First Glimpse: Anne Hathaway as ‘Catwoman’ official pics

11 Aug

The new cat suit is raising eyebrows, but not for reasons that you’d think…

Filming has officially started on The Dark Knight RisesChristopher Nolan‘s final installment in the Batman franchise, so of course, pictures are starting to leak. But the first official release from Warner Bros. of the new ‘Catwoman’ Anne Hathaway, fully suited and acting up, is causing a stir in the nerd community because its….well, kinda lame. Whether or not you’d want to see Anne Hathaway in a barely there suit (I for one have never found the woman ‘sexy’ by any means), the role of Catwoman has grown to epitomize female sexuality at its vampiest, and the picture we got was less than that:

From what we gather, it looks as if the Cat has either commandeered Batman’s ‘Bat-Pod’, or is just borrowing it with the Dark Knight’s permission, and looks to be heading into action, but the suit that we see is little more than a head’s-up wraparound visor, and an ill-fitting leather jumpsuit. There are no ears, no visible whip, and if kitty’s got claws, they’re obviously retractable. So what does this mean in the pantheon of memorable “Catwomen” portrayals?

Well, so far, absolutely nothing. Hathaway herself has come out to address the issue of lackluster reception to the suit, and has stated to MTV that early detractors need only wait for the release of the film to see what the suit can actually do:

“What I am happy to say is: If you didn’t like the photo… you only see about a tenth of what that suit can do,” Hathaway said. “And if you did like the photo, you have excellent taste.”

So obvious bias aside, and that is taking into account Hathaway can be trusted, hopefully this one shot, from this one angle, is just one way the character appears onscreen. Who knows what Nolan has up his sleeve, and who’s to say that this isn’t just her “tactical” suit – like a motorcycle jacket intended for controlled slides. She could rip the outer layer off like snap-pants, to reveal a sexy corset, or some sort of thigh high/garter belt system. But then again, knowing Nolan’s style for gritty realism, this might be a “functional” suit; you know – something a real catburglar might tend to wear. Whatever we end up getting in the end is still to be seen down the line, and I am one to devote blind faith to Nolan’s track record when it comes to all things Batman, but you gotta admit so far the initial reaction is “non-plussed”, and it certainly doesn’t bode well that The Hollywood Gossip is offering up a jacket from The GAP in its “Get the Look” section….

New ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ trailer leaks

20 Jul

While we’re still confused an agitated that there’s already a Spider-Man reboot (less than 5 years after Tobey Maguire’s ‘Spidey’ ended), we can’t ignore that another big screen incarnation is hitting theaters soon, starring Andrew Garfield as the web-slinger, and Rhys Ifans as nemesis ‘Lizardman’. And on the eve of Comic-Con, a teaser trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man has leaked online, to get all the nerds primed and salivating (present company included).

Check it out and give us your take. We say it’s a darker take than Sam Raimi‘s ‘original’, and yet we can’t help but feel we’ve seen this movie before…

In Theaters This Weekend: Harry Potter graduates Hogwarts

15 Jul

It’s been 10 long years, but we finally graduated college, got a job, and moved out of our parents’ attic. And just in time, too, because the final ‘Harry Potter’ movie is hitting theaters, and we’d feel pretty outgunned having to compete in today’s job market against a boy wizard. Nevertheless, the Potter saga, which began in 2001, is finally coming to an end after 8 films, and we couldn’t be happier. Not that we haven’t followed the movies or grown to love the loveable wizards and that cute little muggle girl, but because it’s time, and those kids aren’t getting any younger. However, Warner Bros. hasn’t taken this lying down, chopping the last film in two and stretching out the whole thing, squeezing every bit of money out of the rabid fans who have dutifully been shelling out their hard earned money on everything from tickets and tie-ins, to some of the weirdest merchandise ever seen outside of Japan. But not even Lord Voldemort is bold enough to try to take on that cash cow, as every other studio has bowed out this weekend, except for Disney and their very ambivalent attempt to tap into any trickle down ticket money for those too late to get into theaters this weekend. So , for all intents and purposes, this weekend it’s all about Harry.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opens up nationwide to cheers and tears as the last movie in the series storms into theaters primed to set records and sew up the franchise. Sure to be a cultural touchstone for fans and pop culture junkies alike, the kids have grown into young adults and so have their loyal followers, and viewers shant be disappointed. After Part 1 came out last November to middling reviews, we’ve been waiting patiently for the finale, even more so, since the first half was so slow. But now, with all the exposition out of the way, we are set for nothing but action upon action, and that’s what we’ll get. With all the characters and plot points set in motion, all the pieces have been positioned on the board, and it’s time to unleash them upon Hogwarts in a battle royale. Will Harry take on Voldemort and perish with him in the fires? Will Ron Weasley and Hermoine finally kiss? And will Professor Snape prove that under all that black lies a heart of gold? If you’ve been a fan of the books, you probably already know all the answers, but moviegoers will delight in this last installment that’s sure to tie up all the loose ends, and sneak in a couple surprises at that. For true fans, the franchise is poised to go out on a high note as one of the best in the series, and for even the most casual movie buff who’s willing to do some light background reading, the show will prove to be a movie milestone as a textbook way to provide onscreen summer movie magic. Either way, the 2+ hour runtime will fly by, keeping you on the edge of your seat. If you sat through Transformers 3 over the Fourth of July weekend thinking the big summer blockbuster hit its peak, be sure that the summer movie season will last a least a few days longer. Don’t miss.

