I apologize for the lack of a MovieDruid post last week, but my wife and I were out-of-town enjoying the sights of New England and Canada. But, I have returned, and just in time. This week is one of the heavier release weeks we have seen recently.
Before we get on to this week’s national releases, just a mention of the new “Surrogates” review which has been posted in the usual spot. As always, your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Also, there is one release I will not be mentioning below. Disney is releasing “A Nightmare Before Christmas” (one of my all-time favorites) in 3-D this week. I don;t know why we suddenly are back to a 3-D craze, but if that’s your thing, check it out.
“Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”
Synopsis: 16-year-old Darren was like most kids in his suburban neighborhood. He hung out with his best friend Steve, got decent grades and usually stayed out of trouble. But when he and his buddy stumble upon a traveling freak show, things begin to change inside Darren. That’s the exact moment when a vampire named Larten Crepsley turns him into something, well, bloodthirsty. Newly undead, he joins the Cirque Du Freak, a touring sideshow filled with monstrous creatures from a snakeboy and a wolfman to a bearded lady and a gigantic barker. As Darren flexes his newfound powers in this dark world, he becomes a treasured pawn between the vampires and their deadlier counterparts. And while trying to survive, one boy will struggle to keep their brewing war from devouring what’s left of his humanity.
MovieDruid’s Comments: The Cirque du Freak books have been a fairly popular series for young-adults since they first started coming out, and for pretty good reason. The stories are just twisted enough to be entertaining without going so far as to make them inappropriate. It looks like they have managed to capture this in the film version of the first of the books. Overall, the production values look spectacular. They have put together a talented cast that includes Salma Hayek (“Desperado” & “Fools Rush In”) and Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai” & “Memoirs of a Geisha”). My concern, and it is a minor one is John C. Reilly (“Chicago” & “The Aviator”) as the vampire. Reilly is a very talented actor, but somehow I can’t seem to get my head around him in this role.
Synopsis: An extraordinary life of adventure, celebrity and continuing mystery comes to light in “Amelia,” a vast, thrilling account of legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. After becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, Amelia was thrust into a new role as America’s sweetheart — the legendary “goddess of light,” known for her bold, larger-than-life charisma. Yet, even with her global fame solidified, her belief in flirting with danger and standing up as her own, outspoken woman never changed. She was an inspiration to people everywhere, from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to the men closest to her heart: her husband, promoter and publishing magnate George P. Putnam, and her long time friend and lover, pilot Gene Vidal. In the summer of 1937, Amelia set off on her most daunting mission yet: a solo flight around the world that she and George both anxiously foresaw as destined, whatever the outcome, to become one of the most talked-about journeys in history.
MovieDruid’s Comments: Mira Nair (“Mississippi Masala” & “Tha Namesake”) was an intriguing selection to direct this biopic. She has, in the films I have had a chance to see, had a gift for painting with a dramatic brush and tell a sentimental story without it slipping into the realm of cheap sentimentality that is far too prevalent in films of this sort. Add to that a wonderful cast that includes Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby” & “The Gift”), Richard Gere (“Primal Fear” & “Pretty Woman”), and Ewan McGregor (“Angels & Demons” & “Trainspotting”). Hopefully this film will give us as unvarnished a look at Amelia Earhart as “The Aviator” gave us on Howard Hughes.
Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist named Dr. Tenma. Powered by positive “blue” energy, Astro Boy is endowed with super strength, x-ray vision, unbelievable speed and the ability to fly. Embarking on a journey in search of acceptance, Astro Boy encounters many other colorful characters along the way. Through his adventures, he learns the joys and emotions of being human, and gains the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his awesome super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it means to be a hero.
MovieDruid’s Comments: Anyone who has been a fan of Japan’s animation has heard of “Astro Boy.” The character has been around for what seems like forever, and has always been a nice change of pace from the hardcore stuff that makes up the bulk of the anime scene. How well will the “Astro Boy” brand live up to its history with new filmmakers, new American voice talent, and a fresh coat of CGI paint? From the look of things it seems to be pretty solid, but whether the spirit of the original is still present remains to be seen.
“Saw VI” – MovieDruid Pick of the Week
Synopsis: Special Agent Strahm is dead, and Detective Hoffman has emerged as the unchallenged successor to Jigsaw’s legacy. However, when the FBI draws closer to Hoffman, he is forced to set a game into motion, and Jigsaw’s grand scheme is finally understood.
MovieDruid’s Comments: OK, I admit it. The “Saw” franchise is my yearly guilty pleasure. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for sheer visceral thrills around Halloween little really does the trick like Jigsaw’s latest endeavors. Now, before you start flaming the comments with browbeating for picking something like a “Saw” movie as pick of the week on a week like this, take a deep breath. I don’t think you could go wrong with any of this week’s releases. But, everyone, no matter what they say, has a movie franchise or TV show that they barely want to admit they are a fan of. We all need our guilty pleasures.