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In Theaters This Weekend: Summer Movie Season is Over, Part II

19 Aug

Last week we claimed that the summer movie season was over. Every year, twice a year, Hollywood dumps the dead corpses of rotten movies on us, and much like the rubbish we got just after New Year’s (does Nicolas Cage ring a bell?), the end of summer is always signaled by studios giving up, and giving us trash movies that just had no chance of standing up to any movie that came out between May 1st and July 31st (and that includes The Smurfs). Last week we thought we were hitting rock bottom with stoner comedy 30 Minutes or Less, and what we can only hope is the final Final Destination movie. However, we might have called it too soon. Yes, as Hollywood always does, they’ve topped themselves this week, with an even larger (4 movies), smellier trash heap, and they expect us to continue to buy into this. No thanks, but without further ado, let’s take a look at how low Hollywood can go.

Almost as reliable as the mail, a throwaway movie in Hollywood is almost always a remake, either of a famous TV show your parents watched in the sixties and seventies, or a cherished, albeit cult film, from the 80’s. So, no doubt this week, we get two of them; one’s a vampire flick looking to capture the teen audience, and the other is a remake of Conan the Barbarian, which will likely be seen by nobody. In the “there’s a monster living right next door” movie category, Fright Night came out in the mid-eighties, to an audience clamoring for campy horror movies like Friday the 13th and the Nightmare on Elm Street series; it wore its camp on its sleeve, and grew a cult following from kids growing up on catching it on TV and video. The remake, which stars Colin Farrell and up-and-comer Anton Yelchin, doesn’t quite cheese it up, and doesn’t quite capture that fun that a cult film usually needs to garner repeat viewings. Looking almost exactly like Disturbia (starring another young Hollywood darling, Shia LaBeouf), we can’t say this would completely suck, but let’s face it, if we wanted to watch a movie like Disturbia, then we’ll just re-watch that one, and politely pass when people ask if we want seconds. Conan the Barbarian, however, is a remake that deserves as little attention as possible, mostly for the fact that it wasn’t screened for critics, and if they put such little faith in a film they reportedly blew $90 Million on, they should learn to save their money and reinvest it in their R&D department, so maybe a good movie idea might have a chance to make it to the screen someday.

That day seems like a decade away, as the other two movies opening this weekend are a Spy Kids sequel (the 4th in the series), and an Anne Hathaway/Jim Sturgess movie that is what Beyond Sunrise/Sunset would’ve looked like if Richard Linklater was a lazy S.O.B. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D is a candy colored entry in the popular Spy Kids series, but people, will you never learn, it’s the rule of 3 – from art, literature, and sometimes even movies, everything is better in 3’s. How popular are movie trilogies? Very popular. Now tell me, what’s a great movie series that has 4 installments? Whoah, whoah, just give me one, please. And don’t get me started on the “in 4D” portion of the title, and yes, that is part of the title of the movie. Yes, we all know tacking on 3D to your film is going to make it easier to market toward idiots, but if you already name your 3rd installment Spy Kids 3-D, well, you’re kinda out of luck. And unless you can explain in-depth Euclidian geometry, or demonstrate the 4th dimension in spacetime, you shouldn’t be allowed to tag “4D” onto the end of your movie title. And as for Anne Hathaway and her horrible English accent in One Day, a movie about two people who are in love with each other (but don’t know they’re in love with each other), who meet one day a year for 20 years, we just have to say please stop now, and thank the stars we don’t have to revisit this junk once a year, every year……..

……it’s actually two weekends a year, and if the trend is to keep spreading the summer movie season trash heap over several weekends, making it to the Fall movie season is going to be a rough journey.

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In Theaters This Weekend: It’s safe to say, summer movie season is over

12 Aug

Summer movie blockbuster season always brings big films to theaters, and frankly, it’s pretty much the reason we exist; all year long we go and see crappy film after crappy film, just to catch a glimpse at the trailers for the big-budget action/comedy/dramas that always tag on to the end “Coming this Summer…”. Well, it’s now August (mid-August at that), and we’ve already gotten our Pirates of the Caribbean, our Harry Potters, Transformers, and Captain Americas, but now it’s time for the hangover (and I’m not talking about The Hangover Part II) – the summer movie leftovers, which, much like stale popcorn left in the popper, are sure to leave us with a bad taste in our mouth.