And as a complete afterthought, Disney, who lost out on the biggest movie franchise of the new millennium, is practically puking out a movie in the hopes that some poor family, somewhere, missed out on tickets to the final Potter film. But, in a move that’s almost defiant to the big budget light and magic of Potter, an all new Winnie the Pooh movie comes out this weekend, without CGI, without Pixar’s computers, and without any pretention whatsoever. Modeled in the same vein as the classics that built the “House of Mouse,” Pooh comes along hoping to snatch up the littlest of kiddie viewers who were born five years after the Potter series started, and just aren’t old enough yet to enjoy a sophisticated wizard movie. A classy and shrewd move on Disney’s part, at half the runtime and a fraction of the cost to make, the studio recognizes that pitting something against the boy wizard is a suicide move, so they’re planning on sneaking under the radar, and hopefully, will stand to make a couple bucks issuing a cheap movie that’s actually fun to watch and is getting pretty good reviews. For nostalgic reasons alone, the movie should have parents moving to introduce their kids to the pudgy yellow bear they grew up on, and if not, hey – they’re not out any money on an overblown kids film that stands no chance at making a dent on the one BIG movie this weekend.

In Theaters This Weekend: One for the kids, and one…not so much

24 Jun

Some movies are expressly written with children in mind, whether they’re saccharine sweet flicks with a message, or straight up G-rated cartoons about a cute stuffed animal with a honey pot stuck on his head. Then there are movies that are NOT made for kids at all; movies that would actually do harm to a child who is just beginning to make sense of the world. This weekend, we get a little of both, with Cars 2 heading to theaters to entertain the kiddos with lots of bright colors and wholesome action, and then there’s Bad Teacher, a sequel of sorts to the foul-mouthed, nearly soulless Bad Santa. Hey, there’s a little something for everyone, right?

First off, let me just say I never saw the first Cars movie. I believe it was somewhere between thinking how un-cuddly a car made of steel and rubber would be, and me wondering how a society of automobiles could sustain itself without the use of opposable thumbs (or even hands for that matter); but somewhere along the line, they lost me. Now the cars return for another lap, and this time they’re going global, in a plot that takes them to France to compete in a grand prix, and throws a little espionage in to spice up the plot. Of course, the whole show is geared toward kids, especially young boys, who grow up on toy cars and a strange fascination fire trucks and construction equipment. Yet, I’m still left wondering how-in-the-world a world inhabited solely by cars managed to build such engineering marvels as the Eifel Tower, Big Ben, or even the city streets of Paris, which was laid out hundreds of years before a car, or motorized vehicle, was even invented. Now I know the movie has to be entertaining (it’s Pixar; how dare you question them), but I have to admit, these are questions that I just can’t overcome, and I will most likely never see this film. However, if you have kids, I highly recommend taking them to see it this weekend. They’re going to love it.

