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Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Seven New Indie Titles

An interesting mix of smaller movie notables this time out (T2-3D aside!) with a few films from previous weeks that I just saw in my humble effort to keep the all ardent cinefiles up to date.  (Plus the empty month of August sure has some slim pickins!)  Killer robots from the future now in 4K and 3D, comedies about the sanctity of marriage, tales of CIA ‘unlockers” of info, the tough road becoming a classical ballerina, a book that does your killing billing, alien abductions via found footage and second helping hockey comedies all make up the flicks in this edition of Encapsulated Movie Reviews.  Check out the short critical views on Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D, I Do…Until I Don’t, Unlocked, Polina, Death Note, Phoenix Forgotten and Goon: Last of the Enforcers below.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY 3D
(Distrib Films US)

Anyone even familiar with the Terminator franchise (especially the early outings!) already knows what a fabulous five-star affair James Cameron’s big budget second cyborg helping is.  Upping the creative and character ante from the first fantastic flick, T2 takes pride in besting both the characters (Linda Hamilton’s buff and brutal Sarah Conner is a savory shadow of her former self!) and effects (the T-1000’s liquid metal moves are awe inspired!) without sacrificing the humanity and relatability of an effective story.  This release is particularly sweet not only for the sweet subtle 3D conversation (you get so used to the fluid visual perspectives you have to take off the glasses to remember it’s 3D!), but this 4K restoration takes an already brilliant looking film and gives it an extra beautiful boost.  The only down side seeing this one theatrically again (the way it was MEANT to be seen!) was realizing that big budget works of such high quality caliber are few and far between these days, but much like the T2’s message the film future is not set.

I DO…UNTIL I DON’T
(The Film Arcade)

Following up her sassy and spirited feature film directing debut In A World… Lake Bell takes her caustic comedy into the marriage arena with I Do…Until I Don’t to some hilarious results.  She matches her hitched colorful characters (an uptight couple, loveless longtimers and free spirited swingers!) with amazing actors (Ed Helms, Mary Steenburgen and the perfect Paul Reiser – oh, yeah!) and her droll signature style for a flick that’s seriously fun.  The whole documentary dame on the rampage story angle does grow a tad tired, but thankfully Bell and company more than pick up the silly slack.

UNLOCKED
(Lionsgate Premiere)

While Unlocked is a familiar flick sporting everything from Bourne bits to obvious double crosses, its high-profile cast is what makes it stand out.  Meaning the ho-hum work by a going-through-the-paces Noomi Repace as a former CIA interrogator lured back into action is given serious co-star support from the likes of Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette, John Malkovich and even Michael Douglas to maximum effect.  So while there’s nothing new to see story wise, there’s so much to see via the awesome actor arena that it warrants a watch – Unlocked is saved by what’s on screen.

POLINA
(Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Polina, a French import, feels like three solid separate stories that never quite mesh together.  So in following aspiring Russian ballet dancer Polina through early classical ballet training (complete with stern teacher – think Whiplash for the toe dancing set!), a more sensual Dirty Dancing-esque middle period (with passionate trainer Juliette Binoche!) and a sullen interpretive dance phase there’s quality in short spurts, but lags in the long term.  Fulfilling in sections, but lacking that single cinema cohesiveness, Polina’s three parts seem somewhat out of step.

DEATH NOTE
(Netflix)

Not familiar with the original Japanese origins of this one, I was simply intrigued by the films creepy premise (write a name in the book – and they die!) and the inclusion of genre helmer Adam Wingard as Director.  Problem is even with prior picture ignorance, Wingard’s version still feels incomplete, leaving a ton of holes and unanswered questions and with a lead that’s less than engaging.  (Not to mention Willem Dafoe’s voiced demon Ryuk is a little lame!)  Though good news comes in the form of actor Lakeith Stanfield as a quirky and complex detective named L who is hunting the films’ hero – his scenes save this dour ditty from being the next name in the book.

PHOENIX FORGOTTEN
(Cinelou Films)

Even with a large amount of been there, done that found footage running rampant, I kinda dug the ‘solving a mystery’ nature of this alien abduction outing.  Three kids go missing and twenty years later the sister goes out doc hunting for some answers – interesting enough.  Problem is when the truth is finally revealed not only is it somewhat lackluster, but we never get a single final scene or cool coda from the sister’s perspective of the story to give the film a proper finish – guess they forgot.

GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS
(Momentum Pictures)

With the wacky nature of the trailer for this did-we-need-it sequel to the so-so hockey comedy Goon, it looked as though actor turned director Jay Baruchel might have upped the comedy ante this time out.  Not so much as this sparse on laughs (anytime Jonathan Cherry’s grumbling goalie is on screen it’s good to go!), but heavy on drama morality tale about right, wrong, family squabbles and getting old never goes past being bargain bin fare.  When the end credit bloopers eclipse the comedy of the film itself, it’s time to hit the typewriter a little harder.

 

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I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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