1. Oblivion (Universal, 3,782 Theaters, 126 Minutes, Rated PG-13): It is not going to be good year for comic book film haters when even unpublished graphic novels get adapted into films.
This film was originally supposed to be a graphic novel published by Radical Comics (which is less of a comic book company than a ‘Hey! Hollywood! Look at me! We’re an IP factory!” company), but was optioned for the screen before the comic could be published. And since, like I said, Radical publishes comics pretty much so they can be shown to Hollywood studios and licensed to them, having a comic book for this work would be superfluous.
The film stars Tom Cruise as one of the last remaining humans, whose job is scouring a post-Alien invasion Earth for what few remaining natural resources are left to take to a human settlement on Titan. Or, so he thinks. But he will soon find out that what he believes is true might not actually be what is really going on.
1. Evil Dead (TriStar, 3,025 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated R): There are certain films that many film buffs think should never ever be remade–Citizen Kane, Star Wars, Casablanca, among others. Many horror fans would have added Evil Dead to that list. But we are in an era where every classic horror film, from Nightmare on Elm Street to Friday the 13th to Halloween to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, isgetting remade whether it needs to or not. So the only question about Evil Deadisn’t that it is being remade but why did it take so long.
The remake does still have Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell attached: both as producers and the latter in a rumored cameo. And director Fede Alvarez is going with conventional special effects in lieu of CGI for the scares. But that might not be enough who loved the original for its DIY ethic and find the remake to slick for their tastes.
FilmBuffOnline head honcho Rich Drees has a two-part interview with director Alvarez. Part one can be read here. Part two will appear on Sunday, and will contain spoilers so see the film before you read it!
2. Jurassic Park 3D (Universal, 2,771 Theaters, 127 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I fear that there will soon come a time where every weekend will look like this one, with every theater showing remakes or reworks of older films. Even sequels and adaptations will make way for teh more reliable re-brothers.
That being said, if there was a film that deserves the 3D treatment, it’s Jurassic Park. The dinosaurs seem to leap out from the screen without and digital fiddling, so they should be especially impressive when viewed through those awkward glasses.
Typically, 3D reissues are also released with a non-3D version. If that is the case here, and your only experience with this film is on TV, you should go see it in a theater. Those Oscar-winning effects are best viewed on the big screen.
1. Identity Thief (Universal, 3,141 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated R): Melissa McCarthy earned an Oscar nomination for her role in Bridesmaids last year. Unfortunately, that role was so weirdly unique that it would be nigh impossible to replicate that formula. So, her return to the big screen in a bigger role no less will be closely scrutinized.
In this film, she plays a Florida scam artist that steals Jason Bateman’s identity. Bateman travels from Colorado to Miami in order to catch McCarthy and bring her back to the Rocky Mountain State so she can face charges. Since she has managed to raise the ire of a group of dangerous individuals in her hometown, a cross-country trip is exactly what she needs.
I have to admit that McCarthy garnered the biggest laughs from me as I watched the trailer. But the laughs came with shame because I chuckled when ever an act of violence was done against McCarthy. I’d like to blame the way McCarthy throws herself into these scenes with an abundance of slapstick gusto, but it’s still violence against women I was laughing at. I’m not really comfortable with that.
2. Side Effects (Open Road Films, 2,605 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated R): Another Oscar nominated actress is making her return to the big screen after an iconic and distinctive film role. But people are not going to be talking about Rooney Mara this time. Instead the will probably be talking about this being a legendary director’s final film.
Steven Soderburgh has stated that he will be retiring from feature films to focus on his art career. He has an eclectic resume he leaves behind. From his indie breakthrough, sex, lies and videotape to Ocean 11 and its sequels, from Erin Brockovich to Magic Mike, Soderburgh hasn’t been afraid to work in whatever genre tickled his fancy. He was all over the map, but he was never boring. Hopefully, he reconsiders his retirement. But if he doesn’t, his past work deserves to be celebrated.
This film has the makings of a Hictchcockian thriller. Mara plays a woman batting depression who is prescribed an experimental drug by her psychiatrist (Jude Law). Unfortunately, the drug has a nasty side effect, it causes Mara to sleepwalk in such a way that she does a number of mundane things in the middle of the night–cooking breakfast, setting the table, killing someone.
Yes, she kills someone and all of a sudden, Law’s character license and freedom is threaten. He must unravel the mystery before its too late.
1. The Last Stand (Lionsgate, 2,913 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated R): Conan the Barbarian. Commando. Predator. Total Recall. Terminator. True Lies. Say what you want about him, Arnold Schwarzenegger has an impressive resume of quality action films to his credit. He also has a number of questionable choices in his later career as well, so it is with great interest to see what the former California governor chooses for his return to acting after the end of his political career.
