Weekend Movies: Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Once upon a time, it might have been unusual for a remake and a sequel to open the same weekend. Today, with Hollywood banking almost entirely on those two types of movies, it comes as no surprise.

Following ‘Maleficent‘ and ‘Cinderella‘, Disney has another new live-action remake of one of its animated classics. Directed by Jon Favreau and opening on more than 4,000 screens is ‘The Jungle Book‘. Almost following the exact story and structure of the animated classic, the new version is a talking-animal movie that surprisingly never feels like a talking animal movie. Newcomer Neel Sethi plays the man-cub known as Mowgli, who has been raised by a pack of wolves. When the ferocious tiger Shere Khan makes it a personal goal to eat Mowgli, the boy heads out on an escape adventure through the jungle. Along the way, he makes a new friend, but also meets a few new unfriendly characters. The surprisingly awesome movie features a stellar voice cast that includes Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Lupito Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken. Get ready to see Disney generate box office gold once again following ‘Zootopia’ and prior to ‘Captain America: Civil War’.

This weekend’s new sequel is surprisingly a third ‘Barbershop’ movie. Coming 12 years after the last entry and 14 years after the original, ‘Barbershop: The Next Cut’ expands the BCU (Barbershop Cinematic Universe) by applying a topical theme to the comedic franchise. Round 3 takes us back to the neighborhood, which has become infused with crime and violence. By banding together and embracing change, the hair-cutters and customers put all their efforts into making a difference and turning the town around. Echoing the embrace in change, the barbershop rules evolve and female stylists are brought into the mix. The cast includes Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Anthony Anderson, J.B. Smoove, Common and Nicki Minaj.

After a string of box office duds, Lionsgate is back on 2,600 screens this weekend with a thriller that feels like a mash-up of already existing movies. In ‘Criminal‘, Ryan Reynolds plays a CIA superstar who’s killed in action while attempting to thwart a terrorist attack, but that doesn’t mean he’s entirely out of the game. In a ‘Source Code‘ kind of way, science is able to extract everything from his mind and place it in another person who can use it to complete the mission. (No, you’re not having déjà vu. The plot is very similar to Reynolds’ 2015 flop ‘Self/less’.) Who’s the lucky person bound to become a hero? A criminal (Kevin Costner) awaiting execution in a federal penitentiary. The not-so-smart move complicates everything. While Reynolds is in the spotlight after his ‘Deadpool’ success, Costner is coming off a string of mostly not-so-good movies. The awesome supporting cast includes Gal Gadot, Alice Eve, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones.

Debuting in limited release is A24’s horror movie ‘Green Room‘. From the director of 2013’s noteworthy indie drama ‘Blue Ruin‘ comes a twisted flick that pits the young members of a punk band against a murderous group of Neo-Nazi dirtbags. Anton Yelchin plays one of the leading roles opposite the villainous Patrick Stewart. Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat and Mark Webber co-star.

Kicking off on five screens is John Carney’s latest music-infused dramedy, ‘Sing Street‘. With a cast of unfamiliar faces, the film tells the story of a post-high school kid who leaves Ireland to pursue his dreams of becoming a musician in London. Being a huge fan of ‘Once‘ and ‘Begin Again‘, I’m dying to see Carney’s latest. If the buzz continues, the film should expand soon.

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