STAR TREK BEYOND

Star Trek Beyond is a wonderful 50th anniversary present for Trekkers and movie fans all around the world, and it’s a wonderful continuation of the universe that was created by Gene Roddenberry. Unfortunately, my CinemAddicts podcast partner Anderson Cowan had an entirely different opinion of the movie and wasn’t too thrilled director Justin Lin’s crafting of the action sequences. I loved the performances from the entire cast, and Star Trek newcomer Sofia Boutella is a particular standout as Jaylah, an alien who helps Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew on their latest mission to defeat Krall (Idris Elba), a mysterious figure who’s bent on eliminating anyone (or anything) in his path.

During the second segment of CinemAddicts, we review director/writer Mike Birbiglia’s latest feature Don’t Think Twice. While I loved the performances and the involving story of a talented New York improv group (which features Birbiglia, Gillian Jacobs, and Keegan-Michael Key), Anderson wasn’t invested in the narrative.

My top recommendation of the week is Train To Busan, a gripping, high octane zombie thriller directed by Sang-ho Yeon. The plotline centers on a group of passengers who are trying to survive while being surrounded by a growing horde of zombies. At the center of this madness is a business minded, self serving fund manager (Seok Woo) who will do anything to save his daughter (Soo-an who delivers the film’s best performance). A wonderful combination of horror filled action and effective melodrama, Train to Busan is my top pick of the week.

Click on the media bar below to hear this week’s episode of CinemAddicts.



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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi


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Now out on Blu-ray, the Ultimate Edition of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a must have for fans of the theatrical cut as well as comic book enthusiasts. This version, which runs 182 minutes, gives a deeper look into Lex Luthor’s (Jesse Eisenberg) ambitious scheme to kill Superman (Henry Cavill) and also gives more screen time to Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

During Lane’s investigation into the Lex Luthor’s nefarious operations, she enlists the aid of Jenet Klyburn (Jena Malone), a scientist who helps trace two terrorist operations back to Luthor. Former Wayne Enterprises employee Wallace Keefe’s (Scoot McNairy) own motivations for taking down the Man of Steel are also made clearer and a twist involving Keefe that wasn’t detailed in the original cut is also divulged in the Ultimate Edition.

Clark Kent’s (Cavill) own investigation of Batman are also fleshed out in this edition, as the repercussions of Caped Crusader’s vigilante style of justice is seen through the eyes of a luckless criminal and his grieving family. Both Kent and Lane’s reporting skills are given much more attention with all the added footage, and an incidental character (Wunmi Mosaku) from the theatrical cut actually proves to be a much bigger piece of Lex Luthor’s puzzle.

Though the original cut is over two and a half hours, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t fully delve into Luthor’s entire chess game, and fans of the character and Eisenberg’s performance will enjoy the added textures to this superior version.

Along with the excellent extended cut, the disc comes with several highly engaging special features. “Uniting The World’s Finest” spotlights the backstories behind Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the three future Justice League members who made cameos in Batman V Superman. “The Warrior, The Myth, The Wonder” is an informative look at the history of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and along with various interviews (including Gadot and director Patty Jenkins), the featurette includes footage from the upcoming 2017 feature Wonder Woman (Jenkins is the director).

A further discussion of Batman V Superman: Ultimate Edition will also be discussed on this week’s episode of CinemAddicts.



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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi


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The “Future Filmmakers” panel had a ton of highlights, one of which included the introduction of Alden Ehrenreich as the star of the untitled Han Solo Star Wars film that’s being directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord. Casting Ehrenreich as Han Solo is one of the biggest news of the Star Wars universe, but hearing Star Wars: Episode VIII director Rian Johnson talk about his own filmmaking journey was just as memorable.

“It was an incredible experience on many different levels,” said Johnson. “Ultimately though, in order to, and this was one of those things (wherein) the whole process was kind of about you come into it with those feelings of deep nostalgia but then you realize your responsibility ultimately is to get beyond that very quickly and to tell a story that feels alive right now.”

Click on the media bar to hear Rian Johnson’s collaboration with returning cast members Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. He also talks about how Star Wars Episode VIII starts “zooming in” on the characters.