What he chose, well, I guess we’ll have to see what category it falls in. He plays a small town sheriff in a California border town that is faced with a big challenge–he must stop a drug lord and his heavily armed cartel from making it to the Mexico border with only a inexperienced and short-handed staff.
On one hand, it could be the simple kind of plot that Arnold pulls off so well. On the other hand, it could be considered silly and implausible if not done well. The early reviews have been somewhat favorable. We’ll have to see if Arnold’s return to lead roles is a sign that he is back.
2. Mama (Universal, 2,647 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Two young girls are found in the woods, more feral than human, five years after being abandoned by their homicidal father. They are taken to their uncle and his girlfriend (played by a deliciously gothy Jessica Chastain) to begin the healing process. But the couple finds out that two young children do not survive in the wilderness alone, and their protector is none too happy that they were taken away. What happens when the protector comes to take the children back?
The film both has a lot going for it (it was produced by Guillermo del Toro, stars the twice Oscar-nominated Chastain in the lead role, and the director of the Argentinian short film it was based on, Andres Muschietti, is back to direct the full-length ) but also has a lot going against it (the plot stretches credibility for even a horror film, the film was supposed to open in the more horror friendly October but instead was pushed to the film wasteland that is January, and–personal preference here–it is a PG-13 horror film). It doesn’t seem like a slam dunk horror flick to me.
3. Broken City (Fox, 2,620 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated R): Now, a film featuring some of the greatest actors in film today–and Mark Wahlberg.
Okay, that might not be entirely fair. While Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones might have Oscars, Wahlberg does have a nomination. But his work here as seen in the ads for the film seem worthy of a SNL mocking (when he says in the trailer “Your husband set me up. And I’m going to destroy him for it,” my mind keeps adding “Say hello to your mother for me” at the end of it).
Wahlberg play an ex-NYC cop who is hired by the city’s mayor (Crowe) to find out who is sleeping with his wife (Zeta-Jones). What was a simple trail and surveillance operation gets far trickier when a dead body shows up. Wahlberg realizes that he was set up by the mayor, and decides to bring him down.
1. Django Unchained (Weinstein Company, @3,010 Theaters, 165 Minutes, Rated R): I, for one, admire Quentin Tarantino. He is one of the few directors who career developed right when I became interested in film, and I have been a fan from the very beginning. He is never afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve (and, his critics say, lift entire sequences from them to put in his films), and he weaves completely new works stitched together from genres and styles he likes.
This film is Tarantino’s take on the western, with a blaxploitation twisted added on to it. Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave turned bounty hunter, who tries to rescue his wife from her owner, the vicious Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
2. Les Miserables (Universal, @2,807 Theaters, 157 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Now, I have never read the book or seen the Broadway musical adapted from it, but from what I see of this film, it seems like the title is truth in advertising.
You have people starving. You have people thrown in jail. You have women selling their bodies to survive. You have corruption. You have revolution. You have turmoil. What you don’t have, at least in the ads I saw, is much happiness.
That’s just what you want to see over Christmas. Here’s something relentlessly bleak and gloomy! Happy holidays!
3. Parental Guidance (Fox, Wide Release, 104 Minutes, Rated PG): I have t0 say this. It might not be cool or hip, but I am a Billy Crystal fan, dating all the way back to his days as a stand-up comedian.
That being said, it is weird to see him in this role, his first starring role in a decade. I mean, Harry from When Harry Met Sally and Mitch from City Slickers in a wacky family comedy? Man, that really makes me feel old. It probably doesn’t make Crystal feel young either, as he is playing a grandfather in this.
The plot, well, it’s about grandparents watching their grandkids, and having their approach to parenting not jiving with their kids approach to parenting. I just hope Crystal can bring something more to the rather formulaic plot.
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.
1. Hope Springs (Opened Wednesday, Sony/Columbia, 2,361 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Here’s a rare sight: a film where Steve Carell is the youngest member of the main cast.
Carell plays a psychologist who is trying to help the optimistic Kay (Meryl Streep) and the reluctantly irascible Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) to bring some magic back into their decades long marriage.
The plot seems kind of familiar, but you have Streep working with Jones, two of the best actors of their generation. If anybody can rise above their material, it will be them.
2. Nitro Circus 3D: The Movie (Opened Wednesday, Arc Entertainment, 800 Theaters, 98 Minutes, Rated PG-13): This film was based on the MTV show, which is a combination of Jackass, X Games and extreme motor sports, and is trying, like Jackass, to make a successful move to the world of film.
