Weekend Movies: Giving Up the Ghost

Super Bowl weekend typically experiences a steep drop in movie attendance. Knowing that, Hollywood is only offering one new film to wide release, and it doesn’t look very good. That should easily allow ‘Maze Runner’ to win the box office again.

Is the Winchester house of San Jose, California well known by the average person? Growing up in Southern California, I remember hearing about it once after a friend toured the odd home while on a family vacation, but that’s it. I’m curious if it carries any lore outside of those who live somewhat near it.

The curiously-constructed mansion is the centerpiece for the new PG-13 horror movie from the Spierig brothers, co-directors of last year’s ‘Jigsaw‘. ‘Winchester‘ (does anyone else hear Simon Pegg and Nick Frost say “Winchester” in sync any time they hear or read the name of this movie?) somehow managed to land two great actors, Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke. Mirren plays the heiress who built the house as a place to keep countless violent ghosts, and Clarke plays a doctor who lives in the home. The story focuses around one particular ghost that has a beef with the Winchester family and is bound to settle it here. Not screened for press in many regions, I’ll take that as a sign that the film is probably skippable.

A co-production from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the animated action adventure ‘Bilal: A New Breed of Hero‘ hits select theaters this weekend. Said to be based on a true story, the movie tells a 1,000-year-old tale of a boy who wanted to grow up to be a great man and warrior. As an adult, he went on to fight against an all-powerful tyrannical leader. Don’t mistake this as being an international kids’ movie. It’s rated PG-13 and appears to be more along the lines of ‘Beowulf’ than ‘Coco’.

Also in limited release is a science fiction action movie from the director of ‘Johnny English’ (groan) and ‘Antitrust’ (double groan). The futuristic Western ‘Scorched Earth‘ stars Gina Carano as a post-apocalyptic bounty hunter who goes after the most wanted and dangerous man out there. I’ve wanted to see Carano kick cinematic ass again since she kicked Michael Fassbender’s (and literally broke one of his ribs) in ‘Haywire‘, but she’s still stuck mostly in bland B-movies and occasionally shows up in big-budget B-movies. ‘Scorched Earth’ looks like a burned-out Syfy channel reject.

With only these three options, I feel like I have no choice but to watch the Super Bowl.

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