Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In January (2016)

According to: Selina

20 – Exposed (1/22)

Tag Line: Some things are better left buried.
Production Company: Company Films, Emmett/Furla Films, Fortitude International, PalmStar Media, Remark Films
Director: Declan Dale
Writer: Gee Malik Linton, Declan Dale
Actors: Keanu Reeves, Ana de Armas, Mira Sorvino, Christopher McDonald, Big Daddy Kane, Laura Gomez
Genre: Thriller, Drama
Rated: R

To be honest, I found the pickings for January to be very slim so some duds crept in.

For example, Exposed is on this list only because of Keanu Reeves (John Wick, 47 Ronin, Constantine). It doesn’t look like anything special otherwise. It could easily just be a drawn out episode of Criminal Minds (2005-) or NCIS (2003-), from what the trailers suggests. Granted, I enjoy both those shows…. but I don’t expect everyone else to.

I expect Exposed will very strictly stick to a recipe, but Keanu Reeves is in it, so I still kind of want to see it. Once I can see it for free, anyway.

19 – The Boy (1/22)

Tag Line: Every child needs to feel loved.
Production Company: Huayi Brothers Media, Lakeshore Entertainment, STX Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment
Director: William Brent Bell
Writer: Stacey Menear
Actors: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Ben Robson, Diana Hardcastle, Jim Norton, Jett Klyne, James Russell
Genre: Supernatural, Thriller
Rated: PG-13

Alright, this film doesn’t look very original. Typical dummy-comes-to-life recipe. However, the trailer makes it look sufficiently creepy and Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead, Reach Me, The Vampire Diaries) is someone I could watch in pretty much anything and be happy. In fact, even her episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (2013-) is my favorite.

I’m not sure whether or not I expect this film to be good, but I expect Cohan will be good in it and I still want to see it.

18 – Visions (1/19)

Tag Line: Blood will stain the land.
Production Company: Blumhouse Productions, Chapter One Films
Director: Kevin Greutert
Writer: Lucas Sussman, L.D. Goffigan
Actors: Isla Fisher, Anson Mount, Eva Longoria, Jim Parsons, Gillian Jacobs, Joanna Cassidy
Genre: Thriller
Rated: R

This is another movie that looks like it’ll be following a relatively easy recipe. Much like the last one I wrote about, it also looks creepy enough to make up for the lack of originality.

You should know by now that I don’t condemn movies just because they follow a recipe. All chocolate chip cookies follow one, but they don’t all taste the same. I view recipe movies the same way. Some are better than others and certain recipes simply speak to me more than others.

Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby, Now You See Me, Burke and Hare) and Eva Longoria (Mother Up, A Dark Truth, Desperate Housewives) are actresses that naturally catch my eye and I look forward to seeing Jim Parsons (Home, Sunset Stories, Wish I Was Here) in something that is not the Big Bang Theory (2006-), even though it looks like he’s not a main character.

At the very least, I expect a decent amount of jump scares.

17 – Monster Hunt (1/22)

Tag Line: Unknown
Production Company: Edko Films
Director: Raman Hui
Writer: Alan Yuen
Actors: Bai Baihe, Wu Jiang, Boran Jing, Eric Tsang, Wei Tang, Wallace Chung, Chen Yao
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy
Rated: NR

Movies that aren’t in English don’t normally make the Top 20. It’s not because we here at Trust the Dice don’t like foreign movies, it’s that we’re on a deadline and we often can’t find subtitled trailers to help us figure out what the movie is about in time. How can we decide if we want to see a film without knowing the premise?

The trailer for Monster Hunt had some English captions, but even without them the plot would have been clear enough, and adorable enough, for me to put it on my list.

I grew up watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). I must have watched that film a hundred times. When Space Jam (1996) came out, I did the same thing with that one. Movies that mix the real world with cartoons touch a nostalgic part of my soul that I can’t ignore.

Besides, a man giving birth to a monster baby seems like it’d be amusing to watch. Very Men in Black (1997).

16 – The Benefactor (1/15)

Tag Line: His help comes at a price.
Production Company: Big Shoes Media, Audax Films, End Cue, Magnolia Entertainment, Soaring Flight Productions, TideRock Media, Treehouse Pictures
Director: Andrew Renzi
Writer: Andrew Renzi
Actors: Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning, Theo James, Clarke Peters, Lyssa Roberts, Brian Anthony Wilson, Rory Ogden
Genre: Drama
Rated: NR

I have trouble seeing this film as a drama. The score of the trailer, and some of the scenes, leads me to believe The Benefactor will be more of a thriller. We all know that trailers can lie better than serial killers, but my mind won’t let me believe it’s a drama anyway.

