1. Star Trek Into Darkness(Paramount, 3,868 Theaters, 132 Minutes, Rated PG-13): And along comes the summer’s second biggest film. Apologies for the late write up for this. Typically, I like these New Release posts to hit before a film opens, and, well, they went and changed the opening date on me. Phooey. So it’s a day late.
I have to say that I was looking forward to this film a lot. I really like 2009′s Star Trek. I liked the way they set it so that the film was technically in the same continuity as every other Star Trek installment, yet in a separate, alternate universe. It was the filmmakers way of saying, we are going to change some major things here, but really we aren’t changing a thing. That old Star Trek world still exists for you and always will.
Of course, after reading reviews like FBOL head honcho Rich Drees’s take on the film, that enthusiasm has dampened a bit. The way Rich describes the film (and he goes into spoilerish detail, so you might want to see the film first before reading the review if you are put off by spoilers) kind of makes it seem like its going in the wrong direction.
I will of course see the film…someday…to form my own decisions on it. But I am not in as big of a hurry to do it.
1. Pain & Gain (Paramount, 3,277 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated R): My first thought on how to approach writing the blurb for this film was how awkward a fit Michael Bay was for directing this film. After all, the ads portray it as a wacky crime comedy about a group of bungling bodybuilders who engage in an extortion plot as revenge against a particularly obnoxious client. That is almost a story that Elmore Leonard would write. It was a film that would be better suited being directed by a Barry Sonnenfeld or a Steven Soderbergh, not the master of the explosion.
Then, thanks to the Internet, I was able to read the articles that inspired the film. You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by clicking those links. If you have enough time, I’d recommend you do so. You’ll find a fascinating retelling of the true story that is being dramatized on the screen. What you won’t find is a wacky comedy. Yes, there is bungling. But there is also brutal, inhuman torture of the character Tony Shalhoub represents. There is also a second crime done by the same crew that ends in the murder of two people and their corpses being cut up and sunk in a culvert. The victims of the second crime are listed on IMDB in the cast listing, so that gruesome crime will be addressed in the film.
The true story the poster takes so much pride in stating it is adapted from doesn’t seem like the buoyant fun-filled romp that the trailers make it out to be. That means one of several things. It could mean that Paramount is misrepresenting the film as a goofy comedy instead of a pitch-black comedy/drama the real story would be. This kind of bait and switch is always unctuous.
Or it could be that the Hollywood has taken liberties with the story so it is now a wacky crime caper. This is likely, because Dwayne Johnson’s character appears to be a composite of numerous other accomplices of the Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie characters.
Either way, this is an event where people died. People who were loved and respected by their friends and family were brutally murdered and the bodies underwent the ultimate disrespect after their demise. And while some of the incompetence about the muscle-headed plotters can lend itself to dark humor, you need a master of setting a tone to ensure the film stays respectful to the victims. And Michael Bay is anything but a master of setting the tone, unless it is coming from loud explosions.
2. The Big Wedding (Lionsgate, 2,633 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): You know, you don’t often get casts like this one in your remake of a French farce. I mean, you have four Oscar winners, and Prince Caspian! How could you lose!
This is a remake of France’s 2006 film, Mon Frère Se Marie. The plot consists of a family whose adopted son is getting married. The son has been writing home to his biological mother, a devout Catholic, about the wonderful family he was raised in. Only problem is that the story is a lie. His parents are divorced, his siblings are crazy, and his life is anything but perfect. But his birth mother is coming to the ceremony so the man’s family has to pretend to live up to the idealized version he relayed to his mom.
Now, right off the bat, I can pick a bone about the premise. Not that I am one to judge, but I think a Catholic who got pregnant out of wedlock and gave her son up for adoption should be able to cut a divorced couple a little slack. And the semantics of the son’s lie is troubling for me. Why would he have to address his family life in any sort of detail? And if he did, couldn’t he find something positive about his family to relate? In other words, why did he lie when he could have just not admitted the whole truth?
Anyway, farces usually have plots that work best if you don’t think about them. And this all-star cast could make anything good. Might be a fun film if you just take it at face value and run with the concept.
1. G.I.Joe Retaliation (Paramount, 3,719 Theaters, 110 Minutes,Rated PG-13): So, the weather isn’t even warm yet and we already have our first summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, it’s from the summer of 2012.
