written by: Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer
produced by: James Wilson and Nick Wechlser
directed by: Jonathan Glazer
rating: R (for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language)
runtime: 108 min.
U.S. release date: April 11, 2014 (limited)
A decade ago, director Jonathan Glazer (2000’s “Sexy Beast”) released his last film, “Birth”, starring Nicole Kidman, which received mixed reviews – initially. The film would eventually earn some respect after additional viewings, generating something of a cult status. I predict the same fate for his latest film, “Under the Skin”, a psychological sci-fi thriller starring Scarlett Johansson. Although an extraordinary original film, one that both respects and challenges its audience, there will be some who will be too perplexed and frustrated to fully appreciate it. At first.
written by: James Cameron
produced by: Gale Anne Hurd
directed by: James Cameron
rating: R (for monster violence and for language)
runtime: 137 min.
U.S. release date: July 18, 1986
If “Alien” is the quintessential sci-fi horror film, “Aliens” is the quintessential sci-fi actioner. James Cameron is writing and directing instead of Ridley Scott, and the plot jumps 50 years into the future. Ripley has been found by chance after years hibernating in a space pod, and she’s heartbroken to learn her daughter, unmentioned in “Alien”, died several years before. Her grief is personified by her utter isolation—she’s stuck on a corporate space station orbiting Earth, disconnected from her beloved planet, home. Ripley was shocked to learn, as I was on my first viewing, that LV-426 (the satellite moon orbiting the planet Calpamos) is now inhabited. Not only that, but it has been commissioned as one of the sites fit for terraforming, the lengthy process of reshaping a planet’s atmosphere to make it livable.
written by: John W. Richardson, Chris Roach and Ryan Engle
produced by: Joel Silver, Alex Heineman, Steve Richards & Andrew Rona
directed by: Juame Collet-Serra
rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references)
runtime: 106 min.
U.S. release date: February 28, 2014
Terror at 30,000 feet!!! There’s all sorts of crazy, scary, terrifying situations out there. But what about those situations where you simply can’t get away from it? Like literally, can’t get away, like on a plane flying at 30,000 feet. There’s a fun, little sub-genre of movies like this, including “Air Force One”, “Flightplan”, “Red Eye”, and most recently, “Non-Stop”.
written by: Brian Koppelman and David Levian
produced by: Arnon Milchan, Jennifer Davisson Killoran & Leonardo DiCaprio
directed by: Brad Furman
rating: R (for language and some sexual content)
runtime: 91 min.
U.S. release date: October 4, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray release date: January 7, 2014
If you would have told me back in the late 1990s, that some 14 years later Justin Timberlake would be where he is right now……….yeah, I would have said you were nuts. The ‘N Sync front guy?!? Really?!? But here we sit, Timberlake one of the biggest stars in entertainment in music, film, even on TV pairing with his buddy Jimmy Fallon. Good for him, the star doing quite the job of marketing himself. And then there’s “Runner Runner”, setting him back in a bad way.
written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
produced by: Kevin Feige
directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout)
runtime: 136 min.
U.S. release date: April 4, 2014
At the end of “Captain America: The First Avenger”, Colonel Nick Fury had assured a thawed out, time-displaced Steve Rogers that things haven’t changed all that much in 70 years. That there was still work to be done….a soldier’s work. For a hero who had seemingly lost everything, it was a reassuring statement, confirming that Rogers is needed. Indeed he is.
written by: Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
produced by: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Mary Parent & Arnon Milchan
directed by: Darren Aronofsky
rating: PG-13 (for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content)
runtime: 138 min.
U.S. release date: March 28, 2014
Aronofsky’s back with a new film, and, despite only being in theaters for two days, has already sparked enough controversy to last the remainder of 2014. That film is the Biblical adaptation “Noah”, which is more a cousin to Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” than John Cleese’s “Life of Brian”. That is to say, it’s an affirmation of faith rather than a scathing critique, and while both classic films are skeptic of the divine, one encourages that feeling while the other confronts it.
written by: Skip Woods and David Ayers
produced by: Al Ruddy, Bill Block, Paul Hanson, Joe Roth, Palak Patel & Alex Ott
directed by: David Ayers
rating: R (for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use)
runtime: 109 min.
U.S. release date: March 28, 2014
The crime thriller “Sabotage” is the least predictable and most intense of the handful of post Governator action movies Arnold Schwarzenegger has starred in. Last year’s “The Last Stand” had a sense of humor about it, along with a nod to classic Westerns, that lightened the bloody violence, but here is a gritty film that proudly displays its tattoos and adrenaline in a testosterone-laced delivery that even has its few women posing a legitimate threat to their manly costars. While there is some humor here, it comes from R-rated bro-camaraderie, that is – the kind of jokes you crack after you’ve just turned a bad guy’s head into a squishy tomato during a drug raid.