It's been a long, hard road, but we've managed to arrive at the end of our Wasteland coverage.* When April draws to a close, birds will be singing, temperatures will be rising, and the spectacle of summer's cinematic offerings will be right around the corner. Rejoice!
As always, you can take a walk down memory lane and review all of our previous Wasteland entries here. But we're ready to see what the fourth weekend of April has in store.
– A journalist (Robert Downey, Jr.) befriends a schizophrenic homeless man (Jamie Foxx) who turns out to be a classical musician. Based on a true story, and directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice).
Locke says: Downey, Jr. snags my attention here by the slimmest of threads. Otherwise I'd have no use for what appears–at least in the marketing–to be just another shameless, Shine-esque pander fest. (First Downey, Jr. mocks actors' love of awards in Tropic Thunder and ends up getting nominated for it. Now it appears we have to slather another layer of irony on Kirk Lazarus's infamous speech about how to–and how not to–win an Oscar for playing a mentally challenged person.) I hope I'm wrong about this one–there are elements of it that seem very interesting, especially its leads.
Erika says: Ready the Kleenex! This one's going to be a tearjerker — I just know it. Its release date had been kicked around a bit, so I actually saw its trailer months ago on the big screen when it had been scheduled to open in November 2008. Murmurs ran through the audience about how good it looked, and I have to agree. Even though Jamie Foxx annoys the living bejeezus out of me whenever I see him interviewed, there's no denying that the man can act. As can Downey Jr. In fact, there had been major Oscar buzz for this film when it was supposed to debut last year. Are those hopes dashed now that it's wallowing in the Wasteland?
Our take on more April 24 releases can be found after the jump…
Earth — This feature-length documentary voiced by James Earl Jones draws from the 2006 Planet Earth series and focuses on the journeys of several families of animals (including polar bears, whales and elephants).
Erika says: While I consider myself a big-time animal lover, I prefer to watch documentaries like this one in the comfort of my own home; they just don't scream "night out at the cineplex" to me. So while I'll definitely rent Earth when it's released on DVD, I'm not very excited about its theatrical run. Unless, that is, it starts getting major March of the Penguins-level hype. And even then I'd have to ensure that the film doesn't show any of the animals getting hurt or killed by predators. Me no likey those kinds of scenes.
Locke says: I didn't catch all of Planet Earth when it
aired on Discovery, but what I saw was suitably stunning. However,
what's happening here is that Disney has re-purposed small sections of
that epic endeavor in order to create a more family-friendly package.
One that imposes an anthropomorphic "happy, uplifting" story, a la the
aforementioned Penguins (and those classic Disney classroom
animal films of 30-40 years ago). I'm sure the visuals will be
staggeringly beautiful, especially on a big screen, but, Sigur Ros or no, I'd rather go back and re-watch the original (as well as the even more amazing Blue Planet oceanographic series from earlier this decade).
Fighting – Con man Terrence Howard introduces Channing Tatum (Stop-Loss, Step Up) to New York City's underground street-fighting circuit. Directed by Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints).
Erika says: While I'm sure Fighting is nowhere near as bad as some of the other movies that we've speculated about during our Wasteland coverage, I'd still bet that it's going to be a major dud. Granted, I'm miles outside of the target demographic for this one and would never willingly see any film that showcased a lot of fighting unless it starred Brad Pitt and Ed Norton. But the trailer was weak — bad acting (Terrence Howard, what happened to you?), generic plot and a trying-way-too-hard soundtrack — so I don't think I'm too far off the mark.
Locke says: So it's like a dance movie… only for guys. And with more punching. I might go see it if you promise me that Channing Tatum gets beaten to a pulp with Terrence Howard. Otherwise, no thanks. You got yourself booted off Iron Man 2 so you could appear in movies like this, Mr. Howard? Welcome to Lou Gossett, Jr.'s career!
– Idris Elba (The Wire, The Unborn) finds his marriage to Beyoncé — and their safety — threatened when his office's temp (Ali Larter, Heroes) begins to stalk him.
Erika says: If I had only read the description above and not watched the accompanying trailer, I probably would've blown this one off completely — especially with that horrid poster tagline: "All's fair when love is war." Seriously? But anyway, the trailer served to intrigue me quite a bit (though I think it gave away much too much of the storyline); the film looks dark and creepy… in a good way. Therefore, I might just have to check this one out to ensure Beyoncé is able to take that chick from Heroes down a notch. Who doesn't love a good catfight?
Locke says: Not even the presence of The Wire's Stringer Bell or the always alluring Beyoncé can get me to this one. To be honest, even if it's fantastically done and everyone is perfect in their roles, I'm just not the least bit interested in the story. Now if Ali Larter was a mutant zombie temp… Hold on… Zombie Temp. OMG. Get me the studio on line one…
The Mutant Chronicles
– In the future, the few remaining humans battle armies of mutant zombies created by an alien device. Starring Thomas Jane (The Punisher, The Mist), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), and John Malkovich.
Locke says: And speaking of mutant zombies! Last month I got my hopes all up for Outlander, the Vikings vs. Space Aliens epic. Alas, it came and went from theaters in about a week. Well, here's a second shot at redemption. Ron Perlman (from Outlander!) is back as he and Jane and John Freakin' Malkovich (?!?!) fight off an invasion of…that's right… alien mutant zombies! How can this not be the greatest (non-Viking) film ever made? It's only opening in New York and LA, but come on, it's worth a road trip, right? Who's with me?! Let's gooooooooooooo!!!!!!
And that's it for the Wasteland! Well, kind of.
*There are a few movies that have recently been given release dates in March and April, so we'll have one more Wasteland post next week in order to bring you the scoop on those late additions. Then we're really done.