1. John Carter (Disney, 3,749 Theaters, 132 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Schadenfreude is the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. I don’t know if a movie can qualify as one of those “others,” but if it can, then this film is a shining example of the term in action. There’s a lot of pre-schadenfreude going on here. A lot of people are actively rooting for this film to fail.
To be fair, the film is calling a lot of the schadenfreude upon itself. It is a $250 million dollar film based on a character celebrating his 100th birthday this year. It has a writer/director with no live-action film experience, an unproven lead, and it’s a sword-and-sorcery concept melded with science-fiction that doesn’t usually set the world on fire.
However, that writer/director is Andrew Stanton, who has two, count’em, two Oscars for his work at Pixar (for Wall*E and Finding Nemo) and four other Oscar nominations. That unproven lead is Taylor Kitsch, an actor who is playing a lead or co-lead in three huge pictures this year (this one, Battleship in May, and Savages in July), so it’s not that Hollywood doesn’t have faith in him. And that character and concept was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan fame) who has lasted this long by building generation after generation of fans.
I’m typically negative here, but I’ll tell you what–I’m pulling for this film. I’m rooting for it. I hope it’s great and it pulls the audiences in. Try anti-schadenfreude sometime. It’s fun.
2. Silent House (Open Road Films, 2,124 Theaters, 85 Minutes, Rated R): For a horror film, this one has a lot going for it. It has Elizabeth Olsen, who probably should have gotten an Oscar nomination last year for her work in Martha Marcy May Marlene. And the film was shot as one continuous take–no editing. That is a great technical accomplishment.
However, it is a horror/suspense film. So, not being edited might not be the best thing for the film. You can build a lot of tension with a jump cut here and there. And the plot–a young women is sent to close up her familiy’s lakeside retreat, but while she is there, evil things starts to happen, would be totally conventional if it wasn’t for the continuous shot gimmick.
Who knows? The gimmick might work. But it might not.
3. A Thousand Words (Paramount/Dreamworks, 1,890 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Remember a couple months ago, when Tower Heist came out? You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some article stating that Eddie Murphy was back to his raunchy comedy film self. Those writers should have held off on publishing those articles until this film came out, because it has more in common with The Nutty Professor than 48 Hours or Trading Places.
Murphy plays a man who screws over a guru and becomes cursed. Whenever he says a word, a leaf falls off a tree in his yard. When the last leaf falls, he dies. The rest of the film involves him trying to make amends as quietly as he can so he can save his own life.
Doesn’t seem as bad as some of Murphy’s worst movies, but that’s not saying much.