Home > Vulture News > THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Universal Gambles On The ‘Green Zone’, ‘Alice In Wonderland’ Set To Dominate Again

THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Universal Gambles On The ‘Green Zone’, ‘Alice In Wonderland’ Set To Dominate Again

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The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which remains a haunting reminder of the Bush era, is the premise of Green Zone, the latest collaboration between Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass. They’re hoping to repeat the success they’ve had with the Bourne movies that have been audience favorites. With a budget of over $100M, it’s a big gamble for Universal since Iraq-themed movies as diverse as Home of the Brave, Rendition, In the Valley of Elah and Stop-Loss have all been financial disappointments. Even The Hurt Locker, which has received enormous critical acclaim, most recently sweeping the Oscars (and snatching Best Picture out of James Cameron‘s vice grip) barely broke even in its theatrical release. Greengrass is optimistic and recently told the LA Times:

I don’t accept the proposition that cinema can’t look to Iraq and bring people to it.


green_zoneTHE BUZZ: Fifty/fifty. Critics are praising the choice of subject and the well executed suspense thrills that Greengrass is known for. However, the writing and dated storyline have garnered less praise. It doesn’t help the movie’s claim to relevancy that it is set in 2003, was completed in 2008 and sat on the shelf for two years. While the movie’s financial prospects seem shaky at best, Greengrass has had success making popular entertainment out of sensitive subject matter such as United 93 in 2006. That movie made a decent profit by virtue of its modest $15M budget. Green Zone on the other hand will have to do considerably bigger business for Universal to recoup. Despite a big marketing push, Tim Burton‘s garish adaptation of Alice in Wonderland will most likely do another weekend of big business.

The Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert says he enjoyed Greengrass’ cinema for the first time:

The action in Green Zone is followed by Greengrass in the QueasyCam style I’ve found distracting in the past: lots of quick cuts between hand-held shots. It didn’t bother me here. That may be because I became so involved in the story. Perhaps also because unlike the Bourne films, this one contains no action sequences that are logically impossible. When we see a car chase that couldn’t take place in the real world, we naturally think about the visual effects. When they could take place and it’s a good movie, we’re thinking about the story.

New York Magazine‘s David Edelstein found it much less engaging. He writes:

In the Greengrass zone, there’s no time or space for the quiet revelation, the offhand but crystalline detail that transcends the melodramatic agenda. It’s only the adrenaline-inducing techniques that conceal the lack of imagination.

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Robert Pattinson explained his decision to take on a starring role in the teen romance, Remember Me (while on hiatus in between filming the Twilight sequels) in an interview with MTV radio. He said:

I read Remember Me after the first Twilight film, and I always liked it. It was always in the back of my mind. And then the opportunity came up between the second and third ones, which was a small period of time, so you can only do a certain type of movie. I was trying to remember all the little things I’d read, and this was perfect, and it didn’t need any real prep time or anything. There was something different about it. It didn’t fit into a typical teen movie, and it seemed quite realistic.

He also talked about James Dean‘s influence on his acting:

I think James Dean was one of the most influential people on young guys — especially actors — definitely in the last 50 years. I’m not ashamed to say I am very much influenced by him.

remember_meTHE BUZZ: Bad. Whether the movie is any good or not (most critics are saying it’s not) probably doesn’t matter to the rabid fans of the young actor that have reached large enough proportions to be known as Team Pattinson.

The New York TimesManohla Dargis writes:

It’s hard to know what the director Allen Coulter could have done to improve Will Fetters’s absurdly contrived, yakky script about love and loss, largely set in the summer of 2001. But Mr. Coulter doesn’t help matters by infusing the movie with grave self-importance.

Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers also gave it a pan and manages to incorporate WTF in his review. Like the movie he’s writing about it seems he might be pandering to the youth market:

As Tyler, a New York college boy, the brooding RPatz doesn’t bite. But his movie does. It’s crudely written by Will Fetters and directed by Allen Coulter of The Sopranos (WTF?) as a love story between Tyler and Ally (Lost’s Emilie de Ravin), both with daddy issues. His (Pierce Brosnan) rules Wall Street, hers (Chris Cooper) is a cop. It’s all weepy drool until the twist ending, which turns it shockingly offensive.

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Jay Baruchel starred in Judd Apatow‘s shortlived 2001 Fox show Undeclared and since then has been a support player in movies like Knocked Up. He gets bumped up to the front line as the star of She’s Out of My League, a comedy about a less than confident young man who meets the woman of his dreams and has trouble letting his insecurities relax when they start to develop a relationship. In an interview with Cinemablend Baruchel said he was more than prepared to step up to the plate:

It’s weird. I keep getting asked that question, and I’m psyched about it, but it hasn’t been a huge paradigm shift as much as it seems. The workload, at least, I was groomed for. For every big American movie I’ve done where I was the supporting guy, I’ve gone back home to Canada to do supporting movies where I was the lead. When I started when I was 12, I did two TV shows back to back where I was the lead. The first job that brought me down to the states was a show called Undeclared, and I was the lead in that. It seemed like what I was supposed to be doing.

shes_out_of_my_league_ver2THE BUZZ: Bad. Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman found the movie’s charms slight at best. She rights:

She’s Out of My League is eager to be a latter-day Woody Allen/Revenge of the Nerds fairy tale of hormonal wish fulfillment, in which a ”funny” guy with quick-witted neurotic charm triumphs over the fact that he doesn’t look like a stud-muffin. The trouble is, no one remembered to make Kirk charming! Jay Baruchel just plays him as a stammering arrested-development case and glutton for punishment. There are moments when his misery yields some comedy: I laughed out loud at Kirk’s tortured explanation to Molly about why he couldn’t stand up to shake her father’s hand. (Imagine an untimely-boner joke, only twice as embarrassing.) And at least Kirk’s Apatow-lite circle of jerky friends (led by T.J. Miller as an entertainingly blunt horndog) offer the movie a few trash-talking breaks. When they really got going, I forgot that Kirk was even there


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