Doppelganger


          I still don’t know whether to say I or we. I’m not, strictly speaking, myself. I’m a doppelganger, a copy; I’ve been duplicated on a cellular level by an alien species, something little more than a virus that hides in other life forms, changes them.

            It landed a hundred thousand years ago in the Antarctic ice. It lay there dormant for that entire time until a Norwegian research team found it and allowed it to thaw. They didn’t realize that the thing they’d found was still alive. It began to absorb and evolve, from the station’s dogs to the people. When the station was wiped out by the last remaining human survivor, one of the creatures that had mimicked a dog made its way to an American research station. The alien virus did it’s work there too, absorbing the humans until again only one was left. The station was blown up and the surviving human froze to death.

            The creature remained dormant inside a human named Childs, and when his body was brought home for burial, it burst out and began doing it’s thing. Before long, McMurdo station was completely contaminated and infected persons went to the United Kingdom, Norway, Argentina, the Soviet Union and the United States, among other places.

            The spread was slow but remorseless. I was one of the first Americans to get duplicated. I had been a medical doctor doing a routine exam of one of the McMurdo station evacuees. I put my stethoscope up to his chest and a great gaping maw opened up and tube-like tentacles fastened themselves to me and pulled me inside. I scarcely had a chance to scream before I died.

            You see what nobody tells you about the whole duplication process is that our human memories and personality is retained in the brain. I remember everything about my life; I’m still essentially “me,” only I’m not in control of my body or my mind. I long to scream a warning out to everyone I see but I can’t move my lips to form the words.

            I’ve been responsible for the duplication of dozens of people. My wife was the first. That was the hardest for me. My wife was a beautiful blonde woman, sweet and loving. She greeted me at the door and ran into my arms for a kiss. As our lips met, my face changed. Tentacles flew out of my mouth and imbedded into hers. My eyeballs changed into pincers and flew into her eyes. Her screams and cries were muffled by my kiss. Her blood flowed and I could feel her dying in my arms. I raged and screamed but the alien that I was felt nothing. It continued doing it’s thing until my wife’s tissue was completely absorbed and a duplicate of her created. Together we cleaned up the blood from the tile, saying nothing to each other and threw away her dress and underclothes which had been shredded in the process. Then we waited for the kids to come home.

            I can sometimes get images and impressions from the alien side of my body. I get the sense that this species is very, very old, perhaps dating back to the birth of the universe. It has sent emissary ships to nearly every planet there is, waiting in hibernation for life on each world to evolve sufficiently to find it and revive it.

            After that, it takes over. I’m not exactly sure what it’s/their agenda is. They seem to be something of a hive mind – they are able to function in pieces or as a whole. They aren’t really interested in the natural resources of the planets; there just seems to be some sort of biological imperative to take over every species that they can. They’ve been successful with countless races to date.

            Our human race is going to be one of them. Extinct. A distant memory in an alien hive mind. They have little regard for us. They neither hate nor pity us. Humans are merely fodder for their biological machine, the same as dogs, cats, horses and sheep. Every organic thing on this planet will eventually become part of this thing’s collective.

            There are enclaves of human holdouts still. They think that by keeping all other living things out of their remote camps that they’ll somehow escape notice or detection. They don’t realize that this species has interstellar travel – or one of the races they ingested, I’m not sure exactly. I do know that they absorb the knowledge and technology of every race, no matter how trivial or archaic, into their collective mind. They use then the most brilliant of every race to extrapolate that technology, to develop it to its logical conclusion. In this manner they get our innovation as well as our bodies. The bastards might even think that they were creating a more efficient and productive race. Doing us a favor.

            Of course, they don’t even consider us in the equation. This is just another day at the office for them and we don’t even figure into their plans. We’re a necessary nuisance, like filling out tax forms. We’re a chore to be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

            I weep inside because I know what the fate of our species is. I have seen it in the fate of other species in the viral mind. We will be filed away in their common mind archives, our bodies allowed to run until they break down and fall apart. Then the tissue will be used for spare parts.

            They have no concept of joy or pride. No emotion whatsoever – they just are and they do. Their minds are cold and hard, like frozen steel. They don’t understand love and they don’t want to. They look at us the same way we looked at flies; pests that are meant to be eradicated.

