Whenever movies aren’t screened widely for the press, that’s usually a bad sign. I cannot think of a single not-screened-for-press film that turned out to be a winner (with the possible exception of some small indie flicks that simply cannot afford to show the movie to press across the country). The fact that the majority of this week’s films weren’t shown is no sweat off my brow. Actually, it saves me from seeing films that I probably won’t enjoy – which is a good thing. Unfortunately, the film that was screened this week is terrible.
That would be ‘The Debt‘. Ugh. Trailers for this movie began running so long ago that I didn’t believe the film would ever open. Originally scheduled for a December 2010 release, ‘The Debt’ was pushed back until now. If a movie isn’t screened for press, it raises concern – but if it’s pushed back eight whole months, there’s definitely a problem.
In the film, a group of Israeli spies plot to kidnap an evil Nazi genetic scientist in East Germany, sneak him over the Wall, and make him stand trial for his war crimes in Israel. Without a doubt, the premise has potential. Unfortunately, only two sequences ever come close to realizing it. As the trailers portray, there’s almost nothing appealing in this movie. The entire film is based around one second-act twist. ‘The Debt’ deserves credit for pulling off a clever, unpredictable twist, but it’s obvious that the writers had no idea what to do after the reveal. It’s too bad the decent work from the first two-thirds of the film is wasted on a terrible final act. Why ‘The Debt’ was screened for press at all, I have no idea.
Receiving the widest release this weekend is ‘Apollo 18‘. This one was not screened for press and has also bounced around from several release dates. The film plays with history as it shows secret footage from an 18th Apollo mission which reveals that aliens attacked astronauts on the moon. The not-so-unique element that makes me not want to see ‘Apollo 18’ is the fact that it’s filmed exactly like original ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and the effortless ‘Paranormal Activities’ movies. No thanks.
‘Shark Night 3D‘ also opens this weekend. The simple fact that it looks like a PG-13 rip-off of last year’s ‘Piranha 3D’ makes me not care to see it either. While I enjoyed the campy fun of ‘Piranha 3D’, the R-rating sold the campiness and quickly gave it cult status. Imagine watching ‘Piranha 3D’ edited on the USA network. Again, no thanks. I enjoy good campy fun, but ‘Shark Night 3D’ director David R. Ellis has already tried to create an instant cult classic and failed miserably at it. ‘Snakes on a Plane’ was overly hyped online prior to its release, but when it opened, it proved to just be simply horrible. Ellis seems like he wants to be a geeky cult director, but I just don’t think he’s got the chops.
Opening in limited release is ‘A Good Old Fashioned Orgy‘, a comedy that I had literally no knowledge of until Aaron Peck’s Posterizing installment this week. IMDb says: “A group of 30-year-olds who have been friends since high school attempt to throw an end-of-summer orgy.” Starring Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Labine, Martin Starr, Will Forte, David Koecher, Lucy Punch and Leslie Bibb, the cast has me interested. Not opening in my region, I don’t have the chance to see it this holiday weekend. If any of you do, let us know how it is.
Robert Duvall and Lucas Black also reteam for the limited release ‘Seven Days in Utopia‘, a G-rated inspiration tale about a professional golfer who flops during his highly anticipated debut. When he pulls a Doc Hollywood/Lightning McQueen and becomes stranded in a hidden little town, he meets an old rancher who helps him hone in and meet his potential.
During this extended holiday weekend (in the U.S., at least), what are you going to see?