Hello again, my geeky friends. When I am not pursuing my many geeky interests and catching up on Breaking Bad on Netflix, my day job is working as a Manager at a large Theatre here in Charlotte. Working on the front-lines, so to speak, it never ceases to amaze me how there will be one weekend where almost no major films are released at all. People will ask me why nothing new is coming out. I never have a good answer because I have wondered that myself on more than a few occasions.
You would think that the Studios would try to stagger their releases to get maximum impact in the marketplace. Sorry, I had an attack of corporate speak. I’ll try to keep that under control. Seriously though, I do wonder why some weekends are barren and other weekends are so crowded that something gets lost.
This is one of those weekends. Two films were released on Wednesday with another two opening Friday. Those are the Major Studio releases. There are also several other smaller films that are opening in limited release. I’ve already taxed your patience with a 2500 word review of The Wolverine this week, so I will keep this article to just the Major films. I’ll also shine a light on a small little gem of a film that is playing a limited engagement in Charlotte.
On August 14th, 2009 the geek world welcomed Neill Blomkamp with open arms into our collective hearts. With a budget of just thirty-million dollars, District 9 looked like a hundred million dollar event picture and had the heart and soul of a small Independent film. Besides being a stunningly original science fiction thrill ride, it also introduced the world to a bold new voice. For three-years we have waited to see what he would choose for his follow-up and now, the wait is over.
Set in the year 2154, the film tells the story (also written by Blomkamp) of a resource depleted earth where the poor and underprivileged live down here on the surface with the rest of the 99% while the rich and powerful 1% live a life of luxury and ease on a man-made space station called Elysium.
In trailers for the film the space station seems to circle the planet. It sort of reminds me of Ringworld.
Matt Damon plays Max, a worker-bee on earth who is accidentally exposed to radiation during a crisis at work and is given only a few days to live. Besides plenty of food, clean water and the life of luxury, Elysium also features the cure for what ails you, including the cancer-like radiation poisoning. The only problem is, Elysium is kind of like a floating Arizona. They have a very strict no admittance policy for anyone who can’t buy their way into the good life.
With his back against the wall and time running out, Max decides to take on the almost suicidal mission of breaking into the space station and taking the cure by force.
If District 9 is an indication of Neill Blomkamp’s style, I imagine the allegory will be clear and un-hidden and the social commentary will be front and center. I admit that there were parts of District 9 that were a little un-subtle but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film. As usual, your mileage may vary. Jodie Foster co-stars as the gatekeeper to Elysium and District 9 star Sharlto Copely co-stars as the specialist tasked with putting a stop to Max’s quest.
SPECIAL ADVANCED SCREENINGS START TONIGHT AT 10pm. STARTS TOMORROW IN 2D AND IMAX EVERYWHERE.
I have to admit it, I laughed out loud when I saw the trailer for this. Jason Sudeikis is one of the most reliably funny people working in comedy today. For all the tabloid fueled drama that surrounds her and more than a few questionable film roles, people forget that Jennifer Anniston has world-class comic timing. She spent ten years staring on the biggest sitcom of its time and aside from being a very beautiful woman, when she is given the right material, she is really really funny.
The plot of this film is definitely filled with comic possibilities. A low-level drug dealer (Sudeikis) is offered a lot of quick cash to run down to Mexico and pick up a smidge of marijuana and transport it back. figuring that a family on vacation will be less likely to be searched, he enlists the help of a local stripper (Anniston) a teenage runaway (Emma Roberts) and an aimless teen in his building (Will Poulter) to act as the all-american family. They plan to rent an RV and drive the small amount of weed back to the States and collect their cash. When it turns out the small amount of weed is actually enough to “Kill Willie Nelson” things go from bad to worse and if the screenwriter has done their job, the laughs will really begin to roll.
This Summer has had several raunchy comedies and the results have been mixed. The Hangover 3 was an un-funny bore, The Heat has its moments but failed to really come together, and The To-Do List is pretty much pure comedy gold from start to finish.
I’m hoping that all the funny isn’t in the trailer and that there are some solid laughs to be had that we haven’t seen yet. With the talent in front of the cameras on this one, I believe that is a solid possibility.
NOW PLAYING AT THEATERS EVERYWHERE.
Also known as Percy Jackson and the sequel nobody asked for.
I don’t mean to offend any die-hard Percy Jackson fans out there, but I’m not really sure who this film is for. The first film came out in February of 2010, cost 95 million dollars to make and grossed 88 million world-wide. I am assuming it developed a hefty following on dvd and cable because otherwise the math doesn’t really work. We’re not sure exactly how much the sequel cost, but it’s coming out in August where there is a lot more direct competition for the family film audience, which is the target for this.
Talking to people I know who read and liked the books, they tell me that the film is a very loose adaptation. These are people who liked the books and they are lukewarm at best on the film.
Unless Nathan Fillion’s legions of Castle and Capt. Tight-pants….er…Firefly fans turn out in force, this could end up going by another name.
Percy Jackson and the Franchise Killer.
NOW PLAYING IN 2D AND REALD 3D AT THEATERS EVERYWHERE.
PLANES (PG 92 Minutes)
This is a very loose spin-off of the two worst Pixar films ever made. Pixar has nothing to do with this film. It was supposed to be a direct to dvd title to cash in on parents never-ending quest for peace and quiet as their kids watch anything with Disney in the title.
It got a rush conversion to 3D. Dane Cook is the voice of the lead….plane.
You have been warned!
STARTS FRIDAY IN 2D AND DISNEY DIGITAL 3D AT THEATERS EVERYWHERE.
That about covers the major releases this weekend, but before I sign-off I want to make you aware of a small gem of a documentary that is playing a limited engagement here in Charlotte that you need to see.
This is a remarkable documentary about a subject that has had very little attention paid to it. It’s a film about the back-up singers that make the stars sound so good live. Covering singers from Darlene Love, who sang on a bunch of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound records in the 1960’s all the way to the back-up singers for Michael Jackson, it is a revelation to see and hear the stories of these stunningly talented singers who spend their whole careers twenty-feet from stardom.
Playing Exclusively at Regal Ballantyne Village 5.
That’s all for this week, but join me next week when we discuss how it is that Jim Carey made an entire film and never read the script as we celebrate the return of Hit-Girl.
Until next time, Keep the Projector Threaded.