Weekend Movie Preview (6.17.11)

How are you holding so far? The summer to this point has been fun but it’s been week after week of major blockbuster release with no relief in sight. This weekend, audiences will have to decide if fatigue will impact their interest in the third superhero film of the summer already, Warner Bros.’ “Green Lantern.” Can Ryan Reynolds draw a crowd or will unfamiliar territory in outer space push people to the opposite side of the fence? Offering some family-geared alternative programming is Jim Carrey and several penguins in the adaptation of the classic book, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.”

New This Week

Green Lantern

Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong

Summary: Cocky pilot Hal Jordan discovers the body of a dying alien who hands him a ring possessing great power. With it, he becomes a Green Lantern, one of many defenders of the universe, and he is the first of his kind (human), which doesn’t make the other Lanterns happy. However, he must learn to harness his power quickly as he could be the key to defeating a menacing threat to all life forms everywhere.

The Word: Fittingly, it seems Warner Bros. has placed a lot of power in Ryan Reynolds. The star will test his bankability in a pure action film where comedy needs to come second. With aliens and all kinds of non-lifelike entities and concepts, this is a tough film to sell. Martin Campbell, director of two of the most beloved modern Bond films in “Casino Royale” and “Goldeneye,” certainly has the chops, but the “Lantern” lore is foreign to most audiences.

Rotten Tomatoes: 21% (bad)

My Thoughts: I think “Green Lantern” has a great chance to dazzle, but it could also likely overwhelm. Early reviews have sadly torn into the film, which tells me that Reynolds likely doesn’t have what it takes as Hal Jordan and that the film tries to do too much at once in an environment too obscure.

Recommendation: If you’re on the fence because you’ve no idea what this comic book is about, then it seems you’re better off on the beach. Even the curious summer-blockbuster lovers should exercise caution.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Directed by Mark Waters
Written by Sean Anders, John Morris and Jared Stern, Richard and Florence Atwater (book)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Ophelia Lovibond

Summary: A business man suddenly inherits six penguins who turn his apartment into the South Pole and cause various difficulties in his personal and professional life.

The Word: This adaptation of the popular book (that’s been around for quite awhile) has been trying to get off the ground and finally did with Carrey, who seems like one of only a few actors who could humorously interact with penguins. The penguins are both real and CGI in varying scenes, with animal hijinks seemingly in store.

Rotten Tomatoes: 44% (mixed)

My Thoughts: I’m one of few it seems who still thinks Carrey’s an unparalleled actor when it comes to the gift of physical comedy, but even I was rolling my eyes at the trailers for this predictable-looking film. I have a feeling it will amuse kiddies but leave a lot to be desired for the adults taking them.

Recommendation: A better alternative to “Judy Moody” if you’ve checked all the currently circulating animated family films off the list.

The Art of Getting By

Written and Directed by Gavin Wiesen
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano

Summary: George (Highmore) is a major slacker who never does his homework but could become something of an artist if he can find something he’s passionate about. That begins to change when he meets Sally and the two cut class together every so often.

The Word: Buzz out of Sundance this year for Gavin Wiesen’s debut feature “Homework” (since retitled) was mostly positive and as such, Fox Searchlight picked it up. We haven’t seen Highmore, now 18, since his child-actor days as Charlie in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Finding Neverland,” but Roberts has become a familiar “rebellious indie chick” in the last year so she’s right at home.

Rotten Tomatoes: 19% (very bad)

My Thoughts: After Fox Searchlight claimed it, it’s tough to believe that “Getting By” has so few fans among critics, but this could be one of those instances of a fan-favorite that tickles audiences but can’t “get by” critics in terms of its faults.

Recommendation: Sounds like a perfect watch with a date come its DVD/Blu-ray release, which will probably be in the fall i’m guessing.

Box Office Predictions

I’ve already discussed some of the possible pitfalls of Green Lantern, so while it’s an easy prediction for number one this week, it could rank the lowest of all superhero films released so far this year in terms of opening weekend numbers. “Thor” managed just $65 million in the coveted first weekend of May and the reliable “X-Men” franchise made less than that two weeks ago. Factor in superhero fatigue and I’m guessing $40-50 million seems right. Poor reviews could push away even more people who are confused by all the green but interested in Reynolds and co-star Blake Lively.

A battle for second place could be happening this weekend between last week’s top earner and our second new release. Jim Carrey is nowhere near as bankable as he once was and with positive buzz for Super 8 in the air, I’m not sure the $15-20 million I’m estimating will be enough for Mr. Popper’s Penguins to rank higher than third. Last year we saw “Marmaduke,” an animal film released in June based on a classic property, absolutely tank, but I give Carrey’s mug more credit. With “Cars 2” out next week, families might look to save the cash, however, so the guess is modest. “Super 8” made a modest total last week, so it doesn’t seem likely to drop as far in its second week. I’m guessing $20 million.

Good reviews should keep X-Men: First Class a hot ticket. I imagine that despite competition from “Lantern” it should still rake in $12-15 million. I thought it would jump “The Hangover Part II” last week, but this week no doubt about it: Ku Fu Panda 2 will keep “Hangover” out of the top five this weekend.

1. Green Lantern
2. Super 8
3. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
4. X-Men: First Class
5. Kung Fu Panda 2




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