Weekend Movie Preview (8.19.11)

The August onslaught continues with yet another four new releases this weekend ranging from the kid-friendly “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World” to the skull-crushing remake of “Conan the Barbarian.” Horror fans also continue to get fed with the remake of “Fright Night” starring Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell while hopeless romantics can enjoy Anne Hathaway in “One Day.”

New This Week

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale

Summary: A retired spy (Alba) has become a full-time mother, but when an evil villain threatens to stop time, she has to get back in action and two new kids take on the mantle of “Spy Kids.”

The Word: Rodriguez cranked the original three films out in unprecedented fashion one year after another from 2001-2003. The last film was “Spy Kids 3D: Game Over,” a sign of things to come that surely no one anticipated at the time. The plan is probably to jumpstart a new trilogy with new kids, and they’ll do it with “4D Aromascope,” that’s right — you get a scent card.

Rotten Tomatoes: 10% (smelly)

My Thoughts: Yet another long-delayed sequel. I’m not against big gaps between installments because it allows an enjoyed franchise some time to re-evaluate and not simply rush into production for the sake of making money. But it also suggests Fox is trying to beat life into a dead horse that people may or may not remember. Good thing is when you make a kids’ film, you don’t have to care about appeasing the once-kids who are now teenagers and older that made your franchise a hit.

Recommendation: We’re all too old for this ****.

Fright Night

Directed by Craig Gillespie
Written by Marti Noxon, Tom Holland (original)
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant

Summary: A teenager (Yelchin) has good reason to believe his neighbor (Farrell) is a vampire responsible for a series of recent deaths. When no one believes him, he calls upon his favorite TV show host (Tennant).

The Word: A remake of the 1985 film of the same name, this horror film takes the vampire genre to a somewhat darker yet kind of campy place. The theory behind bringing this one back to life was likely to capitalize on the vampire craze, but this is no “Twilight.”

Rotten Tomatoes: 79% (very good)

My Thoughts: From a marketing standpoint, “Fright Night” got out of the gate in tardy fashion, but as buzz has accumulated and folks had good things to say at Comic-Con, another August sleeper could be on our hands. How it will fair at the box office is another question, but this remake might have justified itself.

Recommendation: I say watch the 1985 film first and then check this out, but that’s my attitude. Either way, seems like horror fans finally have something to chew on.

Conan the Barbarian

Directed by Marcus Nispel
Written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood, Robert E. Howard (character)
Starring: Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan

Summary: Conan the Cimmerian is on a quest for personal vengeance that grows in scale when he realizes the continent of Hyboria is at risk of being taken over by a supernatural evil.

The Word: Take an existing property and “300″ it: that’s the goal with “Conan,” originally made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unknown (unless you watched “Stargate Atlantis”) actor Jason Momoa steps into the lead with “G.I. Joe” star Rachel Nichols and “Avatar” bad guy Stephen Lang. Lots of swords and sand in this one.

Rotten Tomatoes: 26% (bad)

My Thoughts: The goal here is definitely mindless barbaric action with monsters and some bare bodies: not exactly something unexpected for a lazy days of summer action flick in August. So while there might be absolutely no reason to indulge “Conan,” I think people might do just that.

Recommendation: For those in need of carnal indulgences.

One Day

Directed by Lone Scherfig
Written by David Nicholls (screenplay and book)
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson

Summary: Two people meet in college and then again only on each anniversary of that day every year, spanning 20 years and various situations in their lives and their relationship.

The Word: Lone Scherfig follows up her Oscar-nominated indie festival darling “An Education” with this film, so that alone is good buzz. Hathaway sports a British accent as does Patricia Clarkson, which might raise some eyebrows, but they lend a bit more profile to the project. Jim Sturgess gets another shot at a dramatic lead after “The Way Back” went quietly this past January.

Rotten Tomatoes: 30% (not good)

My Thoughts: Hathaway proved with “Love and Other Drugs” that she can make a romance better than its script. Sturgess (“Across the Universe” and “21″) has been a likable protagonist in his major roles thus far and will likely bring some of that talent here. Novel faithfulness will not be an issue as Nicholls adapted his own book, but could also prove a disaster, much like the film’s late August release, lousy RT score and bad distribution numbers suggest

Recommendation: A romance that will be well suited to your television screen come February at the latest.

Box Office Predictions

This week strikes me as the most challenging of 2011. With last weekend’s top two looking like strong long-term contenders and four new releases that all have questionable box-office gall, there’s no telling how the top five will shake out, so I’m going mostly by instinct here.

The Help looks like another “The Blind Side.” This sucker will not go away lightly, so expect the most minimal of drops, nothing below $20 million. Although you’d think someone could beat that, the market’s a bit over-saturated right now. If I had to choose, Conan the Barbarian looks to be the most appealing newcomer given the tendencies of August films. Somewhere up near $20 million seems possible (anything less would be a failure for Lionsgate).

Returners will get the benefit of the doubt again in third place. Rise of the Planet of the Apes should land around $15 million and I trust it more than Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. The one time a “Spy Kids” movie released in August was “Spy Kids 2,” which opened the poorest of all the series — and now it’s almost 10 years late. Close to $15 million seems right.

The wild card is Fright Night. I can’t think of a single good comparison film for this one as it’s not a typical vampire film. It could either tank or be a surprise hit thanks to good reviews. I have to play it modest like most non-“Twilight” vamp flicks and say $10-15 million.

1. The Help
2. Conan the Barbarian
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
4. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
5. Fright Night

1 Comment

  1. TheNuz says:

    Horrible movie weekend……….

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