The 2012 Film Release Calendar (March & April)

Yesterday, I began going over the 2012 Film Release Calendar by going over January and February. Today is March and April.

As I did yesterday, I’ll go through the films as they are scheduled on Wikipedia’s 2012 in Film article (which I still find to be the most accurate and expansive in terms of listing the dates of what’s coming out. After going through them all (and guessing what I think I’ll think about all the films. This year, I’m including half-stars, which should make things much more interesting come December), I will go back to my “How to Read a Hollywood Ralease” set of articles I wrote last year to see if those guidelines still hold up. And I’ll also throw out some premature guesses for Box Office, just because.

That’s pretty much it. Let’s just get right into it:

MARCH

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

 

They’ve been making a killing off of these for the past decade. Once Horton Hears a Who hit it huge (fuck yeah, aliteration!), you knew they were gonna start doing all the Seuss properties.

I was never a big Lorax guy, but I’m guessing, even the people (meaning children) not familiar with the story will go on the Seuss name alone, along with the “creators of Despicable Me” tag. That movie did fucking crazy business.

I can pretty much call this one exactly — 3 stars. I can 95% guarantee that. I don’t particularly love these movies, and if I do end up giving it 3.5 stars, it’s because it’s so beautiful-looking. Otherwise, these movies are always a throwaway 3 stars, enjoyable and kiddie.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

I really don’t know what to think about this movie. On one hand, this could be awesome in a campy way. On the other hand, this could suck.

It’s about Hansel and Gretel, 15 years after the incident in the fairy tale (which makes them, what, 22 at most? Don’t they know Renner is 40?), now bounty hunters who kill witches. They’re hired to kill a witch (Famke Janssen — great casting) who’s going to kill lots of children. And Peter Stormare is a sadistic sheriff who conducts his own witch hunt, indiscriminately killing people he figures are witches.

This is going to require a delicate balancing act in order to work. You need campy, fun action, and you can’t go too action with it and you can’t get too stupid with it. You also need a lot of dark humor to really pull this off. The kind of shit like — shooting Marvin in the face. That’s what makes these kind of movies work.

My big worry here is with the action. And how seriously they take it. Films with action today tend to get serious with their action, and try to make it badass. If they can make the action here light and fun, I think it’ll work.

Not holding my breath, though.

3 stars. We’ll let the film decide how much higher or lower it goes. (Though, honestly, I can only see this dropping to 2 or 2.5. It’ll have to do a lot to get to 3.5.)

Being Flynn

This was originally called “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City” (which is what got me interested in it in the first place — you stop and look at a title like that). I understand the title change.

This stars Robert De Niro and Paul Dano. Julianne Moore is there too. As is Olivia Thirlby.

During his twenties, a young man works at various homeless shelters in Boston, where he often intersects with his brilliant but troubled father.

Sounds interesting. I can fucks with this.

3 stars, though. I’m not presuming the cast is a sure-thing. Dano’s indie movies tend to be a bit flat in the execution.

Jeff Who Lives at Home

Not quite sure what this one’s about. Maybe they should think about making the title more descriptive.

Jason Segal and Ed Helms are brothers. And it’s a comedy. I like one half, do not like the other half. (It seems all of the people on The Office, I don’t find them particularly funny. That entire brand of humor just does not do it for me at all.)

The film is about one of them, I’m assuming Segal, who is 30 and still lives in his parents’ basement, and Helms, who is living there as he gets over a divorce. My guess is, Helms is the straight man who disapproves of Segal not doing anything with his life, and Segal is there to teach Helms to lighten up a bit and stop being so adult all the time. And by the end, Helms will appreciate life and Segal will grow up and start becoming an adult.

Wow, it’s really easy to guess plots nowadays, isn’t it? Especially comedies. Comedies today seem to operate on the, “Well, the plots don’t matter because people are gonna come see the people in them.” Maybe that’s why almost all of them suck.

On second thought — this is being directed by the Duplass brothers. They make smaller, quirky movies. So maybe this won’t be the mainstream comedy I’m expecting. Cyrus was decent.

I’ll say 3 stars. I can’t imagine this goes higher than 3.5 or lower than 2.5.

Project X

As soon as they announced that Todd Phillips was behind this, I lost all hope of it being funny. Here’s a dude I used to like — he made Old School, and then The Hangover. I really love Old School, and I went into The Hangover expecting it to be the biggest piece of shit in the world, and ended up loving it. Then Due Date happened.

It might not have been so bad, except — I read the script. And it was so much better than the actual movie. And then Phillips came out and said that he and Downey should get credit for writing the script, since they went in and rewrote the whole thing. So really, I have him to blame.

Then he made Hangover II, which is, admittedly, a blatant money grab, but also is a shitty movie. It’s the first one redone, just with more. So any respect I had for him went out the window.

And now I go back and remember that not only did he make Starsky and Hutch (which I really did not like), and School for Scoundrels (which no one liked), so I think of his successes as flukes. They must be flukes, since, how do you fuck up a good thing like The Hangover by just repeating it? (The Hangover, Due Date, Hangover II — just look at the amount of repeated jokes. It’s disgusting.)

Anyway — he’s not directing this, so that only prejudices me so much against it. But seeing as how he’s producing it (and his name is all over the fucking thing), I have to assume he has creative input, and that will create situations I just will not like.

The film is about high school kids who throw a party in order to get popular. And then as the night goes on, things get crazier and crazier. So, basically The Hangover, but all the parts that weren’t shown in the movie. They’ll get humor out of random shit, like midgets and horses showing up out of nowhere.

I’m really not looking forward to this at all. I can see all of the films he’s taking inspiration from, and I almost know there will be nothing original that happens here at all, and that it will make money regardless.

2 stars. I have to assume I will dislike it. I’m sure 2.5 or even 3 can happen, but I will gladly be wrong if that’s the case. I say 2. I have to go back to being strict with comedies. I cannot accept giving shitty, unoriginal comedies a pass and having everyone else think they’re hysterical.

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie

Who are Tim and Eric? Is this one of those things that has a very small, but very rabid fan base? It’s like Reno 911. I knew of that show, but I just assumed it was just kind of there. And then they made a movie out of it and I was like, “Was there really that much of a demand for this to happen?”

It’s also kind of like Penn and Teller making a movie. I can’t imagine everyone knows who they are, but — they did get a movie off the ground. So I guess, good for them.

I can’t imagine I’ll ever see it or be interested in it, though.

2.5 stars? Why not. I’ll probably never see this.

John Carter

What a shitty title change. Why not tell people he’s from Mars? Do you think a film will do better because it has the name of the title character? Motherfucker, this isn’t Forrest Gump.

I’ve been hearing about this movie being made for years. Still have no idea what it’s about except a dude named John Carter who goes to Mars. And people love it. That’s really all I need. I liked it when Robinson Crusoe went to Mars.

And they’ve been trying to make this for 80 years. They’ve been trying to make this since Robert Duvall’s been alive (and James Earl Jones, Rip Torn, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Leslie Caron, Regis Philbin, Phillip Baker Hall, Ian Holm, Angie Dickinson, and others). That’s fucked up.

Let’s see what this is actually about…

Oh, there are multiple books with this guy. Up to eight. So they really want to make this work, because there’s money in it. (But how much? I’ll revisit this question in a second.)

John Carter is a Civil War veteran who is transported to Mars. There, he learns he’s the only one capable of saving the planet (which is apparently going to die because of war and other things).

I see Avatar, Lawrence of Arabia and even a little Dances with Wolves here. (Notice anything about those films?) That’s some strong parallels. No wonder they’ve tried to make this for 80 years.

