New releases this week feature two Oscar contenders opening in wider release and one new film not in contention for any award.
1. Underworld: Blood Wars (Sony/Screen Gems, 3,070 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated R for strong bloody violence, and some sexuality, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 10% Fresh [20 Reviews]): This film is the fifth installment of this series. The fifth! It’s like how the Ice Age franchise is with me. I stopped paying attention after the second one, and they put out three more when I wasn’t watching.
Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is back. Hated by her werewolf enemies, betrayed by her vampire family, she fights with only a handful of allies to stop the war between the creatures of the night. This time, she is determined to stop the fighting at any cost.
The reviews are atrocious, but I’d image as long as Beckinsale is in a skintight pleather outfit, kicking people in slow motion, fans won’t mind at all, a fact born out by the film already making its budget back overseas.
2. Hidden Figures (Opening Wide, Fox, 2,471 Theaters, 127 Minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements and some language, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 92% Fresh [103 Reviews]): In addition to being a Film Buff, I am also a history buff. Hollywood cannot tell stories as rich and interesting as the true tales from the annals of time. Hollywood can however shine some attention on a little known aspect of history.
This film is adapted from the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly and tells the tale of the three female African-American mathematicians who worked with NASA to help John Glenn orbit the Earth in the early 1960s.
The subject is weighty and any cast with Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer is definitely worthy of Oscar consideration. Spencer has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.
3. A Monster Calls (Opening Wide, Focus Features, 1,523 Theaters, 108 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic content and some scary images, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 88% Fresh [155 Reviews]): Conor (Lewis MacDougall) does not have a happy life. He’s picked on by his classmates and his father has left him. But when his mother contracts a terminal illness, he needs someone to turn to. That someone turns out to be a giant yew tree (voiced by Liam Neeson).
I have been looking forward to this film for months. I’m usually wary about fiction that marries the magical with the morose, but something about the talent involved and the promotional items I’ve seen has me interested.