‘Disconnect’ unnerves, ‘Disaster’ explodes and ‘Oblivion’ borrows in theaters

Among the new movies that were released Friday, April 19 in theaters throughout the Valley are a cautionary drama about alienation and the Internet, a comedy about a couples brunch that goes horribly wrong and a science-fiction flick starring Tom Cruise.


Chadwick Boseman plays Jackie Robinson who makes history in 1946 when he signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford). (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

Since Jackie Robinson is one of the greatest baseball players of all time, it is only fitting that “42” – a new drama about his world-altering first minor league season – is one of the greatest films about baseball released in recent memory. In a time when movies like “Moneyball” forget to appeal to all audiences and instead cater solely to sports junkies, writer/director Brian Helgeland’s flick is far-reaching. Anchored by an extraordinary performance by a nearly unrecognizable Harrison Ford, this motion pictures possesses the emotional depth necessary to vitalize viewers regardless of their grasp on the game. (Breakthrough!)

‘The Company You Keep’

Robert Redford plays a wanted man and former member of the revolutionary militant group the Weather Underground who goes on the run after a journalist (Shia LaBeouf) outs him. Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5. (R – 125 minutes)

Seeing Robert Redford, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson and Sam Elliott – or what is essentially a parade of cinematic legends – walk across the silver screen in “The Company You Keep” is a bewildering blast from the past but at some point it all just seems superficial. The sensation is only amplified by the thriller’s spineless story, which lacks any suspense whatsoever and is quite confusing thanks to the unnecessarily high number of players involved. It does not help matters much that none of these characters are particular worth rooting for. (Thoroughly Broken!)


Alexander Skarsgard, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvust, Jonah Bobo, Hope Davis and Jason Bateman play people who are searching for connections in today’s wired world and, in doing so, discover the destructive potential of the Internet. Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5. (R – 115 minutes)

“Disconnect” is deeply disturbing. In fact, it packs a punch that is so powerful that even those viewers who are young enough to have never known a time without the Internet may be unnerved enough to essentially do exactly what the title insinuates. Director Henry Alex Rubin’s new drama takes three separate but simultaneously occurring stories involving the Internet and says something strikingly significant about alienation in a way that will leave you incredibly captivated and extremely engaged from beginning to end. This movie is not only an excellent piece of entertainment; it is also a cautionary tale that is categorically crucial in this day and age. (Breakthrough!)

‘Home Run’

Scott Elrod plays a professional baseball player with a substance abuse problem who is forced into rehab in his hometown thereby finding new hope when he gets honest about his checkered past and takes on coaching duties for a misfit Little League team. (PG-13 – 113 minutes)

“Home Run” is the kind of faith-based film that is not only what we want but also what we need. Although the new sports drama does not skimp on its message about how sincerely surrendering to God’s unconditional love is the only unfailing footpath to freedom from pain, it communicates said message through an exceptionally entertaining – not to mention moving – story thereby reaching those audience who require recovery the most. Even more significantly, though, the movie reminds us that recovery is less about the substance than it is about the suffering, broadening the definition of things that enslave us. (Breakthrough!)

‘It’s a Disaster’

A couples brunch takes a sudden, catastrophic turn when the city falls victim to a mysterious attack. Trapped in the house and unsure of their fates, eight seemingly normal people become increasingly unhinged. Stars include David Cross, Julia Stiles, Erinn Hayes and America Ferrera. Playing exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5. (R – 88 minutes)

If you have ever been to a party – or even more apropos, hosted one – that you believe could not have been a bigger disaster, writer/director Todd Berger has a surprise in store for you: It could have been much, much worse. Therein lies the conceit of “It’s a Disaster,” a black comedy that is wickedly written, aptly acted and energetically executed. An eccentric ensemble cast of characters coupled with a furiously fast pace in which tension is increasingly tightened within a claustrophobically confined space where window-cracking is not an option makes for one darkly funny fireworks display. (Breakthrough!)


Tom Cruise plays a veteran soldier who is sent by a court martial to a distant planet, where he is to destroy the remains of an alien race. The arrival of an unexpected traveler causes him to question what he knows about the planet, his mission and himself. (PG-13 – 125 minutes)

“Oblivion” borrows from just about every science-fiction flick imaginable. Writer/director Joseph Kosinski’s new movie does not have so much as a single original bone in its entire body. Although this essentially does not bode well for its chances at longevity, it ensures fans of the genre a great time in the here and now. And while the visuals are quite spectacular, the motion picture is particularly effective in its use of sound. Its score is the best that I have heard since Kosinski’s “Tron: Legacy” and the reverberation of its attacking drones makes this feel less like film than a theme park ride. (Breakthrough!)


James McAvoy plays a fine art auctioneer who, having teamed up with criminal gang to steal a painting worth millions of dollars, suffers a blow to the head and awakens with no memory of where he has hid it prompting the gang’s leader (Vincent Cassel) to hire a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson). (R – 101 minutes)

So long as you surrender with complete abandon to “Trance,” it will be a surreal cinematic experience unlike any other you have ever had or probably ever will. However, if you hesitate or resist in even the slightest way, the dream will quickly become a nightmare. One’s enjoyment of writer/director Danny Boyle’s new thriller is dependant on the level of faith they have that the psychotic safari will, before all is said and done, make some sort of sense. Fortunately, it does – and in a spectacularly surprising way no less. This movie is intriguing, intense, innovative and especially insane. (Breakthrough!)

‘Welcome to the Punch’

Mark Strong plays an ex-criminal who is forced to return to London when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. This gives his nemesis – a detective (James McAvoy) – one last chance to catch the man he’s always been after. Playing exclusively at Harkins Shea 14. (NR – 99 minutes)

“Welcome to the Punch” is a classic case of style over substance. On the one hand, writer/director Eran Creevy’s new crime thriller certainly looks slick – especially during its action sequences (at least when you can see them as it is a fairly low-lit flick). On the other hand, it has a cookie-cutter-like conventionality that seems to be relying on cliches rather than breaking free from them. It is an extremely empty experience whose sole takeaway is the banausic blast of bullets that results from one generic gunfight after another. Even the usually talented cast appears to be bored. (Thoroughly Broken!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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