That’s when the film was supposed to come out. But last May, just a month before the film was supposed to hit theaters and with marketing tie-ins already starting to roll out, Paramount pulled the plug on the release. They said it was so the film could be converted into 3-D, but industry wags claimed that it was done for other reasons, everything from rewriting Channing Tatum’s character’s death out of the film or just to avoid Tatum’s Magic Mike (although that excuse seems flimsy when you consider Dwayne Johnson has 15 other films coming out this year).
The sequel deals with how the team reacts after Cobra takes over the U.S. Government and makes the Joes public enemy #1.
I was a minority who actually liked the first film, so I can’t wait to see what they do now.Not all of the original cast is back, but the addition of Johnson and Bruce Willis more than make up for it.
1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (Paramount, 3,372 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated R): I’d like to go on the record here and say that this could quite possibly the stupidest movie ever. Well, that’s not fair. I haven’t seen the film. Allow me to correct myself. This could quite possibly the stupidest concept for a movie ever.
Everybody knows the story of Hansel and Gretel, right? Two children are abandoned in the woods. They come across a gingerbread house. Starving, they decide to eat it. The witch who lives there does not take kindly to them eating her house and decides to eat them. The kids narrowly escape becoming Witch Chow by shoving the witch into the stove. We all learn a very valuable lesson–don’t go eating strange houses you stumble upon in the woods.
This film picks up quite a bit after that story as the pair, so angered by the witch who was only defending their property, go into the witch hunting business. With pump-handled shot guns. In Medieval Germany. Yep, you read that right. You can almost hear the Academy calling Jeremy Renner to rescind those two Oscar nominations now.
If the concept alone isn’t enough to keep you away, realize this was scheduled to come out in March…OF 2012! Supposedly it was delayed to capitalize on Renner’s big 2012 of The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. Unfortunately, the only one of the two that Renner had the lead role in failed to make its budget back domestically. Tough luck!
2. Parker (FilmDistrict, 2,224 Theaters, 118 Minutes, Rated R): On the surface, this might seem like a typical Jason Stratham revenge film. But it goes a little bit deeper than that.
This is the first film adapted from the Parker line of books written by Donald E. Westlake under the the pseudonym Richard Stark where the author allowed filmmakers to keep the lead character’s names the same (for 1967′s Point Break, Lee Marvin starred as Walker and in 1999 Mel Gibson starred as Porter in Payback. Both films were adapted from Westlake/Stark’s 1962 Parker novel, The Hunter. This one is adapted from a later book called Flashfire).
The film is also directed by Taylor Hackford, whose past credits include An Officer and a Gentleman and Ray. So this should look a lot better than other films of its ilk. And with 26 novels in the Parker series, this could turn out to be lengthy franchise if this film does well.
3. Movie 43 (Relativity, 2,023 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): And then you have this movie, which is like 14 films all in one, replete with 15 writers and 12 directors. And a cast that redefines “star-studded.” Seriously, the only other place you’d see this many Oscar nominees and winners in one place would be the Oscars themselves.
The film is a parody anthology in the mode of The Kentucky Fried Movie, although it is closer structurally to the lesser known Amazon Women on the Moon. The basic conceit is that three teenage boys are looking for the most banned film of all time, and their search brings them down the path of one offensive film after another.
The cast is awesome, but from what I’ve seen of the ads, the film looks horrible. These kinds of films are always uneven, but there seems to be very little thought put into the film other than “Let’s have all of these great actors be as filthy and offensive as they can be! Everyone will laugh!” And this film was also supposed to be released last year. Take that as you will.
1. Jack Reacher (Paramount, 3,352 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated PG-13): So, the problem with this film is not that Tom Cruise is trying to play a bad ass. He’s starred in the Mission Impossible films, and he had bad ass moments in all of them.
The problem is that he is playing a character described in the novels the film is adapted from as being a 6’5″bruiser. No matter what you think of Cruise’d acting skills, there’s no way the 5’7″ actor can pull off looking almost a foot taller.
Of course, the last time Cruise was criticized for being miscasted as a popular literary character–Lestat in Interview With a Vampire–he acquitted himself quite nicely. So, maybe the same will happen here.
2. This Is 40 (Universal, 2,912 Theaters, 134 Minutes, Rated R): Judd Apatow is billing this as the “sort-of sequel” to Knocked Up. “Sort-of” is right. Outside of Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife) as Pete and Debbie and Maude and Iris Apatow (Apatow and Mann’s daughters), the only other person from the original cast is Jason Segel, who, if I recall correctly, had little or no contact with either Pete or Debbie in the orginal film. IMDB doesn’t show either Seth Rogen or Katherine Heigl, who played Debbie’s sister, in the cast list.
