Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Five New Indie Titles

Encapsulated Movie ReviewsThere’s no shortage of lessor known film fare this week, though not all the movie news is good.  But frankly scouring the smaller cinema is a lot like gambling – even though the house has the advantage there’s always hope for that rare big payday.  (Aka gems and duds will get reviewed!)  Going from high school to college, dying to live again, forced relationships, fetching teens with feathers and Muay Thai mayhem – we cover all movie bases.  Check out the Encapsulated Movie Reviews of Summer of 8, The 9th Life of Louis Drax, Skiptrace, Maximum Ride and Kickboxer: Vengeance below!

Summer of 8


Heartbreakingly realistic and utterly relatable,  Summer of 8 painstakingly lives in the wondrous and scary moment right between high school and going off to college with five-star frankness. Following a tight knit group of graduates during a final day of revelry and reflection at the beach, Writer/Director Ryan Schwartz fills his film with familiar characters we know and love, but minus the stereotypical sheen that usually kneecaps such material.  Taking on teen topics of utter importance (carrying relationships past school, unrequited love, losing one’s virginity) with both tear inducing drama and some raunchy candid comedy, there’s simply not a false scene or performance here – a rare feat for any film.  A wonderful exploration of hopes and dreams in that awkward adolescent instant of both birth and death, Summer of 8 is The Big Chill for the springtide set.

The 9th Life

(Summit Premiere)

Trying desperately to reach for the ‘fantasy within the darkness of reality’ mantle carefully built by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro with work like Pan’s Labyrinth, The 9th Life of Louis Drax does itself have a few glimmers of genius.  The opening scene is spectacularly inspired, the voice over by young Aiden Longworth is highly effective narration and Sarah Gadon’s work is always bold and breathtaking.  But sadly the overly complex script by Max Minghella (adapted from the novel by Liz Jensen) and ham-fisted direction by filmmaker Alexandre Aja, known more for his horror helming, don’t make for a great match and the result is a film that never lives up to it’s full potential.  Taking on important issues it’s just not equip to handle, there’s a subtle in the cinema here that’s all but missing. 9th or not, Louis Drax last life is lamentably a loss.


(Saban Films/Lionsgate)

Once again taking on the tired done-to-death buddy/buddy story scenario, Jackie Chan sidelines Rush Hour force of nature Chris Tucker to align himself with Jackass star Johnny Knoxville with less than spectacular results.  Moreover its yet another forgettable ho-hum effort from former fantastic Finnish filmmaker Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight are damn fine flicks!) who adds no new or notable visual or dramatic eye candy whatsoever.  Jokes that don’t land, action that doesn’t elicit awe and characters that give one-note a whole new meaning, Skiptrace is one movie mess to skip.

Mamimum Ride

(Paramount/Studio 72)

Never read James Patterson’s book upon which this flick was based, but there’s a distinctive Twilight and Divergent film vibe here that feels all too familiar.  Plus the very gorgeous cast has zero charisma, a blend of hot and quirky characters that are given angst via their ‘genetically engineered wings.’  (They’ve been crossbred with avian DNA – hormones be damned!)  Wracked with everything from bad visual effects (the teen faces on the flying bodies look like they were done on my kids computer!) to ineffective adults (Peter O’Brien’s Jeb is one forgettable father figure!), this ride ends before it even begins.

Kickboxer Vengenace

(RLJ Entertainment)

Taking on the Jean-Claude Van Damme Kickboxer lore, this sad and laughable continuation even tries to involve the original ‘Muscles from Brussels’ himself to no outstanding action avail.  Here he plays an arrogant sunglasses wearing Mr. Miyagi of sorts to leading man dud Alain Moussi looking to get vengeance over baddie Dave Bautista (stick with Guardians of the Galaxy dude!) for the death of his brother.  (Originality runs deep here!)  Bad acting (has Gina Carano been doing this long enough to be phoning performances in?!), bad dialogue (someone calls the fight “mortal kombat!”), bad subtitling (who did the wacky, center of the screen, multi-colored titles – Carrot Top?!) and even bad fight sequences (all are lacking in fun and furiosity!), Kickboxer: Vengeance is just plain bad.

Summer of 8 poster

The 9th Life Poster

Skiptrace poster

Maximum Ride poster

Kickboxer Vengeance 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.

2 Responses to “Encapsulated Movie Reviews – Five New Indie Titles”

  1. Brian White

    After enriching my life every week with these titles not known to many lay people I’m really looking forward to your Top Ten films of 2016. It ought to be very interesting.

  2. Jason Coleman

    Appreciate the support – WhySoBlu rules!