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Coming to Theaters: April 21

From thriller to sci-fi to drama to gangster, this week’s new releases run the gamut of genre, but with relatively little to show for it.

 

Unforgettable

unforgettable-650x354The synopsis says about all you need to know on this one: “A woman tries to make life hell for her ex-husband’s new wife.” Starring Katherine Heigl as the ex-wife and Rosario Dawson as the new wife, the film portrays jealousy denigrating into obsession and eventually, if the trailer can be taken at face value, murder.

While the theme of the destructive pattern of jealousy has some merit, I suspect the film does not have any such depth in mind. Rather than serving as cautionary tales, films like this often settle for a trite revenge narrative that we see over and over again, dozens of times each year. I see no reason to expect anything different from Unforgettable.

Unforgettable is rated R for sexual content, violence, some language, and brief partial nudity

 

The Promise

the-promise-rewards-largeSet against the backdrop of Armenian genocide, The Promise is the story of a love triangle in the midst of conflict, when a medical student and a journalist fall for the same woman. It takes a reliable even if cliche approach, and features a terrific cast, highlighted by Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale.

That said, don’t go in expecting much more than an enjoyable cliche. Director Terry George’s advantage is that he’s drawing attention to a little-known humanitarian tragedy in history. However, if reviews are to be believed, the love story never moves past that, and can be quite soapy at times, which probably includes sexual content.

The Promise is rated PG-13 for thematic material including war atrocities, violence and disturbing images, and for some sexuality.

 

Phoenix Forgotten

maxresdefaultIn 1997, a series of lights appeared above the city of Phoenix, leading hundreds of people to claim that they had seen a UFO.  That event, whatever it was, is the inspiration for Phoenix Forgotten, a found footage/alien abduction film.

While the medium is interesting, I tend to be skeptical of most found footage films because, to be frank, most of them aren’t very good. But this film has me intrigued. Wes Ball (Maze Runner) has been involved with the story, and Ridley Scott is producing. With that kind of creative team, the story at least deserves a second glance.

Phoenix Forgotten is rated PG-13.

 

Free Fire

maxresdefault (1)From Executive Producer Martin Scorcese (there’s a warning label if there ever was one) comes this film about a stand-off in a warehouse between two gangs in an arms deal gone bad, set in 1978.  That’s it.  That’s the movie.  No really, that’s the movie.

In the interest of fairness, we should point out that the film is a pretty remarkable cast.  Brie Larson takes up a lot of the attention in the trailer, but there’s also Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, and Jack Reynor.  The film is being advertised as a Hard-R violent comedy, with as many f-bombs and comical moments in the red-band trailer as you could possibly squeeze into two and a half minutes.  I have little doubt that the film will be chock-full of funny moments, with that combination of acting talent and creative direction.  I also have little doubt that it will be chock-full of other problematic content, such as vulgar language and sexual references.

Free Fire is rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use.

 

Recommendation: As cliche as it may seem, The Promise appears to be the, erm, most promising film in the lineup this weekend.  I’m always excited to see Christian Bale in something that isn’t Batman, and Oscar Isaac is also rarely disappointing.  The backdrop of humanitarian crisis is interesting as well, and could give some relief from the soapy love triangle.  I will however add a qualifier to be cautious of the “some sexual content” that the rating advisory mentions.

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