            I don’t see a way out. I can’t even control my own body, let alone figure out a way to stop the process. It’s doubtlessly too far gone by this time to even consider it anyway. Our species is doomed. And there’s nothing I can do but watch it happen. I can’t even scream. But I can weep. Once in awhile, I can force a tear from my eye if I concentrate hard  enough. At least I can do that much.

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The Thing (2011)


The Thing
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton know it ain’t no Thing.

(2011) Sci-Fi Horror (Universal) Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Jonathan Lloyd Walker, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Christian Olsen, Ulrich Thomsen, Paul Braunstein, Trond Espen Seim, Jorgen Langhelle, Kim Bubbs, Stig Henrik Hoff. Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen

Most horror fans are well aware of the 1982 John Carpenter film The Thing. While today it is held in high esteem for being the trailblazing classic it is, at the time of its release it was a critical and commercial failure. It was preceded in 1951 by a B-movie version entitled The Thing From Another World (which starred an unknown James Arness as a kind of a giant carrot) which was in turn based on a 1938 short story by the legendary science fiction author which was called “Who Goes There.” If the movies follow form, we can expect to see another in 2041.

Surprisingly, bucking current trends, this isn’t a remake but a prequel to Norwegian the Carpenter version. Those who remember it will recall that the action begins with a helicopter from a research station with a gunman pursuing a Siberian husky. That’s where this film ends.

It begins with a team of Norwegian geologists discovering an alien spacecraft buried deep in the ice. Nearby they find a specimen, a creature like none seen on this planet before or since. Edvard (Seim), the station commander, sends for his scientist friend Dr. Sander Halvorson (Thomsen), an imperious, control freak sort of guy, his American assistant Adam (Olsen) and an American paleobiologist named Kate Lloyd (Winstead) from Columbia University.

They are flown by a couple of American helicopter pilots named Carter (Edgerton) and Jameson (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who warn of upcoming storms that will make getting back to McMurdo (the large central Antarctic base) nearly impossible.

Of course the arrogant Dr. Halvorson decides to take a tissue sample and things go south (or as south as they can get in Antarctica) from there as the creature comes to life and gets to thingin’. There will be all manner of twisted flesh and grue before the night is out.

 I have to admit being rather impressed at the attention to detail. While there’s no way to really perfectly link the new Thing with the previous one, they captured enough of the physical setting and the look of the creature to at least be in the ballpark. Unfortunately, they hit a single at best. There are enough inconsistencies to enrage the more detail-oriented viewer, particularly those who are anal about such things. They did get a few nice details however, like the axe stuck in the wall.  What they didn’t get the overwhelming sense of paranoia and tension that Carpenter so beautifully captured, there are plenty of good movie thrills to keep the modern genre fan happy.

The characters really aren’t fleshed out too much and the cast, while competent (and those who’ve seen Edgerton in Animal Kingdom know how good he can be) really come off as kind of just there. Winstead is reasonably attractive, but she doesn’t really convince me that she’s a scientist and when she goes into Ripley mode, it comes off as a bit out of character. That’s the fault of the writer by the way, not Winstead.

I wonder if a prequel was the right way to go. Some of the technology in the Norwegian base looks at least 20 years too advanced for the 1982 setting, and their take on the humanity test is less effective than the one Carpenter came up with for his version (although to be fair it’s brilliant in its simplicity).

This is a well-made horror movie that doesn’t really distinguish itself from the competition. It will certainly scare you and more likely, gross you out a bit. It’s fine Halloween viewing and yes, that’s really the litmus test for a movie like this. However I wonder if they shouldn’t have either done a remake (although the producers – quite rightly – insisted that the 1982 film was close to perfect and shouldn’t be remade) or perhaps a reboot which is what Carpenter essentially did with his version. There was no need to try and make a direct link with the first film because not only does it invite comparison, it invites nitpicking which distracts from the real point that this is a decent horror movie that fans should go out and see regardless of whether the helicopter in the 1982 version was brown and in this one was gunmetal grey. That’s not the stuff that matters; jumping out of your seat and getting that delicious adrenaline rush that comes with a good scare does, and yes you do in fact get those here. THAT’S what matters.

