Welcome to the Weekend Release Roundup, where we highlight what we think are the most interesting movies to hit theaters this weekend.
Going to the movies isn’t cheap, so we’re here to help you sort through your choices.
Our first week of March starts things off with not a bang, but a whimper. In fact, it can be argued that this is the worst week of the year, proving that while we’re out of the January/February zone, we’re still not quite near the blockbuster season either. Save for our top movie of the week, our list is filled with unknowns which most people will either view with indifference or complete disinterest. And as bad as all of that may sound, it still wasn’t enough to place the Vince Vaughn-led comedy Unfinished Business on this list, which is a testament to how truly awful that film appears looks. In fact, it was even beat out by a sequel that probably nobody in the world asked for, which is where we begin our list…
#5 – The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
“The second installment in the Exotic Marigold franchise…” is a phrase that perhaps nobody in the world ever expected to read, but I can’t quite tell you how amused I am to actually write it. The second installment in the Exotic Marigold franchise sees the opening of a new hotel bring all our franchise regulars back for more explosions, mayhem, and carnage. Okay, that’s not true, there’ll really only be a lot of self-deprecating jokes about how old everybody is. Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, and Celia Imrie all return, along with new face Richard Gere for what appear to be some Bollywood dance numbers and this suggestive line: “How many new lives can we have? As many as we like.” Trilogy? I think so.
#4 – These Final Hours (Limited)
End of the world movies are always conceptually intriguing because of the premise alone, but they seem to have varying degrees of success. Most recently we’ve had Left Behind, The World’s End, This is the End, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, 4:44: The Last Day on Earth, and 2012, all of which carried drastically different tones, though it can be argued that only two (This is the End, The World’s End) were successful in fulfilling their intended purpose. These Final Hours sees the Aussies try their hand at the apocalypse with a story about a man heading for a party in hopes of numbing himself before the end of the world, but crossing paths with a little girl along the way. From there, he’s faced with deciding how he really wants to spend his final days. The trailer raises a lot of the usual questions that come with these films about what is truly important, but hopefully the film doesn’t bombard us with that theme as heavily as the trailer does. Either way, it could be a decent addition to the genre if it’s presented in a fresh and interesting way.
#3 – Buzzard (Limited)
Watching the trailer for this film does nothing to give us any idea what it’s actually about. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, especially in an age where trailers can tell us everything about a film before we’ve ever seen it. The appeal for Buzzard comes not from the story, but for it’s apparently brazen humor, off-center characters, and seemingly guerrilla-style filmmaking. Very reminiscent of Generation X indie films like Linklater’s Slacker or Smith’s Clerks, the trailer for Buzzard seems like the trailer for a film a few decades old, perfect for those of us tired of all the millennial angst in modern indie films.
#2 – Merchants of Doubt (Limited)
For the politically minded, Merchants of Doubt casts a light on the paid lobbyists who purposefully and consciously try to alter the public’s perception of hot-button topics like climate change, for the sole purpose of appeasing big oil and similar industries with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Just as they did with tobacco a few generations prior, these men are experts at altering the debate, casting the light of skepticism not on themselves, but on the scientists and health officials who warn of the dangers of things like global warming or smoking. It’s a documentary revealing America’s most skilled spin doctors, and it’s worth watching for those of us interested in how the game is played and, more importantly, how we can try and change the rules. Directed by Robert Kenner, who famously exposed us to the food industry with 2009’s Food, Inc., Merchants of Doubt is inspired by the book of the same name.
#1 – Chappie
There is perhaps a little more vested interest in this week’s number one, Chappie, than there might have been a few months ago. For one, we now know that Neill Blomkamp is going to be the future director of the next Alien sequel, the beloved sci-fi franchise for those of us who aren’t keen on all the cutesy camp of the Star Wars saga. And the franchise truly needs somebody like Blomkamp, having suffered through films like Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Alien vs. Predator, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, or even Prometheus. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a worthy addition to the Alien canon, and Blomkamp – director of one of the best sci-fi films of the past decade in District 9 – is the Alien fanbase’s new great hope. Chappie sees Blomkamp continue his fascination with robotics, this time centering his story on an A.I. named Chappie who must fight for his own existence after the emerging threat of a soldier who sees A.I. as a public hazard. The film hasn’t been screened for critics yet, raising some doubt as to the quality, but judging by the trailer, it seems that Blomkamp has created a film more along the lines of District 9 rather than Elysium, which is a hopeful sign.
The rest of this weekend’s releases include:
An Honest Liar (Limited)
Road Hard (Limited)
Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses (Limited)
Two Men in Town (Limited)