1. Toy Story 3 (Disney/Pixar, 4,028 Theaters, 103 Minutes, Rated G): The franchise that started the Pixar empire is back, and, really, how can you not be excited.
Of course, it has been 11 years between installments, so the kids who saw Toy Story 2 are now surly teenagers. But through the magic of home video, new generations of viewers can catch the previous installments and its fan base can constantly replenish itself.
The plot now revolves around the toys being given to a local day care center when their owner, Andy, goes to college. Life at the day care center is not all its cracked up to be, so Woody and Buzz lead the rest of the toys in a jailbreak.
I don’t know if this will be the last installment (although I can’t see how far they can keep going in the story progression), but it will be one you have to go see.
2.Jonah Hex (Warner Brothers, 2,825 Theaters, 80 Minutes, Rated PG-13): This film brings back a old-school brand of filmmaking. It’s where Hollywood takes a property from another medium, thinks it could present it better than how it appeared originally, makes unnecessary changes to try to “improve” it, takes away pretty much all that was good about the original concept and ends up destroying the idea in the minds of millions.
The Jonah Hex of the comic books was a badass. A horrible scarred badass, but a badass nonetheless. A lot of movies have been made about badasses. Heck, Clint Eastwood practically made a career out of them, many of which were westerns. So, you really don’t need bells and whistles to sell the character.
But this film gives us bells and whistles out the wazoo. Hex now has “talking to the dead” powers. His horse has two Gatling Guns on either side of it. His origin, one of the more interesting ones in comics, has been changed to one of petty revenge and a good man punished for doing the right thing. And there is an anachronistic super weapon to provide the threat.
Now, I straddle the line between comic book fan and film buff enough to know that you do have to make some changes to bring a comic book to the screen. But you have to know what makes the property appealing in the first place. The Spider-Man films know this. Most of the X-Men films knew this. Christopher Nolan’s Batman filmsknow this. The producers of this film doesn’t.
This film will be annihilated by Toy Story 3, so the quality of the film really doesn’t matter. But this explains what DC has such problems adapting its characters to the screen. I hope the new regime at DC Entertainment makes it their priority to correct this kind of thing.
1.Zombieland (Sony/Columbia, 3,636 Theaters, 80 Minutes, Rated R): Yet another week with a lot of new releases. I kind of wish I could find some way to get paid by the film for this.
I love me some zombie films. Which is strange because I am to squeamish for just about any other horror genre. But zombies I can just eat up.
This film joins Shaun of the Dead in the burgeoning sub-genre of the comedy zombie film.
It tells the story of a band of survivors of the zombie apocalypse who follow a man named Tallahasse in his quest to find the last Twinkie on Earth.
This film looks promising. I like the way they play with zombie film conventions. Instead of fear and dread, you have “Zombie kills of the week” and hand sanitizer.
And it features Bill Murray playing himself in the flick. How can that not be cool? I mean, who doesn’t want to see how Bill Murray would respond to a world overrun by zombies?
Of course, I am recating without even seeing the film. FilmBuffOnLine Head Honcho has seen the film. Interested in what he thought? Review can be found here.
2. Toy Story I & II 3D (Disney, 1,745 Theaters, 173 Minutes, Rated G): If only for historical importance, this release is worthy of note. After all, these are the films that first put Pixar on the map and established computer generated animation’s domination at the box office.
But it also acts as a refresher before Toy Story 3 arrives next year and gives a whole generation of youngster swho weren’t even born when the films were first released a chance to watch on the big screen what before they only saw on video.
It also is reworked so that it’s now in 3D. I think the 3D trend is a little overblown. I don’t think these films really need the 3D treatment. But what do I know. I’m not a studio executive.
But if you want to take your kids to see this, or, heck, just want to see it yourself, go quick. It will only be in theaters for two weeks. After that, back to video it goes.
3. Whip It (Fox Searchlight, 1,720 Theaters, 111 Minutes, Rated PG-13): With a career as long and varied as Drew Barrymore’s, it’s kind of amazing that she has not directed a film before this.
Yes, I know. The road for actresses to become directors is not as easy as it is for their male counterparts, but Barrymore has had more than just nine lives in Hollywood. You’d think she’d try her hand at helming a film way before this.
But for her first effort, she’s got the right elements working for her. Her film is about roller derby, which has gained a renewed cult cache across America over the last several years. Even my rinky-dink hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pa had a female roller derby team.
She also lucked out on having Oscar-nominee Ellen Page as her lead. I’d imagine Page signed on a bit before Juno was nominated for all those awards.
Hopefully, the film will be well received and we will be seeing more from Director Drew Barrymore in the future.
4. The Invention Of Lying (Warner Brothers, 1, 707 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I am of the opinion that to know Ricky Gervais is to love him. I am not usually a fan of the awkward, uncomfortable brand of comedy Gervais excels at, but I love what he does. He adds an air of accessibility that eases the squirm factor of that type of humor.
His latest flick is built on a concept so simple that it’s mind-boggling that it has not been done before. The concept is that everyone in the entire world has always told the truth. Gervais’ character discovers lying, which gives him an advantage over the rest of humanity. He uses this new found skill for his own personal gain.
Gervais is working with an intriguing mix in his all-star cast. There are a lot of famous faces supporting him in his effort.
The question is, as interesting as the concept is, will this film be able to carve out a niche in a very busy film weekend? I truly hope so.
5. Capitalism: A Love Story (Overture Films, 962 Theaters, 120 Minutes, Rated R): You’ve got to hand it to Michael Moore, he does have his finger on the pulse of what is concerning America. If there is an issue that will lead Americans into fiery debate with one another, Moore is probably already working on a film about it.
This time, hot on the heels of one of the scariest times financially that the country has ever faced, Moore is taking on the American love for money and consumer goods.
Just taking the tact that rampant capitalism might not be the best thing for America is bound to raise controversy. Add Moore’s trademark confrontational style, and we could see some real fireworks around this.
I am especially proud to note that my aforementioned hometown will be getting some notice. Apparently, Moore has issue with a couple of local judges taking kickbacks from privately owned juvenile detention centers in exchange for sending more kids their way. I have never been so proud of where I grew up!