REASONS TO GO: Decent thrills and some nice creature effects (some practical, some CGI).

REASONS TO STAY: The cast is rather bland and faceless. Might have been better served doing a remake or at least a reboot.

FAMILY VALUES: Oh yes there’s a whole lot of creature gore goodness, plenty of foul language (much of it in Norwegian) and as much violence as you can shake a stick at.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The carnage in the Norwegian camp closely mirrors what is seen when Kurt Russell and Richard Dysart inspect the camp in the 1982 version.

HOME OR THEATER: You’ll want to see this in the dark…with a big mother effin’ screen.

FINAL RATING: 6.5/10

TOMORROW: Six Days of Darkness continues

New Releases for the Week of October 14, 2011


THE THING

(Universal) Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Jonathan Lloyd Walker, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Olsen, Ulrich Thomsen, Paul Bronstein. Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen

This is the prequel to the 1981 John Carpenter version of the film (which is in itself based loosely on the John Campbell short story Who Goes There). Here, a Norwegian team in Antarctica makes an amazing discovery in the ice – which turns deadly when they foolishly let it out.

See the trailer, clips, interviews, promos and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror

Rating: R (for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and violence)

The Big Year

(20th Century Fox) Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Rosamund Pike. Three men at various stages of life face crises and all decide, separately, to take a year to fulfill all their dreams. Each of these friendly rivals find themselves crossing paths and cross purposes as they take on the adventure of a lifetime…or several lifetimes.

See the trailer, clips and an interview here.

For more on the movie this is the website

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG-13 (for language and some sensuality)

Footloose

(Paramount) Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Andie MacDowell, Dennis Quaid. After a small Texas town bans dancing following a tragedy involving several of their teens, a newcomer in town takes on his peers in an attempt to establish himself and the town fathers in an attempt to establish dancing and self-expression. Yes, this is a remake and yes it’s got hip-hop dancing and no, I’m not going to review it.

See the trailer, clips, promos, an interview and a music video here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Musical

Rating: PG-13 (for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language)

The Whistleblower

(Goldwyn) Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn. An American police officer serving with the UN peacekeeping force in post-war Bosnia discovers a terrible secret involving a cover-up at the highest levels. Doggedly determined to bring justice to the oppressed, she places her life – and her mission – in great jeopardy. This is inspired by actual events.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: R (for disturbing violent content including a brutal sexual assault, graphic nudity and language)

Four-Warned October 2011


October 2011

Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.
The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE
1. THE THING (1.4)
2. THE IDES OF MARCH (1.6)
3. IN TIME (1.7)
4. PUSS IN BOOTS (1.8)
TIE. THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1.8)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. HELL AND BACK AGAIN (1.3)
2. FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN (1.4)
3. MARGIN CALL (1.6)
4. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (1.7)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

OCTOBER 5, 2011

HELL AND BACK AGAIN (Docurama) Genre: Documentary. An American soldier copes with civilian life after a brutal tour in Afghanistan. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles October 14). RATING: 1.3 If the movie is anything like the trailer, this is an amazing and affecting documentary.