I’ve seen two trailers for this film. The teaser was incredible, and the second one sucked. The second one was very action-heavy, and that actually made me a bit less excited for it. But the first one had lots of western stuff (which I love), and was big on the “awe” moments. I like those. To me, that’s the best part about big budget films. Not action. Things that show you what cinema can do. Big sweeping score over majestic images.

Anyway, what I’m getting at was, from that first trailer, I’d have automatically said 4 stars for this. But that second one — it worries me a bit. I’m still gonna say 4 stars, because no matter what, it’ll still look gorgeous, and that should, if I don’t really like it that much, bump it up the extra half star to 3.5. I’m expecting either 3.5 or 4 here, but more likely 4. The reason I go 4 despite all the elements in that second trailer that I’m not exactly a fan of — Andrew Stanton is directing. The man who made Wall-E and Finding Nemo should know how to make this story worth telling, despite the action.

So I say 4 stars.

Though, I also want to say — Disney originally had this going in June or July. They bumped it up to March. This reminds me of two things. Originally it was one and it was negative, but then it reminded me of the second and it didn’t seem so bad. First was Watchmen. This seems to be, much like Watchmen, a property that is beloved by many, many people. And it also seems like something that might not necessarily translate to everyone and make a shit-ton of money. Watchmen was actually kind of a flop. Or rather, disappointment is the word. At least, box office-wise. (I personally loved the film. And I didn’t even read the novel before it came out.) So the March date made me think it was a quality issue and they weren’t sure it would make summer money among the summer films.

But then I remembered the other Disney March film — Alice in Wonderland. Methinks that’s what they’re going for here. Or rather, maybe they’re hedging their bets. Maybe they aren’t entirely sure how people will respond, so they’re gonna big fish it into March when they’re guaranteed to open. Which is cool.

Also, I just went back and looked — isn’t it weird that I knew Alice in Wonderland and Watchmen opened on the exact same weekend as this movie is opening without even looking? (I fucking told you the How to Read a Hollywood Release works!)

Playing the Field

Yeesh. This is the synopsis I found:

A former professional athlete with a weak past tries to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team, only to find himself unable to resist when in scoring position with his players’ restless and gorgeous moms.

What the fuck is a “weak past”?

Does that mean he had a boring, normal life? Apparently not, based on the word “redeem.” So does that mean he had a weak past — like France? He just surrendered all the time? This doesn’t make any sense. Make stronger euphemisms, language!

Also, I can’t tell if this is meant to be a comedy or drama. Or romantic comedy. What is this?

Based on the cast — Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Greer, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid — it intrigues me. This doesn’t look like just another shitty romantic comedy. The first two had me thinking it would be, but the rest — they don’t always do disposable movies. (Well, Uma…) And when a cast is assembled like this, that means the material is at least grounded in some sort of quality, whether the studio beats it out of it or not.

Plus, the director — oh, I see why. This is the dude who directed The Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds. The first one wasn’t bad. Touching, outside all the pandering and desire to appeal to everyone. (And honestly, we blame Will for that.) The second — he kills himself with a fucking jellyfish.

But — I believe this could be decent, even though I’ll have my eye on it.

I almost want to say 2.5 stars, because I can easily see this slipping to 2 stars, but I’ll say 3 stars. I’ll hold out hope that this is watchable. Because if you look at what Catherine Zeta-Jones has done over the past decade (and it isn’t much), all of the projects are pretty decent. And Judy Greer usually chooses offbeat, quirky movies that are of some quality (with the admitted slip into rom com). So, I can see this being decent. I’ll hold out hope and say 3 stars. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but, at least now, it’s the film’s fault if it doesn’t live up to that.

Silent House

This is fucking fascinating. I love how this country no longer thinks up its own horror movies. All horror movies released in this country are either remakes of older horror movies or are American versions of horror films from other countries that were made within five years of us remaking them. Or, in certain cases, when a central conceit is actually original, it’s redone over and over and beaten into the ground until we can’t stand it anymore (a la Saw and Paranormal Activity). Actually, the horror genre might be one of the most accurate allegories for what Hollywood is today. (No wonder I hate it.)

Now, what I find most fascinating about these American remakes is that they’re always watered down and almost never capture the quality of the original. I’m not sure why. Let Me In was a good film, but it just wasn’t as good as Let the Right One In (if we’re calling that a true horror movie). Quarantine was nowhere near as good as [Rec]. And all the Japanese remakes — laughable. The Grudge? One Missed Call? So I’ll actually end up seeing this one and the original just to see how they do. (I love seeing shit like this. It fascinates me to see what Americans think they can improve upon other people’s shit.)

So this movie was originally released in Spain — in 2010! They remade it in less than a year! — and is about… oh, wow, no wonder they remade it. This actually is gonna get its own paragraph. That’s how impressed I am with this concept.

A girl and her father get to a cottage in the middle of nowhere. They’re going to fix it up so its owner can sell it. They’re gonna spend the night there and fix it in the morning. Everything’s cool until they hear a sound outside that gets louder and louder and louder until it sounds like it’s coming from upstairs. So the father goes up to check and she waits downstairs. This all seems to occur within the first, I don’t know, 8 minutes. Because, the last 78 minutes of the film occur in one continuous 78 minute take, as the girl tries to leave the house unharmed. So it’s a horror movie shot in real time. That is fucking awesome.

Not to mention, they made it on a budget of $6,000 over four days. Hear that? They shot a 78-minute continuous take in only four days! That alone will get me to see this.

So now America is remaking it with Elizabeth Olsen, who was just in Martha Marcy May Marlene. I have to say, I’m legit interested in this.

Now, I won’t have too high hopes for this one. I’ll still say 3 stars, since I can’t see how, even if they recreate the 78-minute continuous take (which, if they do, it automatically earns the film 3 stars), how they can improve upon whatever the Spanish version is. But we’ll see. If they do it in one-take, and do it well, I’ll bump it up to 3.5. For now, we’ll say 3.

Also, keep in mind, I don’t do horror — I’m just not interested in it as a genre. I don’t see the appeal of it over something like a western or a musical — so it takes something like a 78-minute unbroken take to get me interested in it.

The Bully Project

I don’t do documentaries unless they’re nominated for Oscars, get insane word of mouth (Man on Wire, The Cove — which coincidentally were nominated for (and won) Oscars), get a lot of (continuous) acclaim (Grizzly Man, Murderball, both of which I saw at least two years after they came out because I kept seeing them listed among the best films from recent years) or make a shit ton of money (March of the Penguins). Though, generally, it takes a really interesting and offbeat topic to pull me in (like Exit Through the Gift Shop, which I still haven’t even seen). So chances are, I won’t see this, and I’m baffled by the fact that not one, but two documentaries somehow have release dates the 2012 in Film article.

Oh, yeah, this is about bullying. Which means I probably won’t see it even if it wins Best Documentary. (I still haven’t gotten around to seeing Exit to the Gift Shop. You think this has a shot?)

The Raven

This is a wild card for me. I can see myself either really liking this or really not liking it. Which is why, before I even give you a synopsis, I’m just gonna say 3 stars. Let the film decide if it’s better or worse, but I see a lot of elements that could really work here, and have enough experience to where I can see and expect this to not be good at all.

First off — it’s directed by James McTiegue, who has previously directed V for Vendetta, which I enjoyed, but don’t like anywhere as near as much as everyone else seems to, and Ninja Assassin, which I also enjoyed, mostly because it was about ninjas. So that alone would lead me to assume a minimum of 3 stars.

The film is about Edgar Allen Poe (played by John Cusack), who is “challenged by a serial killer to solve a series of murders based on his stories.”

This sounds interesting. I like the period nature of it. I like how a lot of the film will take place at night, in the rain, on gothic sets — there’s a lot to like here.

