Release date: Friday October 15, 2010 (Limited) Genre: Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min Director: Tony Goldwyn Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures Producer(s): Andrew Sugerman, Andrew S. Karsch, Tony Goldwyn Screenplay: Pamela Gray Cast: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Peter Gallagher, Juliette Lewis Official Site:foxsearchlight.com/conviction Rating:R for language and some violent images Available film art:Conviction movie posters
Synopsis CONVICTION is the inspirational true story of a sister’s unwavering devotion to her brother. When Betty Anne Waters’ (Hilary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, Betty Anne, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction.
Convinced that her brother is innocent, Betty Anne puts herself through high school, college and, finally, law school in an 18 year quest to free Kenny. With the help of best friend Abra Rice (Minnie Driver), Betty Anne pores through suspicious evidence mounted by small town cop Nancy Taylor (Melissa Leo), meticulously retracing the steps that led to Kenny’s arrest. Belief in her brother—and her quest for the truth—pushes Betty Anne and her team to uncover the facts and utilize DNA evidence with the hope of exonerating Kenny.
Release date: Wednesday December 1, 2010 (Limited Genre: Drama, Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min. Director: Darren Aronofsky Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures Producer(s): Arnold Messer, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy Screenplay: Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz, John McLaughlin Cast: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Toby Hemingway Official Site:foxsearchlight.com/blackswan Rating:R for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use Available film art:Black Swan movie posters
Synopsis Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When the company’s artistic director decides to replace his prima ballerina for their opening production of “Swan Lake,” Nina is his first choice. However, Nina has competition: Lily, a newcomer. While Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan, Lily personifies the Black Swan. As the rivalry between the two dancers transforms into a twisted friendship, Nina’s dark side begins to emerge.
‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole‘ is both visually stunning and compelling and that is due Zack Snyder (’300′ and ‘The Watchmen’). It’s one of the movies opening this weekend so you might want to consider seeing it after reading this review by Todd Gilchrist.
I’m not entirely sure if children needed their own ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, much less one starring owls, but now they have both. ‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ is director Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the first three books in Kathryn Lasky’s acclaimed series of ‘Guardians of Ga’Hoole’ novels, but with the exception that it’s owls and not hobbits who populate its fantastic universe. Snyder’s film follows a trajectory similar to that in Peter Jackson’s trilogy by focusing on untested dreamers who make a perilous journey over unforgiving terrain in order to rescue themselves and their families from death or enslavement. But what’s more remarkable about the film is that its familiarity, to kids and adults alike, is not at all a bad thing.
Snyder, a surprising director commercially (if a perfect one creatively) for material like this, expertly adapts his muscular visual style to the demands of a world filled with warring (if family-friendly) owls, adding another artistic victory with ‘Legend of the Guardians’ to his already impressive track record.
Jim Sturgess (‘21‘) provides the voice of Soren, a young Tyto owl who is beginning to learn how to fly, fueled by stories of the mythical Guardians from his father Noctus (Hugo Weaving) and a healthy sense of competition with his brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten). When Soren and Kludd are kidnapped by minions of Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton) and his queen, Nyra (Helen Mirren), the two of them are separated and subjected to imprisonment. Kludd throws in with Nyra’s fledgling army, but Soren escapes with the help of an elf owl named Gylfie (Emily Barclay), and the two of them embark on an epic journey to find the Guardians in the hopes that they will be able to defeat Metal Beak and then rescue their friends and family from his oppressive rule.
Somewhat awesomely, this really only describes the first 40 percent or so of the story of ‘Legend of the Guardians,’ and even if all of that sounds narratively familiar, the execution is unlike almost anything you’ve ever seen before. Rather than anthropomorphizing the owls to give them more humanlike reactions or physical attributes, Snyder protectively maintains the integrity and authenticity of owl physiology – or at least 90 percent of it – and makes them beautiful, graceful, agile creatures whose only human qualities are their personalities.
