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Friday, January 10, 2014

The Legend of Hercules Review.Yeah, It's That Bad

The Legend Of Hercules Review
By: MattInRC

The Legend of Hercules wants desperately to be your friend. Here's why you can do better.

As we lamented in 2013, Hollywood has a nasty habit of allowing films of the same topic to be released in the same year. Last year, it was Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, but the trend goes back to the 90's when Wyatt Earp and Tombstone competed for our movie dollars. Such decisions are the center of economic folly: although some manage to crawl above the muck, most of these joined-at-birth projects are shunned by audiences and instantly forgotten, condemned to live in the squander of the Blu-ray bargain bin, along with Armageddon/Deep Impact and others. In the Hercules Origin Story genre, we wouldn't be surprised if the inept The Legend of Hercules would be rejected by even those perennial bargain basement dwellers.

The divinely-inspired Hercules (Kellan Lutz) grows up without knowledge of his lineage, eventually being sold into slavery after his mortal father King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) sends a hit team to kill him while on a mission. Hercules's mother Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) doesn't trust Amphitryon or the brutal nature which he's used to secure and maintain power. To her, the guy rules with an iron fist, and she has utterly failed to grow the anger out of him. Condemned to a life of slavery, Hercules battles as a gladiatorial combatant with his captain Sotiris (Liam McIntyre) before somehow escaping and eventually leading an uprising against his father and wanna-be evil brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), who's swore to marry Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss) before her beau boyfriend Hercules can return.

In yet another origin story, Hercules is very loosely based on the Greek legend, barely utilizing any of the mythology or tragic overtones which made these tales so mesmerizing in our younger years. In its place are a collection of former models-turned-actors going through their lines with such difficulty that it's impossible to find them attractive or worthy of our attention. For Lutz, our realization is especially painful: sure, his chiseled physique provides nice images for the ladies, but he can barely be bothered by the script from Writer Daniel Giat and Director Renny Harlin, appearing mostly disinterested and unable to emote when he learns of his mother's death. Weiss and McKee pour on the tears when ordered, but they seem like Xeroxed copies of 300's Lena Heady without the badassery. The one exception is Spartacus lead McIntyre, whose quiet courage is the only light among the dearth of talent. As Hercules and Iphicles battle a horribly CGI-ed Nemean lion, we're led to believe this might meld into "Twelve Labors of Hercules," which delved into twelve quests our hero had to complete to become a great leader. Such a move would have at least provided some sizzle and sense that this production would be something more than a simple journey of revenge. Instead, our plastic figurine actors muddle through the script, surrounded by some of the worst CGI in recent memory.

Renny Harlin's filmography reads like its own Greek tragedy, including Cutthroat Island, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Die Hard 2. In the latter, he at least crafted his own super-violent take on John McClane, emphasizing bloodbath over story with questionable results. In Hercules, he's content to simply steal scenes like the arena fighting of Gladiator without making it interesting or even wondrous. Hamlin evokes his best adaptation of Zack Snyder's love for "Speed Ramming," where an action sequence is slowed down then immediately sped up. Think Snyder's masterpiece amped up to one of these every 5 minutes - sadly, his effort is excessive, to the point that any effort to build dramatics is lost. There's also maddening technical errors here, from highly suspect CGI, painfully obvious green screens, and ADR (additional dialogue recording) that's so bad in parts that it sounds like someone replaced Lutz's voice with another actor ala Max Max. Hercules also offers yet another example of why post-production 3D doesn't work - the whizzing of arrows and falling raindrops don't help to add any splendor to this world which is uninspired and copied from a dozen sword and sandal epics from the past two decades.

The Legend of Hercules is largely inept, frightfully boring, and wants desperately to be taken seriously. It fails in nearly every way possible, from the uneven CGI and the poorly-done ADR, to largely stiff performances by its leads. We didn't have much hope for it going in, but it's amazing how much of it left us in shock. Like the first person who arrives at a dinner party, it's usually the later guests who bring a deeper meaning to the evening - Hercules wants desperately to be your friend before the real people arrive. As the lights came up and the test audience emerged, we heard our concerns echoed in those who felt they had wasted their evening by giving it a chance. We couldn't agree more. The Legend of Hercules is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality.and has a runtime of 99 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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Lone Survivor Review. Brothers In Battle

Lone Survivor Review
By Nicolas Souza

When you ask the average person to associate one word to the military, you get answers like courage, duty, honor, and bravery. When I reflect on the time I spent serving my country the one word that stands out most is brotherhood. The men and women I served with became an extended family to me. I still stay in touch with some, and remain very close to a few. Brotherhood is the underlying theme that has been behind the intense action of military films in recent years. Lone Survivor is no different.

As a disclaimer I must say, this movie is extremely intense. I honestly cannot recall the last time I felt so transported to where the characters on the screen were. Be warned before going to experience this movie, it is not for the faint of heart.

Beyond the story of military brotherhood, Lone Survivor is the telling of the failed Operation Ring Wings, where a squad of Navy SEALs is sent to scout a remote village and confirm the location of a Taliban leader.
The first 40 or so minutes of the film are introducing you to the squad, details of the operation, and give a window into the world of the SEALs. Having known a few SEALs in my service, I can say that the interactions between the squad are fairly accurate. You definitely get a sense of the camaraderie and the brotherhood of the military, right down to the ritualistic hazing of the new guy.