30 Mintues or Less starring Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari
And speaking of bad taste, first up this weekend is 30 Minutes or Less, the new stoner comedy from the same guy who brought us Zombieland. Starring Michael Cera (I mean, Jesse Eisenberg) as a pizza delivery boy, and comedian Aziz Ansari as his more responsible, yet still immature, school teacher roommate. Based on a true story, Eisenberg gets kidnapped while out on a delivery, his tormentors strap a bomb to his chest and say “if you don’t rob a bank for us, we’ll blow you up,” which set into motion a series of zany events, and no doubt, comedy ensues. However, in real life, the bomb the kidnappers strap to the pizza guy blows up, and “hilarity” did not ensue that day. Why the producers and director thought this was a good idea for a movie, I still do not know. But as far as the movie itself goes, it seems like instead of handing out 3D glasses at the theaters, they should pack the crowd a couple bowls, and liberally pass them around. Starring stoner-friendly actors Danny McBride and Nick Swardson as the kidnappers, the pedigree of this movie convinces me that it will come off just like Pineapple Express – a series of dick jokes, followed by some gross out comedy, some light action, a very angry and foul-mouthed McBride (does he play anything else?), a bit more action, and in the end, everyone ends up where they started. Case-closed. Swardson and Ansari are both funny frat-guy comedians, Eisenberg can act when he wants to, but when it boils down to it, the premise suffers from a “too soon” stigma based on the source material, and the comedy is just too stupid to overcome the underlying fact that this has actually happened before, and someone (pardon my choice of words) bombed once already when attempted. Save it for a late night on DVD, order some pizza, get high, and contemplate your own options when the dude comes to the door.

"Lasik Eye Surgery" as depicted in Final Destination 5
The next big movie opening up this weekend is Final Destination 5. Now, despite the fact that this is the fifth movie in the franchise, and comes off as tired and trite, with characters I could really have less interest in, who are getting murdered in the most “is this really all you could come up with?” ways (lasik eye surgery, accupuncture sessions), its not the movie so much I have a problem with, but the fact that the movie was even made, and the title of the film. Now pardon me as I play semantics, but wasn’t the previous movie in this series called The Final Destination, and when you number the movies before that as Final Destination 2, and 3, doesn’t that imply that when the fourth installment comes around, if you don’t name it Final Destination 4, and you call it THE Final Destination, that maybe you’re insinuating that this is the LAST movie in the series, there will be no more of them, hence this is THE FINAL Destination? Isn’t that what that means??? Well, apparently not in this case, and apparently THE FINAL Destination made enough money for the studio to say “Forget what we said – let’s make another one. And if that one does well, let’s make two more after that.” Not to mention that the movie is going to be a complete trainwreck that even these death-dodging kids can’t avoid, Hollywood should start labeling these movies as “Teen Money Wasters”, as they’re solely creating a product in order to turn a quick profit, rather than putting just a little thought and effort into making a slightly interesting film. I would make a deal with Death himself if he could get me out of having to sit through this.

Emma Stone in The Help
And as a sort of afterthought here, a movie that might actually be decent, had we any energy left to actually discuss it, is The Help, starring the ever ubiquitous Emma Stone, who is rivaling Jason Bateman for the “Who can be in the most movies this summer?” award. Based on the insanely popular (with women) novel, Stone stars as ‘Skeeter’, a newly graduated journalism student from Ole Miss, who tackles the sticky subject of Civil Rights in the early 60’s, and fights for the rights of the black maids in her small southern town, rather than rejoin her ‘Southern Belle’ roots. A completely predictable storyline that people who watch “Oprah” and “Live with Regis and Kelly” are going to love, but frankly, we don’t want to see anything this weekend, and we’ll pass on this until our girlfriends make us watch it on DVD. 

Summer is coming to an end, and so are the good movies, so excuse us for being a bit jaded this weekend. That chill in the air is just a sign of dark days to come…..horrible Halloween inspired scary movies! Ugggghhhh…..

