to fit back into a world she left behind while discovering another young woman who dreams of becoming a professional golfer.
See It?: Burn It with Fire.
I rarely turn of a trailer before the end. This trailer made me punch the eject button. The story is paper thin and filled with cliches, bad acting, and unlikable characters. I couldn’t care less about the premise and the cringe-worthy hackneyed elements forced me to shut the browser.
Brawl in Cell Block 99.
After a series of bad breaks and bad decisions, a former boxer (Vince Vaughn) winds up in prison, where he gets sucked into a violent crime ring that is bigger than anything he experienced on the outside.
See It?: Yes.
I like the no nonsense style of the director S. Craig Zahler, who is seems to relish creating damaged characters who are forced to confront senseless and horrific violence. Despite that, his characters feel real and grounded, mostly due to the excellent dialogue. Zahler creates his style by breaking and rearranging common elements that other directors discard, making him a director whose work I’m always intrigued by.
A group of friends visit a theme park focussed on Halloween and horror, boasting visuals that seem too real…because they are. Now trapped in a carnival asylum of masked weirdos and horror buffs, the teens must escape before they become part of the attractions.
See It?: Yes…If You Like Torture Porn like Hostel.
This is unvarnished torture porn like SAW or Hostel…but it’s well done torture porn. You have to be OK with the genre to make it through without losing your lunch, but if that’s your bag then this is one of the best straight to streaming offerings in the genre in quite some time.
6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain.
A former hockey star whose life is spiraling out of control tries to forget his problems with a snowboarding trip to a secluded mountain, but winds up trapped by a killer storm. As his family desperately try to find him, he is forced to confront his life choices and discover what he wants to live for.
See It: Sure.
Here you go, a faith-based movie that is finally a movie first and church sermon second. Josh Hartnett is good as the protagonist (and frankly too good an actor to be stooping to faith based fluff, but whatever,) and the story is a solid -if formulaic – nature survival drama. The visuals are solid and the dialogue is not over-heated, so if come to Jesus movies are your cup of tea, this is probably the strongest one out there this year.
After being brutally raped and then written off by the authorities, a young art student descends into violence and destruction in order to find any sort of justice.
See It?: Yes.
A powerful and timely thriller about college sexual violence, it features a knock-out performance by Francesca Eastwood. The way the story unfolds, coupled with the cinematography and sound work all lead to an edge-of-your seat film. Must see.