The film focuses on the four SEALs that were sent to scout the village at the beginning of the operation. Director Peter Berg (Collateral) assembled a group of strong actors; Taylor Kitsch (Savages) is Lt. Michael Murphy, Ben Foster (The Mechanic) is point man Petty Officer Matt “Axe” Axelson, Emile Hirsch (Milk) as Petty Officer Danny Dietz handles coms, and the lead role falls to Mark Wahlberg (2 Guns) as Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell. Each player gives a great performance as fitting the heroes they portray.

A large chunk of the film is the brutally intense gunfight the four SEALs get into with the Taliban on a mountainside in Afghanistan. The tension that is built up prior to the first bullet being fired to the bloody end will have you on the edge of your seat. Some creative license is obviously taken with the events of the fight, but Berg went to extensive lengths to ensure the memory of each sailor is not tarnished.

A tragic and heroic telling of one of the military’s darkest days in recent years, Lone Survivor is rated R for intense war violence and language throughout. It will be released nationwide Friday January 10, and has a runtime of 121 minutes.

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Will Gerard Butler Play Bodhizafa In Upcoming Point Break Sequel?

The Scottish actor may be catching a wave in the remake of the 1991 Keanu Reeves-Patrick Swayze action movie, which will be directed by Ericson Core.

The movie is eyeing a summer shoot with Ericson Core, the cinematographer behind 2001’s The Fast & the Furious and Daredevil, in the director’s chair.

Kurt Wimmer wrote the screenplay for the new film, which is set in the international world of extreme sports as opposed to the Southern California surf scene of the original. The plot of an FBI agent infiltrating a crime ring as well as the names of the principal characters remain the same.

Butler will play Bodhi, an expert extreme-sports athlete who seeks nirvana through the conquest of a series of athletic feats such as surfing 100-foot waves. He saves Johnny Utah, the undercover FBI agent, and brings him into the fold of international criminals. The part of Utah is not cast yet.

Patrick Swayze played the part in the 1991 movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove are producing along with Michael DeLuca, John Baldecchi, Chris Taylor and Wimmer.

Break is likely to solidify Butler’s dance card for the year. He will first shoot Liongate’s epic fantasy Gods of Egypt, which starts shooting in March, and close out the year with London Is Falling, the sequel to his surprise action hit Olympus Has Fallen.

This won't be the first time Butler has had to wear a wetsuit onscreen; he wore one in his role as real-life surfer Frosty Hesson in 2012's Chasing Mavericks.

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THE RIGHT KIND OF WRONG Starring Ryan Kwanten OnDemand February 6th

Magnolia Pictures will release THE RIGHT KIND OF WRONG on iTunes/OnDemand February 6, 2014 and in theaters March 14, 2014.

Leo Palamino has dedicated his life to what some may call impossible dreams. At least his ex-wife Julie would call them that. But Leo is an expert at not listening to her criticism or anyone else’s for that matter because Leo is a stubborn romantic... An idealist. A dreamer. And to dream big, impossible dreams you can’t listen to the people who tell you that’s what those dreams are.

It is precisely this refusal to listen to criticism that drove his ex-wife Julie to blog about Leo’s flaws as their relationship broke down. A blog... called Why You Suck that would become a cultural phenomenon. And so when we meet Leo Palamino, he is a romantic dreamer, a dedicated writer, a dishwasher in a tourist trap, and a celebrity...

A man famous for his flaws.

Then one afternoon, as the very dejected Leo watches Julie being interviewed on a talk show about her upcoming book, he lays eyes on the woman of his (impossible) dreams... COLETTE is on her way into a wedding across the street from Leo’s house.

Directed by Jeremiah Chechik
Starring Ryan Kwanten, Sara Canning, Will Sasso and Catherine O'Hara

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Offical Poster For THE DOUBLE Starring Jesse Eisenberg

Magnolia Pictures will release THE DOUBLE in 2014.

THE DOUBLE will play at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. For a list of showings, please visit:

Eisenberg plays Simon, a timid, isolated man who’s overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams (Wasikowska). The arrival of a new co-worker, James (also played by Eisenberg), serves to upset the balance. James is both Simon's exact physical double and his opposite - confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simon's horror, James slowly starts taking over his life.

Directed by Richard Ayoade
Written by Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, James Fox, Cathy Moriarty, Chris O'Dowd, Sally Hawkins, Craig Roberts and Paddy Considine

For more info:
Official Site: http://www.magpictures.com/thedouble/
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedoublefilm

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Lionsgate has just released a gripping NEW CLIP for their upcoming action thriller, I, FRANKENSTEIN! Discover the secret to possession as Adam (Aaron Eckhart) divulges a centuries-old plot against humanity. In an epic battle between gargoyles and demons, this revelation could tip the scales in favor of the dark side. Catch a glimpse of what's to come for Adam, as the two warring clans race to discover the secret to his immortality.

Be sure to check out I, FRANKENSTEIN in theaters everywhere January 24, 2014!

Set in a dystopic present where vigilant gargoyles and ferocious demons rage in a battle for ultimate power, Victor Frankenstein's creation Adam (Aaron Eckhart) finds himself caught in the middle as both sides race to discover the secret to his immortality. From the creators of the hit supernatural saga, UNDERWORLD, comes the action thriller I, FRANKENSTEIN, written for the screen and directed by Stuart Beattie based on the graphic novel "I, Frankenstein" by Kevin Grevioux, and brought to life by a cast that includes Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney, Socratis Otto, Mahesh Jadu, Caitlin Stasey and Aden Young as Victor Frankenstein.