Now, on to something a bit more adult (but no less juvenile) – Bad Teacher. The film stars Cameron Diaz as a first-year teacher who quits her job to become a kept woman by a super-rich bore who doesn’t realize she’s only using him for his money. When the mother-in-law-to-be enlightens her son of this fact, Diaz is out on her ass, and forced to crawl back to her old job, after spending her summer break in a booze-induced bout of self-destruction. She proceeds to phone in the teaching gig, letting the kids watch movies everyday while she catches up on sleep, and plots her next wealthy victim, Justin Timberlake, playing it straight as a wholesome J.Crew-cut wristwatch heir who prefers forehead kisses to rolling around naked. As she saves up to buy new fake boobs to attract her man, she begins to realize that life is more than money, and the kids she barely knows the names of, are actually moldable minds that she might just be responsible for once the morning bell rings. With Jason Segel as a down-to-earth, pot-smoking gym teacher trying to break the bitch out of her, Diaz shows a bit of growth, without necessarily losing the potty-mouth that makes her a bit endearing. And while the movie is just okay, and glosses over a lot of stuff, it’s got a couple great lines, and should be worth your time if you just need to ditch the kid stuff and swim in the shallow end of a scummy summertime pool.

In Limited Release: If you can find it, we highly recommend checking out Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, the behind-the-scenes documentary the talk show host made during the nationwide tour he staged between talk shows. A gritty-at-times look at the funny man after he lost ‘The Tonight Show’, he bares all, as the depressed, control-freak that funny men most oftentimes are. If you want to see something adult that contains a bit of childish whimsy, O’Brien is never a let-down, and should prove that the real losers in the late-night wars was us, the viewers.

In Theaters This Weekend: Memorial Day brings more of those summer sequels

27 May

Every year when the weather turns warm, we tend to look forward to our favorite things about the summer season. BBQ, hanging by the pool, and long summer nights are just a few things that come to mind. But with those unfortunately there also comes burnt food, burnt skin, and hungry mosquitoes. Same goes for the summer movies. For every blockbuster, Hollywood churns out a quick buck flick that looks to capitalize on audiences heading in droves to the theaters. And what is the one constant you can count on every year? Yes, that’s right – the summer movie sequel, and this Memorial Day weekend, we get two of them.

For all the problems that exist with the movie sequel, there are some upsides. For one, we’re already familiar with all the main characters, so establishing a relationship is not an issue. And if those characters charmed us once, chances are we’re going to give them a little leeway when it comes to the second time around, and that’s a good thing when it comes to The Hangover Part II. For a movie that brings back our perpetually red-eyed friends for another round of adventures the day after, they must think that we in the audience must be suffering from some sort of alcohol induced amnesia as well, because this second installment brings on a lot of déjà vu. Our friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are reunited two years after their Vegas hijinks to celebrate Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding in Bangkok, Thailand, and after a low-key bonfire on the beach somehow goes awry, the gang (minus Doug) wakes up the next morning in a rundown hotel room in the heart of Bangkok, with no recollection of how they got there, and the bride’s underage brother missing. This is where the movie begins to follow the same arc of the previous installment: instead of Stu waking up with a missing tooth, he’s got a Mike Tyson face tattoo, and instead of a cute little baby with sunglasses, there’s a cute little monkey with a Rolling Stones jean jacket. Oh, and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is back for an encore to provide a bit of humor and to work as a much needed plot device. But if you enjoyed the first Hangover, you’ll inevitably like the second one; it’s essentially the same movie. The jokes are a bit more over the top and the plot is extremely predictable, but it’s fun to see the fellas back in action, and Zack Galifianakis is still on top of his game, so despite running the same road, we’ll still tie one on and join our three best friends for another round of “so what the hell happened last night?!”

Also opening up this weekend is another sequel that is leaps and bounds from The Hangover Part II – Kung Fu Panda 2. Back again is Jack Black as panda warrior Po, and his A-List warrior friends, voiced by Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen and David Cross. In the first one, Po trained with his kung fu master, but this time around he’s a seasoned pro, and must band together to stop a villain who plans to unleash a new weapon that would render kung fu utterly useless (my guess is the weapon is a firearm, which pretty much did end any kind of hand-to-hand combat). And while Po the panda is a formidable fighter this time around, he still bumbles his way through the movie, and of course there are plenty of fat jokes to fill in the gaps. A fun movie voiced by some of today’s comedic masters, but a sequel nonetheless, so look for more of the same.

In limited release: If you’re looking for something truly original this weekend, check out The Tree of Life, by director Terrence Malick. Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, the film follows the lives of a family with three boys growing up in the 50’s, and intercuts them with surreal scenes from this world and cosmic glories. Winner of the Palme d’Or, the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Malick creates a beautiful movie that should be the cold salve on the hot sunburn of the summer movie sequels.

