Broken down by rough life circumstances, undefeated Light Heavyweight Champion boxer Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is forced to rebuild himself after losing his wife (Rachel McAdams) to tragedy and losing his daughter (Oona Laurence) to child protective services. Haunted by his former promoter (50 Cent) Billy turns to the one man possible of coaching him, the wounded but wise Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). The rise to redemption will be a tough road to hoe, will Billy keep hope alive long enough to see the sun rise on a brighter future? Directed by Antoine Fuqua this relative paint by numbers boxing tale written by Kurt Sutter is a bit of a mix-up featuring some good moves, some interesting moves, and some bad moves story wise. Leaving little to question and a modicum of suspense throughout, there aren’t really surprises involved as we’re walked from start to finish; and, in several cases, subplots are started but never finished or given the chance to justify their weight, strange. Obligatory montages and visions of lost love make for a chuckle inducing eye roll or two; but, interesting cinematography keeps the boxing sequences feeling real, claustrophobic, and intense. The late great James Horner’s semi ambient score makes for a fine tuned accompaniment throughout as well. Meanwhile, in the acting department, both Gyllenhaal and Whitaker have some great scenes together, although when solo momentum is lost. All told, we’re given a lot of emotion to chew on and some solid boxing sequences, but the downfalls of the screenplay make this less of a must see and more of a must rent. Southpaw is rated R.
Just released from prison, professional cat burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is looking to go straight with the hope of getting to see his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Convinced to make one last score by housemates Luis (Michael Pena), Dave (T.I.), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian), Scott discovers a special suit with amazing powers and the ability to shrink to the size of an ant. Now a reluctant semi anti-hero Scott/Ant-Man will have to learn the origins and potential of the suit from it’s inventor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and his untrusting daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Armed with this new knowledge it appears Scott will be responsible for stopping Dr. Pym’s protege, Daren Cross (Corey Stoll), from selling the secrets of the Pym particle to evil superpower Hydra. But, what if this one ant can’t move this rubber tree plant? Delving into the world of Marvel once again to unearth yet another Comic character Director Peyton Reed has managed to assemble the pieces of this spirited underdog story with semi tongue in cheek. Well cast, Paul Rudd strikes the balance of average Joe with a sense of humor capable of turning on a dime to become a superhero and the film succeeds because of it. Scaling back from giant meteors crashing into the earth or dimensional portals opening up to swallow our universe Ant-Man stays ironically well sized to deliver punches, explosions, and train car hopping on a much more reduced scale; roughly Lionel size HO for those of you train buffs out there. This fun romp of a summer popcorn chomper stands up and delivers, and, from a cinematic angle, for the first time in a long time the 3D perspective actually makes sense. Comic fans, it’s worthy of your time, Ant-Man is rated PG-13.
Retired 30 years, an aged Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is haunted by his last case and the sadness that surrounds its outcome; all the while, Holmes is dogged by a slowly failing mind and faculties. But, with the help of his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her young son Roger (Milo Parker) perhaps there will be solace? And, what about peace of mind for the grown son of a Japanese politician (Hiroyuki Sanada), will Holmes be able to write one more story to appease the family? Directed by Bill Condon this beautiful homage to the man the myth the legend, Sherlock Holmes, is lovingly crafted to show new but completely logical dimensions around Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original work, all based around Mitch Cullin’s novel. And, for McKellen, heart wrenching highs and lows are found rounding out a fantastic performance that entrances, humors, and brings the viewer effectively into a freshly post World War II world. Excellent work by Linney does not go unnoticed either. Delicate scoring by Carter Burwell dances throughout the film adding further depth. One of the Summer’s smartest and most worthwhile films to date, this is one fully worthy of your attention. Mr. Holmes is rated PG.