As a result, I’m picturing this movie taking a dark turn where Richard Gere’s (Shall We Dance, Chicago, Pretty Woman) character is concerned. A direction I’ve never seen the veteran actor portray. That is what makes me want to see it.

The problem is, there’s every possibility that I’m wrong about the direction of the film’s plot. I guess we’ll find out.

15 – Dirty Grandpa (1/22)

Tag Line: Lose your way. Find your manhood.
Production Company: Lionsgate, QED International, Josephson Entertainment, Ninjas Runnin’ Wild Productions
Director: Dan Mazer
Writer: John Phillips
Actors: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Hough, Catherine Dyer, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Adam Polly
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R

Let me first say that this film looks nothing like Bad Grandpa (2013), so get that out of your head.

Moving on.

There was a point in time when Robert De Niro (The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, A Bronx Tale) was super gangster. I’m not talking about today’s “gangsters,” with their pants so far down that they’re no longer frightening. I’m talking about the gangsters from when I was a kid. Suits and ties and calm voices letting you know you were about to spray blood out the back of your head.

…..I sound like a curmudgeonly old woman. I should get a cane so I can shake it at people and tell them to get off my lawn.

…..I should get a lawn.


De Niro used to be that kind of gangster in films and that’s the De Niro I still think of when I hear his name. So when he’s in a movie like Dirty Grandpa…. I just have to see it. It’s so contrary to the image of him I have in my mind that I can’t pass up the opportunity to watch it.

Zac Efron (We Are Your Friends, Neighbors, The Lucky One) is a bonus. 

14 – JeruZalem (1/22)

Tag Line: On Judgement Day, hell shall inherit the Earth.
Production Company: Epic Pictures Group
Director: Doron Paz, Yoav Paz
Writer: Doron Paz, Yoav Paz
Actors: Yael Grobglas, Yon Tumarkin, Danielle Jadelyn, Tom Graziani
Genre: Horror
Rated: NR

It’s an apocalypse film, let’s all faint from shock at the knowledge that Selina wants to see it!

What… no takers?

Fine. I admit it. I’m an apocalypse-holic. As long as there’s some kind of apocalypse or dystopian thing going on in a film, I’ll watch it. Regardless of who makes it or who stars in it. Even if it’s got the worst title of a film I’ve ever seen; such as JeruZalem.

I could deal without the shaky cam, but the movie still looks interesting. It’s not following a completely original plot, but I feel like I’ll wind up being able to connect JeruZalem and World War Z (2013) with some ridiculous headcanon.

I enjoy headcanon connections almost as much as I enjoy zombies.

13 – The Great Gilly Hopkins (1/29)

Tag Line: Finding where you belong isn’t always easy.
Production Company: Arcady Bay Entertainment
Director: Stephen Herek
Writer: David Paterson, Katherine Paterson
Actors: Sophie Nelisse, Julia Stiles, Glenn Close, Kathy Bates, Octavia Spencer, Bill Cobbs
Genre: Drama, Family, Comedy
Rated: NR

When I was young, I knew a boy who was very much like Gilly is in the trailer. He was abandoned, angry and difficult to deal with until a stubborn girl forced him to open up and refused to believe they couldn’t be friends.

The Great Gilly Hopkins speaks to me on a deeper level because of my own experiences. It looks both heart-breaking and heart-warming.

It also has an amazing cast that’s hard to ignore. Kathy Bates (American Horror Story, Failure to Launch, Misery), Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, Mars Attacks!, The Stepford Wives), Julia Stiles (Blue, Silver Linings Playbook, It’s a Disaster) and Octavia Spencer (Insurgent, Red Band Society, Snowpiercer) are all significantly recognizable and masters of their craft.

I have no doubt this film will be great.

12 – Martyrs (1/22)

Tag Line: Unknown
Production Company: Blumhouse Productions, The Safran Company, Temple Hill Entertainment
Director: Kevin Goetz, Michael Goetz
Writer: Mark L. Smith, Pascal Laugier
Actors: Troian Bellisario, Caitlin Carmichael, Kate Burton, Baily Nobel, Taylor John Smith, Blake Robbins
Genre: Thriller
Rated: NR

Although Martyrs looks like it’s going to be very torture-porny, the plot still seems decent enough to give the movie a deeper quality.

I’m not familiar with the actors in the film, but the Goetz brothers made their full-length directorial debut with Scenic Route, and I was super impressed with that film. I am greatly looking forward to their second movie and I hope it’s at least half as good as the first.

