Leading into it, this weekend seemed promising to me. For one, there’s a female-led action flick coming to us from one of the co-directors of ‘John Wick’. Secondly, Sony’s awful-looking kids’ movie wasn’t screened for press, so I didn’t have to sit through it. Unfortunately, the movie I didn’t have to see was the only positive thing about this week’s new movies. The other one totally missed the mark.
Sony is releasing ‘The Emoji Movie‘ on more than 4,000 screens. That move would seem bold if it wasn’t for the kids’ movie coming with a low $50 million budget and opening five weeks after the most recent family film (‘Despicable Me 3’). The same parents who let tablets and phones babysit their children will likely shuffle their families into ‘Emoji’ showings this weekend just to drone away 84 minutes of would-be parenting. This ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ knockoff takes you behind the screen of your mobile devices where emojis have a world of their own. Follow a group of them through an app-to-app adventure that’s presumably filled with product placement. From the director of such hits as ‘Igor’, ‘Kronk’s New Groove’ and ‘Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch’, the voice cast includes Patrick Stewart and wildly talented B- and C-listers, such as T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara, Rachael Ray and Sean Hayes.
Imagine a hybrid of ‘John Wick’ and ‘Deadpool’. Sounds great, right? Well, ‘John Wick’ co-director and future director of ‘Deadpool 2’ John Leitch sure doesn’t know how to capitalize on the two. With ‘Atomic Blonde‘, the stunt coordinator-turned-feature director proves that the fighting in ‘John Wick’ was about all that he contributed to its success. Fueled by Cold War tensions, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a 1989 spy story set on both sides of the yet-to-fall Berlin Wall. Charlize Theron plays a sort-of Joan Wick who’s tasked with a sensitive two-fold mission: extract the NOC list from ‘Mission: Impossible’ and ‘Skyfall’, as well as uncover the identity of a double agent, who also fell out of 1996’s ‘Mission: Impossible’ screenplay. As if all the filmmakers were 12-year-boys, the tone-deaf movie puts more effort into being cool and showing its female stars naked than it does anything of actual cinematic quality. Loud ’80s music (which I love) is mistakenly believed to create a tone for the movie, while the mismatched blends of character, violence, seriousness and humor clash. Unnecessarily and overly complex, the only things that work are a couple of the action sequences. The rest is a total mess that makes me sad for the movie’s great cast, which includes Charlize Theron, Sofia Boutella, James McAvoy, John Goodman and Eddie Marsan.
While ‘Atomic Blonde’ and ‘The Emoji Movie’ attempt to outgross the second week of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’, two Oscar bait limited releases also take the stage.
First is Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Detroit‘, a high-tension drama about the 1967 riots that stirred terrible violence between the title city’s police force and the black community. The story follows a specific true story, but I’ll refrain from mentioning the details because the outcome is spoilerific. As riots spread across the city, the third day resulted in a terrifying and bloody event that feels like something better suited for a horror movie than real life. I’m torn on ‘Detroit’, because the story is an important one that isn’t widely known, but deserves to be. At the same time, the movie isn’t all that well made (which is surprising, coming from Bigelow) and the audience that I saw it with was stirred up during the screening, making me concerned that this movie is going to negatively spread more hatred and tension toward the police. The main black cast of the film (which includes Algee Smith, John Boyega and Anthony Mackie) is excellent, but the performances of the white actors playing racist pigs (Will Poulter, Jack Reynor and John Krasinski) are a bit over the top. ‘Detroit’ is playing on 20 screens this weekend ahead of its wide expansion next week.
Eleven years after Al Gore tried to convince the world that climate change was real with his Oscar-winning documentary, he’s doing it once again with ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power‘. Showing what has happened in both Earth’s climate and the political climate over the past decade, this follow-up is said to be decent, but not great. I haven’t seen ‘Truth to Power’, but if you want to see a documentary that inspires individuals to make a change on their global footprints, then I recommend the Sundance-winning ‘Chasing Coral’, which is now available on Netflix.