by Luke Hickman
Containing a few prospective Oscar contenders, October's theatrical releases are looking a bit better than September's, paving the way for the busy awards season. Hopefully, some of the wide October releases will give you something to look forward to while awaiting November's 'J. Edgar,' 'The Descendants,' 'The Muppets' and – who can forget – 'Piranha 3DD' and 'Breaking Dawn: Part One.'
'Ides of March'
George Clooney and Ryan Gosling star in what's looking like 'Wall Street' with politics. Gosling plays a rookie staffer for a presidential candidate who learns about the dirtiness of politics while campaigning.
Critics friends of mine who have already seen 'Ides of March' rave about the performances – not those of proven leads Clooney and Gosling, but of supporting stars Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, and Jeffrey Wright. Check The Bonus View on Friday for my full review.
From Shawn Levy, the director of 'Just Married,' 'The Pink Panther' and 'Night at the Museum,' comes 'Real Steel' (a.k.a. 'Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots: The Movie'). Hugh Jackman plays a former pro boxer muscled out of the sport when fans demand the dismembering brutality that only robotic boxing can offer without taking human lives. To get his boxing fix, he begins piloting robots through boxing matches. But his down and out life is turned upside down when his ex-wife passes away, leaving him their loud-mouth and obnoxious son.
When the two come across a first generation sparring robot that the kid has the utmost faith in, they fix him up and take to the road for underground 'Fight Club'-esque boxing matches. When their robot proves to be a worthy contender, they quickly climb up to the big leagues. Imagine Stallone's 'Over the Top' with robo-boxing instead of arm wrestling.
'The Big Year'
I hadn't seen or heard a thing about 'The Big Year' until I was asked by 20th Century Fox to help distribute passes in the Salt Lake City area yesterday. Considering it's a PG feel-good-looking comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, it doesn't look terrible.
Martin, Black, and Wilson play competitors in a year-long bird-watching contest that takes them around the world looking for the most rare birds. Based on the trailer alone, 'The Big Year' seems to be along the lines of 'The Bucket List' – a genuine comedy with heart.
This PG-13 remake of the '80s song and dance is of course an updated remake of the Kevin Bacon original. After a group of teens die in a drunken-driving accident after a dance-off, the small-town authorities decide to ban public dancing and “immoral” music. When a sassy Bostonian moves to town, he begins a rebellion to change life in this rural town forever, and dammit, he will do it by dancin'!
When I think of cutting loose, the last thing I think of is dancing – but thanks to 'High School Musical,' 'Glee' and a handful of dance competition reality shows, apparently there's a market for it. Aside from a washed-up Dennis Quaid and an aging Andie MacDowell, the only other star that audiences might recognize is 'Dancing with the Stars' coach Julianne Hough.
The second remake opening this week is 'The Thing.' John Carpenter's original 'The Thing' starred Kurt Russell as part of a team of scientists in Antarctica that start getting picked off by a shape-shifting alien. The remake stars cutie Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Eric Christian Olsen.
Shame on me – I've not yet seen the original so I have nothing to gauge the remake's trailer against, but being a fan of the sci-fi horror genre, here's to hoping it's good. On the bright side, it can't be as bad as 'Whiteout.'
'Johnny English Reborn'
I don't get the appeal of Rowan “Mr. Bean” Atkinson. Perhaps it's because I'm not British. If you're like me, you probably didn't know that 'Reborn' is a sequel to an eight-year-old 'Johnny English' film.
The plot to 'Johnny English' sounds a lot like that of 'Cars 2' – an imbecile becomes an accidental secret agent who must save the world. I didn't like 'Cars 2' at all, so I doubt I'll enjoy 'Reborn.' But considering the original grossed over $27 million domestically and far surpassed its $35 million budget in worldwide ticket sales, there must be plenty of people out there who get that draw that I don't understand.
'The Mighty Macs'
This G-rated sports drama is the freshman film from Tim Chambers. Based on a true story, 'The Mightly Macs' tells the story of an all-girl's Catholic school basketball coach who turns her small, unequipped team in a champions.
Carla Gugino, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton and Ellen Burstyn star in the family drama that feels more fit for the Lifetime network than it does the big screen.
