Winter Movie Guide: February 2012 – Week 3

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Written by Scott M. Gimple & Seth Hoffman and David S. Goyer

Directed by Neveldine & Taylor

Starring Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, & Cirian Hinds

“As Johnny Blaze hides out in Eastern Europe, he is called upon to stop the devil, who is trying to take human form.”

The sequel to the Marvel film that nobody wanted in the first place.  Nicolas Cage has long been a vocal fan of the Ghost Rider character, and with the rise in his star, he was able to translate that into a film version of Ghost Rider, written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who first gained notoriety among the Marvel world for his version of Daredevil starring Ben Affleck.  Although critically maligned, Daredevil made enough to warrant a spin-off film in Elektra, and Johnson was handed the reigns to the film.

Although it was also considered one of the worst films of the year, Ghost Rider made enough at the box office for Marvel to keep a sequel in the works for the past four years, and with Nic Cage being a big proponent of returning to the character, a new script was commissioned.  Started by David S. Goyer (responsible for scripting duties on such comic book hits as Blade and Batman Begins) the script saw many changes before landing in the laps of directing team Neveldine/Taylor, the frenetic team behind the Crank movies and Gamer.

Fans aren’t clamoring for this film, but many had brighter hopes after the trailer offered a dash of insanity.  Neveldine/Taylor have since said they can’t even make heads or tails of what the story is actually about, but I doubt that will stop anyone from seeing it if they’re at all interested, it didn’t stop the last movie.

Rated PG-13, much to the chagrin of fans, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens this weekend in wide release from Columbia Pictures and Marvel’s “edgy” sub-company, Marvel Knights.  

Jeremy’s review will be up by tomorrow morning, keep an eye out for that.

This Means War Screenplay by Timothy Dowling & Simon Kinberg

Directed by McG

Starring Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, & Reese Witherspoon

“Two top CIA operatives wage an epic battle against one another after they discover they are dating the same woman.”

McG has never been known for his scenes of dramatic verbal sparring, or movies that make any sense at all.  No matter, they’ve all managed to gross big bucks at the box office, as audiences tend to love his senseless action films, as well as his sappy sentimental film We Are Marshall.  However, here he returns to his wheelhouse of light comedy, high action, and pretty faces.

The film was going to open Valentine’s Day in wide release, but soft tracking numbers have pushed the wide roll-out until Friday, with a “sneak peek” starting Valentine’s Day for those that had their heart set on seeing the film that day.  Tom Hardy and Chris Pine continue to rise through the ranks of Hollywood, and though this film won’t do much for their awards hopes, it will definitely bolster their box office credibility, and I think it’s about time Reese Witherspoon did some films her own age, rather than acting like she’s 45 in every sappy romantic comedy where she looks older than everyone else.

This film was originally rated R for Chelsea Handler’s sex jokes in the film, but not wanting to miss out on audience dollars, the studio had those scenes cut from the finished film to obtain a more audience-friendly PG-13 rating.  Look for this one on Friday in theaters everywhere from 20th Century Fox.

If you aren’t sure what you’ll think, check Courtney’s review right here.

The Secret World of Arrietty

Based on the novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki & Keiko Niwa

Directed by  Hiromasa Yonebayashi & Gary Rydstrom

Starring Mark Strong, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, & Saoirse Ronan

“The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.”

Realizing they can’t destroy Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, Disney finally acquiesced and decided to co-produce their animated films, starting with Miyazaki’s last film, Ponyo, a re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, which netted them both money and critical acclaim.

This time, Miyazaki only contributed to the script, but his animating style remains on display for an adaptation of the novel The Borrowers, already adapted as a movie twice, and a TV series once.  As with most of Miyazaki’s work, critics highly anticipate this film, but general audiences might have a hard time connecting with it as typically Studio Ghibli films will rarely play down to their audience, leaving a weird mixture of sci-fi and fantasy nerds and very small children as their prime audience.

Rated G, this one releases from Disney in 1,600 theaters, not exactly a limited release, but about half the screens that everything else opening this weekend will open on.

I’ll be reviewing the film in the next two days, keep an eye out for that one as well.

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