Weekend Forecast for December 14-16, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

December 14, 2007

Ah, a riverfront office.

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After weeks and weeks of struggling to launch a blockbuster and failing, Hollywood finally has something close to a sure thing for this weekend.

I Am Legend is one of the two or three best chances for a big hit at the box office this Christmas season, in large part because of its star, Will Smith. He plays the proverbial last-man-on-Earth, living alone in New York after a plague destroys the world's population. However, as the film's tagline helpfully points out, he isn't really alone, as a certain number of the people affected by the plague have turned into mindless albino zombies. Smith's character is immune for some reason, and safe during the day, but at night... well, that's a problem.

The movie, based on a classic of science fiction by Richard Matheson, features Smith surviving in a self-built fortress while trying to discover a cure, and why he, of all people survived. Luckily he's a genetic scientist, or we'd be totally screwed.

A rare blend of horror and action, I Am Legend may not seem exactly like the most Christmas-y of fare, but with a multiplex audience that's been starved for spectacle, at least if you go by the box office charts, this may be just the thing. That's leaving aside the ads, which are an excellent blend of tension and shocks. The effects don't look impeccable, but they'll do, I suppose.


Critics are generally mixed on this, though not many people were expecting raves. Considering it's from the director of (the unfairly maligned) Constantine, I'm not expecting a monster movie version of Die Hard, although a taut thriller does seem like a good bet. Opening in over 3,600 venues, it looks prepped for a massive weekend, somewhere around $58 million.

This film is balanced out by the crime against cinema that is the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. Yes, finally, 50 years after they debuted when someone realized that when you set a different speed on the record player (kids, ask your pare... uh, grandparents) the songs sounded... funny. This was enough to create a sensation in those heady days, but remember, they hadn't invented Pong yet.

Around this brilliant conceit, a vague story was written, where these singers were a trio of Chipmunks somehow given the power of speech, possibly by a nuclear reactor, I'm not quite sure. They come into the care of a human talent manager, who decides to turn these freaky little rodents into a touring musical group, PETA not being on the scene in those days either.

Jason Lee (who, like his TV character, has clearly spent all his money on an ill-conceived party) stars as the handler, Dave, and for some reason they've also decided to get a recognizable actor to do the voice of a character they're distorting out of recognition (Justin Long, as Alvin). David Cross, who normally has better judgment, also stars in the film, which has some sort of plot, I assume.

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