What's on at the movies August 17, 2017?


After these reviews I'm taking a seven week break from the radio station as my on-air partner is off on holidays to Europe. I'll still write up my reviews when I get a chance.


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The Dark Tower ✪✪✪ Opened August 17


This film has been kicked around from studio to studio (Universal to finally Sony) and from director to director (Ron Howard, J.J. Abrahms, and finally to Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair). Despite an estimated box office budget of a paltry $60 million it only made $19 million in its opening weekend with a gross of $35 million so far. However this isn’t a one act pony. As suggested first by Ron Howard when he became involved a decade ago, this is going to be the beginning of a TV series/film interchange in the Gunslinger universe.

Whether this strategy will be a success is hard to know. The Avengers intermixed with the Agents of Shield ran out of steam and that was with multiple films in that universe, all blockbusters.

Everyone who came with me to the preview - my teenage son and friends - felt it was okay. I wanted so much to enjoy this, being a big King fan (in fact he’s the inspiration for my writing) and I did, sorta. It doesn’t pack the punch it should and feels muted. Not to mention there's something not right with the lighting. We know this take place in a dark universe but we need to see what's going on, for goodness sake. The big finale isn’t big enough and Matthew McConaughey’s evil Man in Black is just not terrifying enough to have me worried for the heroes.

I think those who enjoy the books and I’ve only read the first in the series, which I didn’t love, might be disappointed. There’s eight books in King’s series and this film is only 95 minutes, so that is some condensing done by veteran screenwriter Akiva Goldsman.

I’ll reserve my full judgement on this as a fail until I see the TV series. As a film, it’s so so, although it’s fun looking for the King references to his other books, like 14-08 as a code for a portal destination, which is also the number of a haunted room in a King short story. Look for the sign of a rundown amusement park Pennywise; a reference to his evil clown in It. Whether this will be worth the entry price might depend on how big a King fan you are. I just hope they do a better job with It, which is from a different studio.

Film Blurb

There are other worlds than these. Stephen King's The Dark Tower, the ambitious and expansive story from one of the world's most celebrated authors, makes its launch to the big screen. The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O'Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

Logan Lucky ✪✪✪½ Opened August 17


This is a whole bucketload of fun. And if you ever thought Daniel Craig couldn't shake off the James Bond chains, get a load of his performance here. You will not recognize him. Suave he is not.

Channing Tatum proves he can act and Adam Driver again reminds us why he is one of the most promising, upcoming actors in the game. There's chemistry not just in the explosives but between the actors.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Magic Mike, Michael Clayton, Side Effects, Contagion, Oceans Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen) Logan Lucky is the no suit, what if not-so-smart folk pulled off a heist like in Oceans Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen?

The answer: You'd get a lot of laughs and possibly a lot more heart than the slick Las Vegas heist films. This is worth your dollars. If Logan Lucky turns out to be successful for the studio, there'll be no luck involved. It will be because there's a great script with a confident director and actors who brought their A-game.

Film Blurb

Trying to reverse a family curse, brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. STARS: SETH MacFARLANE, RILEY KEOUGH, DANIEL CRAIG, HILARY SWANK

Hampstead ✪✪✪ Opened August 17


I sent a friend along to see this and she reported back what you would expect. She enjoyed the film though it held no surprises and was a typical romance comedy for the seniors.

"Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleason did a good job as a courting couple," she said. The background scenery of Hampstead was so beautiful and she wants to visit there now. My friend who is in her forties and her friend were the youngest people in the cinema she thinks. So this is for the over-fifties who remember who Diane Keaton was in her hey-day. A big romantic comedy star and a favorite of Woody Allen.

Film Blurb

A heart-warming romantic comedy set around the beautiful Hampstead Heath in London, a quiet piece of countryside in a vast metropolis. Living in a lovely old apartment on the edge of the Heath, American widow Emily Walters feels like she is drifting aimlessly through life. Then she meets Donald, who has lived harmoniously on the Heath for 17 years in a ramshackle hut. When property developers attempt to destroy his home, Emily steps up to defend Donald in the escalating battle. Stars DIANE KEATON & BRENDAN GLEASON


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