First Image of Batman Villain: Tom Hardy as ‘Bane’ picture revealed

23 May

For a weekend that was supposed to see the world end, not much happened…unless you’re a huge Batman nerd like us and stumbled across this, the first picture released of new villain ‘Bane’ played by Tom Hardy for the third and final installment in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, set to be titled The Dark Knight Rises:

In a case of knock-out viral marketing, the studio introduced the official Dark Knight Rises website a few days ago, with a simple cryptic audio clip of non-descript chanting over an all black background. But leave it to the folks over at JoBlo.com to get to the bottom of it, and worked their sources to reveal a hidden message in the chant (a Twitter hashtag that spelled out #TheFireRises), that ultimately revealed the picture: a muscular Hardy with shaved head and facemask. For those ignorant to the Bane lore in the Batman universe (don’t worry, you’re not alone), the super-villain is super-intelligent and super-strong, due to a serum called “venom” that is pumped directly to his brain. Hardy looks like he put on some major weight and turned it all into muscle to play the role of the only man who broke the Bat’s back, and hopefully the picture ensures that for the movie, no extra effects will be added to make ‘Bane’ bigger than life, as Hardy looks pretty big as it is. The biggest mistake Nolan could make would to be to camp it up and have any resemblance to Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin version. But judging from the previous two films, we’re confident that Nolan will shoot the subject matter through a realistic lens, and despite that we disagree on who the villain should be, we’re really looking forward to this next installment with the Caped Crusader.

In Theaters This Weekend: Summer Movie season begins by bringing the hammer down

6 May

It’s been a loooong winter when it comes to new movies. Not only did we have to sit through two Nicolas Cage flicks, but we got an action movie starring Seth Rogen (??), a Liam Neeson remake of a Liam Neeson movie (???), and a “Big Momma’s House” sequel that got his son into the cross-dressing mix (????). How much more does Hollywood expect us to take!? But luckily, after making it across the frozen wasteland, we’ve finally made it to greener pastures, and after a surprising soft open last weekend with Fast Five raking in $80 million, the summer movie season officially opens this weekend in true fashion, with a heavily hyped superhero movie.

Thor, the God of Thunder in Norse mythology, made famous in the pages of DC comics (and Adventures in Babysitting), gets his long-awaited big screen debut this Friday, with an A-List cast backed up by Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh. Starring relative newcomer Chris Hemsworth as the immortal Thor, and supported by Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, not to mention Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgard, and Kat Dennings thrown into the mix, in a big budget blockbuster helmed by a guy who knows his way around a story. As the story goes, Thor, kind of a loose cannon on his homeworld, gets banished to Earth as punishment, with the job of protecting us humans from ourselves. However, back at home his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) attempts to overthrow their father and take over the kingdom, and sends a couple of nasty characters down to Earth to keep Thor busy while he follows through with his plan. Thor must save us here on Earth, while making his way back home to save his family. Standard superhero stuff, but with Branagh behind the film, one can only wonder what kind of Henry V allusions we’ll get. But if we can get a superhero movie loosely based on the Bard’s work, it might just be the perfect storm of great script, great performances and great special effects that could rank this right up there as one of the best summer movies of all time.

And while all the men in the world are checking out Thor, their wives and girlfriends will be packing the theaters to see Something Borrowed, your standard chick-flick starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson. As the perpetually single Rachel, Goodwin stars as the brainy brunette, opposite Hudson’s blonde and overbearing Darcy. As best-friends, the relationship is strained as Darcy begins dating Dex (Colin Egglesfield), the dreamy law student that Rachel has a secret crush on, and years later when Dex and Darcy are set to walk down the aisle, the truth comes out that the chiseled hunk is actually in love with the mousey best friend, and Goodwin’s Rachel must learn to be a little proactive if she wants to win her true love. With a bit of relief in the form of John Krasinski (who may or may not be the gay best friend – we can’t tell from the trailer), the movie is formulaic, and is based on a chick-lit best seller, but is the perfect antidote to the testosterone fueled Thor. If only the sexes can refrain from crossing theaters, everyone should be happy this weekend.

In Limited Release: In case you were morbidly curious, remember that movie The Beaver starring Mel Gibson in his first role back from his crazy summer vacation? It was that movie where he was down on his luck and turned to a cuddly hand puppet to help him break out of his funk. Well, that’s coming out in select theaters, so if you really wanted to see that, feel free to check to see if it’s in your area. And if you’re in a grindhouse mood, check out Hobo With a Shotgun, starring Rutger Hauer in a role that shouldn’t be much of a stretch for the actor, who has been out of the limelight for years now. This year’s version of Machete, it should be a blood-splaterring good time.

