Weekend Forecast for January 29-31, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

January 29, 2010

You know he's gotten old because he's no longer the Lethal Weapon himself and needs a gun to be it

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January continues its unusually star-studded lineup for films for the last week of the month, although it looks like we're due for one more week of domination by blue people.

After what's effectively been an eight-year hiatus from appearances on the big screen, Mel Gibson returns to starring roles in Edge of Darkness, a remake of a 1985 BBC TV series. Gibson plays a Boston police detective whose daughter is killed under mysterious circumstances, sending him on a one-man crusade to find her killer. Along the way, he finds a sinister conspiracy that hints at corporate collusion that could go into some of the highest levels of government.

Aside from a couple of glorified cameos, Gibson's last real role was in 2002's Signs, arguably M. Night Shyamalan's last good movie, so it's tough to tell what audience really think of him anymore, or even if they do. He kept his name alive by turning to directing, producing two films in dead languages, The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, but then also had that unfortunate and regrettable incident with the Malibu Sheriff's Department. There's more than a few people who likely wrote him off for good after that.

But, like Kevin Costner making a baseball movie, Gibson's going back to his wheel house of the "wronged man" movie, something he's covered in a lot of films with one word titles like Ransom, Payback and Braveheart. This film seems a lot smaller than all those, no doubt in large part to Gibson's hiatus from acting, but also due to the grittier setting of the film – there's a real '70s Serpico feel here, and less Hollywood sheen. Martin Campbell of Goldeneye fame directs, which should hopefully lend a base level of competence, but overall I think we're looking at a low-rent version of last January's Taken (which this is definitely trying to emulate). Opening on a little more than 3,000 screens, Edge of Darkness should come in with about $22 million.


Poor Kristen Bell. For someone who's had success in owning the small screen (at least in quality, if not ratings) and has found some success in supporting roles in films, she's had equally bad luck in lead roles. Four years after the disastrous J-horror remake Pulse, Bell gets her second leading role in When in Rome. While this romantic comedy should do a lot better in the box office department, it's not looking a lot better in terms of quality.

Bell stars as an unlucky-in-love and klutzy young professional who travels to Rome for her sister's wedding, where after meeting a potential dude in Josh Duhamel she proceeds to make a royal fool of herself. In desperation, she steals a bunch of coins from a wishing well that's reputed to hold the key to true love. The men that threw the coins she picked up then start to pursue her uncontrollably, with increasing degrees of zaniness and wackiness.

As talented as Bell is, I don't think she can save how tired and forced this film looks – magical realism is a really tricky thing to do right, and I doubt I'm wrong in thinking the director of Daredevil and Ghost Rider isn't the guy to make it work. Reviews are pretty awful for this, but no more than Leap Year's, and with a more cinematic locale. Its $9 million opening about sets the floor for terrible romantic-comedies with second-tier stars, so I'd say we're looking at $12 million for its opening weekend here.

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