A strong January comes to a solid close. Is this a good indicator of what’s to come in 2016?
Although DreamWorks Animation has struggled since partnering with Fox, this weekend hopes to change things. ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ may have been a major letdown compared to what the original did, but ‘Kung Fu Panda 3‘ shows all signs of kicking ass. Even if the ‘Shrek’ franchise couldn’t keep its momentum up, DreamWorks hasn’t let us down with ‘Kung Fu Panda’ yet and is about to close the series on a high note. The third installment immediately introduces us to two new characters are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. The first is a new villain that breaks out of the afterlife to bring an end to kung-fu, those who practice it and those close to them. The other is Po’s father, whose existence was teased at the end of ‘Kung Fu Panda 2‘. While trying to adapt to having two parents who love him dearly and training to go head-to-head with his most deadly enemy yet, Po and the franchise come full circle and deliver a satisfying finale.
Opening against the nearly 4,000-screen giant is Disney’s well-polished ‘The Finest Hours‘. Based on a true story, the high-seas drama tells about one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s most daring rescue missions. A major blizzard slammed the East Coast in 1952. Off the shore of Massachusetts, two oil tankers split in half. One was completely shipwrecked, while the other broke in the perfect spot, allowing the back section of the ship to not only stay afloat for several hours, but also still have power and maneuverability. ‘The Finest Hours’ follows the survivors of the latter ship as they did their best to pump out the incoming water and steer to safer waters. At the same time, a selfless four-man crew braved the roaring seas in a small ship to rescue the survivors. Chris Pine and Casey Affleck star with a great supporting cast behind them.
Marlon Wayans is back on the big screen with yet another spoof movie, ‘Fifty Shades of Black‘. With a plot identical to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, it follows a successful businessman who meets a sheltered young woman and introduces her to the darker side of sex. As expected, the ad lib flick inserts a slew of slapstick comedy. If you’ve ever seen a Wayans parody, you know exactly what you’re in for.
Caught in bankruptcy limbo and pre-production troubles and controversy, from the studio formerly known as Relativity comes ‘Jane Got a Gun‘. Three years after the indie film was shot, it’s now seeing the light of day thanks to current distributor The Weinstein Company. The Western stars Natalie Portman as a woman whose husband is wanted by a deadly posse. To get him back, she seeks the help of a former gunslinging lover. Weinstein put next to nothing into advertising this 1,200-screen release, so there’s practically no feedback on it whatsoever. You’re rolling the dice on this one. While it doesn’t look terrible, knowing that the original director quit and a replacement director came aboard one day prior to the shoot kicking off, you have to wonder how good this once-blacklisted picture can be.
As happens in Oscar season each year shortly following the announcement, the nominated short films become available to see collectively in theaters. This weekend, the ‘2016 Oscar Nominated Short Films‘ begin playing at 125 screens across North America.