Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to June

june

Summer blockbuster season rolls on as June brings sequels to previous box office successes, a few new comedies, and a couple of films that look to start franchises of their own. For those that like large explosions and massive battles, there’s a lot to offer this month. There’s less on hand for those that prefer smaller fare, but you’ll still find a couple movies worth seeking out in June. All this and a farting corpse film that will tug at your heart strings!

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”

Who: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry and Laura Linney
What: The Turtles return to save the city from a dangerous threat.
When: June 3rd
Why: The first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film under producer Michael Bay was a big hit with families and even a few die-hard TMNT fans. Those nostalgia-based fanatics get to relive the cartoon on the big screen in this outing that finds the ultimate mash-up quartet finally facing off against the likes of Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady. Gonzo casting like Tyler Perry as the scientist that eventually becomes a bug man may point to this film being a bit more interesting than its precursor, and hey, Megan Fox is always fun to watch.

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”

Who: Andy Samberg, Imogen Poots, Bill Hader and Sarah Silverman
What: When it becomes clear that his solo album is a failure, a former boy band member does everything in his power to maintain his celebrity status.
When: June 3rd
Why: With two cult favorite comedies under their belts, directors Akiva Schaffer (“Hot Rod”) and Jorma Taccone (“MacGruber”) – two-thirds of the comedy music group The Lonely Island, along with Andy Samberg – are back to deliver what may be the “This Is Spinal Tap” for the social media generation. Samberg is great at playing blustery buffoons with big egos, and this film looks to skew all manner of elements of both pop music and celebrity culture. Plus, it involves Samberg fighting another old guy, this time in the form of Martin Sheen. What’s not to like?

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Movie Review: “X-Men: Apocalypse”

Starring
James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Olivia Munn
Director
Bryan Singer

In 2000, director Bryan Singer launched the X-Men franchise (on a shoestring budget by today’s superhero movie standards), helping to pave the way for future comic book films. While the director’s first installment doesn’t completely hold up, especially in the visual effects department, it was a good example of how less can be more; the characters were more thrilling than the action. 16 years later, Singer’s third sequel “X-Men: Apocalypse” comes from the “more is more” school of thought, and though it’s his biggest X-Men film to date, it’s also his most disappointing.

The fifth sequel in the series takes place ten years after the events of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (although none of the characters have aged a day). Long before any of that happened, mutants ruled the world. En Sabah Nur, who sees himself as a God, is on his last days. As he prepares to take over one of his devoted follower’s (Oscar Isaac) bodies, he’s betrayed by the humans. His four (mutant) horseman do everything they can to protect him from the attack, and as a result, his body is left safely guarded underneath a demolished pyramid.

In 1983, En Sabah Nur awakens and is horrified by what the humans have done with his world. The powerful mutant believes the planet must be cleansed, and he recruits four new horsemen – Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Angel (Ben Hardy) – to assist him in building a new world. Only Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his young mutant students, including Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), can prevent En Sabah Nur and the four horsemen from destroying the planet.

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Blu Tuesday: Zoolander 2 and The Finest Hours

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“Zoolander 2″

WHAT: Fifteen years after saving the Malaysian prime minister’s life, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) are lured back into the world of modeling by trendy fashion designer Alexanya Atoz (Kristin Wiig), only to discover that it’s all part of an elaborate scheme designed by Zoolander’s arch-nemesis Mugatu (Will Ferrell).

WHY: Fans of the original “Zoolander” have been clamoring for a sequel for more than a decade, so it’s not like director/co-writer Ben Stiller didn’t have the time to ensure that it lived up to his 2001 cult comedy. Unfortunately, “Zoolander 2” is such a complete and utter embarrassment that it boggles the mind how it got made. Though there are a handful of laughs scattered throughout the film’s painfully slow 102-minute runtime, most of the movie is predicated on lazy gags and a rapid-fire series of celebrity cameos – a few that are funny (Justin Bieber, Kiefer Sutherland), one that is really awful (Benedict Cumberbatch as a transgender model named All), and a majority of which are incredibly pointless. It’s just one bad thing after the other, from the terrible subplot involving Zoolander’s son, to Kristin Wiig’s entirely superfluous villain, to the surprising lack of chemistry between Stiller and Owen Wilson. While it’s no secret that comedy sequels are notoriously difficult to pull off, “Zoolander 2” is so dreadful that it feels like a poorly made parody of its predecessor.

EXTRAS: There’s a handful of featurettes on the “Zoolander” legacy, shooting in Rome and co-creator Drake Sather, but nothing of real substance.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

“The Finest Hours”

WHAT: When a T-2 oil tanker off the coast of Cape Cod is ripped in half during a massive storm in 1952, trapping its surviving crew members on the sinking stern, Coast Guard captain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) leads a daring rescue attempt into perilous waters while the tanker’s chief engineer, Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck), improvises to buy his crew more time.

