July 25th, 2014 — This Week at the Movies!

Theater ThursdaysHello again, my fellow Geeks!

This weekend brings us to the final weekend of July, which is the final Month of the Summer Blockbuster movie season. Oh sure, there are several big films coming in August, but they come right at the top of the Month and, with School starting in a lot of places, Hollywood counts August as a kind of in between Month. A month that gets quieter as it goes along.

One of the films hitting this weekend, LUCY, was supposed to come out in late August, but for some reason, the studio moved it to the end of July. That move could be because they feel it is strong enough to go head to head with the other big film this weekend, HERCULES, or it could be that they have no faith in the film at all and figure it might make more money at the end of July when the kids are still free to roam the earth as they chose. I guess we’ll know come Monday when the grosses come out and we’ll know tomorrow when the reviews start rolling out. For whatever reason, the studio behind this one, Universal, has kept this one under wraps for as long as they could. That usually means the film is bad, but I am willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt because I really like the concept, Scarlett Johansson and the writer-director, Luc Besson.

Let’s start there, shall we?

LUCY  (R  89 Minutes) is the first film from director Luc Besson that I have been anxious to see in quite a while. His last flick, the DeNiro Mob comedy, The Family, was a commercial flop and a film that I still haven’t seen. There was just something about it that seemed….off.  For whatever reason, this film just stirs my interest. And it’s not just because I happen to harbor a secret crush on Scarlett Johansson either. No, this film feel more like a film Luc Besson should be making. This is the guy who made the original La Femme Nikita back in 1990 and the breathtaking The Professional in 1994. Both films that raised the bar on what an action film could be. He also does strong female characters really well.  Anne Parillaud was stunning as the original and still best Nikita in 1990. She just commanded the screen in that film. If all you know of that character is the weak remake in the States called, Point of No Return or the television series of the same name starring Maggie Q (who I also love) and have never seen the original, then do yourself a favor and find it. It is brilliant. The Professional in 1994, was the first time I remember seeing Natalie Portman on-screen. Working with Jean Reno and Gary Oldman (giving an amazing and unrestrained performance) a very young Natalie Portman left an unforgettable mark on-screen as a very young and very ruthless orphan who is training under Reno’s assassin after her entire family is wiped out by Oldman’s psycho bad cop.

Aside from the brilliant and underrated The Fifth Element in 1997 and a few forgettable flicks here and there, Besson has mostly been known for the last decade or so as a producer. His producing hand has guided such flicks as The Transporter series and the Taken series, among many others.

Now finally, he returns to directing with a film that just feels like a Luc Besson film. Scarlett Johansson plays Lucy, a hapless drug mule who is caught in a bad deal and forced to carry a baggie of a drug inside her stomach that she thinks is just a normal “get you high” kind of drug. It isn’t. When the baggie opens inside of her and starts to leak out the drug into her system, she begins to….change. If you’ve seen a trailer or TV spot in the past few weeks, you know the general story from there. The more of her brain she can use, the more super powers she starts to display. What happens when she gets to 100%? Co-Star Morgan Freeman (collecting as nice paycheck in a role he can do in his sleep) says he has no idea. My guess is, it isn’t good. For the world or for Lucy.

The one thing I do know, is this is the kind of flick that I love watching when it’s done right. It’s also the kind of movie that Luc Besson used to excel at. A heightened reality kind of flick where things are a little off-center. He is a french director, so he brings a sensibility to his action scenes that American directors usually don’t.

I, for one, can’t wait to see how he ties this film together. It starts tonight with special advanced shows at 8pm and opens wide tomorrow.

Also coming this week: HERCULES  (PG-13 98 Minutes) Dwayne Johnson (we can finally stop calling him The Rock) stars as the ancient Greek Superhero in director Brett Ratner’s big-screen version of the classic tale. Now, you may have noticed that there was already a Hercules flick this year and nobody cared about it.

True. Now of course, that film was supposedly about how the man became the myth and this finds him after he has become mythical. Interesting how the big-screen tales of Hercules are all either set before he was known as the DemiGod or after he has done his great deeds and is trying to retire. I would be interested in a big-screen story that actually told of his legendary twelve labors. It was twelve, right? I can’t remember. Too bad there isn’t a movie that lets me know.

All kidding aside, the only thing this flick has going for it is Dwayne Johnson. He has become the Hollywood go-to guy to rescue failing franchises (GI:Joe and The Fast and the Furious) but it remains to be seen if he can anchor a franchise himself, from the ground up. I guess we’ll find out this weekend. It depends on a lot of things actually. People love them some Rock, but do they care about Hercules? How many big budget films set in ancient Greece have been giant hits? Yeah, exactly. We’re still waiting for the first one.

Either way, having Brett (hot models and cocaine) Ratner behind the camera can only hurt. Not known as the most subtle of filmmakers, Ratner has made a career out of wrecking some franchises (X3:The Last Stand) and driving others right into the ground (Rush Hours 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8) so there is no reason to expect him to turn into Ridley Scott here and make a masterpiece.

This one cost a fortune and the trailers have made exactly no one anxious to see it on the big-screen, so it’s really just a matter of how big of a hole in the ground this makes when it flops to earth this weekend. oh, and it’s in 3D. Wait, it’s also in IMAX 3D. Now you have 3 different formats to NOT see this flick in.

Opens Tonight at 7PM in special screenings and everywhere tomorrow.

There are a couple of other flicks coming this week and I’ll just touch on them really quick.

There’s AND SO IT GOES  (PG-13  92 Minutes) which stars Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton from director Rob Reiner, which is a comedy-drama aimed at adults. It should do okay. There hasn’t been much for this market in a while, so this should have some legs and play for a few weeks.

There is also the rare Stand-Up Comedy Concert movie THE FLUFFY MOVIE  (PG-13  101 Minutes) which stars comedian Gabriel Iglesias. Now, tastes may vary on this one. I have seen every Stand Up special he has made so far, but I am a comedy nut. I love it. I absolutely LOVE it and I am sorry to admit that I am something of a comedy snob of late. Whatever makes you laugh, makes you laugh and that’s great. It takes something special for me and I have been exposed to so much of it, I am very picky. I like Gabriel just fine. He has some really good jokes and it’s great that he doesn’t have to work blue to be successful, but I think they are trying too hard to make “Fluffy” a thing. The best tags just happen by themselves. Yes, “here’s your sign” became irritating. As did “Git R Done” but, God help us, those irritating things happened on their own. It feels like they are really trying to force this “Fluffy” thing down our throats, like it or not.

Does that matter if the material is great? Absolutely not. It just leave a bad taste in my mouth.

We’ll see how this one plays. His Comedy Central Specials have been huge, but it’s another thing to ask people to pay 12 bucks to see it in theaters, when most assume (rightly) that it will air on Comedy Central within a year.

Well, that just about does it for this week, but join me here next week when we discuss MARVEL’S single largest gamble since the original Iron Man. That’s right, the talking Racoon finally makes his debut with Guardians of the Galaxy!

Until then, Keep the Projector Threaded!