Arguably, no single individual did more to win World War II than Alan Turing. By cracking the Nazi Enigma code, it is estimated that the genius mathematician shortened the war by two years and saved 14 million lives. So, why isn’t he a household name? Father of the computer, Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) worked in Britain’s top-secret Bletchley Park, and his achievements were classified for over 50 years. The Imitation Game tells the story of Turing and his fellow code-breakers fighting the clock—and each other—in a race to win the war. Cumberbatch is transcendent as the antisocial, self-absorbed Turing, while Keira Knightley gives her best performance to date as his collaborator and confidante, Joan Clarke. (Both were nominated for Oscars.)
Genius teen Hiro Hamada has already lost his parents, but when tragedy strikes again, he uses his scientific know-how to turn mild-mannered, inflatable nurse-bot Baymax into a karate-kicking, armor-plated crime-fighter. But is Hiro out for justice...or vengeance? Either way, the duo can’t win this fight without help, and so they join forces with a group of friends to form their own high-tech super-squad, finding plenty of excitement along the way, as well as some important lessons about what it means to be a hero. Inspired by a relatively obscure Marvel Comic, the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6 is an epic origin saga full of heart and humor.
The incredible true story of Olympian and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini languished in Hollywood for decades. It was initially licensed as a project for Tony Curtis, who later abandoned it to star in Spartacus. Then came Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book, Unbroken, which caught the attention of producer/director Angelina Jolie and others, and Zamperini’s moving story has finally found its moment to shine.
During a routine spacewalk from the Space Shuttle, disaster strikes, leaving the Shuttle destroyed and two astronauts stranded in the darkness with death lurking just over the horizon. With their oxygen running low, the two decide to make a desperate play to reach the International Space Station and secure a ride back to Earth, but the journey won’t be easy or uneventful.
1963, Cambridge University. Defying medical wisdom which gave him, at age 21, only two years to live after being diagnosed with the Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Stephen Hawking stretches his lifetime out to take on two other great challenges: to write a brief history of time and, with a single eloquent equation, to produce a theory of everything.
Uber-lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) has it all: a lucrative career defending crooked millionaires, a masterpiece home in suburban Chicago… and a dysfunctional family he hasn’t seen for 20 years. When his mother dies, Hank returns to rural Indiana to attend the funeral and grudgingly console his father (Robert Duvall), a stoic judge who had long ago thrown the book at him, sentencing his son to four years in reformatory. When the judge is involved in a hit-and-run accident, Hank must mount a defense, despite his father’s seeming desire to be found guilty. Along the way, we uncover not only the truths surrounding the accident, but the Palmers’ toxic family history as well. There’s also a rekindled romance between Hank and his childhood sweetheart (Vera Farmiga), the only individual who has flourished in this Hoosier backwater.
Action films come in various flavors: Some are more story-driven, others less so. John Wick is clearly on the low end of this scale, with no plot to speak of, instead relegating itself to a 100-minute nonstop shoot-out, a movie where taking a breath is as impossible as taking the film seriously. Playing unapologetically to a testosterone-addled, teenaged male demographic, the film is furious and explosive on the one hand, yet flat and characterless on the other. But if pure adrenaline-infused action is what you seek, John Wick may be right up your alley. Just don’t expect it to make any sense.
Here’s a truth-pill for all of you single folk out there: Sometimes marriage can really suck. Don’t take my word for it, though; instead, spend some time with the Dunnes, Nick and Amy (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike). After a nigh-fairytale meeting and courtship, their seemingly idyllic life together develops cracks. The deterioration is expedited over the years by family troubles that lead to money troubles, and contempt and infidelity follow. For Amy, marriage is a daily humiliation. For Nick, it’s a trap, one from which he yearns to escape.
As World War II is nearing an end in Europe, a Sherman tank is dispatched to a crucial crossroads in order to cut off a battalion of German soldiers trying to regroup with their comrades for one last push against the Allies. In command of the American force is a battle-hardened army sergeant nicknamed Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), who has promised his crew he’ll get them home alive, but when the taskforce is attacked on the way to the rally point, he has a difficult decision to make—press on and defend the position or go back for reinforcements?
Don’t Look Now is a weirdly captivating creep-show of a movie: dark, vaguely Gothic, crudely energetic, occasionally ridiculous—in short, it resembles a lot of other films directed by Nicolas Roeg in the ’70s (Performance, Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bad Timing). This one’s about an artistic couple, living (inexplicably) in a huge house on a huge estate, whose daughter drowns in a nearby pond; the couple takes solace in Venice, where he has a job restoring an old church; she meets two old sisters, one of whom—the blind one—sees the spirit of the daughter, and many other hobgoblins, too; meanwhile, it turns out that the husband has a bit of a sixth sense as well; trouble, chaos, and the cruel hand of fate ensue.
In films like La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, and The Messenger, director Luc Besson presents the mysterious transformation of unthinking, undeveloped, unambitious girls into educated, sophisticated, strong females. He also includes large dollops of action, striking visuals, and sound that deliver boffo home theater.
Preston Sturges, whose rise and fall were as sudden and steep as any in cinema (except for that of Orson Welles), had his peak years from 1940–44, writing and directing seven of the greatest American film comedies ever, and The Palm Beach Story sprung forth in precisely the middle of the run. A head-spinning romp through the joys and foibles of love, marriage, money, and class, it practically defines “screwball comedy,” with its Alpine plot twists, nonstop mayhem, rapid-fire dialogue, razor-sharp wit, and madcap but extremely good-natured characters.
By their very nature, biopics are a mixed bag. On the one hand, they tell the story of a person in the limelight with achievements viewers are familiar with, while on the other, they explore sides of the person that have typically escaped the public eye. Striking the right balance between the two is the key. Get on Up takes a look at the life of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, a man whose musical legacy can be heard and felt in almost every bit of popular music today. The film jumps liberally between different periods of Brown’s life in anecdotal form, covering his childhood, his meteoric rise to stardom, the fall, the comeback, and everything in between. While it feels a bit disjointed at times, the film nonetheless manages to draw a portrait of Brown and what drove him to become one of the most recognizable names in music.
Like a big, wet, dumb, dopey dog jumping all over you, The Equalizer hits with home theater power that thumps you in the chest if not the heart. An ex-CIA operative has taken on a new identity, living in obscurity, working in a Home Depot, helping people with their self-esteem issues whenever he can, whether they need to lose weight, get an education, or stop being a corrupt cop. However, when faced with a teenager’s plight of enslavement by brutal sex traffickers, he’s forced back into using his main skillset—terminating roomfuls of bad guys with extreme swiftness and minimal prejudice.
Thomas is disjointed and confused as he wakes up on a rising elevator not knowing who or where he is. When he finally regains his focus, he’s surrounded by a group of teenage boys and realizes he’s not in Kansas anymore. He’s in the Glade, an enclave surrounded by giant walls that hide a maze, a mostly off-limits area that’s protected by the Grievers—cybernetic organisms that come out at night and will kill anyone who has ventured into the maze and hasn’t exited when the sun goes down.