Weekend Movies: Shake Shack

This weekend brings one of the year’s best films. No, I’m not talking about the faith-based picture with a title that would lead you to believe it’s a horror movie. Nor am I talking about the teenage ‘Groundhog Day’ ripoff. I’m talking about the latest installment to Fox’s ‘X-Men’ franchise, the one that just might be the best of all.

Aside from Brett Ratner’s awful ‘The Last Stand‘ and whatever that ‘Origins‘ movie was – you know, the lumberjack one – I’ve enjoyed the ‘X-Men’ franchise. I even found entertainment in mediocre entries like ‘The Wolverine‘ and ‘Apocalypse‘. The characters, tone and style have made me a return viewer with each new entry. When I first saw the trailer for the new installment, I was instantly reeled in. With stylized imagery and awesome cinematography set to Johnny Cash’s rendition of “Hurt,” I said out loud, “This just might be the best comic book movie yet.” My expectations only climbed higher as the Feb. 16th press screening neared. I feared that my expectations were too high, that they could never be met – but I was wrong. I walked out 100% satisfied. The only disappointment was that I’d have to wait at least two weeks to see it again.

Hugh Jackman has said that ‘Logan‘ will be his last time donning the trademark adamantium claws. What a perfect way to end a 17-year journey as one of Marvel’s best superheroes. Although elements from several beloved graphic novels are embedded within it (most notably ‘Old Man Logan’), the film features a simple original story that’s equal parts Western and road trip. Set in 2029 after most mutants have been hunted and killed, Logan just wants to be left alone… but that’s not in the cards for his tragic character. He drunkenly drives an Uber limo around by night so he can buy the meds needed to keep dementia-plagued Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) from accidentally destroying the world with each seizure. Along with a caretaker, to the best of their knowledge, they’re the only three mutants left – that is, until a young girl named Laura (a.k.a. X-23) shows up and seeks their help. Full of graphic violence and a heavy dose of f-bombs, ‘Logan’ earns its R rating as it properly sends off two of the series’ greats. (Stewart recently confirmed that he will also bow out as Professor X after this.)

Opening in the wake of that movie’s record-setting wide IMAX release (1,063 screens in 67 countries) is ‘The Shack‘. If this title makes you think it’s a horror flick, think again. Sam Worthington plays a father whose daughter goes missing and is presumed dead. Filled with anguish and despair, he follows an odd invitation to return to the shack where his daughter was believed to be murdered. Under the assumption that the invitation is from God, he heads on an unlikely path towards healing. Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw, Alice Braga and Radha Mitchell co-star in this seemingly manipulative drama.

Over the last two years, Lea Thompson’s lookalike daughter Zoey Deutch has quickly risen and is on the brink of making a name for herself. As many young actors do, this week she’s getting a leading role trial with a YA feature, ‘Before I Fall‘. Based on a popular novel of the same name, the drama follows a teenage girl who dies in a car accident, only to repeat that last day of her life over and over again. Considering that it debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, I would have hoped for it to be of a high caliber, but reportedly it’s merely a predictable teen movie that merges ‘Groundhog Day’ with ‘If I Stay‘.

The Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, have a new comedy called ‘Table 19‘. It’s an ensemble story about a group of five unlikely strangers who end up assigned to sit together at the wedding of mutual not-so-great friends. Outcasts and misfits, they find something great in one another over the course of the evening. Anna Kendrick, Stephen Merchant, Amanda Crew, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson and Margo Martindale star.

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