August 26, 2016

Off The Pace: Fall Movie Preview

As August comes to a conclusion, I've done the math: I only went to the movies eight times so far in 2016. That puts me on track to see 12 or 11 movies in 2016, an historic low.
Unless I want to set a ignominious record, I need to go to the movies at least five times in September, October, November, and December. So what's coming up this fall? I reviewed the upcoming slate and there's seven strong candidates coming up. Here they are ranked by likelihood I will see them:
  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story looks so great I may see it twice!
  2. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them looks like a slam dunk.
  3. Moana looks like fun, so maybe I'll get to take my boy to see it;
  4. The Girl on the Train: The television commercial gave me goosebumps!
  5. The Birth of a Nation: Looks heavy but it's getting great reviews.
  6. All I know about Passengers is it stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, and the premise is right up my alley: "A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 60 years early."
  7. The Jack Reacher sequel: the first Jack Reacher was okay on home video (I gave it a C-plus in 2014), but this sequel is directed by Edward Zwick, a legit director who previously directed Cruise in The Last Samurai; Zwick also directed the war movies Defiance , Courage Under Fire, and Glory. I also liked his melodrama Legends of the Fall.

Twelve Weeks Later UPDATE

Expect the unexpected, I guess: since I wrote the above post in late August, I have been to the movies five times to bring my 2016 total to 13, BUT I haven't seen any of the above 7 films. Instead I saw Kubo & The Two Strings, Blazing Saddles (RIP Gene Wilder), Eight Days a Week, Arrival, and The Clock (again). I'm optimistic that I'll get to see Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts. Moana is a stretch goal for 2016.

August 21, 2016

Jason Bourne

More of the same from the Bourne franchise, Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass continue to deliver quality action and thrills, but there's not much point to it. The Greek riots / motorcycle sequence was masterful, and the Las Vegas smash & dash car chase was muscular. When CIA spooks follow Jason Bourne around town, what's new there? Something happens and then some spook repeats what just happened out loud as if nobody in the room had seen it? Four films into the franchise and the CIA spooks continue to underestimate Bourne: no one ever thinks "he'll be expecting us to act just like this - how can we outwit him?"
Finally, I don't understand how a movie with so many cold-blooded murders can be rated PG-13. The moment an assassin shoots an innocent person in the head point-blank out of convenience, that is no longer a PG-13 movie. The MPAA rating system is completely broken if this film can get a PG-13. (Somerville Theater, screen 5)

August 20, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

Quality Star Trek story, even if the details are a bit hard to follow. A couple of lines of dialogue here and there were super clunky.
The chemistry between the leads is terrific, they really seem to be growing into their roles. The production design is outstanding; the best of the three new movies. I think they're trying too hard with the weirdly-shaped alien heads, but maybe that's just me. The Yorktown space station is crazy complicated, I think they've crossed the line from visually interesting to just plain old confusing, but it's hard to blame them for trying too hard when so many movies fall back on cliche. 
I found the cinematography dizzying. The director seems to be obsessed with rotating the camera around in barrel rolls like an old-timey barnstormer. (Somerville Theater Screen 2)
RELATED: For my complete history, see To Boldly Go To The Theater To See Star Trek