Spring Movie Guide: March 2012 – Week Two

John Carter

Based on the novel A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, & Michael Chabon

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring Taylor Kitsch

“Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a savior.”

It’s too bad a great animation director can’t translate those skills into a live action film.  You have to give him credit though, at least Andrew Stanton tried, despite the fact that they’ve been denying $700 million budget reports.  In reality, it’s entirely possible, I’m sure the movie cost $300 million, and advertising worldwide probably easily surpassed it.  Disney knows how to milk a hit, though, and they’re hoping this will take off much in the same way as Pirates of the Caribbean did.

However, I just don’t see Taylor Kitsch as a hero, and the entire thing looks really bloated and anti-climactic.  It’s like the film was made from the screenplay alone, with no regard from the novel.  Probably going to be one of  Disney‘s rare flops, even when it crosses the half billion dollar gross mark.  That’s just the way these things work, unfortunately, when you’re talking that much money.  However, reviews the past few days have been leaning more toward the positive side, so maybe word of mouth will make this one work, reviewers are already thinking of sequel possibilities, we’ll see if they get there.

Rated PG-13, releasing in theaters nationwide from Disney.

Silent House Based on the film by Gustavo Hernandez

Screenplay by Laura Lau Directed by Chris Kentis & Laura Lau

Starring Elizabeth Olsen

“Trapped inside her family’s lakeside retreat, a young woman is terrorized.”

This is one of those instances where the form is supposed to support the plot, but I’ve always taken issue with ‘single take’ movies, mostly because they are NEVER actually single take.  This is another film with at least a few hidden cuts, and some might ask “Who cares?”  I just ask, why advertise the movie as one take if it’s not?  If the form is unique enough, it will get notice for its use of the form, rather than focusing on the form first.  

Elizabeth Olsen takes off with her next big role since her award-nominated performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene, and a lot of the film seems to hang on her performance.  Most reviews have been pretty positive toward her, and the film in general, although every review I’ve read has said the ending really gets in the way of the film itself, and ends up being an odd choice.  

If you’re still curious about it, check out Jeremy’s review right here.  If you prefer a female take on the film, check out Courtney’s review right here.

Rated R, opening from Open Road Films.

  Written by Steve Koren

Directed by Brian Robbins

Starring Eddie Murphy

“After stretching the truth on a deal with a spiritual guru, literary agent Jack McCall finds a Bodhi tree on his property. Its appearance holds a valuable lesson on the consequences of every word we speak.”

Eddie Murphy, formerly the world’s biggest comedy star, is intent to take his paychecks and walk, as long as he’s made movies his five children can watch.  He doesn’t even seem to mind that the majority of these films are horrible flops because they have awful scripts.  I enjoyed Meet Dave because of his use of physical comedy in the film, but the script was still trash.

However, these films must be making consistent money, because he’s made a bunch of them, and studios keep stacking money around him every few months.  It ‘s always sad to see our best adult comedians become nothing more than silly children’s entertainment, but this is the career he has chosen at this point.  For kids and families, everyone else will probably cringe. 

Rated PG-13 from Paramount Pictures.


Salmon Fishing on the Yemen

Based on the novel by Paul Torday

Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt

“A fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realize a sheik’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible.”

Ewan McGregor is one of those actors that brings goodwill to every project he’s in, just with his name.  His body of work the past 16 years has proven he is an actor to watch, and more importantly, he makes good script choices, forgoing fluff for real dramatic content. Here, he stars in a romantic comedy with a dramatic tilt with an eye on world politics.  He’s joined by Emily Blunt, another actor that seems to make choices based more on her personal beliefs and dramatic content, rather than franchise opportunities.

In the film, McGregor is attempting to bring fly fishing to middle eastern desert of Saudi Arabia, turning what would seem to be an impossible task into an almost religious experience.  The novel has a core fan base, and while I don’t know that the film will end up winning awards, it’s an interesting take on the romantic genre, also centering on cultural differences, without ever getting too heavy or preachy.

Rated PG-13, releasing in select theaters from CBS Films.

Read Courntey’s review right here.

Friends With Kids

Written & Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt

Starring Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wigg, Jennifer Westfeldt

“Two best friends decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic, so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships.”

Most of the cast of Bridesmaids reunite for this romantic comedy about friends that decide to have a child.  While the pairings are a bit different than Bridesmaids, and the tone of humor is vastly changed, you know you’re walking into a quality comedy just based on who is in the film, and their general approach to comedy.

Jennifer Westfeldt writes, directs, and stars, in an interesting turn as there are few female auteur directors working today.  She’s chosen the perfect cohort in Adam Scott, an affable, non-threatening, but still emotionally available young actor who can also tilt toward the down and dirty when the script calls for it.

Rated R, releasing in limited release from Roadside Attractions.

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