It’s here, folks, the end of the summer blockbuster season. (Sure, we still have the needless ‘Ben-Hur’ remake opening next week, but we’re better off pretending that thing doesn’t exist.) Summer may be the fast food option of moviegoing, but there’s something great about the nutrition-less guilty pleasures in life. With the end of summer comes a dreaded void of enticing movies. Unfortunately, we now enter the void.
Many, myself included, consider the original ‘Pete’s Dragon‘ a flawed-yet-fun nostalgic Disney classic. Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any more boring than the 1977 original, Disney has tasked the writer and director of nothing you’ve ever seen with creating a pedestrian remake that somehow manages to bore us to new levels. In the new ‘Pete’s Dragon‘, Pete is like both Mowgli and Tarzan. While road-tripping with his parents, a crash left him a stranded orphan. A gentle dog-like furry dragon, which he would later name Elliot, came to his rescue and has been responsible for him ever since. When a forest ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard) finds Pete, she and her live-in boyfriend (Wes Bentley) – which is a new character dynamic for a Disney movie – attempt to give him a normal life. All the while, the boyfriend’s angry lumberjack brother (Karl Urban) is determined to hunt the famed dragon just for notoriety. The visual effects used to create the CG-animated Elliot make the medium feel like it has regressed by at least a decade in quality. Made on a $65 million budget, I get the impression that Disney asked WETA to animate the creature, to which WETA replied with a steep price tag, so Disney asked, “How much can we get for $65 million?” The bad effects and countless long scenes of Pete and Elliot popping around the woods make the dull story drag even longer.
As bad as that sounds, it’s nothing compared to the weekend’s second-widest release. From the two-track minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg comes the first R-rated CG-animated feature film. (If you’re wondering what those two tracks are, they’re pot and genitals.) ‘Sausage Party‘ follows a group of grocery store food items that become aware of the horrifying fate that awaits them. Upon discovering the grim truth, they fight back against the system. Rogen and Kristen Wiig voice the lead characters, a sausage and a vagina-shaped bun that constantly talk about having sex. The limited pun-filled gimmick is stretched out to a bloated 89 minutes that it simply cannot sustain. As if they couldn’t come up with a suitable ending, Rogen and Goldberg use the most left-field and ridiculous idea possible to close it out. If you’re aching for worthwhile Rogen comedy, stick with one of his classics or his more recent ‘The Night Before‘.
I have no problem judging a movie by its trailer, but the poster for ‘Florence Foster Jenkins‘ alone has deterred me from ever wanting to see it. Based on a true story, Stephen Frears directs the period piece comedy about a woman who, despite having no talent for it, sets off to become a professional singer. By casting Meryl Streep in the title role, the movie is certain to garner at least one Oscar nomination. If Streep could get a nomination for her miserable attempt at singing in ‘Into the Woods‘, then she’ll obviously get one for attempting to miserably sing in ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’. Hugh Grant co-stars, as does one of the secondary actors from ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
Despite a lack of desirable wide releases, two promising limited releases also hit the big screen this weekend.
‘Hell or High Water‘ is a contemporary Western that stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as a pair of brothers who take to robbing banks and casinos in order to keep paying the mortgage on their family home. Jeff Bridges plays the lawman out to bring them to justice.
Set amidst the 1942 Nazi rise in Prague, ‘Anthropoid‘ tells the true story of the operation that aimed to assassinate Hitler’s third-in-command. It comes to us by means of up-and-coming filmmaker Sean Ellis and one of Stanley Kubrick’s assistants. The cast includes Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones and Jamie Dornan.