After a week that featured the gems that are Gimme The Loot and No, plus nearly two hours of sophisticated Star Trek thrills, it makes sense for the movie gods to restore the cinematic balance. And so, we’re hit with the latest chapters in a pair of franchises that never should have had one sequel, much less two and five, respectively. In the words of Slick Rick, herrrre we goooo…
Can The Hangover Part III really be the most appealing new option? Good grief, we really are in for it this weekend. The first one was merely a chucklefest next to director Todd Phillips’ genuinely funny Old School, Road Trip, and Starsky & Hutch. That disappointment prompted me to avoid its sequel, which even folks who loved the original said was pretty much the same thing, just moved from Vegas to Bangkok. Now chuckleheads Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) look to settle the score with their nemesis Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) while contending with a new adversary played by John Goodman. Other characters from the first installment return (e.g. Heather Graham) while Melissa McCarthy is almost certainly allowed to do her loud, improvised schtick. Hopefully it has a few good laughs?
The Fast and the Furious franchise was one that had little chance with me. Thanks to numerous high school peers putting spoilers on Dodge Neons or body kits on little Chevy pick-ups, I was wary of a film that celebrated such behavior but gave it a shot. What I saw was a dull movie with bad performances and the bulk of stunts done with CGI cars instead of actual souped up models. And so I avoided its numerous sequels, including 2011’s Fast Five, which many said was big dumb fun. Something tells me I won’t have trouble piecing things together for the series’ sixth film, in which Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, all but guaranteed not to be as wonderful as he was in Pain & Gain) recruiting Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew to do battle with a mercenary (Clash of the Titans‘ Luke Evans) in London. Not even the presence of Haywire‘s Gina Carrano can get me excited.
I’m listing it last because it somehow seems more problematic than the above two titles, but Epic, the new animated feature from Ice Age creator Chris Wedge, could very well be the week’s best. Based on the children’s book The Leaf Men by William Joyce, the 3D film concerns the ongoing pint-sized battle between the forces of good and evil and what happens when teenage human Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried) is magically transported into the middle of this conflict. Fern Gully comes to mind (as does Honey, I Shrunk the Kids). Christoph Waltz as a fearsome critter named Mandrake helps, as do Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd as comic relief slugs named Mub and Grub, respectively, so we’ll see.
And for those unable to attend last Friday’s ActionFest screening of Java Heat, it’s been given its own run at The Carolina as well.
Fleeing the Scene
Gimme the Loot and No both sadly yet expectedly tanked. Cue the ‘N Sync! Likewise on the outs is Pain & Gain (the year’s most pleasant surprise thus far), Oblivion (perhaps the year’s most predictable thus far), and Peeples (the year’s worst Meet The Parents remake…thus far).
Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects may have lost its Best of the Year crown since its February release, but it’s still in the Top 10. Just outside of that list is the sophisticated action and goofy humor of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand. Further down is the paranormal teen romance flop Beautiful Creatures (worth seeing for Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson) and way down near the bottom is the annual Jason Statham forehead-slapper Parker.
On Netflix Instant
Sunday marks the long-awaited release of new Arrested Development episodes, available only through Netflix. As with the company’s other original productions, the entire season (in this case, 15 episodes) will drop simultaneously for your binge consumption.
Moviewise, there’s Sacha Baron Cohen’s hilarious The Dictator and a pair of very different offerings off the Wiccan variety: the Blair Witch Project spoof Da Hip Hop Witch (starring Eminem, Pras, Vanilla Ice, and Mobb Deep, among others) and Little Witches, in which Catholic schoolgirls turn into their titular other selves. Sounds like a double feature to treasure!
Star Trek is also a franchise (since it started out as a TV series, it has always been one) so the term “sequel” is not appropriate here.
“Beautiful Creatures” was amazing, but tanked for being too smart for the “Twilight” fans it was supposedly meant for. Aside from good performances from Irons and Thompson, the dialogues between the star-crossed witch and jock were fabulous, so go get this one.
As soon as you finish reading this.
Don’t be knocking the Fast and the Furious films. Even if they suck (and the last one IS fun), there’s always the cars.
The cars hold little appeal for me.
I’m a car guy, but the fast and the furious is no longer a car guy movie (not that the first few were ever GOOD car guy movies, at least they tried to be). They have instead turned into an action franchise with a few car chases thrown in for good measure.