Of course, the downside is obvious — this could really suck. It could be a shitty thriller. But I see more upside than down here (not major upside, just enough to get it to stability), so that’s why I say 3 stars. The more I read about it, the more I assume it’ll probably be exactly 3. I won’t guarantee that, but it seems like a safe bet. I think this will be okay.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

 

What is it with the vague titles this year? Do they not want anyone to know what these films are about?

Let’s see — Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, and some Middle Eastern guy.

It’s about a “fisheries scientist” who gets involved with bringing salmon to Yemen.

Well no fucking shit it’s about that. I knew that from the title!

Oh, there’s more…

It’s also about how he changes the British political history and his own life.

Okay. This doesn’t sound particularly interesting to me. I’m sure it will be decent but forgettable.

3 stars. What else could it be? (Remember, it’s March.)

Think Like a Man

Hey, the urban (romantic) comedy of the year. It’s late. Last year it was in January (or was it February? I don’t remember when I didn’t see it).

Yeah, I guarantee you 100% that I won’t see this. But, in the interest of fairness — 2 stars. I’m not the audience for this film. I won’t enjoy it. But that’s assuming I’ll see it, which I won’t.

But I see it was based on a Steve Harvey book, so that’s nice to know. Still won’t see it, though.

(Also what’s funny — Chris Brown is in this (and is apparently the star, since when you search for this film on IMDB, his name comes up first on the cast). Funny that the poster doesn’t even mention that he’s in the movie.)

21 Jump Street

 

And there’s this.

I thought this was a bad idea from when they first announced it however many moons ago.

I saw the trailer — red band even — I’m still not entirely impressed. I like Jonah Hill and I don’t mind Channing Tatum — I just don’t expect this movie to be any good.

I expect it to be funny in the sense that, I find like four jokes throughout the entire movie funny. I chuckle twice, smile three more times, and then maybe once or twice more, without reacting, go, “Oh, that’s a pretty nice gag,” or, “Nice line.” And yet, I know — the rest of the country, “Funnyest movie evahh!!!!” I know the country will go apeshit for this movie, because that’s what they’re supposed to do.

Me? 2.5 stars. If it’s 3 stars, I can’t imagine it’ll be a very strong one. I’ll give it 3 if it’s enjoyable enough and doesn’t grate the nerves that much. But I’m expecting it to. I don’t want to hate this movie, but something tells me I’m not gonna like it that much.

Butter

I went through a “Black List” phase a few years ago. I think it was because, when I took that screenwriting class in college (after having written enough scripts to know what I was doing, for the most part), I got the idea of, “Well, it can’t hurt to read what’s out there. Writers are always saying to read other scripts.” So I gave it a shot. It was around that time — or rather, by the time I got around to reading scripts, six months later — the Black List came out for 2009. And The Social Network was on it. And so was that great “biopic” of Jim Henson that I hope they make one day. And I downloaded the entire list and was gonna go and read them all. And then I read like six scripts and stopped, because I just went and wrote my own.

As a side note, basically what I learned from that was — the good ones make you despondent that you’ll never write anything that good, the bad ones make you upset that people can write such crap material and get it produced, and if you read a really good one, and the movie turns out to be utter garbage (Due Date, No Strings Attached), it makes you not want to read the script, because you get upset at how the script basically means nothing when a studio, a star, and lots of money is involved.

Not to mention — you also find out how, for most films, the script doesn’t matter. You find out how the writer is, for the most part, treated like a piece of garbage. They say the writer matters and the story matters, but they go through so many drafts on big budget films — ten, twelve writers — then the director comes in and changes stuff to suit them, and the star wants more this or that, and then they hire a big actor for a supporting role and they want more screen time — and when you’re done, the final script looks nothing like it used to. So for me, reading scripts was not helpful at all (aside from turning me onto a couple of really great films that, if I ever have enough power to procure $20 million or less worth of financing, I’m totally gonna push to get made).

The other reason I stopped reading scripts was because (in case you couldn’t tell), what I do when I decide to do something is, I preemptively go all out with it. I’ll start reading one script and go, “I think I’ll do more of this,” and then, so I can keep going, I’ll go out and get like 300 scripts. And I’ll spend days, even weeks, doing this. I’ll start seeking out the really hard to find ones, and go, “I’m gonna read the fuck out of these.” And as I’m doing this, I’ll have completely ignored that first script, and now that I have all the scripts, I’ll go back to the one I was reading and be like, “I’m not really interested in this anymore. Let me put it aside and do something else and come back fresh.” And then I come back fresh and maybe force one or two more in before I give up and go onto something else. Plus last year’s Black List was taken offline almost immediately (why Hollywood cares about people reading scripts is beyond me. Half of them aren’t gonna get made, the other half will be watered down shells of what was on paper, and 90% of the people reading them are not going to be affected by what they read in terms of going to see the films), so I just stopped trying entirely. Anyway…

Butter was a script that was on the Black List, for one of those years, and because of that, the title stuck in my mind. There are a couple I still recognize as having been Black List scripts. Either from the title or the log line. This one has an interesting one, which is why it stuck. (Also, let me remind you — to me, the Black List is almost like a draft pick. I know the Black List is mostly rigged, since it’s studio executives picking and some want to get their new projects on there. And it’s supposed to be the best unproduced scripts of the year, but now, when you look at them, you see that all of them are being made by major studios and are all in production. Apparently unproduced means, “not yet in post-production.” (They fucking picked Django this year! Like a Quentin Tarantino movie is not going to be produced/needs to be publicly stated as one of the best scripts of the year.) But I still treat it as a draft pick. If you’re gonna give something the moniker of “best script,” just like the moniker of “first round draft pick,” whether the title was earned or not — you’re expected to produce. So that’s how I treat all of these.)

This is about a small-town butter carving competition. Interesting, no? The fact that this was bumped for almost a year isn’t, but the log line is.

Jennifer Garner stars in this — which gives me pause. She’s not very interesting as an actress. She seems to only have one speed. She also doesn’t look interesting. She does her thing and that’s it. You know what would surprise me? If she told dick jokes. I want to see her do something that doesn’t seem scripted.

But she’s the main character, which tempers my expectations. Her presence changes what type of film this ultimately becomes. Hugh Jackman is also in this. And he’s awesome. Olivia Wilde is also in it. And a bunch of other people. But basically it’s about butter carving. And that interests me.

Honestly, this looks like a 3 star movie. Maybe 3.5, but the presence of Garner makes me not want to guess 3.5. I’ll let it be a 3.5, but I won’t predict that. I think it’ll be nice, but not special. Light and enjoyable, but of no substance.

Mirror Mirror

 

I put two posters because the first one makes it look like the castle is giving the finger. I think that’s hilarious.

Where to begin with this thing…

First of all, for some reason, a year ago, everyone decided to make Snow White movies. For some reason, every couple of years, two studios try to get the jump on one another on certain projects. There were two Howard Hughes movies for a while, two Janis Joplin movies, the two Marilyn Monroe movies were last year (Michelle Williams got the jump on Andrew Dominik’s version with Naomi Watts, which seems all but dead at this point), and then there were the two Snow White movies.

Honestly, I wasn’t interested in either movie. The Snow White story doesn’t interest me. The only reason I like the Disney version is because it was the first feature they made, because it’s a gorgeously animated film, and because it’s fascinating to see, which again goes back to the animation (and the fact that it was 1937). But the story isn’t interesting — girl is pretty, and the queen thinks she’s prettier, so she sends a dude to go kill the girl, but he can’t do it, so the queen goes and poisons her. Meanwhile, the girl is living with seven midgets. And then she gets poisoned, and then a dude wakes her up, because apparently he can suck the poison out of her lips or something. Fine, but does it need to be told so many times? Didn’t we say all we needed to say with the Disney version?

