Saturday, August 27, 2011

New In Theaters - September 2nd, 2011


Starring: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, 
Jesper Christensen, Marton Csokas, Ciaran Hinds & Tom Wilkinson
Directed by John Madden for distribution by Focus Features

The Plot: The past lives of three Mossad agents come back to haunt them when they begin to question if a mission they thought they carried out was actually a success.

The Final Word: Remember “Shakespeare In Love?” That was the last time director John Madden has had a successful hit at the box office. Now after originally being conceived under the Miramax umbrella for a 2010 release, “The Debt” has been picked up by Focus Features and may finally see the light of day.

Directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego for distribution by Weinstein Company

The Plot: Newly found footage spotlights the real reason why America has yet to return to the moon.

The Final Word: “Found” footage movies were a major sell to studios after “The Blair Witch Project” broke records in 1999, now in 2011, the Weinstein’s are trying to jumpstart the craze. The viral campaign for this movie started earlier in this year with a slick website and interesting premise, but it may have possibly been off the grid for too long as the movie was originally slated to open in April before being bounced to September. While the delay was rumored to be because of high advance buzz, some aren’t entirely sold that’s still the case.

Starring: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Katharine McPhee, Chris Carmack,
Alyssa Diaz, Joel David Moore, Donal Logue, Sinqua Walls & Chris Zylka
Directed by David R. Ellis for distribution by Relativity Media

The Plot: A weekend lakeside retreat for a group of friends takes a deadly turn when a series of shark attacks turn their vacation into a nightmare.

The Final Word: The movie’s called “Shark Night 3D,” so I doubt anybody going to see this for the acting. With “Piranha 3D” crashing and burning earlier in the year, the bar can’t be set to high for the movie and I’m betting Relativity knows that given its end of summer release date. Granted audiences looking for one last summer blast at the Cineplex could still make this a surprise sleeper during the Labor Day weekend.

Previewed next week: Contagion, Warrior, Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New In Theaters - August 26th, 2011

Starring: Zoe Saldana, Jordi Molla, Lennie James, Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis
Directed by Olivier Megaton for distribution by TriStar (Sony)

The Plot: Following the murder of her parents, Cataleya (Saldana) trains alongside her uncle to become an assassin with the ultimate goal of taking down the mobster responsible for the killings.

The Final Word: Zoe Saldana has been poised for this type of movie ever since “Avatar” hit it big. Now after “The Losers” failed to light a box office fire, the actress is ready to strike out on her own and show audiences what she can do when put in the title role. With action direction Luc Besson’s protégé Megaton at the helm, Saldana should be in give hands, but are audiences still up for one more action romp after a long (and loud) summer? Granted Sony can’t be expected a high return here, which should set the bar at a manageable level.

Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison and Jack Thompson
Directed by Troy Nixey for distribution by FilmDistrict

The Plot: A young girl (Madison) moves into a newly restored house with her father (Pearce) and his girlfriend (Holmes) only to learn the house is literally out to get her.

The Final Word: While fantasy/horror film maven Guillermo del Toro left the directing duties to Nixey, his fingerprints are all over this movie and that could lead to some serious thrills. Coming off this year’s “Insidious,” FilmDistrict is slowly making a name for itself in this genre and “Dark” should help solidify it even more

Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer,
Rashida Jones, Hugh Dancy, Kathryn Hahn,
Shirley Knight, Janet Montgomery & Steve Coogan
Directed by Jeese Peretz for distribution by The Weinstein Company

The Plot: Three sisters (Banks, Deschanel, Mortimer) take turns housing their well-meaning but overly trusting brother (Rudd) after he loses his girlfriend and his home.

The Final Word: While the cast is strong, I just don’t see audiences getting very excited about this picture. You also can’t imagine the Weinstein Company is too psyched about it either since they planted it firmly in the dog days of summer.

Previewed next week: The Debt, Apollo 18, Shark Night 3D

Saturday, August 13, 2011

New In Theaters - August 19th, 2011

Starring: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan,
Saïd Taghmaoui, Ron Perlman & Leo Howard
Directed by Marcus Nispel for distribution by Lionsgate

The Plot: A warrior (Momoa) seeks revenge following a brutal attack on his village.

The Final Word: Aside from HBO, no other studio is probably as excited about the success of “Game of Thrones” as Lionsgate. Jason Momoa, who became a breakout star on the series, fronts this re-imagined remake of the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger 80’s film. Momoa’s newfound fanbase paired with the nostalgia factor just could make this flick a late summer surprise; if the logjam of 3D movies that weekend doesn’t destroy it.

