MOVIE CORNER

January 26, 2009

7. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – $7.6M

Filed under: Box Office Stats — movie_critic @ 3:06 am

The third film in the UNDERWORLD saga goes back hundreds of years to explain the origins of the feud between the vampire Death Dealers and the werewolf Lycans. Taking over directing duties from Len Wiseman is rookie Patrick Tatoupolos, known for his creature-designing duties in GODZILLA (1998), I AM LEGEND (2007), and the first two films in this series. Less an action-horror film than an old-fashioned “sword-and-sandal” film with monsters, RISE OF THE LYCANS finally gets to the root of why those vampires and werewolves really can’t stand each other. Ruled by Viktor (Bill Nighy, VALKYRIE), the aristocratic, vampiric Death Dealers keep the wolflike Lycans as slaves. When a captive Lycan woman births a human boy, Viktor resists the urge to kill it, instead naming him Lucian and keeping him as a pet. Lucian (Michael Sheen, FROST/NIXON) grows up to be a blacksmith with the ability to change between human and wolf and begins a clandestine romance with ViktorÂ’s daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra, DOOMSDAY). Viktor learns of this forbidden romance and takes drastic steps to ensure that Sonja will never be able to see Lucian again. Lucian, in retaliation, leads a Lycan slave revolt, resulting in an all-out assault on ViktorÂ’s kingdom. <br><br>Though viewers who have skipped the first two installments of the saga may feel a little left out when it comes to the mythology of the series, LYCANS hits the ground running and doesnÂ’t allow much time for questions. While Sheen has been lauded for his work in more traditionally dramatic films, here he gives his all to every growl and battle cry. Mitra is an appealing presence as Sonja, and Nighy is visibly relishing the opportunity to glower in his blue contacts and chew the moonlight-bathed scenery.

10. Inkheart – $3.7M

Filed under: Box Office Stats — movie_critic @ 3:06 am

Cornelia FunkeÂ’s best-selling novel, INKHEART, comes to life in director Iain SoftleyÂ’s (THE SKELETON KEY, THE WINGS OF THE DOVE) feature-film adaptation of the same name. For 12 years, bookbinder Mo (Brendan Fraser) and his daughter, Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett), have been traveling the world, poking around secondhand bookstores. Meggie correctly assumes that her father is looking for her mother, Resa (Sienna Guillory), who disappeared without a trace. What Meggie doesnÂ’t know is that Mo is a Silvertongue, and when he reads a story aloud, the details and characters come to vivid life. But when a character comes out of a book, someone has to go back in, and Mo is searching a copy of the book, titled “Inkheart,” into which Resa literally disappeared. When Mo read the story aloud, unaware of his powers, she was sucked into the story, and the fantastical novelÂ’s villainous characters were released. Now, Mo and Meggie have to keep evil Capricorn and his henchmen from realizing their diabolical plot, and send everyone back where they belong.<br><br>INKHEART is awash with colorful details. Capricorn has had to make do with a stuttering Silvertongue who delivers characters that are half-read: text from the book is tattooed on their faces, or they suffer some other malady, emerging from the book mute or with an odd physical feature. Paul Bettany is engaging as Dustfinger, a character who desperately wants to be read back into “Inkheart” and return to his family, portrayed by BettanyÂ’s real-life love, Jennifer Connelly, in a miss-her-if-you-blink performance. Helen Mirren is good fun as eccentric, feisty bibliophile Aunt Elinor, and Jim Broadbent appears as the novelÂ’s author, who is enthralled by the possibilities of MoÂ’s gift.

January 19, 2009

6. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $13.6M

Filed under: Box Office Stats — movie_critic @ 3:06 am

IN THEATRES JANUARY 16, 2009: Coming off the finale of television’s popular sitcom THE KING OF QUEENS and 2007’s I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY, funnyman Kevin James takes the role of a single dad in this largely physical comedy, which the actor also co-wrote. Paul Blart (James) is a hard worker, but has never landed his dream job of being New Jersey state trooper due to his excess weight. Determined to support his mother and his daughter, Blart takes the slightly less glamorous post as the security guard at his local shopping mall. He never complains, approaching the job with impressive diligence and pride, but doesn’t get much respect for it. It’s only when a group of misfits in Santa’s Helper disguises take hold of the mall and several hostages that Blart’s would-be cop smarts come in handy and he gets a chance to shine. With a deadly situation on hand, Blart may finally be able to show the world (and his romantic interest, who just happens to be one of the hostages) what he’s made of. Though the villains have several advantages over him, Blart has a Segway scooter and a big heart on his side. <br><br>While many of its jokes come at the expense of James’s extra pounds, the film ultimately makes its star out to be a hero. With his everyman appeal, James is well-suited to play Blart, showing that even average Joes can make a difference with the right attitude. PAUL BLART: MALL COP takes the banal out of the shopping mall, infusing a familiar setting with energy, laughs, and high-stakes drama.

