Box Office Preview – October 29, 2010

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Saw 3D

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writers: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

Stars: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell

MPAA Rating: Rated R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and language.

Synopsis: People continue to be brutally tortured and killed by a series of complex machinery … but this time it’s in 3D.

Lars’ take: The Saw movies have become a bit of a Hollywood tradition. It’s like your local haunted house – it’s very low-budget, it’s freaky, you are in for some graphic violence and gore and it gets you in the mood for the season. The movies know what they are, they work within their realms and they’re always good for entertainment purposes.

Joel’s take: The smartest thing the makers of these movies ever did was attach themselves to Halloween. The franchise is so entrenched at this point that people will go to see them regardless of their quality. It’s a genius move. It may not seem that complicated, but considering Rob Zombie’s Halloween came out in August and The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” specials air the first week of November because of the World Series, Hollywood still doesn’t quite seem to grasp this simple concept. So for that reason alone, Saw 3D deserves to succeed.

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Monsters (limited release)

Director: Gareth Edwards

Writer: Gareth Edwards

Stars: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able

MPAA Rating: Rated R for language.

Synopsis: An American journalist bravely heads deep into an alien quarantine area to rescue his employer’s daughter.

Lars’ take: District 9 has become the gold standard for what a realistic alien invasion movie should be, but these movies existed before District 9 and they will continue to exist long after, so it’s not fair to compare this movie to District 9. But it does seem to come very close to the same story. We’ll have to wait and see what exactly they do with it. But regardless, it seems like they put good money and talent behind it, so I’m hopeful it won’t be a carbon copy of a great science fiction movie that came out just last year.

Joel’s take: I don’t know if the filmmakers themselves or the marketing people behind the film are responsible for the decision, but the trailer and the poster for Monsters definitely seem to intentionally invoke District 9. It’s clear they are courting fans of that film. However, I think ultimately that will is a disservice to this film. Chances are, even if it turns out to be an entertaining movie that stands on its own, it won’t reach the very high bar set by District 9.

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Welcome to the Rileys (limited release)

Director: Jake Scott

Writer: Ken Hixon

Stars: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content, brief drug use and pervasive language involving a teenager.

Synopsis: A businessman struggling with a rocky marriage and the loss of his daughter befriends a young stripper in New Orleans.

Lars’ take: This could be a movie that has three really solid performances backed by a very compelling story, but it all seems really contrived because it has elements of so many other things we’ve seen before. We’re really going to have to wait and see if there’s anything that makes this movie special other than the acting. I’m optimistic that this movie can succeed, but at the same time I’m a little trepidatious.

Joel’s take: This movie has a few things working against it from the start. First of all, I find it incredibly distracting whenever James Gandolfini talks in anything other than his Tony Soprano voice. (It’s unfair, I know, but I can’t help it.) Secondly, I have trouble taking Kristen Stewart seriously as an actress. I feel like she hasn’t really proven herself as a legitimate actor yet. Third, and most importantly, the whole setup seems over the top – she’s a stripper, he’s dealing with a broken family, the film is set in post-Katrina New Orleans. It seems very clichéd and melodramatic. But Gandolfini and Melissa Leo are great actors and the film is probably still good, even if it rubs me the wrong way.

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Wild Target (limited release)

Director: Jonathan Lynn

Writers: Lucinda Coxon (screenplay), Pierre Salvadori (original screenplay)

Stars: Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence, some sexual content and brief strong language.

Synopsis: A middle-aged assassin with mommy issues falls for his beautiful target and decides to spare her life, a decision that could carry dire consequences for both of them.

Lars’ take: I’m a big fan of British comedy and this has quite a few British comedians that aren’t household names and never will be, but when you see them, you know them and you know you’re in for a laugh. Knowing that this is going to contain a lot of British absurdity and violence, I think it’s going to be really entertaining to watch.

Joel’s take: Two things that the Brits do incredibly well are farces and flashy Guy Richie-style crime movies. This seems to be a hybrid of those two types of films. I think that’s a really smart combination and I think it’s going to be incredibly funny. Plus, Bill Nighy is great in everything he’s in. I like this film’s chances for success. But even if you don’t see it, chances are someone will make an inferior American version in a few years starring Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence.

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Waste Land (limited release)

Directors: Lucy Walker, Karen Harley (co-director), João Jardim (co-director)

Stars: Vik Muniz

MPAA Rating: Unrated

Synopsis: In this documentary, artist Vik Muniz travels to Rio de Janeiro to visit the world’s largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho, to collaborate with the workers there on a restorative art project.

Lars’ take: This part of the world has been on the map for a few years because of the green movement. It really is just a wasteland full of garbage and people do unfortunately have to live there. The fact that they made a documentary about trying to make this place beautiful for people in whatever way they possibly could with the resources available makes it worth watching. On top of that, it looks like they did a great job doing it. You may not want to pay movie ticket prices to see it, but at the end of the day I think this is going to be an important film for all of us to watch.

Joel’s take: With documentaries like this, you often have to walk a fine line to make sure you aren’t exploiting the people you are filming just for the sake of an entertaining story. What I like about this film is it seems like they are actually helping to bring positive change to a region in desperate need of it and they are doing it with a great deal of respect and care for the people who live there.

This week’s recommendations …

Lars:
Saw 3D

It’s Halloween weekend. I think 3D movies are overrated and I don’t want to pay the inflated ticket prices, but this is going to be good and it’s going to put you in the spirit for the season.

Joel:
Monsters

It doesn’t matter what I recommend because everyone is going to see Saw 3D this weekend. But if you are looking for a Halloween movie to watch and you are feeling burnt out on Saw, I think this film is going to deliver.

Confidence:
Confidence:

HoboTrashcan’s Confidence Rating System

Since we force Joel and Lars to make a recommendation each week (using the classic “If a gun was pointed to your head and you had to pick one” scenario), we are also having them rate their confidence in their pick using HoboTrashcan’s patented Confidence Rating System. The system is on a scale of one to five, which breaks down as follows:

  1. Eddie Murphy – Like every film Eddie Murphy has done in the last decade, avoid this movie at all costs.
  2. Nicholas Cage – The movie is most likely awful, but like Cage, there is a chance it may still surprise you.
  3. Samuel L Jackson – With this rating, you don’t know what you are going to get. It could be another Pulp Fiction or it could be Jumper.
  4. Bruce Willis – Like Bruce Willis, chances are the film is good, but there’s always a possibility it’s another Surrogates.
  5. Morgan Freeman – The highest possible rating. The film, like Morgan Freeman himself, is a lock to be entertaining.

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