It’s been pretty slow at the box office recently, that typical beginning of the year dead period after all of December’s high-profile releases. It happens every year, and this year is no different. After December 2011’s releases of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse, and so on, the first 6 weeks of 2012 has seen new releases like The Devil Inside, Contraband, Red Tails, Man on a Ledge, The Grey, and Safe House.
Now, not all of those new releases are bad movies, but it’d be a lie to say that they are up to par with movies that will be coming out in a couple of months, once the blockbuster season kicks off and we enjoy another mad dash toward awards season. But, in the mean time, get used to looking at the newest movie listings and realizing that there may not be anything in theaters that you are dying to see.
That being said, there are 4 new movies being released nationwide this week: This Means War, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Undefeated, and The Secret World of Arrietty.
In This Means War, starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, and Chris Pine, two top CIA operatives (Hardy, Pine) wage war against each other in the fight for Lauren (Witherspoon), whom the two men realize they are both dating. The film had select Valentine’s Day showings nationwide, and is being officially released today. While it’s no James Bond, This Means War has the potential to be an action-filled thrill ride for many, even if director McG’s quality in films has dropped significantly since Charlie’s Angels. The film is currently rotten (24% on Rotten Tomatoes), but I’m sure that plenty of you aren’t as concerned about that as others.
Another action movie coming out this week, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, starring Nicolas Cage, is the much-maligned reboot of 2007’s Ghost Rider, a film that was panned by critics and US audiences. So why make another? Well, the film did pretty well overseas, and those involved wanted to see if they could do better the second time around. Judging by its Rotten Tomatoes score (10%), and by the wacky trailers, I’m going to guess that no, the second time isn’t going to be a charm; but for those of you who liked the first or were impressed by the trailer, be sure to check out the new (er, same?) Ghost Rider this weekend, coming to theaters from the directors of Crank, Gamer, and Jonah Hex.
Alright, so admittedly I was a bit unexcited for those first two flicks. But here’s where it begins to turn around for me, and perhaps for you as well. If you like documentaries, football, or heartwarming tales, check out Undefeated, the Oscar-nominated documentary about the Manassas (Memphis, TN) Tigers football team, a team turned around by coach Bill Courtney after years at the bottom of the pile. And really, I mean the bottom of the pile; this team was so bad that at one time, they were hired out as a practice team for other schools to whip on. The film is currently fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a slick 90% rating. Let’s face it, it’s been a while since a good football movie came out, and with the NFL and NCAA football seasons over, many of us need our fix. Be sure to look for this one at your local megaplex.
The fourth and final new release hitting theaters this weekend is an animated film, The Secret World of Arrietty, based on a novel by author Mary Horton. The film is a Studio Ghibli production, the same company that has produced such animated gems as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and, most recently, 2009’s Ponyo. The film was released by the Japanese studio in its homeland (and native tongue) in 2010, and as with other Studio Ghibli productions, has been voiced over by casts in various languages. The US voice cast includes Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Bridgit Mendler, and David Henrie. The story follows a family of 4-inch tall people who are discovered whilst living in the house of a normal family. It may not contain the animation you’re used to, but with its currently fresh score on the Tomatometer (93%, to be exact), you can assume that this will be an excellent film not just for children, but for adults as well.
The new release slate will likely be slow going until the end of March, which sees the release of the much-hyped The Hunger Games. However, there are several other recent releases that may entice viewers, such as The Grey, Chronicle, Haywire, The Woman in Black, and Safe House.
Aside from that, if you can’t make it out to the theater this weekend, stop at your local Redbox to find a slew of recent Academy Award nominees and winners being re-released by the media rental giant, including The Social Network, The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Inception, and The Fighter. You can also check out this week’s new releases, The Rum Diary (starring Johnny Depp) and Harold and Kumar 3, available now at your local Redbox location.