Everybody Wants Some Eye in the Sky

Some Movies to See This Weekend, April 1, 2016

Friday, April 01, 2016 Rob Samuelson

This is the weekend when Hollywood decided to retrench with some smaller offerings, probably expecting last week's box office behemoth, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to keep making piles of money. And they're probably right. But that movie's pretty bad and there are other things you can do with your time than spending another two-and-a-half hours watching grimness. Let's see what those options are.

God's Not Dead 2
Director: Harold Cronk
Writers: Chuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon
Starring: Melissa Joan Hart, Jesse Metcalfe, Ray Wise

On second thought, just re-watch Batman v Superman. God's Not Dead 2, even from the trailer, comes off like someone's paranoid ramblings about the stifling of Christian belief in America by the evil of … school teachers. But hey, it stars Sabrina the Teenage Witch's Melissa Joan Hart as a public school teacher who goes on trial for answering a student's question about Jesus Christ and his possible connection to non-violent protests. Hart is a likable presence and Ray Wise does sniveling evil as great as anyone, which should serve him well as a senator (?) who somehow prosecutes Hart's character. Christian themes and stories deserve better representations than by the lunatic fringe.

Meet the Blacks
Director: Deon Taylor
Writers: Nicole DeMasi, Deon Taylor
Starring: Zulay Henao, Mike Tyson, Mike Epps, George Lopez

Things look incrementally better with this weekend moviegoing option. In a spoof of The Purge, Mike Epps plays a man whose family moves to Beverly Hills after they come into some money. Racism follows them because of the rich white people in the area. That stuff looks somewhat promising, and Epps is a reliable comic actor, but the spoof elements look as flat as can be. You never know, though. This one could be less of a stinker than it might appear.

Eye in the Sky
Director: Gavin Hood
Writer: Guy Hibbert
Starring: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman

This is a pertinent action thriller for our current geopolitical climate. It has a knockout cast, including the late Alan Rickman in one of his final onscreen roles, plus Helen Mirren and Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul as a team of military figures who must overcome the moral conundrum of whether to knock out a terrorist cell with a drone. That should be a clear-cut decision, but it's complicated by the presence of innocents in the blast zone.

It sounds like a thrilling setup, but the trailer looks to add too much gloss, including unconvincing CGI for spy equipment – a bug that's really a camera. There's also the cynical (and probably right) view that these types of collateral damage decisions are made all the time in the way that will make you depressed. But there's the hope that drone pilot Paul will be able to convince the higher-ups (why is he American and the others British, by the way?) that this is the wrong way to operate. That's where the tension will come from.

Everybody Wants Some
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater
Starring: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman

The films of Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, the Before trilogy, Boyhood, many more) are as sure a thing as you can get at the theater. This time around he's back to playing in the “hangout movie” sandbox, with the story of a freshman baseball player's college move-in weekend. He meets his teammates and they hang out. They get to know each other. They party. They fight. They swear. They dance. It's a great time (I caught it at a sneak preview a couple weeks ago – review is on its way). This is the one to go see for a fun time at the movies.  

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