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse,
David Tennant, Imogen Poots & Toni Collette
Directed by Craig Gillespie for distribution by DreamWorks

The Plot: A high-school senior (Yelchin) becomes convinced his new next-door neighbor (Farrell) is actually a vampire who is preying on his neighborhood.

The Final Word: While Colin Farrell hasn’t exactly fallen off the grid over the last few years, he also hasn’t been as prevalent as he once was in Cineplex’s. You actually have to go back 2008 to find the last time the charismatic actor truly headlined a movie. Now the Colin Farrell reunion tour looks to continue as the actor stars in his second summer movie ahead of next summer’s “Total Recall” remake. DreamWorks looks to be hoping to capitalize off the same audience that made the company’s 2007’s “Distrubia” a big hit and putting a star like Farrell opposite a younger rising star like Yelchin could do the trick; again only if it is done in by a 3D heavy weekend.

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson,
Ken Stott, Romola Garai & Rafe Spall
Directed by Lone Scherfig for distribution by Focus Features

The Plot: The two-decade long story of two friends (Hathaway, Sturgess) who meet on the night of their high-school graduation and then the anniversary of that night for the next twenty years.

The Final Word: While both actors have had mainstream success, both have even stronger luck with these types of art-house movies. Focus has to be expecting those types of returns also since they slated this move in the middle of what has quickly turned into a 3D warzone weekend.

Starring: Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale, Rowan Blanchard, 
Mason Cook,Antonio Banderas, Danny Trejo,
 Alexa Vega & Daryl Sabara
Directed by Robert Rodriguez for distribution by Dimension Films

The Plot: The family of a retired spy (Alba) are thrown into the world of espionage when a villain (Piven) threatens to take over the world.

The Final Word: It makes sense that Jessica Alba would take this role on given her young daughter (and second child on the way). Although I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what lured Jeremy Piven and Joel McHale to this pic. It just seems odd both guys would jump into a movie that is bringing back “aroma-vision.”

Previewed: next week: Columbiana, Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark, Our Idiot Brother

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New In Theaters - August 12th 2011

Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard,
Allison Janney, Chris Lowell, Sissy Spacek,
Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer, Cicely Tyson & Mike Vogel
Directed by Tate Taylor for distribution by Walt Disney

The Plot: A secret writing project by a young woman (Stone) sets into motion a friendship that goes against the grain of race relations in 1960’s Mississippi.

The Final Word: Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, the movie places rising star Emma Stone in the role of a socialite who befriends the African-American help at her family’s plantation. Although as she meets the extraordinary women working there she begins to write a book with their help that gives them a voice in a time where they didn’t have one. Already this Disney film is being buzzed about for Hollywood’s top prizes and the film’s August release date could give it just the jumping board it needs to get noticed.

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari,
Nick Swardson & Michael Pena
Directed by Ruben Fleischer for distribution by Columbia Pictures (Sony)

The Plot: Two inept slackers (McBride, Swardson) kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg) and force him to rob a bank or they’ll detonate a bomb strapped to his chest.

The Final Word: Somehow it is hard to imagine Jessie Eisenberg figured this would be his first live-action movie following his first career Academy Award nomination and yet here we are. Yet August comedies do seem to do really well (i.e. “Superbad,” “Tropic Thunder”), so while this looks like a typical non-thinking summer movie that seem to be aimed at stoners, you may want to remember the success of “Pineapple Express.” You also have to take into account that the budget on this movie can’t be that high and Eisenberg’s already seen success with Fleischer when they first paired on “Zombieland.”

Starring: Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta,
David Koechner, Tony Todd, Courtney B. Vance, P.J. Byrne,
Ellen Wroe & Jacqueline MacInnes-Wood
Directed by Steven Quale for distribution by New Line (WB)

The Plot: Survivors of a bridge collapse begin to realize you can’t cheat death as one by one they begin to meet horrific ends.

The Final Word: For some movies 3D is just a gimmick designed to get every last dime from audiences, for the “Final Destination” series it actually gave the franchise new life (which is ironic for a movie about death). By now you have to know what the “Final Destination” films are all about and more importantly you have to know they make money; big name cast or not.

Starring: Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer,
Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Mark Salling, Dianna Agron,
Naya Rivera, Heather Morris, Harry Shum, Jr.,
Chord Overstreet, Darren Criss & Ashley Fink
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen for distribution by 20th Century Fox

The Plot: The Emmy-winning FOX series takes its show on the road and brings along the cameras the cast of “Glee” performs favorites from the series’ two seasons.

The Final Word: “Glee” in 3D. Not really sure there is much else to say on this one except it’s a smart move for FOX who stands to make even more money on a tour that consistently pulls in audiences.

Previewed next week: Conan The Barbarian, Fright Night, One Day, Spy Kids: All The Time In The World