This is the busiest weekend of the summer so far, and that is saying something. There are five, yes five, new films hitting screens this mid-August weekend. We've got Ashton Kutcher playing Jobs, the sequel Kick-Ass 2, Lee Daniels' The Butler making history, Harrison Ford experiencing Paranoia, and Keri Russell visiting Austenland. This is one crowded scene at the Cinemaplex!
Kick-Ass 2: When the first Kick-Ass hit theaters, it was a modest success. But it became a true sensation with its home video release and thus... we have a second film. The sequel finds Kick-Ass hanging up his hero costume while Hit Girl is still hitting the streets fighting crime. They end up switching places when Kick-Ass returns, inspired by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey) and others who have picked up the vigilante mantle. Meanwhile, Hit Girl "retires" at her stepfather's request. The problem with the film, our Kick-Ass 2 review stated, is that it is just not as much fun as the first. It's still a good time, just not a great time.
Paranoia: Ford reteams with Gary Oldman (after Air Force One), but this film is truly Liam Hemsworth's. The young actor portrays an up-and-coming businessman with a vision for the future. When he is asked to spy on Ford by Oldman, things get complicated. The film is based on a wildly thrilling book, but much of those thrills fail to make it to the big screen. As our Paranoia review reported, the power of Ford and Oldman is not quite enough.
The Butler: Forest Whitaker stars as the titular character, based on the real-life man who served as the butler for seven presidents. Whitaker astounds, as does Oprah Winfrey as his wife. And frankly, the cast as a whole delivers in this tale of the modern civil rights effort and the change that followed. There should be plenty of Oscar nominations to go around for this instant classic. How director Lee Daniels weaves a half century of progress in two hours is a marvel. For more, check out our The Butler review.
Jobs: Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs gets the biopic treatment with Ashton Kutcher playing the visionary. Surprisingly, Kutcher astounds and manages to capture all of the man's nuances and brilliance. Josh Gad is equally as good as Jobs' partner, Steve Wozniak. The film is fascinating in that you feel that you are watching a modern Thomas Edison do his thing. The only problem, our Jobs review stated, is that it fails to show a whole lot of innovation for a man who was such an innovator.
Austenland: Keri Russell stars as a woman obsessed with the world found on the pages of Jane Austen's books. When she discovers there's a place in England where she can spend a week living as the Austen heroines did, she leaps at the chance. Jennifer Coolidge provides the humor and Jane Seymour provides the mettle in this comedy that should more than please fans of the iconic author's work. Our Austenland review believes though, that only Austen fans will enjoy it.