The post-summer slump may actually rebound this weekend as counter-programming delivers three potentially interesting offerings.
Fox takes another crack at the YA market with ‘The Maze Runner‘. I’d never heard of the book until the studio began advertising the movie version, but it’s apparently very popular and widely known. Following suit with ‘The Hunger Games‘, ‘Divergent‘ and many other fan-fueled YA series, ‘The Maze Runner’ is yet another tale of a teenager who must break the dystopic system that confines humanity to save the world. In this low-budget iteration, a bunch of amnesiac teenage boys wake up one-by-one in a large enclosed glade. Beyond the walls that surround their safe yet small slice of heaven is a massive maze, one that only opens to them during the day. At night, the walls move and close the maze’s narrow entrance, so the boys must return to the glade before then. Getting stuck in the maze equals sure death because something monstrous wanders its paths at night. The film follows a specific kid through this mysterious experience as he rejects the deadly game that they’re forced to play. Although loaded with familiar bits from other popular stories, movies and television shows, for a YA adaptation, this teen thriller is actually more intense and entertaining than you might expect.
On the adult dramedy side is ‘This Is Where I Leave You‘, which also happens to be based on a popular book. Director Shawn Levy departs from his usual mindless comedies for one that actually has some substance. Jason Bateman leads the ensemble cast as a well-planned person whose life is eroding due to elements outside his control. After catching his wife in bed with his boss (Dax Shepard), his father passes away. After the funeral, he and his siblings (Tina Fey, Adam Driver and Corey Stoll) are forced to fulfill the father’s wish that they spend seven days together with their mother (Jane Fonda) in the home where they grew up. The events that unfold should resonate with adults from nearly every walk of life. Timothy Olyphant, Kathryn Hanh and Rose Byrne co-star. Get ready to laugh and maybe even have your emotions stirred.
Liam Neeson is back doing his ‘Taken’ thing with ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones‘. Writer/sometimes director Frank Scott helms this action-filled crime drama about a private dick who’s hired by bad men to uncover the identity of some kidnapping murderers. As uplifting as it sounds (sarcasm intended), word has it that ‘Tombstones’ isn’t half bad.
Kevin Smith’s latest flick, the horror comedy ‘Tusk‘, opens north of 500 screens, but I’m told that it’s an over-indulgent and jumbled mess. A podcaster (Justin Long) goes missing in Canada, only to be tortured by a mad man (Michael Parks) in a very ‘Human Centipede’ way that meshes man with walrus. His podcasting buddies (Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez) head off to find their surgically transformed friend in what I’m told is little more than an ongoing gag about Canadian stereotypes.
Simon Pegg hits indie screens with ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness‘, a seemingly lightweight comedy that appears to mix the stories of ‘Eat Pray Love’ with ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’. Pegg plays a shrink who’s constantly asked to help people find happiness, yet doesn’t know where to find it himself. So, he heads off on an around-the-world journey to discover the meaning and source of happiness.
And also hitting arthouse cinemas is Terry Gilliam’s lastest insane flick, ‘The Zero Theorem‘. The movie has been available on streaming services for over a month, but now you can catch it on a few big screens across the country. Christoph Waltz plays a hacker hellbent on uncovering the meaning of human existence. From the trailer alone, the only thing I know is that Gilliam returns to his sci-fi madness. Has anyone given it a shot On Demand? If so, let us know what you thought in the Comments section below.