This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series 2017 Movies Preview

Last week, I gave you a sneak preview of some potentially worthwhile family movies coming up in the next few weeks. Well, mom and dad, today it’s your turn: Enjoy this 2017 Mom and Dad Movies Preview.

Whether you like a good documentary, a non-stop action film, or a human drama to tug at your heartstrings, I have a first look at some of the features that might fit the bill for an upcoming date night or an evening the kids are spending the night with grandma and grandpa.

The first few months of the year are normally sparse for quality grown-up fare. Hollywood tends to save the blockbusters for summer and the awards contenders for fall and winter. Nevertheless, every once in awhile, a good gem or two sneaks in during the cold of winter and early spring. Hopefully, a title or two here will fall into that category.

As with the family movie previews, I will be doing the mom and dad previews in the same way. This first blog will cover films from January through April. Later, I will do separate blogs to cover May through August and September through December.

The films will be listed below in chronological order. Please remember that release dates are subject to change.

2017 Mom and Dad Movies Preview

Poster for the movie ""

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I Am Not Your Negro

RELEASE DATE: February 3, 2017

PLOT: James Baldwin’s unfinished novel “Remember This House” tells the story of race in America.

THOUGHTS: I could barely manage watching a 2-minute trailer for this documentary without getting goosebumps and a lump in the throat, so I have every confidence in the world that Raoul Peck’s film, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, will be a stirring, eye-opening experience. Using the actual words of James Baldwin’s unfinished book, we’re certain to be transported back in time to revisit the work of civil rights pioneers such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. In my opinion, movies like this are mandatory viewing for anyone concerned about history repeating itself or the overall lack of progress made over the last few decades when it comes to discrimination and race relations in America. It was quite jaw-dropping to see some of the footage presented in the trailer for this documentary and realize that many of these images can still be seen on the evening news in 2017. Let’s hope discussion leads to empathy, which leads to understanding, which leads to acceptance. Given a limited release last year, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO has been nominated and won several awards with critics groups and festivals across the nation.

The Great Wall

RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2017

CAST: Matt Damon, Andy Lau, Jing Tian, Lu Han and Pedro Pascal

PLOT: When a mercenary warrior is imprisoned within the Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of the world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront the unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force.

THOUGHTS: This one just isn’t grabbing me. The early release date concerns me, not to mention the total lack of hype and pre-release information. In fact, I had never heard of this movie at all until I started doing research for this blog. Taking into consideration the amount of movie information I digest on a regular basis, I must rather immodestly suggest if I haven’t heard of it that usually means they’re not too proud of the finished product or they’re just dumping it during one of the slowest seasons of the movie year and hoping to come close to recouping the budget and expenses. And the trailer isn’t helping any, although the production values look gorgeous, particularly the cinematography and production design. I’m confused whether it wants to be a monster movie or a historical epic or a martial arts film or all of the above. My spark of hope is that it attracted a leading man of the stature of Matt Damon. I smell a flop, but I’ll be glad to be wrong.

Poster for the movie "The Shack"

© 2017 Summit Entertainment − All right reserved.

The Shack

RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2017

CAST: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw, Sumire and Radha Mitchell

PLOT: After suffering a family tragedy, Mack Phillips spirals into a deep depression that causes him to question his innermost beliefs. Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to an abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness. Despite his doubts, Mack journeys to the shack and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa. Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.

THOUGHTS: Many of my friends have lavished praise on the Christian novel by William P. Young on which this film is based, some calling it among the finest books they’ve ever read. They were also hesitant to give me too many details because they didn’t want to ruin the surprises and plot twists involved. With a few exceptions, such as FACING THE GIANTS, I have not been overly impressed artistically with many of the Christian-based movies that have been released over the last few years.  I feel their wonderful intentions and obvious heart are more prevalent than the success of the execution. That being said, as they become more and more popular, I feel we will be treated to better stories with bigger budgets and more artistry. And I’m very impressed with the cast they put together for this film, including Oscar-winner and possible nominee again this year Octavia Spencer. The trailer leaves me a bit skeptical as I have low tolerance for overly manipulative and maudlin films, but I am certainly going to be seeing this and hope for the best.

Poster for the movie "Life"

© 2017 Columbia Pictures − All right reserved.

Life

RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2017

CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhall and Rebecca Ferguson

PLOT: The six-member crew of the International Space Station is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As the crew begins to conduct research, and their methods end up having unintended consequences, the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.

THOUGHTS: I have a gut feeling this could be one of the bigger successes of the early movie year. Men will be drawn to the science fiction aspect of this film, while women will be drawn to the ridiculously good-looking duo of Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal in the same movie. (That’s probably very sexist – apologies if I have offended anyone.) I personally love a good outer space movie from time to time, and with the critical and financial reception for films like GRAVITY and INCEPTION, one can only hope this will be in the same league. I feel like the trailer gives us a good amount of suspense and doesn’t give away too many details, for which I am very thankful. There’s nothing worse than a trailer that gives the whole movie away before it even opens. I’m also optimistic because of the presence of Gyllenhaal, who over the last decade has consistently proven himself to be one of the most talented and risk-taking actors at work today. I’m only concerned about the release date. You may have noticed the trailer says it’s opening on Memorial Day, but all information I’ve come across shows the March 24 release date. Sometimes that inconsistency means that there may be trouble with the production and the studios can’t decide how to handle it.

Poster for the movie "Gifted"

© 2017 − All right reserved.

Gifted

RELEASE DATE: April 12, 2017

CAST: Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer and Lindsay Duncan

PLOT: Frank Adler is a single man raising a child prodigy – his spirited young niece Mary – in a coastal town in Florida. Frank’s plans for a normal school life for Mary are foiled when the 7-year-old’s mathematical abilities come to the attention of Frank’s formidable mother, Evelyn, whose plans for her granddaughter threaten to separate Frank and Mary.

THOUGHTS: I am a big fan of Jodie Foster’s 1991 film LITTLE MAN TATE about a boy genius who is caught in a battle between his mother who wants to give him a normal life and a psychologist who runs a school for gifted children and wants to encourage little Fred to take full advantage of his gifts rather than be like every other kid out there. This film gives me the same vibe as that movie, although they have seemingly thrown in a custody battle, a romance with a teacher, and a little girl who can come up with a one-liner faster than any screenwriter in Hollywood. Whereas Foster’s film felt fresh and original, the trailer for this movie comes across as a glossy TV-movie that takes a potentially interesting subject and dumbs it down to the lowest common denominator. I already feel I can guess exactly what direction this movie will go, up to the predictable happy ending. That being said, I could definitely see this being a crowd pleaser, and apparently Octavia Spencer is in every movie this year! Good for her!

 

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