Arnold Schwarzenegger Channing Tatum

Some Movies to See this Fourth of July Weekend

Friday, July 03, 2015 Rob Samuelson

In all likelihood, you will be taking in a bunch of fireworks and barbecues this weekend. That's fine. But you will also have days off. Hollywood has anticipated this and has conveniently placed two of its most (theoretically) crowd-pleasing releases on this holiday weekend calendar for the times you are not eating smoked foods and watching boxes of gunpowder shot into the sky. With that said, have a great Fourth of July and I'll be seeing you at the movie house.

Magic Mike XXL
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Writer: Reid Carolin
Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez

The first Magic Mike was excellent. It's a movie partly about toiling away at "for now" jobs while taking whatever free time you can get to pursue your passion -- in this case, Mike's (Tatum) carpentry and furniture building. One of the biggest reasons for the film's creative success was its director, Steven Soderbergh, who has since "retired" from filmmaking despite being as prolific as ever, directing every episode of TV series The Knick and serving as executive producer and cinematographer on this sequel.

But the fact remains that Soderbergh, one of the finest directors of his generation, is not at the helm of this installment, no matter how closely he worked with those who were. But that might not matter. Word on the street is XXL is almost devoid of plot, letting the guys -- Mike and his former stripping coworkers -- get together for a "one last hurrah" trip to a stripping competition/convention. This allows the performers to show off their dancing abilities and make you wish there were more classical musicals being produced these days. Get on that, Hollywood.

Terminator Genisys
Director: Alan Taylor
Writers: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney

This series keeps finding excuses to put an aging Arnold Schwarzenegger into movies about ageless robots. That's neither here nor there, as it's mostly just something silly you accept with these movies because, again, robots. Where this one runs into trouble is in casting Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, because Courtney is just as wooden a screen presence as Arnold, without the oddly charming accent and excuse of, yes, once again, robots.

The draw here is in the Game of Thrones effect, with director Alan Taylor and star Emilia Clarke coming over from the HBO show to get all big budget Hollywood on us. These are talented people who have been part of one of the most viscerally enthralling pieces of visual entertainment in recent years, so it should be applauded that they are getting a bigger stage.

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