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Giveaway: JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT Soundtrack

Soundtrack Album on Varese Sarabande

Varese Sarabande has provided us with copies of the JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT Soundtracks to give away to our fans.

Make sure you follow @sandwichjfilms on twitter first, and then retweet this..

RT for a chance to win @JackRyanMovie soundtrack, from @sandwichjfilms #sandwichjohnfilms #VareseSarabande http://tinyurl.com/n3ce82m

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Music Composed by
Patrick Doyle
(Thor, Brave, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes)

In the hotly anticipated SHADOW RECRUIT — directed by Academy Award winner Kenneth Branagh — Jack Ryan is a young covert CIA analyst (played by Star Trek’s Chris Pine) who uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

Patrick Doyle (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire) has composed for every film directed by Kenneth Branagh (Dead Again, Henry V, Thor), and here he returns with an intense and action-packed score.

Paramount Pictures will open JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT nationwide on January 17.

Release Date: 02/04/14

Track List:

1. Flying Over Afghanistan (2:43)
2. The United Nations (2:42)
3. Shadow Accounts (2:54)
4. The Window Reflection (1:51)
5. Rooftop Call (1:52)
6. Second Great Depression (3:19)
7. Faith Of Our Fathers (4:00)
8. Cheverin Meets Ryan (2:11)
9. Plan In A Van (1:51)
10. The Activation (2:19)
11. Aleksandr (1:54)
12. The Engagement (2:24)
13. Stealing The Data (7:59)
14. Get Out (4:19)
15. Moscow Car Chase (4:15)
16. The Lightbulb (4:37)
17. Unravelling The Data (4:37)
18. CIA Recruitment (1:41)
19. Chopper To NYC (1:40)
20. Bike Chase (3:47)
21. Jack And Aleksandr (3:15)
22. Picking This Life (1:04)
23. Ryan, Mr. President (3:28)
24. Shadow Recruit (2:30)

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IFC MIDNIGHT'S PLUS ONE Available On DVD January 14th

PLUS ONE From Director Dennis Iliadis (The Last House on the Left) arrives on DVD January 14, 2014.

A fleet and frenzied sci-fi tale ... The movie's boldness and horrifying logic get under your skin."
- Jeanette Catsoulis, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Director Dennis Iliadis (The Last House on the Left) delivers thought-provoking suspense with PLUS ONE, a supernatural thriller that tests the limits of survival and the loyalties of friendship. Three college friends head out for the biggest party of the year, each looking for something different: sex, love, a simple human connection. The possibilities are endless at the mansion, where the music throbs, liquor flows and hired strippers dance on an outdoor stage. But an unexplained paranormal phenomenon disrupts the proceedings. Perfect replicas of all the partying kids suddenly appear, and what's even weirder, they are doing everything their originals did 15 minutes earlier. As the party descends into bloody chaos, the three friends must struggle to maintain their wits and stay alive. Ashley Hinshaw (About Cherry), Rhys Wakefield (Endless Love) and Logan Miller (Night Moves) star in a mind-bending thriller that "should have cult audiences rewinding and freeze-framing till the party's over" (Rob Staeger, The Village Voice).

Special Features on the DVD include:

- Commentary with Director Dennis Iliadis & Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare, Jr.
- Visual Effects Behind the Scenes
- Deleted Scenes
- ZAP Entertainment/screenslam.com Interview with Director Dennis Iliadis
- Interview with Dennis Iliadis & Cast at SXSW by Perri Nemiroff, ShockYa.com
- Poster Gallery
- Cast Auditions
- Red Band Trailer

About IFC Entertainment
A leader in the independent film industry, IFC Entertainment consists of multiple brands devoted to bringing the best of specialty films to the largest possible audience: IFC Films, Festival Direct, IFC Productions, and the IFC Center. IFC Films is a leading distributor of independent film. Its unique day and date distribution model, 'IFC In Theaters,' makes independent films available to a national audience by releasing them simultaneously in theaters as well as on cable's On Demand platform and through Pay-Per-View, reaching 50 million homes. 'IFC Festival Direct' features a wide selection of titles acquired from major international film festivals and offers them exclusively through Video on Demand. IFC Productions is a feature film production company that provides financing for select independent film projects. IFC Center is a three-screen, state-of-the-art cinema with luxurious seating and HD digital and 35mm projection that shows art-house films in the heart of New York's Greenwich Village. IFC Entertainment's companies are subsidiaries of Rainbow Media Holdings LLC.

Release Date: January 14, 2014
SRP: $24.98
Rating: Not rated
Running time: 97 minutes
Language: English

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Starz Da Vinci’s Demons & Black Sails Upcoming Season 2 Trailers

Starz announced today that the anticipated second season of the historical fantasy “Da Vinci’s Demons,” an original series created by David S. Goyer, who most recently wrote the screenplay for Man of Steel and its untitled sequel as well as co-writer of The Dark Knight trilogy, will premiere on STARZ in the U.S. on Saturday, March 22nd at 9pm ET/PT. The ten-episode drama, produced by Adjacent Productions, follows the ‘untold’ story of the world's greatest genius, Leonardo da Vinci, during his turbulent youth during the Renaissance. Starz greenlit “Da Vinci’s Demons” for a second season following its record-setting first season weekend debut on STARZ on Friday April 12, 2013. Outside of the United States and English-speaking Canada, “Da Vinci’s Demons” is distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide, in partnership with FOX International Channels (FIC) who broadcasts the series to audiences in 125 countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa following Starz’s exclusive premiere in the U.S.