Star Wars Episode VIII hits theaters December 15, 2017.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi


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magnificentsevenFilmmaker Antoine Fuqua’s collaborations with Denzel Washington have been creatively fruitful thanks to the films Training Day and The Equalizer, and now the pair are tackling on a remake the popular Western The Magnificent Seven.

The original, which starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, was actually a remake of the 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. This iteration features hired gun Sam Chisolm (Washington) leading his gang of skilled outlaws (Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byng-Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier) to save a town that’s under the control of crooked industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Haley Bennett is Emma Cullen, a woman who employs the “magnificent seven” to perform a highly suicidal mission (they are woefully outnumbered by Bogue’s gang).

One good sign for the film, along with its stellar ensemble and A-list director, is that it’s co-penned by talented scribes Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective) and Richard Wenk (The Equalizer, 16 Blocks).

The new trailer for The Magnificent Seven, which comes out September 23, is below. Feel free to comment below and tell us what you think!!



Speaking of Westerns, we review the underrated Slow West, which stars Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee, on the latest episode of CinemAddicts. Click on the media bar to hear the episode.

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The Secret Life of Pets beat out Ghostbusters for the box office crown, making $50.56 million over the weekend. Ghostbusters did solid business with a $46 million opening, with The Legend of Tarzan coming in a distant third with just $11.1 million. Even with its strong debut, Ghostbusters cost an estimated $144 million (this figure doesn’t include the marketing costs) and the film will need a good second weekend as well as a healthy international reception to make a sizable profit for Sony. Here’s this weekend’s top 10:

1. The Secret Life of Pets - $50.56 million

2. Ghostbusters - Is $46 million enough for an opening weekend for this high budget comedy?

3. The Legend of Tarzan - Makes just $11.1 million and even though it’s cracked over $100 million domestically, the picture cost over $180 million.

4.Finding Dory - $11 million this weekend

5. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates - $7.5 million

6. The Purge: Election Year - $6.1 million

7. Central Intelligence - $5.3 million

8. The Infiltrator - $5.28 million

9. The BFG - $3.75 million and overall a total box office bomb for director Steven Spielberg.

10. Independence Day: Resurgence - $3.45 million




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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi


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miraclesfromheaven

Now out on Blu-ray and DVD, Miracles from Heaven is based on Christy Beam’s (Jennifer Garner) bestselling book Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl and Her Amazing Story of Healing.

As Christy’s 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) is struggling with an incurable disease, the Beam family persevere through this arduous ordeal by their strong faith in God. Even a renowned doctor (Eugenio Derbez) can’t help Christy’s condition, but a miracle may be waiting just around the corner. Queen Latifah co-stars in the feature as a woman who strikes up a friendship with Christy and Anna.

Filled with solid performances from the ensemble, including Martin Henderson as Christy’s loving husband, Miracles from Heaven is an affecting story that, under Patricia Riggen’s (The 33) pinpoint direction, doesn’t devolve into a saccharine drama.

Special features on the disc include audio commentary with Riggen and screenwriter Randy Brow, several featurettes (”Miracles Abound: The Making of Miracles from Heaven,” “Bearing Witness,” and “Creating Heaven: Concept Art Exploration”),and a “Your Words” music montage. The Blu-ray exclusives include deleted scene and the featurette “Accounts from Annabel.”

In the media clip below, Jennifer Garner talks about Christy Beam’s “crisis of faith” in Miracles from Heaven.


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STAR TREK BEYOND

Nichelle Nichols broke television ground with her work as Uhura the Star Trek series and its subsequent films and now Zoe Saldana is continuing that character’s inspiring journey. During the press conference, Saldana talked about the evolution of Uhura and how her initial breakup with Spock (Zachary Quinto) is a pivotal chapter in the character’s progression.

“I feel that this breakup that Spock and Uhuru have is amazing because she fell in love with her teacher,” said Saldanawhose previous credits include Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy. “He came as a figure that represented responsibility and safety and maturity and wisdom. If I choose to see it that way, there is a parallel universe situation here that’s going on with Uhura and women these days.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Saldana discuss Uhura’s evolution in Star Trek Beyond.