9. My Bloody Valentine 3-D – $4.5M

Filed under: Box Office Stats — movie_critic @ 3:06 am

Bloodthirsty fans of the classic slashers of yesteryear should be sated by MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009), a gory trip thatÂ’s not just a remake but a retro-amalgam of the greatest hits from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The HALLOWEEN-influenced, eerily Canadian 1981 original holds a modest place in many horror hearts despite its notoriously trimmed violence. But even those who havenÂ’t seen it will get the feeling that this VALENTINE sports an amplified blood-and-guts factor, one that brings with it the distinctly outlandish brutality and hulking-masked-killer archetype of a FRIDAY THE 13th installment combined with the polished chase scenes of post-SCREAM teen horror. <br><br>As if this gore-ucopia didnÂ’t have enough spices already, its premise and structure are also indebted to such cheeky mystery-slashers as HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME and APRIL FOOLÂ’S DAY. A decade after traumatized miner Harry Warden goes on a pickaxe massacre, guilt-stricken Tom (Jensen Ackles) returns to his quaint hometown only to find that a string of similar murders has started up. With Warden believed to be long dead, Sheriff Axel casts suspicion on Tom. It seems his old flame, Sarah, is the only one who truly believes heÂ’s innocent. The movieÂ’s horror-expert filmmakers imbue VALENTINE with the reliably enjoyable entertainment-trumps-logic of slasher films, especially in the way everyone in town–including the police–seems way more interested in proving or disproving Harry WardenÂ’s involvement than actually stopping the in-progress murder spree. Similarly, beloved genre vet Tom Atkins (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) is on hand to deliver a coolly understated retired-cop performance. But peppered in are some nifty subliminal visual flourishes and at least one off-the-wall sequence (think fully naked, fleeing little people, and a box-spring-as-cage). The 3-D version is uncommonly well-integrated, subjecting viewers not only to hair-raising projectiles, but an effective immersion into the mise-en-scene.

10. Notorious (2009) – $5.8M

Filed under: Box Office Stats — movie_critic @ 3:06 am

The dramatic retelling of the life, improbable rise, and violent fall of rapper Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G.), NOTORIOUS plays like A STAR IS BORN set to a rattling gangsta snare. With crisp direction by George Tillman, Jr., producer of the BARBERSHOP series, the film is briskly paced and strikes a worthy balance between sensationalized celebrity biopic and behind-the-scenes drama. Angela Bassett anchors the latter with a nuanced performance as Voletta, WallaceÂ’s long-suffering single mother who attempts to shelter him from the mean streets of Bed-Stuy.<br><br>With deep involvement by those who knew him best–the real Voletta Wallace and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs (played dynamically by Derek Luke) co-produced–the film nonetheless unflinchingly portrays BiggieÂ’s troubled history as a teenage crack dealer, his chronic infidelity and poor fathering skills, and his own role in stoking the ludicrous coastal rivalry that claimed both his and Tupac ShakurÂ’s lives. As it presents Biggie’s side of the murders in boldface, one wonders if a more independent eye would cast Shakur and his cohorts in the villain role so starkly. Documentarian quibbles aside, NOTORIOUS delivers an impactful tribute to its subject’s genius–revealing to fans and neophytes alike the microphone skills, narrative chops, and fresh vision that made Wallace one of hip-hopÂ’s greatest all-time MCs. Largely, this is due to the ace performance by Jamal Woolard, an amateur rapper who packed on 50 pounds to play the hulking gangsta, and nails his mordant charisma and conflicted inner life with a star turn every bit as on point as Jamie FoxxÂ’s Ray Charles or Val KilmerÂ’s Jim Morrison.

« Previous PageNext Page »

RSS | Comments RSS | Powered by WordPress