Monthly Preview: April 2015

calendar2Much like the recently-departed month of March, April is mostly made up of indie fare with one or two larger studio efforts mixed in for overpowering flavor. While it’s hard not to feel like this is the calm before the storm, this month should still provide us with some nice options at the theater nevertheless, and one of my most anticipated movies of the year so far to boot. Let’s take a look!

Furious 7: My enthusiasm for the Fast & Furious franchise, like the franchise itself, has taken many twists and turns over the years. I loved the first two installments when I was younger, and completely ignored/eye-rolled the third and fourth films. But with Fast Five and Furious Six, the series has taken on new life, combining an earnestly emotional center with increasingly insane practical stunts. Furious 7 raises some big questions, namely can the franchise maintain this momentum and tone without savior Justin Lin, and how will the film be affected by the death of Paul Walker? Based on the early looks, it seems that James Wan and company have been able to stay on target, but I guess we’ll see on Friday.

Kill Me Three Times: The post-Tarantino world has been rife with the zany, comedic crime film, the kind with multiple characters in multiple plotlines criss-crossing each other in a wild ballet of violence and betrayal. Many of those films end up being completely derivative and boring and bland and fade into obscurity five minutes after they start, but hopefully Kill Me Three Times won’t be one of those. The latest in a steady stream of modern Australian crime thrillers, this one is most notable for having an against-type performance from Simon Pegg as a slick hit man, and that alone would make me interested. But the film itself looks like a fun ride as well, and while it ultimately may not be much more than a lark, it seems like a lark worth taking a chance on.

Ex Machina: Ah, now here is a heavy hitter. Alex Garland is possibly one of my favorite screenwriters, particularly in science fiction, having been the scribe behind 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go and Dredd. Now he’s taking the director’s chair as well with this intense-looking parable, which in a year full of explorations of AI might end up being the most adult and thoughtful. Armed with a trio of great young actors (Oscar Isaac, Domnhall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander) and a tightly-wound dramatic situation, this one has a huge amount of potential in my eyes, even before you consider Garland’s resume and ability to produce intelligent science fiction stories. This could really end up being one of the real standouts of this year when it is all said and done, and if it isn’t I will be absurdly disappointed. But with the pedigree of talent involved, I see no reason not to have faith in Ex Machina’s success.

Child 44: I’ve been curious about this one for awhile, and if nothing else it seems like another mid-range adult studio picture in a year that has been surprisingly generous with those so far. While I don’t have much reason to be absurdly excited about Daniel Espinosa as director (I haven’t seen Easy Money, and Safe House was the definition of forgettable for me) I certainly can’t argue with the cast he’s got to work with. And then there’s the premise itself, which if nothing else is a really great dramatic situation that should make good use film noir/cop movie archetypes while bringing something new and complementary to the table. It looks like a solid, handsomely-made film, and while it might not ultimately blow my doors off it’s certainly the sort of movie I’m happy to find at the multiplex these days.

I have heard some outright epic things about the gore and action in The Dead Lands, so fingers crossed that it can provide a little bit more adrenaline before the summer blockbuster season gets going; Ryan Gosling’s Lost River continues to intrigue me even after its disastrous reception at Cannes last year, so its digital release at the end of the month might command my attention; and there’s also Adult Beginners, which has a great cast and some good jokes in the trailer, but a very tired-looking manchild plotline.

And with that, we will be at the ⅓ mark of the calendar. Next up: Geekpocalypse 2015 begins in earnest!

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