Okay, so the first one I can understand. That is — the other one. The Kristen Stewart one. You make it more warrior. Alice in Wonderland meets — whatever the fuck its supposed to meet. Focus on the battle aspect. Sure. This one — why?

It’s Tarsem, too. And when I heard it, I was like, “Why does he want to do that?” Knowing him, I’m sure it’ll look good, but — why?

Then he cast Julia Roberts. I just — I don’t like her. I just do not find her interesting at all. I honestly cannot look at one of her performances and go, “That was a good performance.” She’s just there. I don’t know how she’s famous. But I still said — “It’s Tarsem. It can still be good.”

Then Immortals came out. And that — while it looked good, wow. That, was not a very good movie. I gave it 3.5 stars, but that extra half-star was because it looked good. That, was not a very good movie at all. But I still said, “Well, this is a definite story. Maybe he’ll do better when he can put his visuals on an actual plot.”

Then the trailer came out. And, wow. I’m pretty sure the day that trailer came out, everyone collectively went, “…oooh,” like when you see a car about to hit someone and you have that instinct to brace yourself and then go, “…oooh.” I know. I was at work. We all had the same reaction.

I’ve lost any hope that this is even remotely a good movie. I mean, have you seen that trailer?

I have to assume 2 stars. Now, if it looks great and I give it a 2.5, I’m still gonna say I was right, since giving something a half-star for its look does not affect the quality of the actual film. (See: Immortals. Based on that trailer I saw — there’s no way I can go higher than 2 stars here. Seriously, watch this. Does this make you think there’s anything good here?

Casa de mi Padre

I’m just gonna post the synopsis, as is:

Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell) has lived and worked on his father’s ranch in Mexico his entire life. As the ranch encounters financial difficulties, Armando’s younger brother Raul (Diego Luna), shows up with his new fiance, Sonia (Génesis Rodríguez). It seems that Raul’s success as an international businessman means the ranch’s troubles are over as he pledges to settle all debts his father has incurred. But when Armando falls for Sonia, and Raul’s business dealings turn out to be less than legit, all hell breaks loose as they find themselves in a war with Mexico’s most feared drug lord, the mighty Onza (Gael García Bernal).

The film is going to be entirely in Spanish. That’s interesting to me. It’s picking a style and sticking with it. It’s going telenovela. I think this can be really interesting. Or could suck majorly.

2.5 stars? Sure. 2-3 really seems like the only range for this one. I really just want to see what it’s all about more than anything.

A Thousand Words

Ha ha. You can only delay the inevitable so much.

Interesting story about this one. I’m pretty sure they were shooting it, or were in preproduction on this back in 2008. And when I saw it (this was where Eddie was fresh off the Dreamgirls nomination and only released Norbit afterwards. So we still had some hope for him), I went, “Hmm, that’s an interesting concept.” Because it is. If done correctly.

Think about it — a dude is told that he has 1,000 words left before he dies. So every word counts. From a writer’s/filmmaker’s point of view — how do you handle that? There’s so much shit you can do, narratively and visually to make that work. Do you have a constant counter? As in, do you just keep it on the screen all the time, rather than just have a number counter pop up when he speaks? And narratively, do you do it dramatically instead of with comedy, and have him grow as a person as he tries not to speak? And do you make it where he has some sort of big speech at the end, knowing he’s only got so many words left? That could have worked. I’m just saying what I thought when I heard the simple concept.

Plus Cliff Curtis is in it. And he’s awesome.

But then 2009 came, and it wasn’t coming out. Once they pushed it to 2010, I knew. By then, Eddie had released Meet Dave and Imagine That. And if they actually released those, and were holding this back — it had to be bad.

Then they pushed it again, to 2011, and again, to 2012! That’s unheard of, for a film to be shelved for almost three years! And it has nothing to do with studios going bankrupt, or lawsuits — it seems to be simply because of film quality. And that’s fucking incredible.

The fact that this even has a release date was because Eddie was gonna host the Oscars. They must have figured — free press. But now — wow. I cannot wait to see what kind of train wreck this is gonna turn out to be. And now that he’s not gonna be out there to give free press for it. Ouch.

I’m gonna say this is 2 stars. I know most people assume this should be Unforgivable. And I’m expecting that it might be. But the reason I’m assuming 2 stars and not 1 is because I like the central conceit too much. Unforgivables are such because, as I watch them, they make me angry. With a concept like this, I don’t think I’m gonna get angry. I think I’ll be so interested in the concept that I’ll be thinking about how I’d have handled it. And while the bad movie is going on in front of me, I’ll be writing my own version of it in my head. And that won’t make me hate the movie, it’ll just make me disappointed that they fucked up an interesting concept by making it another shitty Eddie Murphy family movie. So I don’t think this will necessarily be Unforgivable, even though — oh yeah, I’ll keep the light on the porch on for this one.

Also, no one actually thinks this will make anything more than 2 stars, right?

Okay, just checking.

The Hunger Games

Apparently the world is more excited for this than I am.

Is this how it was with Twilight?

I feel like those movies came out before I even realized what was happening. I’m normally on top of my shit, but Twilight was the kind of thing where, I didn’t even know what it was until like two weeks before the movie came out. And then it made all that money, and I was like, “What the fuck is this? Why is it making more money than James Bond?” Was that movie even anticipated at all?

The fact that so many people are interested in this makes me wary. It’s gonna be impossible for me to see this with an open mind.

I get the basic premise — some sort of futuristic society where everyone lives in certain sections or whatever. And they have an annual competition where children of a certain age are sent into a Battle Royale type scenario where they all fight to the death for everyone else’s enjoyment.

I don’t understand how this is an extremely popular young adult series of books, but honestly — sure. My favorite part about it is how — you know they cast Josh Hutcherson (who I still like from when he was in Little Manhattan at age 12) alongside Jennifer Lawrence. And you know she can’t die. And since the whole thing is about how everyone dies — either they go the full nine and kill him (keep in mind, I haven’t read the books, so I have no idea what’s gonna happen, nor do I care, really), which is just great for a young adult novel. Since even in Harry Potter, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a major on-screen death until movie four (that fucking spare…). Or, they don’t kill him, and they cheat the entire central conceit of the film. So I’m curious to see which path this one takes.

Anyway, I’m just gonna assume 3 stars. I have to. I can’t assume 3.5, because I haven’t watched a trailer (if there is one), because everyone’s so fucking apeshit about this, I need to go in as cold as possible. So I don’t know anything past a general plot synopsis. This could be entertaining and be a 3.5, but I have to assume 3 stars until then. It has too many major stars (or, at least, people I like) for it not to be at least 3. Plus, these young adult movies, most of the time they’re entertaining (like City of Ember), but they’re just not for me. I’ll assume that until I see differently.

Also, can I just ask — what the fuck is Elizabeth Banks supposed to look like in this? I’m sure that’s part of the book, but — what the fuck?

And, seriously, way to make Jennifer Lawrence look unattractive. Do you know how difficult that is?

The Raid

This feels kind of like District B13, which was an awesome film that got US distribution because it was so awesome.

It’s an Indonesian martial arts action film, and this is the synopsis:

Deep in the heart of Jakarta’s slums lies an impenetrable derelict apartment building which became a safe house for the world’s most dangerous killers and gangsters. The rundown apartment block has been considered untouchable to even the bravest of police. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness and silence, an elite team is tasked with raiding the derelict apartment in order to take down the notorious drug lordthat runs it. But when a chance encounter with a spotter blows their cover and news of their assault reaches the drug lord, the building’s lights are cut off and all exits are blocked. Stranded on the 6th floor with no way out, the unit must fight their way through the city’s worst criminals to survive their mission.

This sounds pretty badass. I’m really excited to see this. 3.5 stars.

The Deep Blue Sea

 

Technically a 2011 film, but at least it’s finally being released.

