Rise of the Now Playing

By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad, and Ugly of GI Joe, The Host, Temptation, and The Gatekeepers

 Four new films are heading to the cineplexes this week.  Let’s get right to the fun.  Up first is a film that should have been heading to HBO by now if it had stuck with its original release date.




The G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence. *


The Good – Bruce Willis and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson headline this sequel/reboot of the Hasbro franchise.  The action looks clear and understandable, and the cinematography looks great.


The Bad – This film should have been out last summer.  Paramount, the studio behind it, pulled it off the schedule about one month before the release date.  The stated reason was to convert it to 3D.  However, rumors have unveiled a few more.  One was the failure of Hasbro’s other big summer movie, Battleship.  The studio got cold feet and wanted to push it to a more friendly March release.  Another rumor was to add scenes with Channing Tatum.  Supposedly, his character would not have survived the initial violence.  Mr. Tatum had proven to be a box office draw after the release of 21 Jump Street and The Vow.  The studio did not want to lose a potential star in the franchise and forced the reshoots.  Any of these three reasons are not enough to convince me the studio did not make a major misstep.  There was some hype building up to its summer date that it could have sustained Battleship’s misfire.  I’ve never been a fan of Channing and the 3D was post-converted, a process that has far too many duds.


The Ugly – I’m kind of hoping they bring back the old PSA’s that ran at the end of the old cartoon show.  Because “Knowing is half the battle.”


G.I. Joe: Retaliation is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language.




When an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories, Melanie will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about, proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world. *


The Good – Andrew Niccol, the writer/director behind Gattica and Lord of War, is the talent adapting this novel to the silver screen.  If there is any hope in this production, it is with him.


The Bad – Oh, Stephanie Meyer.  You may have created a cultural phenomenon with the Twilight Saga but that doesn’t mean they were any good.  Having suffered through three of the five movies (no way I’m reading any of those books), I am comfortable in saying that everything you touch turns to garbage.  I see your name and I know to lower my expectations to the lowest possible level.  As I said in the good, only Andrew Niccol being attached gives me any hope, which means it has reached the level of pond scum.


The Ugly – How many people have fallen under the spell that Bella Swan is a good character?  In a world with strong female characters like Ellen Ripley and Hermione Granger, it’s rough to see someone who does nothing but whine and cling to effeminate men.  The damsel in distress trope is old, annoying, and simply bad writing.


The Host is rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence.




An ambitious married woman's temptation by a handsome billionaire leads to betrayal, recklessness, and forever alters the course of her life.


The Good - …


The Bad – OK.  Not a fan of Tyler Perry.  Kim Kardashian can’t act at all.  Vanessa Williams’ accent is horrendous.  Any hint of steam and seduction is betrayed by its PG-13 rating.  And I have to ask myself, why do I want to subject 2 hours of my life to watch a bland character cheat because her husband forgot her birthday?  The cheating storyline has never appealed to me before (outside of Adrian Lyne’s Unfaithful or Fatal Attraction, but those have the benefits of a hard R and harsh consequences).  100% pass for me.


The Ugly – Have I mentioned that Kim Kardashian can’t act?


Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor is rated PG-13 for some violence, sexuality and drug content.




A documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets. *


The Good – I’ll be honest.  I don’t know how to approach this film.  It was nominated for Best Documentary last year (it lost to Searching for Sugar Man).  Based on the trailer, I’m not exactly sure which side they are trying to present.  But isn’t that the idea behind documentaries?  Otherwise, it would simply be a propaganda piece.  It does have a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


The Bad – I can’t think of a bad, as I’m still struggling to discern its message.  Perhaps a viewing should enlighten me.


The Gatekeepers is rated PG-13 for violent content including disturbing images.


That will do for this week.  Tune in next time when I’ll swallow your soul.  Until then, Got to Get Tough.  Yo Joe! 

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