This weekend is a big ol’ grab bag of genres and choices. Unfortunately, like most weekends, the majority of the movies being unleashed – both into the malls and multiplexes and the smaller art houses – are terrible. But hey, “Summer begins” this weekend, according to the advertisements for one of the new releases. And summer has never been known for quality entertainment, now has it?
The biggest movie opening is Universal’s umpteenth entry in the ‘The Fast and the Furious’ franchise. This one’s called ‘Fast Five‘. I saw it earlier this week and I liked it. It’s a transitional movie, which sees the franchise move away from the car racing antics of earlier installments toward a more action movie/heist format. For the most part, it works. Not only are Vin Diesel and Paul Walker back, but a whole bunch of characters from the various sequels return too (even ‘Tokyo Drift’, the best of the bunch). Sadly, because of the sheer number of central characters (Dwayne Johnson is the bad-ass fed tracking them down, by the way) and the shift away from the original series conceit, much of the “car culture” color that was such a thrill in earlier movies is largely absent. But still, stuff smashes up real good.
Also opening wide is ‘Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil‘, the sequel to the unreasonably popular 2006 animated film that was a sub-‘Shrek’ spoof of fairy tales. This new film has been sitting on the shelf for a couple of years. In fact, McDonald’s had Happy Meal tie-in toys nationwide in January 2010. The original film was poorly animated and unfunny, which I understand is the case here as well. But also, you know, it’s in 3D. I’ll be skipping this one. So should you.
Bafflingly, ‘Dylan Dog: Dead of Night‘ is opening wide. Based on the Italian horror comic book of the same name and starring one-time Superman Brandon Routh, this wasn’t screened for critics. The reason is probably that it looks atrocious – with sub-‘Buffy’ make-up and visual effects, and clunky humor. Oh, and it’s a horror movie that’s PG-13. Pass.
On the art house side of things, there are some interesting choices this weekend and some that aren’t so interesting.
Werner Herzog has a new 3D documentary called ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams‘, which I saw a billion years ago and can barely remember. That’s not because I saw it so long ago that I can barely remember it. It is boring. And I mean B-O-R-I-N-G. It’s about a cave in France that has some of the oldest cave paintings. So, of course Herzog uses this as an excuse to talk about the profundity of creativity, blah blah blah. The funniest moment is when he quizzes some technician about what the paintings mean to the ever-evolving nature of the human soul, to which the technician answers with a quizzical look.
Another international auteur, Takashi Miike, has ‘13 Assassins‘, which I heard a guy in line behind me at SXSW call “the greatest fucking samurai movie ever.” I have not seen it, but let’s go with that guy’s recommendation.
Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut ‘Sympathy for Delicious‘ also opens this weekend, but it’s truly awful. And this is coming from someone who genuinely loves Ruffalo. It’s just bad – a maudlin tale about a wheelchair-bound homeless dude who has the magical ability to heal others but not himself. Zzzzzz…
If you can find it, there’s a killer German movie called ‘The Robber’ opening too. I saw it at the New York Film Festival last year, and it was one of my favorites. It’s a thriller about a bank robber who can only replicate the adrenaline of thievery by running marathons. It’s fascinating – and true! You won’t be disappointed.