Animal Logic, the production company that animated the equally-accurate penguins of ‘Happy Feet,’ renders every feather and movement with so much meticulous detail that the only way to improve upon it would be to use a high-speed telephoto lens to shoot real owls in their actual habitat. But then, of course, it seems doubtful they would be able to do stuff like battle with one another, at least not with the ferocity that they do here. This is one film that presents its battle sequences with style, but not escapist glamour; notwithstanding the speech that explains how one owl collected his many disfigurements on the battlefield, even the off screen action doesn’t hesitate to suggest that these owls are definitely trying to kill one another.
(Speaking of which, I do think some parts of the film are probably a little too intense for younger viewers: the chase sequences and action set pieces are themselves markedly more aggressive than most family fare, but further, owls are beaten, tortured, defaced and decapitated, although via mostly implied rather than explicit violence.)
That said, the film does capture a genuine, captivating sense of wonder, and maintains a propulsive, sweeping momentum that keeps the story from drowning in the “epic movie” conventions that might otherwise make ‘Legend of the Guardians’ feel too familiar or forced. Snyder’s direction helps significantly in this regard; while his visual style sometimes seems to be a little light on substance, he maximizes the dramatic impact of the moments that need to be emphasized. Shots of owls moving in slow motion through rainstorms are definitely awe-inspiring, but Snyder makes sure that the flourishes serve the story rather than distract from or overshadow it. Moreover, he keeps the rest of the proceedings moving at a brisk enough pace that the story carries weight, but you don’t feel like you’re just waiting for the next “significant” moment.
Click here to read the rest of the indepth review.
Release date: Friday November 19, 2010 Wide Genre: Thriller, Drama, Suspense Runtime: 2 hr. 2 min. Director: Paul Haggis Studio: LionsGate Entertainment Producer(s): Michael Nozik, Paul Haggis, Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier Screenplay: Paul Haggis Cast: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Brian Dennehy, RZA Official Site:thenextthreedaysmovie.com Rating:PG-13 For violence, drug material, language, some sexuality and thematic elements Available film art:The Next Three Days movie posters
Synopsis Life is perfect for John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks), until Lara is convicted of a murder she says she did not commit. Three years later, John is struggling with the demands of work and raising his son alone, and still trying to prove Lara’s innocence. After her final appeal is rejected, Lara becomes suicidal, forcing John to exercise the only option he has left: break her out of prison.
Release date: Friday December 17, 2010 Genre: Animation, Family Director: Eric Brevig Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Producer(s): Karen Rosenfelt, Donald De Line Screenplay: Jeffrey Ventimilia, Joshua Sternin, Brad Copeland Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh, T.J. Miller, Andrew Daly Official Site:yogibear.warnerbros.com Rating:Not Yet Rated Available film art: Yogi Bear movie posters
Synopsis Hanna-Barbera’s beloved picnic-basket-stealing bear makes his big-screen debut in this live-action/animated mix children’s pic from director Eric Brevig (Journey to the Center of the Earth). Brad Copeland provides the screenplay, which centers around a documentary crew (headed by Anna Faris) as they delve into the goings-on of Jellystone Park, home to Yogi the Bear and Boo Boo (voiced by Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, respectively).
Release date: Friday November 5, 2010 Wide Genre: Animation, Comedy Director: Tom McGrath Studio: Paramount Pictures Producer(s): Denise Nolan Cascino, Lara Breay Screenplay: Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons Cast: Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey Official Site:megamind.com Rating:PG-13 for action and some language by the MPAA. Available film art:Megamind movie posters
Synopsis Megamind (Will Ferrell) is the most brilliant supervillain the world has ever known. And the least successful. Over the years, he has tried to conquer Metro City in every imaginable way. Each attempt, a colossal failure thanks to the caped superhero known as Metro Man (Brad Pitt), an invincible hero, until the day Megamind actually kills him in the throes of one of his botched evil plans.
Suddenly, Megamind has no purpose. A supervillain without a superhero. He realizes that achieving his life’s ambition is the worst thing that ever happened to him. Megamind decides that the only way out of his rut is to create a new hero opponent called Titan (voiced by Jonah Hill), who promises to be bigger, better and stronger than Metro Man ever was. Pretty quickly Titan starts to think it’s much more fun to be a villain than a good guy. Except Titan doesn’t just want to rule the world, he wants to destroy it.
