Weekend Forecast for January 8-10, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

January 8, 2010

One vampire investigates the sparkliness of another clan of vampires.

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Hollywood makes up for that week of repeats with three new wide releases, though your level of thanks for these three films may vary. January isn't entirely a dumping ground anymore, but we're still getting a lot of also-rans in the mix.

Leading the way for new films is Daybreakers, the Hollywood debut of the German duo of the Spierig Brothers, who up till now have specialized in Australian horror films. Approximately the 70 bajillionth vampire film in the last three years, Daybreakers is set in a world in which the vampires have won. Ten years in the future, a plague has turned everyone into bloodsuckers, and the entire world exists only in darkness.

The problem with that, in a none-too-subtle metaphor for the energy crisis, is that it means that the blood supply is close to running out as the vampires drain the remaining humans for food. A group of environmentalistssurvivors kidnap the chief hematologist of the vampires (Ethan Hawke) in order to create a cure. It's a race against time as the vampires attempt to run these scattered remaining humans down, even if it would likely doom the rest of the world.

Also starring Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe, the film is a mix of sci-fi and action and a touch of horror. Unfortunately, it arrives at a time when vampire horror action is at its lowest point. The Underworld series finished with a thud early last year, we're several years past the last good Blade movie, and Twilight's turned the world's vampire fans into puddles of co-dependent goo. Still, with surprisingly positive reviews and an appropriately moody trailer, this has a chance to be a modest hit. Its stars won't help it much – the last thing approaching a hit for Hawke was 2001's Training Day, and that's hardly on him – but it's got some fight in it based on genre. Look for around $15 million for an opening weekend.


The second of the week's films is Leap Year, starring Amy Adams. A European variation on the slapstick fish out of water romance genre, it's based on the idea that it's tradition for women in Ireland to be able to propose on February 29th (of course, being the 21st Century, women can propose anytime they like, but Hollywood apparently still thinks it's 1957 when it comes to gender politics).

After her boyfriend misses one too many chances to propose, Adams follows him to Dublin in order to take advantage of this loophole, but has her plane diverted to Wales. After hiring a local (played by Matthew Goode, most recently seen as Ozymandias in Watchmen) to drive her to Dublin (people with knowledge of the UK are laughing right now), the pair get into a series of wacky contrived mishaps that prove they're really meant to be together instead of the schmuck she's currently dating. If you've seen any romantic comedy ever, you know how this works out.

Adams, when she's not being mistaken for Isla Fisher, is building up a decent body of work as a second-tier lead, and just needs the right breakout hit to become the next Reese Witherspoon. This, sadly, is not it (Julie & Julia was close but is more about Streep at this point), but it can be the next step for her on the way to that. It's far too hackneyed and just plain unfunny to be that important film in her career, like a Sweet Home Alabama or a While You Were Sleeping. Opening at around 2,500 venues, it should see an opening weekend of about $11 million.

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