This weekend’s new movies are quite peculiar. Each title feels like it should be a huge studio-backed event, yet not one of them seems to be receiving much in the way attention or promotion.
Apparently, Tim Burton didn’t get the memo that audiences no longer care about YA adaptations. Based on the first installment of the odd book trilogy, ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children‘ attempts to be like ‘X-Men’, only with a whacked-out tonal shift. Kids with special abilities are recruited to live in a mansion that’s frozen in time by a protective motherly figure (Eva Green). The home must remain hidden from dark “peculiars” who desire to eat eyes of the children for immortality, so the kids must work together to stay safe and stay alive. Unfortunately, while the first two-thirds of the movie set up a wonderful and surprisingly dark work, the final third reverts back to extremely childish behavior and stupidity. I catch a scent of studio-driven reshoots that were done to make the dark movie more kid-friendly, which absolutely backfires and makes the thing unwatchable. In addition to Green, the cast also includes Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, Allison Janney, Chris O’Dowd and Terence Stamp. (No Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter this time.)
Peter Berg may have stumbled hard with ‘Battleship’, but he found his footing again with ‘Lone Survivor’ and is still going strong with his latest high-intensity drama, ‘Deepwater Horizon‘. Mark Wahlberg returns as the leading man in Berg’s telling of the events surrounding the worst oil spill in history – you know, the one where British Petrolium’s “Well from Hell” exploded over the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers, injuring 17 others, and allowing oil to flow into the ocean non-stop for 87 days. Berg’s dramatization is highly impactful, carries a great deal of heart, and surprisingly lands as one of the better films of the year. The cast includes Kate Hudson, her stepdad Kurt Russell, his amazing mustache, John Malkovich, the ‘Maze Runner’ kid and Randy from ‘My Name is Earl’.
Originally slated as a summer 2015 release, Jared Hess’ new comedy is finally hitting screens this weekend. Not to be confused with Patrick Stewart’s 1997 movie of the same title, this ‘Masterminds‘ is also a heist movie, but with a comedic flare – or so we hope. Hess has directed some solid comedies (‘Napoleon Dynamite’, ‘Gentlemen Broncos’), but he has also churned out total misfires (‘Don Verdean’). As the ads put it, Owen Wilson play “the brains,” Zack Galifianakis plays “the pawn,” Kristin Wiig plays “the bait,” Kate McKennon plays “the ex,” Leslie Jones plays “the law” and Jason Sudeikis plays “the psycho.” The bankruptcy of studio Relativity is blamed for delaying the release of this ‘Ghostbusters’ reunion (although ‘Masterminds’ was shot long before ‘Ghostbusters’), but if this comedy was as great as the casting may lead you to believe, wouldn’t it have found a new distribution home quickly?
Disney’s ‘The Queen of Katwe‘ saw so-so returns from its limited opening last weekend, but it has now expanded out to 1,242 screens (as opposed to originally planned-for 1,500 screens) for mass audiences to see it and make up their own minds.