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MOVIE CLIPS: Previews of upcoming releases and special screenings

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WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For Digital First Media

Aloha

In “Aloha,” a military contractor, Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) returns to Honolulu, where he had participated in the U.S. Space program. This prior involvement had been the highlight of his career.

Now that he is back, he is assigned to oversee the launch of a weapons satellite. This will inevitably contribute to the further militarization of outer space.

While there, he tries to sort out some of the unresolved issues between him and his former wife, Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams). She is now living with another man, John Woodside (John Krasinski). Does she still harbor feelings for Brian or has she moved on emotionally?

Meanwhile, Brian is assigned a military handler, Allison Ng (Emma Stone). She seems to be a no nonsense type. However, how can she possibly resist the charms of a hunkadero like Brian?

The cast also includes Alec Baldwin as an Air Force General and the esteemed Bill Murray in an unspecified role.

The film’s writer/director, Cameron Crowe, has an interesting background. Before becoming a filmmaker, Crowe had been a contributing editor for “Rolling Stone” magazine to which he still intermittently submits article. He made his bones at the tender age of 16, when he went on tour for three weeks with the Allman Brothers Band. The ambitious journalist interviewed not only every member of the band, but even road crew staff.

Crowe’s debut as a screenwriter grew out of an adaptation of the book he wrote, “Fast Times at Ridgemont Times.” It was based on the year that Crowe spent undercover, posing as a student in California high school.  After that, he wrote and directed “Say Anything” and “Singles,” a documentary about the Seattle grunge music scene. He followed up with his biggest hit, “Jerry Maguire.” The success of that Tom Cruise vehicle enabled Crowe to secure a greenlight for his pet project, “Almost Famous.” That largely autobiographical film was based on Crowe’s years as a rock journalist. Since then, Crowe made the disastrous “Elizabethtown” and the far from edgy “We Bought a Zoo.”

“Aloha” has been assailed by some Asian-American advocacy groups for whitewashing the racial composition of the state. They cite the fact that only 40% of the state’s population is Eurocentric, but that native Hawaiians and others of Asian ethnicity have been relegated to non-speaking roles.

The tone of “Aloha” is difficult to gauge. It is seemingly being marketed as a romantic comedy, albeit one with some more serious elements. The cast is strong, but other signs are inauspicious. Previously titled “Deep Tiki,” the film had been scheduled for a December release, but was pushed back.

It is noteworthy that “Aloha” concerns a protagonist, who is revisiting his prior career high point. Will the film mark a return to form for Cameron Crowe?

Opens wide on Thursday, May 28. PG-13 (for some language including suggestive comments) Running time not determined at press time. Sony Pictures Entertainment

San Andreas

Replete with a $100 million production budget, “San Andreas” is the latest disaster genre film to hit the big screen. You can expect plenty of CGI imagery.

Typically, disaster genre films involve a checklist of character types. First and foremost, there is a macho action hero. Then, there is a smartnik scientist. Rounding out the requisite character types, there are the victims. They are often somehow connected to the protagonists. “San Andreas” follows the extant paradigm to perfection.

Ray (Dwayne Johnson) is a rescue helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles fire department. Check off box #1.

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Dwayne Johnson, left, as Ray, and Carla Gugino as Emma, in a scene from the action thriller, "San Andreas." The movie releases in theaters on May 29, 2015.  (Jaimie Trueblood/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Dwayne Johnson, left, as Ray, and Carla Gugino as Emma, in a scene from the action thriller, “San Andreas.” The movie releases in theaters on May 29, 2015. (Jaimie Trueblood/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) plays a cerebrotonic seismologist. He has been trying to warn everyone that a massive earthquake is coming. However, his caveats prove unavailing. Check off box #2.

Then, there is Ray’s estranged wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), and daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario). Check off box #3.

After a massive earthquake rocks California, Ray embarks on a cross-state trip to save his estranged family. Will he succeed or will this be the rare occasion that a disaster genre film culminates with members of the protagonist’s family dying?

Following up on “Return to Witch Mountain” and “Faster,” this is the third time that the erstwhile WWE star has teamed up with Gugino. So, the duo should have the interpersonal chemistry part down.

The screenplay is the product of Carlton Cuse, who is best known for his work on television shows such as “Lost” and “Bates Motel.” The film is directed by Brad Peyton, who previously helmed “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the disaster genre formula. The question is how well the makers of “San Andreas” execute it.

Opens wide on Thursday, May 28. PG-13 (for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language) 114 minutes. Warner Brothers

Nathan Lerner sees more than 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at lernerprose@gmail.com.

 

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