This weekend is a surprisingly big one for the movies, but let's talk about last weekend for a moment. More importantly, how it might inform this weekend. "New Moon" turned out to be pretty popular, didn't it? $140 million worth of popular, including record-breaking box office numbers for its midnight opening and Friday sales. So, on top of everything else opening this weekend, there's also that big, dark "New Moon" looming to screw everything up.
But what else have we got? Well the big one for a spectacle-junkie like me is "Ninja Assassin," directed by James McTeigue. There are shurikens thrown with gatling gun-like speed and rapidity, at least one limb severed for every minute of screen time and some wicked-looking choreography involving katanas and a kusarigama (the new nunchaku, you heard it here first). It's glorious. Maybe not fine cinema in the traditional sense of story, dialogue, etc., but a hoot to see in action on the big screen. I say this because I've seen it, and it was good.
Literally on the opposite end of the spectrum is the family-friendly Disney comedy "Old Dogs." John Travolta and Robin Williams star as a pair of unmarried men who end up being assigned as the guardians of 6 year old twins. And their faithful pooch. Shenanigans ensue, but you can bet that everything works out okay in the end and everyone learns their lesson. This IS Disney we're talking about.
Also opening is director John Hillcoat's long-awaited adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel, "The Road." Following a father and his son across post-apocalyptic America, the movie is a bleak travel tale, devoid of both smiles and hope. And yet somehow, the book manages to be just a little bit darker.
While the previously limited opening of "Fantastic Mr. Fox" goes wider this week, some newcomers join the party in smaller releases. There's "Me and Orson Welles," starring Zac Efron and Claire Danes, "The Princess and the Frog," Disney's triumphant return to 2-D animation, and "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," which follows an unhappy wife and mother as she rediscovers herself.
And then of course there's "New Moon." But nobody wants to see THAT again, right?