In Theaters This Weekend: One for the kids, and one…not so much

24 Jun

Some movies are expressly written with children in mind, whether they’re saccharine sweet flicks with a message, or straight up G-rated cartoons about a cute stuffed animal with a honey pot stuck on his head. Then there are movies that are NOT made for kids at all; movies that would actually do harm to a child who is just beginning to make sense of the world. This weekend, we get a little of both, with Cars 2 heading to theaters to entertain the kiddos with lots of bright colors and wholesome action, and then there’s Bad Teacher, a sequel of sorts to the foul-mouthed, nearly soulless Bad Santa. Hey, there’s a little something for everyone, right?

First off, let me just say I never saw the first Cars movie. I believe it was somewhere between thinking how un-cuddly a car made of steel and rubber would be, and me wondering how a society of automobiles could sustain itself without the use of opposable thumbs (or even hands for that matter); but somewhere along the line, they lost me. Now the cars return for another lap, and this time they’re going global, in a plot that takes them to France to compete in a grand prix, and throws a little espionage in to spice up the plot. Of course, the whole show is geared toward kids, especially young boys, who grow up on toy cars and a strange fascination fire trucks and construction equipment. Yet, I’m still left wondering how-in-the-world a world inhabited solely by cars managed to build such engineering marvels as the Eifel Tower, Big Ben, or even the city streets of Paris, which was laid out hundreds of years before a car, or motorized vehicle, was even invented. Now I know the movie has to be entertaining (it’s Pixar; how dare you question them), but I have to admit, these are questions that I just can’t overcome, and I will most likely never see this film. However, if you have kids, I highly recommend taking them to see it this weekend. They’re going to love it.

Now, on to something a bit more adult (but no less juvenile) – Bad Teacher. The film stars Cameron Diaz as a first-year teacher who quits her job to become a kept woman by a super-rich bore who doesn’t realize she’s only using him for his money. When the mother-in-law-to-be enlightens her son of this fact, Diaz is out on her ass, and forced to crawl back to her old job, after spending her summer break in a booze-induced bout of self-destruction. She proceeds to phone in the teaching gig, letting the kids watch movies everyday while she catches up on sleep, and plots her next wealthy victim, Justin Timberlake, playing it straight as a wholesome J.Crew-cut wristwatch heir who prefers forehead kisses to rolling around naked. As she saves up to buy new fake boobs to attract her man, she begins to realize that life is more than money, and the kids she barely knows the names of, are actually moldable minds that she might just be responsible for once the morning bell rings. With Jason Segel as a down-to-earth, pot-smoking gym teacher trying to break the bitch out of her, Diaz shows a bit of growth, without necessarily losing the potty-mouth that makes her a bit endearing. And while the movie is just okay, and glosses over a lot of stuff, it’s got a couple great lines, and should be worth your time if you just need to ditch the kid stuff and swim in the shallow end of a scummy summertime pool.

In Limited Release: If you can find it, we highly recommend checking out Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, the behind-the-scenes documentary the talk show host made during the nationwide tour he staged between talk shows. A gritty-at-times look at the funny man after he lost ‘The Tonight Show’, he bares all, as the depressed, control-freak that funny men most oftentimes are. If you want to see something adult that contains a bit of childish whimsy, O’Brien is never a let-down, and should prove that the real losers in the late-night wars was us, the viewers.

In Theaters This Weekend: Memorial Day brings more of those summer sequels

27 May

Every year when the weather turns warm, we tend to look forward to our favorite things about the summer season. BBQ, hanging by the pool, and long summer nights are just a few things that come to mind. But with those unfortunately there also comes burnt food, burnt skin, and hungry mosquitoes. Same goes for the summer movies. For every blockbuster, Hollywood churns out a quick buck flick that looks to capitalize on audiences heading in droves to the theaters. And what is the one constant you can count on every year? Yes, that’s right – the summer movie sequel, and this Memorial Day weekend, we get two of them.

