Blockbusters With Brigham: Fall’s New Releases
by Sam Brigham on Friday, October 16th, 2015
The Fall 2015 movie season is chock-full of popular new releases that are already dominating (or will soon be dominating) the box office. From Black Mass to Mary Poppins, the movies cover a wide range of genres and capture even a wider range of audience members. Whether or not you’re a movie fan, you are guaranteed to find at least one film that interests you this season.
Starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, and Dakota Johnson, Black Mass was released in U.S. theaters on September 18th. Rather than focusing on Whitey Bulger’s more sedate, middle-aged years and his highly publicized trial that took place less than two years ago, the film depicts his real-life collaboration with the FBI. In 1975, Bulger joined the FBI in order to help eliminate the Italian Mafia, but this arrangement soon spiraled out of control. Evading law enforcement and consolidate power, Bulger became one of the most powerful criminals in American history. Linda Cook of Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie review aggregator, says that lead actor Johnny Depp’s “terrific performance as a real life cold-blooded killer” ensured the movie’s success. In a September 4th article in Variety magazine, film critic Steve Foudas agrees, adding that an “equally impressive” performance from Joel Edgerton as FBI agent John Connolly combined with a script that compresses the “potentially unwieldy” narrative into three central acts guarantied the movie’s fame. Some may inevitably compare new movies about Boston mobs to The Departed, which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2007, but Black Mass is an exciting, high-quality film that is more than capable of competing against such an opponent.
The legendary Ridley Scott released his newest film, The Martian, on October 2nd. Based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel of the same name, The Martian follows the story of astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who was presumed dead after a storm and left stranded alone on Mars. Watney must draw upon his survival instincts and his ingenuity in order to survive with limited supplies and find a way to signal to Earth that he is still alive. Mike D’Angelo of The A.V. Club states that while the eclectic, scientifically motivated methods Watney uses to survive are too esoteric to be understood by non-scientists, the idea that someone could hypothetically survive on Mars in such a manner as Matt Damon appeals to general audiences. D’Angelo also applauds the scenes set on Earth, saying that they add an “inspirational punch” to the film and make the movie much more than just a last-man-alive survival story. Earning an 8.4/10 on IMDb, The Martian, despite being released only two weeks ago, has already become a science-fiction hit.
The movie that could heartily best the other two at the box office is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2. Set for release on November 20th, the fourth and final installment in the Hunger Games movie franchise will conclude with tribute-turned-rebel leader Katniss Everdeen’s quest to overthrow the corrupt Capitol District. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, and Julianne Moore, the movie will follow the plot of the second half of Suzanne Collins’s novel: Mockingjay. Some critics condemn the increasingly popular trend of splitting series finale novels into two movies. Consequently, people argued that splitting the last movie into two left Mockingjay Part 1 devoid of action. Although Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly praises Lawrence’s performance, he says that the Mockingjay Part 1 film was “boring” and complained that it required the viewer to “understand how much good stuff is coming” in Mockingjay, Part 2. However, the doubled screen time resulting from making two movies from one book will allow the script to follow the book’s plot more thoroughly and accurately – a bonus for die-hard fans of any book. In any case, the final Hunger Games will end an era with a bang and likely surpass the $752 million that Mockingjay, Part 1 made worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
Strangely, if we look farther off into the horizon of upcoming movies, we learn that a remake of Mary Poppins is set to be released more than fifty years after the original movie’s release in 1964. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney is developing a new live-action movie about the magical nanny. David Magee, who wrote the screenplay for the Academy-Award winning Life of Pi, is currently constructing a storyline set twenty years after the first Mary Poppins. Julie Miller of Vanity Fair suggests that Anne Hathaway will be cast in the lead role, but no characters have yet been finalized. Given that the film is still a nascent project, we should expect to wait a couple of years for its release.
Movies are successful for many different reasons, but there is one common thread among all critically acclaimed movies: outstanding actors. The latest season of featured films shows that whether actors play Bostonian gangsters, stranded astronauts, or iconic teenagers with dictatorships to overthrow, the power of their performances determines how successful any movie will be. Based on the actors and their roles, the upcoming fall movie season is sure to be awesome.
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