OCTOBER 7, 2011

1911 (Well Go USA/Variance) Genre: Period War Drama. The citizens of China rebel against a despotic dowager empress and the 7-year-old son in whose name she rules. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Jackie Chan in an epic war movie? I’m so there…
BLACKTHORN (Magnolia) Genre: Western. Butch Cassidy survives the Bolivian shoot-out to live a quiet life under an assumed name in South America but gets drawn in to one last adventure. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks like an awesome Western with Sam Sheppard as Cassidy.
DIRTY GIRL (Weinstein) Genre: Comedy. A young girl living in Norman, Oklahoma in 1987 persuades a young overweight outcast to drive her to California to find her dad. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks like a quirky indie comedy that’s been done to death.
EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE (Pale Griot) Genre: Musical Documentary. One of the most innovative and exciting bands to come out of Los Angeles in the ’80s gets their due here. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles October 21). RATING: 3.3 Although I never fully got into the band, they definitely had their own unique sound.
THE HEIR APPARENT: LARGO WINCH (Music Box) Genre: Action Adventure. The heir to a billionaire’s fortune takes over his father’s multinational corporation with unexpected results. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Has almost a video game feel to it.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: (FULL SEQUENCE) (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. A sexual deviant obsessed with the previous film in the series decides to create a human centipede of his own, this time utilizing twelve people instead of three. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 One of the most twisted films of recent years gets an equally twisted sequel.
THE IDES OF MARCH (Columbia) Genre: Thriller. A presidential candidate’s press secretary becomes embroiled in a scandal on the eve of the primary. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 An all-star cast headed by Ryan Gosling and George Clooney make this quite intriguing.
INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE (Truly Indie) Genre: Documentary. An examination into a case of a potentially innocent man executed for a heinous crime with political overtones. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Casts doubt on the death penalty as well as the presidential candidacy of Rick Perry.
REAL STEEL (DreamWorks) Genre: Science Fiction. A down on his luck ex-prizefighter tries to make a comeback in the new sport of robot boxing in order to bond with his estranged son. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.9 Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots from the look of it.
THE SONS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS (First Run) Genre: Documentary. The story of the gay Mardi Gras and the earliest attempts to assert gay rights in New Orleans. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles October 15). RATING: 2.2 A study in courage that is inspiring to gay and straight audiences alike.
THE SWELLSEASON (SeventhArt) Genre: Musical Documentary. A look at the band The Swell Season whose principles won Oscars for Once and whose romance rose and fell through the rigors of touring. Release Strategy: Los Angeles (opening in New York City October 21). RATING: 2.4 We get to see the reality of a terrific band we thought we knew through a movie.
THE WAY (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Drama. After his son dies on a pilgrimage on the Way of St. James, his father decides to complete the journey in memory of his boy and in doing so, gains a greater understanding of who he was. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Emilio Estevez directs his dad Martin Sheen on what looks to be an interesting film from the trailer.
THE WOMAN ON THE 6TH FLOOR (Strand) Genre: Comedy. A Parisian stockbroker circa 1960 has his world turned upside-down by a group of Spanish maids. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 A French class comedy; the trailer looks intriguing.

OCTOBER 12, 2011

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL II: THE THIN COMMANDMENTS (PMK*BNC) Genre: Documentary. America’s unhealthy obsession with dieting and body image gets a look under the microscope. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expands on October 21). RATING: 3.8 The forces behind weight loss and body image turn out to be more insidious than you’d think.

OCTOBER 14, 2011

THE BIG YEAR (20th Century Fox) Genre: Comedy. Three men whose lives are in a tailspin decide to make this year their best yet particular in regards to bird watching. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 You’d expect a cast with Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson would be intriguing but the trailer left me a bit flat.
BOMBAY BEACH (Boaz Yakin) Genre: Documentary. A former resort community on the Salton Sea becomes a haven for hippies and outsiders. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.3 I’m sure that this is what a lot of people think all of California is like.
CHALET GIRL (IFC) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A young skateboarder turned burger flipper gets a chance to cater in an exclusive Alpine resort where she discovers snowboarding and possibly love. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 The trailer made the movie look like a mediocre rom-com with a British accent and lots of snow.
FATHER OF INVENTION (Anchor Bay) Genre: Comedy. An entrepreneur whose invention turns out to be dangerous gets a second chance at success. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 The trailer looked good and the part looks like a good fit for Kevin Spacey.
FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN (FSI) Genre: Drama. A family is torn apart when the mother, the glue who held them together, dies suddenly. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 An amazing cast includes Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds and Willem Dafoe.
FOOTLOOSE (Paramount) Genre: Musical. When a small town bans dancing after a tragedy, a lone newcomer challenges the law. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 4.0 Why did this need to be remade? And why make it look like part of the Step Up franchise?
THE SKIN I LIVE IN (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. A brilliant plastic surgeon tries to create an artificial skin that might have saved his wife, a victim of a horrible car accident. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Director Pedro Almodovar is known for creating movies that push the boundaries.
TEXAS KILLING FIELDS (Anchor Bay) Genre: Mystery. A pair of small town detectives hunt for a sadistic serial killer who dumps his victim’s bodies in a nearby swamp. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Stars Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan; the trailer looked intriguing.
THE THING (Universal) Genre: Sci-Fi Horror. A team of Antarctic researchers find a spacecraft in the ice…and something in it. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 A prequel to John Carpenter’s version of the story is the third movie of the same name based on the same material.
TRESPASS (Millennium) Genre: Thriller. A wealthy family having their house renovated are the victims of a well-thought out home invasion by a gang of vicious criminals. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Despite a cast that includes Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage looks like a retread of movies we’ve seen before.
THE WOMAN (Bloody Disgusting Selects) Genre: Horror. A country lawyer finds a feral woman in the woods and attempts to civilize her, bringing her home to a family that grows more savage as their attempts fail. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 With a graphic rape, this had people walking out on the film at Sundance.