For all the problems that exist with the movie sequel, there are some upsides. For one, we’re already familiar with all the main characters, so establishing a relationship is not an issue. And if those characters charmed us once, chances are we’re going to give them a little leeway when it comes to the second time around, and that’s a good thing when it comes to The Hangover Part II. For a movie that brings back our perpetually red-eyed friends for another round of adventures the day after, they must think that we in the audience must be suffering from some sort of alcohol induced amnesia as well, because this second installment brings on a lot of déjà vu. Our friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are reunited two years after their Vegas hijinks to celebrate Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding in Bangkok, Thailand, and after a low-key bonfire on the beach somehow goes awry, the gang (minus Doug) wakes up the next morning in a rundown hotel room in the heart of Bangkok, with no recollection of how they got there, and the bride’s underage brother missing. This is where the movie begins to follow the same arc of the previous installment: instead of Stu waking up with a missing tooth, he’s got a Mike Tyson face tattoo, and instead of a cute little baby with sunglasses, there’s a cute little monkey with a Rolling Stones jean jacket. Oh, and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is back for an encore to provide a bit of humor and to work as a much needed plot device. But if you enjoyed the first Hangover, you’ll inevitably like the second one; it’s essentially the same movie. The jokes are a bit more over the top and the plot is extremely predictable, but it’s fun to see the fellas back in action, and Zack Galifianakis is still on top of his game, so despite running the same road, we’ll still tie one on and join our three best friends for another round of “so what the hell happened last night?!”

Also opening up this weekend is another sequel that is leaps and bounds from The Hangover Part II – Kung Fu Panda 2. Back again is Jack Black as panda warrior Po, and his A-List warrior friends, voiced by Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen and David Cross. In the first one, Po trained with his kung fu master, but this time around he’s a seasoned pro, and must band together to stop a villain who plans to unleash a new weapon that would render kung fu utterly useless (my guess is the weapon is a firearm, which pretty much did end any kind of hand-to-hand combat). And while Po the panda is a formidable fighter this time around, he still bumbles his way through the movie, and of course there are plenty of fat jokes to fill in the gaps. A fun movie voiced by some of today’s comedic masters, but a sequel nonetheless, so look for more of the same.

In limited release: If you’re looking for something truly original this weekend, check out The Tree of Life, by director Terrence Malick. Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, the film follows the lives of a family with three boys growing up in the 50’s, and intercuts them with surreal scenes from this world and cosmic glories. Winner of the Palme d’Or, the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Malick creates a beautiful movie that should be the cold salve on the hot sunburn of the summer movie sequels.

In Theaters This Weekend: Summer Movie season begins by bringing the hammer down

6 May

It’s been a loooong winter when it comes to new movies. Not only did we have to sit through two Nicolas Cage flicks, but we got an action movie starring Seth Rogen (??), a Liam Neeson remake of a Liam Neeson movie (???), and a “Big Momma’s House” sequel that got his son into the cross-dressing mix (????). How much more does Hollywood expect us to take!? But luckily, after making it across the frozen wasteland, we’ve finally made it to greener pastures, and after a surprising soft open last weekend with Fast Five raking in $80 million, the summer movie season officially opens this weekend in true fashion, with a heavily hyped superhero movie.

Thor, the God of Thunder in Norse mythology, made famous in the pages of DC comics (and Adventures in Babysitting), gets his long-awaited big screen debut this Friday, with an A-List cast backed up by Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh. Starring relative newcomer Chris Hemsworth as the immortal Thor, and supported by Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, not to mention Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgard, and Kat Dennings thrown into the mix, in a big budget blockbuster helmed by a guy who knows his way around a story. As the story goes, Thor, kind of a loose cannon on his homeworld, gets banished to Earth as punishment, with the job of protecting us humans from ourselves. However, back at home his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) attempts to overthrow their father and take over the kingdom, and sends a couple of nasty characters down to Earth to keep Thor busy while he follows through with his plan. Thor must save us here on Earth, while making his way back home to save his family. Standard superhero stuff, but with Branagh behind the film, one can only wonder what kind of Henry V allusions we’ll get. But if we can get a superhero movie loosely based on the Bard’s work, it might just be the perfect storm of great script, great performances and great special effects that could rank this right up there as one of the best summer movies of all time.

And while all the men in the world are checking out Thor, their wives and girlfriends will be packing the theaters to see Something Borrowed, your standard chick-flick starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson. As the perpetually single Rachel, Goodwin stars as the brainy brunette, opposite Hudson’s blonde and overbearing Darcy. As best-friends, the relationship is strained as Darcy begins dating Dex (Colin Egglesfield), the dreamy law student that Rachel has a secret crush on, and years later when Dex and Darcy are set to walk down the aisle, the truth comes out that the chiseled hunk is actually in love with the mousey best friend, and Goodwin’s Rachel must learn to be a little proactive if she wants to win her true love. With a bit of relief in the form of John Krasinski (who may or may not be the gay best friend – we can’t tell from the trailer), the movie is formulaic, and is based on a chick-lit best seller, but is the perfect antidote to the testosterone fueled Thor. If only the sexes can refrain from crossing theaters, everyone should be happy this weekend.