STARZ also released a new trailer for the high-seas drama “Black Sails,” executive produced by Michael Bay, which will premiere January 25th at 9pm ET/PT on STARZ

Brilliant and passionate, the 25-year- old Leonardo da Vinci is an artist, inventor, swordsman, lover, dreamer and idealist. As a free thinker, with intellect and talents that are almost superhuman, he struggles to live within the confines of his own reality and time.

Watch the trailers after the Jump...

Starring Tom Riley (“Monroe,” I Want Candy), as the title character, season two of “Da Vinci's Demons,” finds Florence thrown into chaos in the wake of the Pazzi conspiracy. Lorenzo is gravely ill and Leonardo da Vinci must push the limits of his mind and body to defend the city against the forces of Rome. While the Medicis go to unthinkable lengths to deal with new threats, da Vinci continues on his quest to find the fabled Book of Leaves and uncover the secret history of his mother. He'll come to realize that he has lethal competition in his quest -- new enemies who may be even worse than the forces of Pope Sixtus. His search will take him to faraway lands and force him to reevaluate everything he knew about the world and his own history.

Riley’s co-stars include Laura Haddock (The Inbetweeners Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy) who plays Lucrezia Donati; Elliot Cowan (“Luther,” “Lost in Austen”) who plays the de factor ruler of Florence, Lorenzo Medici; Lara Pulver (“True Blood,” “Sherlock”), who plays his wife Clarice Orsini; and Blake Ritson (Serena, “Upstairs Downstairs”) who plays the ruthless and unwavering Count Girolamo Riario, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV.

In addition to his high profile film credits, Goyer served as script consultant and story developer for “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” and “Black Ops II,” respectively, the most successful video game franchise of all time.

Jane Tranter, head of Adjacent Productions, served as Executive Producer. The series was shot in Swansea during the summer and fall of 2013. The series is produced by Adjacent Productions, a label launched in 2012 that sits alongside BBC Worldwide Productions in order to identify new and original programming created and produced under the company’s umbrella.

About Starz Entertainment
Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) is a leading integrated global media and entertainment company with operating units that provide premium subscription video programming on domestic U.S. pay television channels (Starz Networks), global content distribution (Starz Distribution) and animated television and movie production (Starz Animation), www.starz.com.

Starz Networks is a leading provider of premium subscription video programming through the flagship STARZ® and ENCORE® pay TV networks which showcase premium original programming and movies to U.S. multichannel video distributors, including cable operators, satellite television providers, and telecommunications companies. As of September 30, 2013, STARZ and ENCORE serve a combined 57.0 million subscribers, including 22.0 million at STARZ, and 35.0 million at ENCORE, making them the largest pair of premium flagship channels in the U.S. STARZ® and ENCORE®, along with Starz Networks’ third network MOVIEPLEX®, air more than 1,000 movies monthly across 17 linear networks, complemented by On Demand and authenticated online offerings through STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY, and MOVIEPLEX PLAY. Starz Distribution develops, produces and acquires entertainment content, distributing it to consumers globally on DVD, digital formats and traditional television. Starz Distribution’s home video, digital media and worldwide distribution business units distribute original programming content produced by Starz, as well as entertainment content for itself and third parties. Starz Animation produces animated TV and movie content for studios, networks, distributors and audiences worldwide.

About Adjacent Productions
Adjacent Productions is a label that sits within BBC Worldwide Productions, one of the core businesses under BBC Worldwide North America, the U.S. division of BBC Worldwide, the main commercial arm and wholly-owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The Adjacent Productions label serves to identify new programming created by the Los Angeles-based production company, while BBC Worldwide Productions identifies BBC reformats that the team develops and produces for the U.S. market. The first scripted series under the Adjacent Productions label is Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz), currently in production on its second season. Other series from the production companies include Getting On (HBO) and the upcoming Us & Them (FOX), Intruders (BBC America), and Criminal Justice (HBO).

About FOX International Channels
FOX International Channels (FIC) is 21st Century FOX’s international multi-media business. We develop, produce and distribute 300+ wholly- and majority-owned entertainment, sports, lifestyle, factual and movie channels in 45 languages across Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. FIC’s core channel brands include FOX, FOX Sports, FOX Life and National Geographic Channel. FIC’s movie channels include FOX Movies, FOX Movies Premium, Star Chinese Movies and Moviecity. These networks and their related mobile, non-linear and high-definition extensions, reach over 1.6 billion cumulative households worldwide. In addition, FIC owns and operates two production studios and produces thousands of local programming hours for its wholly owned channels and third parties. In operation since: August 14, 1993.

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lone Survivor Review. Leaves Us With A Patriotic Stir In Our Hearts.

Lone Survivor Review 
By: MattInRC

Director Peter Berg brings the horrors and grittiness of the War in Afghanistan into powerful focus with his film Lone Survivor.

For many of us, The War in Afghanistan - in direct response to the events of 9/11 - seemed so distant and unfathomable that its reasons for existing in the first place seemed without logic. Yet, it was a war with a deeply personal tone for those who waged it, as I suppose most wars are. Peter Berg's Lone Survivor doesn't exist merely as patriotic testosterone-fueled rage, instead serving as a forceful and gritty reminder that wars are neither glorious nor ever 'successful.'

