Studio: Focus Features
Rated: PG-13 for violence and scary images.
Starring: Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer and John C. Reilly
Directed by: Shane Acker
What it’s about: A mechanical creation simply named 9 wakes up after being made by a scientist. The world has been destroyed in a war, with 9 and his other eight counterparts the only survivors. Together, they must discover what happened to humanity and find a way to keep its spirit alive.
What I liked: I don’t throw around the term “visionary” that much with filmmaking, as I find it to be pretentious. However, Shane Acker’s 9 is a visionary piece of filmmaking. And not just because it’s dark (for were that the case, last year’s lackluster Igor would have also been visionary… and it wasn’t).
9 possesses an incredible visual style that usually is only found in independent student animation. It’s not clean or crisp, but dirty and warped. The visuals of this movie are stunning, and the themes it tackles are pretty heavy for a simply CGI flick. This is the kind of movie that will make you think… and that’s a rarity for any film nowadays.
Look for 9 to show up again to give Up a run for its money come awards season.
What I didn’t: I will admit that this film is very dark, not just in subject matter but in the visual style. yet, it’s a cartoon, so most audiences assume that means it’s for kids. Sadly, this puts the film in a bad position, and it might not find a strong enough audience to be a success. However, I expect it will find a long life in the home video market.
Who is gonna like this movie: Animation fans and goth kids.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and partying.
Starring: Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung and Audrina Patridge
Directed by: Stewart Hendler
What it’s about: A group of sorority sisters accidentally kill one of their own in a prank. Instead of calling the police, they hide her body and go back to their lives. However, when graduation day comes, someone seems to be hunting them and threatening to reveal their secret.
What I liked: This movie is a throw-back to the slasher films of the 1990s, like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend. It’s made for teenagers, plain and simple. For the gorehounds, they’ll be happy because it carries an R rating, which means plenty of creative kills, boobies and hot chicks in sexy clothing. Hell, this movie was made for horny teenage boys, so don’t expect anything more. In short, it’s what the Prom Night remake could have been were it given a harder run at the MPAA.
There are some very funny moments to break the tension, and the cast of girls – while B-listers at best – are pretty easy on the eyes. That is, except for Rumer Willis, who yet again plays the brainy sorority girl with glasses.
What I didn’t: Everything that you expect to be wrong with a slasher film is wrong with this movie. Bad dialogue. Dumb characters. Goofy situations. And your basic horror movie mistakes, like splitting up when the killer’s coming for you.
Also, while the film does deliver in the boobie department, it would have been nice to see some of the goods from the main actresses rather than eye candy extras.
One interesting note… the sound was out for the first five to ten minutes in the advanced screening I attended. Strangely enough, I don’t think I missed anything. (After all, it’s not like walking in after the opening “Rosebud” scene in Citizen Kane.)
Who is gonna like this movie: Horny teenage boys and those who love slasher movies.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rated: R for violence, grisly images, brief strong language and some nudity.
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short, Alex O’Loughlin and Shawn Doyle
Directed by: Dominic Sena
What it’s about: Kate Beckinsale plays a U.S. Marshall that is trying to solve a murder near a base camp in Antarctica. With the help from a U.N. investigator (Gabriel Macht), she tries to solve the case before the whole crew is shipped out for the long winter.
What I liked: Sure, this movie wasn’t great, but there are so few movies in this setting that the film seemed to have a bit of freshness about it. The cast was relatively decent (and does include some nice fleshy moments with Beckinsale before she is covered head-to-toe in winter gear), and with the exception of Gabriel Macht, it saves the film.
Director Dominic Sena gives us some nice suspense and action sequences, and the blizzard visual effects are pretty powerful. The movie may be as predictable as hell, but it’s not tedious watching the events play out exactly as you expect them to.
What I didn’t: While not painful to sit through, Whiteout is a completely forgettable movie. All the twists are telegraphed, and there’s not a ton of originality in the characters of plot, with the exception of the Antarctic setting.
The trailers made this thing look like it’d be a knock-off of John Carpenter’s The Thing. And it would have been nice to be given some alien action instead of just humans as the bad guys.
Who is gonna like this movie: People who need that action fix and Kate Beckinsale fans.
TYLER PERRY’S I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF
Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving a sexual assault on a minor, violence, drug references and smoking.
Starring: Tyler Perry, Taraji P. Henson, Adam Rodriguez, Brian White and Hope Olaide Wilson
Directed by: Tyler Perry
What it’s about: Tyler Perry puts on his Madea fat suit to set straight three kids who try to rob the house. Madea also gives her tough love to the kids’ aunt (Taraji P. Henson), who sings in a night club.
What I might like: Tyler Perry’s movies always follow a strict formula: there’s a dramatic story of redemption and reconciliation, and there’s a humorous side with Madea talking tough. I’ve always enjoyed the Madea parts of his films. It’s silly and ridiculous, but pretty damned entertaining. If only he would make a movie that was 100% Madea without the morose, straight story.
What I might not: Taraji P. Henson’s story. If it’s like any other Madea movie, this is going to be thick and preachy with unrealistic characters and weighty subject matter.
Who is gonna like this movie: Tyler Perry’s target market… and you know who you are.