Weekend Forecast for February 17-19, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
February 17, 2012
After last weekend's incredible showing, there's sure to be a letdown in comparison for this weekend's fare, although it won't be for a lack of trying for mass appeal. It's just, you know, where last weekend's films were well targeted and mediocre, this weekend's films are well targeted and horrid (Okay, except for one. No hate mail, Studio Ghibli fans!).
In 2007, amidst the second wave of comic book movies, Nicolas Cage finally got his childhood wish to play Ghost Rider, second perhaps only to his wish to *be* Ghost Rider. We all saw the film open to $52 million on President's Day weekend, prompting responses of “huh?” and “buwah?”, because not only is this a C-level comic character (if we're being generous), but the film also looked inherently terrible. That's not taking into account Cage's legacy of suck. Perhaps people decided they liked National Treasure, but would have appreciated it more if the main character had been a demon that was on fire. Hey, it almost ended Wes Bentley's career, so that's something, right?
So, we have the inevitable sequel, imaginatively titled Spirit of Vengeance. In it, Johnny Blaze something something saves a small boy, hey look, spitting fire! The film lets us know right away where it stands by having a character ask Blaze what it's like to pee as a demon – because that's been the burning ques... look, fire puns are kind of inevitable here, just let me be – anyway, where was I? Oh, right. Burning pee, the film goes right into things by showing exactly that. There's a pretty solid dividing line on this joke – if you're under 13, you're going “awesome!”. If you're over 13, you're going “this is what passes for humor?” plus you're also making sniggering VD jokes. I'm not saying we're totally mature.
With a supporting cast that says “no really, these are people's names”, we're banking on Cage first and foremost, plus any remaining goodwill you might have towards the series and what's likely to be special effects overkill. If we can compare this to other sequels to terrible movies, the first thing that comes to mind is Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, which did manage to be better than the first film (or as I call it, “the one with the stupid triangles”) but opened to less than half, ending that right fricking there. We've got the chance to do the same here if we just hold fast. I know we can do this, people. Let's give this a $23 million opening and discourage them from Ghost Rider 3: Just 90 Minutes of Fiery Pee.
Originally slated as opening on Valentine's Day, This Means War instead saw its official release date moved to today. Chris Pine and Tom Hardy star as CIA agents who discover they're dating the same woman (Reese Witherspoon), and then decide to do battle with each other using their apparently limitless spy resources, which includes tranq darts and spy drones. Call it Mr. and Mr. Smith.