Star Trek Beyond, co-starring Chris Pine and Karl Urban, opens nationwide July 22.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi


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On episode 28 of CinemAddicts, Anderson Cowan and I review Woody Allen’s Café Society, a feature that marks the third collaboration between Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart (they also worked together on Adventureland and American Ultra). The 1930s set feature, which centers on a Bronx youth’s (Jesse Eisenberg) romance with his uncle’s secretary (Kristen Stewart) in Los Angeles, is gorgeously shot by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, Last Tango in Paris).

During the second segment we take on The Infiltrator, the true story of federal agent Robert Mazur’s (Bryan Cranston) attempts to take down Pablo Escobar’s drug trafficking ring. Diane Kruger and John Leguizamo are the agents who help Mazur’s mission, with Bratt playing one of Escobar’s top lieutenants. Brad Furman, whose previous credits include The Lincoln Lawyer and Runner Runner, directs.

Anderson’s streaming pick of the week is the first rate Western Slow West which stars Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and my DVD recommendation is evocative coming of age film My Golden Days.

Check out episode 28 of CinemAddicts as well as our ‘180 Seconds or Less’ review of Café Society.



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THE INFILTRATOR

Drug stories or even tales about Pablo Escobar (i.e. Narcos and Escobar: Paradise Lost) are at an all-time high, and now The Infiltrator enters that universe with the true story of federal agent Robert “Bob” Mazur’s (Bryan Cranston) attempts to take down Escobar’s empire. Directed with panache by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer, Runner Runner), The Infiltrator, in all its fever pitched fury, is worth the price of admission.

After a successful sting operation, Mazur has the option of retiring, but his determination to take down Escobar and his underlings, as well as his own addiction to his job, keeps him in the game, and with the help of fellow agents Emir Abreu (a scene stealing John Leguizamo) and Kathy Ertiz (Diane Kruger) he continues the chase.

After undergoing a dangerous journey to meet Escobar’s top brass, Mazur eventually befriends (and does business with) the drug lord’s lieutenant Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), and their friendship serves as the emotional center of The Infiltrator. Though Mazur is determined to bring these criminals to justice, his relationship with Alcaino, as well as his growing connection with Kathy leads to a bit of line-blurring along the way.

Leguizamo, who previously worked with Furman in The Lincoln Lawyer, is excellent as Abreu, a streetwise agent who helps Mazur’s ascension into the drug business. Though Mazur is a great architect and sees the big picture, Abreau’s innate social skills and survival instincts serve as the foundation of the operation, and Leguizamo effectively captures Abreau’s dedication and passion to the job.

Credit also goes to Furman and cinematographer Joshua Reis creating a visually arresting take on 1980s Florida. Instead of going for the neon glitz behind Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, the duo opted for a washed out, subtly saturated feel that infuses The Infiltrator with an appropriately gritty feel.

Thanks to Breaking Bad, his Oscar nominated turn in Trumbo, and his stellar work as Lyndon B. Johnson in All The Way, Cranston is on a huge roll. The Infiltrator simply continues the his upward trajectory, as Mazur is a compelling character to follow. Based on Mazur’s 2009 memoir The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel, The Infiltrator is a compelling storyline that fans of such films as Scarface and Donnie Brasco should love. Thanks to engaging performances by Cranston, Leguizamo, Kruger, and Bratt, the picture also works on a human level, giving the narrative a refreshing level of emotional gravitas.



The Infiltrator is now playing nationwide. The film will also be discussed on this week’s episode of CinemAddicts.


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Maya & Marty’s first season comes to a close with tonight’s finale, with Emma Stone, Kelly Ripa, and Steve Martin joining the festivities. The variety program, executive produced by Saturday Night Live head Lorne Michaels, features Maya Rudolph and Martin Short mixing in sketches, musical numbers and outrageous humor into an entertaining hour.

Although naysayers of the genre claim that the variety program is an outdated concept, solid entertainment has the power of transcendence. “My kids were weaned on the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, and Laurel & Hardy - not every Marx Brothers film is perfect,” said Short whose movie credits include  Inherent Vice and Father of the Bride. “But the funny ones are really funny. If it’s great, it deserves to exist.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Martin Short explain how Lorne Michaels was pivotal in getting Maya & Marty off the ground.





Catch Maya & Marty tonight on NBC (10 pm et/pt).

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