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New on the big screen in August for grownups is a new Marvel movie, an iconic singer, and a group of aging (and still awesome!) action heroes. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new in theaters and on DVD and blu-ray this month.
PHOTO GALLERY: August 2014 Grownups Theatrical, DVD & Blu-ray Releases
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Ready for an action-packed epic space adventure? Me too, and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is just the ticket. The story follows brash adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan (Lee Pace), a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe.
Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits — gun-toting raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), tree-like humanoid Groot (Vin Diesel), enigmatic Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). Directed by James Gunn, the cast also includes Michael Rooker, Ophelia Lovibond, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou and Josh Brolin.
GET ON UP
Tate Taylor (“The Help”) directs “42’s” Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in this film based on the incredible life of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. The story ranges from Brown’s impoverished childhood to his evolution into one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. The cast also includes Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Lennie James, Tika Sumpter, Jill Scott and Dan Aykroyd. The producers are just as interesting as the cast: Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment, with Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman producing under their Jagged Films banner.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Those pizza-eating turtles are back in action and just in time! Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder (William Fichtner) and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the cops to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Fearless reporter April (Megan Fox) and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) join forces with the turtles to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, the cast also includes Johnny Knoxville (Leonardo), Alan Ritchson (Raphael), Noel Fisher (Michelangelo), Jeremy Howard (Donatello), Tony Shalhoub (Splinter) and Whoopi Goldberg (Bernadette Thompson).
INTO THE STORM
PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language, including some sexual references | In Theaters 8/08 (2D, IMAX) | Ok for Kids 13+ | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels | IntotheStormmovie.com | Facebook | Google+
Who doesn’t love a good storm movie? As long as it’s in the movies and not in real life, right? This thriller centers on the town of Silverton, ravaged by an onslaught of erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Directed by Steven Quale, this action thriller stars Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Jeremy Sumpter, Kyle Davis, Jon Reep and Scott Lawrence.
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY
PG for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality | In Theaters 8/08 | Ok for Kids 9+ | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels | Facebook
I love movies centered on food, especially when they’re based on a book like “The Hundred-Foot Journey” by Richard Morais. The story follows Hassan (Manish Dayal), a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, he and his family settle in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. It’s the perfect place to open an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai.
That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory, gets wind of it. Her icy protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from her own escalate to all-out war between the two establishments – until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine and for Mme. Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite, merge their talents and make culinary magic. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, this sweet comedy drama also stars Helen Mirren, Om Puri, and Charlotte Le Bon.
LET’S BE COPS
Rated R for language, including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use | In Theaters 8/13 | Ok for Kids 14+ | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels | LetsBeCopsmovie.com | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr
“Let’s Be Cops” is the ultimate buddy cop movie except for one thing: they’re not cops. When two struggling pals (Damon Wayans and Jake Johnson) dress as cops for a costume party, they become neighborhood sensations. But when these newly-minted “heroes” get tangled in a real life web of mobsters and dirty detectives, they must put their fake badges on the line. Directed by Luke Greenfield, this comedy also stars Rob Riggle, Nina Dobrev, James D’Arcy, and Andy Garcia.
THE EXPENDABLES 3
I love seeing all those original action heroes back on the big screen. In “The Expendables 3,” Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham) and the rest of the team come face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson; predicting comeback role here), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney, but became a ruthless arms trader who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. It’s old school vs. new blood as Barney recruits younger, faster, more tech-savvy members to the group. Directed by Patrick Hughes, this explosion-packed movie also stars Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Harrison Ford.
The haunting story of “The Giver” centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal world of conformity and contentment. But as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past. He realizes that he must escape their world to protect the people he loves — a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before. Directed by Phillip Noyce, “The Giver” is based on a book by Lois Lowry (read my interview with her here), and also stars Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush and Taylor Swift.
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
Did you know that miles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris, France? Turns out they’re home to countless souls. When a team of American and British explorers venture into the uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead. Not only that, but they all see paranormal visions as their past comes back to haunt them. Directed by John Erick Dowdle, this psychological thriller stars Ben Feldman, Perdita Weeks, Edwin Hodge, Josh Kervarec and Oscar Zhang.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL
Inspired by a true story and book by Neil Hayes, this sports drama brings to life the incredible winning streak of the De La Salle High School football team: 151 straight victories over 12 years. As Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) builds his seemingly invincible national powerhouse, he’s always emphasized purpose and significance rather than streaks and titles. But when real-life adversity leaves the team reeling, the Spartans must decide if the sacrifice, commitment, and teamwork they’ve always trusted can rebuild their disintegrating team. Directed by Thomas Carter, this sports drama also stars Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis, and Alexander Ludwig.
FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller reunite to bring Miller’s visually stunning graphic novels back to the screen in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.” Weaving together two of Miller’s classic stories with new tales, the town’s most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more notorious inhabitants. In “A Dame to Kill For,” Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) struggles with his inner demons and tries to maintain control until his former lover, Ava Lord (Eva Green) returns, wanting help to escape her abusive husband, billionaire Damien Lord (Marton Csokas) and his massive bodyguard Manute (Dennis Haysbert).
“Just Another Saturday Night” takes place on the night John Hartigan meets up with Nancy in “That Yellow Bastard.” Marv (Mickey Rourke) regains consciousness on a highway overlooking the Projects, surrounded by several dead young men, and unable to remember how he got there. “The Long Bad Night” stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, a cocky gambler with a dark mission to destroy the biggest villain in Sin City. “The Fat Loss” is set after John Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide and centers around a now toughened Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) struggling to cope with his death while plotting to kill Senator Roark (Powers Boothe).
IF I STAY
Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Jamie Blackley). But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left. Directed by R.J. Cutler, this drama is based on the book by Gayle Forman and also stars Mireille Enos, Stacy Keach, Lauren Lee Smith and Aisha Hinds.
Blending animation and live action, this fascinating film stars “House of Cards’” Robin Wright (playing a version of herself) as an aging actress who decides to take her final job: preserving her digital likeness for a future Hollywood. Through a deal brokered by her longtime agent (Harvey Keitel) and the head of Miramount Studios (Danny Huston), her alias will be controlled by the studio, and will star in any film they want with no restrictions. In return, she receives healthy compensation so she can care for her ailing son, and her digitized character will stay forever young.
Twenty years later, under the creative vision of the studio’s head animator (Jon Hamm), Wright’s digital double rises to immortal stardom, and she’s invited to take part in “The Congress” convention as she makes her comeback straight into the world of future fantasy cinema. Directed by Ari Folman, this drama also stars Kodi Smit-McPhee, Sami Gayle and Michael Stahl-David.
THE NOVEMBER MAN
Code named ‘The November Man,’ Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) is a lethal and highly trained ex-CIA agent, who has been enjoying a quiet life in Switzerland. When Devereaux is lured out of retirement for one last mission, he must protect valuable witness, Alice Fournier, (Olga Kurylenko). He soon learns that this assignment makes him a target of his former friend and CIA protégé David Mason (Luke Bracey). With growing suspicions of a mole in the agency, there is no one Devereaux can trust, no rules and no holds barred.
NEW ON DVD | BLU-RAY:
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality | On DVD/Blu-ray/Digital 8/05 | Ok for kids 13+ | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
One of my favorite movies of 2014, this dystopian thriller based on the book by Veronica Roth is set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. When Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) learns she’s “Divergent,” it means she’ll never fit into any one group. Even worse, she discovers a conspiracy by faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents. Tris must learn to trust the mysterious Four (Theo James) and find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.
TRANSFORMERS CYBERTRON: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Not Rated | On DVD 8/05 | Ok for kids 7+ | Reel Review: 4 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
This 7-disc set from Shout! Factory finds the Unicron defeated, but his destruction has created a black hole, which is threatening the Autobots’ home world of Cybertron. It’s up to Optimus Prime, his team of heroic Autobots, and their new human friends Coby, Lori and Bud to secure the four mystical Cyber Planet Keys, in order to destroy the black hole. Unfortunately, Megatron and the Decepticons are always lurking. And if the Cyber Planet Keys fall into their hands, it could mean the end of life as we know it!
BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM
Rated PG-13 | On DVD/Blu-ray 8/12 | Ok for kids 12+ | Reel Review: 3.5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
Being locked away in Arkham has little effect on Joker (Troy Baker) and his latest desire to detonate a dirty bomb within Gotham. As the clock begins to tick, a deadly triangle unfolds as Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) unleashes Task Force X to save the day, while Batman has his own plans for salvation. Kevin Conroy returns as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The cast also includes Martin Jarvis (Alfred), Hynden Walch (Harley Quinn), Neal McDonough (Floyd Lawton/Deadshot), Mathew Gray Gubler (Edward Nygma/The Riddler), Kevin Grevioux (King Shark) and James Patrick Stuart (George Harkness/Captain Boomerang).
Rated G | On DVD/Blu-ray 8/12 | Ok for Kids 6+ | Reel Review: 4 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
I love this year’s installment in the DisneyNature franchise. “Bears” is an epic story that showcases a year in the life of a bear family, as Mama Sky teaches her two impressionable cubs, Amber and Scout about life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop, their journey begins as winter ends. Emerging from hibernation, the three face the bitter cold and an exciting but very risky outside world. The camera work is absolutely amazing.