If this kind of stuff appeals to you, then you probably have already seen it. If not, then nothing I can say will change you mind. So, there is really not much need to say much more about this film, is there?
3. The Bourne Legacy (Universal, 3,746 Theaters, 135 Minutes, Rated PG-13): If there’s one thing Universal should get credit for, it’s doing an in continuity reboot of the franchise instead of just starting over from scratch, although the latter wasn’t really feasible because the last Matt Damon Bourne movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, came out only five years ago.
However, the idea that there could be more than just one genetically altered secret agent seems natural. So, they have Jeremy Renner to expand the franchise and the freedom to make another Bourne film with Damon is he wants to come back. Pretty smart.
4. The Campaign (Warner Brothers, 3,205 Theaters, 85 Minutes, Rated R): You don’t really expect political satire from Zach Galifianakis. Even more so from Will Ferrell. So, even though this film focuses on a contentious political campaign, don’t expect a searing indictment of our political process. It will probably be two idiots trying to out stupid each other.
The film focuses on a North Carolina GOP primary (because having a Republican and a Democrat would be, what, too shocking? Too controversial? Not as funny?) where a scandal plagued incumbent, Cam Brady (Ferrell) must face off the challenge of a naive unknown with the implausible name of Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), who is being supported incredible rich backers who want to use his influence to land a controversial business deal.
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. Ted (Universal, 3,239 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated R): It’s hard to imagine when Seth MacFarlane wasn’t one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Family Guy was cancelled after three seasons and it looked like he might just fade into the ether.
However, Family Guy got an unheard of reprieve on FOX after it became a hit as part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim line-up. FOX gave it another chance on the network, the new found fans followed it back, and soon enough, MacFarlane add American Dad! and The Cleveland Show to the FOX line-up, lining his pockets all the way.
And now, films. This one has an interesting premise (a childhood wish for a bear that could come to life has different implications when the kid grows up) and a good supporting cast, but, for me at least, Mark Wahlberg seems miscast in the lead role. Not to be ageist, but I feel the part would have been better served with a younger actor.
2. Magic Mike (Warner Brothers, 2,930 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated R): So, we finally get to the male stripper movie.
Loosely based on the real-life adventures of star Channing Tatum’s days as a stripper, the film focuses on a young man being taught the stripping ropes by a more experienced dancer. All directed by Steven Soderburgh (?).
I have no idea how how this film will do at the box office. I did get the cover story in Entertainment Weekly, but that was back in May. The film looks like either a drama or a comedy, depending on what ad you saw. It does have a good ensemble cast. But will it draw a big enough audience to make some money? We’ll see.
3. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (Lionsgate, 2,161 Theaters, 114 Minutes): Tyler Perry once seemed to be a sure-fire box office draw. He had a built in audience and every film he did seemed automatic to debut at number one. He’s been struggling of late, but this latest film seems to be an attempt to reach a larger demographic.
Eugene Levy and Denise Richards star as the Needlemans, a family that has to enter witness protection. Why? Because Levy’s character was accused of running a Ponzi scheme that somehow the Mob was involved in. How were they involved? I don’t know. But I also don’t know why Madea’s house was chosen as the Needlemans hiding spot either.
The Madea movies still do well at the box office, but I doubt this film could beat the other films released this week, let alone Brave.
4. People Like Us (Touchstone, 2,055 Theaters, 115 Theaters, Rated PG-13): Chris Pine stars as a man who finds out while settling his late father’s estate that his father, well, got around. Got around so much that his father fathered a daughter with another woman.
He does what anyone would do in this kind of situation–he tracks his sister down, infiltrates her life without ever once telling her who he is. She does the natural thing when a cute young man ingratiates himself into her life and becomes a positive role model for her son. She falls in love with him.
All brought to us by the writers of Star Trek, Cowboys and Aliens and Transformers. Of course.
1. Snow White And The Huntsman (Universal, @3,700 Theaters, 127 minutes, Rated PG-13): The battle of the Snow White films might have already been won, because this film could eclipse Mirror,Mirror‘s $62 million domestic take with its grosses in this weekend alone.
The film offers a grimy, gritty take on the Snow White legend and also gives Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth a chance to add a new franchise to add to their resumes.
But the fact that Mirror, Mirror was a disappointment (it’s domestic box office was less than its $85 million budget, but it made another $97 million overseas, so it might have just made its money back) might make the powers behind this one a bit worried. I guess we’ll see on Monday if audiences are dead set against a non-Disney Snow White or not.