Thanksgiving weekend means new films on Wednesday instead of Friday, but where’s a new Pixar film when you need it?
Red Dawn holds a special place in the hearts of those who grew up in the ’80s. Few things get Cold War babies more worked up with nostalgia than the sight of Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, and Lea Thompson defending their home turf against an invasion of Communist forces. As with many seminal films from my birth decade, I didn’t catch up with Red Dawn until recently, and while I respect the thrills it surely packed in its day, it doesn’t hold up well. The good folks at MGM must have thought the same thing. They’ve remade the film, giving the reins to veteran stuntman Dan Bradley, and cast it with a fresh set of Wolverines, including Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth, The Hunger Games‘ Josh Hutcherson, and Friday Night Lights‘ Adrianne Palicki. North Koreans are the enemy this go-round, but while U.S. soil has been attacked in the years since the ’84 original, will the concept of all-out invasion hold the same sway as it did nearly three decades ago? Or will things blowing up in front of copious Stars & Stripes be enough to turn a profit? Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see if there’s an uptick in youths shouting, “Wolverines!!!” over the next few weeks.
Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is a literary, highly allegorical novel that seems wrong for film adaptation. The story of a teenage Indian boy whose family attempts to move their zoo overseas via ocean liner with tragic results, the content exists so well on the page that I’d prefer it stay there. Those factors, of course, haven’t stopped Hollywood folk from getting it to theaters. 11 years after its publication, director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain) and screenwriter David Magee (Finding Neverland, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) have sealed the deal, and in the process launched the film into the Best Picture conversation. The two-minute clip that played before Prometheus, involving flying fish and a lifeboat with a tiger, was confusing to not just those who hadn’t read the book. The trailers haven’t been much better. Still, with Lee behind the scenes, I have faith that it will add up to something good, as his films typically do.
For the kiddies, there’s Rise of the Guardians, an animated all-star film in which the likes of Santa Claus, Jack Frost, and the Easter Bunny team up to battle an evil foe. (Despite the title similarities, this is apparently not another of Zack Snyder’s fighting owl movies.) Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, Alec Baldwin, and Isla Fisher lend their voices, but if the awful trailer is any indication, this is an hour and a half that only those under 10 will be able to handle. But, who knows. It’s from Dreamworks, who’ve been known to make films for all ages, but their name is no sure thing. Too bad Pixar moved its annual film up to early summer a few years back. A high-quality, fun-for-the-whole-family animated film would be a welcome sight for the holiday weekend.
Fleeing the Scene
So, we say “goodbye,” Sound of Music style, to A Late Quartet, Seven Psychopaths (who knew it would last 5.5 weeks??? Way to go, Asheville!), and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (well, can’t win ’em all).
Ignoring the Black Friday deal hounds who will in turn be ignoring it is The Expendables 2. If you want to spend some dough on older titles, Amazon has some impressive deals over the next few days. Looking at the limited-availability Lightning Deals, they’ll have the extended edition Lord of the Rings trilogy, the complete series of the classic British TV program The Prisoner, and many other titles at crazy low prices.
Or you could shop local. Just sayin’.
On Netflix Instant
I had high hopes for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, yet despite a magical final half hour cinema history lesson, it’s pretty messy. More refined is Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, hitting the streaming circuit a month before the director’s Les Miserables hits theaters and makes its Oscar run. And, though it’s not a movie, the first season of American Horror Story is worth mentioning. Good scares are hard to find, Ryan Murphy’s series will give you the creeps in droves.