Oh boy, there are a lot of options at the movie theaters this weekend. The good news is, the releases this week are varied enough that you can probably find a movie to agree on with just about anyone you know. The even BETTER news is that there are plenty of options for putting together a weekend double features. Here are the movies that are on my radar this weekend.
The movie with the trailer I've seen way to many times: "Free State of Jones"
When you spend as much time at the multiplexes as I do, you are bound to see the same trailers over and over again. The release date for this movie was pushed three times in the last 18 months, meaning that the trailer overstayed it's welcome months ago. Written and directed by Gary Ross (who also directed "The Hunger Games") "Free State of Jones" tells the story of a farmer from Mississippi (played by Matthew McConaughey) who defects from the Confederacy, and helps to create a sovereign state in Jones County, Mississippi. Critic reviews are mixed, with the film sitting currently with a 41% on rottentomatoes.com and the amount of times the film was delayed is always a red flag. Still, McConaughey has a good track record as of late, and Ross was able to launch a successful franchise with his "The Hunger Games" installment. It may not win any awards, but could prove to be great debate fodder for the history buff in your life.
The potential diamond in the rough: "The Shallows"
This movie snuck up on me, with the early trailers for the film showing us little else other than star Black Lively on a rock, circled by a shark fin. It was until the second trailer that we realized director Jaume Collet-Serra was leaning full on into B movie hilarity by having a computer generated shark leap out of the water and snag an unsuspecting swimmer. Far to often we see movies like this take themselves a little too seriously, and I'm glad to see a film embrace the schlock-y side of the genre. Critics seem to have been won over as well, as the shallows is rocking an extremely high 75% on rottentomatoes.com. The first trailer put this movie on my "meh" scale, but I am now genuinely excited to see this film.
The weird one: "The Neon Demon"
Director Nicolas Winding Refn is known just as much for his stunning visuals as he is for being fearless about violence in his movies. Known recently for his stylistic action films "Drive" and "Only God Forgives", Refn is back with what is sure to be this summers most gorgeous, and possibly polarizing horror film, "The Neon Demon". Demon follows a young model (played by Elle Fanning) who arrives in Los Angeles and finds success as a fashion model, who is targeted for her youth and looks by a group of beauty obsessed women. Regn films are not for the faint of heart, and "The Neon Demon" will probably be reserved for either horror fans or cinephiles, but if you are feeling adventurous, or need a break from the summer popcorn grind, "The Neon Demon" could serve well as a perfect, if not twisted, pallet cleanser.
The disappointing 90's nostalgia flick: "Independence Day: Resurgence"
Full disclosure, I absolutely love "Independence Day". It has got to be one of my favorite action movies of all time, and I still, STILL get goosebumps every time I hear Bill Pullman's speech from the end of the film. I was skeptical about this 20 years later sequel until the brilliant trailer was released last December, giving me high hopes the director Roland Emmerich would be able to make lightening strike twice, capture lightening in a bottle, create actually lightening like a modern day auteur Thor. As I was walking out of the theater , all I could think was "man the trailer was so much better."
"Independence Day: Resurgence" is a mess.The new characters (Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, and Maika Monroe) and yes I'm counting Monroe's Patricia Whitmore as a new character, are paper thin. The movie runs at a breakneck pace, which would be great if the characters lived in a world remotely similar to us. Resurgence takes place in a whole new world shaped by the thwarted alien invasion of the first movie, and we get to spend barely anytime in it before it is (spoilers?) destroyed again when our intergalactic foes return.
I don't know how a movie that took 20 years to make could feel rushed, but this one does. The movie can't pick a plot and stick with it, bouncing around between plots and characters seemingly on a whim, killing the film's momentum in the process. If you are a die hard fan, you are going to see it anyway, but causal fans should be warned that the chances of them leaving the theater disappointed are as large as the alien mother ship 2.0.