Two disaster films open this week. One is about a disaster, and the other simply is a disaster.
The wait for Alfonso Cuaron’s first feature since 2006’s ‘Children of Men‘ is finally over. With amazing tracking scores, ‘Gravity‘ debuts on more than 3,500 2D, 3D and IMAX screens across the country. Since its simultaneous premieres at the Telluride and Venice film festivals in August, the buzz surrounding this lost-in-space thriller has been huge. Luckily for us, the buzz is completely accurate.
Sandra Bullock plays a rookie astronaut assisting with a mission to repair the Hubble telescope. Leading the mission is George Clooney. When an unpredictable disaster strikes, the two are left floating in orbit without a functional ship. ‘Gravity’ takes a turn towards horror as several monsters come into play: the depleting oxygen in their suits, the debris field orbiting the Earth, and (of course) gravity. With a film of such huge scope, I assume that large format and 3D showings will be strong for this major Oscar-contender. I, for one, will return to see it again in IMAX this weekend.
The second disaster movie is ‘Runner Runner‘. To call this the best gambling flick since ‘21‘ isn’t saying anything at all. Fox is pumping the “based on a true story” thriller into 3,000 theaters, presumably because it stars Hollywood hunks Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake. After attending a free promo screening and seeing empty chairs throughout the theater, I doubt that many folks will be running-running to see ‘Runner Runner’.
JT stars in this bland movie as a down-and-out but bright-minded college student who gets reeled into the world of illegal online gambling. When he learns of an industry head (Affleck) cheating his way through the internet games, JT heads to the corporate headquarters in Costa Rica to confront the criminal, only to be seduced into the shady business. The two play mind games with one another as the flavorless film quickly draws to a predictable climax in less than 90 minutes. I’m a fan of staring at Gemma Arterton, but not even she can make ‘Runner Runner’ worth watching.
Arthouse theaters are filled with Indie comedies this weekend. After Lionsgate’s surprising five-week success with ‘Instructions Not Included’, the studio takes a similar approach with the release of another Mexican-American film, ‘Pulling Strings.’ Opening on 350 screens, the movie is a family-friendly romantic comedy about an American girl in Mexico City who unexpectedly falls for a Mariachi singer. I’m curious to see how well ‘Pulling Strings’ will stack up to the $40 million-plus earned by ‘Instructions Not Included’.
Adam Scott stars in ‘A.C.O.D.‘ as an adult who learns that he was unknowingly part of an “Adult Children of Divorce” study through his parents’ 15-year ordeal. Years later, he’s brought in on the secret for a follow-up study, which causes his family to act even more dysfunctional than ever. So long as Scott portrays that dickish charm that he’s known for, I’m in.
Finally, Paul Giamatti, Paul Rudd and Sally Hawkins star in ‘All Is Bright.’ Rudd plays a Christmas tree salesman who brings on his old buddy (Giamatti) who was recently released from prison on parole. What’s Giamatti’s motive? To earn enough money to buy his estranged daughter the one expensive object that she has always wanted. With a cast this fantastic, I’m interested.