30 Minutes or Less

3 May

by brian

Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg team up for a stoner/buddy/action/caper movie which promises to be a laugh a minute.  Ansari has been poised for years to make a break out.  He spent two seasons on MTV’s “Human Giant”, has had bit parts in Funny People, Get Him to the Greek, and I Love You Man.  Ansari has been on the rise lately having hosted the MTV Movie Awards, a standup special and, of course, his wimpy Tom Haverford on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”.  He will help Eisenberg get past his subdued and seemingly Asperger’s afflicted acting style.  Once he was considered the poor man’s Michael Cera, Eisenberg has a chance to stretch his comedy legs.

30 Minutes or Less rounds out its cast with the always funny Danny McBride and Nick Swardson.  They are the ridiculous catalysts.  The writers of the movie are unknown in terms of actual work, but seem to be competent to bring a comedy such as this to the big screen.

Now the bad part.  This movie would be hilarious if it weren’t for the fact that the unbelievable premise actually happened and ended fatally.  In 2003, Pennsylvania pizza delivery man, Brian Wells, walked into a bank and demanded $250,000 or the timebomb strapped around his neck would go off.  Once police arrived, they arrested him and left, what they believed to be a tremendous bluffer, handcuffed on the sidewalk.  As television cameras rolled and the images were broadcast live, the bomb timed out and blew a fist-sized hole in Wells’ chest.

If folks see this movie without knowing the grusome inspiration, they will have a great time.  I am actually very surprised this script made it past the Hollywood legal litmus test.  Once moviegoers learn about the unfunny and all too real event of which this movie is making light, they will feel awful they helped financially support the makers of this film.  This is a poor attempt at comedy following a horrifying episode.  If you still aren’t convinced, go ahead and Google “pizza delivery guy bomb.”  Just don’t do it at work and make sure you start running the water for your shame bath before you hit play.

So, Will It Suck?

No.  The movie will be funny.  Ansari will continue his well deserved comedic rise.  Eisenberg’s already built up enough fame equity to come out of this relativley unscathed.  McBride and Swardson have a devoted following already, so they’re safe.  The writers, Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan better make a sincere Mother Theresa biopic or something before their karma is damaged beyond repair.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

19 Apr

Planet of the Apes. Have you seen it? I was in college when I happened to catch the Charlton Heston original late one night on cable, and after the first twenty minutes, I remember thinking it was really, really… gay. A bunch of male astronauts crash land on an unknown planet, strip naked and bathe with one another, and lie around musing how much they miss their dear friend Landon. It was pretty weird, and no one really explained quite why a movie that supposedly made a pretty strong case for the Civil Rights movement, had so many naked men in it. Flash forward 30 years and several B-movie sequels, and you’ve got Tim Burton, master of the modern day gothic, giving us a pretty uneven remake. Was it necessary? I don’t know, but it certainly had way fewer naked dudes. Skip another 10 years, and Hollywood does what it does best – squeezing blood from a stone, reigniting the franchise with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, set for release this summer.

Starring James Franco and Brian Cox, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is set in modern times, and is supposed to be the beginning point for what would eventually become the planet of the apes that Heston knew so well. Forget that we already know the punch line, and that the planet that is ruled by super-intelligent monkeys is actually Earth, Rise of the Apes shows us how we got there. Franco, a scientist working on a cure for brain damage victims, tests his new serum on primates (like all good movie scientists – see Outbreak). A friend to the funky monkeys he operates on, Franco’s ‘Will’ begins to notice that while the brain does indeed begin to repair itself, it doesn’t stop there, and grants higher intelligence to the apes that receive the drug. Soon the captive gorillas learn how to open their cages, and all hell breaks loose from there, unleashing a horde of super-smart damn dirty apes upon the city.

Now let’s set aside the obvious first question about James Franco as a convincing genius scientist, and just focus on the movie in general for now. A film about scientists who go too far and have to deal with playing God? Fine. A movie where humans are attacked by intelligent animals? Great! I loved Jurassic Park. But a Planet of the Apes prequel where all the apes terrorizing the city are actual apes? Wait just one minute there. A movie where monkeys get loose and trash the place is fine, but already knowing ahead of time that they’re going to win, and eventually turn into upright walking and talking Roddy McDowalls, just doesn’t work for me. The apes in the movie don’t appear to have formed language skills, and they’re still knuckle dragging gorillas with ferocious wild tendencies. When I watch a ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie, I want my monkeys talking, using tools, and basically living the life I do now; in a “civilized society.” What I’m getting is a movie about a bunch of apes escaping from the zoo.