But it appears that this film is trying to attract the same audience. Good luck with that. Ilike Apatow’s work, but Knocked Up focused on a bunch of 20-something stoners goofing around until life butted in. This is about a pair of 40-year-olds dealing with the fact that they are on the cusp of not being able to be called young and beginning to be called old. I don’t see a lot of cross over in those audiences.
It looks like the designers for the first look poster for May’s Star Trek Into Darkness were quite taken with The Dark Knight Rises’ poster’s use of property damage to form the outline of the franchise’s recognizable logo, because they have done a version of it here.
Plot details for the second film of Paramount Star Trek reboot has been kept a secret. However, the studio has revealed this plot blurb:
In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness.
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.
With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
This synopsis led many to believe that the film will be adapting “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the third episode aired from the Original Star Trek TV series. In that episode, Gary Mitchell, an old friend of Kirk’s and helmsman of the Enterprise, comes in contact with a cosmic force that gives him immeasurable telekinetic powers. He promptly declares himself a god and it comes down to Kirk having to kill his friend to save the universe.
1. Fun Size (Paramount, 3,014 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated PG-13): On one hand, this film is a starring vehicle for Victoria Justice, star of such Nickelodeon shows as Victorius, iCarly and Zoey 101 (Nickelodeon is also a producer of this film) and certainly an attempt to transfer her small screen success to the big screen.
On the other hand, it has a plot that harkens back to such 1980′s classics such as Adventures in Babysitting. Justice plays Wren, a girl who is forced to spend Halloween night babysitting her little brother. However, when her brother gets lost in a sea of trick or treaters, Wren has to get him back before her parents know that he is gone.
We’ll see if this film works and what effect it has on Justice’s career. But Elisabeth Shue garnered an Oscar nod in her post Adventures in Babysitting career.
2. Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (Open Road Films, 2,933 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated R): It wouldn’t be the weekend before Halloween without a horror film, typically a sequel, to get us in the mood. This year, it’s this one.
This film is a sequel to 2006′s Silent Hill and adapts another installment of the successful Konami video game.
Heather Mason is drawn into an evil alternate reality when her father is kidnapped. She is drawn to the evil town called Silent Hill, and must figure out the macabre secrets of the town in order to bring her father back home alive. Of course, the town, and Heather’s connection to it, is not what it seems.
3. Cloud Atlas (Warner Brothers, 2,008 Theaters, 172 Minutes, Rated R): It’s rare that the most talked about film of any given week would be the one appearing in the third most number of theaters, but here we go.
This the first film the Wachowski siblings have wrote and directed since 2008′s noble failure Speed Racer. And for their first movie back, they aren’t shying away from a challenge, joined on both fronts by Tom Twyker, they are adapting David Mitchell’s ambitious novel to the big screen.
The story travels from the far flung past to the distant future, as the narrative passes from one era to the next in the form of journals, letters, and other forms of entertainment. Much of the cast, which includes Oscar winners such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon and Jim Broadbent, play multiple characters over the span of the six stories the film portrays.
It’s a risky venture. It has a rock solid cast that could make the most of even the worst story work. If they pull this off, there could be talk of the film around Oscar time (most likely about how it was hideously snubbed), and if the don’t, well, it will be another noble failure.
4. Chasing Mavericks (Fox, 2,002 Theaters, 115 Minutes, Rated PG): Finally, we get this one. It’s a surfing movie that applies some of the plot points from the Karate Kid to it. And, of course, it was based on a true story.
This is based on the life of surfer Jay Moriarty(Jonny Weston), who has a dream of surfing the biggest, most dangerous wave in America. To accomplish this task, he enlists surfing legend Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) to teach him to not just surf the wave, but also to survive it. The mentor/student relationship morphs into a surrogate father/son dynamic, which cause problems with both men.
I’m impressed by how the trailer shows that surfing is far more difficult than I originally thought. But whether or not it will make a mark for itself in a busy weekend for films is anybody’s guess.
1. Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount, 3,412 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated R): The problem with horror franchises is that the powers that be take the franchises just a bit too far. Usually, by the time a fourth installment is offered, the franchise has jumped the shark.
There are, of course, exceptions, but that is pretty much the rule. And this week, the Paranormal Activity franchise enters the fourth film of the franchise. Be afraid, be very afraid.