Rated R | On DVD/Blu-ray 8/12 | Ok for kids 16+ | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
At first glance, “Locke” is Tom Hardy sitting in a car mining his Rolodex of contacts and talking on the phone for 80 minutes straight. This film may be low budget, but it’s high art thanks to Hardy’s astounding performance. As Ivan Locke, he’s ridiculously calm with the life altering decisions he makes at the beginning of the film, but the events that transpire over the phone not only pluck at his emotions but his sanity as well. This movie confirms that all Hardy needs is a camera pointed squarely at him in order to showcase his exquisite talent as a leading man.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
PG for some mild action | On DVD/Blu-ray 8/12 | Ok for kids 5+ | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
Every Muppet movie raises the bar, and this one does too. It’s good fun for the whole family. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal and the entire Muppets gang head out on a world tour. But mayhem follows the Muppets, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper. Now Kermit is behind bars at the mercy of prison warden Nadya (Tina Fey), and the World’s Number One Criminal, Constantine — a dead ringer for Kermit — has taken his place! As Constantine and his dastardly sidekick Dominic (Ricky Gervais) plot the robbery of the century, they’re pursued by Sam Eagle and Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell). Packed with dozens of guest cameos and great new songs, Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” is brilliant on all levels.
THE BLACKLIST: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Rated TV-14 | On DVD/Blu-ray/Amazon Instant Video 8/12 | Ok for kids 13+ | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
Love, love, love this show. James Spader is drop-dead awesome as Raymond “Red” Reddington, one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as “The Concierge of Crime,” but now he’s mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: he will help catch the world’s most elusive criminals, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone, TV’s “Law & Order: Los Angeles”), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico.
ESCAPE TO GRIZZLY MOUNTAIN
Not Rated | On DVD 8/12 | Ok for kids 7+ | Reel Review: 3.5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
When Jimmy witnesses the mistreatment of a carnival’s performing bear, he sets out to rescue him. Discovering a magical cave that opens a portal in time, he travels back to the 1840s to enlist a mountain man’s aid in finding a safe and happy home for his ursine friend. “Escape to Grizzly Mountain” is a delightful fantasy-adventure for the whole family starring Dan Haggerty as Jeremiah, the nature-loving woodsman from the past.
BOARDWALK EMPIRE: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON
Rated TV-MA | On DVD/Blu-ray 8/19 | Ok for kids 16+ | Reel Review: 4 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
One of HBO’s breakthrough series, “Boardwalk Empire” chronicles the life of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Golden Globe winner Steve Buscemi), Atlantic City’s undisputed czar at a time when Prohibition proved to be a major catalyst in the rise of organized crime in America. This 4-disc season 4 set picks up eight months after the end of Season 3, in February 1924 – the year jazz emerged. Having barely survived an overthrow by Gyp Rossetti in Season 3, Nucky is laying low at the end of the Boardwalk as the season begins. Eventually he’ll butt heads with Mayor Bader, battle with his brother Eli about the fate of Eli’s college-aged son Willie, and set his sights on the lucrative drug and real-estate opportunities in Florida.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence | On DVD/Blu-ray/Blu-ray 3D/Digital HD 8/19 | Ok for kids 13+ | Reel Review: 4 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
It’s great to be Spider-Man! For Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city, and with the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. As his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.
THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON
This 5-Disc set follows Rick and the survivors fostering a thriving community in the safe haven of the prison. Sadly, in this brutal world, happiness is short-lived, and walkers and outside threats are no match for danger brewing inside the fences. This season also introduces several new characters, including Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr., The Wire).
Not Rated | On DVD 8/26 | Ok for kids 9+ | Reel Review: 4 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
Welcome Back, Kotter! We’re so glad to see you! Thanks to Shout! Factory for bringing back not only Mr. Kotter, but those rowdy Sweathogs. With the hilarious talents of comedian Gabe Kaplan, Marcia Strassman, John Travolta (in the role that made him a star), Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Robert Hegyes and Ron Palillo, the Emmy-nominated show is a welcome addition to anyone’s DVD collection. Bonus features on the 16-Disc set include “Only A Few Degrees From A Sweathog” featurette and Actors’ Original Screen Tests.
GENE AUTRY: MOVIE COLLECTION 7
Not Rated | On DVD 8/26 | Ok for kids 7+ | Reel Review: 4 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
Gene Autry is the only entertainer with all five stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, one each for Radio, Recording, Motion Pictures, Television and Live Performance. He was the silver screen’s first singing cowboy and is credited with creating the genre of the musical B Western. As the star of 89 feature films, Gene brings music, comedy and action to each of his roles. Now, for the first time on DVD, Gene Autry’s rollicking big screen adventures and unforgettable tunes are brought home in these Western classics, fully restored and uncut on two discs from Gene Autry’s personal film archives. This set is great for the whole family.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.