It’s based on the same play that spawned the 1955 film of the same name that Vivien Leigh starred in. This time, Rachel Weisz is in it.

The original was 3 stars, so I’ll assume the same here.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Yeah…I’m really considering not seeing this one, based on the feeling that poster just gave me.

I know it’s from the creators of Chicken Run and all, and these are the guys who were involved in Wallace and Gromit, but, the guys directing this are like — it’s like Friedberg and Seltzer, who were originally billed as “two of the six writers from Scary Movie.” This feels like that, animation-wise, to me. When the names aren’t involved at all, I’m not taking it on faith that the film will be anywhere as good as the other stuff they were tangentially involved with.

That said — it’s about a bunch of pirates trying to win a “Pirate of the Year” award. I’m sure this will be entertaining and kiddie, but I really don’t think I’ll be interested in seeing this at all.

If I do see it, there are only two possibilities for this film. That’s it. I guarantee you this will either be a 2.5 star movie or a 3 star movie. It’ll be one or the other. If it just is, it’ll be 2.5. If it’s moderately enjoyable, it’ll be straddling between 2.5 and 3, and I’ll probably give it 3 because it’s stop-motion. So it’ll definitely be one or the other. If I see it. That’s the real question here.

Wrath of the Titans

Oh, boy. They made a sequel.

Hollywood — why do they never listen? When will they ever learn?

(If you got that, you’re awesome.)

Just to keep track, this is a sequel of a remake of a film that’s only moderately awesome, mostly because it’s so of its time. The original Clash of the Titans is a great film almost in the way the original Conan the Barbarian is a great film. Not exactly, but — they’re both campy, and they both have a lot of nostalgia involved in why we like them. We like them, but we don’t necessarily need to see more of them. We just like to think back fondly on them. We didn’t need sequels. (Conan especially. God, that was a huge piece of shit. I still feel I should flagellate myself for having watched that.)

So when the Titans remake came out — there was that one moment of, “Oh man, Liam Neeson just said “Release the Kraken,” yes!” — we all just kind of knew it was bad. The most interest I had in it was, the Liam Neeson line, and then, there’s one moment in the trailer where the (requisite) hard rock music synched up with one of the giant scorpions slamming its stinger into the ground. That was pretty awesome. Other than that, though — the movie fucking sucked. Well, it was okay. In the sense that, I was expecting awful things. And instead, I got — “Well, I got through it.” But it still didn’t need to exist.

Now — a sequel? Really? Did it really make that much money to where you think a sequel is gonna make money? You must have, since it’s out two years to the weekend after the first one, which means you green lit it after the fist one came out and fast-tracked it. (Note: It made almost $500 million worldwide. That’s why there’s a sequel.)

But what the hell is it gonna be about? Let’s find out together, shall we? Ooh, it’s a long one…

And just to spice it up, I’m gonna do a live-reaction to it. I was originally gonna say I was gonna “Klaus the motherfucker,” but people reading this won’t have any idea what that means. (Anything in parentheses is me responding to things as I read them.)

A decade after his heroic (Really?) defeat of the monstrous (way to hurt its feelings) Kraken (What’s kraken, bitches?), Perseus is attempting to live a quieter life (it’s actually starting like a western. No, Mike, don’t do it. Keep your expectations down. It’s only going to disappoint you. Treat it like a child. Treat it like a child.) as a village fisherman (aww…like you’re dead adopted father. Which is sad, because Pete Postelthwaite is actually dead.) and the sole parent to his 10-year-old son, Helius (Couldn’t get Gemma Arterton back, could you?). Meanwhile, a struggle for (Bourne) supremacy rages between the gods and (Monsters? Generals? Does anyone even know the movies I’m referencing?) the Titans (If I remember, the Titans lost 23-17 and were stopped on the goal line to end it). Dangerously weakened by (AIDS) humanity’s lack of devotion (Oh, so not AIDS. How about ALS? Lupus? Is it Lupus?), the gods are (sitting in nothing but their boxers, watching The Notebook and drinking all day) losing control of (their motor functions) the imprisoned Titans (This is exactly like the Nelson Mandela story) and their ferocious (whoa. Action word) leader (is it Fearless Leader? That would be awesome if it was “ferocious leader, Fearless Leader.” No? Ah, schweinhund), (Captain) Kronos (Vampire Hunter), father of (Did anyone get that last reference?) the long-ruling brothers Zeus (Ohh nooooo!), Hades (Creator of Haderade), and Poseidon (Yeah, but are we really counting Poseidon? Danny Huston was barely in that first movie. I’m pretty sure he only spoke like one line). The triumvirate (that’s like a classy name for a threesome, right?) had overthrown (that’s like a classy name for vomiting, right?) their powerful father long ago (in a galaxy far, far away?), leaving him (NOOOOOOOOO!!!!) to rot in (New Jersey) the gloomy abyss (What did I say?) of Tartarus (that sounds like something you get on your dick), a dungeon that lies (Jesus. What ever happened to dungeons that told the truth?) deep within the cavernous underworld (of Lindsay Lohan). (Oh shit, there’s another paragraph. This is really detailed for a movie no one cares about.) Perseus (Honestly, you should just call him Jake Sully and see what happens.) cannot ignore (the feelings deep inside) his true calling (interior decorating) when Hades (viciously rapes him in a ten minute sequence at the center of the film), along with Zeus’s godly son (ouch), Ares (Édgar Ramírez) (Zeus has a Mexican son?), switch loyalty (Is that a classy way of saying gay?) and make a deal with (Captain) Kronos (Vampire Hunter) to capture Zeus (Ohh nooooo!). The Titans’ strength grows (over 9000!) (harder, better, faster) stronger as Zeus’s (vas deferens) remaining godly powers are siphoned (I’m picturing this being like siphoning gas. Yeah, you see what I mean), and hell is unleashed on earth (Chelsea Lately?). Enlisting the help of the warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) (who was definitely not the person who played Andromeda in the first movie. Way to go, continuity!), Poseidon’s demigod son (is that a classy way of saying mudblood?), Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) (What if it were Bill Nye instead? How much better would that be?), Perseus bravely (Really?) embarks on a treacherous (Really?) quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus (Is this a road movie? And didn’t Zeus try to kill him last time?), overthrow the Titans and save mankind.

Uh huh. And they thought this was worth a sequel? There’s no way they spent as much money on this as they did on the first one. No way.

Does anyone think this is gonna be good? At all?

2.5 stars. Let it be 3. I don’t give a fuck. The first one was (maybe) barely a 3 (if at all), and I refuse to believe this is on par with that one. No way. 2.5 stars, and be lucky I didn’t say 2. Make all the money you want, since it’s all coming from overseas. I know the first one did $61 million its opening weekend, but that’s not happening again. You’re looking at 40, at best, here. And that’s assuming people are stupid enough to forgive the not only shitty quality of the first one, but also the (and I know this from people who saw it) truly awful 3D conversion on it. If this gets released in 3D, expect this to not make much money at all, methinks. First one did 60 opening, but only 160 total. I’m figuring this one to do about 100, maybe, and then a shitload more overseas. But that’s all for this next part. Not here. I still say it’ll suck though.

Goon

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a very nice but also not very bright man who feels ostracized from his family, his father and brother both being doctors. One day he visits a minor league hockey game with his friend Ryan (Jay Baruchel). Ryan taunts the visiting team during a fight and one of their players climbs into the stands. Doug, in defense of his friend, headbutts the hockey player and knocks him out, which prompts the rest of the crowd to cheer him. Soon after, Doug gets a phone call from the coach of his home team who offers him a job as an enforcer, a players whose role is to protect his teammates and acts as a deterrent by hitting or fighting opposing players who take liberties with his teammates.