Based on the doomed 2005 mission expressed in Marcus Luttrell's 2009 non-fiction book of the same name, Survivor tells the story of 4 real-life Navy SEALs that are sent to eliminate Tablian leader Ahmad Shah. The Texas-born Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) loves his team - including his commander Lt. Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), and Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster) - like brothers. Prior to the op, we get plenty of backstory (including an appearance by Eric Bana as the team's boss) about their training and the day-to-day exploits leading up to the tragic events of their deaths. When the team accidentally makes contact with a group of goat herders, they must decide whether to let them go or kill them, knowing that the previous is suicide and the latter against their orders. As the battle begins and our heroes are picked off one by one, a lone SEAL somehow survives as he awaits rescue in a small village that actually hates the Taliban more the Americans.

Berg, who was inserted with a SEAL team in Iraq when he wrote Lone Survivor, was unable to get the film greenlit until he agreed to make the epic flop Battleship first - that film soiled his reputation and Kitsch's, who's still paying for it along with the awful John Carter. Luckily, both Berg and Kitsch redeem themselves in high fashion, with Kitsch emerging as both a leader of men and the first to sacrifice himself so that his team can get home. Kitsch shines in the face of that act, along with Foster whose spirited performance makes his death all the more poignant. This is Wahlberg's film, and he approaches his craft with the steely-eyed glance of an actor who's at his best in the most human way possible. To survive an event so horrific - and of your own choosing - is ironic, but Wahlberg never cheapens the moment, serving instead as the emotional anchor for a story with no easy outcome in sight. Bana, who agreed to appear in any role after reading the book, is one of our favorites in Hollywood, and his appearance only ups the ante.

While Berg has assembled a great team of human actors, another less-likely one plays just as formidable a role. The wooded and rocky environment of Afghanistan serves as an aggressor here, engaging our heroes as they struggle to emerge from it by falling down its deep cliffs, crunching and smashing their way in several freefalls that's among the gruesome we've seen in awhile. It's here that the true spirit of our team is realized and nature plays a cruel enemy, extolling its virtues in stunning detail. And yes, there's 150 Taliban raining down RPG and gunfire on them as well. Composer Steve Jablonsky has created two excellent scores this year (along with Ender's Game), and Lone Survivor delivers the goods. Granted, some of it - like the long tribute ending - are too much, but there's a tone here that's clearly anti-Transformers which is welcomed.

A film like this is hard to watch, especially when American servicemen are being killed. It would have been better to have witnessed their deaths in a quick series of shots, but Berg smartly chooses to show the viciousness over the gloried, agonizing over every injury while our team tries to keep their heads - and guns - up. For all their efforts, they get ripped to shreds by bullets, impaled by tree branches and shards of metal, and bludgeoned on rocks before the final and bloody end arrives. As one can tell, there's a lot of layers to Lone Survivor: a fitting tribute to the struggles of the SEALs, the relatable brotherhood of soldiers cast into a fire, and a cautionary tale of war. But it's the story of the Pashtun people - who hated the Taliban more than the Americans - which served as an unexpected appeal. Their willingness to take in a member of the US military at the sacrifice of their own lives is an aspect that Berg didn't need to add, but which makes the film immeasurably better. Without it, Lone Survivor is militaristic propaganda, released in the wake of Osama Bin Laden's murder, and lacking an important emotional punch that audiences will not see coming. In doing so, the film casts a different light on the War in Afghanistan, elevating it beyond the mere bloodbath.

Lone Survivor shows us that the struggle in Afghanistan was far deeper than many of us knew. Filled with enough powerful performances to operate the heavy machinery that is the US military, its message about the universal idea of brotherhood transcends its mere story of survival. For those of us who've never had the honor of serving our nation's military, Lone Survivor shows us war in its most hellish aspects, not in the glory of mass-assassinations but in the personal struggles that no doubt arise when human lives and government orders are caught in the crossfire. Perhaps its overly-patriotic tone is the reason why it's awaiting a 2014 release, but it deserves a second consideration, even if its tone is hard to watch.

Lone Survivor is rated R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language and has a runtime of approximately 120 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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Our Most Anticipated Movies Of 2014 Get Us Excited...No Not In That Way!

Our Most Anticipated Movies Of 2014 Get Us Excited...No Not In That Way!
By: MattInRC

Read on to learn about our most anticipated movies of 2014.

Despite a rather thin offering, 2013's box did manage to beat 2012's record-setting numbers, a startling fact that we covered here. Big-budget franchise sequels dominated the landscape like Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Despicable Me 2, while Star Trek: Into Darkness and Fast and Furious 6 turned in strong but not overwhelming numbers.

But that was 2013, and so it's time to get excited for the newest movies that will grace our screens in 2014. The trend seems to point to more sequels, but there's a decent amount of new entries that desperately want to occupy a place in your heart. As always, our list runs the gamut, from risky comic book projects to interesting adaptions and reboots. Your friends at SJF have compiled our top 20 most anticipated, which means we're not looking at Oscar winners but those which we would actually pay to see (since we see everything free, that says a lot) and pay more than once if they're good enough. They're also organized by month instead of desire, because frankly there were too many interesting ones. Now on to our list!