OCTOBER 19, 2011

THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM (IFC) Genre: Comedy. An eccentric pastor is suspended for telling inappropriate parables to his flock; he goes for a bonding fishing trip with his high school friend, a former metal guitarist and the two find things get really weird really fast. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles November 4). RATING: 3.1 Looks like it could be an acquired taste.
PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE (Zeitgeist) Genre: Documentary. Goodman, one of the counterculture’s most influential thinkers, is profiled as a renaissance man of his time. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.0 Most Americans are unaware of him or his landmark novel “Growing Up Absurd” but he was a crusader for gay rights and pacifism before nearly anyone.

OCTOBER 21, 2011

BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY (Submarine Deluxe) Genre: Documentary. Kevin Clash creates a beloved icon but starts out as a fan of Jim Henson. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles November 4). RATING: 3.2 A must-see for Muppet fans.
CARGO (Persona) Genre: Drama. A young Russian woman hoping for a modeling career enters the U.S. illegally, crossing paths with an Egyptian human trafficker. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.3 A gritty look at the human toll of human trafficking.
JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN (Universal) Genre: Spy Spoof. Rowan Atkinson stars as a British superspy brought out of retirement in order to prevent a global catastrophe. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.7 It wasn’t funny the first time.
KLITSCHKO (Corinth) Genre: Sports Documentary. The story of the Klitschko brothers who rose from the Soviet Union to dominate boxing – and Ukrainian politics. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.1 A surprisingly interesting boxing documentary.
LE HAVRE (Janus) Genre: Dramedy. A bohemian shoe shiner in the French port city stands up for an immigrant boy about to be deported. Release Strategy: Los Angeles only. RATING: 2.9 Looks awfully heartwarming in a non-schmaltzy way.
MARGIN CALL (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Drama. Employees at a financial firm in the beginning stages of the 2008 crash grapple with financial, ethical and moral issues. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Great cast and what appears to be a thrilling plotline.
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Thriller. A young woman who escaped from a cult has the line between reality and fantasy blurred by her paranoia. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.7 A Sundance sensation that has a fantastic-looking trailer.
THE MIGHTY MACS (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: True Sports Drama. A tiny Catholic girls school becomes an NCAA women’s basketball powerhouse. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks interesting but I’m a bit burned out on the genre.
NORMAN (AMC Independent) Genre: Drama. A high school senior whose mother recently passed away and whose father is dying starts to exhibit his father’s symptoms in order to maintain the fiction that he is dying himself. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Looks very intriguing from the trailer and with the great Richard Jenkins in the cast and Andrew Bird writing the music, color me interested.
ORANGES AND SUNSHINE (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. A courageous social worker in England discovers the illegal deportation of children to Australia. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.7 Incredibly, this is based on a true story.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (Paramount) Genre: Supernatural Horror. Sisters Kate and Christine have their first encounter with the evil force that plagued them in the first two movies. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 The first two films in the series have been as scary as the first two films in any horror franchise – maybe more so.
RETREAT (Goldwyn) Genre: Thriller. A couple recuperating from a personal tragedy on a remote island retreat find a man washed up on the shore who tells them Europe is in the grip of a plague. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 This looks like one of those paranoia-inducing thrillers with a biohazard edge; could be good.
THE REUNION (Goldwyn) Genre: Action. A trio of dysfunctional brothers join forces as bail bondsmen in order to cash in on a large inheritance. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Another WWE film that doesn’t look particularly impressive.
REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CARS (WestMidWest/Area23A) Genre: Documentary. Ten years after Who Killed the Electric Cars, the status of four carmakers – including GM – seeking to set the market for electric cars is examined. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 The original documentary is a classic; will this one live up to it?
SNOWMEN (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Family Drama. A young boy with cancer wants to set the world record for most snowmen built in 24 hours. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Saw this at the Florida Film Festival earlier this year; read the review here.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Summit) Genre: Adventure. D’Artagnan and the legendary three musketeers must take on wicked Cardinal Richelieu and his killers to prevent a devastating war between England and France. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.8 A little swashbuckling can be good for the soul.

