Weekend Movie Preview (10.28.11)

Halloween weekend: It must be time for another “Saw” … what? No new horror films this weekend? Weird. Well, most of you might be curling up on the couch with “Halloween” or another classic of your choosing, but there’s plenty to choose from at the theaters too. DreamWorks rolls out “Shrek” spin-off “Puss in Boots” and sci-fi thriller “In Time” will see if Justin Timberlake has what it takes. “The Rum Diary” offers an alternative course to set sail for and Shakespeare thriller “Anonymous” sneaks into 200 theaters.

New This Week


Puss in Boots

Directed by Chris Miller
Written by Brian Lynch, David H. Steinberg, Tom Wheeler, Jon Zack
Starring: (voices) Antonio Banderas, Selma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis

Summary: The origin of the legendary Puss in Boots, who must team up with Kitty Softpaws and Humpty Dumpty to save a village from villainous outlaws who’ve discovered an ancient power that could destroy the world.

The Word: Thought you saw the last of the “Shrek” movies, did you? It might be devoid of those central characters, but “Puss in Boots” looks to borrow en masse from that universe. It’s an origin story for Puss, but it’s decked out in Mother Goose characters such as Humpty Dumpty (a creepy looking egg voiced by Galifianakis) as well as Jack and Jill.


Rotten Tomatoes: 76% (very good)

My Thoughts: Looks like DreamWorks recaptured a little bit of the “Shrek” series magic with fairytale parodies and such, but the market is so starved for a CGI animated offering (“The Smurfs” would be the most recent example, if you can call that CGI animated) that it won’t take the big-eyed kitty much effort to win over audiences.

Recommendation: A family must-see if your young ‘uns weren’t capable of sitting through “Dolphin Tale” this fall.


In Time

Written and Directed by Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Alex Pettyfer

Summary: In the future, time (left to live) replaces money as the main form of currency because we’ve eliminated the aging gene. After 25, the aging process stops and those with the more influence and wealth living the longest. When poor blue-collar worker Will Salas acquires an absurd amount of time from a man with a death wish, he becomes the system’s biggest threat — and target.

The Word: Niccol is one of the more revered sci-fi writers out there having penned “The Truman Show” and “Gattaca,” the former of which won him an Oscar. “In Time” is his first truly high-concept film in awhile, but the plot appears more like a cat-and-mouse thriller in a sci-fi context. The film will also test the leading man mettle of Justin Timberlake, who’s clearly the focal point of the entire film. If “In Time” does well, he’ll get the majority of the credit and perhaps land some huge projects.

Rotten Tomatoes: 38% (not good)

My Thoughts: It’s disheartening to read the disappointed reviews, but not all that surprising. The more I see of this film, the more it looks like just a chase movie and not akin to Niccol’s previous work.

Recommendation: Probably a good rental for fans of the genre such as myself, or an alternative for people who aren’t horror fans or who don’t have families.



The Rum Diary

Directed by Bruce Robinson
Written by Bruce Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson (novel)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins

Summary: Journalist Paul Kemp travels to Puerto Rico and gets a job working for a local paper. Lots of rum and drugs later and Paul finds himself on some crazy adventures and having an affair with the fiancee of the man he aims to expose.

The Word: It took ages to get Johnny Depp back in the lead of another Hunter S. Thompson adventure after Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” but Bruce Robinson finally delivered. Depp had been attached to the film for at least five years. Time will tell if Depp’s elevated profile can attract some box-office business to this project.

Rotten Tomatoes: 54% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Perhaps the most alternative programming of the whole season is this singular film. The talents are strong and you can’t just turn a blind eye to a Johnny Depp film (unless that film was last year’s “The Tourist”). The reviews aren’t all that surprising, considering the untraditional nature of Hunter S. Thompson work.

Recommendation: If you like off-the-beaten-path comedy or Hunter S. Thompson, this would seem like a good choice. Most of us can wait to rent, which won’t take long.



Directed by Rolland Emmerich
Written by John Orloff
Starring: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Rafe Spall

Summary: This dramatic thriller takes up the theory that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was in fact the man who penned the works for William Shakespeare.

The Word: Rolland Emmerich has taken a break from blowing up the world (“2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Independence Day”) to give us a passion project of his, one of the more prominent theories as to the truth of Shakespeare’s work. The trailer oozes with a style that says “Zack Snyder directed this movie.” Definitely not the expected take for this story. Writer John Orloff also penned “A Mighty Heart.” It arrives in just about 200 theaters this weekend with plans to expand.

Rotten Tomatoes: 43% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Hard to take this story seriously coming from Roland Emmerich, but most of its festival reviews were about as considerate as you can get. Don’t expect “Shakespeare in Love,” but it should be entertaining at the least.

Recommendation: Go only if you plan to take the movie with a mild degree of seriousness


Box Office Predictions

If you thought fans of horror were waiting to pounce last weekend, try families. Although a week early than expected, Puss in Boots will still draw a big crowd as Halloween won’t occupy kids until Monday. DreamWorks is definitely hurting its opening, but probably not by much and the staying power next weekend will be strong. November’s first animated film usually scores $40 million so that’s reasonable.

Paranormal Activity 3 won’t see as tremendous of a drop as it might otherwise without a new horror film coming out (on Halloween weekend … weird), especially with great buzz and a record-breaking opening. $20 million seems fair.

I’m not super optimistic about In Time, but with Timberlake and an appealing concept I don’t see it flopping as hard as above-13-targeted action films. It should do at least enough to finish ahead of everything else, which only needs to be $10-12 million.

It gets a bit complicated from here on out because so many films have been underperforming meaning the few good ones hold up better. I don’t feel optimistic for the newcomers, so I say Footloose takes fourth. It has inched closer to Real Steel over time and should pull ahead by a nose. My gut says to avoid “The Rum Diary,” but with Johnny Depp and such it could manage to factor in the top five.

1. Puss in Boots
2. Paranormal Activity 3
3. In Time
4. Footloose
5. Real Steel