“Gangster Squad”: Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling star as two hard charging cops in 1949 Los Angeles. To say that the film is the worst project either man has been involved in would be hyperbole since in their younger days both actors spent time as child stars but it’s certainly their worst adult work. Brolin is personality-free and unengaged while Gosling decided to affect a silly old timey accent that never stops grating and seems thoroughly bored in every scene in which he appears. I might have chocked their terrible performances to a lack of connection to a for the beach house job, but nearly every other actor in the film seems to behave in a manner suggesting the whole enterprise was conceived as big budget Funny Or Die sketch about how goofy gangster movie acting was. Sean Penn stands out as the most entertaining thing about the film but only because he overacts so broadly Nicholas Cage would have told him to tone it down. Despite his early promise with “Zombieland,” helmer Ruben Fleischer demonstrates that tons of visual style can only overcome a garbage script and flat acting if you’re Michael Bay. Also starring Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie and Emma Stone.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, commentary with Fleischer with I’d bet money will seem like it’s for a different, better movie, deleted scenes, and three featurettes.
“A Haunted House”: Marlon Wayans in a parody of the “Paranormal Activity” series. Though there’s little functional difference between this film and the recently released “Scary Movie 5,” “Haunted House” only cost $2.5 million and grossed $40 million so it’s a minor hit while “Scary Movie 5” cost $20 million and earned $26 million making it a minor flop. Does this mean that though the time of the parody blockbuster has passed, an urban variation is still viable? And if so, is this a worse development for black filmmaking than the ascendency of Tyler Perry? Also starring Essence Atkins, Cedric the Entertainer, and Nick Swadson.
Special features: A digital copy of the film and a making of.
“The Impossible”: Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as a fictionalized version of a real couple separated during the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. There are is some pronounced unsavoriness about depicting an Asian disaster seen through the eyes of a Spanish family as portrayed by English and Australian actors but you can’t argue with a $172 million worldwide gross. Aside from some loathsome racial politics, director J.A. Bayona does know his away around a large scale disaster scene and both leads are credible in their roles. Also starring Tom Holland, Geraldine Chaplin and Sönke Möhring.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, commentary with Bayona, writer Sergio G. Sánchez and producer Belén Atienza and María Belón, the woman who’s real life the film is based, deleted scenes, two featurettes.
“Promised Land”: Matt Damon is an oil industry salesman tasked with acquiring drilling rights in a small town who faces opposition from an agitating ex-farmer (John Karsinski). If you have an interest in the particulars of the controversial practice of fracking, this film provides that. If you’re interested in a compelling drama that tackles the intersection of relentless modern capitalism and the anachronistic rural way of life, look elsewhere. This film is all specifying and classic issue movie posturing and a disappointment from all involved. Also starring Frances McDormand, Hal Hplbrook and Rosemarie DeWitt.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, making of, and extended scenes.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at email@example.com