Now, onto the question of James Franco as a brilliant biologist. Sure, I don’t know the guy, and given stories I’ve heard, I bet he’s very well-read and able to formulate abstract thoughts. However, I’ve never heard of the guy constructing complex enzymes needed to rebuild cell structure, and frankly, the majority of the roles I’ve seen him either show him as a half-baked actor (Flyboys), or a fully baked stoner (Pineapple Express, “Freaks and Geeks”). Yes, he showed much range in last year’s 127 Hours, but he was playing a granola nature boy, who let’s face it, was probably high the night before heading out into the canyons of Moab, Utah. His look, mannerisms, even his voice, just scream Liberal Arts, and for us to believe that he holds advanced medical degrees, let alone even made it through his pre-med classes, have us calling shenanigans right off the bat. Not something you want your viewer to have to constantly fight the urge to question throughout an entire film.

So, will it suck?

Yes, of course. Franco is ill-equipped for the role, and hasn’t yet established himself as an actor with the range to tackle anything more than a high-ranking lab assistant. And the movie doesn’t provide any of the social commentary that could be made of our still very racially segregated state. It’s just another action movie that omits the big questions, much like Will Smith’s I Am Legend. Remember what we thought about Tim Burton’s movie? I’ll remind you – “not much”. The original Planet of the Apes was a science fiction fable about what could happen in the nuclear age when we blast our cities back to the pre-dawn era, and where humans are the sub-species to a master race of apes. Was there action? Sure, a little horseback riding and hand to hand combat, but that only served to drive the underlying message. Burton’s apes were wildly jumping monkeys running through the jungle, and the movie just didn’t work until the final scene, which only left us wanting to see that, not the previous 90 minutes we just sat through. With Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it seems like we’re getting a movie that is meant to set up a franchise, but not necessarily a movie that we want or need to see. It’s nice to know just how the apes came to get their super-intellect, but forgive me for saying that I’d much rather watch a film that questions what would happen if the primates were the ones running society, rather than a movie where a bunch of apes run amok.

In Theaters This Weekend: Bird-brained comedy for kids, and the ‘Scream’ franchise takes another stab

15 Apr

It’s spring! The rebirth of everything green and colorful outdoors, so what is Hollywoodbaiting us with to get us inside a theater this weekend? Well, aside from a temporary respite from those pesky allergies, not much. We’re only a few weeks away from the summer blockbuster season kicking off with Thor on May 6, and it looks like the studios are piling on some mid-range movies that will attempt to prime the box office this year.

First up is Rio, a CGI cartoon about rare birds who take to Rio de Janeiro just in time for Carnival. Voiced by The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg, Blu is one of the last remaining male blue macaws in the world, and after living his entire life in captivity in frigid Moose Lake, Minnesota, is sent down to Rio to hopefully mate with the last remaining females in Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway). Aside from a potentially racy sex scene involving two birds, this seems to be typical kid fare, as kidnappers steal the valuable birds, and during their daring escape, it’s revealed that Blu, after living in a cage all his life, never learned how to fly. In what should be a great lesson teaching kids to overcome their fears and stretch their wings, Rio comes off as one of those middling kids movies. With other voices provided by George Lopez, Jamie Foxx and will.i.am, it’s got lots of colors and cute animals to attract the young ones, but probably won’t be a memorable movie years to come.

 

And the second major movie opening up this weekend, and I put it at second, is Scream 4. The return of the franchise, 11 years after the last one, seems like a fun attempt to return to Woodsboro and delight in the slightly irreverent take on the slasher film genre. However, most people you talk to couldn’t even tell you this movie was coming out this weekend, let alone that they were even coming out with another “Scream.” Returning all of the major players that weren’t killed off in the previous movies, Scream 4 has Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, and bring in fresh blood like Anna Paquin, Hayden Panettiere, Emma Roberts and Kristen Bell, and in an updated critique on modern teen horror movies, bring in the use of social networking, where the “new” Ghostface Killer uses webcams and cell phone video recorders to document his grisly murders. While the first “Scream” film took advantage of the “Dawson Creek” era hyper-aware teen scene of the time, modern teenagers who have been dumbed down by “Jersey Shore” and MTV’s “Teen Mom” just don’t seem to be the same as they used to be. Scream 4 might be a good ‘ol time at the theater, but in the wake of seven Saw films, it just seems a bit tired.

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