1. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (Sony/ Screen Gems, 2,942 Theaters, 93 Minutes, Rated R): It’s not often that you have an actor with two films hitting wide release in the same day. It’s even rarer still when it’s two films as diametrically opposed as Michaels Sheen’s two films this week. His portray of David Frost in Frost/Nixon opens in wider release this week, and he reprises his role as Lucien in this third installment of the Underworld franchise. Don’t try to take both in on the same day or your head might explode.
Yes, the franchise returns. Gone are Kate Beckinsale and her leather pantsuit (but we get fellow Brit Rhona Mitra as a replacement, if you are interested in that sort of thing). But what we get is the origin of the vampire/werewolf war which was the driving force in the film series to this point.
It appears that the vampires play were aristocrats who treated the werewolves, a.k.a. Lycans, as slaves until one day the Lycans decided to revolt. That process is on display in this film. This might be of interest to fans of the franchise, but will anybody else want to see this?
2. Inkheart (Warner Brothers (New Line), 2,655 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated PG): Yet another kid-friendly book being adapted for the big screen. Times have been tough for these types of movies but this film has more going for it than the other did.
First off, the adaptation was done by David Lindsay-Abaire. He is a relative screenwriting novice–Robots, this film, and a take on Spider-Man 4 are his only credits. But he’s a stunningly brilliant playwright, known for plays such as Fuddy Meers, Wonder of the World, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole.
And you can’t discount a cast that features Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. The plot revolves around a man who can make characters from novels come true. Chaos ensues when he releases some evil characters. Now, he and his family must collect the bad guys before they do any permanent damage in the real world.
Opening in wider release:
1. Frost/Nixon (Universal, 1,097 Theaters, 122 Minutes, Rated R): This excellent film hits a wider release. If it is coming to a theater near you, make sure you make an effort to go see it.
We reviewed this film, which you can read here, but let’s briefly tell you what you need to know.
Adapted from the West End and Broadway play, this film is set up more like a boxing film than a bio pic, and it absolutely excells with that structure. The acting is great from top to bottom. Sheen and Langella reprise their stage roles as the titular characters, and are given able support by Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, and especially Kevin Bacon.
Again, well worth your film going money, if it is opening near you.
2. Revolutionary Road (Paramount/ Vantage, 1,058 Theaters, 119 Minutes, Rated R): This film got a lot of attention being that it was the first time Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunited since Titanic. But anybody expecting a romantic reunion is bound to be disappointed, because, if the preview is any indication, they spend most of the movie shouting at each other.
They play a young couple with common interests and dreams of Paris who fall in love and get married. Paris is replaced by suburbia, the dreams by obligations, and their share interests are soon forgotten in the monotony of a 9 to 5 life. The fact that their lives turn out to be not what they intended cause them to grow distant, and affairs and discord soon follow.
This film is rumored to score poorly in test screenings, but can any film by Sam Mendes and with this cast be all that bad? That being said, two hours of Leo screaming at Kate and vice versa could be too much to bear.
3. Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight, 1,411 Theaters, 120 Minutes, Rated R): It might not be completely accurate to call this film this year’s feel-good flick, because the film shows in brutal detail the caste system in Mumbai (a.k.a. Bombay), India. But it definitely holds the title of the little indie film that could.
The film, adapted from a short story by Vikas Swarup, deal with a boy from the slums of Mumbai who goes on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and gets one question away from the million dollars. This rises questions with the producers and the authorities as to how a poor, uneducated slum-dwelling teenager can know answers even educated higher class citizens cannot. Suspected of cheating, he must go through how he learned the answers or else face serious trouble.
This film has been a critical darling and won many major awards, including the Golden Globe.