Here we have another fine example of studios pushing titles that wouldn’t stand a chance opening against “real” movies. January is the month where these misfits are laid to rest… and it can’t end quickly enough.
The widest release this weekend is the intentionally over-the-top ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters‘. I know that some moviegoers are geeking out for this release, but it looks like another too-serious-for-its-own-good and unfun ‘Van Helsing‘ to me. It’s rumored that the studio made both PG-13 and R-rated cuts of the film. Considering how bad it looks and how non-existent word-of-mouth is, I’m surprised that Paramount went with the R-rated version, which will probably make considerably less money than a PG-13 would. Jeremy Renner doesn’t have enough star power to make ‘Hansel & Gretel’ a popular hit, but the hotness of Gemma Arterton might draw in some extra male crowds.
Opening on 2,200 screens is yet another Jason Statham movie that looks exactly like all his others. The plot of ‘Parker‘ is reminiscent of a million other revenge/heist/action flicks. An antihero is double-crossed and left for dead, but somehow survives and is hell-bent on getting revenge. While I’ll give any Jason Statham movie a shot, the casting of Jennifer Lopez worries me here. She hasn’t done a single worthwhile thing since she became “Jenny from the Block.” If only we could go back in time and reinvent her career after ‘Out of Sight‘.
The Farrelly brothers haven’t given us a good movie in over a decade, so I hardly doubt that Peter Farrelly’s production of ‘Movie 43‘ will be at all worth watching. The 90-minute film is made up of who-knows-how-many short stories that all tie together by the end. The massive cast includes bit parts from Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Seth MacFarlane, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Liev Schrieber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, J.B. Smoove, Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBrayer, Justin Long, Jason Sudekis, Uma Thurman, Kristen Bell, Leslie Bibb, Katrina Bowden, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moritz, Gerard Butler, Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Elizabeth Banks and Josh Duhamel. Can you say “overcompensating”? A few of the directing credits include Elizabeth Banks, Peter Farrelly, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk and Brett Ratner. (Are there any short-film collections that Ratner won’t do? I guess hacks have to eat too!).
Opening in limited release is ‘Race 2‘, the sequel to India’s 2008 hit ‘Race’. The plot details make it sound exactly like the fourth ‘Fast and Furious‘ flick: After the lead character’s lover is killed, he seeks revenge on the people responsible for her death.
In ‘John Dies at the End‘, a new drug transports users across time and dimensions, leaving some of them less-than-human. Two teenage boys try to save the world from the fallout. After overwhelmingly negative reviews at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, I’m pretty surprised that the horror comedy is seeing the light of day. We can probably thank the geeks at Ain’t It Cool for that. It’s likely that ‘John’ won’t play at a theater near you, but the movie is also available from streaming services.