Weekend Movie Preview (3.11.11)

Aliens and werewolves: just another typical weekend at the movies these days. The spring movie season gets rolling this week with three widely distributed releases: “Battle: Los Angeles,” the latest alien invasion film from the perspective of marines, “Mars Needs Moms,” Disney’s first animated offering of the year using Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture technology similar to “A Christmas Carol” and Amanda Seyfried in “Red Riding Hood,” which you might call “Twilight” meets “Little Red Riding Hood.”

New This Week

Battle: Los Angeles

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Written by  Christopher Bertolini
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan

The Word: This film brings a militaristic perspective a la “Black Hawk Down” to the alien invasion genre as Los Angeles becomes one of the last battlegrounds in the world against an extra-terrestrial force looking to colonize our planet.

Rotten Tomatoes: 34% (not good)

My Thoughts: Sony seemed to be very high on this film the way they went about marketing it and my initial thought was this military angle and focus on a small group of characters would make it an instant-favorite. Early reviews have suggested a lot of loud, exciting, top-notch action but little of anything else. That’s okay by me, but I hoped for more.

Recommendation: If you pine for a bit of summery blockbuster action, “Battle: LA” will be the closest you get until May at the earliest.

Mars Needs Moms

Directed by Simon Wells
Written by Simon and Wendy Wells, Berkeley Breathed (book)
Starring: (voices) Seth Green, Dan Fogler, Joan Cusack

The Word: In Mars, Moms are a commodity and incredibly valued, so when Martians find out Earth children under-appreciate their mothers, the Martians begin abducting them. Young Milo, therefore, has an important lesson to learn. The 3-D film features mo-cap style of animation similar to the Disney/Robert Zemeckis films “A Christmas Carol” and “The Polar Express” (Zemeckis produced).

Rotten Tomatoes: 40% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Has a movie’s story ever spelled out its ending and moral lesson in bigger and bolder all caps than “Mars Needs Moms”? Doubtfully. You know how this one will end. The motion-cap style will be interesting for a sci-fi themed movie, but no matter how you look at it, animated films that have dealt with space haven’t panned out all that well. See “Planet 51” and “Space Chimps.”

Recommendation: “Rango” is a much more appropriate all-ages affair if you haven’t seen that one yet. But if you’re a mom who could use a bit more love, you could see this to subliminally convince your child.

Red Riding Hood

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Written by  David Johnson
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Max Irons, Gary Oldman, Shiloh Fernandez

The Word: Original “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke takes aim at another tween film with werewolves at the focus and Amanda Seyfried on the posters. This twisted telling of “Little Red Riding Hood” stars Seyfried as Valerie, who loves an outsider (Fernandez) but is told she must marry another man (a love triangle of course). Meanwhile, her village has had an uneasy relationship with a wolf for quite some time and it’s taken the life of her sister as its first human kill. The village hires infamous hunter Solomon (Gary Oldman) to track the beast, and he learns it is in fact a werewolf and could be any one of them.

Rotten Tomatoes: 7% (awful)

My Thoughts: This film tries harder than any teen-focused movie not “Twilight” to try and capitalize on the “Twilight” crowd. Seyfried should help make it successful along with some horror-toned marketing to get boys in the theater, but I’m no Hardwicke fan and I think lousiness awaits.

Recommendation: Between “I Am Number Four” and “Beastly,” this age group has become inundated with choices this spring. I say pass.

Box Office Predictions

Three more films join the fray this weekend after three of last week’s four new releases finished in the top spots, so where do our newcomers fit in? Last year, “Alice in Wonderland” set the tone for March by dominating the market and setting a March opening record. This year, no one film feels like the obvious film-to-see of the month, so expect none of these films to completely explode onto the charts.

That said, among the most anticipated films of the month is certainly Battle: Los Angeles. Mass-destruction films and alien invasion movies are generally hot and cold. Last November, “Skyline,” with a premise nearly identical to this film, made just over $11 million. However, “Battle” has launched an incredibly impressive marketing campaign that strikes me as being quite similar to “District 9” which made $35 million in August 2009. “District 9” had the benefit of a summer release, so I see $30 million as a good figure for “Battle,” easily giving it first place and extending 2011 to ten straight weeks with a new number one.

Rango will not be far behind. Although our new Disney offering this week will threaten to take some of its audience, it should make $25 million, $20 million at the worst.

In third, I have Red Riding Hood. Predicting this film is a tricky business. Other than “I Am Number Four” and “Beastly” this year, no previous films have done the dark teen romance and you can’t estimate this film based on “Twilight.” The two aforementioned did not have Amanda Seyfried who is not a huge draw but solid. The film skews female, but the marketing has horror elements to try and grab a wider audience. At the same time, I think that scares away Seyfried’s “Dear John” and “Letters to Juliet” crowd. All that in mind, I’m pegging it for $15-18 million. If “The Roommate” can make $15 M, so should this movie, right?

In fourth I’m putting Mars Needs Moms, a film that will compete with “Rango” and has a space/alien motif, which has not done many films before it a lot of good. “Planet 51” made $12 million over Thanksgiving weekend in 2009. I’ll give Disney more credit than that, so $12-15. I could see closer to $20 million without “Rango” in the fold.

The Adjustment Bureau should have no problems staying in the top five with $10-12 million.

1. Battle: Los Angeles
2. Rango
3. Red Riding Hood
4. Mars Needs Moms
5. The Adjustment Bureau



You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment