The Fourth of July weekend is typically accompanied by at least one major blockbuster, but what Warner Bros. is trying to pass as the Independence Day weekend event picture is hardly that. Opening alongside the expensive CG-heavy picture is Steven Spielberg’s latest family flick and a third ‘Purge’ entry.
If you hadn’t deduced, Warner’s’ big release is ‘The Legend of Tarzan‘. David Yates may have done a wonderful job directing the final four ‘Harry Potter’ films, but you can only go so far with a screenplay co-written by the guy who wrote the ‘Footloose’ remake. Instead of rehashing the same Tarzan story we’ve all seen or read a few times, ‘The Legend of Tarzan’ picks up ten years after the events that we already know. Now living in London with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie), Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) is summoned back to the Congo in a plot to make a king rich and hand Tarzan over to a local tribe that wants revenge on the vine-swinging hero. With a far-too-serious tone, co-stars Samuel L. Jackson and Robbie try their very best to keep it light and fun. Unfortunately, that’s too large an undertaking for just two cast members. Christoph Waltz co-stars as the villain.
Several of Roald Dahl’s books have been adapted into films (‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’, ‘James and the Giant Peach’), but most are too wild to make the transition to mainstream audiences. Steven Spielberg and his ‘E.T.’ writer (Melissa Mathison) have taken a shot at placing one of the author’s oddball stories on the silver screen. While its quality is definitely not up to snuff for either, the movie has a charm that’s hard to dislike. ‘The BFG‘ (which is not to be confused with the vulgarly named gun from ‘Doom’ and ‘Quake’) tells the story of a girl from an orphanage who’s taken to the magical realm of giants by one nicknamed BFG, for Big Friendly Giant. The gentle and sweet characters go on a few adventures together and attempt to make both worlds safer places. Mark Rylance, who won an Oscar for his last Spielberg collaboration (‘Bridge of Spies’), gives a swell motion capture performance. Be prepared for an episodic, somewhat meandering, mildly flawed adventure film with a nice little heart.
The third wide release of the weekend is the latest addition to the ‘Purge’ franchise. ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ brings back the star of the second entry, Frank Grillo, who has since become the head of security for an up-and-coming Senator (Elizabeth Mitchell) who wants to bring the annual murderous ritual of The Purge to an end. The two unexpectedly become stuck outdoors when The Purge begins and have to run and fight for survival. While the concept of ‘The Purge’ is very promising, the first movie fell victim to its low budget and lack of scope. I didn’t see ‘The Purge: Anarchy‘, but now that the franchise is three deep, I’d like to catch up and see where it’s going now that it has a budget and a fan base.
Amidst all this holiday fanfare, Roadside Attractions has a new thriller on 373 screens. Adapted from a John le Carré novel (which is all the rage after the successful TV miniseries of ‘The Night Manager’), ‘Our Kind of Traitor‘ tells the twisted tale of a Russian mobster (Stellan Skarsgård) who attempts to exchange insider secrets to British intelligence through a poetry professor (Ewan McGregor) in return for sanctuary – all the while the Russian Mafia is hot on his trail.
After a great opening weekend on three screens, A24 is pushing ‘Swiss Army Man‘ out to 636 screens this weekend. This is likely the best chance that you’ll get to see the film in a theater.