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What always seems to get lost in these big disaster porn releases – from “Independence Day” to “The Day After Tomorrow” – is any consideration for the epic loss of life that is barely dramatized. In those movies, director Roland Emmerich and his writer-producer Dean Devlin went straight for the shock and awe with explosive images of destroyed national monuments, yet it was the anonymity of the dead that should have been addressed. Are we so callous that we seek to escape the tragedy of real life disasters through mindless CGI renderings of the same on a larger scale? Devlin settles into the driver’s seat for “Geostorm,” a man-made nightmare of what would happen if Gerard Butler (as a climate satellite engineer) was in charge of controlling the weather. Yep, that would be a disaster.




Josh Brolin has become a go-to face for real life narratives featuring battles between rugged men and the elements. Following on the heels of his performance in “Everest,” Brolin returns in Joseph Kosinski’s somber tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of firefighters, giving audiences a grounding presence in a film that refuses to focus on the fiery power of the blazes. Instead, with Brolin and a cast including Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, James Badge Dale, and Jeff Bridges, “Only the Brave” reminds us of the human toll of such tragedies.




Tracking serial killers offers the potential for tight, white-knuckle action and suspense and when filmmakers are adapting Jo Nesbø’s acclaimed detective Harry Hole series, success would seem to be a given, but somehow director Tomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) and Michael Fassbender in the lead role found a way to bungle “The Snowman.” It is difficult to imagine starting off what could be a long-running franchise (there are currently 11 books featuring Hole) with the seventh book, and even worse when the decision is made to bypass the kind of fidelity to the source material that would play to the fans. Despite the fact that Hole is a brilliant loner (and Fassbender would appear to be the perfect choice to play him), the books capture the intimate and intricate interplay between the protagonist and his supporting players, which is completely missing onscreen.




Madea (Tyler Perry) returns to the Halloween scene for another horror-comedy involving her nephew’s wild-child daughter (Diamond White) who is celebrating her 18thbirthday with a plan to hang out at a fraternity party located in the woods (where a creepy series of multiple homicides took place). Madea and her crew get the chance to poke fun at old-school slasher tropes, but really “Boo 2” is all about Perry running and gunning his way through an improvised collection of long takes where he hopes to capture a nugget or two of humor in the exchanges. I’m sure we’re all just waiting for Perry to unleash Madea on a host of other genres (like Madea in outer space or a Madea Western). No idea is safe from this madwoman.