The message being sent this week by Hollywood is to stay home and watch the Academy Awards.  Considering the options, that’s not a bad idea.

In Theaters

Dark Skies (Dimension Films)
Dark Skies
(Dimension Films)

Dark Skies stars Felicity Keri Russell and non-athlete Josh Hamilton as parents whose home is attacked by a malevolent force.  In some new Invasion of the Body Snatchers manner, the mysterious evil worms its way into their lives, slowly dragging the humans down.  Written and directed by Scott Stewart (Legion; Priest), no stranger to the unusual, the film boasts sharing the same producer as Paranormal Activity and Insidious over all other credits.  Whether or not such a claim results in the kind of quality scares the latter produced remains to be seen, though I am intrigued by the thought of J.K. Simmons as a ghostbuster.  As with most of these PG-13 horror films, all I’m hoping for are a few good jumps and to see something new, so we’ll see how it goes.

Snitch (Summit Entertainment)
Snitch
(Summit Entertainment)

The first of Dwayne Johnson’s four films this spring, and one of two based on actual events, Snitch features him as a father who goes undercover for the DEA to free his wrongly imprisoned son.  Directed and co-written by veteran stunt coordinator Ric Roman Waugh (The Last of the MohicansTotal Recall), the film also stars Susan Sarandon as a deal-brokering attorney, plus both Barry Pepper and Benjamin Bratt rocking intense facial hair (see photo above).  I remain partial to Johnson’s small comedic roles, especially his occasional work on SNL, so his action films only hold so much appeal.  Also worrisome is the PG-13 rating, which is almost sure to limit the extent of action and peril.  I’m setting the expectation bar pretty low for this one as well.

Fleeing the Scene

Django Unchained is outta here, which equates to good news for several people I know.  It’s not that they don’t want to see Tarantino’s latest, but they prefer to experience the taboo subject matter in the safety of their living rooms instead of in a crowded theater.  The film’s departure means less cinematic temptation as the April 16 DVD date nears.  Also gone is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, leaving after a surprisingly good run.  I wasn’t sure it would last beyond January, but such is the allure of steampunked fairy tales.

On DVD

After a long run at the Carolina, including a bonus week following its initial exit, Argo is officially available for home consumption.  Also in disc form are Joe Wright’s ambitious but flawed Anna Karenina; last year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary, the Friday Night Lights-esque Undefeated; the Ethan Hawke horror film Sinister, which also happens to boast the same producer credit as Dark Skies; the corny Halloween comedy Fun Size; and Atlas Shrugged: Part 2, the film of which no actor from Part 1 wanted any part.

On Netflix Instant

A pack of new titles set to be released on March 1 means another empty week of debuts.  Other than the Nazi zombie experience Dead Snow, films set to expire are also unremarkable…that is unless you’ve been meaning to catch up with The Expendables or Lars von Trier’s Antichrist.  Now that’s a double feature.

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