This weekend, three films attempt to take down the reigning box office champ ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. One tells the true story of a controversial assault against Americans in Libya, one is an animated family flick that assaults the senses, and the last one is a sequel to a buddy movie that assaults your intelligence.
The widest release of the weekend is Universal’s ‘Ride Along 2‘. Starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, the original movie paired their two opposite characters in a ride along-turned-dangerous night. The sequel takes their characters and places them in a rip-off of ‘Bad Boys 2’. One is due to wed the sister of the other, which creates conflict. In Miami, they have to take on a bunch of drug dealing bad guys. Featuring slow-mo rotating low-angle shots of the armed duo and planes flying over the iconic Miami sign, even the cinematography steals blatantly from Michael Bay. Enter at your own risk.
Five weeks have passed since the last family film opened in North America, so Lionsgate is taking advantage of the gap by releasing something called ‘Norm of the North‘ on 2,400 screens. Not based on existing material, Rob Schneider voices the lead character, a polar bear whose home is destroyed by an evil corporation. Looking for a new place to live, Norm heads to New York City with his comedic support sidekick lemmings. To make a living, he accepts a job as the mascot for the same company that drove him out of his home. Heather Graham, Ken Jeong and Bill Nighy also lend their voices. It sounds painful. I don’t foresee it tanking as badly a ‘Jem and the Holograms’, but I definitely don’t think it will be a success.
The third new wide release is Michael Bay’s return to decent cinema, ‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi‘. I initially scoffed at this topical picture because I assumed that Bay would take the controversial story of the raid on the U.S. Embassy in Libya and turn it into a wildly sensationalized, insensitive and braindead movie filled with slow-mo action, spinning cameras and people shooting guns while jumping through the air. After seeing it, I was forced to eat my words. In the vein of ‘American Sniper’ or ‘Lone Survivor’, the horribly-titled ’13 Hours’ tells the story of the six American security contractors hired by the CIA to protect intelligence agents and their covert compound in the war-riddled and conflicted Libyan city of Benghazi. For the first time in over a decade, it’s nice to have a Michael Bay movie that works well, despite its imperfections. John Krasinski and James Badge Dale star.
In limited release, ‘Moonwalkers‘ creatively plays with the Apollo 11 moon landing, taking the conspiracy theories about it being faked to a whole new level. From the writer of the original ‘Death at a Funeral’ – which gives it massive levels of promise – ‘Moonwalkers’ stars Ron Perlman as a CIA agent attempting to track down Stanley Kubrick and employ him to stage and shoot the lunar landing. When he fails to locate the famed director, he takes what help he can get and hires a slimy band manager played by Rupert Grint.