Movie Reviews

What Movie Should I Watch This Weekend?

Movies in Theaters Christmas Week/end 2011

The holiday week has arrived, and with it the heartwarming story of a lonely girl hacker (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, opening Wednesday, 12/21); the tale of an adventure-prone young reporter and his trusty pup (The Adventures of Tintin, opening Wednesday as well); the enchanting yarn of a horse and the boy who went into battle with him (War Horse, opening Sunday, 12/25) and a movie about a bunch of invisible space aliens wrecking havoc in Russia (The Darkest Hour, opening Christmas Day as well). Lots of presents under the tree this year — which one will you open first?

The arrival of director David Fincher‘s American adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will bring with it the answer to a question we probably had never stopped to ask ourselves: Do we even really want an American adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Does this trashy, lurid story filled with brutal rape and torture really need to be a movie — well, one without all those annoying subtitles, anyway? Fincher is the no-brainer choice to direct this atmospheric, pulpy mystery about the unlikely relationship between a disgraced journalist (Daniel Craig) and a goth hacker (Rooney Mara) with a dark past, as he’s certainly covered this kind of ground many times before — but whether that will make for an efficient and exciting thriller or a tiresome return to the well remains to be seen. One wonders if the film will also shed more light on some of the novel’s narrative weaknesses, like how the story pretty much ends about 150 pages before the actual book does. One thing’s almost a certainty: Rooney Mara will rock the part of Lisbeth Salander, the sad, brilliant and fierce little creature who never forgets and never forgives.


Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson joined forces for this motion-capture animated take on a handful of Herge’s beloved children’s stories about a young reporter (Jamie Bell) whose never-ending search for a big scoop thrusts him and his trusty terrier, Snowy, into a world of high adventure. This kind of technology can be torture in the wrong hands, but if anyone were to take it to the next level after James Cameron’s astonishing Avatar, it’s definitely the fellas who brought us Indiana Jones and the Lord of the Rings movies. The Adventures of Tintin is a chance for Spielberg to be in entertainer mode, a role he can do better than anyone when he puts his mind to it; however, while the film will be playful and unpretentious, it might also be overblown and too frenetic for its own good — back in the day, you had to actually have a stunt man go underneath the truck in Raiders of the Lost Ark (and it was the most amazing thing you had ever seen); now, you can, well, do whatever you want with these new-fangled computers. Whatever, though — we’re rarin’ for this ride, even if it does make us feel dizzy n’ disoriented when it’s over.


No one can entertain quite like Steven Spielberg — and no one can make you cry quite like him, either. You can go into War Horse with as much cynicism as you want; by the time the credits roll, you’re going to be a blubbering mess. Really, bring an entire box of tissues to the theater — and a second box for the guy sitting next to you who forgot to bring his own (’cause it’s Christmas, after all) — and just surrender yourself to this epic tale of an English boy and the horse who loves him as the First World War ravages Western Europe. You know resistance is futile as Spielberg has brought out the big guns to make sure this packs as big an emotional wallop as possible: Janusz Kaminski, who can make windows look like the gates to heaven, serves as cinematographer, and John Williams provides the sweeping score. And the horse? No less than seven of them play the lead role of Joey, and they all probably deserve Oscars.


What’s Christmas without a horror movie unceremoniously dumped into theaters by an uncaring studio under the guise of being “counter-programming?” The Darkest Hour looks pretty rancid, even for a horror movie that’s coming out on Christmas Day, though it does look like it cost a little more than your average discarded fruitcake. Once again, the decadence of young people serves as a prelude to a catastrophic event as a bunch of American students visiting Moscow are torn from their partying at cool Russian clubs when the city is invaded by invisible aliens that absorb power sources and turn anyone who touches them into a sparkly CGI mess. It seems like every major city has fallen to these nasty spacemen; after one of the youngsters lists off New York, Tokyo, London, etc., Emile Hirsch offers amazing insight by muttering, “They came here with a plan.” Ya think so, Americanski? Anyway, if you want to spend Christmas in Russia with these geniuses, by all means, comrade — we’ll be in the next room hanging out with Spielberg and Fincher.

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