Here's my article from the South Roanoke Circle this month! (Or you can read it in the paper here.)
Holiday Movie Reviews, Based Solely on Title and Release Date
No matter how well you’ve planned, let’s face it, the last two months of the year are stressful. Shopping, big family gatherings, end of the year parties, decorating – the list of activities vying for your time is voluminous.
I can’t help you with any of those things. Best of luck. BUT, I can help you navigate the myriad of new movie releases between now and the end of the year. As Hollywood has not yet recognized the importance of my gig with the Circle, we’re at a bit of a disadvantage. No screening DVDs for me. But let’s not allow ignorance to stand in the way of journalism! Because really, the title and release date are all we need to form an opinion. So take it all with a grain of salt, the reviews are worth every penny you paid for them.
Ender’s Game (November 1st)
Ooh ooh! I read this book! The space bugs are after us and one little boy is all that stands in the way of humanity and extinction. I’m going to watch this on Netflix for sure! (And possibly in the theaters if the weekends in November are super rainy.)
Free Birds (November 1st)
Hmm, this is PG. I’m going to guess it is a cartoon, probably with some celebrity voices. The title leads be to believe some birds are going to free their enslaved brethren. Along the way, they will face adversity, only to overcome it while spewing thinly veiled 80’s pop references in an effort to keep parents entertained. Think of it as Chicken Run 2. Should you go? Depends on how much you want a nap.
Las Vegas (November 1st)
Thank goodness, another buddy film about Las Vegas. It is only PG-13 so it can’t be as funny as The Hangover. The we’re-off-to-Vegas-look-how-crazy-things-get genre is really wearing thin.
Man of Tai Chi (November 1st)
May or may not star Jackie Chan or Jet Li. If it doesn’t, you’ll wish it did. You’ve seen this movie before and if you’re in the mood for kung fu, go for it.
The Book Thief (November 8th)
People keep telling me to read this book but I can’t remember for the life of me what it is about. Anyway, I’m sure the film adaptation will pale in comparison to the book but enough people have said to read it that I’m giving it a thumbs up anyway.
Thor: The Dark World (November 8th)
It has that same tasty guy from the last Thor movie and The Avengers, right? Is there anything else to discuss?
Best Man Down (November 8th)
A buddy comedy about mishaps before the wedding. One can only hope it takes place in Vegas.
The Starving Games (November 8th)
aka Scary Movie or Not Another Teen Movie. This genre isn’t tired, it is exhausted.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (November 22nd)
I do love post-apocalyptic teen dramas. You might want to Netflix the first installment, The Hunger Games, if you haven’t seen it yet, but this should make the short list. Go.
The Christmas Candle (November 22nd)
PG rated, released for Thanksgiving and with a Christmas theme? Sure to be jam-packed with high fructose corn syrup kind of sweet, if you’re into that. I’m not.
Homefront (November 27th)
Described as “action” with no rating listed. Bet lots of things blow up. Green light if you like thin plots full of pretty people who are excellent shots.
Out of the Furnace (December 6th)
Rated R and described as a thriller. I really, really want the furnace reference to be about Freddy Krueger but I don’t think it is. Anyway, sounds like a family terrorized in their own home. I adore horror flicks so for me, it is 4 stars. But for the rest of you,
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (December 13)
That Peter Jackson is clever! Take one book, split it into everyone’s favorite movie serving, a trilogy, and make three times the profits! While it is a sad chapter in my geeky life, I never read the Hobbit. What with all the second breakfasts and the like, I just got bored. But my kids saw the last one and said it was quite good. No doubt this one will be too.
American Hustle, Hours, Saving Mr. Banks, Some Velvet Morning (December 13th)
Her (December 18th)
August: Osage County, Labor Day, The Invisible Woman (December 25th)
Lone Survivor, One Chance (December 27th)
These movies are all dramas and they are being released at the end of the year, which can only mean one thing, they are Oscar bait. A full 98% of Oscar nominated films are absolutely insufferable, so we can extrapolate these are too. I’d imagine the closer you get to the end of the year, the more pretentious they are.
1 star (if you are me)
3-5 stars (if you are the rest of the world)
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (December 13th)
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (December 20th)
Both these films can be subtitled, “the quest for more cash.” I’ll wager they are completely serviceable, yet not as funny as the films before them. But one never knows. Christmas Vacation was a stitch! A gamble, really.
Anywhere from 1 to 5 stars
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (December 25th)
Could be a reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise. Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin are getting a bit long in the tooth to reprise the role so we’ll assume there is a new lead. It doesn’t really matter if it is good or not. Your kids have been home for days and/or you are looking to escape your relatives who are in from out of town. You might as well commit to this one now.
Stars are irrelevant
Now equipped with questionable knowledge of the second biggest movie release season, go forth, and enjoy! Or just do what I do and wait for it all to be released on Netflix. Happy Holidays!