Release Radar – April 8th, 2022

I will most likely be spending this weekend playing catch-up on the movies I didn’t get around to last week and chasing down a showing of Memoria before it leaves LA and vanishes into the ether, but there are a couple of prominent releases that will vie for box office supremacy this week.

Ambulance (Theaters)

Writers: Chris Fedak (adapted screenplay) | Director: Michael Bay

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González

Adapted from the 2005 Danish film Ambulancen, Michael Bay gets back to his action roots with this story about a pair of brothers who hijack an ambulance after their bank robbery doesn’t go according to plan. Chris Fedak has been writing for TV for a long time, so it will be interesting to see if his first credited screenplay hits all the right marks. Oddly enough, this is the second-straight Danish adaptation for Jake Gyllenhaal, but I can always rely on him to be solid in his roles. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II continues to see a rise in his stock and I am curious to see how he and Jake work together. It may be mostly generic action fodder, complete with guns galore and elaborate car chases, but I don’t know that anybody does that style better than Michael Bay. The limited IMAX engagement is an interesting pitch, but I am not sure exactly what my interest level is with this yet.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Theaters)

Writers: Pat Casey & Josh Miller, and John Whittington | Director: Jeff Fowler

Starring: Ben Schwartz (voice), Jim Carrey, James Marsden, and Idris Elba (voice)

Sonic is back but so is Dr. Robotnik, and this time they both brought backup. I enjoyed the first movie, more than I thought I would, and it was about as good of an adaptation of the video game intellectual property as you could have hoped for. It’s still Jeff Fowler in the director’s chair with Pat Casey and Josh Miller writing and John Whittington also got in on the script this time, so I expect it not to stay in line with what worked the first time. With Jim Carrey announcing his tentative retirement from acting, it’ll be good to see him go out with a role that takes full advantage of his physical comedy skills.

*Cow (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick*

Director: Andrea Arnold

Star: Lin Gallagher (voice)

The life of dairy cows, up-close and personal. Sort of. Academy Award-winner Andrea Arnold takes us to a dairy farm in England and asks us to consider our relationship with these animals more closely. In the abstract, the interaction with cows is transactional but, when stopping to take a deeper look at how they are treated, the nature of how that transaction occurs is brought into question. I’m guessing the documentary focus on getting us to ask why we treat these animals a certain way and whether or not that should change. However, this is my Editor’s Pick because I am curious to see how the narrative approach is handled, mostly devoid of the human workers on the farm, and the visual storytelling.

¡Viva Maestro! (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Ted Braun

Starring: Gustavo Dudamel, Arturo Márquez, Alejandro Carreno

This is a different kind of music documentary as it looks more broadly at the scope of influence of Los Angeles Philharmonic music and artistic director, Gustavo Dudamel. I have had the privilege of seeing Dudamel on a handful of occasions at the Hollywood Bowl, but I don’t really know much about him beyond his reputation. So, I am looking forward to learning more about him.

Metal Lords (Netflix)

Writer: D.B. Weiss | Director: Peter Sollet

Starring: Jaeden Martel, Brett Gelman, and Joe Manganiello

A pair of friends dream of forming a heavy metal band so they can compete in Battle of the Bands, but it’s just the two of them. They need a bass player and eventually find a cellist who could potentially fill that void, but she doesn’t fit with their image and that causes some friction between the two existing members. Plus, there may be some budding feelings that threaten to derail the whole thing. It looks to be in the same vein as School of Rock but with the R-rating, there’s more room to explore the high school drama with the gloves off.

What Else Is New…

All the Old Knives (Select Theaters + Amazon Prime)

Writer: Olen Steinhauer (book + screenplay) | Director: Janus Metz

Starring: Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, and Jonathan Pryce

A pair of CIA operatives, who are also former lovers, come together to look back at a mission involving a hijacked plane and a possible mole inside their unit. I tried to dress up the description a little bit, but that does sound a bit bland. The trailer presents a more appealing thriller than the tagline I like Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton. Most espionage thrillers have a pretty solid floor in terms of quality and I have no reason to doubt that here.

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