This week in the theaters: the haunted house horror flick gets an upgrade; a sci-fi adventure movie gets a downgrade; and the Three Stooges get a failing grade.
Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods is a self-aware take on several different horror film tropes. Like Scream before it, it's winking at the cliches while partaking in it. The plot: a group of attractive 20-somethings want to get back to nature to a very obscure cabin in the woods, which, naturally, can't be found on any map. They find a cranky old man at a closed down gas station and he gives them directions, and not long after they arrive do weird things start happening. Normally this is because the house is haunted by supernatural/paranormal beings. Instead, this cabin is like a high-tech version of the torture chamber in Hostel, where the cabin is controlled from afar by evil-doers who treat the kids like prey and are watching everything on monitors. Awesome.
Perfect For: Fans of Paranormal Activity, Blair Witch Project, Scream, Hostel.
What the Critics Say: With a 75% rating from the "Top Critics" at Rotten Tomatoes, the flick is poised to do well at the box office. Even high-falutin' New York mag has praise: "Is it scary? Not especially. But there are enough gory surprises around every bend to keep you laughing/screaming/cringing."
Our Take: Yes, we'd do it. It looks better, funnier, and smarter than the rest of the offerings.
The Three Stooges
Directed by the Farrelly Brothers (There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber) the update places the Three Stooges in the modern age at a nunnery, where they were left as babies. If you don't like slapstick physical comedy, chances are you won't find the Stooges funny, as that is what they are all about. Though the threesome (Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos) hired to play the Stooges seem pretty accurate in their portrayal of the original comedy trio, the only funny gag in the trailer comes at the expense of Snooki. The rest of the jokes smell of "trying too hard" desperation.
Perfect For: Fans looking for a little movie nostalgia? People looking for a new Jerry Lewis film but coming up short? We're not sure, since even the overt sexy jokes make it questionable for a family flick.
What the Critics Say: We take it that they aren't going to like it much when there are no critic reviews this late in the game. That means the studio doesn't think it'll screen well and don't want to flood the papers with bad reviews.
Our Take: A skip.
Lockout is one of those vaguely sci-fi, action-adventure movies that has lots of flashy action in the trailer to obscure the fact that the plot in actually very thin. Basically the plot is this: badly wronged good guy has to save famous or rich girl from creepy bad guy to win freedom. Dress it up in special effects, set it in the near future, put the fight scenes in space, add in ominous sound effects, and call it a day. Lockout's only saving grace is that it's got Guy Pierce, a great actor capable of making mush seem interesting, in the lead role.
Perfect For: Fans waiting for Prometheus (the Alien prequel) who want something, anything to watch. Hint: go rewatch the Prometheus trailers five more times.
What the Critics Say: Stinky, yucky, and just, no. 44% on the Rotten Tomato meter and probably falling as more people get to see it. The critics say it's rather generic. Writes Glenn Kenny at MSN Movies: "Lockout is a largely half-hearted effort in which some of the major set pieces are so indifferently executed that they literally look exactly like sequences out of video games."
Our Take: It's too bad, because we rather like Guy Pierce. We'll skip.