This Week’s Theatrical Releases.

A big week this week. And I’m feeling a bit Grinchy about it. I hope that you’d forgive me for it.

1. National Treasure: The Book of Secrets (3,832 Theaters, 124 Minutes, Rated PG): Nicolas Cage returns as Treasure hunter Ben Gates in the next installment of Disney’s Da Vinci Code-lite series.

This time, he finds out that his great-great grandfather might have conspired to kill Abraham Lincoln. This sets him on a globe-spanning (based on the poster to London and Paris) to clear his family name.

This got me to thinking, would I go to the same lengths if my great-great grandfather was involved in the Lincoln assassination? First, I’d be shocked because I wouldn’t have believed that my family had arrived in the U.S. by that time. Second, I would think, well, that sucks for great-great grandpa, but doesn’t affect me all that much.

This is another movie, much like Fred Claus a few weeks back, which is mindless popcorn fare but has a powerhouse cast. It features three Oscar winners (Nicolas Cage, Helen Mirren, and Jon Voight) and two nominees (Ed Harris and Harvey Keitel)

Oh, and that part of the trailer were Cage sticks his hands in the rocks and then screams? Hate it. Hate it a lot.

2. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2, 650 Theaters, 96 Minutes, Rated R): I am conflicted over this one. I have imbibed on the Judd Apatow Kool-Aid and believe everything he touches has the chance at being great. And I am a big fan of movie parody–when done right. However, Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biopic this movie seems to parody most, is one of my favorite movies. I don’t know if I can stand to see it mocked.

Who am I kidding? How can I resist this movie? It’s worth it just to see Jack White’s whacked out portrayal of Elvis and Paul Rudd and Justin Long portrayal of a bickering John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The movie also pokes fun at the 50+ years of popular music as the poster can attest. Any Doors fan will recognize what picture it is aping.

Of course, the main draw has to be John C. Reilly. Talladega Nights seems to have established him as a top rate comedic actor. Who knew? And his performance in this movie has already garnered him a Golden Globe Nomination. Could an Oscar nod be in his future? Wouldn’t that be funny?

By the way, the only trailer I could find on iFilm is the International Trailer, which means it is a bit raunchier than you’d expect. So, be forewarned–don’t click on it if you’re easily offended or under 18. If you are either and you click, we hold no responsibility for the damage the trailer will do on your psyche.

3. Charlie Wilson’s War (2,574 Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated R): I love the way they are marketing this as a wacky, feel-good comedy about a colorful Senator who sorta stumbles into helping end the Cold War. But if you pay attention closely, the way he helps to end the Cold War is by funnelling money and arms in to Afghanistan to help them fight the Soviet invasion of their country. The money and arms, some people say, also helped bring the Taliban to power and helped train and arm Al Queda. So, what you really have (if you believe the above) is a wacky, feel-good comedy about a colorful Senator who sorta stumbles into helping bring about Osama Bin Laden. Kinda spoils the vibe a little bit, doesn’t it?

However, no matter how the studio markets it, it is almost mathematically impossible for the movie to be bad. It is directed by the legendary Mike Niichols. It is written by the often witty and usually good Aaron Sorkin, and all the three principals have won Oscars–well deserved Oscars if you ask me. But then again, I am a big fan of Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Phillip Seymour Hoffman

4. P.S. I Love You (2, 454 Theaters, 126 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Yet another movie where the trailer makes it seem like it is a peppy, fun chick bonding flick. But in reality, it is much darker.

See, Gerard Butler, that guy from 300? The guy with his name above the title? He dies. And he leaves messages for his widow, Hilary Swank, teaching her how to adjust to life after his death. This adjustment apparently involves her singing karaoke, ice skating, getting drunk and flirting with the guy who is playing the Comedian in the Watchmen flick.

So, while the trailer seems peppy, I’m sure the movie will have more than its fair share of weepy and wistful moments. So be sure to bring your hankies to the theater.

And, while I’d love to provide you with a trailer for the movie, I can’t find one on iFilm. Aw Shucks. Because anytime you can see Hilary Swank falling off of a stage in a bar after singing karaoke, well, life doesn’t get any better than that.

Okay, okay. If you really want to see it, with ads, you can click here.