I know the story behind this one. Seann William Scott was originally cast in Hit Somebody, the Kevin Smith hockey movie. But then he pulled out (I guess because it wasn’t going to happen for a while) and then immediately went over and did this. Wow.

Anyway… I heard decent things about this, so let’s assume 3 stars. It sounds mostly generic, but it could be okay.

– – – – – – – – – –

The way I explained March in my “How to Read a Hollywood Release” was as “the New York of film release dates.” I consider it to be a melting pot — the most varied and versatile of the months. March seems to be the most experimental month, where the studio releases the largest mix of genres, big budget, small budget — it’s all fair game in March. I also said, “they may be pretty good, but don’t look for something incredible. Usually you start to get the better films for the year, but only once in a while will a really good film emerge our of March.”

One thing I sort of had wrong about March was calling a certain group of films “Oscar films that lost their luster.” I’m not sure if that’s quite the correct term for that. I was thinking of films like Green Zone, which originally had late year release dates before being bumped into March. Just because it’s thought of as maybe an Oscar film doesn’t necessarily make it an Oscar film. But I do think certain films do seem to be films that maybe a studio wanted to squeeze into Oscar territory, but either decided they had no shot based on the competition or were spending too much on other campaigns and decided to bump the film into the next year. Also, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen seems like a film that, when announced, gets looked at as a potential Oscar film. But usually they end up being lighter than expected, so they put it in March. That’s a best guess on what I was thinking about with that category.

The other thing I said happens in March was exactly two (and I said, “not one, not three, but two”) animated  kids movies. It always seems to be two. This year: The Lorax, The Pirates: Band of Misfits. That’s funny how that works out.

The other thing I mentioned about March was — it’s the place for genre films, but ones that are actually pretty good. Like The Adjustment Bureau, or She’s Out of My League. Those films are actually better than the average film in either of those genres. I also referred to The Lookout, which is better than most neo-noir films. Hell, it’s better than most films. And I guessed that the reason these films were put in March is because most of the other months have definite structures (March, April, October and November are really the only months without definite structure, and allow for the most experimentation with releases), and the studios don’t know how people will respond to the films (probably because they’re intelligent), so they put them there to test the waters. They also put films in March that don’t seem to fit anywhere else.

Basically, the way I figure — in March, you have to take each film on its own merit. You can’t generalize anything here. I said that the standard March film is typically “3/5” stars. I’m not sure if that was 3.5 or 3 out of 5. But I would say that’s correct. Most March films tend to be around 3 or 3.5. Occasionally you get a 4, occasionally you get a 2, but most of them are 3s or 3.5s.

I also said this is a month where you should trust your instincts. If something looks like you’ll like it, you probably will. “Don’t expect too much and don’t settle.” I like that advice.

Anyway, this March…

The Lorax is the big animated kids movie. Standard.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters — doesn’t fit anywhere else, and clearly doesn’t belong in the summer months, so they put it in March. Makes perfect sense. I’d put this closer to February than I would June.

Jeff Who Lives at Home — it’s a Duplass brothers film. That means they don’t know what to do with it because it’s offbeat. Then again, I Love You, Man was also a March film. So maybe they’re going for that recognition. I doubt it. It seems like they’re gonna put it in limited release because they’re not sure what it’ll do (or aren’t expecting much).

Project X — interesting. Cast of unknowns, but Todd Phillips behind it. Strange they didn’t plug this into the summer. Spring break, maybe? Maybe that’s why? I’ll say that. That makes sense. Wild partying. (Though I’d like to say it’s because it’ll suck, but Todd Phillips’s name will help this make money, so they put it here.)

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen — I refuse to believe this makes too much money. It also doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else. Also, all those movies I just mentioned are being released on the same day. If that holds, this is clearly a limited release.

John Carter — Alice in Wonderland spot. They want to make a lot of money with this.

Playing the Field — see, this makes me think that movie is gonna be a bit better than a shitty romantic comedy. Now I’m actually interested in what this turns out to be. (Oh wait… never mind. The Bounty Hunter was released this same weekend. Remember that hope I had a second ago? Remember it as it was.)

Silent House — interesting it’s March and not October. But this is a month of varied films, so it makes some sense.

The Raven — the perfect March film. Doesn’t fit anywhere else and (seemingly) is better than a February film.

21 Jump Street — curious why they put it here. I guess it makes sense. It didn’t really fit anywhere else, and isn’t looking to make too much money. Feels more like a February film to me.

Butter — fits nowhere else. Always felt like an April film to me.

Mirror Mirror — does not fit anywhere else. Perfect March film.

A Thousand Words — it only got that date because he was hosting the Oscars. Doesn’t count.

Hunger Games — most interesting of them all. I’d really like to know why they put this here. Maybe because they want to start off the franchise with big money before moving it into summer? They could have easily plugged this into June and made money.

Oh, never mind…I see. They’re waiting out Twilight and then are gonna take its spot. They already announced that the sequel is gonna come out in November, 2013. Twilight finishes November, 2012. They’re gonna make a shit ton of March money, then plug it into November. It actually seems to be a smart decision.

Okay, box office…

First week of the month, The Lorax wins. Should be an easy $30-40 million weekend. Hansel and Gretel seems like $13 million or so. Project X might make money, might not. Can’t tell. Depends on how big they release it. Jeff Who Lives at Home seems to be a minor release.

Second week, John Carter is an easy winner, I think. If it doesn’t open to $30+ million, then Lorax wins second week in a row. But John Carter should easily win. It seems too anticipated to not. (And they spent way too much money on it to not.) Playing the Field is probably an under $10 million opening. Silent House might do a couple million, seems like a smaller release. The Raven might not open at all, or it’ll do like $10-12 million. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen — limited release. No way it goes that wide.

Third week is probably 21 Jump Street, or John Carter again. 21 Jump Street feels like a $21-22 million opening. Mirror Mirror shouldn’t do much at all. (It really seems like March is jam-packed with stuff opening. I wonder why.)

Fourth week — Hunger Games. Easy.

Fifth week — Wrath of the Titans. Also easy.

Any potential good films in March?: John Carter should be pretty good. Lorax should be watchable. The Raven, I think, could also be pretty good, if it works out. The Hunger Games will probably be pretty good, I’d imagine. Maybe not. Who knows? And Hansel and Gretel might be entertaining and campy. Hard to tell. March is the hardest to predict, just because, as I said, films need to be taken on their own merit. You can’t really know for sure beforehand. And The Raid also sounds awesome.

Unforgivables?: Not sure. Probably none. Mirror Mirror could be laughably bad. Not sure how Unforgivable it might be. I don’t see much here that looks like a strong possibility. They might turn out to be, but nothing jumps out at the moment as being a definite look. They could turn out that way, but nothing immediately makes me assume it will be.

– – – – – – – – – –

APRIL

American Reunion

Hmm… this could go either way. On one hand, I think they’ve taken enough time off to where, if they were gonna do another one, they could make it work. Of course, “make it work” really only gives it 3 stars, maybe 3.5 if it’s really funny (but I don’t know if I see that happening). But I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. The others were enjoyable. (Then again, I was 15 when the last one came out.)

I’ll say 3 stars. I’m sure it’ll be enjoyable. I can’t see this being much else other than 3.

I’m really wondering if I’ve outgrown this franchise or not.

The Cold Light of Day

Interesting. Bruce isn’t the lead. Bruce has taken a couple of jobs like this lately, which feature him in a supporting role. Or maybe I’m wrong. I’m probably wrong.

Anyway, this one’s about “A young American” — of course — who “uncovers a conspiracy during his attempt to save his family, who were kidnapped while on vacation in Spain.”

