1. Puss In Boots (Paramount/Dreamworks, @3,800 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated PG): Of all the characters from Shrek that could have been spun off into their own film, I suppose Puss in Boots would be the most obvious choice.
In case you know nothing about the twisted, fairy tale world of Shrek (and by now, you are probably the only one), Puss is a mercenary cat voiced by Antonio Banderas who has a strong sense of honor and the ability to gain the upper hand over his foes through sheer cuteness.
This film will act as a prequel to the character’s first appearance in Shrek 2, showing the path Puss took that led him to the point of accepting the contract on Shrek‘s life.
In a small bit of trivia, this film was originally scheduled to open next week, but was moved up. That doesn’t often happen, especially with computer animated films. That could be a good sign.
2. In Time (Fox, @3,000 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated PG-13): High-concept Sci-Fi films are a box office crap shoot. Some become hits that spawn multiple sequels (ala The Matrix). some bomb in the theaters only to become cult favorites on the home video markets (ala Blade Runner), some are just unmitigated disasters (see Waterworld). Often, quality plays little into what makes these types of films successful or not (although it probably played a role in Waterworld‘s failure).
This film has a fairly interesting high-concept–humans stop aging at the age of 25, only to die a year later. They can stave off their demise by buying more years–which has become the currency in this society. The rich become immortal and the poor live short pathetic lives. Justin Timberlake plays a man who unexpectedly comes into a great number of years–which cause him to be investigated by the totalitarian police force that monitors this sort of time transfers.
Director Andrew Niccol directed another high concept sci-fi film, Gattaca, which was a well made examination of a world where class distinction was based on genetic perfection. It died a quick death at the box office. Hopefully the same won’t happen here.
3. The Rum Diary (FilmDistrict, @2,100 Theaters, 120 Minutes, Rated R): Johnny Depp appears to be a man who thrives on familiarity. He has made seven films with Tim Burton (and an 8th, Dark Shadows, is well on its way). He’s made four with Gore Verbinski (five if The Lone Ranger ever gets made). And then there’s Hunter S. Thompson.
Depp became friends with Thompson after playing the author in 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Depp dedicated 2004’s The Libertine to Thompson’s memory, and now he is bringing Thompson’s novel to the screen in this film.
The story involves a journalist working in 1950’s Puerto Rico who has bizarre adventures with the other Americans living there at the time.