Making its debut last weekend on HBO was 2011’s “In Time”, directed by Andrew Niccol, and starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried.
“In Time” is a Sci-Fi thriller with an intriguing premise. In the future, people are genetically engineered to stop aging physically at age 25, but are given artificial expiration dates thereafter. Thus, even though they stay young, they’re not allowed to live unless they keep working, and even then they only extend their time (and lives) in mild increments. Time (tracked on a green counter on your arm) can be earned and spent like money, but when your time runs out, your time is up. The poor are forced to labor and scurry in order to stay alive, while the rich stay safe and secure, protecting their immortality.
The premise sets up a thematically fertile framework. Inequality of wealth, immortality, police states, genetic engineering…
The question for “In Time” is, can it make the most of its potential?
Premiering this weekend on Cinemax was last year’s espionage thriller, “The Debt”.
Starring Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds, Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain, “The Debt” is the story of three Mossad agents dealing with the consequences of a key operation from their younger days. A portion of the narrative set in current day is intercut with flashbacks of a mission the trio undertook in East Germany in the mid 1960s.
The three were charged with getting their hands on a Nazi doctor, “The Surgeon of Birkenau”, who performed biological experiments on humans during WWII and returning him to Israel for trial.
Premiering on HBO this weekend was last year’s comedy about romance, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
In it, Steve Carell stars as a man whose wife suddenly requests a divorce. Left depressed and disillusioned, Carell is offered advice by a local lothario (Ryan Gosling) for regaining his masculinity. Thus begins a comedy about romance, relationships and resiliency.
With an all-star cast and a fun script, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” was a very entertaining comedy, and an easy movie to recommend to you all.
This weekend’s big premiere on HBO was last year’s “Mr Popper’s Penguins”.
Loosely based on a children’s book from 1938, “Mr Popper’s Penguins” stars Jim Carrey as a workaholic, divorced father of two who suddenly inherits a small colony of penguins when his long estranged father passes away. Having a batch of penguins around is an inconvenient challenge, and the birds interfere both with his work and his living situation.
But the one thing they do for him is they begin to reconnect him with his family.
Aimed squarely at families, “Popper’s” isn’t a complex film by any means. Neither is it Jim Carrey’s finest hour. But taken for what it is, it’s not the worst movie ever, either.
This weekend’s premiere on Starz was last year’s “Straw Dogs”, the remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 film.
Starring James Marsden and Kate Bosworth (both of whom I still hold grudges against for their complicity in “Superman Returns”), “Straw Dogs” is the story of a couple who return to the small Mississippi town she grew up in. Her father is recently deceased and they’ve inherited his home, but it’s suffered some damage in a recent hurricane. The crew that the couple hire to repair the home is comprised of men she knew from high school… unfortunately, they’re drunken, violent townies.
When the crew begins to lust after her, things get out of hand.
Making its debut this weekend on Starz was last year’s “Winnie the Pooh” from Walt Disney studios.
It’s traditionally animated and features all the classic A.A. Milne characters that inhabit the Hundred Acre Wood. Disney has brought them to the screen many times over the years, but in this particular installment, Disney released the picture with surprisingly little fanfare. I barely even realized it had come and gone. Possibly because they released it on the same weekend as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”.
Frankly, it made me wonder if Disney was “dumping it”.
If they were, there was certainly no reason to, as “Winnie the Pooh” is wonderfully crafted animated movie, worthy of a place in the Disney heritage.
Making its debut this weekend on HBO was last year’s “Larry Crowne”, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Directed by Hanks himself, “Larry Crowne” is the story of a middle aged man – Larry Crowne – who loses his mid level job at a retail store due to his lack of education.
Unable to find subsequent employment, Larry enrolls in Community College.
What he doesn’t bargain on is the profound, romantic, humorous, heartwarming change that will occur in his life due to – – Aghgh, God. I can’t even write a summary sentence about this nauseating nonsense without feeling ill.
Click through to read why you should stay away from this awful offering of offal.
Debuting this weekend on Showtime was “Scream 4”, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s return to Woodsboro. Ten years after “Scream 3”, all the key principals reunite in order to see if they can resuscitate the dormant horror franchise.
The “Scream” franchise has always been known for being a self-aware genre critique. The original’s clever script and rising-star cast turned it into a modern horror classic. The sequel was a worthy one, continuing the “meta” trend by turning the commentary to sequels. The third, however, was an abominable disappointment, drawing scorn from critics and underperforming the previous installments. Essentially, “Scream 3” ended the franchise… til now.
Making its debut this weekend on Starz was last year’s CGI/Live action kid’s movie, “The Smurfs”.
Based on the 1980s cartoon (which in turn was based on a Belgian comic strip), “The Smurfs” takes a small handful of the creatures and has them magically teleported to our world. As they struggle to find a way to get back to their village, they’re pursued by the fiendish magician Gargamel and his cat Azreal, and struggle to find their way in this strange new, decidedly un-Smurfly environment.
The question becomes, is “The Smurfs” Smurftastic? Or un-Smurfing-necessary?
HBO’s big new premiere this weekend was 2011’s “Fast Five”, the fifth installment in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise.
“Fast Five” returns all the major players – Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster – plus returns several familiar faces from prior chapters such as Tyrese Gibson, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, and Ludacris. This time, though, they up the ante by adding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the mix.
But even though they assembled a “Fast and Furious” dream team, can they recapture the high-octane magic of previous outings?