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THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Nein For ’9′

September 11th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments
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After a dismal Labor Day of crap movies and low attendance, studios are hoping that this weekend will be a different story. The selection may be better, but now that the summer blockbuster season is officially over, astronomical profits will be harder and harder to come by. The big pic this weekend is 9, not to be confused with Nine, the upcoming musical starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
The Tim Burton-produced, Shane Ackner-directed animation thriller–about machines in a post-apocalyptic world–already got a head start on the box office intake. Midweek releases are usually delegated to sure blockbusters like Transformers, which 9 is not, but executives at Focus Films saw a perfect promotional matchup with 09-09-09. That date happened to fall on Wednesday, so that’s when it hit theaters.

ShaneAcker-9poster-thumb9 has been receiving mixed reviews all around. In the Arizona Republic, Bill Goodykoontz writes,

“It’s too scary for small kids and, frankly, too dreary for everyone else. The most intriguing question it asks is what Acker will do next.”

In her Philadelphia Inquirer review, Carrie Rickey adds,

“Acker, whose gifts for mood, design, and character design are impressive enough to have attracted Tim Burton as a producer, is more of an artist than a storyteller.”

Others have compared it last summer’s Wall-E, saying that 9 pales in comparison; it’s all visuals and no depth. At least it has that. Most movies these days are no visuals and no depth. One out of two aint bad.

Also opening is Sorority Row, a Jawbreaker meets I Know What You Did Last Summer horror flick directed by Stewart Hendler. It may not make as much money as The Final Destination, but it looks to be just as sorority-row-posterstupid. Not surprisingly, Sorority Row was not screened for critics. How much could a bad review really hurt this movie? Its core audience of teens looking for a cool place to makeout will hardly be interested in scanning Rotten Tomatoes for advice on whether or not to see it.

One critic that did manage to sneak a preview was Variety’s Russell Edwards. He writes,

“Like the recent Drag Me to Hell, Sorority Row is fixated on oral punishment (bottles, flares). But unlike Sam Raimi‘s roller coaster, the script never successfully balances horror with comedy: The first half goes for the straight slice-and-dice approach, but around the halfway point, ham-fisted gallows humor suddenly — and by now inappropriately — begins to flow freely. Even Carrie Fisher’s scenes as the stern, gun-totin’ sorority mother (echoing her cameo in The Blues Brothers) can’t choose between laughs or action.”

Fisher’s campy portrayal of house mother Mrs. Crenshaw gets a large spotlight in the trailer (and appears to be the best reason to see this tired horror flick):

It’s been a long six months since Tyler Perry‘s last opus hit theaters (at least in Perry time that’s long). He writes and directs so many movies every year that he makes Woody Allen look lazy. His latest is called I Can Do Bad All By i_can_do_bad_all_by_myself_ver2Myself, a melodrama about juvenile delinquents who get kicked out of their house and are forced to live with their boozy aunt. This shows once again that Perry’s great at coming up with catchy titles despite his thin material. He’s also been able to put together intriguing casts. This one includes Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight.

Perry has reached a point in his career where he can make whatever movie he wants to make, no matter what the haters say. In other words, he can do Bad all by himself and his fans will always be there regardless. In the same vein of Sorority Row, Bad was not screened for critics, but a few managed to review it anyways.

In the New York Daily News, Elizabeth Weitzman writes,

“Like a chef who keeps making the same recipe over and over, Tyler Perry has found his strength and he’s sticking to it. Because he alters the ingredients slightly every time, the results range just enough to keep loyal audiences coming back for more. His latest finds the right balance, at least for those who share his salty-sweet tastes.”

I think Madea’s starting to grow on people. As a side note, what’s with the poster? It looks a blatant ripoff (or homage, I suppose) to the theatrical one-sheet for Straw Dogs. Perry may be an auteur of sorts, but he’s no Sam Peckinpah.

whiteout-posterAs if the weekend selection wasn’t eclectic enough, we now come to Whiteout. No, it’s not a comedy about school supplies. It’s an action thriller about a U.S. Marshal killer (Kate Beckinsale, who has not been in a good movie for a very long time) pursuing a killer on the icy continent of Antarctica. It’s directed by Dominic Sena (Kalifornia) and based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka. The reviews have been unforgiving.
In the San Jose Mercury News, Randy Myers writes,
“Its worst offense is assuming the audience is so dumb that it’ll be shocked by one of the most telegraphed endings in movie history. On second thought, maybe the filmmakers got their wish: Whiteout is shocking, shockingly bad.”
And The New York Post’s Kyle Smith calls it a
“severely nonthrilling thriller… Whiteout moves like winter in Antarctica.”
Maybe if it had been animated and released in 3D, it might have fared better.

posterTo continue with another thriller, we come to Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, starring Jesse Metcalfe and Michael Douglas. The poster and title make it look like an homage to Alfred Hitchcock. The reality is that this movie is about as far from Hitchcock as you can get (quality-wise). It’s actually a remake of a 1956 Fritz Lang film, but loses much of the impact. Doubt, written and directed by Peter Hyams, has been unanimously panned.
In the Village Voice, Melissa Anderson writes,
“Lang’s film, the last he made in the U.S., exposed the immorality of the death penalty; Hyams’s retread offers only more plot and longer, louder car chases.”
AP’s Christy Lemire adds,
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt feels like some throwaway 1980s TV movie, with its implausible premise, dizzying twists, cheesy montages and melodramatic score.”
Hmm. What’s the point of doing a modern remake that’s not modern? As usual, the original should’ve been left alone.

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