Weekend Movies: Bio-pics Aplenty

This weekend brings four wide release movies and two Oscar hopefuls. Oddly, four of the six are bio-pics. Just like last weekend, none are expected to make much of dent at the box office.

The widest opening is for Universal’s ‘Happy Death Day‘. From the folks behind some of the ‘Paranormal Activity’ movies and the sleeper comedy ‘Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse’, the PG-13 horror movie is the second release of 2017 to apply the ‘Groundhog Day’ formula to a different genre. In this take, a teenage girl re-lives her birthday over and over again. Each time, the should-be-happy day comes to a terrifying close – death by murder – and each time it repeats. No matter what she does to avoid it, she’s still murdered. It happens a different way each day. If she can uncover the identity of her killer and stop his/her attack, she believes that she’ll be able to break the deadly loop. Perhaps if moviegoers don’t show up for ‘Happy Death Day’, we’ll break the loop of slacker filmmakers borrowing the plot of a beloved classic comedy.

The weekend’s second-widest release, ‘The Foreigner‘, brings Jackie Chan back into the starring role of an English-language action movie. Sort of. Sharing top billing with Pierce Brosnan, 63-year-old Chan doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as his co-star. When an IRA bombing in London kills his teenage daughter, Chan’s revenge-fueled immigrant takes matters into his own hands. With nothing to lose, he ignores all laws to bring down the responsible rogue cell. Brosnan plays the former IRA diplomat that Chan believes holds the identities of the terrorists. While Chan certainly kicks a lot of ass – which is the real reason why anyone would want to see this movie – he’s really in the backseat compared to Brosnan’s role. The IRA story is the dominant of the two. Having said that, ‘The Foreigner’ is decent.

While it seems like it would have been better suited as a limited release, distributor Annapurna has its third Oscar-hopeful of 2017 on more than 1,200 screens. However, the platform release didn’t do anything for ‘Detroit’, so maybe it wouldn’t have improved the chance that ‘Professor Marston & the Wonder Women‘ has for success. The R-rated drama tells the story of William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, and the three-way romance between his wife and another woman. If it seems like this release came out of nowhere, that’s because its production and distribution were rushed to arrive in the successful wake of this summer’s ‘Wonder Woman’ movie. The well-reviewed film stars Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote.

Next is the biographical drama ‘Marshall‘. Hollywood’s go-to actor for bio-pics, Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in ’42’ and James Brown in ‘Get On Up’), stars as Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice. From a director with a pretty extensive television résumé and two rather unknown writers, this one is a toss-up. ‘Marshall’ is playing on more than 800 screens.

The third bio-pic, ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin‘, is only being brought to nine screens. As you may have suspected, Fox Searchlight’s drama tells the story of author A.A. Milne and how he came up with his classic characters from Winnie the Pooh. From the director of ‘My Week with Marilyn’ and ‘Woman in Gold’, ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ reunites ‘About Time’ stars Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie in the lead roles.

The final bio-pic of the weekend is Andy Serkis’ directorial debut, ‘Breathe‘. From the writer of ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Les Miserables’, the film stars Andrew Garfield in a role that resembles Eddie Redmayne’s in ‘The Theory of Everything’. The story belongs to Robin Cavendish, a quadriplegic polio victim who, with his wife Diana (Claire Foy), fought to make the quality of life for disabled people better. Co-starring Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville, reviews seem pretty lukewarm for this feel-good drama.


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