Now, Megamind must decide: can he defeat his own diabolical creation? Can the world’s smartest man make the smart decision for once? Can the evil genius become the unlikely hero of his own story?
Release date: Friday December 17, 2010 Wide Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Fantasy Director: Joseph Kosinski Studio: Walt Disney Pictures Producer(s): Steven Lisberger, Sean Bailey, Jeffrey Silver Screenplay: Eddy Kitsis, Adam Horowitz Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen Official Site:disney.go.com/tron Rating:Not Yet Rated Available film art:Tron: Legacy movie posters
Synopsis The Master Control Program is booted back up in this revamped Tron continuation that sees the return of original star Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, the brilliant computer programmer whose disappearance leads his son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), to search for him in and out of the computer world. Original director and co-writer Steven Lisberger produces the new film, which is helmed by commercial director Joseph Kosinski. James Frain, Olivia Wilde, Beau Garrett, and Michael Sheen also star, with Bruce Boxleitner returning as Alan Bradley and Tron, the heroic protagonist of the original film.
Release date: Wednesday November 24, 2010 Wide Genre: Drama, Musical Running time: 1 hr. 40 min Director: Steven Antin Studio: Sony Pictures/Screen Gems Producer(s): Donald De Line Screenplay: Steven Antin Cast: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Julianne Hough, Peter Gallagher, Alan Cumming, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci Official Site:burlesque-movie.com Rating:PG Available film art:Burlesque movie posters
Synopsis A small-town girl ventures to Los Angeles and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer.
Release date: Friday September 17, 2010 Wide Genre: Thriller, Drama, Suspense Running Time: 2 hr. 3 min. Director: Ben Affleck Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Producer(s): Graham King, Basil Iwanyk Screenplay: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper Official Site:thetownmovie.warnerbros.com Rating:R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use Available film art:The Town movie posters
Synopsis There are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. And a one-square-mile neighborhood in Boston, called Charlestown, has produced more bank and armored car robbers than anywhere in the U.S.
One of them is Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), but he is not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. Unlike them, Doug had a chance at success, a chance to escape following in his father’s criminal footsteps. Instead he became the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers, who pride themselves on taking what they want and getting out clean. The only family Doug has are his partners in crime, especially Jem (Jeremy Renner), who, despite his dangerous, hair-trigger temper, is the closest thing Doug ever had to a brother.
However, everything changed on the gang’s last job when Jem briefly took a hostage: bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). When they discover she lives in Charlestown, Jem gets nervous and wants to check out what she might have seen. Knowing what Jem is capable of, Doug takes charge. He seeks out Claire, who has no idea that their encounter is not by chance or that this charming stranger is one of the men who terrorized her only days before.
As his relationship with Claire deepens into a passionate romance, Doug wants out of this life and the town. But with the Feds, led by Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm), closing in and Jem questioning his loyalty, Doug realizes that getting out will not be easy and, worse, may put Claire in the line of fire. Any choices he once had have boiled down to one: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.
Release date: Friday September 17, 2010 Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 20 min. Director: John Erick Dowdle Studio: Universal Pictures Producer(s): M. Night Shyamalan, Sam Mercer Screenplay: Brian Nelson Cast: Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Geoffrey Arend, Bojana Novakovic, Jenny O’Hara, Bokeem Woodbine, Jacob Vargas Official Site:universalpictures.com/devil Rating:PG-13 for violence and disturbing images, thematic material and some language including sexual references Available film art:Devil movie posters
Synopsis Five strangers in Philadelphia begin their day with the most commonplace of routines. They walk into an office tower and enter an elevator. As they convene into this single place, they are forced to share a confined space with strangers. Nobody acknowledges anybody else. They’ll only be together for a few moments. But what appears to be a random occurrence is anything but coincidental when the car becomes stuck. Fate has come calling. Today these strangers will have their secrets revealed, and face a reckoning for their transgressions. Slowly, methodically, their situation turns from one of mere annoyance to sheer helplessness and abject terror. Terrible things begin to happen to each of them, one by one, and suspicion shifts as to who among the five is making it all happen… until they learn the unspeakable truth: one of them is the Devil himself. As those on the outside try in vain to free them, the remaining passengers realize that the only way to survive is to confront the very wickedness that has led them to today.