Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekend Movie Guide

Joyful Noise - Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer
A church choir adds a touch of pop to their act in order to make an impact at a national competition. Look, if you see this movie and you enjoy it, more power to you. I get why Glee (and every other imitator) is popular. But man, this looks absolutely dreadful to me. You can bet on painful dialogue and a menial plot that is covered up by energetic musical numbers. Even that I could possibly get over. But add in Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton and I'm 100% out.

Contraband - Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckingsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster
A retired smuggler (Wahlberg) jumps back in the game when his brother-in-law gets in trouble with a nasty criminal (Ribisi). Here's what Contraband has going against it: 1.) The release date. Very rarely does a January release turn out well and action movies that find themselves stuck in the mix this early in the year are usually not so great. 2.) The director. Baltasar Kormakur has made several foreign films that most critics like. His English films, however, have been sub-par at best. This is a remake of an Icelandic film that Kormakur starred in and that's not usually a good thing. But here's what it has going for it: 1.) Marky Mark. Whatever you feel toward Wahlberg as an actor (put me in the camp that thinks he's pretty stinking good), he makes movies that are enjoyable. He'll throw out a stinker on you from time to time (Max Payne) but overall, I'll take Wahlberg's body of work over many other action stars. 2.) Kate Beckinsale. I'm not sure what she'll be doing in the movie but her presence can't hurt, right? 3.) It looks fun. Never underestimate the value of, "yes it was stupid but it was fun" in January. Our standards are so low that we as moviegoers will accept just about anything this month (example: The Devil Inside) if it engages our "fun" neurons. So count me in as cautiously optimistic that Contraband will be decent enough. Also, we need more movies about smugglers. Smugglers are cool. Case in point: Han Solo. BOOM.

Beauty and the Beast 3D - Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White
A Disney classic that will serve as an indicator on what to expect from the future of 3D re-releases. The Lion King brought in close to $100 million and stayed atop the charts for a couple of weeks during its release last fall. But is that the exception or the rule? We should know better after Beauty and the Beast debuts. I've never really loved this movie but you can't deny its overall value and impact.

The Divide - Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia
A group of neighbors hole up in their apartment's basement after a nuclear attack. Director Xavier Gens has had only one American release and that is the esteemed 2007 action flick Hitman (heavy sarcasm). So... I will say, I'm sort-of rooting for this in a way because I think the world needs Michael Biehn to be a semi-relevant actor. Love that guy.

ALSO NEW: A pickpocket has his life choices called into question in Loosies (Peter Facinelli, Michael Madsen)...a new friendship is threatened by an affair in Albatross (Felicity Jones, Jessica Brown Findlay, Julia Ormond)...Vincent D'Onofrio brings us yet another horror movie set in the forest with Don't Go in the Woods (Bo Biddie, Eric Bogosian)...and both The Iron Lady (Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent) and We Need to Talk About Kevin (Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly) both expand into wider release.

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