Release Radar – July 23rd, 2021

This might be the most stacked week of releases so far this year and there’s a lot to get to, so here’s what I am most excited about.

OLD (Theaters)

The latest horror thriller from M. Night Shyamalan

Written & Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, & Rufus Sewell.

Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get vastly different opinions on Shyamalan’s work. I’m not the most ardent fan but I have enjoyed the majority of his films and I am usually interested in the concepts he puts forward in his projects. This script was adapted from the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederick Peeters, so it’ll be interesting to see how Shyamalan navigates the transition. It’s a delicate concept to pull off and if the suspension of disbelief is broken, it’s over. It’s going to be hit or miss, but at least the cast is good. Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie are two of the finest young actors in the business and I’ll never turn down some Rufus Sewell.

Blood Red Sky (Netflix)

Director: Peter Throwarth, Writers: Peter Thorwarth & Stefan Holtz

Starring: Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, and Dominic Purcell

While going through the unavoidable Netflix scroll, I’ve noticed that the majority of the things catch my interest are foreign language project and Blood Red Sky is another example of that. This German films takes the vampire horror genre and turns it inside-out. I’m sold on the idea of a hijacking gone wrong and a vampire rampage at 30,000ft so let’s just hope it can stick the landing.

Mandibles (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Quentin Dupieux

Starring: Grégoire Ludig, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and David Marsais

Quentin Dupieux makes weird films and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since his film about a telekinetic murderous tire, Rubber (check that out if you haven’t seen it). What is this new movie about? Hell if I know, but there’s a giant fly that serves as the catalyst for the get-rich-quick scheme of a couple of dumb friends. I’m guessing it doesn’t work out but they develop some kind of fondness for their new insect friend. Either way, you’re not going to see anything else even remotely close to this.

Settlers (Theaters + VOD)

Written & Directed by: Wyatt Rockefeller

Starring: Sofia Boutella, Ismael Cryz Cordova, Jonny Lee Miller, and Brooklyn Prince

Sci-Fi westerns have a lot of hoops to jump through in order to adhere to both genres and, more often than not, it’s mostly a genre of B-movies. Cowboys & Aliens and Wild Wild West are good examples of main stream offerening but both were met with extreme criticism (I actually enjoyed both). Then there are films like Serenity and Back to the Future Part III that successfully use humor to make the foreign more familiar. That brings us to Wyatt Rockefeller’s debut feature. This film falls into what I will call “frontier sci-fi” where examples of frontier life from human history are transposed on off-planet location. In this case, it’s set at a remote off-Earth colony with some with threat always looming beyond the horizon. I like this cast and I’ve been watching Brooklyn Prince’s show on Apple TV for two seasons now, so I’m happy to check this out.

Val (Theaters + Amazon Prime Video)

Directed by: Ting Poo & Leo Scott

Starring: Val Kilmer and Jack Kilmer

Val Kilmer rose to stardom in the 80s and 90s, putting together a diverse and high-profile career that even saw him don the cape and cowl in Batman Forever. Maybe it wasn’t the most well-received film in the franchise, but to even be considered for the role says a lot. For me, it was the films like Real Genius, Salton Sea, Tombstone, The Ghost and the Darkness, and Wonderland that made me a fan. I had even gone to see his Citizen Twain at the Pasadena Playhouse. Kilmer was just one of those charismatic performers who was willing to taken on interesting projects and it turns out he recorded a ton of behind-the-scenes footage throughout his career. Now that he has finally gone public about his struggle with throat cancer, the documentary takes a look back at his life and gives his unique voice a chance to talk again. I’m very much looking forward to this one.

Playing With Sharks (Disney+)

Written & Directed by: Sally Aitken

Starring: Valerie Taylor

Sharks are remarkable creatures that have been around since long before humankind. However, they are still very much misunderstood. Valerie Taylor dedicated her life to helping remedy that and the new documentary on Dinsey+ takes a look at her life’s work. The 86-year-old who once worked for the camera and electrical department on Jaws and is still following her passion for sharks. This is a good fit for summer and a nice addition to the original content catalog for Disney+.

What Else Is New

Joe Bell (Theaters)

Directed by: Reinaldo Marcus Greene, Written by: Diana Ossana & Larry McMurty

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Reid Miller, and Connie Britton

Even though I could maybe see the take that this is move about tolerance and forgiveness, it seems like its mostly a vehicle to get Mark Wahlberg into awards conversations. Based on a true story, he plays a father who embarks on a nationwide march to decry bullying after his a gay son is victimized in high school. Early word hasn’t been good so far and many have questioned whether Wahlberg was the right choice for this role. If it’s really a story about tolerance, forgiveness, and love then it seems like the story getting told here should be the son’s, not the father’s.

Snake Eyes (Theaters)

Directed by: Robert Schwenke, Written by: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel, and Anna Waterhouse

Starring: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, and Haruka Abe

I grew up on the tail end of the G.I. Joe phenomenon, so I’ve never had that nostalgic umbilical tether that some hold for the franchise. I did eventually see the first film and didn’t care much for it, which seems to be the consensus based on it’s 5.8 IMDB score. But I guess it did well enough to warrant an entire franchise and here we are getting origin stories. Henry Golding will likely do a good job in the lead because he’s a good actor, but the films themselves have proven to be pretty generic Fast and the Furious style action flicks and the trailer for Snake Eyes leads me to believe no different. If that’s your thing, have a blast. The odds of me ever seeing this movie are incredibly slim.

Jolt (Amazon Prime Video)

Directed by: Tanya Wexler, Written by: Scott Wascha

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jai Courtney, and Stanley Tucci

I remember this movie back when it was Crank: High Voltage and starred Jason Statham back in 2009. Even the posters are very similar, but I guess enough time has passed where it can just get repackaged, regurgitated, and re-released starring Kate Beckinsale. She’s a bouncer with homicidal tendencies and she controls those urges with electrical shocks…okaaaay…and if that’s not enough she’s on a revenge bender to find whoever killed her first love. That’s a rough pitch but,as long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it can still be a good time. This is Tanya Wexler’s first action movie so hopefully she just had fun with it.

Ailey (Theaters)

Directed by: Jamila Wignot

Starring: Alvin Ailey (archive footage), Bill T. Jones, and Judith Jamison

A deep dive into the life and career of groundbreaking dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey. At a time when the dance world wasn’t ready of willing to accept him, he blazed his own trail and now that influence has resulted in a new commission in his honor. I can’t say I know much about him, but the trailer for the documentary really piqued my interest. I don’t think I’ll have a chance to get to it this week, but it’s on the agenda.

The Last Letter From Your Lover (Netflix)

Directed by: Augustine Frizzell, Screenplay by: Nick Payne & Esta Spalding

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Felicity Jones, and Emma Appleton

Based on the Jojo Moyes book of the same name, Netflix gobbled up the distribution rights for this story about a set of intertwined stories revolving around a stash of love letters. I like Shailene Woodley and Felicity Jones, but I completely lost interest halfway through the trailer. In fairness, I’m not even remotely close to the target demographic for this movie. It may be a very sweet movie, but I’m not feeling compelled to watch it.

As usual, if you like what I’m doing, please like, subscribe, and share. Be well, and have fun at the movies!

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