A diverse blend of movies opens in theaters this weekend. Surprisingly, the widest of the releases isn’t Marvel’s latest comic book extravaganza, but a toy-based cartoon from DreamWorks Animation. Between a superhero in crisis, singing and dancing ’80s dolls, and a religious war film, which will you see?
Toy companies have successfully capitalized on Hollywood franchises for many years, but it’s obvious that they’re now desperate to come up with new content. Remember those dumb troll dolls that were prevalent in the 1980s – you know, the ones with crazy hair that always became so tangled, fuzzy and gross that most kids took scissors to them? Well, that’s how desperate DreamWorks is. With a voice cast led by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, ‘Trolls‘ follows a group of Smurf-like little characters that supposedly taste great to the predatory humans who hunt them. Their survival tale takes the obligatory singing and dancing traits of animated kids’ characters and makes them part of the plot. In other words, get ready for more annoying pop song covers than a ‘Kidz Bop’ album. (You parents of young children know what I’m talking about.) Luckily for DreamWorks, ‘Trolls’ can’t possibly flop as hard as this summer’s earlier toy-based movie, ‘Max Steel’.
Although Marvel may come in on fewer screens than that, the studio’s latest will definitely dominate the box office. ‘Doctor Strange‘ introduces us to a new comic book superhero making his way into the Cinematic Universe. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the surgeon version of Tony Stark, a quippy and arrogant playboy who, when you break it down, isn’t very likeable. After a car accident leaves him wounded, jobless, and filled with self-loathing, he pulls a Bruce Wayne and heads to find a better life on the other side of the globe. Once there, the Last Airbender teaches him the magic to pull ‘Inception’- and ‘Edge of Tomorrow’-like tricks that will help him save the world from a ‘Green Lantern’-like villain. Being new at sorcery, he’s not the greatest, but luckily he has Aladdin’s magic carpet to serve as a sidekick cape. If you can’t tell, I’ve had enough of this shit.
Chris Brown can still make albums and sell out concerts after beating up Rihanna, but no studio will put Mel Gibson’s name on the poster for one of his own films anymore – and that’s despite his latest being a pretty great movie. ‘Hacksaw Ridge‘ tells one of the many little-known World War II tales that haven’t made it to the silver screen before. Andrew Garfield stars as Desmond Doss, a medic who, because of his religious beliefs, refused to yield a weapon. Doss is most known for walking through Okinawa massacres, aiding and dragging men to medical help, all without a sidearm. Not perfect but still great, the film tells an amazing story that takes plenty of time developing its many characters. Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving and Vince Vaughn co-star in the very religious yet very gory war drama.
Jeff Nichols earned some praises for his spring release ‘Midnight Special‘, but he’s getting even more for his second film of the year. ‘Loving‘, which opens in limited release today, is a drama that tells the true story of Richard and Milred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), a couple who were prosecuted and sentenced to prison in 1958 because of their interracial marriage. It’s only hitting a few screens this weekend, but with Oscar buzz, the movie will likely expand wide over the next few weeks.
Also building some buzz on a small screen count is the Ewan McGregor-directed ‘American Pastoral‘. Based on a Philip Roth novel set in the late 1960s, it’s about a couple (McGregor and Jennifer Connelly) whose seemingly perfect suburban family life is turned upside down by their daughter’s radical political activism. It’s likely that ‘American Pastoral’ will also expand wider soon.