It’s almost spring! Thank the universe. Or thank ourselves? We made it! Is there anything new at the theater to reward ourselves with? Or are we better off staying at home watching Netflix (and Amazon?)? Let’s take a look.
STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is best reserved for streaming. Or, you could just watch the 2008 original. Or, something else entirely! Unless you’re into lazy remakes of sweet little horror flicks. The original was a cult hit, thanks to its super simple set up and the chilling lack of logic to the predators’ motives. This version is an updated—flawed—copy. There’s nothing added to the story—and really, that would have been perfectly fine, had the scares worked. But how could they, when you have characters so shallow you can’t empathize with them, and victims so remarkably stupid their actions are just not credible? For instance: would you throw away a weapon if you know you’re being hunted? Also, I’d like to see you try to ignore the annoying 80’s ballads. For those of you unfamiliar with the original flick – this version is about a vacationing family of four (Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman), who stop over in a mobile home park for the night. They’re relaxing in the trailer when there’s a knock on the door. Here’s the teaser:
A WRINKLE IN TIME
This comes off as a really beautiful, well produced informmercial for girl power and diversity. As an informercial, it’s nice. As a movie, it’s a bore.
Teen Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is on a quest to find her father (Chris Pine) who vanished while trying to traverse space using a tesseract. Along with her brother Charles (Deric McCabe) and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), she must fight the evil ‘It’ (yes, which threatens to destroy the universe) and find Dad.
The idea of a female heroine saving the day by embracing her flaws has become a tad blasé thanks to the recent parade of flicks featuring the same. One way to salvage it is to play up the visuals, which the filmmakers have, but weirdly enough, that becomes … a disadvantage in this case: it’s so distracting, it takes your attention away from the core of the story.
There are also other problems. Sorry, but Oprah can’t act. She’s a lovely person and an incredibly successful businesswoman, but actress she is not (at least not here). Mindy was fantastic in The Office (which I love and adore); she’s not good here. Reese does the best with what she’s given. Then, there’s no sense of urgency or danger in the plot as shown in the movie. Without that, there’s really nothing to maintain audience interest… not even those fancy visuals. Here’s the trailer:
Reserve for streaming. Charlize Theron in a supporting role as the evil girlfriend of a*hole pharmaceutical exec Richard Rusk (Joel Edgerton), whose side gig involves running drugs across the Mexican border. The patsy (and protagonist): the nice dude in the office/ Nigerian immigrant Harold (David Oyelowo). After finding about his impending unemployment on the eve of a business trip, he goes rogue. Thandie Newton has a small role as Harold’s cheating wife. Amanda Seyfriend and Harry Treadaway also hang out as a young couple somehow mixed up in it. The problem: a sadly underused cast, and way too many subplots. A simpler story would’ve generated a hit, because Oyelowo is apparently quite good at dark comedy. Here’s the trailer:
Right then! It seems our choice for this weekend is clear. I’m outta here. See y’all… at the theater? Or on Twitter? Hmm…