In Limited Release: In case you were morbidly curious, remember that movie The Beaver starring Mel Gibson in his first role back from his crazy summer vacation? It was that movie where he was down on his luck and turned to a cuddly hand puppet to help him break out of his funk. Well, that’s coming out in select theaters, so if you really wanted to see that, feel free to check to see if it’s in your area. And if you’re in a grindhouse mood, check out Hobo With a Shotgun, starring Rutger Hauer in a role that shouldn’t be much of a stretch for the actor, who has been out of the limelight for years now. This year’s version of Machete, it should be a blood-splaterring good time.

In Theaters This Weekend: Bird-brained comedy for kids, and the ‘Scream’ franchise takes another stab

15 Apr

It’s spring! The rebirth of everything green and colorful outdoors, so what is Hollywoodbaiting us with to get us inside a theater this weekend? Well, aside from a temporary respite from those pesky allergies, not much. We’re only a few weeks away from the summer blockbuster season kicking off with Thor on May 6, and it looks like the studios are piling on some mid-range movies that will attempt to prime the box office this year.

First up is Rio, a CGI cartoon about rare birds who take to Rio de Janeiro just in time for Carnival. Voiced by The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg, Blu is one of the last remaining male blue macaws in the world, and after living his entire life in captivity in frigid Moose Lake, Minnesota, is sent down to Rio to hopefully mate with the last remaining females in Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway). Aside from a potentially racy sex scene involving two birds, this seems to be typical kid fare, as kidnappers steal the valuable birds, and during their daring escape, it’s revealed that Blu, after living in a cage all his life, never learned how to fly. In what should be a great lesson teaching kids to overcome their fears and stretch their wings, Rio comes off as one of those middling kids movies. With other voices provided by George Lopez, Jamie Foxx and will.i.am, it’s got lots of colors and cute animals to attract the young ones, but probably won’t be a memorable movie years to come.

 

And the second major movie opening up this weekend, and I put it at second, is Scream 4. The return of the franchise, 11 years after the last one, seems like a fun attempt to return to Woodsboro and delight in the slightly irreverent take on the slasher film genre. However, most people you talk to couldn’t even tell you this movie was coming out this weekend, let alone that they were even coming out with another “Scream.” Returning all of the major players that weren’t killed off in the previous movies, Scream 4 has Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, and bring in fresh blood like Anna Paquin, Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts and Kristen Bell, and in an updated critique on modern teen horror movies, bring in the use of social networking, where the “new” Ghostface Killer uses webcams and cell phone video recorders to document his grisly murders. While the first “Scream” film took advantage of the “Dawson Creek” era hyper-aware teen scene of the time, modern teenagers who have been dumbed down by “Jersey Shore” and MTV’s “Teen Mom” just don’t seem to be the same as they used to be. Scream 4 might be a good ‘ol time at the theater, but in the wake of seven Saw films, it just seems a bit tired.

Will It Suck TV for Jan. 7th, 2011

6 Jan

The holiday’s are over.  You’re back to work or school just phoning it in.  Guess what?…so is Hollywood.  Hear what the WillItSuck guys have to say about Nick Cage’s “Season of the Witch” and Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Country Strong.”

In Theaters This Weekend: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

22 Dec

After last week’s big openings, the holiday movie season culminates this weekend with what else? A Christmas weekend blow-out. Now, we have patiently waited out the huge blockbusters (TRON: Legacy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1), kid flick after kid flick (Megamind, Tangled), and nibbled on the refreshing morsels the studios save for a last minute Oscar grab (Black Swan, The Fighter), but it’s finally here, our most anticipated movie of the holiday season, and it just so happens to be nestled between two unremarkable family comedies.

