Film Reviews

A Weekend-by-Weekend Guide to This Summer's Biggest Movies


Now You See Me, 5/31: Action filmmaker Louis Leterrier's output is all over the map, from the fitfully delightful Transporter 2 to that irredeemable Clash of the Titans remake. His latest sounds pretty dopey — the FBI tries to stop a group of bank-robbing magicians — but Leterrier, the director of superior Jet Li vehicle Unleashed, is sure to deliver at least one killer set piece, and who could argue with a cast boasting Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Caine? At the very least, those four are getting pools out of this.

Shadow Dancer, 5/31: X-Philes, all those years of wanting to believe have finally paid off: Gillian Anderson finally gets a good part! Already celebrated by critics, this thriller from James Marsh, director of the award-winning Sundance hits Man on Wire and Project Nim, is set in Belfast in the '90s and follows IRA agent Collette McVeigh (Andrew Riseborough) as he goes undercover in England's M15 after being arrested by a spy played by Clive Owen — this is as close to a Clive Owen James Bond film as we'll get.

Student, 5/31: Kazakh filmmaker Darezehan Omirbayev isn't a household name, but he does have a big fan in Jean-Luc Godard, who calls Omirbayev, "one of the most outstanding directors of today." Student, Omirbayev's contemporary adaptation of Crime and Punishment, was a hit at Cannes last year. Spoiler: There's not a happy ending.


Much Ado About Nothing, 6/7: The Bard comes to Sunnydale in this adaptation/update of Shakesepare's comedy, all filmed in director Joss Whedon's house. (But not set there. That would be weird.) As Avengers co-creator Stan Lee might put it, the director's handling the greatest English playwrght in the mighty Whedon manor.

After Earth, 6/7: While it's not being advertised as "An M. Night Shyamalan Film," this big-budget science fiction flick was helmed and co-written by the once-promising filmmaker. Will Smith and son Jaden co-star as space-age foragers on a post-human Earth. The ads suggests this is a Karate Kid-like vanity project to promote Big Willy's kid, but with Shyamalan there's always a twist — maybe it will be that the film doesn't suck.

Passion, 6/7: Brian De Palma returns with this visually delirious, Hitchcock-inspired pulp remake of 2010 French thriller Love Crime. Rachel McAdams and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace co-star as social-climbing ad women whose rivalry leads to a hilariously convoluted murder plot. The film is full of everything De Palma's fans and detractors have come to associate him with, building to a fantastic orchestra hall set piece, complete with split-screen photography. It's good, mean fun.

Man of Steel, 6/14: Now that Christopher Nolan's Batman is dining (and probably whining) across the Mediterranean, and Marvel is cramming multiplexes with Avengers-Related Entertainment Product, DC and Warner Bros. have prioritized the reboot of the biggest, nicest hero himself. And while director Zack Snyder struck out with Sucker Punch, the most recent Man of Steel trailers suggest this could be a serious, character-driven adventure. And after hearing him read that sorority letter, we can't wait to kneel before Michael Shannon as General Zod!

The Bling Ring, 6/14: Sofia Coppola's based-on-batshit-true-events drama follows celebrity-obsessed teenage thieves who robbed Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan of roughly $3 million worth of cash, clothes and jewelry. Emma Watson, Leslie Mann and American Horror Story's Taissa Farmiga co-star in Coppola's follow-up to Somewhere, that really good drama starring the guy in those electronic cigarette ads.

A Hijacking, 6/14: Better known as "That Other Somali Pirate Drama, the One Not Starring Tom Hanks," A Hijacking is Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm's follow-up to R, an impressive, uneven prison drama. In the much buzzed-about A Hijacking, pirates hold a Danish ship crew hostage while that crew's employers work out whether to cut their losses or negotiate a rescue.

World War Z, 6/21: How many people does it take to save a horror-thriller? First, Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Strczysnki penned a script, then Lions for Lambs screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan rewrote it, then Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard and Lost show-runner Damon Lindelof stepped up for substantial rewrites — after much of the movie had been filmed. But even after seven weeks of reshoots and a six-month release delay, we still want to see this compromised adaptation of Max Brooks' popular and imaginative "oral history of the zombie crisis." It's a big-budget zombie movie starring Brad Pitt, and character actor wiz David Morse. Tickets, please.

Monsters University, 6/14: A prequel to Pixar charmer Monsters Inc., Monsters University reveals the back story kids have been dying to find out: how exactly Mike the cyclops (Billy Crystal) and Solly the muppet-bear-thing (John Goodman) became BFFs. Besides Pixar's still-fantastic record, the voice cast should sell this: Steve Buscemi, Nathan Fillion, Sean Hayes, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina and, best of all, Frank Oz reprising his role as Fungus.

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Simon Abrams is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

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