11 – Lazer Team (1/27)

Tag Line: Four unlikely heroes have to save the planet. Whether we like it or not.
Production Company: Rooster Teeth Productions
Director: Matt Hullum
Writer: Chris Demarais, Joshua Flanagan, Matt Hullum, Burnie Burns
Actors: Burnie Burns, Alan Ritchson, Colton Dunn, Irina Voronina, Alexandria DeBerry, Arryn Zech, Gavin Free, Joel Heyman, Michael Jones
Genre: Action, Comedy
Rated: PG-13

It’s like Iron Man’s suit was split into various parts and locked onto a bunch of spazzes. In my mind, that makes for one hell of a movie. I’m looking forward to it.

10 – Ride Along 2 (1/15)

Tag Line: The brothers-in-law are back.
Production Company: Cube Vision, Universal Pictures, Will Packer Productions
Director: Tim Story
Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, Greg Coolidge
Actors: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter, Olivia Munn, Benjamin Bratt, Ken Jeong, Sherri Shepherd, Glen Powell, Nadine Velazquez, Tyrese Gibson, T.I.
Genre: Comedy, Action
Rated: NR

There’s only one reason this movie made the list and that’s because the first Ride Along was hilarious.

I saw the film at my in-law’s house and all I remember is a ton laughing. Kevin Hart (Get Hard, Top Five, About Last Night) is a funny guy and putting him in a film with someone as serious as Ice Cube (22 Jump Street, The Longshots, Torque) is a recipe for funny.

Of course, the first film wasn’t super amazing, but hilarious is still good.

9 – The Finest Hours (1/29)

Tag Line: 32 survivors, room for 12.
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures, Whitaker Entertainment
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Casey Sherman, Michael J. Touglas
Actors: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Eric Bana, Holliday Grainger, Ben Foster, Kyle Gallner, Graham McTavish, Beau Knapp, John Magaro, Keiynan Lonsdale, John Ortiz, Michael Raymond-James, Rachel Brosnahan
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13

The fact that this film is based off a true story makes it even more harrowing. Judging from the trailer, it seems like Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Fright Night, United States of Tara) was trying to make the Titanic (1997) for the new generation.

The cast is phenomenal and the story looks in depth and engrossing. Just because it was a true story once upon a time does not always mean that it’s an interesting story. Those things do not always go hand in hand.

In this case, I believe it will be an interesting movie and I can’t wait to see how Chris Pine (Into the Woods, Star Trek, Unstoppable) handles that accent.

8 – The Forest (1/8)

Tag Line: Everyone comes here looking for a way out.
Production Company: AI-Film, Lava Bear Films
Director: Jason Zada
Writer: Sarah Cornwell, Nick Antosca, Ben Ketai
Actors: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Stephanie Vogt, Eoin Macken, Rina Takasaki, Noriko Sakura, Yuho Yamashita, Masashi Fujimoto
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: PG-13

Natalie Dormer (Elementary, The Riot Club, The Scandalous Lady W) is an amazing actress. I loved her in Game of Thrones (2012-) and in the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (2014-2015) movies. When I found out she was going to be in a film this January, I jumped on it.

I can’t wait to see this movie. The suicide forest is a well know place of urban legend and adding that setting to an already great cast is a recipe for success. I may even try to see this film in theaters. I’m not always willing to spend that much money on a single film.

7 – Jane Got a Gun (1/29)

Tag Line: Strength, justice, power, vengeance.
Production Company: 1821 Pictures, Boies / Schiller Film Group, Handsomecharlie Films, Scott Pictures, Straight Up Films, Unanimous Pictures, WeatherVane Productions
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis, Joel Edgerton
Actors: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, River Shields, Jacob Browne, Asher Corbin, Noah Emmerich, Boyd Holbrook
Genre: Drama
Rated: R

I’m not normally into westerns, but I’ll make an exception for this one.

Natalie Portman (Thor, Black Swan, Where the Heart Is) in an action flick sounds like a whole lot of goodness. The story seems strong and there was a quip or two in the International trailer (easily found on YouTube) that makes me believe there’s a touch of comic relief in it. Not enough to ruin the film, but enough to make the drama easier to swallow.

Even the movie poster is epic.

6 – 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (1/15)

Tag Line: When everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right.
Production Company: 3 Arts Entertainment, Dune Films, Latina Pictures, Paramount Pictures
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Chuck Hogan, Mitchell Zuckoff
Actors: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Toby Stephens, Pablo Schreiber, Max Martini, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Freddie Stroma
Genre: Drama
Rated: R

Everyone has heard of Benghazi. It was all over the news. That makes it obvious that this film is based on a true story.