WHY: With the exception of the 2007 indie, “Lars and the Real Girl,” director Craig Gillespie’s filmography is pretty underwhelming, and his latest movie is no different. “The Finest Hours” feels very much a product of its time – the kind of wholesome, self-effacing true story that Disney excels at making – but unfortunately, it’s also incredibly cheesy and dull. There’s exactly one thrilling sequence in the entire film, and even that doesn’t seem to properly capture the danger and improbability of the rescue. Instead, the movie just plods along to its inevitable conclusion without any personality or emotional heft, dragged down by a pair of unengaging protagonists and a subplot involving Webber’s fiancée that could have been cut entirely. Chris Pine and Casey Affleck look positively bored by the material, while the rest of the cast (including Ben Foster, Eric Bana, John Ortiz and Michael Raymond-James) are wasted in throwaway roles. “The Finest Hours” is supposed to be about one of the greatest rescues in Coast Guard history, but you wouldn’t know it from this forgettable period drama.

EXTRAS: There’s a featurette about the true story that inspired the film, interviews with the cast about making the movie, a pair of U.S. Coast Guard promotional videos and deleted scenes.

FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

  

Movie Review: “The Nice Guys”

Starring
Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Kim Basinger, Margaret Qualley, Yaya DaCosta
Director
Shane Black

Shane Black may not have invented the buddy cop film, but he’s widely viewed as the modern-day godfather of the subgenre thanks to seminal movies like “Lethal Weapon,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Black is to buddy cop films what Raymond Chandler is to hard-boiled crime novels (a fitting comparison considering the writer/director lists the author as a major influence), and his latest movie, the retro detective noir “The Nice Guys,” is arguably his best entry in the genre since redefining the buddy cop formula three decades ago. Although it hits all of the usual beats of a Shane Black feature, “The Nice Guys” does so with such remarkable efficiency, brimming with witty banter, solid action and even a little heart, that it feels totally fresh.

Set in 1977 in the seedy, neon-tinged underbelly of Los Angeles, the movie stars Ryan Gosling as Holland March, a drunken private eye who’s less concerned about solving mysteries than getting paid. His latest gig finds him investigating the death of famous adult film star Misty Mountains, and though it sounds like an open-and-shut case, Misty’s grandmother claims that she saw the actress alive several days after the car accident that supposedly killed her. Holland’s only lead is a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley), who was seen leaving Misty’s house on the date in question, but the trail goes cold after enforcer-for-hire Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is enlisted by Amelia to stop Holland from following her around. However, when Amelia’s life is threatened by a pair of menacing thugs and she goes on the run, Jackson and Holland team up to track her down with some help from the latter’s precocious tween daughter Holly (Angourie Rice). But as they get closer to uncovering the truth behind Amelia’s involvement in the conspiracy, an assassin (Matt Bomer) is sent to silence them.

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Movie Review: “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”

Starring
Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Ike Barinholtz
Director
Nicholas Stoller

The 2014 film “Neighbors” cost $18 million to make and brought in $270 million worldwide. That is a spectacular, “Saw”-like return on investment, so it makes sense that the studio would be interested in making a sequel. There’s just one teensy little problem: there was nothing about “Neighbors” that lends itself well to a sequel. (Also, no one appears to have been asking for a sequel, but that is apparently beside the point.) It’s a film where the main characters each win a battle, but lose what’s left of their dignity. No bonds are forged, and the attempt at a happy ending drips with sadness. One of the first film’s good points was that they didn’t seem concerned about tomorrow because they were having too much fun today. Then tomorrow came, panic settled in, and for God knows what reason, the decision to not make a second film wasn’t considered. This is a mistake.

“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” isn’t even remotely tethered to reality. If this took place in the real world, at least two people would be dead and one would be in traction. It requires “Horrible Bosses 2” logic in order to work, which dictates that if you’ve been badly burned in your personal or professional life, you will learn absolutely nothing from the experience and make the same mistake again. “Horrible Bosses 2,” for the record, was another movie that no one asked for, and it made half as much as the original. Universal should prepare themselves for a similar drop-off.

Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, respectively), now with a two-year-old and another baby on the way, have decided to sell their house and move to the suburbs. They have a family who wants to buy, and the house is put in escrow. The Radners do not understand that the sale is not final until their realtor spells it out for them for the sake of the plot (and the audience); the buyers have 30 days to back out of the deal for any reason. When Mac and Kelly see that a group of rebel girls wants to start a new party-friendly sorority in the abandoned house next door (the house previously owned by the Delta Psi Betas from the first film), they ask the girls to tone it down until the sale goes through. The girls are already annoyed that sororities are not allowed to throw parties, but fraternities are. They are not receptive to this request.

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