Weekend Movies: Children at Play

Unless you’re an unapologetic fan of Guillermo del Toro, the ‘Transformers’ movies or Adam Sandler, you might see this weekend as waste. However, there’s a solid piece of entertainment to be found where you might not expect one (no, I’m not hinting at the Sandler flick) and a slew of promising indie releases.

I’m a moderate fan of del Toro, but the first few trailers for ‘Pacific Rim‘ were horrible. (By the way, how many trailers wound up getting released? I swear I saw at least a dozen.) Each preview made the movie look slightly more appealing than the last, but none could shake the dumb ‘Power Rangers’ vibe.

Giant monsters have been rising from a dimensional bridge in the sea floor, and mankind has to bond together to defeat them. How do they do that? Create giant manned robots of equal size. Even with my hesitations and concerns, I walked away more than satisfied with ‘Pacific Rim’. Unfortunately, I still firmly believe that the movie’s going to flop. I’ve tried telling the naysayers how much fun it is, but not even strong word of mouth can sway those who’ve already decided that it’s worthless. Del Toro’s devoted fan base may flood the cinemas opening weekend, but I doubt that ‘Pacific Rim’ will have legs.

Just like Johnny Depp, Adam Sandler is losing his star power. Flop after flop, he has resorted to doing something that he claimed he never would: a sequel. With a worldwide theatrical haul of $271.4 million, a follow-up to ‘Grown Ups‘ seemed like a safe vehicle to turn into a franchise. The majority of the crew is back for ‘Grown Ups 2‘. Any missing characters have been replaced by other familiar faces. The principal cast includes Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade, with Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, Maria Bello, Nick Swardson, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Austin and Taylor Lautner co-starring. The cameos include Will Forte, Andy Samberg (and his Lonely Island crew) and every single friend that Sandler has ever made off- and on-screen. Get ready for 101 minutes of non sequitur scenes with Sandler and company acting out silly, crude and stupid shenanigans.

This weekend features several noteworthy indie releases. One that has caught my eye is the Weinstein Company’s Sundance 2013 acquisition ‘Fruitvale Station‘. Based on a true story, our central character wakes up on New Year’s Eve with his ambitions set on change. As we follow him through the day, we peel the layers of his character leading up to a climactic event that makes his story worth telling.

Horror fans can get excited for the limited theatrical and VOD release of ‘V/H/S/2‘. This anthology of horror shorts features segments directed by the makers of ‘The Raid: Redemption‘, ‘Hobo with a Shotgun‘ and ‘The Blair Witch Project‘. This time, two private dicks sort through a collection a VHS tapes hoping to find clues that will lead to the whereabouts of a missing student. Rumor has it that the ante has been upped from ‘V/H/S’ and that the sequel is stronger than the first.

Also from Sundance is IFC’s ‘Crystal Fairy‘. Michael Cera stars in this road trip film about a group of friends who get an eccentric tag-a-long. While adventuring through Chile, the group searches for a notorious hallucinogenic cactus.

Jeff Garlin takes another crack at feature filmmaking in ‘Dealin’ with Idiots‘, which features a slew of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ regulars and a very similar tone and sense of humor. If you’re a fan of ‘Curb’, then ‘Dealin’ with Idiots’ might perk your interest. Garland plays a famous comedian who decides the tap the unintentional comedy spewing from the parents of his kid’s Little League team for his next project. Co-stars include Timothy Olyphant, Gina Gershon, Bob Odenkirk, Nia Vardalos and J.B. Smoove.

Finally, the director of ‘Simon Birch’, ‘Daredevil‘, ‘Ghost Rider‘ and ‘When In Rome‘ tackles yet another genre with ‘Killing Season‘. This action thriller stars Robert De Niro and John Travolta, and was written by one of the minds behind ‘Snow White and the Huntsman‘. The movie is about two Bosnian war veterans from different sides of the line who get into a battle of their own in the middle of the Rockies. Sounds promising, but let’s be honest, De Niro and Travolta don’t turn down roles anymore.

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