However, it IS being directed by Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor, Transformers, Pain & Gain)…. So I have to assume it is LOOSELY based on a true story.

Still, I’m looking forward to this film. John Krasinski (The Office, Monsters University, Aloha) has been great in everything I’ve seen him in and I tend to find myself enthralled by war films. My one issue is the director.

I really hope that Bay doesn’t turn the movie into explosion porn.

5 – The Revenant (1/8)

Tag Line: Blood lost. Life Found.
Production Company: New Regency Pictures, Anonymous Content, Appian Way, RatPac Entertainment, Soho VFX
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Writer: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mark L. Smith, Michael Punke
Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Lukas Haas, Domhnall Gleeson, Brad Carter
Genre: Thriller, Drama
Rated: R

Someone give this poor guy a fucking Oscar already. If he’s even half as good as he seems to be in the trailer, this might actually be Leonardo DiCaprio’s (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Great Gatsby, Django Unchained) year.

I’m crossing my fingers for him.

4 – Intruders (1/15)

Tag Line: They should have left her alone.
Production Company: Black Fish Films, Campbell Grobman Films, Jeff Rice Films, Vicarious Entertainment
Director: Adam Schindler
Writer: T.J. Cimfel, David White
Actors: Beth Riesgraf, Rory Culkin, Martin Starr, Jack Kesy, Leticia Jimenez, Joshua Mikel
Genre: Thriller, Psychological
Rated: R

This film might look like a recipe film, but it’s definitely a recipe with a twist. Like the first time someone decided to put bacon on a cupcake. Unexpected and awesome.

I have high hopes for Intruders.

3 – 400 Days (1/12)

Tag Line: Time to kill.
Production Company: New Artists Alliance
Director: Matt Osterman
Writer: Matt Osterman
Actors: Brandon Routh, Dane Cook, Caity Lotz, Ben Feldman, Tom Cavanagh, Grant Bowler
Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi
Rated: NR

400 Days has several things going for it.

The first thing I noticed, was that Dane Cook (Mr. Brooks, Answers to Nothing, Detention) was in a serious part and, quite frankly, I’m not used to that. It makes me need to know how he does. We know his sense of humor is polar – either you love or hate it. Very few people land in the middle where he’s concerned. I want to see how he does in a psychologically demanding film like this.

Second, the plot is amazing. Astronauts train plenty, but none of it is like the training shown in this film. Training for deep space travel involves an isolation factor that can produce terrifying results.

A plot like this, reminds me of the Russian sleep experiment urban legend.

The movie has an interesting cast and plot, making it a must-see.

2 – Kung Fu Panda 3 (1/29)

Tag Line: Grab destiny by the rice dumplings.
Production Company: China Film Co., DreamWorks Animation, Oriental DreamWorks
Director: Jennifer Yuh, Alessandro Carloni
Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Actors: Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, David Cross, Dustin Hoffman, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, J.K. Simmons, James Hong
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG

I’m not ashamed to say I’m a full grown woman that loves the hell out of the Kung Fu Panda series. I even played the video game. Don’t care, it’s awesome.

Don’t judge me.

1 – The 5th Wave (1/22)

Tag Line: Wave 1: Darkness. Wave 2: Destruction. Wave 3: Infection. Wave 4: Invasion.
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, GK Films, LStar Capital, Living Films, Material Pictures
Director: J. Blakeson
Writer: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Rick Yancey
Actors: Chloe Grace Moretz, Zackary Arthur, Live Schreiber, Ron Livingston, Nick Robinson, Maggie Siff, Tony Revolori, Alex Roe, Maika Monroe, Talitha Bateman, Maria Bello
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: PG-13

The trailer looked so awesome for this film that I went out and bought the book. I’m not going to watch it until I finish reading it, but it’s definitely on my to-do list.

I feel as though this film is going to be the kind of movie no one regrets seeing.

