The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe offering is smaller than its fellow superhero movies in a number of ways. Paul Rudd is fine and dandy as a cat burglar recruited by an aging scientist (Michael Douglas) to don a powerful shrinking suit and fight the bad guys. The size-changing special effects are a blast, but the film is neither fish nor fowl. There's not enough humor to make it a comedy, and too little action to compete with the big boys of summer. It's perfectly entertaining in moments, but this one needed a lot more style and spark to avoid the "generic Marvel movie" pit it occasionally stumbles into. FULL REVIEW:Marvel gets small for latest addition to its cinematic universe by Devin D. O’Leary (7/23/2015). 117 minutes PG-13.
Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright and Emily Watson star in this high-altitude drama "inspried by the incredible true events surrounding a trecherous attempt to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain." In a nutshell, eight climbers died when they were caught in a blizzard back in 1996. Four other people died that year, making it the deadliest year atop Everest on record. Until 2014 when 18 people died. The moral: Never climb Mt. Everest. 121 minutes PG-13.
Pixar mixes up another can't-miss instaclassic. This stunningly original, digitally animated toon takes us inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl and introduces us to the anthropomorphized feelings at work inside her head. Chief among them is Joy (perfect Amy Poehler), who's stuck working with a bunch of negative Nellies (Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust). But when Joy and Sadness get lost in the recesses of the young girl's mind, the film warps from an inventive workplace comedy to a wildly imaginative, Willy Wonka-esque fantasy. It seems silly to say that a film about emotions is emotional, but trust me when I say this film has all the feels! FULL REVIEW:Pixar’s emotional new fantasy has all the feels by Devin D. O’Leary (6/25/2015). 94 minutes PG.
I'm not upset that Hollywood has decided to make a third Jurassic Park sequel. Because, you know, money. I am, however, ticked off that the fictional executives at InGen thought they could get away with this. Did someone at the corporation send out a memo saying, "Hey, everybody. Remember that dinosaur theme park we were trying to open? You know, the one where the tourists kept getting eaten over and over and over again? Well, we're pretty sure we've got all the kinks worked out. Fourth time's the charm!" I mean, come on. ... Ah, well, at least we've got Chris Pratt. He's cool. 124 minutes PG-13.
When will futuristic dystopian leaders learn? Never mess with teenagers; they'll bring you down every time. (See for reference: the Divergent series, the Hunger Games series, et al.). Despite its strict adherence to the tropes of the genre, the second installment of the Maze Runner series makes for some exciting post-apocalyptic entertainment. It's mostly a bunch of personality-deficient kids running from evil adults and the occasional zombie horde, but the pace is breathless and the production design is impeccably bleak. This one plays mighty fast and loose with James Dashner's original novels (which don't make a whole lot of sense anyway), so it's hard to tell how hardcore YA lit fans will react. But the mediocre script and gripping action is probably enough to carry audiences into a third film. 131 minutes PG-13.
The lovable yellow sidekicks from the Despicable Me films finally get their own spin-off. History tells us that the Minions have been around since the dawn of time, looking for evildoers to whom they can pledge their slavish devotion. This hectic, anarchy-driven toon takes us to swingin' '60s London where a trio of semi-moronic Minions try to help the world's first female supervillain (voiced by Sandra Bullock) steal the Crown Jewels. The plot is terribly inconsequential--but it's hard to deny the silly fun to be had along the way. 91 minutes PG.
Hollywood takes another uninspired stab at revamping J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan story. This one plays out as a "prequel," explaining how a 12-year-old orphan named Peter (Levi Miller) wound up in Neverland battling evil pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) alongside an adventurous young Hook (Garrett Hedlund). Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) directs heavily tampered-with fantasy. 111 minutes PG.
A successful lobbyist (Sanaa Lathan, The Best Man) meets a charming IT expert (Michael Ealy, Think Like a Man) who appears to fit the title description. After the two jump into bed for some sexual satisfaction, however, he turns violent, jealous and vengeful. Basically, this bad romance thriller is a Lifetime network movie in the theater. 100 minutes PG-13.
From the writer-director of such Christian films as Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous comes this drama about a "seemingly perfect" African-American family who try to fix their problems (hubby grapples with "temptation"--maybe from Ashley Madison?) with the help of an older, wiser, Bible-endorsing woman. Spoiler alert: All they need is prayer. 120 minutes PG.