This Week’s Theatrical Releases.

1. 30 Days of Night (2,855 Theaters, Rated R): For those of you not in the know, this film is a comic book adaptation. It is based on the 2002 IDW miniseries of the same name created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith.

I feel the need to mention this, for no matter how many movies like Road to Perdition, History of Violence, or 300 abound, people still equate “comic book movie’ with capes and spandex. Comic books have gotten way more diverse since we were kids. It’s about time people realized that.

The comic made names for Niles and Templesmith and caught the attention of movie producer Sam Raimi because it was based on a genius concept. Take a group of vampires, daylight averse blood sucking fiends, and put them in Barrow, Alaska, where night lasts a month. The result? The town becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet for the bad guys, and the good guys have to fight back against overwhelming odds.

If that was enough going for it, in addition to horror legend Sam Raimi as producer, it is directed by David Slade, whose previous film was the acclaimed Hard Candy, and cretor Steve Niles worked on the screenplay.

2. The Comebacks (2, 812 Theaters, Rated PG-13): I believe the is a mistaken assumption in Hollywood that making a parody movie is easy. Just put a bunch of look alike actors in situations that appeared in other movies, change the dialogue here and there, and voila, instant parody.

Unfortunately, as the horrible Date Movie and Epic Movie can attest, making a good parody film is not that simple. What made the Airplane, Hot Shots, Scary Movie and Naked Gun franchises so successful, besides the involvement of the Zucker brothers, is that they parodied not just individual scenes from a type of movie, but the genre itself. That, and they actually had a plot and a storyline.

Which category will The Comebacks fall into? Well, sports movies are ripe for parody. But, even still, the fact this film apes such obscure flicks as Radio and Necessary Roughness makes me believe it is stretching for content. Heck, it even spoofs a spoof in a scene inspired by Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. That doesn’t give me much hope.

3. Rendition (2,250 Theaters, Rated R): I spoke on this before, but there releases this time of year which fall under what I like to call a “For Your Consideration” umbrella. These are movies where the producers are aiming for an Oscar that it’s almost painful.

This is the first movie released this week that falls into this category. It shares several qualities of movies of this type. It has no less than three Oscar winners in the cast (Reese Witherspoon, Alan Arkin and Meryl Streep) and at least one Oscar nominee (Jake Gyllenhaal).

It is also about an “important subject”, which is also popular with Oscar voters. The plot deals with the US Government’s war on terror, namely its policies regarding torture and suspension of civil rights. Definitely a hot button topic in today’s day and age.

Don’t get me wrong, just because a movie is a “For Your Consideration” film doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. This film does look better than the similarly theme Lions for Lambs which is scheduled to arrive in a few weeks, if only for the more personal approach to the subject matter.

4. Gone Baby Gone (1,713 Theaters, Rated R): There is something about this movie that you won’t find out in ads for it that I think that everyone needs to know.

This movie is co-written and directed by Ben Affleck.

Has Mr. Affleck become such damage goods that even the slightest hint that he might have had something to do with this film needs to be squashed. Sure, he’s made some bad decisions (that is, we can underplay his accepting a role in Gigli as simply being a bad decision), but he’s also an Oscar winning screenwriter. He co-wrote Good Will Hunting, you know? That was a great movie.

Maybe the Ben Affleck-less advertising tact is a good thing. The trailers for the film seem to sell it pretty well all by themselves. Of course, they do mention this is adapted from a novel by Dennis Lehane of Mystic River fame. That’s in the ads but Affleck’s involvement isn’t.

I might be alone in this, but I am rooting for at least an Oscar nomination for Ben. If only to give him a little more respect.

%. Things We Lost in the Fire (1, 142 Theaters, Rated R): Yet another “For Your Consideration” movie. It stars two Oscar winners in Hallie Berry and Benicio Del Toro. But, in my opinion, it is hampered by a lackluster plot.

On the surface, it seems Oscar worthy. Berry plays a woman dealing with the lost of her husband. Del Toro plays a friend of the husband who is trying to get his life back together. They both work together to help themselves in their time of need and come out better for it.

But it also the type of plot that is screaming for a parody trailer with “Solsbury Hill” playing in the background. What makes it different is that it appears there are scenes shoehorned in that will allow the actors to show their chops. The trailer already shows Berry doubled over in grief. I’m sure there will be a meaty scene of Del Toro wrestling with what ever demon he is wrestling with. Adding these scenes of pathos does not automatically give weight to the story. If not done right, it would seem jarring in comparison with it.

6. Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour (1,115 Theaters, Rated PG): This movie is being billed as “The First in a Series of Sarah Landon Mysteries”. No, this does not mean that this is another in a line of adaptations of young adult novels. It’s more cheery optimism on the part of the movie’s producers.

This film is being released in over a 1,000 theaters, which is considered a wide release, but it seems more like a family project more than anything else. It appears that the director, the writers and quite a few of the actors are hail from the same family.

Outside of that, there is a lot of unknowns in the cast. No trailer exists on iFilm for the movie, and I as of yet have not seen any TV ads for the film. If it wasn’t for IMDB, I would know nothing about this film.

All these ad up to it not being to positive that there will be a second in the series. Sure, if this is a grass roots effort at getting a movie produced, then the lack of advertising is understandable. But movies that exist in a vacuum don’t usually do that well in the box office.

Now the predictions.
This is what I predicted for last week:

  1. We Own the Night
  2. Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married
  3. The Game Plan
  4. The Heartbreak Kid
  5. Elizabeth: The Golden Age

And this is how it turned out:

  1. Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married
  2. The Game Plan
  3. We Own the Night
  4. Michael Clayton
  5. The Heartbreak Kid

Thanks to my underestimating the power of Tyler Perry and overestimating the Wahlberg/Phoenix tandem, I laid a big, fat goose egg this week. This makes me 25 for 50, or an average of 50%.

Let’s go to this week’s predictions, knowing I can’t get any worse.

  1. 30 Days of Night
  2. Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married
  3. The Game Plan
  4. The Comebacks
  5. Rendition

What do you think?

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About William Gatevackes 1931 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.

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