The only thing this weekend has over last weekend is the number of films being released. Twice as many movies doesn’t equal twice as much excitement, as we’ve got a rather uninspiring slate all trying to get their licks in before spring break sees some films with a little more clout heading our way. We’re not even getting post-Oscar bumps for some of the big winners, as most are so close to their home video releases, there’s little point.
21 and Over isn’t going to be worrying about a post-Oscar bounce, although it does seem to have little point, beyond trying to see if the formula from The Hangover will work with a younger cast. It’s got the same writers, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who are now also trying their hands at directing. I had absolutely no idea this movie even existed until earlier this week, let alone that it was coming out today, which doesn’t speak well for its must see factor; you have to know you can see something in order to feel you must see something. You’d think they’d have wanted to position this a little closer to spring break, since that age group seems like the target audience. But that’s likely one of the many misfires on display with this one.
In a similar vein, Phantom is living up to its name as, like 21 and Over, it’s seemingly appeared out of nowhere. If it hadn’t been for a few reviews popping up online over the last week, this would have been another one I’d totally been in the dark on. It’s got a pretty stellar cast: Ed Harris, David Duchovny, William Fichtner, Lance Henricksen, there’s plenty I’d watch those four act in. Except maybe a Cold War submarine drama that apparently has no drama from a writer/director whose finest hour to date is White Squall. Yeah, me neither. And look at that poster; does it say 1960s to anybody? Hell, it doesn’t even say major theatrical release. I just hope Harris and company got paid well.
Then there’s the paradoxically named The Last Exorcism Part II. You don’t need me to point out how little sense that title makes, so we’ll just move on. Besides, it’s a horror sequel. It’s not required to make even the slightest bit of sense, just as long as it has more of the same elements that made the first one successful. and more than $40 million worldwide on a budget of less than $2 million is pretty darn successful. I have a feeling this is probably going to take the weekend, because horror movies always seem to open well, and horror sequels ever more so these days. But I also have a feeling that poster is probably the most creative thing going on here.
Which leaves Jack the Giant Slayer here almost by default. Let’s be clear: I have no hopes for this film whatsoever. It’s looked like a live-action Shrek movie with a liberal dose of the worst tendencies of ABC’s Once Upon a Time from the get-go, and nothing since then has convinced me otherwise. The only saving grace seems to be Ewan McGregor apparently having the time of his life indulging in his penchant for being the best thing in bloated special effects films. Bryan Singer — did I really just type that name in association with this? — looks like he’s trying to inflate this to Jacksonian levels of epicness, and there does appear to be a good bit of spectacle here. But it’s Jack and the Freakin’ Beanstalk. What’s epic about that? Guy goes up a stalk, steals some stuff, comes back down, cuts down the stalk before the giant gets him. Clearly a story in need of enormous CGI battle sequences.
Fortunately, things begin picking up next week with Oz the Great and Powerful, which looks like it’s going to get right everything Jack the Giant Slayer seems to have gotten wrong. And then we’re rolling into spring break, and then it might as well be summer with some of the big films coming out. Of course, being in Florida, it’ll probably feel like summer by that point anyway.