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Release Date: January 17, 2014
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner

Why We're Excited: We've always been a fan of the Jack Ryan story, whether it was the terrific The Hunt for Red October or the very good Patriot Games. But recent installments failed to inspire us or audiences for that matter, so we're hoping this reboot can tie the best elements of the books while ushering in the new elements of action that we got with the Jason Bourne series. From the trailer, it looks like a solid production, but will audiences find this type of spycraft - one that might favor actual spying over random violence - appealing enough?

The Muppets Most Wanted
Release Date: March 21, 2014
Directors: James Bobin
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Salma Hayek, Stanley Tucci, Tina Fey

Why We're Excited: It's the Muppets, DUH. Seriously, if you didn't find the 2011 rebirth of the Sesame Street/Muppet Show characters to be a perfect return, then you're dead inside. With so few interesting films for families in 2014, we're hoping Kermit, Ms. Piggy, and Fozzie can find their way into everyone's viewing schedule. If you're not a Muppets fan, you should probably just jump off a bridge. Of course we're kidding bout the jumping part...sort of.

Captain America The Winter Soldier
Release Date: April 4, 2014
Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Chris Evans, Cobie Smulders, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan

Why We're Excited: From the early reviews of the script to the amazing sequences from Comic-Con, we've been excited about a return to the darker side of S.H.I.E.L.D. as covered by so many great Marvel comic series. We're also interested in the way Cap might be trying to adjust to his new life and the event s of New York. It's clear that Marvel wants WS to be nothing less than the bridge connecting 2012's The Avengers with 2015′s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and we couldn't be more ready to see how it all plays out.

The Raid 2: Berandal
Release Date: March 28, 2014
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Donny Alamsyah, Iko Uwais, Raiden Integra, Yayan Ruhian

Why We're Excited: Gareth Evans's original The Raid: Redemption became an instant action classic, with action sequences that are still mindblowing today. Given its amazing cult following ($5.6 million in home video sales as compared to a $4.1 million theatrical run), we're a little worried about whether Barendal can match the excitement of its predecessor. But, the fact that both Evans and Actor Iko Uwais are returning certainly doesn't hurt. Check out Redemption before you see Berandal: it will alter everything you know about the action genre.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Release Date: May 2, 2014
Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Dane DeHaan, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field

Why We're Excited: We weren't excited at all about The Amazing Spider-Man calling it one of the worst superhero films in recent memory, and it still leaves a bitter taste in our mouth. Sloppy dialogue and a climax of Spidey being helped by building tower workers was a letdown for sure. But with news that Webb is planning multiple Spider-man movies, including a Sinister Six storyline from the comics, we've warmed considerably over the past year. The cast of bad guys looks impressive (except for the mechanized Rhino), and the actors assembled look ready to take the Spider-Man universe into new and exciting territory. Frankly, the idea of another well-crafted Marvel Cinematic Universe is good for the entire genre, but ASM2 needs to hit it out of the park to establish its footing for future films.

Release Date: May 16, 2014
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins

Why We're Excited: Honestly, we were interested but not excited about the return of The Big Guy to the big screen, based on the awful 2008 flop. Six years later and a lot of impressive reveals, Warner Bros and Legendary seem to have created an fitting return for our Kaiju. This one seems unique in that Godzilla will be battling his own rogue's gallery of monsters, but it's still a question of whether the creature itself will impress audiences beyond his new look (three times the size) and his familiar wail. We're not sure if that means he needs to battle giant robots ala Pacific Rim, but we can't help ourselves but imagine Gipsy Danger wrestling Godzilla into a building during the impressive teaser trailer released in November. Why can't we have our special dream?

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Release Date: May 23, 2014
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Peter Dinklage

Why We're Excited: X-Men: Days of Future Past promises not only to serve as a sequel to the very good X-Men: First Class, but as a followup to the original trilogy. Whether that's good or bad depends upon if you're a comic book fan or not. The idea of bringing nearly every character into this film is both exciting and filled with enough concerns (based on X-Men: The Last Stand) that purists have every reason to be worried. Luckily, Bryan Singer returns to the director’s chair as well as every original actor from the series. Whether this effort - based on the classic comic book - actually fixes the maddening continuity errors of the films, we'll have to see. If done right, this one has the potential to help launch any number of superhero spinoffs and sequels, one which is already planned for 2016.

Edge of Tomorrow
Release Date: June 6, 2014
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Bill Paxton, Emily Blunt

Why We're Excited: We love Tom Cruise. The master of great films gave us our favorite of 2013 - Oblivion - and Cruise has continued to expand his already considerable resume, from funny comedies (Rock of Ages) to more serious action dramas (Jack Reacher and the Mission Impossible series). When he stood before Comic-Con fans last year, stating that all he wanted to do was make great movies that fans wanted to see, our appreciation for his work only grew. With the Matt-Damon-powered-up-exoskeleton-combat-suit from Elysium, Cruise promises another wild ride, this time with co-star Emily Blunt in a time travel/alien invasion vehicle. Whether it's actually the Elysium suit or not isn't the point, but with Cruise behind this one, we can't help but feel a little...giddy.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Release Date: June 27, 2014
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer

Why We're Excited: Despite his rants that he was done with TF, Bay decided to return for a sequel. Gone are Shia and Megan, replaced with new human leads like Wahlberg. Peter Cullen returns to voice Optimus Prime, and we're getting new new vehicles, such as the fan-favorite Dinobots. The question on our minds is - and will always be - why have humans involved at all? The story of how the arrival of Autobots and Decepticons affects humans is interesting, but the idea of Optimus and others ravaging city after city to contain their enemies is so much more thrilling. Let these stories be about the Transformers themselves, their interaction with each other, as well as the politics which sent their culture headlong into destuction. That would make for some serious drama. For now, we'll live with the upcoming version.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Release Date: July 11, 2014
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis

Why We're Excited: After a surprisingly deep and intense reboot in 2011, James Franco departs with Clarke and Oldman brought in to tell phase 2 of the story. We love the work Serkis did for Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Lord of the Rings, but will audiences finally accept his role as Caeser? The sequel sees humanity dealing with the catastrophic events of Rise, with Dawn promising even more darkness as humanity falls victim to the evolving apes. We loved the first one, and can't wait to see a deepening drama with Caesar at the lead.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Release Date: August 1, 2014
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Benicio Del Toro, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista Glenn Close, Lee Pace, John C. Reilly, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana

Why We're Excited: By far the riskiest project from Marvel Studios to date, Guardians introduces completely new characters behind the backdrop of space to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether moviegoers will embrace a weapons-wielding/talking raccoon and a human-like tree that only says "I am Groot!" is anyone's guess; but we love that Marvel is taking such a bold risk. This universe is only as good as its last film, so it needs to build a foundation of comedy, strong character development, and epic battle scenes. We'll be the first in line to see the result, but hope the casual fan will stop by to do the same.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Release Date: August 8, 2014
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg

Why We're Excited: Of the properties we've covered here, TMNT is one of the hardest to figure out. Among the favorite of 90's kids, the cast of turtles with kung-fu powers was silly, a little zany, and all around badass. Their influence has waned over the years, but with a fresh reboot, perhaps new fans will enter the mix. The problem here will be Fox, who's on the back-end of a career that had so much promise but has resulted in so little. Will Fox merely be Fox playing April O'Neil. or will she inhabit the role? Will today's audiences embrace pizza-loving reptiles named after Renaissance-era painters? CG-captured humans as turtles come off to audiences? TMNT appears on our list with as much possibility for promise as it does for disaster.

The Equalizer
Release Date: September 25, 2014
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo

Why We're Excited: Among our favorite series, The Equalizer ran from 1985-1989 and focused on the ex-spy Robert McCall, who used his powers to help New Yorkers in need. And while it's missing a couple of the elements which made it so appealing, we're interested to see how a heavy like Washington channels his best white British accent while navigating the dangerous life of an ex-spy. There's early reports that the movie will get a hard R rating, something which the show was well-known for when it ran on CBS.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Release Date: November 21, 2014
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci

Why We're Excited: Director Francis Lawrence brought us a vastly superior sequel in Catching Fire, and we're wondering how Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) will view the coming revolution, all started by her fierce determination. We've elected not to read the books, in hopes that the dramatic events will have more impact on us. Regardless of how it works out, the franchise has been a blockbuster in every sense of word. Now, we just need an equally satisfying ending that begins this November.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Release Date: December 17, 2014
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage

Why We're Excited: Say what you want about The Desolation of Smaug, the series has been a critical and financial disappointment. At the time of this post, Smaug had taken in $30 million less than An Unexpected Journey, even though we noticed improvements in every area. The final installment of Peter Jackson's epic needs to make solid connections to Fellowship of the Ring, while giving Actor Martin Freeman and his troupe of dwarfs the dramatic space they need to wrap things up. Let's hope audiences are still interested in seeing the conclusion to this series.

Not every film could occupy our most anticipated list, so we included the following titles which appeared on one but not both of our lists:

The LEGO Movie (February 7, 2014) - We love playing the video games in this series, and with a voice cast of seemingly hundreds, this should get our inner kid motivated.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13, 2014) - A favorite of ours in 2010, the original gave us high flying animation that made us feel like we were actually flying. Everyone's back including Gerard Butler and the dragon Toothless, which impressed many with his ability to emote human emotions. We can't wait for this one.

22 Jump Street (June 13, 2014) - The 2012 comedy surprised everyone, delivering solid laughs and a good story. We're curious to see if returning stars Jonah Hill and Canning Tatum can recapture the magic as two dumb cops undercover at a local college.

Ride Along (January 17, 2014) – Funny dude Kevin Hart hooks up with rapper Ice Cube, potentially giving Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit a run for its money.

RoboCop (February 12, 2014) – We absolutely loved the 80s over-the-top action and futuristic vision, but with delays that have seen a poor February release date, we're curious to see if the promise matches up to the ads and updated look of Robocop.

Hercules (July 25, 2014) – Whether the second offering of Hercules this year results in any more interest is hard to determine, but with a cast that includes Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, and Ian McShane, we think this has a better chance at success than the Kellan Lutz version.

Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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New Images & Divergent, Insurgent & Allegiant is No. 1, 2 and 3 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books

We're excited to share the news that Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant is No. 1, 2 and 3 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list, on newsstands today. The bestselling series by Veronica Roth has sold more than 10 million copies as of January 1, 2014 and the film starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet, will be released on March 21, 2014.

DIVERGENT is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a future where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities. Tris Prior (Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late. Based on the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth.

