1. Underworld Awakening (Sony/Screen Gems, 3,078 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated R): I don’t know if it’s a good sign or a bad sign that Kate Beckinsale is back in this franchise. Well, it’s good in the sense that I always like her in the role, bad in the sense that it’s a bit of a step back for her, isn’t it?
Anyhoo, Beckinsale returns as Selene, the vampire warrior, who is awaken to find that both the Vampires and the Lycans (werewolves) are threat with annihilation by humans. As Selene fights for both races’ survival, she comes across a half-vampire/half-lycan child who just might be her daughter.
The film looks like just what you’d expect from the franchise: Beckinsale in skin-tight leather, kicking ass. It won’t be Shakepeare, but if your taste run toward the goth action film, it should be entertaining.
2. Red Tails (Fox, 2,512 Theaters, 120 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The ads might say this film is “from George Lucas,” but he didn’t write or direct it. His only credit is as executive producer. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t contribute.
Lucas started developing the project, based on the real-life Tuskegee Airmen, back in the late 1980s. It was intended to open in the early 1990s, but fears amongst the Hollywood studios about financing a big budget film with a predominantly black cast made the road the the screen an arduous one, even for a producer of Lucas’ stature.
But the film is finally hitting screens. Lucas hired an African-American director (Anthony Hemmingway) and African-American writers (John Ridley, who wrote one of my most favorite comics of the last decade in The American Way, and Aaron McGruder of The Boondocks fame). I don’t see why all audiences wouldn’t be interested in heroes fight evil, no matter what color the heroes are. I hope audiences prove that to be true this weekend.
3. Haywire (Relativity, 2,439 Theaters, 93 Minutes, Rated R): It’s not easy for any athlete to make the jump to film stardom. For every Dwayne Johnson or Jim Brown, there are twice as many Kurt Thomases and Brian Bosworths. Gina Carrano faces an even more difficlt challenge, being a female MMA fighter trying to break into the world of action films, a world not all that receptive to women with loads of acting experience.
But few athletes could ask for a better introduction to the world of movies than Carrano got. She is paired with an A-list, Oscar winning director in Steven Soderbergh, who surrounded her with a great cast that features Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, and Bill Paxton. Add to that a revenge plot that almost always works (a black ops agent is framed and betrayed and seeks revenge) and you have a pretty solid film.
The trailer was awesome, the kind that made me wish the film started right then. I don’t know if it will open well, especially considering there is another action film with a female protagonist opening the same day, but it’s not for lack of trying.