Weekend Forecast for Dec. 25-28, 2008
By Reagen Sulewski
December 24, 2008
Finally we get into the films for grownups. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of the more unusual ideas for a mainstream film to come along in some time, since maybe Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it stars Brad Pitt as a man aging backwards through time – born in his 80s and growing younger as he grows older.
Directed by David Fincher, it seems to play as a less sentimental, more poetic Forrest Gump, as Button experiences the 20th century in his unique way, though still unable to escape time. Cate Blanchett also stars in the film, as a girl he grows up with, born at the same time but aging normally.
The major struggle of this film will be to get audiences to accept such a bizarre premise, and the uglification of one of the biggest leads for at least part of the film. It might suffer a little bit from some of the same "But what's it about" problem that Seven Pounds did last weekend, though the awards attention it's received can't hurt it to get over that. This is ultimately going to be another test of star power (and its lead has also been in the news lately – something about an ex...) Opening at 2,900 venues, I see it starting with about $17 million.
One of the more remarkable stories of WWII was the Valkyrie Plot, a plan by a group of German officers to kill Hitler in order to stop his mad plans to continue to fight the Allies against all logic. And while it didn't quite work (I sincerely hope you don't consider that a spoiler), it's still a fascinating story and the subject of Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise.
In the film, he plays a German colonel at the center of the plot, and the one tasked with actually performing the deed. Directed by Bryan Singer, it's a story of what it would take to hatch such a daring plan in one of the most restrictive societies the world has ever known.
At the same time, it's kind of a ridiculous idea for a Hollywood movie, seeing as how it's a failed plot by one of our enemies, starring a guy that a good portion of the public actively hates. Cruise's public perception has bounced back a little from the couch-jumping insanity of a couple of years ago, but he's not back to what he once was and never will be. Add to that a lot of criticism has been leveled at his performance in this movie, and it's not looking good, though it should see a four-day total of about $14 million.
Every year needs at least one bomb. This year, The Spirit should fulfill that role. Based on the 1950s graphic novel/comic series by Will Eisner, this is the big screen adaptation by Frank Miller, creator of 300 and Sin City. Never one to let a good gimmick go to waste, Miller has directed the film to look almost exactly like Sin City, all desaturated images with strategic splashes of color. While in theory, this isn't that bad of an idea, a little of it goes a long way, and we're entering one-trick-pony land here.