This weekend, Disney continues doing what it now does best – remaking the same movies over and over again. After all, why take a risk when you have a proven formula already waiting in the vault? On the indie front, Danny Boyle and Terrence Malick are each out to prove that they can still make good movies. Whether that’s the case is still out with the jury.
Do you remember the perfect 84-minute 1991 Disney movie that rightfully became the first animated film to earn a Best Picture nomination from the Academy? Following suit with the risk-adverse studio’s ongoing plan, Disney has decided to give ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ a live-action makeover. Sadly, this overindulgent and uninspired hunk-o-junk has a whopping 129-minute runtime. My kids (ages 3, 6 and 9) do exceptionally well in theaters, but only the eldest didn’t seem to get distracted or bored with this one. Not even Emma Watson, a CG Dan Stevens, the excellent Kevin Klein, one-note Josh Gad, nor the voice work of Sir Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci and a terrible French accent by Ewan McGregor could keep this from being a snoozefest. As was done with the film version of ‘Into the Woods‘, Disney cast known actors who can (mostly) hold a tune over actors that can actually sing well. It’s not hard to hear the auto-tuning – although Luke Evans actually belts out a few songs that caught me off guard. Get ready to see watch lazy formula earn Disney another billion dollars at the global box office.
This week’s horror entry comes to us from the writer/producer/director of ‘Wolf Creek‘. Although it’s hitting 1,350 screens and looks like it has fun potential as a disgusting black comedy, its small distributor (BH Tilt) has spent as little money on promoting the film as possible, which includes a lack of press and promotional screenings. ‘The Belko Experiment‘ stars John Gallagher, Jr. (you know, the third actor from ‘10 Cloverfield Lane‘) as one of 80 American employees working in a secure office building in Colombia. Without warning, the building is completely locked down in the middle of a work day, trapping the employees inside. A voice comes over the loud speaker and turns their office space into a real-life gory version of ‘The Hunger Games’ (or ‘Battle Royale’, for those who aren’t ‘tweens). To kill, or not to kill – that is the conundrum. Since this is an R-rated horror movie, I’m pretty sure we can count on kill. And a lot of it.
I’m a huge fan of Danny Boyle, but even I have to admit that some of his films are downright bad. Did you see ‘Trance‘? Hardly anyone did, but those of us who trudged through it know that it’s as poor as word made it out to be. This weekend, Boyle follows Disney’s lead by jumping back into a beloved piece of film history and needlessly revisiting it. Why? Who knows? It’s not like anyone was clamoring for it – but he did it anyway. Earning my nomination for Worst Film Title of 2017 is ‘T2 Trainspotting‘. (I’m sorry, but if the movie doesn’t have a Terminator in it, I’m not calling it ‘T2’.) After 20 years apart, the junkie characters from the original come back together in Scotland for more drug-induced madness. Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle and many others reprise their roles. The trailer makes it look like more of the same, so I don’t get the appeal. That’s not to say that it’s a bad movie, but it sure looks like a simple cash-grab and isn’t drawing my attention.
By this point, even most of Terrence Malick’s fan club have bailed on his post-‘Tree of Life’ pictures. Although his latest, ‘Song to Song‘, sounds like the most appealing release he’s had since then, I’m still leery. The story – which is likely to meander in and out of streams of thought – follows an ensemble of conflicted lovers who are embedded within the Austin, TX music scene. That single-sentence synopsis alone already alludes to a high level of pretentiousness. As is the case with many Malick films, several big name actors filmed scenes for ‘Song to Song’ but never made it into the final cut. Those that did make it into the movie include Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Holly Hunter and Val Kilmer.