We’ve got what looks like one decent new option this weekend (I’ll be able to tell you for sure after tonight), and a couple still in theaters that are great options as well. I look forward to writing this feature every week because I love seeing what’s new and still in theaters and kind of seeing where things are at.
Topping my list of “want to see” and the one I will be seeing this weekend is:
Olympus Has Fallen - R
This film has Morgan Freeman, need I say more? But seriously this film looks to be fantastic to me. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a good action/thriller in the white house. Here’s hoping it’s a good one.
The unthinkable happens when heavily armed and highly trained terrorists launch a bold daytime attack on the White House. The building is overrun, and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his staff are taken hostage. Luckily for Asher, former presidential security officer Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is on the scene. With time running out, it’s up to Banning to locate Asher’s son before the extremists do and rescue the president before his captors unleash their ultimate plan.
R | Strong Violence and Language Throughout
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
See or not: I’m thinking this one is going to be a See.
Admission - PG-13
Meh, I’m not particularly interested in this one. Still, Tina Fey said recently that that the only way she agreed to take the part was that they remove sex scenes from the script. I applaud her for that. And I can see how if you like her brand of humor, this may be the film for you.
Tina Fey (Date Night, 30 Rock) and Paul Rudd (I Love You Man, Knocked Up) star in Admission, the new film directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Weitz (About a Boy), about the surprising detours we encounter on the road to happiness. Straight-laced Princeton University admissions officer Portia Nathan (Fey) is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former college classmate, the free-wheeling John Pressman (Rudd). Pressman has surmised that Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), his gifted yet very unconventional student, might well be the son that Portia secretly gave up for adoption many years ago. Soon, Portia finds herself bending the rules for Jeremiah, putting at risk the life she thought she always wanted—but in the process finding her way to a surprising and exhilarating life and romance she never dreamed of having.
PG-13 | Language and some sexual material
Cast: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn
Director: Paul Weitz
Genres: Romantic Comedy, Comedy
See or not: Meh.
The Croods - PG
My first thought when I saw the trailer for this film was, “oh, please” but after another trailer or two I’m sort of warming up to it (my favorite scene in the latest trailer is where the girl screams bloody murder about shoes, then says, “I love them! Where are my feet?”). But I really have no good idea which way this film will go.
THE CROODS is a comedy adventure that follows the world’s first modern family through the journey of a lifetime. When the cave that has always been their home is destroyed – with the rest of their world not far behind it – The Croods are forced to set off on the first family road (or path) trip. Rocked by generational clashes and seismic shifts, The Croods discover an incredible new world filled with fantastic creatures, and a future beyond any they imagined.
PG | Some scary action
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke
Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Genres: Action/Adventure, Animated, Family
See or not: Not willing to say yet
There’s a few other films on the new list that look completely lackluster, the usual limited release affairs. Let’s move on to what’s still in theaters.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone - PG-13
While I’m not exactly looking forward to this film, I doubt it will be completely awful. That said I have no desire to see it really, but probably will as some point. It’s also worth noting that it’s completely failing at the box office. That’s not always a good indicator to me that it’s awful, but it is helpful to know.
Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and his partner, Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), have reigned as kings of the Las Vegas strip for years. Their work rakes in millions of dollars, but the biggest illusion yet is their friendship, for – now – time and familiarity have bred contempt between them. When a street magician’s increasing popularity threatens to knock them off their thrones, Burt and Anton recognize that they have to repair the relationship and salvage the act. Full synopsis
PG-13 | Sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language
Cast: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Jim Carrey, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin
Director: Don Scardino
See or not: Meh - I’ll update my opinion after I’ve taken the time to see it.
The Call - R
I saw this film last weekend and I think on some levels it’s worth seeing — at least for the first two acts. The last act failed pretty miserably. That said, I did enjoy the film. Be aware that it’s pretty intense. Joe and I reviewed the film on Wednesday’s episode of The MovieByte Podcast.
When veteran 911 operator, Jordan (Halle Berry), takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life. Full synopsis
R | Violence, Some Language and Disturbing Content
Cast: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, Michael Imperioli
Director: Brad Anderson
See or not: I’ll venture a See
Emperor - PG-13
This film looks good but it’s still not available in my area, which is frustrating. It stars Matthew Fox of Lost and the always great Tommy Lee Jones. Joe was able to see the film and he reviewed it. You’ll want to catch his review.
A gripping tale of love and honor forged between fierce enemies of war, EMPEROR tells the story, inspired by true events, of the bold and secret moves that won the peace in the shadows of post-war Japan. Starring Academy Award-winner Tommy Lee Jones, Matthew Fox, and newcomer Eriko Hatsune, EMPEROR brings to life the American occupation of Japan in the perilous and unpredictable days just after Emperor Hirohito’s World War II surrender. As General Douglas MacArthur (Jones) suddenly finds himself the de facto ruler of a foreign nation, he assigns an expert in Japanese culture - General Bonner Fellers (Fox), to covertly investigate the looming question hanging over the country: should the Japanese Emperor, worshiped by his people but accused of war crimes, be punished or saved?
