By Andrew Nogay
Assistant Web Content Manager
This week, there are two movies that are getting wide releases, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. These two films will play in just about any theater. However, there are three other limited release films, I Saw the Light, Born to Be Blue and They’re Watching. Limited release means that these films won’t be in every theater, they’ll probably play in specialty theaters that play independent films like the Alamo Drafthouse or they’ll go right to Video On Demand. For this weekend movie preview, let’s start with the wide releases.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
The most high-profile release of this week, and really the highest-profile movie release since Star Wars: The Force Awakens, stars Batman and Superman as they fight each other or early-morning justice or the upcoming Marvel releases or something. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reprises Henry Cavill as Superman and introduces Ben Affleck as Batman, a casting decision that was controversial at the time but it looks like it will be fine. Batman doesn’t really require a huge range and Affleck has put up good performances recently. The more curious casting choice was Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Eisenberg is a good actor but way he plays the character is strange, he seems very eccentric and effeminate and I’m not entirely sure why. The early reviews of this movie haven’t been overwhelmingly positive, but Zack Snyder can at least create a blockbuster with style. However, he isn’t the absolute best at making a story cohesive, and Batman v Superman looks like it may try to shoehorn too many elements into the movie (hey look, it’s Wonder Woman!,) so that is something to keep in mind.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
In the halls of unnecessary sequels, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 falls somewhere between The Best Man Holiday and Staying Alive. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was actually a big fat success back in 2002, making more than $200 million and was even nominated for a best screenplay Oscar. There was actually a short-lived spin-off TV show called My Big Fat Greek Life back in 2003, which wasn’t successful. If there’s one thing Hollywood does, it is capitalizing off success until they’re forced to make original ideas again.
Apparently a decade and a half is exactly enough time to try again. So in this movie, the grandma and grandpa were never actually married, so that’s the Greek wedding. The main couple also have a teenaged daughter now, who is just so angsty about her Greek family. There are jokes, crazy situations and a little bit of heart. It is written by its star, Nia Vardalos, same as the first one, though it is a different director this time around. This film seems like a comfortable bit of entertainment for people who liked the original.
I Saw the Light
This is a Hank Williams biopic, the first about the essential country singer, and he is played by Tom Hiddleston, who does actually sort of look the part. It seems like a recent trend for biopics has been to only focus on a certain portion of a famous person’s life, like Selma did for Martin Luther King Jr. for example, but I Saw the Light looks a little more extensive than that. It looks like it might be a little unfocused though, in the trailer at least it jumps around from his relationship with his wife, his music, his fame, his addiction and basically everything in his life. It also doesn’t seem to match the energy or emotion of Williams’ music. That’s too bad, because Tom Hiddleston is a fine actor, as is Elizabeth Olsen, who plays his wife.
Born to Be Blue
Born to Be Blue is the second musical biopic to be released this week and it actually looks more cohesive story-wise and stylistically than I Saw the Light. Ethan Hawke portrays Chet Baker, the famous trumpeter and singer. This film keys in on a portion of his life, when he stars in a film, starts a romance with his co-star. However, his dark past catches up with him and it seems like he will never be able to play again and Baker starts a musical comeback. This movie looks dark and moody with a compelling story to boot. Ethan Hawke is mostly great in whatever he’s in, even if it’s a mediocre film, and the writer/director has actually made a short film about Chet Baker before, so it is safe to assume he’s familiar with the material.
Making a horror-comedy film is like walking a tightrope, because of the fusion of the genres, everything is amplified and the intentions of the film become obvious. It also allows for more freedom, since horror films have a lot of leeway as far as content and comedy movies have the ability to turn situations on their head. But they also need to be inventive to work, which is something it isn’t clear if They’re Watching is. Of course, it is difficult to get much from a trailer like that. The curious thing about They’re Watching is who made it: it was written and directed by Jay Lender and Micah Wright, whose primary work before this film have been Spongebob Squarepants and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, respectively. They’re Watching is about an American film crew traveling to Moldova, and eventually being attacked by local villagers. It’s a classic clash of dumb Americans and weirdos/foreigners, which has never been done before, except for all the times it has. But at least this movie is raising awareness about Moldova.