The weekend movie preview is a must-read this last weekend of the year as there are seven new films opening! That's right, it's the busiest weekend in the Hollywood year.
The Interview may have dominated headlines, but it wasn't the only new Christmas release to arrive for the weekend. Angelina Jolie's latest directorial effort, Unbroken, is out, as is the Mark Wahlberg-led remake of The Gambler. Disney releases the musical Into the Woods, Tim Burton is back telling a true tale with Big Eyes, Martin Luther King Jr. gets the spotlight with Selma and Clint Eastwood brings Chris Kyle's story to life with American Sniper.
Let's break it down...
The Interview: James Franco and Seth Rogen have dominated headlines with their movie that was coming out on Christmas Day, then not coming out, then coming out in limited release. You can watch The Interview online, which was a fantastic move by Sony and it is in over 300 theaters as well.
Our The Interview review found the film a solid comedy which had some great work by Rogen, in particular, in the role as Franco's producer as the two head to North Korea to interview Kim Jong Un. The CIA steps in and asks them to kill him as no American has been that close to the dictator. It's a funny farce, and certainly worth watching at home and with an audience (as most comedies are) if you can find a theater near you.
Into the Woods: Meryl Streep kills it again with her singing voice in this Stephen Sondheim musical that imagines what would happen if some of our favorite Grimm fairy tales found themselves lost and Into the Woods.
Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt lead the all-star cast in the film that has fantastic music, stunning visuals and a treat of a story for the whole family. For more, check out our Into the Woods review.
Unbroken: Jolie shows she is a directing force to be heard from with her stunning chronicle of the extraordinary life of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini went from humble beginnings to win a gold medal in the Olympics. He then volunteered for the military after Pearl Harbor and served in the Pacific, where his plane was shot down and he would survive in a raft for 47 days. He would be rescued, but it was by the Japanese, who promptly put him in a prisoner-of-war camp where they would torture him for years.
As our Unbroken review points out, this is a massive scope and could have been three distinct movies with the three inspirational portions of Zamperini's life. But Jolie masterfully creates a film that celebrates the never-give-up attitude that is in all of us.
The Gambler: Wahlberg stars as an English professor with a gambling problem, who doesn't believe he has a problem. But as you watch him bet tens of thousands of dollars on one hand of blackjack, we the audience know better. But, it is a thrill to watch Wahlberg in this character and the thriller (yup, it feels like a thriller) doesn't stop until the final moments.
As we stated in our The Gambler review, John Goodman stars as a gangster who takes a liking to Wahlberg's character and could likely hear his name called as an Oscar nominee when nominations are revealed January 15.
Big Eyes: The unbelievable story of the Keanes comes to life from director Burton who is back telling a true tale like he did with Ed Wood. Although this flick is more of a straightforward biopic, it is a stunning achievement for all those involved.
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz are a marvel, our Big Eyes review reported, as the married couple that was behind one of the biggest scandals in the art world's history. She painted those Big Eyes paintings, you know the ones, and he took credit for it. One day, she got sick of the lie, and their world was turned upside down.
American Sniper: Eastwood directs a stunning Bradley Cooper (easily an Oscar nominee for Best Actor) in the true story of Kyle, a Navy SEAL who would go to the Iraq war and come back as the most lethal American Sniper in U.S. military history.
Our American Sniper review points out that Eastwood has done his best work in years, but that still doesn't quite save the movie from making a wrong turn or two.
Selma: There is no more of an important movie to see in 2014 than Selma. The story of MLK and his march from Selma to Montgomery to champion the voting rights of African Americans is a stunning portrait of courage and an inspiration on many levels.
Our Selma review delves further.
Feel like staying in this weekend? Several titles landed on digital download this week. Watch The Good Lie online and prepare to be inspired and watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles online and that'll sure please the kiddies!