5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1,249 Theaters, 117 Minutes, Rated R): Just so everybody is on the same page here, this movie is a musical. I’m sure some cuts of the movie didn’t makes it seem that way, but it is. Yes, you will get to see Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, two actors not know for their singing voices, belting out Sondheim songs.

Outside of it being a musical, the movie would be right in Tim Burton’s wheelhouse. After all, it about a barber who kills his clients and has the woman downstairs cook them up for meat pies. How macabre is that? Totally Tim Burton-esque.

I did not realize that there was a revenge motive involved it the film until I saw the latest trailer. This kind of ruins it for me. I mean, Sweeney Todd being a murdering psycho appeals more to me than him having justification for the killings.

What? Stop staring at me like that?

6. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2,772 Theaters, 117 Minutes, Rated PG, Opening 12/25): Or, in other words, The True Scotland Story: Nessie: Under the Loch.

Yes, the Water Horse in question is supposed by the Loch Ness Monster. Or, a close cousin of it. What’s next? Bigfoot starring in “The Forest Ape: Legend of the Forest”?

I love that they are advertising that Walden Media, one of the production companies on this movie, was also the ones “who bought you The Chronicles of Narnia.” I see what they’re getting at. Narnia was a fantasy movie where children interacted with fantasy creatures, this movie is a fantasy movie where children interact with fantasy creatures. But just because the “brought” us both movies doesn’t mean they will both be good. They also “brought” us the Jackie Chan version of Around the World in 80 Days. You don’t see them mentioning that, do you? They also brought us The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising. Where is that on the posters and trailers?

7. Alien Vs. Predator-Requiem (2,563 Theaters, 86 Minutes, Rated R, Opening 12/25): Ah! Nothing says Christmas like to hideously ugly alien monsters causing rampant destruction and loss of human life as they try to beat the snot out of one another. Ranks right up there with eggnog, mistletoe, and Rankin-Bass specials!

Yeah, all you Sci-Fi fans should shoot a letter off to Dark Horse Comics thanking, or, in some cases, I’m sure, blaming them for this hybrid franchise. These two Fox franchises met up in the comic book world first and their success there surely is part of the reason why we now have two movies with them fighting.

I have heard a lot of fuss and excitement about how this movie is rated R. Like having more gore will make the movie any better.

And it is one bad day for trailers (and me trying to post this as well, but that’s another story). The only trailer on iFilm is the Red Band trailer. This is the trailer that usually airs before R rated movies. So, page up to the Walk Hard entry, read what it says above that trailer, and apply it here as well.

8. The Great Debaters (1,164 Theaters, 123 Minutes, Rated PG-13, Opening 12/25): I think it’s safe to say that Denzel Washington is one of the best actors of this generation. His name might not immediately pop to mind when you think of the best actors, but his is a man who makes bad movies good, good movies great and great movies exceptional.

And, like some actors do when they react a certain plateau, he has branched out into directing. And he’s done a pretty good job at that too.

This is the second film he’s directed, following after 2002’s Antwone Fisher, and follows in the same “Based on the inspirational true story. This film tells the tale of the true life story of the debate team from Wiley College, a small, all-African-American school in Texas, from its inception to its going on to challenge Harvard in the National Debate Championship in 1935.

The movie has already been nominated for a Golden Globe (Curses on the Foreign Press guys, getting to see all these movies early!) and is generating serious Oscar buzz.

Now on to the predictions. This is what I called for last week:

  1. I Am Legend
  2. The Golden Compass
  3. Enchanted
  4. The Perfect Holiday
  5. This Christmas

And this is how it actually was:

  1. I Am Legend
  2. Alvin and The Chipmunks
  3. The Golden Compass
  4. Enchanted
  5. No Country for Old Men

Witness the awesome power of the CGI Chipmunk. And I didn’t think it would make the Top 5 at all! So, I am 1 for 5 this week, bringing my 18 week total up to 38 for 90 and my average correct to 42%

Since there are no movies released next friday, I’ll double up my weekend predictions thia week. This will be the excellent time to catch up. Or, more likely, fall further behind.

So, this is how I think it will look for this weekend:

  1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
  2. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
  3. I Am Legend
  4. Charlie Wilson’s War
  5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

And next week:

  1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
  2. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
  3. Alien Vs. Predator-Requiem
  4. I Am Legend
  5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

And to all of you out there, have a happy and safe holiday!

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About William Gatevackes 1934 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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