And, quite frankly, it’s amazing this concept was able to be stretched to four installments. The first was a rather unique “found footage” of a house possessed by demons and the homicidal effect it had on the women who lived there. The second follows the homicidal woman to her sisters house for more homicide, and the third features the sisters as children showing that the demons might have gotten an earlier start than anyone could have imagined. Now, in this one, the homicidal, possibly demonically possessed woman and the nephew she stole from her sister move in next door to a new family. Enough already.
2. Alex Cross (Summit Entertainment, 2,539 Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Is guess being a renowned playwright, screenwriter and director wasn’t enough for Tyler Perry. And dressing up in drag and having “take-you-out-of-the-film” cameos in sci-fi reboots didn’t stretch his acting muscles quite enough. Because Perry is back in movie theaters this week, in a film he didn’t write or direct, purely as an actor.
He plays the title role in this film, and if the name sounds familiar to you, then either you are a fan of James Patterson’s writing or perhaps saw Kiss The Girls or Along Came A Spider. Because the character appeared in those films as well.
Only difference is that in those films, the character was portrayed by Morgan Freeman. Granted, I am not a big Tyler Perry fan, but I don’t know how anybody can’t think of that as a major step down.
1. Katy Perry: Part Of Me(Opened Yesterday, Paramount, 2,730 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG):I have to admit, I am a fan of Katy Perry. This is an embarrassing fact to admit because A) I am not a tween and B) I am not a girl. And I am not a fan of hers because of her obviously attractive physical attributes, I am a fan of her music. She is a rarity in today’s music scene–a pop songstress that writes her own music and manages to have her songs be both catchy and unique. “I Kissed a Girl” doesn’t sound like “E.T.” which doesn’t sound like “Part of Me.”
This would be enough to build a documentary/concert film around, but Perry’s rise to fame is an interesting story all in its own. Starting as a gospel musician named Katy Hudson and going through one name change, several genre shifts,and being dropped by no less than three record labels in the nine years before her “overnight success,” the pot holes on her road to fame would have disabled many a less determined person.
So, this might be a cut above the typical film of this type. And it’s in 3D, so those remarkable physical attributes will come popping right out at you.
2. Savages (Universal, 2,627 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated R): Do you get the feeling that Taylor Kitsch is cursed. In January, 2012 appeared to be a big year for him, as he was set to star in three major releases. However, John Carter was such a big disappointment that people were tripping over themselves calling it a flop, Battleship, while a success overseas, wasn’t the Transformers level hit that Hasbro expected. And now this film, which had a lot of buzz going for it, will likely be trounced at the box office by Spider-Man, Katy Perry and a talking stuffed bear.
The film centers on a pair of pot dealers (Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) who won’t play ball when a Mexican cartel muscles in on their territory. The war of wills gets nasty when their girlfriend (Blake Lively) gets kidnapped. The film was co-written and directed by Oliver Stone and also stars John Travolta and Benicio Del Toro.
Maybe the film will get lucky. Maybe a bunch of confused pre-teens will see Salma Hayek’s picture on the poster and think its the Katy Perry movie. After all, they have the same wig, only a different color.
1. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (Paramount/Dreamworks, 4,258 Theaters, 85 Minutes, Rated PG): This franchise has become Dreamworks’ cash cow ever since the Shrek franchise bowed out, and since the franchise so far has earned over a billion dollars worldwide, it doesn’t look like it will ever stop unless it too bows out gracefully.
The animals are once again on the quest to return to the Central Park Zoo. Their trip home takes them to Europe, which they travel through by pretending to be members of a travelling circus.
I’d expect more of the same from this franchise. While I liked the first installment, I never saw the second and really have no desire to see this one. However, I’ll probably be in the minority for as long as it takes my daughter to get old enough to be able to watch the film. Then I’ll probably be dragged to the inevitable sequels.
2. Prometheus (Fox, 3,394 Theaters, 124 Theaters, Rated R): So, is this film a prequel to Alien, or is it not? The whole back and forth over that question is a brilliant bit of marketing. Ridley Scott coming back to the franchise that made his name would get attention no matter what. But if you haven’t seen any of the Alien franchise (and shame on you if you haven’t) then keeping this film clear of that franchise would make it easier for you to understand.
The latest I heard is that this film is a prequel if you want it to be a prequel, but can stand on its own if you are an Alien neophyte. The film contains elements that made the Alien franchise great (slimy corporate hangers-on, androids that are the most interesting part of the cast, humans poking there noses in places where they don’t belong, and catching hell for it in the form nasty aliens) but would appear to be not wholly beholden to that franchise’s continuity. In other words, the best of both worlds.