In theaters & IMAX March 21, 2014

For more updates on DIVERGENT:

Official Site: http://DivergentTheMovie.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Divergent
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Divergent
Instagram: http://instagram.com/Divergent
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Divergent/
Google+: https://google.com/+Divergent

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First Image Of Quicksilver From X-Men: Days Of Future past

The casts of the original X-Men trilogy and 2011’s X-Men: First Class team up for May’s highly anticipated X-Men: Days of Future Past. “It’s not a reboot because there’s some of the same characters and same actors,” says Bryan Singer, who previously directed the 2000 original and 2003’s X2. “But it’s also not a conventional sequel—I call it an inbetweequel.”

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is sent back to the 1970s by future Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) to stop a cataclysmic event. There, he must help young Xavier (James McAvoy) reunite with his foster sister, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), and best pal, Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender). As Singer teases, “These are very big emotional stakes as well as, you know, cool giant robots and superpowers.”

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Images From Marvel's One-Shot, Called "All Hail The King"

We’ll start this story off with a spoiler warning for those who somehow missed last year’s box office barnstormer Iron Man 3 and would cry foul at us revealing anything. If you’re at all worried about spoilers, check out another story. Perhaps this one? For those still with us: Marvel has revealed full details about its new One-Shot, called All Hail The King, and starring Ben Kingsley.

All Hail The King will pick up the story of “The Mandarin”, AKA narcotics, booze, girls and footie-happy actor Trevor Slattery, who was part of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce)’s big plan in the latest Tony Stark adventure. The short will continue the story of Slattery, sent to prison for his part in the scheme.

"'The Further Adventures of Trevor' was something we had talked about on set all the time,” IM3 co-writer Drew Pearce tells EW. “And when we sat down to talk about what the short would be, it was executive producer Stephen Broussard, and Kevin Feige and myself and Joss Whedon and Avengers producer Jeremy Latcham. So we kicked around a bunch of ideas and there were loads of them that we liked, and it was actually Joss who at a certain point went like, ‘Or you could do the one that has Sir Ben Kingsley in it because you have access to Sir Ben Kingsley.’” At least now we know what Kingsley was alluding to last year.

Pearce wrote and directed the 14-minute follow-up, which sees Slattery dealing with newfound fame and dangerous infamy, particularly among the terrorist types already in the prison who are none to keen on him essentially making a mockery of their organisation.

"Imagine a real terrorist organization whose beliefs were long held and religious for thousands of years, and imagine a drunk, British actor coming along and essentially telling the world that he's the face of your organization," Pearce says. "I think they would be right to be quite angry."

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HER Review. Don't Drink The Kool-Aid.

HER Review
By: MattInRC

The beautiful but creepy Her doesn't fill us with joy, and that's probably the point.

I'm sure you've heard this one before: poor dude loses his marriage, falls in love with the perfect woman, but ultimately loses her. Now, add the fact that the 'perfect woman' isn't one at all, but a computer OS: that's the twist in the science-fiction oddity Her, a film that's uncomfortable to watch and leaves us no better than we were at the beginning.

Set in a undetermined future, professional letter writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is recently divorced and a loner. His world soon changes when he falls for the new operating system of his computer (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), whose quirky laugh and sultrily pleasant voice is the perfect medicine for Theodore's aching heart. Soon, Theodore and Samantha (she's named herself by the way) are taking long walks on the beach and sharing intimacy in a way that's both funny and uncomfortable. But just like those Star Trek: The Original Series episodes, the young computer soon matures, feeling sadness, anger, and jealousy. When their relationship hits the skids, Samantha makes a bold decision, forcing Theodore to reevaluate his life choices.

Director Spike Jonze does paint beautifully surreal futurism here, but it's the Writer Jonze that I've never liked. Established as more satire than some sort of distopian version of a book I read as a kid, Her tries to issue a warning about the seductiveness of technology to isolate people from the messiness and complexity of human emotions. But, the result here is too creepy, with what appears to be a sane educated person doing remarkably idiotic things for a being who only exists as a series of 1's and 0's. We can't get behind Theodore's pain, even though they're brought out admirably by Phoenix, because those emotions seem so disconnected from reality. In the end, his 'affection' for Samantha feels like he's losing his grip on reality, undoing any empathy we might have for him. Theodore's disheveled neighbor Amy (Amy Adams) disappears through large stretches of the film before finally coming up for air long enough to realize that she too has been 'left' by her OS. Amy's story of failed relationships just makes her look like a bad judge of character instead of someone that Theodore might care about as we fade to black.

Her certainly wasn't as boring as Where the Wild Things Are or Being John Malkovich - in both cases, I simply couldn't get through them. The only reasons why we stick around for Her is to see whether Samantha will evolve and how such changes affect Theodore. The exodus of the OS's into...wherever they go...is the payoff to our time invested, but what we're left with is an emptiness that our screen actors seem unable to fathom. Perhaps that feeling of loneliness is indicative of human relationships when one ends, but short of a book deal, Theodore is no better for the experience. This lack of highlighting the right character (Theodore instead of Samantha) is the wrong path to take and what ultimately kills the film.

It's easy to drink the Kool-Aid that critics are serving up here, but we're not buying it. Her is oddly suited, uncomfortable for long stretches, and feels like a stinging critique on a society quickly moving towards technological isolationism. Viewed through those lenses, any love we have for our characters is lost to fits of yelling 'She's an OS!' at the screen. If the events in Jonze's movie are in fact the wave of the future, then perhaps it's time we put down our personal devices and get back to face-to-face relationships. At least there, we can feel better about the weirdness of human interactions rather than the electronic ones depicted here. Her is rated R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity and has a runtime of 125 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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