Now that ‘The Avengers’ has quickly crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide, can any of the three wide openers this weekend knock it off the pedestal? There’s a big, dumb and loud action movie based on a board game, an edgy R-rated comedy and a cliché-ridden chick flick. My guess… Nope, none of them can do it.
Opening on 3,750 (surprisingly) 2D screens is Peter Berg’s big-screen adaptation of Hasbro’s board game ‘Battleship‘. Taylor Kitsch of ‘John Carter’ plays the lead, a cocky naval officer quickly forced to lead a small fleet against a seemingly impenetrable alien invasion off the coast of Hawaii. Don’t expect a plot in this disengaging blockbuster. No, it’s just a 131-minute string of loud noises and CG special effects that are identical to those of the ‘Transformers‘ movies. No character ever exclaims, “You sunk my battleship!”, but there is, however, a sequence that requires the ship’s captain to fire blindly at coordinates on a grid.
On 3,003 screens is Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest edgy comedy, ‘The Dictator‘, in which he plays the leader of a fictional terrorist-sympathizing Middle Eastern nation. While attending a U.N. hearing in New York City, Aladeen’s trademark beard is removed, which takes away his identity and allows his body double to place his nation’s future in jeopardy. Stuck on the streets of NYC, Aladeen has just three days to save his precious dictatorship from being turned into an evil capitalistic democracy. No, ‘The Dictator’ isn’t a typical Baron Cohen flick, but that doesn’t stop it from being hilarious and offensive. With an intro title card that says, “In loving memory of … Kim Jong-il,” it would have to be.
Showing up on just three screens less than ‘The Dictator’ is an awful ensemble chick flick that feels like it could have been made by the ‘Valentine’s Day‘/’New Year’s Eve‘ folks. ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting‘ follows several couples through their first pregnancies. Instead of being somewhat educational and honest, it leans towards contrivance by cramming in absolutely every stereotype about pregnancy and first-time parenthood. As cheesy as it may be, mothers ought to enjoy the way the movie celebrates motherhood. But guys, fathers or not, will roll their eyes throughout. The one thing that will keep the men entertained is a group of experienced fathers (including Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon and Rob Huebel) who occasionally pop up. Truthfully, had a movie been dedicated to this group of dudes, it might have been hilarious.
Former Superman Brandon Routh appears in indie film ‘Crooked Arrows‘, a sports drama about a Native American lacrosse team competing in a prestigious nationwide tournament. Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy star in ‘Hysteria‘, a period romantic comedy about the invention of the first vibrator. Yikes!
The 2011 Jury Prize winner at Cannes, ‘Polisse‘ finally hits American soil. This crime drama follows a journalist assigned to a police unit who messes up the situation when she begins an affair.
As if ‘The Avengers’ wasn’t popular enough, Samuel L. Jackson also appears in ‘The Samaritan‘ this weekend. In this thriller, he plays a recently reformed ex-convict who’s having a hard time escaping his past. No, he’s not playing Jules Winnfield from ‘Pulp Fiction‘.
The final limited opener worth noting is Dustin Lance Black’s ‘Virginia‘. Starring Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Emma Roberts, ‘Virginia’ tells the story of a mentally-ill mother who’s on the brink of revealing her town’s dirty dark secrets.