REPUBLIBOT THURSDAY WEEKEND MOVIE PREVIEW: Movies Opening 10-23-09

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So, there we were, sitting at the red light, waiting for the green to come, revving our engines when Bob Falfa turned to me from his car and smiled. I tried to smile back, but my compulsive swallowing from barely supressed anxiety made it difficult to pull off with any sense of confidence. I nodded my head at him with what I hoped was nonchalance and said, “ I am not actually reviewing anything here, so unless stated otherwise I have not seen any of the movies in this ‘Preview’. All I am doing here is quite thoughtlessly passing judgment on films that are scheduled to open this week and that I have not researched at all (honestly, not at all). All of the film information, including the plot summary, has been pulled from the Opening This Week page of IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/nowplaying/). In this week’s installment of the Thursday Weekend Movie Preview we are taking a look at: Saw IV, The Vampire’s Assistant, and Amelia – among others.”

He grinned back at me, winked and then the light turned green…

Saw VI
Director: Kevin Greutert
Stars: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston
Studio: Lionsgate
The Plot: Special Agent Strahm is dead, and Detective Hoffman has emerged as the unchallenged successor to Jigsaw's legacy. However, when the FBI draws closer to Hoffman, he is forced to set a game into motion, and Jigsaw's grand scheme is finally understood.

The Rupublibot Take: I have never seen a Saw movie, so I have no idea who Special Agent Strahm is or what the phrase “Detective Hoffman has emerged as the unchallenged successor to Jigsaw’s legacy” means. At all. I am familiar with Costas Mandylor’s work on Syfy, but I don’t know if that should necessarily carry any Sci-fi quotient weight with it. Isn’t Mark Rolston the brother to the girl that was dating Lindsey Lohan? I have no idea. I am just burning words here so it looks like I wrote something, that way R2 and R3 won’t get mad at me for only contributing this weekly thing. And half-assedly at that.

I don’t particularly care for movies about serial killers or that show extreme unmotivated torture-type violence of one person upon another more helpless person. They just don’t sit well with me. When I was little, I wanted to make a Friday the 13th sequel, and it was going to have Jason Vorhees stumble across a summer camp. Except the summer camp was for Asian kids. And all the Asian kids were secret Shao-Lin Monks and then they beat the crap out of him. And that is how it would end. With Jason no longer evil and trying to get accepted into the camp as a student. There would have been sequels, but we can talk about those another time.

The Sci-fi quotient on this is probably 1.75, mainly due for Mandylor appearing on some Syfy original fighting genetically altered velociraptors or something like that – not for anything he does in this movie.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
Director: Paul Weitz
Stars: Chris Massoglia, John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek
Studio: Universal Pictures
The Plot: A traveling freak show's most mysterious attraction recruits teenager Darren Shan as his assistant, though the young man soon finds himself used as a pawn in a battle between vampires and their deadlier counterparts.

The Rupublibot Take: Isn’t it strange that the creative minds behind American Pie have gone on to make solidly family targeted entertainment? I am not sure which Weitz brother has done what, but one of them did About A Boy, which was close to a perfect adaptation of a very good novel (and in some ways, much better structured), one made The Golden Compass which was a very bold adaptation of a very difficult book in an incredibly difficult overly politicized PR environment (it didn’t quite work, but it was better than it could have been) and one has made one of those angsty teen love vampire films (can’t remember the name off the top of my head right now).

Isn’t America great?

Seriously. Where else can someone go from making funny teen sex romps to decent family oriented entertainment? The UK? Ha!! I say. Italy? Never. Korea? Ok, maybe Korea, but that is because they wouldn’t have a choice, and isn’t that what America is really all about? Freedom of choice?

This movie actually looks like a lot of fun and I really like John C Reilly, he was awesome in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (the movie was a lot of fun, but just didn’t work completely which was disappointing). I still read a lot of Youth Fiction out of habit, even though my kids have pretty much outgrown the genre and I am thinking about reading the source material just to see how faithful it is to the books. Having said all of that, I would give the Sci-fi Quotient about a 5, just for the general solidly genre nature.

Amelia
Director: Mira Nair
Stars: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Plot: A look at the life of Amelia Earhart (Swank), the American pilot who disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 on her history-making flight around the world.

