Peter Rabbit

Weekend Movies: Bad Hare Day

Much like last weekend, this week’s new movie offerings lack the stuff that makes you want to spend $10 (at the very least) to see anything new on the big screen.

The biggest draw (and likely the one to win the box office) is the third and final ‘Fifty Shades’ installment. After that are a partly-animated kids’ movie starring talking animals and a Clint Eastwood true story drama that Warner Bros. didn’t even bother screening for press. Since none of the three look that appealing, I expect the Oscar-nominated pictures to play well again this weekend.

The first ‘Fifty Shades’ movie debuted to a massive $85.1 million. Two years later, the sequel opened to $46.6 million, a drastic drop. One year after that, everyone’s favorite ‘Twilight’ fan-fiction is back to deliver a long-awaited climax. I suspect it will be a new franchise low.

If you’re still all about abusive relationships and violent sex, then we’ve got just the movie for you! ‘Fifty Shades Freed‘ finally seals the on-again/off-again relationship of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) with the enduring bonds of marriage. Of course, the couple’s drama extends beyond their own glamorous lives. A shady figure from their past threatens their new marriage, putting them to one last test. The softcore soap opera series has a built-in audience who will see it through no matter what, but also an even bigger demographic that wants nothing to do with it. Having not seen any of them, I find myself in the latter.

Considering that the latest ‘Smurfs’ movie tanked, you’d think that Sony would come to understand that hybrid live-action/CG kids’ movies aren’t all that appealing anymore. You’d be wrong. Along comes ‘Peter Rabbit‘, a similar family feature that places James Corden’s character – a self-centered egotistical bozo – in a CG starring form. The title character lives in the English countryside and can’t stay out of his angry and hostile human neighbor’s garden. Peter and his siblings live alongside a nice young artist (Rose Byrne) who adores them and takes care of them, but that’s not enough for Peter. As the gardener (Domhnall Gleeson) starts falling for Byrne’s character, jealous Peter launches a full-scale scheme to ruin him and sabotage his blossoming relationship. The juvenile drama may keep your kids entertained, but will struggle to keep you adults awake. Go see ‘Paddington 2’ instead.

I have always felt that Clint Eastwood gets more credit as a director than he deserves. More often than not, I find his films severely lacking. In the case of ‘The 15:17 to Paris‘, it seems that his distributor (Warner Bros.) feels the same. Not screened for press, the drama tells the true story of three American soldiers on leave who became heroes when they thwart a terrorist attack on a train in France. Of course, the event was so brief that the narrative of the film has to expand the story to tell about the men’s early lives. Instead of casting familiar or up-and-coming actors, Eastwood cast the actual men to play themselves in the 94-minute movie. The risky stunt casting didn’t work in 2012’s ‘Act of Valor’ (in fact, it backfired thanks to those terrible performances), and I imagine that’s part of the reason for ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ opening relatively off the radar. Eastwood’s movies typically get an awards push, but this one is either two months late or ten months early.

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