Encapsulated Movie Reviews – 3 New Indie Titles

Encapsulated Movie ReviewsThere’s an interesting mix of indie fare this week that has everything from theme park furries to wild west gun-toting baddies. (And that’s just an average day in the work of diverse actor Bryan Cranston!)  We’re filling the Encapsulated Movie Reviews today with a trio that includes the comedy CHARACTERz, the drama The Infiltrator and the western thriller Outlaws and Angels – check out the critical skinny below!



(MarVista Digital Entertainment)

Reaching for the similar style of the old John Cusack comedies (see One Crazy Summer and Better off Dead) by combining broad humor with coming of age elements, CHARACTERz falls a tad flat.  Taking place within the confines of a second rate theme park (think Adventureland without the poignancy!) and focusing on a rag-tag group of young folks who wear the mascot costumes, the film has a real identity crisis.  Is it a family comedy (plenty non-threatening Disney type teen fun!), a raunchy ruckus (there’s jokes in here about smoking weed and going to a saucy “furry” party!) or a love story involving a geek who must come out of his shell?  Plus the leading man of the piece young Mitchel Musso has only minor amounts of charisma – a hard thing to get past and then root for.  It’s a shame because there are notable items within that could have been spectacular under the right writing (this one has love for band The Moody Blues, the real Eddie Haskell and Police Academy’s sound man Michael Winslow!), but as is CHARACTERz is a ride in need of repair.

The Infiltrator

(Broad Green Pictures)

The Infiltrator, based on a true story of undercover federal agent who must juggle taking down Pablo Escobar’s drug-trafficking empire with his duty as a husband and father, is a terrific and well-woven piece of storytelling.  From the tight tension watching leading man Bryan Cranston lie his way through close calls to the sad friendships between people based on a lie (the relationship between Cranston and baddie Benjamin Bratt is in pure Wiseguy first season tasty territory!), Director Brad Furman makes a memorable movie that keeps the audience ever so engaged.  There are tasty turns by everyone involved (nice to see Amy Ryan as a tough character again!), some killer chemistry (Cranston and Diane Kruger have serious heat!) and even some comedic asides (via the ever-wisecracking John Leguizamo!), but all of the above firmly work in tandem to make The Infiltrator one fascinating fable.

Outlaws and Angels

(Momentum Pictures)

Outlaws and Angels is a classic case of a missed opportunity.  The opening bits of the hard-shell western are five-star stuff – from a stylistic bank robbery gone wrong to a mild-mannered family meeting that ends in mayhem – that combine a skilled hand with signature style that sizzles.  Problem is our anti-heroes (lead by the surly Chad Michael Murray) then hit a ranch where something is obviously amiss and the film then turns downright nasty.  (Think the original Last House On The Left with even more violence that really takes its time!)  I’m no prude, but the film is a serious exercise in how much uncomfortable an audience member can take and by the end of the piece you can’t help but feel dirty.  The biggest shame is the cast is filled with solid characters with actors like Luke Wilson, Teri Polo and the fantastic Francis Fisher, but all get lost in a sea of shameful scenes that seemingly never end.  The only bright light in this dark ditty is the turn by Fisher and Clint Eastwood’s daring daughter Francesca Eastwood who does her frontier father proud playing a sassy sister with spunk – it’s her work alone that saves Outlaws and Angels from the hangman’s noose.


The Infiltrator Poster

Outlaws and Angels Poster


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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