Friday, September 18, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

My ViewMaze Runner: The Scorch Trials  (2015)  PG-13  Having figured out and escaped The Maze, the Gladers now are confronted with a new set of challenges on the open roads of a vast and desolate landscape. If you did not see the first film (which I liked), just know that the “Wicked,” as the name implies, are the bad guys. I liked this film as much as the first one. The action rarely stops and is well done. There are quite a few scary parts in the film, with some intense scenes with a few ugly creatures. The cast comes through, and I enjoyed the performance of Dylan O’Brian, who plays the hero of the story. In the first film, I found his performance a little dull but he has grown into the role. This is a fun action film that makes me want to see the third film.  My Rating: Full Price   Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
My ViewBlack Mass  (2015)  R  The film depicts the rise and fall of the ruthless and violent Boston mobster, Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), in the 1970s and 80s.  This was supposed to be Johnny Depp’s Oscar contender and get him out of the bad movie/performance rut that he has been in. While it’s a fine performance, it’s certainly not Oscar-worthy. The film is flat and slow moving. There is not much character development, and it seems to be a movie about how many ways Whitey can kill people. I didn’t feel any tension throughout the film and never cared for any of the characters or their outcome. I was also disappointed in the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Whitey’s politician brother. Cumberbatch mails in his performance, maybe because he had a hard time mastering the tough Boston accent. Black Mass never delivers the punch that it needs, and, by the end, you don’t care if Whitey lives or dies.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My ViewEverest  (2015)  PG-13  Climbing Everest is a tough task.  In 1996, a storm made climbing Everest nearly impossible to survive.  It’s rare that I say this, but I would have liked this film to be just a little bit longer and that the film would have given us more scenes about the climbers preparing for the trip, letting us see the characters interact with their loved ones and friends. Instead, the film starts with the climbers meeting up at the airport in Nepal. This lessens the impact of our understanding and sympathy for the characters as they fight to survive. The film is spectacular to watch, with outstanding shots of the mountain and the climbers. I rarely recommend the IMAX experience but, in this case, the film in IMAX is worth the extra bucks. This is a well-done film that lets you experience, up close and personal, what its like to climb a  treacherous mountain. The cast is one of the best ensembles I’ve seen with Jason Clarke standing out as the leader of the climb, Rob Hall. Josh Brolin is exceptional as the hard-headed Texan, and John Hawkes gives a truly moving performance as the climber on his third attempt to get to the summit. It’s a gut-wrenching film that will have you on the edge of your seat. And, be warned, take a sweater. I guarantee that you will feel the chill of the mountain.  My Rating: Full Price   Everest Website
IndiefestPawn Sacrifice  (2015)  PG-13  At the height of the Cold War, the world stopped to watch a series of chess matches between American champion Bobby Fisher (Tobey Maguire) and the Russian Grand Master Champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber).  Director Edward Zwick and screenwriter Steven Knight create a film that is part political thriller, with all the intrigue of a spy film, and part character study. It's the story of a man whose mind is slowly losing its grip, just as he needs it the most. Zwick and Knight have created a protagonist that isn’t likable, and it’s to Maguire’s credit that we continue to root for Fisher to win, in spite of his personality and his beliefs. Maguire never softens his portrayal of Fisher, who seemingly had two sides - the ultra-paranoid person who doubted everything and the strong-willed chess player who was confident in his abilities to defeat anyone.  “Pawn Sacrifice” is a fascinating movie that will keep you glued to the screen, even if you know the eventual outcome.    My Rating: Full Price   Pawn Sacrifice Website       
IndiefestRosenwald  (2015)    Documentary on Julius Rosenwald, who became the President of Sears and was inspired by the writings of the educator Booker T. Washington.  Rosenwald went on to join forces with African-American communities during the Jim Crow South to build more than 5,300 schools during the early part of the 20th century.  Aviva Kempner brings us another stunning and informative film in “Rosenwald.” Kempner uses old photographs combined with interviews with a diverse group of people including Julian Bond, Maya Angelou, Rep. John Lewis and Rita Dove. Bond and the others give background on just what the profound effect of Rosenwald and his schools had on the communities (most interviewees attended a Rosenwald school). One of the highlights of the film is when Maya Angelou talks, with pride, about her Rosenwald school and how much it affected her community. The community she lived in was so proud of the schools that when children got “A’s” they were paraded around from church to church to receive recognition and praise. It’s a warm, inspirational film that makes you admire and respect how one man had an idea that would change so many lives.   My Rating:  Full Price   Rosenwald Website
Forgotten FilmFallen (1998)  R  Homicide detective John Hobbes (Denzel Washington) helped in catching serial killer Edgar Reese (Elias Koteas).  Hobbes even witnesses Reese’s execution. Now, there are murders happening again in the same manner that Reese used to kill his victims.  Could Reese have come back from the dead?  This is a gripping horror story that is well written and never goes for the easy scare.  As usual, Washington gives an outstanding performance as does John Goodman, who plays Washington’s police partner.  The ending is a little weak, but it’s a wonderful ride to get there.   My Rating: Full Price   Fallen Info  

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Everest:  Charge Hand Dressing Props

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Sicario  (2015)  R  An FBI agent (Emily Blunt) is sent to join a task force to aid Mexico in the war against the drug cartels.  Critics are raving about this film, and Emily Blunt has proven that she can be an action star.  The film has a distinguished cast including Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Donovan, and Victor Garber.   Sicario Website
Until Next Time!

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