Weekend Movies: Coming Up Short

With one week to go until ‘Star Wars’ storms theaters, unfortunately nothing worthwhile takes the stage in the meantime.

Originally slated for March 2015, the sole wide release this weekend had its theatrical debut bumped nine months. When Warner Bros. announced the delay for ‘In the Heart of the Sea‘, the excuse at the time was to poise the film for Oscar contention. I don’t buy it. Having seen the movie, that seems like a whale of a tale. I believe it was more likely bumped in order to convert it to 3D just to wring a few extra bucks out of moviegoers’ wallets. After all, who opens a movie that’s doomed to have a single weekend of success?

Based on the story that inspired Herman Melville to write the book that no one has ever read cover-to-cover (‘Moby Dick’), Ron Howard’s seafearing drama tells the true story of an early 1800s whaling crew that encountered a larger-than-life sperm whale which left them stranded on the high sea. Chris Hemsworth plays the ship’s first mate. Like every other character in this bad screenplay, he’s lifeless and emotionless, two adjectives that perfectly describe how you’ll feel while watching this story unfold. Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Ben Whishaw co-star.

Paramount is rolling out an awards hopeful to eight screens. Comedic writer/director Adam McKay tries his hand at drama with ‘The Big Short‘. Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt share the spotlight in this ensemble true story about four guys who foresaw the financial crash of 2008 and went up against big banks in return. The large cast also includes Margot Robbie, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, Rafe Spall and Hamish Linklater.

Once on top of the world, ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ writer/director Jared Hess has another swing and a miss with ‘Don Verdean‘. Sam Rockwell leads the cast as a down-and-out archaeologist who once made a decent living by unearthing famous artifacts from Bible stories. Flat broke and absolutely desperate, he fakes a finding that causes his web of deception to get exponentially larger. Amy Ryan, Jemaine Clement, Will Forte, Danny McBride and Leslie Bibb co-star in this promising yet unsatisfying comedy.

In addition to these three notable titles, Universal will expand the British gangster period piece ‘Legend’, starring Tom Hardy, to 107 screens.

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