Defiance (Paramount Vantage, 1,789 theaters, 137 minutes, Rated R): Expanding from its NY, LA new year’s eve opening, this film gets a wider release this week. And thank goodness for it, because it adds a bit of class to what would have been an otherwise awful week.
Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell star in the true story of three Jewish brothers who escaped Poland and joined up with resistance fighters in Belarus. There, they established a haven of sorts and ended up saving the lives of over 1,000 Jews by they time the war ended.
So, while the previews make it look like “James Bond fights the Nazis,” it really is an inspiring true story of some real life heroes. Just saying that to all of those out there expecting Bond 24 from this film.
Hotel For Dogs (Paramount, 3,271 theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG): When Nancy Drew came out, it seemed like Emma Roberts might have a long and successful career ahead of her. But after this film, her career might look more like father Eric’s than aunt Julia’s.
But she really shouldn’t feel too bad. Oscar nominee Don Cheadle and Emmy winner Lisa Kudrow are putting their careers on the line too, in a movie with a premise so stupid that it makes Paul Blart, Mall Cop look like some of William Shakespeare’s better works.
The plot involves a pair of orphans opening a hotel for stray dogs in an abandon building in their neighborhood.
I mean, the legal implications of this action boggle the mind. I’m not going to go too much into it, because, frankly, I have better things to do with my time and am not willing to suffer the massive headache I would surely get if I thought about this film for more than five seconds, but, for this movie to work, the main characters have to break at least 50 different state, county and local laws. Yay Family Fun!
My Bloody Valentine 3-D (Lionsgate, 2,534 theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated R):You have to admire any film which features a tagline like “nothing says ‘date movie’ like a 3D ride to Hell!” Because, really, there is a lot of truth in that statement, although not for the reasons the producers intended.
This is the latest in a long line of remakes of “classic” horror films, although, this time, the original didn’t star Jamie Lee Curtis. It looks like they might be running out of horror films to remake. Will Hollywood circle back around again, or will we be seeing a I Spit On Your Grave remake in the near future?
The plot focuses on a man returning to his hometown on the anniversary of a round of vicious slayings only to be considered a prime suspect. His case isn’t helped by the killings starting up again as soon as he hits town. Now, he and his woman-in-peril girlfriend have to get to the bottom of things before it is too late.
Fans of new technology might be interested in the revolutionary 3-D process on display in this film. If you believe experts like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, one day every movie will be shot in this process. Of course, technophiles with week stomachs should probably wait until the process is perfect a bit more before checking it out.
Notorious (Fox Searchlight, 1,637 theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated R):The life of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Chistopher Wallace) could fill up a whole cineplex with movies.
You have the underdog story of a kid from the streets rapping his way to superstardom. You could build a story around his relationship with Puff Daddy and Faith Evans. You could focus on his role in the whole west coast/east coast rap rivalry. And the mystery surrounding his murder, as yet to be solved, could be examined with a number of films.
So, the question is, which of these movies will Notorious be? WIll it focus on his brief career and the impact he made on music? Or will it try to squeeze all aspects of Biggie’s life into 100 minutes? And will it shy away from the rumored dark aspects of his life? We’ll see on Friday.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Sony/Columbia, 3,144 theaters, 87 Minutes, Rated PG): Ah, the mall security guard. The mock-worthy exemplar of power corrupting, no matter how useless the power is.
It’s easy to poke fun on mall cops, and the stereotype that they take their meager responsibilities much to seriously. The idea that these guards think stopping shoplifters from stealing from the Hallmark store is equivalent to busting drug dealers or hunting down mass murderers is easy to laugh about.
This film plays into this in what I think is a novel way. Paul Blart is a mall cop faced with a situation his is completely unprepared for–an armed takeover of the mall. What’s more, he’s knows he’s in over his head. But he has to find a way to beat the bad guys because that is if not his duty, then at least his job.
Yes, the film itself might only rise to the level of a harmless piffle, but at least the premise shows some wit.