Five movies Optimus Prime doesn’t want you to see this summer

Optimus Prime.

“Mortal! Cease your search for quality cinematic entertainment at once or face the wrath of Optimus Prime!”

Had enough of blockbusters busting your eardrums, causing retinal failure and just generally knocking all your brain cells out of your head? Not to name any names, Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, but you know who you are.

Well, there’s no need to suffer the summer movie doldrums. There are plenty of other movie offerings in Vancouver city theatres that let you escape the heat and the non-stop pummelling of Hollywood’s latest effects-heavy offerings. If you love the movies but don’t know Optimus Prime from Professor X, here are some options making a return to movie theatres safe.

Sorcerer (July 11-12 at Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St.) – Slammed by critics when it was first released, this 1977 William Freidkin-directed suspense thriller has since been reevaluated and resuscitated. Quentin Tarantino even named Sorcerer, a remake of the 1953 film The Wages of Fear, one of the 12 best movies ever made. Visit for tickets and showtimes.

Sorcerer movie image

Scene from Sorcerer (1977).

Jodorowsky’s Dune (part of Jodorowsky in July, July 11-19, at Cinematheque, 1131 Howe St.) – As the creator of the head-spinning masterpieces El Topo and The Holy Mountain, Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the world’s most revered cult movie directors. Perhaps that’s the reason he was never able to get his version of the science fiction classic Dune off the ground. This documentary about his efforts is probably as good a starting-point as any for his work, but the truly adventurous will also want to check out the aforementioned films. Cinematheque is screening them as part of this retrospective, along with his first film in 23 years, The Dance of Reality. For tickets and showtimes, visit


Life Itself (opens July 13 at the Rio Theatre, 1660 E. Broadway) – Owner of one of the world’s most famous thumbs, Roger Ebert celebrated and dumped on movies for decades as a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and as co-host (with Gene Siskel) of, first, Sneak Previews and then At the Movies. Life Itself examines Ebert’s life, his work and his struggle with cancer. Visit for tickets and showtimes.

Roger Ebert, pictured here wondering if he gave too good of a review to Dark City.

Roger Ebert, pictured here wondering if he gave too good of a review to Dark City.

Elena (July 12-17 at Vancity Theatre) – Brazilian director Petra Costa assembled this documentary about her older sister’s life from home video, audition film footage, interviews – and her suicide note. The Playlist/Indiewire called Elena “stunningly beautiful, achingly emotional… a mesmerizing, artful and emotional piece of filmmaking that consistently surprises and awes.” Visit for tickets and showtimes.

Still from Elena (2014), coming soon to Vancity Theatre.

Still from Elena (2014), coming soon to Vancity Theatre.

And, just for laughs…

The Dungeonmaster (July 9 at the Rio Theatre) – As part of their Gentlemen Hecklers series, comedians Eric Fell, Patrick Maliha, and Shaun Stewart take the mics to riff on this low-budget 1984 sci-fi/fantasy film a la Mystery Science Theatre 3000. In The Dungeonmaster (aka Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate), a demonic wizard challenges a modern-day computer programmer to a battle of technology vs. sorcery, with the programmer’s girlfriend as the prize. Somewhere, Optimus Prime is laughing. Tickets $6 advance at, $9 door. 19+ only, 2 pieces of ID required for bar service. 


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