Last week’s new releases ended up overachieving a bit, with both The Perfect Guy and The Visit taking $25-26 million. Ultimately, The Perfect Guy claimed the number one spot just ahead of M. Night Shyamalan’s crazy-old-people horror flick. Now that those movies are out of the way, we can finally start getting into some awards-hopefuls territory. The first movie we’re going to take a look at won’t be close to any awards, but the shift has certainly begun. Let’s see what the first really interesting offerings of September are.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials – (PG-13) 131 min – I’m not sure why Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials wasn’t released in August. This sequel to the surprisingly successful first Maze Runner film is basically a summer blockbuster, so it’s odd that they’d bury it in September when the teen audience is at school. After escaping the Maze of the first film, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow survivors now face an even more perilous test: surviving the Scorch. The Scorch is a barren wasteland with treacherous obstacles and virus-infected “Cranks”. Living through the Scorch is imperative, as Thomas hopes to find assistance from a band of rebels in order to defeat Littlefinger from Game of Thrones. I’m not big on YA dystopian-fiction, but I actually don’t think this looks bad. Dylan O’Brien is a charming actor and is usually the most interesting person on screen in anything. I doubt this will be received well critically (the first film had a lukewarm reception), but fans of the series will be very pleased.
Everest – (PG-13) 121 min. – The one thing that leads me to believe Everest wants to be considered an Oscar-worthy film is the stacked cast that it’s put together. Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, and Jake Gyllenhaal have each attached their name to this rather ordinary-seeming movie. Everest revolves around an expedition up Mt. Everest that goes horribly wrong when the storm of the century barrels down on some unlucky climbers. It sounds (and trailers make it look) like a man-against-the-elements kind of movie, not quite Roland Emmerich level devastation. It just looks so utterly bland that I really can’t think of much to say about it. I wonder if it actually does have something special about its script, since it was able to attract so many name brand actors. Early reviews are skewing positive, but I’m not sure we’ll see much of this movie past this month.
Black Mass – (R) 122 min. – Johnny Depp has been on vacation since 2004, when he appeared in Finding Neverland. Since then, he hasn’t truly acted. Sure, he’s dressed up in ridiculous costumes for Tim Burton and he behaved foolishly in front of a camera, but he hasn’t been in actor in 11 years. Black Mass looks like it’s finally dragged Depp out of his paycheck-collecting haze and has put him back to work. Depp stars as infamous gangster Whitey Bulger, perhaps the most violent criminal ever to come out of Boston. This movie will focus on Bulger after he became an informant for the FBI to take down a rival mafia family. This movie looks brutal, intense, gripping, violent, and damn good. We will almost certainly hear some calls for Depp as a Best Actor nominee for the next few months, and I think he’ll get it.
The Bottom Line – This is a good selection of movies this weekend. I think Maze Runner: Scorch Trials will win the weekend based on its established fan-base, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Mass and bald Johnny Depp drew in a heavy audience. Everest I don’t think will make much of an impact, but might be worth checking out for some cool effects.