True Grit, the John Wayne classic that made “Rooster Cogburn” a household name, is getting the big-time remake treatment with an early week release this Wednesday, and couldn’t be helmed by a better pair of hands – make that two pairs of hands. The Coen brothers find themselves back in the wild wild West, scene of their last Oscar-binge with No Country for Old Men, and they reteam with old friend Jeff Bridges, fresh off an Oscar win himself, to tackle the revenge tale involving a tomboy, a drunk, and greedy lawman, as they hunt down the same man. With Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld rounding out the cast, every piece of the puzzle is put in place, and all the Coens literally have to do is let the cameras roll to catch all the magic, and just clean it up on the backend. A movie with action, emotion, tenderness, and you can bet some signature Coen weirdness, we can’t think of a better way to spend the holiday weekend.

Little Fockers

The other two films, however, may have you gritting your teeth just to get through. Little Fockers, the third installment in the Meet the Parents franchise, also opens up on Wednesday, and promises to continue stretching out a premise to its near breaking point. Ben Stiller reprises his role as “Gaylord Focker”, the male nurse who has the worst luck this side of a ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ episode. But where the first one we met the parents, and the second one we met…..the other parents, this time we get to meet the kids, which brings a whole new dynamic to the awkward family moments. While the jokes may seem stale and that much more precious now that children are involved, it’s still fun to watch Stiller interact with screen legend Robert DeNiro, especially when one has to help the other subdue a four-hour Viagra-induced malady. But dick-jokes aside, if you’re looking for the magic that won fans over the first time, expect that we’ve probably already met all the good jokes, and the rest is just cold holiday leftovers.

Gulliver's Travels

Now if you were waiting for the 25th to unwrap that last big present, you’re putting a lot of faith in Jack Black and his brand of oafish, off-the-wall humor. Christmas Day marks the last big Hollywood film release of the year, and they’ve decided to hand the keys to Gulliver’s Travels, and told the PG rated retelling of the Jonathan Swift classic to lock up for the year. Co-starring Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Jason Segel, it’s an interesting idea for a kids movie, and we like to think that despite some pandering to the under 10 crowd, there will probably be some laughs, as they mix comedy and fantasy in with a story we’re already pretty familiar with. But if anything has proven that old adage “it’s all in the execution,” it’s that Jack Black films can drop flatter than a fat guy pratfall; just look at Year One and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny. Hopefully this one’s more School of Rock than Nacho Libre, but if you want to hedge your bets, look toward next year’s The Muppets, where Segel and Black will reteam to try to make Kermit and the gang popular again.

In limited release: Country Strong pits Gwyneth Paltrow as a hard-worn country singer, and promises to make our ears bleed, and The Illusionist brings the animated fare to the adults, as the creators behind 2003’s Oscar nominated The Triplets of Belleville come back with the story of an out-of-work French magician who winds up in Scotland (of all places); it’s already generating some award buzz. And finally, if you’re lucky enough to be in a city that’s carrying Somewhere, the Sofia Coppola film starring Stephen Dorff as a down-and-out actor who reunites with his 11 year-old daughter, we highly recommend you wind down the holiday season with that.

In Theaters This Weekend: Holiday movie season FINALLY arrives!

17 Dec

We’ve been waiting patiently all November and December for the studios to start releasing their big holiday movie season blockbusters and Oscar hopefuls, and after what seems like an eternity of stringing us along with one big movie a week (or none at all), it’s finally here, and a hotly anticipated sequel is leading the pack.

TRON: Legacy, the follow-up to 1982’s underachiever-turned-cult-hit TRON, is blazing a light-bike trail into theaters, and the video game based movie is expected to rake it in this Christmas season. Riding high on nostalgia, when this sequel was announced, all the fan-boy sites lit up with excitement, and the finished product looks pretty sharp, looking like they actually got a budget for special effects this time, and rolling out in 3D, no less. Starring Garrett Hedlund and the stunning Olivia Wilde, with Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitnner reprising their roles, the only way this movie is going to suck is if they load up on CGI and nostalgia, and completely forget to write an interesting script, which surprisingly happens more often than you think…

The Fighter opens this weekend as well, and it’s making a strong case for Oscar contention. The true story of Boston boxer Micky Ward (played by Boston actor Mark Wahlberg), and his junkie brother and former boxer himself (played by Christian Bale), is the centerpiece here, and it’s the struggle between knowing when to fight for your family, and when to fight for yourself that’s going to carry this one into Oscar season. Now don’t get us wrong – if you think you’re going to see any acting better than Christian Bale this year, you’re wrong; he’s going to run away with this one. But the movie as a whole just doesn’t strike us as the same caliber as a Rocky or Raging Bull. Bale is a heavyweight here, but the rest of this movie should just throw in the towel.

