There have been nearly twenty sequels, spin-offs or reboots since April – some good, some not so good. This weekend gives us yet another, as well as three original movies, each opening on more than 2,000 screens.
Although 2010’s ‘Kick-Ass‘ wasn’t a huge blockbuster, it was a success nonetheless. Made on an independent budget of $30 million and distributed by Lionsgate, it grossed $48 million domestically and another $48 million overseas. For the sequel, Universal now takes a crack at the franchise with ‘Kick-Ass 2‘. Everyone has returned with the exception of sidekick Augustus Prew and, obviously, Mark Strong. Lyndsy Fonseca reprises the girlfriend role, but literally only for one scene. By defeating Red Mist and his father in the first movie, Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) created the world’s first super-villain, “The Motherfucker.” When Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) leaves crime-fighting behind for a ‘Mean Girls’ lifestyle, Kick-Ass must collaborate with another batch of wannabe superheroes. Led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), the league “Justice Forever” consists of other part-timers like Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison), Battle Guy (Clark Duke) and Night Bitch (some no-name cleavage-y girl). The charm and originality of the original may be missing from ‘Kick-Ass 2’, but the fun gritty violence, inappropriate comedy and shocking foul-mouthed dialogue are still in place.
The second biggest movie of the weekend is ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler‘. After a battle with the MPAA, the Weinstein Company had to slap “Lee Daniels” into the title if they wanted to keep “The Butler.” I’m curious to see how Daniels’ heavy drama plays out after ‘The Paperboy‘ was so badly panned. The film follows a longtime White House butler (Forest Whitaker), and shows the effect that events like the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam had on him and his family. The cast also includes Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber and Robin Williams.
There was a time when a Harrison Ford movie was a guaranteed thing, but ever since the ear-piercing, he’s gone from Indiana Jones to Alan Quartermain. ‘Paranoia‘ is only the third-widest release of the weekend – which is insane because Ford’s name used to be a major draw. In the corporate thriller, a young up-and-comer (Liam Hemsworth) is pitted between two rivals (Ford and Gary Oldman) in web of espionage. I’d typically expect something decent, but with the studio nixing regional press screenings, I can’t imagine that it’s any good.
I’m surprised to see the Sundance bio-pic ‘Jobs’ open on 2,000 screens. The life of Apple icon Steve Jobs is played out on the big screen via a bearded Ashton Kutcher. I don’t particularly find either Kutcher or Jobs very intriguing. (Am I the only iPhone owner who doesn’t look at him as the God of technology?) After tepid reviews from its Sundance premiere, I don’t expect much from this.
Two limited indie releases have perked my interest. Starring Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Ben Foster and Keith Carradine, the Western ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints‘ tells the story of an outlaw fugitive trying to reunite with his family. Despite how much I loathe the writings of Jane Austen, I actually want to see ‘Austenland.’ Keri Russell plays a love-sick die-hard Jane Austen fan who blows her life savings to vacation at a Jane Austen role-playing retreat. From the co-writer of ‘Napolean Dynamite’, the comedy looks nice and dry. Plus, with ‘Flight of the Conchords’ star Bret McKenzie in it, I’m absolutely interested.