PG-13 | for violent content, brief strong language and smoking (historical)
Cast: Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Eriko Hatsune
Director: Peter Webber
See or not: See
Oz The Great and Powerful - PG
I saw this film and it’s worth seeing, if not quite as good as I might have hoped. Still, it’s loads better than that other Oz film I can’t stand (oh Judy Garland…). Of course this is technically a prequel to that part of the story. And it gets just a tad cheesy from time to time, but it was always enjoyable. Joe and I also discussed this film on Episode 35 of The MovieByte Podcast.
When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.
PG | Sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language
Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King
Director: Sam Raimi
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
See or not: See
The MovieByte Podcast #35 - Monochromatic »
‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Trailer 2 »
‘Oz’ New Year TV Spots »
‘Oz’ Images Gallery - Linked »
‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ TV Spot »
‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Bubbles and Fireballs (clips) »
Florida resident Diana (Melissa McCarthy) has a luxurious lifestyle as the queen of retail, buying whatever strikes her fancy – and it’s all free, thanks to Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman), a guy from Denver whose identity she stole. With just one week to track down Diana before his world implodes, the real Sandy heads south to confront the unapologetic con artist and bring her back to Denver so that he can clear his name and restore his shattered credit rating.
Rated R for Sexual Content and Language
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Génesis Rodríguez
Director: Seth Gordon
See or not: NOT
Jack the Giant Slayer - PG-13
This is a really good film. I don’t know what is wrong with critics and general audiences finding fault with it. Someone, somewhere seems to be stiring up angst against it, and it’s now become the hip and cool thing to hate on this film. That’s just too bad because it’s actually really good. Joe and I talked about it on The MovieByte Podcast #34, be sure to tune in to hear more.
When young farmhand Jack (Nicholas Hoult) unwittingly opens a portal between his realm and a race of giants, it rekindles an ancient war. Roaming Earth for the first time in centuries, the fearsome giants seek to reclaim the land they lost long ago. Jack has to face an army of foes that he thought existed only in legend, but through his arduous fight for the kingdom and its people, he may win the love of a brave princess, perhaps becoming a legend himself.
Rated PG-13 for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan
Director: Bryan Singer
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
See or not: Tentative See
Snitch - PG-13
In the fast-paced action thriller SNITCH, Dwayne Johnson stars as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission – risking everything, including his family and his own life.
Rated PG-13 for Sequences of Violence and Drug Content
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Susan Sarandon, Michael Kenneth Williams
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
See or not: I’m thinking not
Safe Haven - PG-13
Looks sappy and stupid to me. But you never know.
An affirming and suspenseful story about a young woman’s struggle to love again, Safe Haven is based on the novel from Nicholas Sparks, the best-selling author behind the hit films The Notebook and Dear John. When a mysterious young woman arrives in a small North Carolina town, her reluctance to join the tight knit community raises questions about her past. Slowly, she begins putting down roots, and gains the courage to start a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner with two young children. But dark secrets intrude on her new life with such terror that she is forced to rediscover the meaning of sacrifice and rely on the power of love in this deeply moving romantic thriller.
Rated PG-13 for Thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough
Director: Lasse Hallström
See or not: Probably Not
21 and Over - R
So, I’ve been seeing the preview for this around — and I would love to have those few minutes of my life back. Seriously, this looks so bad I don’t know how anyone could want to see this. Please don’t go see it.
Straight-A college student Jeff Chang has always done what he was supposed to do. But when his two best friends Casey and Miller surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday, Jeff Chang decides to do everything he wants to do for a change, even though his important medical school interview is early the next morning. What was supposed to be one beer becomes a night of humiliation, over indulgence and utter debauchery in this coming-of-drinking-age-comedy, from the writers of ‘The Hangover,’ about living youth to its fullest.
Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking
Cast: Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, Justin Chon, Sarah Wright, Jonathan Keltz, François Chau
Directors: Scott Moore, Jon Lucas
See or not: NOT NOT NOT!
Dead Man Down - R
I have not seen this, but I am not sure I will like it. It’s a revenge tail, people taking justice into their own hands. Probably not my thing.
Niels Arden Oplev, the acclaimed director of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, makes his American theatrical debut with a provocative new thriller, DEAD MAN DOWN. Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star as two strangers, irresistibly drawn to each other, whose mutual desire for revenge unravels in an escalating trail of violence. The film co-stars Academy Award® nominee Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper, from a screenplay by J.H.Wyman (Fringe).
R | Violence, Language Throughout and A Scene of Sexuality
Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
See or not: Probably Not
A Good Day to Die Hard - R
Do not bother. If like me, you liked all the previous Die Hard films to some extent or other, you will be majorly disappointed with this installment. It’s pretty much a butcher job on the franchise. Catch my review to see just how poorly I thought of this film.
New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives in Moscow to track down his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney). McClane thinks his son is a criminal, so it comes as a shock when he learns that Jack is actually working undercover to protect Komarov (Sebastian Koch), a Russian government whistleblower. With their own lives on the line, McClane and Jack must overcome their differences in order to get Komarov to safety and thwart a potentially disastrous crime in the Chernobyl region.
Rated R for Violence and Language
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yulia Snigir, Rasha Bukvic, Cole Hauser
Director: John Moore
See or not: NOT