The two biggest films opening this weekend have virtually nothing in common, but one could stretch and say that both films follow the journey of one character’s rise from obscurity into the light in order to save the day. There it is. Same movie. Are you happy now?
The Equalizer is a Denzel Washington vehicle from Antoine Fuqua, who directed Washington to win his second Academy Award back in 2001 with Training Day. That particular re-teaming has in some ways plagued the press for the film, as expectations have naturally risen high for what appears to be a pretty run of the mill action-thriller. Robert McCall (Washington) is trying to put his dark past in the rear-view mirror and head toward starting a new life when he meets a young girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) tied in with some pretty brutal Russian gangsters. Being the hero of the story that he is, McCall steps in to save the girl from a perilous situation, using mysterious skills that allow him to not just kick some ass, but probably walk away with a few names too. While the early word is to not expect anything like Training Day, the Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus does make the interesting point that if you just take the film for its attractive look and for the appeal of Denzel as a leading man, you will likely have a good time.
Also opening tomorrow is an early-predicted frontrunner for the Best Animated Feature nominations for next February, The Boxtrolls comes from some of the team behind both ParaNorman and the producer of Henry Selick’s wonderful Coraline. The film tells the story of a family of mysterious creatures who adopt an orphan boy and raise him in their magical underground caverns. A scheming villain from the town above devises a plan to exterminate the Boxtrolls, so this orphan boy must rise to the occasion and save the creatures who took him in, meeting a partner-in-crime human girl to help him do so. The talent behind the cast of characters is impressive, with older guard actors like Ben Kingsley and Jared Harris, fresh UK comedians like Richard Ayoade and Nick Frost, and the forever recognizable voices of James Urbaniak and Tracy Morgan. The lead characters are voiced by Isaac Hempstead Wright (a.k.a Bran Stark from Game of Thrones) and Elle Fanning. Early reviews seem pleasantly positive, allowing us to assume The Boxtrolls to be just as wonderful as the two films attached to its “From the makers of” tagline.
Also opening this weekend: Two acclaimed festival favorites, The Two Faces of January and Maps to the Stars. Also, the Andre 3000-starring Hendrix biopic, Jimi: All Is By My Side, which is receiving some surprisingly positive press.