Interesting. Honestly, this doesn’t look like it’s of much quality, and instead is their way of getting Henry Cavill some press, so that way when Man of Steel comes out, they can be like, “Oh man, he’s the next big thing! Look at the year he’s having!” They love doing shit like that. Proclaiming people the “next big thing” only for them to disappear within a year. Remember when Zoe Saldana was “the next big thing” twice?

Yeah, I’m not excited for this. Bruce hasn’t really done anything good (aside from Red) in almost five years. So, let’s call this 2.5 stars. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt that it’s not 2 stars, but I can see that happening. It’s really not gonna go higher than 3, I can pretty much guarantee that.

Damsels in Distress

This is an indie, and is apparently “a comedy about a trio of beautiful girls as they set out to revolutionize life at a grungy American university.”

They include “the dynamic leader Violet Wister, principled Rose, and sexy Heather.”

Oh. There’s more.

“They welcome transfer student Lily into their group which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of menincluding smooth Charlie, dreamboat Xavier and the mad frat pack of Frank and Thor, who threaten the girls friendship and sanity.”

Uhh…this doesn’t sound very good.

2.5 stars.

Bullet to the Head

Okay, I’m interested. Interesting title, Walter Hill directing, and Sly Stallone starring.

Walter Hill’s made some good (or at least, fun) movies in his time: Hard Times, The Driver, The Warriors, The Long Riders, 48 Hrs., Brewster’s Millions, Red Heat, Another 48 Hrs., Last Man Standing, Undisputed. And Sly starring — this leads me to believe it’ll be infused with 80s action-ness. I like that. Expendables was fun (if flat at times, with that crazy neo-action direction Sly used). Let’s hope this is good. Let’s see what it’s about…

A hitman teams with a young NYPD detective in a high-stakes investigation that leads from the dingy back alleys of New Orleans all the way to the power corridors of New Orleans. The unlikely duo, brought together by two vicious murders, take on all who stand in their way, and are willing to sacrifice everything to exact revenge.

From the back alleys all the way to the power corridors? Holy shit!

I’m just joshing. This seems interesting. Still — I’m hesitant to go 3.5 here. So I’ll go 3 stars and let the film win me over. Something about this has me hesitant. Still, I think this has the potential to go up rather than down.

The Three Stooges

Oh god. Let’s just call it Unforgivable now.

There is no way this will be good. None. Not even a little bit. I will openly call “shame” on myself if I’m wrong, but I guarantee you this will not go higher than 2 stars.

Here’s my reasoning — without even touching the fact that they’re desecrating the Stooges (and the fact that the tip-off should have been when their original cast — Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro dropped out)…the Farrelly brothers have not made a good movie in over a decade. Check these lists:

Pre 2000 Farrelly Brothers: Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary

2000: Me, Myself & Irene

2001-present: Osmosis Jones, Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, Fever Pitch, The Heartbreak Kid, Hall Pass, The Three Stooges.

It’s like a slow decline all the way through. Those first three movies are great. Then, Me, Myself & Irene — I liked it. It’s not terrific, but I think it’s good enough. Then, I liked Osmosis Jones, but it’s not exactly a good movie by any stretch. I hated Shallow Hal, Stuck on You was okay, but weak. Then the rest of them — wow. They’re just progressively worse, from terrible, to Unforgivable, to unspeakable.

How does that give you any hope for this movie? At all? The movie’s biggest star is — well, it’s Larry David. Which I’m excited to see him playing a nun. But it’s biggest star of its stars is a dude from MADtv. Yeah…

1 star. I can almost guarantee you it’ll be Unforgivable.

The Cabin in the Woods

Well, the poster’s interesting, I’ll give it that. The downside, though? Everything else about it.

It’s a horror movie. That gives it a maximum 3 star rating out of me. Joss Whedon co-wrote it. That docks it a half-star. I’m just not interested in anything that man makes. At all. Not even a little bit. And then the final nail in the coffin — it was co-written and is being directed by the dude who “wrote” Cloverfield. Yeah…

2 stars. There’s no way I’m gonna like this movie. (If I even see it.)

Movie 43

Interesting…

This is a movie comprised of short films. Kind of like Paris, Je T’Aime and New York, I Love You, except not really based around a central theme or location. At least, I think it’s not.

Here’s the list of directors for the film: The Farrelly Brothers, Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill (director of such masterpieces as Drillbit Taylor, Without a Paddle, Mr. Deeds and Little Nicky. Oh, and Heavy Weights), Steve Carr (who directed Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Are We Done Yet?, Rebound, Daddy Day Care, Dr. Dolittle 2, and yet somehow maintains a little respect from me because he also directed Next Friday), Rusty Cundieff (who actually directed a bunch of episodes of Chappelle’s Show), James Duffy (no idea), Griffin Dunne (fuck yeah, Griffin Dunne!), Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn (director of Slither and most recently, the awesome Super), Bob Odenkirk, and Brett Ratner.

You almost have to finish with, “…and Brett Ratner.”

I got worried there about some of those names, but honestly, I think it balances out.

Now, here are the people who appear in the film (get ready): Emma Stone, Elizabeth Banks, Chloë Moretz, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Kristen Bell, Anna Faris, Kate Winslet, Josh Duhamel, Naomi Watts, Patrick Warburton, Justin Long, Stephen Merchant, Uma Thurman, Richard Gere, Seann William Scott, Jason Sukeikis, Leslie Bibb, Kate Bosworth, Chris Pratt, Liev Schreiber, Kieran Culkin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Bobby Cannavale, Jack McBrayer, Matt Walsh, and John Hodgman. Yeah.

I can’t imagine, with a cast like that, this isn’t a 3.5 star movie. It gets a half star bump for being a film comprised of short films. Because when they work, that’s great, and when they don’t — at least they’re short. I expect this to be either a 3 or a 3.5, so I’m gonna say it’s a 3.5. Why not?

Chimpanzee

Ah, the annual Disney nature documentary. This has become an April staple.

Oh, also — I don’t see these. So, it’ll get released in some theaters, make a maximum of $6 million in its opening weekend and I won’t see it.

But if I do — 2.5 stars.

Darling Companion

 

This one’s more about the pedigree (you’ll see why that’s a pun in a second) than the synopsis.

It’s written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, who started out as a writer on Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi, before going onto a career that included such films as: Body HeatThe Big Chill (amazing, and nominated for Best Picture), Silverado (awesome), The Accidental Tourist (nominated for Best Picture), I Love You to DeathGrand Canyon, and Wyatt Earp. (He also wrote The Bodyguard.)

He hasn’t done much recently. He directed Dreamcatcher back in 2003, but that’s about it. Now, he’s back, with his first real writing and directing effort in a long time. It stars Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dianne Wiest, Richard Jenkins, Sam Shepard, Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, and Aylet Zurer. Solid cast.

And it’s — “The story of a woman who loves her dog more than her husband. And then her husband loses the dog.”

I’m actually quite intrigued by this. (Also, note the pedigree pun.) Let’s say 3.5 stars.

House at the End of the Street

Aww…another horror movie. One less thing to watch.

This seems like it’s taking the Insidious space this year.

A mother and daughter move to a new town and find themselves living next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents. When the daughter befriends the surviving son, she learns the story is far from over.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue.

Oh wait…this is here because Hunger Games is out the month before this, and they think more people will go see it then. I get it.

The only thing that makes me think I could see it is Jennifer Lawrence. But honestly, it’s a horror movie. I hate these. It needs to seem really interesting (like Silent House) for me to want to see it.

I’ll assume 2 stars, if I see it. Let it be 2.5. I don’t care. I know it ain’t gonna go higher than that.

MS One: Maximum Security (Or Lock-Out. Not sure what the official title is. Looking like the first one.)

It’s a “sci-fi thriller” starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace.

Guy Pearce is a government agent wrongfully committed of a crime. He’s offered freedom if he can free the President’s daughter from a prison in space that’s been overtaken by the prisoners.

