Feature film

Some Movies to See This Weekend, August 28, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015 Rob Samuelson

It's the last gasp for the summer season right now. The movies released this weekend are not the types of things studios look at and think, “We're going to make history.” And that's okay! Each has sleeper potential and, once again, the studios have varied the genres of the competing films very well. Let's see what's in store for us.

Director: Simeon Rice
Writers: John Nodilo, Simeon Rice
Starring: Murray Gray, Rusty Joiner, James Guadioso

This was as off my radar as something can be. I'm usually fairly adept at knowing what's approaching on the movie release calendar, but until I started writing this article, I had never even heard of Unsullied. At the risk of probably sounding like every other person on the internet when they see the trailer, it has a Most Dangerous Game-meets-sexual-menace thing going on. It looks like a cheapie, but if it's performed and edited well, that's all it will need to succeed as an indie thriller.

A young woman (Murray Gray) gets stranded when her car breaks down on the side of the road. A couple young men in a pickup truck pull over to “help,” but they instead kidnap her and chain her to a bed for unknown horrors. They then release her into a forest and go a-huntin'. She jumps from a cliff into a lake. It seems straightforward and like a standard revenge plot will kick in, but the execution in totality is what matters in these things. It could end up a genre classic or a total thud.

We are Your Friends
Director: Max Joseph
Writers: Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer, Richard Silverman
Starring: Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, Jon Bernthal

This is a product of Magic Mike's success. It has the same golden/green color palette and handsome/sweaty young men involved in a nightlife profession. This time around, though, it's the much less visual milieu of club/backyard DJ-ing. To its credit, there appears to be a slick style to the direction in the trailer, with tracking shots, swooping motions, quick editing, and more to spice things up.

Will it live up to Magic Mike's capitalism-critiquing excellence? With a creative team that is composed of almost complete unknowns, the possibilities are all over the place. The cast is good, with people like the charismatic Zac Efron and a guy who has been popping up in all kinds of good things the last few years, Jon Bernthal. I'd peg the chances of it being good at “moderate.”

No Escape
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Writers: John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle
Starring: Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Owen Wilson

An American man (Owen Wilson) gets a job in a Pacific Island country and moves his family across the world. Too bad for them, the country is in the middle of an uprising. There appears to be a genuine sense of dread and thrills to the trailer. With the horror-thriller sibling team, John Erick and Drew Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil) behind it, there could be some not-happy-ending surprises to the thing.

The interesting thing about No Escape, though, is the casting of the central couple. Despite dipping his toes in action in the past (anyone remember Behind Enemy Lines? No? I had to look up the title, too. It's okay), Owen Wilson has buttered his bread by being a likable comic actor. Lake Bell has made a name for herself almost purely in the alt-comedy scene in recent years, too, including this summer's Netflix series, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Seeing them dodging bullets is a change of pace that could pay off well, as we are used to them providing us comfort and laughs.

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