I miss the good old days when summer blockbusters were original material. This year, you can’t go more than two weeks without a sequel or a remake, and fantastic original movies like ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ can’t catch a break. The two big movies opening nationwide today are each second chapters in very successful franchises – and both feature Jonah Hill, which is weird timing. Much to my pessimistic surprise, they’re both actually pretty good.
The bigger of the two releases is DreamWorks Animation’s’ ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2‘. I didn’t expect anything from the first ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, but absolutely fell in love with it. I recall my gut dropping a couple times during that press screening due to the flight footage being projected in 3D on the beautiful IMAX screen. What an all-around great family flick that was.
Four years after the first film, DreamWorks has kept the franchise alive with the decent television series ‘Riders of Berk’ and ‘Defenders of Berk’, but it’s really back in full-swing with ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’. Leading dragon trainer Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his trusty sidekick Toothless are back. Time has passed and, now 20-years-old, Hiccup is being readied to take over for his father (Gerard Butler) as the leader of seaside Viking village Berk. Before that can happen, however, a new dragon master enters their world, threatening not only Berk, but the dragons that have become part of their families. Get ready for a DreamWorks sequel that’s just as good as ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’.
The other wide release of the weekend is ‘22 Jump Street‘, the sequel to a television reboot. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return for the action comedy whose trailers look exactly like the first movie. Luckily, ’22 Jump Street’ is more than just a rehash. Yes, the story seems the same (at first), but that’s part of the ongoing self-aware joke that ‘Jump Street’ successfully mines over and over again. This is a comedy that will you leave your facial muscles sore from smiling and laughing for 112 straight minutes.
On the indie front, IFC releases Sundance hit ‘Hellion‘. The drama follows a pair of dirt bike-racing kids who lack disciple, parenting and nurturing. Trouble is no stranger, but when one child is removed from the home and given to his aunt (Juliette Lewis), he and his bum father (Aaron Paul) have an awakening of their own.
Finally, distributor A24 has a great-looking Australian picture called ‘The Rover‘. Co-written by Joel Edgerton and David Michôd (writer/director of ‘Animal Kingdom’), the crime drama debuted at Cannes earlier this year. Guy Pearce plays a withered mad bastard who gets robbed by a couple of knuckleheads who leave behind their wounded brother (Robert Pattinson). With nothing left to lose, the two go on the road through the Outback to recover their stolen goods. If you’ve seen ‘Animal Kingdom’, you should know that ‘The Rover’ is worth paying attention to.