The Rupublibot Take: Interesting story – back in my Central Florida freelance film and video production days, I acted as local crew for a short lived major network reality show (this was in the early days of the genre) – and one of the episodes was about a local lady that used to be a wing walker back in the early days of flight. She was also one of the first licensed female pilots and was a contemporary to Amelia Earhart. My job was to shuttle her around to some places and to take some of her early photos and get them on video. She was very sweet. She gave me cookies and tea and let me tease her some and shared with me some great stories about those early barnstorming days.

So naturally the subject turned to Ms Earhart. Did you know she was a spy for the British government? She also was trained in hand to hand combat and was partially key in the state of Israel being reestablished. Ok, I am lying there, but she did share some very interesting insights about the tragic disappearance of Amelia Earhart, which I probably shouldn’t share here out of respect to her trust in me those few days I was intruding in her life for a faceless network at $100 a day.

I will give this movie a 3.5 on the Sci-fi Quotient. I am interested in it for the obviously stated personal reasons. I am not big on Biographic films because they, by force of the format, have to rewrite the truth in order to have a familiar story arc. F’rinstance, I loved Aviator, but man did they gloss over important aspects of his life and ramp up the drama around less important things, and I suspect they will do the same thing here. But similarly, I bet the old planes will look great.

Astro Boy
Director: David Bowers
Stars: Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell
Studio: Summit Entertainment
The Plot: Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy (voiced by Highmore) is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist (voiced by Cage) in the image of the son he has lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving man's expectations, our hero embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators, before he returns to save Metro City and reconcile with the father who had rejected him.

The Rupublibot Take: My take on this hasn’t changed dramatically since I wrote about it originally when it went into Limited Release. The main thing to keep in mind is: GIANT ROBOT BATTLES AND ROCKET SHIPS!!!

Sci-fi Quotient: 8.5

Ong bak 2 [limited]
Director: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Stars: Tony Jaa
Studio: Magnet Releasing
The Plot: Equipped with a unique set of skills, an orphan who has been raised by a band of thieves sets out to exact his revenge on the warlord who murdered his family.

The Rupublibot Take: Amongst my many other useless talents, such as film and video production with editing on non-linear video bays and speaking once fluent Italian, I was a martial arts instructor and assistant managed a well respected school in Florida. This was all before Ong bak 1 though. But I still feel like I bring a certain view point to martial arts films that most other reviewers, (or previewers, as the case may be) lack. Now, having said all that, I never saw Ong bak 1, so I can’t really speak to big expectations for this movie, other than a lot of my martial artist friends really loved the action in the first movie.

Sci-fi quotient is probably a 2? Maybe? Do you think? Ok, a 3 then.

Antichrist [LA/NY]
Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Studio: IFC Films
The Plot: A grieving couple retreats to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.

The Rupublibot Take: I read about Lars Von Trier, it seems, every year. He has another hateful look at American culture, and how awful it is and how bad it is and etc, etc, etc. I do like Willem DaFoe though, he is consistently strong (I always thought he would have made a much better Joker in the first Tim Burton Batman film – I hated Jack Nicholson in it and thought he ruined the movie).

Lars Von Trier’s movies all tend to take place in a made up America, so the Sci-fi Quotient for Antichrist is a 4.25.

Motherhood [limited]
Director: Katherine Dieckmann
Stars: Uma Thurman, Anthony Edwards, Minnie Driver
Studio: Freestyle Releasing
The Plot: In New Yorker, blogger/parent Eliza Welsh (Thurman) desperately tries to manage two significant events: preparations for her daughter's sixth birthday party and the completion of an essay that might land for her a lucrative new job.

The Rupublibot Take: Argghhhhh!! Isn’t this torture over yet. I feel like I already wrote about this movie when we discussed Saw. And what is up with Anthony Edwards career? He started off with so much promise and now he kinda just shows up randomly in some strange useless movie every 4 years or so. C’mon Anthony!! Let's get focused man!! We need a real Revenge of the Nerds Sequel. And soon.

So, there we go - not a bad week, all in all. Certainly it could be better, but based on the last two weeks, it could be a whole lot worse. See you next week when we spend a minimal amout of time discussing This Is It and Gentlemen Broncos.

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