Weekend Movies: An Action-Packed Weekend

I don’t know if it’s the fact that the Sundance Film Festival is underway locally or if it’s just because January movies are typically bad, but most movies that open during the two weekends of Sundance aren’t screened for press. Unfortunately, the one that was shown for press this week feels like it shouldn’t have been.

George Lucas and his Lucasfilm company have put out ‘Red Tails‘, and action-ish melodrama about the black fighter pilots, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, who made history during World War II. The marketing for ‘Red Tails’ has been all over the place, making it look like an action flick, a comedy and a drama. It’s really more like ‘Star Wars’ than a WWII flick. Basically, it’s an X-Wing versus Tie Fighter movie. I wish that I could have screened the next two big new releases instead of ‘Red Tails’.

Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire‘ is the movie I really want to see. This revenge flick stars beautiful MMA fighter Gina Carano (or Crush, if you watched her on the ‘American Gladiators’ relaunch) as an ex-black ops soldier who takes down a group of corrupt men that double-crossed her. The fantastic supporting cast includes Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Michael Fassbender. If any of you Bonus View readers see ‘Haywire’, please let us know your thoughts.

After disappearing for the third installment, Kate Beckinsale is back as the leather-clad vampire Selene in ‘Underworld: Awakening‘. Her husband Len Wiseman, however, is only returning as a credited screenwriter. (He must be too busy with the ‘Total Recall’ remake.) Scott Speedman is also sitting this one out. In round four, humans find out about the existence of vampires and werewolves, and Selene has to lead an army to fight back against the humans that want to destroy them all. Who knows how the movie itself is, but it’ll be nice to see Beckinsale donning her vampire garb again.

After several Golden Globe wins, ‘The Artist‘ expands 662 screens, so check your local listing to see if it’s playing near you yet. Also expanding wide is ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close‘, another must-see title from 2011.

Several indie flicks begin limited theatrical runs this weekend. Ralph Fiennes’ modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s ‘Coriolanus‘ is finally available to some audiences, as is Christian Bale’s Chinese film ‘Flowers of War‘. Another Chinese film, ‘The Viral Factor‘, opens in limited release. A new Japanese anime chapter of the ‘Fullmetal Alchemist‘ series hit the big screen this week too, sub-titled ‘The Sacred Star of Milos’.


  1. JM

    Gina Carano is kicking cinematic ass. ‘Haywire’ has the same metacritic as ‘The Bourne Identity.’

  2. This is a first for me, but this week, I am actually interested in the indy films over the main releases. I LOVE modern Shakesperian adaptations, so I would love to see Coriolanus. If I can find it playing, The Sacred Star of Milos sounds good. As for Red Tails, I will probably be the sucker that goes and sees it. I will see it, but the question is if I am going to pay $10 to see it in the next week or two, or wait a couple of months and see it at the dollar theater.

  3. EM

    Alas, still no Artist in my area. On the plus side, Hugo has gone back to showing in 3D. I plan to see it Sunday.

  4. Deaditelord

    While it probably isn’t going to be very good, just the fact that Scott Speedman is nowhere to be found in Underworld: Awakening is a step in the right direction.

    • Drew

      No, it isn’t.

      “Underworld: Awakening” is an abomination.

      If you are blind and stupid, you would enjoy it for the audio track.

      That’s the most positive thing I can say about it. You wouldn’t even enjoy the audio candy if you were intelligent, because it might give away too much about just how awful some of the scenes are.

      Any good will built up by the good moments that took place in the first three films was flushed down the toilet.

      • Deaditelord

        Wow, harsh words indeed and it’s not like the bar was set that high by the previous films either. I mean honestly, what else do the Underworld movies have going for them other than Kate Beckinsdale in a skin-tight leather outfit? More of her should have resulted in an improvement.

        • Drew

          It’s only about 75 minutes long, and ends abruptly following the first action set-piece of any significance. When you realize that it’s ending, you start to experience feelings of shock, and try to convince yourself that they’re just teasing an ending, but alas, it’s really over.

          I don’t want to go into detail and give anything away for those of you that might wish to still see it, but I was in utter dismay that they would soil the ‘Underworld’ franchise with this horrific film.

          You’re right, it’s not like ‘Underworld’ is this outstanding film franchise that takes a superb effort to hold up to the first three films. In spite of that, this one was so terrible, it made even the bad moments in the first three films look good.

          This film doesn’t even feel like it takes place in the same world as the first three films. The producers removed it from the mythology that was established in the first three, and tried to move it into ‘Resident Evil’ territory, while trying to base it in reality.

          If Kate was only going to appear in 3 out of the 4 ‘Underworld’ films, she should have been in the first three.

  5. Brian H

    Gina Carano really does look the part in Haywire… unfortunately, the movie is a huge miss. Without insider information, we are left with speculation. The script is weak, but the dialogue is horrendous. It was fitting that they showed a Phantom Menace 3D trailer, because the actors deliver their lines in a stilted, punished manner. Gina Carano’s lines are kept to a minimum, and Channing Tatum plays his character as though he were somewhere between completely drunk and terribly hung over. There might be as much as 15 minutes of dialogue in the movie, which is especially problematic as it is the only way in which the director chooses to move the story along. The action is slick, but there is only about 2-3 minutes of it spread over the entire film. Instead we get long shots of Gina Carana walking European streets, jumping fences, and playing with her hair.

    I would have to say that Steven Soderbergh was being minimalist is every aspect of movie. With little dialogue or action, the sound is often made up of a few pieces of the sound track. Even the music is sparse and much of the film is silent. Several people in the theater of the Friday night showing I saw, fell asleep. Camera cuts are rare, and shots of the actors just being uncomfortable and having nothing to say or do go on and on. These scenes are usually followed by even more mundane shots of the lead character getting around. “Oh wow she’s taking a taxi. Now she’s buying a phone from a phone store.” Then the audience is treated to one of the male leads quickly spouting dialogue to remind the audience that there is a plot even though all the characters seems completely unmotivated.

    As the movie’s plot thickens(it doesn’t), there is a scene where Gina Carano and Michael Douglas meet in an airplane hangar. As cameras sits at the back of this small hanger looking out, Michael Douglas is standing there(bored), his private jet and the airport tower in frame, and slowly a motorcycle approaches. Fortunately, the audience has no doubt as to who is riding the motorcycle. As she pulls up and steps into the hanger, her and Michael Douglas are only visible as silhouettes, and they continue an earlier phone conversation that is painfully devoid of drama or any possible interesting detail. Meanwhile, the audience can see outside the hanger in the distance a Phillips 66 sign. As the scene plods on, a tumbleweed blows across the tarmac and past the Phillips 66 sign. My friend turned to me and said the exact same thing that I was thinking, “I’m more interested in that tumbleweed than anything else happening right now.
    In movies like Ocean’s 11, Steven Soderbergh showed how he can make the planning of a heist interesting, and so it was huge warning sign when early in the film Gina Carano’s character refuses to even discuss the plans for an operation in Barcelona. The critics seem to love Haywire because it is stylized, but if you happen to see it, you may want to bring a magazine or something else appropriate for a waiting room.