Also opening up is something for the date-night set, and on paper, this looks great. Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson, in a James L. Brooks romantic comedy that deals with a couple sticky situations? Perfect, right? But then you actually take a look at the movie, How Do You Know, and ‘sticky’ becomes the best adjective you can find. Wilson, a professional baseball player, and Witherspoon, a former softball player, live together until she finally has it with his fear of commitment. Old friend Paul Rudd just so happens to be around when she walks out and tries to capitalize on her newly single status, but oh wait, didn’t you forget you were in the middle of a federal indictment that your dad Jack Nicholson keeps trying to tell you about but you keep running away so you don’t have to hear it? Doesn’t really make you seem like boyfriend material. This movie could be an easy way to kill a couple of hours and make your girlfriend happy, but all in all it can’t possibly stack up to the sum of its parts.

And last, and certainly most least, is Yogi Bear the movie, a mix of live action and 3D animation that is sure to provide the worst jokes and most groan-worthy moments of 2010. With Dan Aykroyd as the voice of Yogi, an unrecognizable Justin Timberlake as the voice of Boo Boo, and Tom Cavanaugh as a completely neutered Ranger Smith, none of the talents are used to their best potential. Cavanaugh can’t display his edgy wit, Timberlake’s voice is so manipulated that he might as well not even be in the movie, and let’s face it, Aykroyd hasn’t been funny since the first Ghostbusters. If you have kids, I can’t fault you for going to see this if they’re begging you, but for God’s sake, if you actually check this out on your own, you need to get your head checked.

In limited release: Casino Jack, the Jack Abramoff story starring Kevin Spacey as the sleazeball lobbyist is hitting select markets this weekend, and so is Rabbit Hole, based off a play about a marriage turned upside down after the death of a child, starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.

Whew, that’s a lot of movies. At least you know that now the studios are serious about the holiday season. Can’t wait to see what’s next…

In Theaters This Weekend: December movie season officially starts with a low roar

10 Dec

December is reserved for big blockbusters and Oscar-pandering indies, but last week, December 3rd, gave us little of either, so maybe this week we can pick up the pace, Hollywood? This weekend the studios get back on track, but it’s going to be a slow build up to Christmas Day, and the big Christmas weekend releases (TRON: Legacy, True Grit, Gulliver’s Travels, Little Fockers), but for now we’ll just take what we can get, and that’s two big movies that target completely different audiences.

First up is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third film based off C.S. Lewis7-part book series. A series that was clearly meant to ride the coattails of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it made a big splash in 2005 with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but come on, we bet you can’t name the second movie in the series, which leads us to question, why are these movies still coming out, and who is really still interested anymore? There may be some fans left to check out this kiddie version of ‘Rings’, but this franchise is currently treading water, and the chances of getting through all seven of Lewis’ books looks pretty bleak.

A glowing blue sword in a movie that swears it's not ripping off 'Lord of the Rings'

The other big movie opening up this weekend, and a 360 from Disney’s ‘Narnia’ fantasy is The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in a mistaken identity tale revolving around international intrigue and a bunch of stolen money. Depp plays a timid traveler hoping for a relaxing trip to Italy, while Jolie is the question-mark vixen who wraps him up in the twisty plot. While it’s fun to see Depp and Jolie onscreen together in exotic locales, the movie comes off a bit convoluted, and we could easily rattle off a list of films that have visited this familiar territory. The Tourist will be a much better option on date-night, than say, Morning Glory, but much like that film, despite its big names, this one seems like it will easily be forgotten.

In limited release: The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale’s inspiring movie about a boxer that’s down and out, but gets one last shot at the title, is opening in select theaters this weekend.  Following a strong pugilism pedigree, the filmmakers are chasing Oscar gold, but despite Bale’s very convincing turn as a junkie who coulda been a contender, The Fighter might float like a butterfly, but misses on the sting. Also in limited release is The Tempest, director Julie Taymor’s flashy update of Shakespeare’s last play. However, with Taymor’s Broadway catastrophe currently taking up most of her attention, bet that her film will go overlooked, and aside from the art house crowd, most audiences should follow suit.

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