Right now, everyone’s more excited about a movie over two years away than they are about the three coming out this weekend. That’s the power of Star Wars. Or the lack of power of the new releases, I guess. Because frankly, I’d rather argue about the relative merits of J.J. Abrams than rush out and pay full price for anything opening today. They’re probably more interesting to talk about than to actually see.
Like Movie 43. It’s got twelve stories, twelve directors, and a cast that would make Cecil B. DeMille ask, “How many?” It seems like a throwback to films like Kentucky Fried Movie and The Groove Tube, but there’s a reason films like that haven’t met with much success since the 1970s. Anthology films have always been a tough sell — segments you like are over far too soon, ones you don’t go on too long — and though the star power on display here might make some curious enough to check it out, there’s a reason this is hitting near the end of January. I’ll wait for the inevitable YouTube clips so I can watch the segments that end up being halfway decent.
Parker is another baffling one. At first blush, it looks like another generic Jason Statham action film, but then what the hell is Jennifer Lopez doing in it, and why is Taylor Hackford directing it? Then there’s the fact that this is the third adaptation of the first novel in the Parker series of novels, after Point Blank with Lee Marvin in 1967 and Payback with Mel Gibson in 1999. Not exactly a story dying to be retold, and not one that wasn’t done justice with either of the first two attempts (Point Blank is a classic, and Payback is actually pretty damn good too). I hate ever calling a film unnecessary, but if I was going to, this would be one. I actually like Statham, but he seems better suited for ridiculous, over-the-top fare like his Transporter and Crank films than something like this.
Finally, there’s Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Or as I like to call it, Somebody Didn’t Learn from Van Helsing. I won’t deny there’s an interesting movie lurking in the Hansel and Gretel story. I just don’t think giving it the Castlevania treatment that didn’t work for Van Helsing is the way to go about finding it. Now this could work with the right tone; I’m just not sure it’s one Jeremy Renner is capable of providing. He doesn’t strike me as the tongue-in-cheek type. Still, out of all this week’s releases, this is the one I’d probably check out, either to see the train wreck in action or to be surprised by some winking silliness. Even so, I’d rather do either of those as a rental.
And that’s our rather uninspiring weekend. We’re hitting the doldrums hard, and while some bright spots pepper the horizon, we’re probably in for more weeks like this until we get closer to Easter. By then, we’ll probably be so sick of talking about Abrams, we’ll be ready for some actual movies.