Just like last year, Disney is trying to get an early jump on blockbuster season with the first mega-budget production of the year. With an estimated budget of $200 million, let’s hope that this one performs better than ‘John Carter‘.
74 years later, we get the first worthwhile return to the magical land of Oz since ‘The Wizard of Oz‘. No, I don’t count that awful ‘Return to Oz’ or the cheesy Zooey Deschanel ‘Tin Man‘ series as “worthwhile.” And I sure hope that you don’t consider HBO’s ‘Oz’ an adaptation! In Sam Raimi’s ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful‘, we see how Oscar Diggs made his way from dust bowl Kansas to the colorful Emerald City, and how he became the Great and Powerful Oz. James Franco leads the strong cast that also includes Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Zach Braff. The film’s visual style is gorgeous and the 3D is impressive. If you pay close attention, you just might a couple types of geeky easter eggs: those that have significance to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and those that you might expect to see more in, say, the ‘Evil Dead‘ series.
If you’re not interested in a PG family flick, consider ‘Dead Man Down‘. Original ‘Dragon Tattoo‘ director Niels Arden Oplev and star Noomi Rapace reteam for this English-language gangster thriller that also stars Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper. The story portrayed in the trailer couldn’t be farther from the story in the actual film, but don’t let that deter you. Rapace videotapes her gangster neighbor (Farrell) committing murder and uses the footage to blackmail him into getting revenge on a rich man who left half of her face disfigured. Expect two of the best performances of the year and a film that’s just as gripping during the character study moments as it is during the shoot-outs. Enjoy.
Opening in limited release is ‘Emperor‘, from the director of ‘Hannibal Rising’ and ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’. Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox star in this World War II drama about U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, who had to decide whether or not to hang the Japanese emperor for war crimes after Japan’s surrender. The few reviews out there are mixed.
How would you feel if the majority of your favorite bands reunited 30 years later and hired a no-name frontman lead singer based on a YouTube video? Personally, I wouldn’t consider it anything more than a glorified cover band, but apparently that’s the true story of Journey. In 2008, a new lead singer was hired based on an internet video. For the Journey fans out there, the 113-minute documentary ‘Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey‘ opens in 15 domestic cities.