Weekend Preview – April 19, 2013

As the only major new release this weekend, Tom Cruise‘s Oblivion seems set to win the box office.  There are a few other choices worth your time as well though.

 Oblivion Poster

Oblivion

Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is on an Earth decimated after an apparent alien war.  The rest of humanity has left for Titan to form a new colony, or are waiting to do so in an orbiting space station called the Tet.  Jack’s job, along with his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) is to keep the machines running that convert the Earth’s oceans to energy for the trip to Titan – repairing the drones that protect them from the “Scav” invaders who still hang around despite the war being over.  Of course, not everything may be what it seems.  Melissa Leo, Olga Kurylenko, and Morgan Freeman also star.

First off, this film is gorgeous.  The scenery – both CGI and natural – is breathtaking, especially on an IMAX screen.  From the epic peaks of Iceland to a picturesque lake house in the woods, the natural beauty is displayed in full glory on screen.  The high tech, ultra modern design of the vehicles, drones, and Jack’s living quarters are slick, tasty eye candy.  Even the swimming pool is amazing to look at, and not just because of who happens to be in it.

There are some wonderfully choreographed battles and there is something really fun about watching the Portal-esque drones flying around shooting things.  In the end, the visuals alone are worth the price of admission – it’s that pretty of a movie.  There is nothing terribly wrong with the plot other than that there is literally nothing new about it.   It’s not going to end up as one of the many classics it emulates, but it’s a fun, pretty ride with a few twists all the same.

Read my full review here.

Trailer

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The Place Beyond the Pines Poster

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines has been in limited release for a few weeks now, but it is expanding to wide release this weekend, so if you haven’t had a chance to catch this indie drama, you might want to check it out.

By the director who brought Gosling to the spotlight of critical acclaim in Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines is an intense three-act drama that follows the life of circus stunt biker (Gosling) and the impact his decisions make on multiple people.  When he decides to stick around to help a one night stand (Mendes) raise the child he didn’t know he had, he makes a series of choices that ripple far beyond what he could imagine.  With no money to speak of, he teams up with a sleazy mechanic (Mendelsohn) to begin robbing banks.  This leads to a confrontation with a young go-getting cop (Cooper), the end of act one, and the beginning of spoiler territory.

Read my full review here.

Trailer

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Side Effects Poster

Side Effects

Released in early Februrary Side Effects had disappeared from most theaters but for some reason (I’m not quite sure why) it is jumping back to wide release status this weekend.  I rather enjoyed this one and I think a lot of people missed it during it’s initial run so this might be something to seek out if you like thrillers.  And hey, it’s supposedly Soderbergh’s final theatrical feature, so there’s that too.

Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, and Catherine-Zeta Jones star in this fascinating look at what happens when a crime is committed due to medication gone awry.  Is it the doctor’s fault, the pharmecutical company’s fault?  Is the perpetrator guilty or innocent?  There are some interesting questions asked, and some equally interesting answers.  And then the film takes a twist I honestly didn’t see coming and turns into an entirely different, yet equally interesting, thing.  I’d recommend checking it out.

Trailer

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Silver Linings Playbook Poster

Silver Linings Playbook

Another older release getting a surprise “re-expansion” this weekend.  If you haven’t seen it by now though, I have to assume you have no interest in the film that garnered Jennifer Lawrence a best actress Oscar.  Shame on you.

Based on the novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, this is the story of Pat (Bradley Cooper), a bipolar man recently released from court appointed rehab after an incident.  Returning home to his parents, he tries to pick up his life, but despite his best efforts things seem to fall apart even before he touches them.  Then he gets to know Tiffany (Lawrence), who might be even more emotionally damaged then he.

This is a bit of a romantic comedy, with drama and real life thrown about liberally, along with a healthy helping of the absurd.  It’s a tale of mental illness, family, friendship, dancing, football, and love.  It has those quirks that most indie films seem to have, but it plays well to the mainstream audience as well.  It’s not my favorite movie in the world, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Trailer