As it should be, this holiday week’s releases appeal to all audiences. We get a gorgeous thought-provoking drama, a mindless teen action remake, and a kids’ holiday tale. If you don’t fit into those three demographics, ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Twilight’ are still around too, of course.
The widest release this weekend is DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Rise of the Guardians‘. Make no mistake, this is not a sequel to that damned awful owl movie that Zack Snyder made a few years back. No, ‘Rise of the Guardians’ is actually entertaining. Guillermo del Toro is still overseeing DreamWorks Animation’s titles, so ‘Rise of the Guardians’ is a bit more complex and dark than most family flicks. “Guardians” have been chosen to protect the children of the world. This magical group is made up of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and the Easter Bunny. When the Boogey Man unleashes widespread darkness and despair, Jack Frost is called as the newest Guardian. Much like Po in ‘Kung Fu Panda‘, Jack is a square peg in a round hole. You’ll just have to see the movie for yourself to find out how Jack will aid in restoring light to the children of the world.
Fighting against ‘Rise of the Guardians’ for 3D screens is Ang Lee’s visually stunning adaptation of the novel ‘Life of Pi‘. The bulk of this castaway tale is set in a small raft on the high seas. After a horrific storm sinks an entire ship and drowns the majority of its passengers, a teenage Indian boy named Pi and an adult Bengal tiger are left afloat to fight for survival. Wipe away any fear that this two-hour film will induce boredom. With gorgeous style, an intimate script, and fantastic actors and characters, ‘Life of Pi’ is an epic drama that demands to be seen on the big screen.
Finally hitting the screen this week is the remake of ‘Red Dawn‘. Shot in 2009 for a November 2010 release date, this title sat finished on a shelf for two years. Like ‘Cabin in the Woods‘, that may be the result of MGM’s financial struggles. However, from what I hear (I haven’t seen it yet), that’s the least of the movie’s issues. Chris Hemsworth, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are the replacements. Having grown up with the 1984 Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey version of ‘Red Dawn‘, I have to admit that I actually want to see the remake, despite its awful early reviews.
Two probable awards contenders get limited Friday openings. The first is ‘Hitchcock‘, the biographical drama that portrays the iconic filmmaker’s life around the period that he made ‘Psycho‘. With a cast featuring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jessica Biel and James D’Arcy, I’ve heard nothing but good things from critic friends who’ve seen it. Yet I also worry that this may be a cheap attempt to win a Best Picture Oscar by telling a Hollywood story. After the success and many award wins of ‘The Artist‘ last year, I fear that we may be moving forward into a brown-nosing trend.
The second supposed contender is Sony Pictures Classics’ release of the French/Belgium ‘Rust and Bone‘. A single father falls deeply in love with a woman (Marion Cotillard) after she suffers a horrible accident at work. Truthfully, based on her spectrum of strong performances, if a film can land Cotillard as a lead, I’m interested.
Expanding this week is David O. Russell’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. And inexplicable to me, Robert Zemeckis’ dead-eyed animated flick ‘The Polar Express‘ is also getting a 15-screen re-release.