“Hansel & Gretel - Witch Hunters:” It’s generally believed that films released in January are going to be the worst of the year. The previous year’s potential Oscar nominated films are always released toward the end of the year and tend to see wide releases in the run up to the Academy Awards which are held in late February. In turn the major studios hold off on releasing the stuff the actually expect to make money until later in the year. That’s why atrociously looking movies debut now instead of stinking up the spring or summer. So despite featuring “The Avengers” and “The Bourne Legacy” star Jeremy Renner, a marketplace friendly PG-13 rating, and an ever popular 3D presentation, the film’s producers dumped the film in January because they expect it to barely earn back its $60 million budget. In a way, it sort of heartening to know that the studios respect the public enough to know a hard edge, anachronistic take on Hansel & Gretel isn’t going to set the world on fire, but you have to wonder why that thought didn’t occur earlier. Also starring Gemma Atherton, Famke Janssen, and Peter Stromare.
Fun Fact: Adam McKay and Will Ferrell executive produced the film.
“Parker:” Jason Statham stars as novelist Donald Westlake’s hardnosed thief, here plotting to take down the crew that double crossed him. Westlake’s signature character has made to the big screen a few times before, most prominently with adaptations of Westlake’s “The Hunter” that became Brian Helgeland’s almost good “Payback” and John Boorman’s astounding “Point Blank.” Sight unseen, this new film doesn’t look like it’ll be one of the better regarded Parker movies. The film’s trailer makes it look like a nondescript actioner and Statham persona doesn’t really line up with cold, calculating career criminal of Westlake’s novels, and female lead Jennifer Lopez hasn’t been good in anything since “Out of Sight” back in 1998. On the other hand, the film’s antagonist is played Michael Chiklis and when he goes hard, it’s something to see. Setting aside the Parker connection, this film will probably will be a forgettable but not unpleasant place holder for “Crank 3.” Also starring Patti LuPone, Bobby Cannavale, and Nick Nolte.
Fun Fact: Director Taylor Hackford has also directed “An Officer and a Gentlemen,” “Blood In Blood Out,” and “Ray.”
“Movie 43:” An anthology film that’s basically an extended episode of “Saturday Night Live” with a bunch of stars saying and doing vile and possibly funny things for a range of directors including Peter Farrelly, James Gunn, and Brett Ratner. There might be some good stuff in this film but seeing as the skits revolve around disgusting sex acts, foul-mouthed leprechauns, and an all-black basketball team that can’t comprehend that they have a natural advantage over an all-white team, it probably has an unfavorable awful to funny ratio. Despite “SNL” successfully playing on the cognitive dissonance of watching well-known celebrities doing outrageous and silly things, that kind of gag only works in small doses, mixed in with actual jokes. Using that premise as the singular source of humor isn’t a winning proposition. Starring Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, and Emma Stone.
Fun fact: The film marks the directorial debut of Elizabeth Banks.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org