'Paranormal Activity 3'
I saw 'The Blair Witch Project' when it was on the big screen. At the time, it was unique and completely original. But the 'Paranormal Activity' franchise hasn't done a single thing in two movies that wasn't done by the first 'Blair Witch.' After seeing the preview for the third 'Paranormal Activity,' it sure doesn't look like '3' isn't going to do anything new either.
Honestly, how many more undiscovered home videos can the investigators find? And when will it stop? Had the actors been capable of giving strong, un-annoying performances, they'd be more tolerable. Had the movies done anything more to conjure fear than loud banging and open cabinets, it might actually be scary. But as they are, they're cheap tricks that most haunted houses pull off more successfully.
I previously had no desire to see 'Paranormal Activity 3,' but after seeing the “Bloody Mary” moment in the trailer, I now want nothing to do with it.
'The Three Musketeers'
Via guilty pleasure director Paul W.S. Anderson, 'The Three Musketeers' are once again headed to the big screen. In this version, the Musketeers aren't the fighters they used to be. They need help, so a young D'Artagnan joins their cause in stopping a European war before it begins. Wouldn't that make them the Fourth Musketeers?
'The Three Musketeers' stars a bunch of second rate actors including Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Matthew Macfadyen, Mads Mikkelsen, Ray Stevenson and, somehow, Christoph Waltz. The best mini-review I've read on the film says is has “more in common with the candy bar than the book.” There are some taglines that I wish I could have come up with first – that is definitely one of them.
The poster for 'Anonymous' poses the question, “Was Shakespeare a fraud?” I pose a better question – if Roland Emmerich makes a movie about a fraudulent Shakespeare, is it worth watching? I don't know the answer to his question, but we all know the answer to my question - probably not.
'Anonymous' tries to show how William Shakespeare, the most famous writer of all time, didn't actually write the works he's known for. Backing it's claim up with supposed historical evidence, 'Anonymous' alleges that it was Earl of Oxford Edward De Vere who actually penned the most read fiction of the world.
Andrew Niccol is a mild, more mainstream version of Charlie Kaufman. From 'Gattaca' to 'The Truman Show,' he's come up with some truly unique and satisfying original works. Because of his track record, I wouldn't doubt 'In Time' – but because it stars an action-oriented Justin Timberlake and boring Amanda Seyfried, I'm worried.
In the near future, humans stop aging at 25. Your arm features a ticking clock that shows how much time you have left. Everything – food and clothes – cost time from your life. The more you buy, the shorter your life becomes. Instead of receiving monetary pay for your work, you are paid in time.
JT stumbles across a man with more time than he can use that transfers his hefty amount of time over to JT. With this blessing come many perks, as well as a small army of the wealthy trying to track him down and steal his time. Seyfried somehow gets caught up in the mix, but helping balance the mix of iffy acting are Olivia Wilde and Cillian Murphy.
'Puss in Boots'
While the 'Shrek' series may not have stayed on top as long as Dreamworks had imagined it would, they're not quite ready to give up on all of the character in that universe quite yet. The boot-wearing, furball-hacking cat Puss in Boots is getting a spin-off.
Little is known about the prequel's backstory except that it leads up to him joining Shrek and Donkey in 'Shrek 2.' You can expect cat-womanizing, swordplay and hopefully a little more of the cat-nip we saw the knights take from him in 'Shrek 2.' Working against 'Puss in Boots' are its credit. From the director of the franchise's worst flick, 'Shrek the Third,' and the collective writers of 'Hop,' 'American Pie 2,' canceled television series 'The Cape' and 'Shrek the Third,' the forecast for 'Puss in Boots' is gloomy. At least DreamWorks still has the energy to wring every possible penny from their series' lifeblood.
'The Rum Diary'
Think 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' where the LSD is replaced with rum and the desert is replaced with the tropics. Johnny Depp returns as the wasted journalist character in this story from the mind of 'Fear and Loathing' author Hunter S. Thompson.
While many deem Terry Gilliam's 'Fear and Loathing' adaptation a masterpiece, I simply don't get it. Perhaps it stems from never having played with LSD, but it's more like a maddening fever dream than something I'd watch for entertainment purposes. Having been a decade since I saw 'Fear and Loathing,' perhaps I need to give it another chance now.
Even though I'm not a 'Fear and Loathing' fan, 'The Rum Diary' actually looks pretty good. Here's to hoping director Bruce Robinson wins me over!