by Rebecca Kelley
What’s your best bet in entertainment this week? Is it better to stay at home and watch something with XFINITY On Demand or take a trip to your local theater? We’re here to break down the options. Click on the movie titles for more information about ordering On Demand or buying tickets through Fandango.
What’s On Demand?
Christian Slater is a former special ops soldier hired for a unique job – some extremely wealthy thrill-seekers want to experience war, and are willing to pay for the privilege. So they’re taken to an island (Snake Island, no less), given guns, and put into staged military-style training with no real danger. Except, it isn’t staged and there is danger. Lots of danger. With big guns.
Our take: You’d think there couldn’t be such a thing as too much shooting, chasing and exploding. But if there’s not a story behind it, or something to draw you in, it’s too much. Sadly, in this case, the movie isn’t worth the TNT expended on it.
We’ve watched the backstories of Marvel’s greatest comic book heroes: Captain America’s WWII exploits, Iron Man in his nifty suit, Thor with his mighty hammer. They’re joined by the green (but not gentle) giant The Hulk, tricksy femme fatale Black Widow and bow-and-arrow guru Hawkeye to make the superhero team The Avengers. It’s a good thing, too, because Thor’s semi-divine brother Loki threatens Earth with invasion. Can the widely divergent heroes form into a team to defeat the interloper?
Our take: In Joss Whedon’s capable directorial hands, “The Avengers” becomes everything a superhero movie should be. It’s fast-paced and exciting. It’s character-driven, with each hero displaying his or her own unique personality and/or proclivity to smash things. It’s smart and funny, but not too smart and funny. Most of all – it’s kick-ass. Perhaps the best movie of the summer for sheer fun and entertainment.
What’s In Theaters?
Count Dracula has created a refuge for monsters of all shapes, sizes and non-shapes. They seek refuge from the cold, uncaring human world. But with his adolescent daughter yearning to explore, and a lone human knocking on his door, can he keep the world at bay? Is that even desirable?
Our take: Some of the creepy gags are clever – sassy shrunken heads as undead “do not disturb” signs, zombies as bellboys, etc. But the story doesn’t have enough heart to carry the movie forward. The father’s dilemma won’t appeal to kids, and the kid ethos won’t appeal to parents. Sadly, this animated movie is as listless as a zombie, when it should be as quick as a bat.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a single mother who grows increasingly desperate as her daughter flounders in a failing school. Without the money to move or choose private school, she is trapped. Viola Davis is a teacher at the school, as well as a parent of a struggling student. She used to have a passion for teaching, but has been laid low by the shenanigans of a system that cares more for paperwork than students. Together, they stage a revolt.
Our take: There is nothing so scary to an ingrained and unfair system than parents who won’t back down. Gyllenhaal and Davis give surprisingly nuanced performances, elevating an issue movie into an emotional journey. The first part of the film, where they start by requesting small changes that are repeatedly shot down, has particular emotional impact. If you care about poor kids stuck in miserable schools with their future in the balance, this is a must-see.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a time-traveling hitman who is assigned to take out a man named Joe (Bruce Willis). Turns out, he has to kill his future self. But, as is so often the case, there’s more to the story.
Our take: Hard-hitting and completely original, this time-travel flick is fantastic. “Looper” mixes gee-whiz storylines with good characters, one-liners and a slight horror vibe to make a thoroughly entertaining flick. I can’t tell you much about the plot, for fear of ruining it, but I will say that I never, ever knew what was coming next. Yet, at the same time, I wasn’t confused or lost. I was on the edge of my seat. Levitt does a wonderful job. It’s also fun to see Willis pick up his old automatic-weapons-toting ways. This is the best movie I’ve seen since “Avengers.”
Ticket or Click It?
Both! Relive “The Avengers” at home, but be sure to catch “Looper” as well.
On a personal note: This is my last “Ticket or Click” it for XFINITY.com. I want to thank XFINITY for the privilege of writing the column for these years, and the readers for letting me do it. Check me out under my married name, Rebecca Cusey, and maybe I’ll see you at the movies!
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.