Movies to Look out For
According to: Cat

Exposed .20
Dirty Grandpa .19
The Great Gilly Hopkins .18
400 Days .17
The Submarine Kid .16
Norm of the North .15
Moonwalkers .14
Intruders .13
The Finest Hours .12
The Boy .11
The 5th Wave .10
The Revenant .9
The Abandoned .8
Mojave .7
Diablo .6
The Forest .5
The Benefactor .4
Band of Robbers .3
Monster Hunt .2
Kung Fu Panda 3 .1

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Lazarus Effect (2015)

Number Rolled: 58
Movie Name/Year: The Lazarus Effect (2015)
Tagline: Evil will rise.
Genre: Horror
Length: 83 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Blumhouse Productions, Chapter One Films, Lionsgate, Mosaic
Executive Producer: Jeannette Brill, Luke Dawson
Director: David Gelb
Writer: Luke Dawson, Jeremy Slater
Actors: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, Donald Glover, Ray Wise, Scott Sheldon, Emily Kelavos, James Earl, Amy Aquino, Sean T. Krishnan, Cato

Blurb from Netflix: A team of researchers develops a serum that can resurrect the dead, but they soon discover that the drug causes terrifying side effects.

Selina’s Point of View:
Well… this movie was just terrible.

When The Lazarus Effect came out, I was so excited. It has an awesome cast and the trailer really seemed great. Turns out the trailer was incredibly misleading and had every single interesting part in it to begin with. The in-between moments during the film were poorly written, involved depth-less characters and did not live up to its horror genre.

I’m a huge American Horror Story (2011-) fan, so I love Evan Peters (Adult World, The Good Doctor, Invasion). Equally, I was a huge House M.D. (2004-2012) fan and I have enjoyed the work Olivia Wilde (Better Living Through Chemistry, Drinking Buddies, Third Person) since. It almost annoys me that this film is going to be such a bold black mark on their credits. Neither of their characters were any more believable than any of the others.

No, wait, that’s not completely true.

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was this ridiculously good and short-lived TV show. I’m not talking about Firefly (2002-2003), so fangirls/boys calm yourselves.

This TV show was called Reaper (2007-2009).

I fell into fangasm with Reaper immediately. It was quirky and hilarious with a thread of B-movie style horror, but with a bigger budget and more of a comedic edge.

I won’t bore you with the specifics of the show, which is unfortunately no longer on Netflix, but I will say that it left a lasting impression on me. One that changed my headcanon for every single movie or TV show that starred Ray Wise (Big Ass Spider, Jeepers Creepers II, RoboCop).

In Reaper, Wise played the devil and now, in my mind, his character is always the devil playing a part. It really doesn’t help the situation that almost every project he takes on places him as a character that’s causing some kind of chaos or committing some kind of crime.

How does that apply to The Lazarus Effect?

Well, Wise played one of those very under developed characters I mentioned and, although he had roughly 30 seconds of on-screen time, my mind still filled in the blanks with the idea that he was the devil playing a part. What’s really interesting is that my headcanon made the entire movie slightly more interesting for me.

In the end, I definitely do not recommend The Lazarus Effect. I do, however, recommend you all go find a way to see Reaper.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve been interested in watching this movie since the trailers for it aired on television. The premise looked really interesting. It’s not the most original plot in the world – the whole animal and human resurrection thing has been done before, after all.  I figured it would be an interesting story at the very least.

I have mixed emotions about this one.

On one hand I really liked it. On the other, I felt like I was watching some sort of modernized version of Flatliners (1990) with a different twist.

I do believe that this was a pretty decent horror directorial first-showing for David Gelb (A Vision of Blindness, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, A Faster Horse) – considering his prior work is primarily in documentaries.

I wasn’t entirely sold on Mark Duplass (Hannah Takes the Stairs, Zero Dark Thirty, Tammy) as Frank. He just didn’t seem quite desperate enough when he should have been.  On the other hand, Olivia Wilde (Turistas, Rush, Love The Coopers) delivered an eerie performance.

I spent a little bit of this film, off and on, wondering where in the world I’d seen Sarah Bolger (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Crush, My All American) before. Quite a few might recognize her from playing Princess Aurora on Once Upon A Time (2011-), or even the phenomenal new AMC show Into the Badlands (2015-) as Jade.

Her emotional delivery was on par with Olivia Wilde’s and Evan Peters’ (Never Back Down, Kick-Ass, Safelight); while the others seem to fall a bit flatter.

Speaking of Evan Peters… there’s an interesting bit of trivia regarding one of his wardrobe pieces.  In one scene, he's wearing a t-shirt featuring DC's The Flash. This is amusing, considering he played Marvel's speedster, Quicksilver, in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). While that movie was released before this one, The Lazarus Effect was actually filmed prior to X-Men - it was just significantly delayed in release.

I’m not sure I would shell out any money to purchase this movie in any format, but that’s the wonderful thing about Netflix. As long as it’s free, I’d be fine with watching again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 13%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 23%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

Movie Trailer: