Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great, but…isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum:
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see.

Simple enough, right? This week we have a brand new spider-like person, a pot-dealing threesome, a haunted house, competing Olympian brothers and a mean old author.


Synopsis: Here’s one you’ve never heard before! So this guy gets bitten by a radioactive spider…and can’t stop getting movies made about him.

Most typical critique: Christopher Orr, The Atlantic:

It turns out that an unnecessary movie—even one as profoundly unnecessary as this one—can still be awfully good.

The quote not to miss: Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

The director, Marc Webb, is known for his relationship comedy (500) DAYS OF SUMMER, and this is a more feminized and emotionally literate Spider-Man … This is a Spider-Man who comes out to the people who are important to him pretty quickly.

Should you go see it?

Sure why not. It’s summer, it’s hot, it’s July 4th … all of these have been good enough reasons to see a superhero movie before, so why stop now?


Synopsis: Oliver Stone is back with a caper involving drugs, crime, a kidnapping and three-way love in California. Although it doesn’t sound too original, the film features the underused and under appreciated Salma Hayek as a bitchin’ Mexican drug lord.

Most typical critique: Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter:

SAVAGES represents at least a partial resurrection of [Stone's] more hallucinatory, violent, sexual and, in a word, savage side.

The quote not to miss: Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York:

[Stone]’s a director who’s a lot more fun when grafting his histrionic nerve onto weightier subjects: presidents, wars, James Woods’s ego. This time, Stone is just sloshing around in the shallow end.

Should you go see it?

Well… only if you wish more movies made you feel the same way you felt after NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Y’know, that warm, fuzzy feeling.


Synopsis: From the distributor: “noises startling them in the night, objects moving about, a fallen picture…intense and disturbing dreams visions…” Sounds like a bit of a rehash, but this haunted house still seems to scare.

Most typical critique: Calum Marsh, Slant:

When THE PACT descends, finally, from suggestion to explication, the scares regrettably slink away.

The quote not to miss: Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter:

THE PACT demonstrates both why people respond to horror and why it’s so routinely scorned.

Should you go see it?

Depends on how hardcore into horror you are. Sounds like the set-up here is genuinely creepy, but that might not be enough to keep you in your seat…


Synopsis: Sundance darling Mark Duplass (of SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED and PUFFY CHAIR fame) wrote and directed this tale with his brother Jay, telling of two brothers brining the Olympics home in their own private 25-event competition.

Most typical critique: David Roark, Paste:

In a time where movies continue to feel more and more disconnected and bleak, the film envelopes the viewer with its warmness — a glowing optimism and sincere sense of humanity brought home with each punch zoom.

The quote not to miss: Andrew Schenker, Slant:

In Jay and Mark Duplass’s film, the fragile middle-aged male ego is indulged, massaged, and, finally, critiqued.

Should you go see it? A small film that might be worth catching. Especially if you like these guys’ repertoire (HUMPDAY is a particular fave).


Synopsis: Morgan Freeman in another Rob Reiner film (the first was THE BUCKET LIST), this time as a wheelchair-bound alcoholic author with major writer’s block who goes to a pretty place and tries to figure it all out.

Most typical critique: Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly:

A crotchety, alcoholic, wheelchair-bound coot played on cruise control by Morgan Freeman learns these recycled lessons in a pastel-colored, embroidered wall-hanging of a drama directed by Rob Reiner.

The quote not to miss: Nick Schager, Village Voice:

It’s predictably ironic that The Magic of Belle Isle champions the unparalleled power of imagination while displaying absolutely none of its own.

Should you go see it?

This one is supremely rentable. And only if you’re in the mood for fluff and Morgan Freeman (and who isn’t, at some point?).