The weekend after a major tentpole release is usually tame, but that’s not the case with this one. Although none stand a chance of dethroning ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, three studios are going against the grain with counter-programming. If superheroes aren’t your thing, we’ve got an ape-tastic version of ‘The Great Escape’, a silly PG-13 horror movie, and the expansion of the rom-com that has dominated the specialty box office for the last two weeks.
I personally found the last two ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies to be so-so, but a devoted fan base loves this new iteration of the primate takeover tale. That fan base, however, doesn’t seem like it’s big enough to warrant a 4,022-screen opening. Nonetheless, Fox does. Nearly a silent film, ‘War for the Planet of the Apes‘ (which should be more accurately titled ‘Skirmish for the Planet of the Apes’) continues following the series’ beautifully motion-captured central character, Caesar (Andy Serkis). Tension runs thicker between the mountain-dwelling ape communities and the ruthless soldiers (led by Woody Harrelson) that hunt them. The first half of the film slowly meanders around, but opens up for a second half that’s surprisingly tense, fun and entertaining. This blend of ‘The Great Escape’ and Moses’ Biblical exodus might be the oddest entry in the trilogy, but fans will go bananas for it. If even I could be this entertained, it might just surprise other non-fans.
Broad Green is giving a 2,250-screen push to ‘Wish Upon‘. The teen-friendly horror movie stars a grown-up Joey King as a bullied high school student who finds a box that grants her every wish – but at a cost. As she forms her picture perfect reality, she becomes addicted to the ultimate power. With each wish having an uncontrollable negative consequence, it doesn’t take long for things to get out of control. I didn’t attend my local press screening, but several sources tell me that the audience also got out of control. I hear that there was uncontrollable laughter from both viewers and critics alike, making ‘Wish Upon’ one of the best unintentional comedies in years.
Roadside Attractions has a new release at the specialty box office. Also a Sundance acquisition, ‘Lady Macbeth‘ is a black comedy set in the 19th Century that follows a young girl who was bought into a loveless marriage. Purposeless and completely unhappy, she takes matters into her own hands. When I caught it at Sundance, I felt like the filmmakers had no idea what kind of movie they were making, leaving this niche picture without a much-needed personality. You can read my review here.