Magic Mike XXL
Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) has retired from stripping to pursue his soulful dreams, except that he’s conveniently decided to return to stripping just long enough to make another movie about male strippers possible. Specifically, he’s joining his friends—who are also leaving the biz—for one big celebratory blowout show, plus a multi-stop tour leading up to it.
Director Gregory Jacobs doesn’t have many solo features under his belt, but he was a first assistant director on the original Magic Mike. Tatum is back, along with various familiar faces, or at least familiar sets of abs (Joe Manganiello’s, Matt Bomer’s, Kevin Nash’s), but Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer are both out of the story this time around. The real news, though, is that Magic Mike director Steven Soderbergh is handling the sequel’s cinematography—the first time he’s DPed on a feature he wasn’t directing.
Nada. The film doesn’t even have a full trailer yet, just a teaser featuring a great deal of humping, both of strip-club clients and of inanimate objects.
The original Magic Mike was a surprise, in that it was sold like a naughty, titillating movie about strippers, aimed at a female/gay-male audience, but it turned out to be a fairly gender-nonspecific drama about a working-class boy angsting over his future. The teaser suggests, suggestively, that this outing is going to be raunchier, more dance-focused, and more of what the first one promised. But we’ve been down that road of false promises and glistening oiled torsos before. Maybe this one will actually be a thoughtful dissection of the issues arising from domestic oil drilling.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 7.2
We were anticipating a little bit of a gender split on this one, but it turns out almost everyone on staff likes a well-oiled ab, especially when they come in a set.
Post-apocalyptic leader John Connor realizes a Terminator has been sent into the past to kill his mother Sarah. He sends his friend Kyle back in time to save her. What happens next may surprise you! Or it may not: The latest installment in the Terminator series—the first since since the not-so-universally-beloved 2009 entry Terminator Salvation—hasn’t exactly kept its twists a secret. So far, two trailers have revealed secrets that might have been better kept as surprises. (Then again, that’s a Terminator tradition.)
The big news is that Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as the T-800, the lovable/lethal killing machine that’s hunted/protected Sarah Connor in the past. Otherwise, the turnover rate, both in front of and behind the camera, is pretty high. Jason Clarke now plays John Connor, Emilia Clarke (no relation) plays Sarah, and Jai Courtney steps into the combat boots of Kyle Reese. The script comes from two writers whose past work, on their own, includes Shutter Island and Drive Angry, and it’s directed by Alan Taylor, who last helmed Thor: The Dark World. Will those diverse elements work in harmony, like some kind of super-advanced killing machine?
The answer at the moment: Who knows? All we have to go on are those trailers. Pro: Schwarzenegger should be fun as the a wizened old robot, and Taylor made Thor: The Dark World look great, though it was one of the lesser Marvel entries. Con: Wouldn’t we be better not knowing that [redacted] is actually a [redacted] going into the movie? Then again, maybe the movie has even more unexpected turns up its metallic sleeve.
If a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life… maybe we can too.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 5.8
He’ll be back. We’ll be waiting. Maybe not as eagerly as we were several films ago, but we’re always willing to give another Terminator a shot.
Olympic glory doesn’t last forever, even if you really, really want it to. Bryan Buckley’s debut feature film, The Bronze, pushes that idea to its absolute limit. Up-and-coming comedic star Melissa Rauch (who co-wrote the film alongside her husband, Winston Rauch) plays Hope Annabelle Greggory, a one-time bronze-medal-winning Olympic gymnast who has squeezed every bit of notoriety she can from her former fame. The foul-mouthed, ill-tempered Hope hasn’t done much since her brief brush with superstardom, but she’s still the most famous person to come out of her small town—until a new gymnast stars making waves, pushing Hope to try out something new in her quest to stay relevant (or at least relevant enough to keep scoring free pizza at the mall).
The film is Buckley’s first feature, but he’s already got an Oscar nomination under his belt for his 2012 short “Asad.” Buckley is also well-known for his commercial work, earning the nickname “King Of The Super Bowl” for his many successes directing spots for the big game, which have also helped him pull in a ton of other accolades and more than 50 Cannes Lions. The film is also the feature screenwriting debut of the Rauchs, who previously penned the short “The Condom Killer” together. And Melissa? She’s best known for her work on The Big Bang Theory. It’s a big step forward for all three, but the off-kilter comedy seems like the right kind of move for the trio.
The Sundance Film Festival has a problem with opening-night films. Historically speaking, Sundance openers haven’t gotten the most love at the fest, and few have gone on to notable success. The one recent outlier, however, is Whiplash, which debuted at last year’s festival to enough acclaim that it seemed ready to alter the opening-night landscape. The Bronze’s opening-night slot seemed like a major vote of confidence, but reviews didn’t reflect that. The film currently sits at a dismal 13 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, thanks to poor reviews from a number of critics, including Todd McCarthy, Peter Debruge, and Tim Grierson.
Rauch is a gifted comedic performer, and she manages to make Hope—who is, to be sure, a mostly despicable character—engaging and entertaining. She’s a star in the making, and audiences looking to find the next big thing might (wisely) seek it out here.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 4.3
The poor advance word has deflated our anticipation a good deal, but clearly we’re still holding out at least a little hope for another female-led comedy co-written by the star, which usually at least suggests a strong, specific sensibility.