by HELEN GEIB
First I was too busy to write this post and then I got caught up in awards-season mania and forgot about it. Fortunately Hollywood made it easy on me with a light (eight movies strong) release schedule. There are a couple of horror film must-sees in the lineup – The Wolfman and Shutter Island – and the love in my love-hate relationship with Luc Besson will carry me to From Paris With Love, but all in all it promises to be another good month to check out what’s playing at the local arthouse.
Dear John – The latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks (Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook) novel, this one concerning young lovers whose relationship is tested when he re-enlists in the Army after September 11. Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried star, with Richard Jenkins as the young man’s father; Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) directed.
From Paris With Love – Writer-producer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel no doubt hope to repeat the critical and commercial success of last year’s Taken with this action-thriller about a rule-breaking spy who teams up with a reluctant amateur to foil a terrorist threat to the City of Light. John Travolta plays the spy and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is his temporary partner. The script was actually written by someone else (Adi Hasak, one prior credit from 1997) from a story by Besson; we’ll see if that makes a difference.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief – The unwieldy title marks it as Hollywood’s latest would-be hit adapted from a popular novel – conveniently if the movie is in fact a hit: the first in a series – for young adults. The could-be-a-lot-of-fun premise has a typical teenager discover the Greek gods are real, are alive and feuding, and he’s the half-human son of one of them. Logan Lerman plays titular hero Percy Jackson; the impressive supporting cast of name actors is headed by Sean Bean as Zeus. (I also like the sound of Steve Coogan as Hades.) The book is by Rick Riordan, the script is by Craig Titley (some story credits), and the film was directed by Chris Columbus (numerous credits including Home Alone and two of the Harry Potter movies, Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets).
Valentine’s Day – I could list the cast, or I could just ask: Who isn’t in this movie? Ah, the vicissitudes of love, romance, and relationships in the City of Angels. Or something like that. Directed by Garry Marshall (The Princess Diaries, Pretty Woman) from a script by Katherine Fugate (mostly TV credits, including the series “Army Wives”).
The Wolfman – Benicio Del Toro is the Wolfman. Need I say more? Directed by Joe Johnston (Hidalgo, October Sky) and written by Andrew Kevin Walker (Sleepy Hollow, Se7en) and David Self (Road to Perdition); Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt co-star.
Shutter Island – Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio re-team for this 1950s set horror-thriller involving mysterious events – some possibly supernatural in origin – at an asylum for the criminally asylum. The impressive cast continues with Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Williams, Max Von Sydow, Patricia Clarkson, and Jackie Earle Haley; the script by Laeta Kalogridis (Alexander, Night Watch) is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River)
Cop Out – Kevin Smith directs someone else’s script for the first time. Somehow it seems like it should have been the other way around. Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan ham it up (per the preview) as rule-breaking cops in this purported comedy. Seann William Scott appeared to have the main supporting role. The “someone else” responsible for the script is Robb Cullen & Mark Cullen (various TV writing credits).
The Crazies – Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell play a married couple living in small-town America who must fight to survive both an insanity-inducing plague that turns their neighbors into psychotic killers and the government’s “kill them all” containment strategy. Directed by Breck Eisner (Sahara) from a script by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright; the film is a remake – degree of fidelity unknown, at least by me – of a George Romero film of the same name from 1973.