June is off to a great start with a nice selection of titles starting with the new family fantasy adventure, A Wrinkle in Time. Thirteen-year-old middle school student Meg Murry (Storm Reid) struggles to adjust to both her school and home life ever since her father Alex, a well-renowned scientist, mysteriously disappeared. When a mysterious red haired stranger shows up at her house and tells Meg and her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) that the time travel theories their father was working on are real. They join three magical beings - Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) to travel across the universe to rescue their father, and maybe the entire universe, from an impending evil force.
Since the film is based on such a beloved book and has so much great talent involved, I was really expecting great things from A Wrinkle in Time. But the entire film has a strange unevenness, and some oddly off performances by Witherspoon and Kaling. The upside is that Oprah Winfrey was great in her role and the two lead children, Reid and McCabe, were both excellent and pretty much carried the entire movie on their performances. The film almost feels like it didn’t have enough money, or that the screenplay didn’t go through enough drafts. But it is still an entertaining family movie that the kids will enjoy for at least one viewing, it just didn’t end up being the classic some may have expected it to be considering its pedigree.
Next up is a new thriller, Thoroughbreds. Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy star as Amanda and Lily, two upper class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut who rekindle a childhood friendship after Lily is asked to tutor Amanda, whose mother is concerned about her mental state after a recent ordeal. Lily soon finds out that Amanda certainly does have some issues and also has some radical ideas for how Lily could deal with her hatred for her stepfather. The two girls conspire to help each other with their problems no matter the cost.
Thoroughbreds is a fascinating and engaging thriller anchored by two phenomenal performances by Cooke and Taylor-Joy. The tone is very methodical and cold, much like Cooke’s character Amanda. Her emotionless state is hypnotic and the arc of seeing her effect on Lily is chilling. And the film also features a great last hurrah performance by the late Anton Yelchin. Thoroughbreds is the debut of writer/director Cory Finley and if this film is any indication, we can expect very good things from him in the future.
Lastly this week is a new remake of a classic 70s film, Death Wish. Eli Roth takes the reigns directing Bruce Willis as Dr. Paul Kersey, an experienced trauma surgeon who snaps after a brutal attack on his family. Kersey sets out to find those responsible for tearing apart his happy life and has no qualms taking out anyone who gets in his way as well.
Death Wish is an iconic film from 1974 that made an even bigger star of the already legendary Charles Bronson. But where the original film was a dark, dirty film with social commentary about the rising crime rates of the time, Roth’s Death Wish is more of a straightforward action flick. But it must be said that while I was expecting a fairly ho-hum remake here, especially due to my love for the original film, Roth’s Death Wish was surprisingly entertaining. It avoided many clichés I was expecting and Willis actually turned in a better-than-most-of-his-recent-films performance. Some of the credit should probably go to screenwriter Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces) who really kept the pace solid and the story arc interesting. And it didn’t hurt to have a supporting cast including Elizabeth Shue, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Norris and Lou Cariou. Take a chance and check out Death Wish, it may not touch the original but it was still a better than average actioner.
Also of note this week is the new horror flick The Midnight Man starring Lin Shaye and Robert Englund, Gringo starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton, and The Hurricane Heist for all those looking to mash up their heist and disaster genre movies.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday June 5, 2018
7 Days in Entebbe
A Wrinkle in Time
Avatar – The Last Airbender: The Complete Series*
Escape Plan 4K
Four Times That Night*
Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season 4K
I Kill Giants
Jericho: The Complete Series
Mystery of the Jurassic
RWBY: Volume 5
Satellite Girl and Milk Cow
South Park: The Complete Twenty-First Season
Spirit: Riding Free
The Ancient Law*
The Awesomes: The Complete Series*
The Dating Project
The Great Silence: 50th Anniversary*
The Hurricane Heist
The Invaders: The Complete Series
The Last Ship: The Complete Fourth Season
The Midnight Man
When Calls the Heart: Home is Where the Heart Is
WWE: Wrestlemania 34
*Catalog Blu-ray debut