Weekend Movies: A New Hope

‘Star Wars’ opens this weekend. Do the other movies even matter?

Well, it’s finally here – the ‘Star Wars’ sequel that the fans have been waiting for since 1983. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ is set 30-something years after the Emperor and Darth Vader were defeated by Luke Skywalker and the rebel forces. Now, as a new evil organization rises from the ashes of the Empire, a group of new characters must team up with those from the original trilogy to restore harmony to the universe. While many have feared that ‘The Force Awakens’ would feel like a typical J.J. Abrams movie, it’s worth noting that none of Abrams’ trademarks appear, making this return to the franchise feel as if it fluidly came straight after ‘Return of the Jedi’. ‘The Force Awakens’ feels like classic ‘Star Wars’, not a J.J. Abrams movie. I’m not particularly a ‘Star Wars’ fan, but even I had a great time with ‘Episode VII’.

As much as I’d like to ignore the other two titles opening wide this weekend, this would be an awfully short post if I did.

With Fox losing ‘Star Wars’ to Disney, the studio somehow thought it would be a good idea to open another ‘Chipmunks’ sequel opposite it. ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip‘ returns the three annoying animated characters to the big screen opposite live-action Jason Lee. (That poor guy deserves better than this.) This time, out of fear that they’ll be abandoned, the rodents travel across the country to stop Dave from proposing to his girlfriend. The cameo-filled cast includes Kaley Cuoco, Bella Thorne, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate, Justin Long and Tony Hale. May God have mercy on those who take their children to watch it.

Equally as annoying is the new laughless comedy ‘Sisters‘, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Although once pegged for cinematic success, both remind us that ‘SNL’ actors rarely make for good big screen stars. When their aging parents decide to sell their childhood home, the female duo decide to throw the most epic farewell party. This cringe-inducing mess should have been titled ‘Romy and Michelle’s House Party’. To make matters worse, as if attempting to compete with Amy Schumer and ‘Trainwreck’, Universal is promoting ‘Sisters’ as a For Your Consideration title. That would be like Sony proposing a jokeless version of ‘Step Brothers‘ for awards consideration. Talk about a trainwreck.

Lionsgate has an action thriller opening on a small number of screens this weekend. ‘Extraction‘ stars Bruce Willis and features a plot that appears to be a greatest hits mix of two of his movies: ‘RED‘ and ‘A Good Day to Die Hard‘. As a retired CIA agent, when he’s kidnapped by a group of terrorists, his son (Kellan Lutz) has to come to the rescue. Gina Carano and D.B. Sweeney co-star.

Aside from ‘Star Wars’, the only other picture truly of note is Sony Pictures Classics’ limited release of the Hungarian film ‘Son of Saul‘. Shot with an amazingly effective close-up style, the film follows a Hungarian prisoner at Auschwitz who’s assigned to work at the crematorium. As he feels the need to perform a very specific and personal task – one that will get him killed if caught – he must use his relationships to leverage his needs. Insanely intimate, bold, beautiful and at times difficult to watch, this is one fine film that’s certain to end up in the Oscar race.


  1. NJScorpio

    I prepurchased tickets for a Saturday night showing of ‘Star Wars’, but the theater has received two bomb threats (one the other day, and one today). Fandango swapped locations for me for no charge, so that’s good.

  2. Bolo

    ‘Room’ (the new film, not the Tommy Wiseau film) is playing down the street from me this weekend, so that’s what I’ll be seeing.

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