Interesting…did not expect that. This sounds like a script I’d do coverage on.

Do I wanna guess 3.5 here? I don’t think I do. I feel like this is a film that needs to be awesome. I know Luc Besson is involved, I still need to see it work to be convinced.

3 stars. Interested in it, though.

The Lucky One

“Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel,” the synopsis said, as though it were a boast.

Nicholas Sparks, starring Zac Efron. Tell me no more…

2 stars. Potential Unforgivable watch, but I doubt it. It’ll probably just suck and that’ll be that.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.

It sounds interesting enough. It’s being written and directed by the woman who wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which on the whole was pretty good, I felt.

I think Steve Carell is starring in this, which — we’ll try to deal with. Keira Knightley is also in it, which is why this intrigues me so much. So is Patton Oswalt (who picks good material when he makes something). And Melanie Lynskey. And Adam Brody (he’s awesome). And Melinda Dillon (love her). And William Petersen. And Rob Corddry. And Derek Luke. And Amy Schumer.

I have to assume 3.5 stars here. Despite the presence of Carell. I think it’ll be okay. But keep in mind, this is pre-trailer and pre-anything but a synopsis.

The Wettest Country

Here’s why I’m interested in this: first, it was written by Nick Cave. Yes, that Nick Cave. He also wrote The Proposition, which was awesome. And this is being directed by John Hillcoat, who directed The Proposition, as well as The Road. So right there, I’m in. Before I even know what this is about.

Set in the Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by authorities who want a cut of their profits.

Still going strong. I love period pieces. And gangster period pieces… written by Nick Cave… I’m excited.

Oh, also, it stars — ready? — Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Waskiowska, Guy Pearce, and Noah Taylor.

4 stars. No way, with all that talent, this goes less than 3.5. I say 4. Bring it on. I can’t wait to see this one.

The Five-Year Engagement

First off, we’ll begin with a synopsis. What other film from the past three years does this sound like?

A comedy that charts the ups and downs of an engaged couple’s relationship.

Maybe it’s that “ups and downs” thing, but — that kind of makes me think of (500) Days of Summer. Maybe that’s just me. Either way. Decent enough premise. I hope they don’t go nonlinear here.

It stars Jason Segal and Emily Blunt. I like them. Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Brian Posehn and David Paymer (of all people) are in this. That’s a solid enough cast. And Nick Stoller is directing. He did Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. He also co-wrote The Muppets. That gives me hope.

Let’s say 3 stars. I don’t want to have hope and see this fail. So let’s say 3, and let it win me over. I can easily see this going 3.5, though.

Safe

Well, the first thing that captures my attention (only because it’s right there at the bottom of the poster as I type) is the writer-director: Boaz Yakin.

Know what else he’s done? Directed Remember the Titans and Uptown Girls. And also Fresh and A Price Above Rubies. Eclectic list of films, no? He’s also written the original Punisher movie (from 1989), The Rookie (with Clint Eastwood and Charlie Sheen — greatest pairing ever), Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

This guy’s resume fascinates me. the only truly good movie on here is, I guess, Remember the Titans, which he didn’t write. Just saying. But he did just write Now You See Me, which is a film that’s in production now, about a bunch of magicians who pull off bank heists. Which sounds great. It sounds even more interesting when you know it’s set to star Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Mélanie Laurent. Just something to keep an eye on for 2013. (Why does it tentatively have a January release date?)

Anyway, this is a Jason Statham film. That automatically narrows down what it’ll be rated. They’re all of the same quality, for the most part.

A former elite agent rescues a 12-year-old abducted Chinese girl, then must fight the Triads, Russian Mafia and high-level corrupt New York City politicians as well as police.

Sounds interesting enough. I won’t go above 3 stars though. Let it decide how good it wants to be. Still, Statham always makes decent movies.

– – – – – – – – – –

Okay, April…

What did I say about April in the How to Read a Hollywood Release?

You get a lot of varied films that may actually be of quality (and probably are), along with some standard shit releases that can be anywhere. Okay.

You get the start of the limited releases and also the start of the blockbusters. There aren’t really blockbusters here. Mostly Hunger Games and Titans, but those are late March. Though Titans is March 30th, which is basically April, and that’s become an April franchise (I mentioned the April franchise in there).

I said “the great divide” begins in April, and you get “lighter” films there. The great divide is basically that moment when the wave is formed, and the top is all the blockbusters of the summer, and the bottom is the limited releases. Also, the “lighter” fare I was talking about are the fun action films and the light comedies.

I also mentioned the “Planet Earth” films, which is basically the Disney nature documentary spot.

The Nicholas Sparks movie seems to be penciled into April too.

Weird how there aren’t any animated films for April. That surprises the hell out of me. Maybe they’re all gonna be in the summer? That’s weird, though, how there aren’t many animated films, even though those clean up at the box office.

Anyway, I think that’s sort of a good explanation of April. It’s basically interchangeable with March, only with slightly better stuff. It’s still pretty varied, though.

American Reunion is perfectly placed there. That’s a film, without even knowing when it was coming out, I’d say, “March/April.” Cold Light of Day seems strategically placed for Cavill. Otherwise I’m not really sure why it’s there. Bullet to the Head makes sense there as well. Stooges — that belongs in February or January. But it does keep things varied. (Do they really see that as an Easter movie?) April generally has a few horror movies, so Cabin in the Woods makes sense. House at the End of the Street is a Jennifer Lawrence date. I understand why it’s there. Chimpanzee is the annual nature documentary. MS One actually makes more sense as a February or March film (kind of like From Paris with Love). The Lucky One is perfectly situated there. Sparks movies are always March or April. Seeking a Friend and Wettest Country seem to be taking advantage of the eclecticism of April. And I like it, since they seem like better films than the other ones coming out. Five Year Engagement seems late. That seems like a Valentine’s film. Maybe it’s better. (Also, Forgetting Sarah Marshall was this time. So that’s probably what they’re going for there.)

Okay, box office…

First week is interesting. Titans could hold for a second week, or American Reunion wins. Or, the wild card — another 3D release! Titanic is being released in 3D. I saw a trailer for this. The transfer actually looks solid. So much so that I’d consider seeing it just to see what Cameron did with the transfer. Not sure how to call this one.

Also, whatever happens, expect a lot of “Titan-ic” puns when they recap what happened this weekend.

Second week — ooh. Three Stooges, Cabin in the Woods, Bullet to the Head, Movie 43. I guess Bullet? Maybe? Or does something hold again from the week before? Damn, this is tough.

Third week — Uhh…The Lucky One? I know it won’t be The Wettest Country. House at the End of the Street? Why is April so weak this year? This is terrible.

Fourth week — Five-Year Engagement, I guess. Jesus, April seems weak as hell. Last year, you could guess things down to the week. Don’t worry, though, shit gets easy in May and June.

But seriously — look at this… it’s horrible. When did January and February and March and April get flipped? Why am I more excited for January and March than I am for February and April? There must be more films coming out, right? Or are we so run out of ideas as an industry that things are just gonna get worse and worse?

(It’s the lack of animated films. That’s why it’s so weak. Last year, we had two animated films to clean up April.)

Any potential good movies in April?: The Wettest Country. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. And possibly Bullet to the Head. But that’s more, it has the potential to be fun. The Wettest Country seems like a legit good movie. Movie 43 looks like it could be good. And possibly Five-Year Engagement, based on its director’s track-record and likable stars.

Unforgivables?: The Three Stooges

(It’s weird how Hollywood has nothing coming out, and seem to be trying to make money by just rereleasing shit. Three 3D rereleases in 4 months. This is horrible.)

– – – – – – – – – –

Tune in tomorrow, we start the summer, with May and June.

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