Movies in Theaters January 13, 2012
January got off to a surprisingly strong start last weekend as the power of Christ compelled audiences to flock to The Devil Inside; unfortunately, this weekend looks more like your classic January fare: mildly entertaining yet ultimately rather disposable. Here are a few flicks you can cheek out if you need to waste some time before the month's later (and classier-looking) offerings like Haywire and The Grey.
The Contraband trailer opens with the guy who plays Piney on Sons of Anarchy growling (as old men with wisdom and regrets often do in these kinds of movies) about how he's glad that Mark Wahlberg stopped doing dumb shit like smuggling drugs and started doing good shit like marrying Kate Beckinsale and knocking her up; unfortunately, Marky Mark's little brother, played by the kid who played Banshee in the new X-Men movie, apparently wants to be just like his big brother and has run afoul of some drug dealers while doing a run himself. Banshee is afraid the bad guys are going to whack him because of his screw-up -- Wahlberg's trademark stoic scowl in response to Kate's foolish "They're not going to kill you" let's us know this is one bad situation right here. From there, Mark's off to bargain with Giovanni Ribisi, playing what looks like a mix of his strung-out characters from The Gift and David Lynch's Lost Highway, which leads to his return to a life of crime to make good for his little brother's mistake. You also get at least one pointless shot of Kate in her underwear (really, the woman seems bound and determined to make us forget that she's now pushing 40) and at least two scenes where a bunch of guys all pull their guns at once and point them at each other. Wahlberg deserves better than this, but it seems like he says yes to every script that his agent throws at him, whether it be an Oscar-winning drama like The Fighter or a disposable January crime flick. The cast will make it watchable, but really, why watch in the first place?
After most of the world apparently went ka-boom in a nuclear attack, some survivors of the blast hole up in the basement of their apartment building, where they proceed to lose their minds and go all Lord of the Flies on each other. The Divide looks to be another exploration of the depressingly cynical idea that when the shit really hits the fan, everyone's going to just turn against each other; indeed, this looks to be the companion piece to Blindness, the post-apocalyptic fable that claimed if most of the world suddenly went blind, men would just start raping all the women. We're not saying that The Divide looks like a "bad" movie; director Xavier Gans, who called the shots on the startling French horror flick Frontier(s), looks to be back on track after stumbling a bit with his American debut, the ill-conceived Hitman, and the cast -- which includes Lauren German, Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, Ashton Holmes and Rosanna Arquette -- looks like they're completely committed to this dark tale. But why tell yet another fatalistic story about how low people can go when things get bad?
This documentary looks to be a bit slight and inconsequential but not without its nerdy charms as it follows Richard Garriott, a video game developer (he's the guy behind the old Ultima series) who used his massive wealth to follow in his astronaut's father's footsteps and become a self-funded space tourist. On October 12, 2008, Garriott launched aboard a Russian rocket to the International Space Station and returned to Earth 12 days later, thus living the dream that he had previously only been able to experience through his video game characters. Garriott is a genius, but he's also a bit of a dork, which makes him one of the more interesting rich guys on the planet (and, now, off of it); his near-sightedness kept him from ever joining NASA's space program, but after successful laser surgery (and a few bucks), he got to take part in secret training in Moscow and blast off to the heavens. Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission might be too singular and strange to qualify as truly inspiring, but it will almost definitely serve as one of the most curious of curiosity pieces.