Venom is one of the more popular Spider-Man villains, so him getting his own movie isn’t surprising. Unfortunately, “Venom” can’t decide what kind of a movie it is, and never really comes together as a fun ride or a gritty exploration of body horror and coming to terms with the monster within. Venom fans and Tom Hardy fans will want to see this, but everyone else will probably be unimpressed.
Directed By: James McTeigue
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Ajiona Alexus, Levi Meaden, Seth Carr
Rated: PG-13 for violence, menace, bloody images, sexual references, and brief strong language.
A mom breaking heads to save her kids isn’t a new story, and “Breaking In” isn’t a great film. It’s moderately entertaining, though, and solid as a popcorn movie watched while you escape the heat on a sweltering afternoon.
Directed by: Michael Cuesta Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Charlotte Vega, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan Rated: R (strong violence throughout, some torture, language and brief nudity) There’s something uniquely disappointing about a movie that checks off all the tick-boxes for a decent action-thriller-type film but just doesn’t pull it all together. “American Assassin” is a film in this category. Worse, it doesn’t have enough self-awareness to make it campy and fun. This movie and its characters takes the whole thing very, very seriously. The sole exception is Michael Keaton, but he’s not enough to save this movie. Our protagonist, Mitch (Dylan O’Brien), loses his girlfriend in a terrorist attack and becomes obsessed with infiltrating and executing terrorist cells. The CIA saves him during a mission, then recruits him into a small program where people like him get trained to do that kind of thing professionally. The program is run by Stan Hurley (Keaton), who has seen
Directed by: D.J. Caruso Starring: Vin Diesel, Toni Collette, Deepika Padukone, Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Kris Wu, Rory McCann, Samuel L. Jackson Rated: PG-13 for extended sequences of gunplay and violent action, and for sexual material and language As we saw Samuel L. Jackson say in the trailer for “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage,” the entire point of this film is for our heroes to “Kick some butt, get the girl, and try to look dope while you do it.” The women don’t need saving (and do a lot of dope-looking butt-kicking themselves), but otherwise? It nails it. This is not a film about character, serious ideas, or story. This is a big, dumb action movie. It’s a solid entry in the class to which it aspires, so if that’s what you like, you’re probably going to enjoy it. Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) faked his death, but NSA goon Marsh (Toni Collette)
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Omar Sy, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, BD Wong, Irrfan Khan Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril It’s been 22 years since “Jurassic Park” came out, and “Jurassic World” brings us a vision of what things might be like 22 years after the catastrophe at the dinosaur zoo. If you just want to sit in a cool, dark theater and admire CGI dinosaurs, you will not be disappointed. If you want a film with character development, actual characters, or any semblance of good writing, stay far, far away. Mr. Masrani (Irrfan Khan) has turned the island into a theme park with more dinosaurs and what superficially looks like better security. His director of operations, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), is very good at running things from the control room, but not so good with people. Her nephews Gray (Ty Simpkins) and
Movies about older people are becoming more and more common as a certain population segment finds themselves aging. “Last Vegas” is the latest of this genre, a blend of jokes about aging and mild introspection about how older people should live. Like others before it, it has a fabulous cast and some good dialog, and succeeds at what it sets out to do. It’s not “Citizen Kane,” but it’s not trying to be. This is a movie to see if you want some laughs and don’t mind if the comedy is a bit broad at times.
The rich live highly privileged lives, in complete luxury and with access to phenomenal health care. Everyone else (the vast majority of humanity) lives in slums, dangerous places with brutal police, uncaring bureaucrats, and general misery. Oh, and it’s 150 years in the future, and all the rich people live in space. Welcome to “Elysium,” a science fiction film as low on science as it is on subtlety.
Directed by: Marc Forster Starring: Brad Pitt, Mirelle Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Fana Mokoena, Pierfrancesco Favino, Ruth Negga Rated: PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images Every so often a film tries to be two or more things that seem incompatible. In some cases, this succeeds – but most of the time, it fails, and fails hard. “World War Z” is in the latter category: it’s too tame to be a good zombie movie but too scary to be a good international thriller. As we follow Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) around the world trying to find the source of a zombie virus outbreak, there are plenty of individual scenes that work, but the film as a whole just doesn’t gel. The first act of the film works well enough: we follow Gerry, his wife Karin (Mirelle Enos), and their two children through a normal morning, with the news playing in the background occasionally
There’s a type of action movie that requires a lot of its audience. You have to suspend not just your disbelief, but also your common sense. If you’re willing to do that, it’ll give you the ride of your life – but if you’re not, you are in for an unpleasant time. “Olympus Has Fallen” is definitely this type of action movie.
Anyone who sees the trailers for “Parker” and is strongly reminded of the 1999 Mel Gibson movie “Payback” is on the money — both are based on novels from the same series by Donald E. Westlake (under the pseudonym Richard Stark). They’re based on different novels, but have very similar premises: career criminal Parker (Jason Statham in this year’s flick) is double-crossed by his associates after a heist that doesn’t meet Parker’s standards. He’s left for dead, but survives and sets out to get what’s owed him. It’s a classic revenge story that, provided you’re willing to overlook a few glaring flaws, is well worth watching if you like Statham and the genre.