1. Argo (Warner Brothers, 3,250+ Theaters, 120 Minutes, Rated R): Based a formerly classified, hard-to-believe-if-it-was fiction true story, the film tells the tale of a rescue mission set in the days of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Six embassy members managed to escape the embassy take over and take residence in the Canadian Embassy. The CIA hatches a plan to get them out–they’ll pose as a Canadian film crew scouting locations. The embassy workers will pose as part of the Canadian crew. The only problem is that the Iranians are very suspicious and if the embassy workers are caught, they are dead.
While “Argo” is fake,the CIA based it on an abandoned adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s novel, Lord of Light. It got to the pre-production stages, with comic book legend Jack Kirby doing design drawings for the film. So, while Ben Affleck won’t be directing the Justice League film, he at least has done another film with a connection, tenuous though it may be, with comics.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop, for some, was a silly exercise in seeing a fat man trip over stuff. I saw it as a witty parody of the Die Hard-type films with Kevin James as the fat guy who trips over stuff recast in the Bruce Willis role. If it was just the former, I probably would have joined the naysayers who didn’t like it. As the latter, I liked it quite a bit.
I did not see The Zookeeper, so I can’t comment on that one, but this film appears to be a return to form. Come to see the fat guy get pummeled repeatedly, stay to see a subversive parody of the “Inspirational Teacher” and “Underdog Sports” genres.
What? Stop there? But I haven’t even gotten to the fact that dad’s a writer and the evil box of film he found which releases an evil entity that threatens his family!
Yeah, this film is Frankenstein construction of parts of better films. You don’t need a screenwriter for this, all you need is a computer program. And not even a new computer. You can run it on a dusty old Commodore 64 from the 80s.
The reason why films like The Cabin in the Woods and Scream take such a hold in the horror fandom is because the conventions they mock are ground into dust by films like these. Sure, there will probably be scares in this film, but only because the scene was scary in an earlier film. We need sick bastards to create original horror, not people to rip off the sick bastards that came before them.
4. Seven Psychopaths (CBS Films, @1,475 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated R): Speaking of sick bastards, let me present you with Martin McDonagh. I believe me when I say that in this case I mean “sick bastard” as the highest compliment.
McDonagh is one of my most favorite writers. I followed his writing from the stage to the screen, and have been impressed by his talent and ability all along the way. His writing is not for all tastes. He blends the wacky with the gruesome, the pathetic with the fearsome, into a dark comedy brew with great characters, excellent dialog and more than its fair share of heart.
If you are adventurous, and can see only one film this week, and if it playing near you, go see this film. If it wasn’t for a little thing called New York Comic Con, I would be seeing it at Friday’s first showing. But even without seeing, I know it has the best potential to be the best film this weekend.