OCTOBER 26, 2011

RA.ONE (Eros International) Genre: Science Fiction. A videogame villain is released into the real world, prompting the game’s creator to become a tech-enhanced superhero. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Sounds a bit like TRON but the trailer looked impressive.

OCTOBER 28, 2011

13 (Anchor Bay) Genre: Action. A young handyman assumes a dead man’s identity and enters a deadly game of chance. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.2 A remake of the terrific French film 13 Tzameti with a cast that includes Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham and Ray Winstone.
AND THEY’RE OFF… (Kinobild) Genre: Mockumentary. A racehorse trainer with a perennial losing record in desperation hires an ex-girlfriend as jockey, not understanding she’s only doing it to get back together with him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.5 Despite a decent cast, the trailer did not inspire me to want to see this.
ANONYMOUS (Columbia) Genre: Drama. The question of whether or not William Shakespeare actually authored his own work is examined and a theory presented. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 An intriguing idea and the first movie by director Roland Emmerich to lack an epic scope in quite awhile.
THE DOUBLE (Image) Genre: Spy Thriller. The murder of a U.S. Senator appears to be the work of a Soviet assassin, bringing a CIA operative who knew him best out of retirement to track him down. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds intriguing but with no trailer available as of this writing, can’t really get too excited yet.
IN TIME (20th Century Fox) Genre: Science Fiction. In the future where time is the currency and nobody ages past 25, a young man tries to right a corrupt system in which the wealthy live forever and the poor live on borrowed time. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 One of the most interesting concepts to come along in awhile; hopefully they’ll do the idea justice.
JANIE JONES (Tribeca) Genre: Drama. An aging rocker trying for one last comeback is forced to bring his 13 year old daughter on the road while her mom is in rehab. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.6 The trailer looked authentic and the music sounded good and who knew Abigail Breslin could sing?
LIKE CRAZY (Paramount Vantage) Genre: Romance. Two college students meet and fall in love but one is forced to leave the country when she violates the terms of her student visa. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Teen angst taken to the Nth degree.
MY REINCARNATION (Long Shot Factory) Genre: Documentary. The son of a Tibetan Buddhist Master rejects his status as the reincarnation of a renowned Buddhist teacher and embraces the modern world. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.8 Based on a British movie of the same name.
OKA! (DADA) Genre: Adventure. An ethnomusicologist in the Central African forest studying the music of the Bayaka pygmies fights to protect their land from greedy political interests. Release Strategy: Los Angeles only. RATING: 2.8 The trailer looks promising.
PUSS IN BOOTS (DreamWorks) Genre: Animated Feature. The fabulous feline from the Shrek series gets a movie of his own. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.8 The last Shrek movie was pretty weak; hopefully the emphasis on Puss will re-energize the franchise.
THE RUM DIARY (FilmDistrict) Genre: Drama. The Hunter S. Thompson novel comes to life with Johnny Depp as a hedonistic reporter in 1950s Puerto Rico. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Depp’s second HST adaptation after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
SLEEPING BEAUTY (IFC) Genre: Drama. A reckless university student takes a job as a sex worker, allowing old men to have erotic experiences with her as she sleeps; her work eventually commences to bleed into her waking life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 A very sensuous, intriguing trailer.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The Ides of March, Real Steel, The Big Year, The Thing, Margin Call, The Three Musketeers, Anonymous, In Time, The Rum Diary