July Releases

I was away for a month and have been playing catch up on several films I've missed in July. Here are a few brief thoughts on some I have seen:

The Lone Ranger - Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) tells the story of how lawman John Reid (Armie Hammer) became The Lone Ranger fighting for true justice. I have a few problems with this film. First of all, while the story has some intrigue, the "twist" can be seen coming from a mile away. Secondly, the chemistry between the leads is almost non-existent. Depp is quite funny but I am tired of seeing him play the same kind of quirky character in a different costume for each film. The Lone Ranger is also too long, but director Gore Verbinski does deliver some good action scenes. 2.5 stars.

This Is The End - While attending a party at James Franco's house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse. This film is simply hilarious. I've always wanted a Pineapple Express sequel and I suppose this is as close as we're going to get. There are some great cameos, especially from the Backstreet Boys, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd and Channing Tatum. The film has such a ridiculous concept and while there are some jokes that go too far, it is a fun experience overall. 4 stars.

The Heat - An uptight FBI agent (Sandra Bullock) teams up with an unorthodox Boston cop (Melissa McCarthy) to take down a drug lord. Who would have thought teaming up these two women for a buddy film could be so good? This film had me laughing out loud a lot. Unlike The Lone Ranger, their chemistry was fantastic. Apparently there is a sequel planned. I can't wait! I hope Marlon Wayans returns and gets a bigger role. 4 stars.

The Wolverine - Set after the X-Men films, Wolverine is living alone and miserable after the death of Jean Grey. He visits Japan to say farewell to an old friend who is dying but finds himself having to protect the man's granddaughter from several people who want her dead. Meanwhile, he is confronted with the possibility of becoming mortal. This film is much better than the previous Wolverine film, although it is a little slow in parts. There is a lot of renewed interest in this franchise following the success of X-Men: First Class. With another X-Men film in the works and all the talk about Hugh Jackman's abs, it hardly even matters if the film is any good because there's just so much buzz. Fortunately, the film is very good. Comic book fans will be pleased to see the focus on the Japanese years. The female leads supporting Jackman (Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima making their feature film debuts) are very good too. 3.5 stars.

Behind The Candelabra – Talk about powerful performances. Michael Douglas is fantastic and Matt Damon gives his best performance ever on-screen. The film is based on the autobiographical novel by Scott Thorson (Damon) and his tumultuous five-year relationship with icon Liberace (Douglas). It is a fascinating story about Liberace's secret homosexuality juxtaposed with his extravagant lifestyle and entertainment persona. You would have to wonder what Liberace would have thought of the film if he were still alive. The film is a little long and could have explored other plot points further, but it is an intriguing exploration of Liberace's private life. There are also some great performances by co-stars including a very funny Rob Lowe and a versatile Scott Bakula. 3 stars