New this Week: ‘In Time,’ ‘The Rum Diary’ and ‘Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy (BD)’

Hitting movie theaters this weekend:

Anonymous – Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis
In Time – Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy
Puss in Boots – Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis
The Rum Diary – Johnny Depp, Giovanni Ribisi, Aaron Eckhart

Movie of the Week

The Rum Diary

The Stars: Johnny Depp, Giovanni Ribisi, Aaron Eckhart
The Plot: American journalist Paul Kemp (Depp) takes on a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1950s and struggles to find a balance between island culture and the ex-patriots who live there.
The Buzz: Where to begin? Have you seen the trailer? There’s a lot to digest in there.

In all honesty, I’d be a lot more excited than I am, (presently my excito-meter is at about a 6/10) if I’d never caught wind of the many negative rumblings about this film (I have a close friend who worked on the film, an informant, let’s call him), and it’s all too much to ignore. Via my informant, I learned that this film tested with audiences appallingly (on many different occasions), and that for the longest time The Rum Diary couldn’t find a single studio interested in financing its distribution/promotion. It’s my understanding that this film wrapped ages ago, and that no studio would even dream of approaching it for further consideration. It’s just that bad. Crazy, huh?

I was certainly disappointed to hear such, and I’m disappointed to communicate such, and I imagine many of you reading this are disappointed to learn such. Still, I suppose these “negative rumblings” could be unwarranted, perhaps the informant’s information was errant. I trust the guy, but hey, let’s hope.

The film definitely has a lot of excellent selling points. The cast is phenom (another reason why I was entirely flummoxed by my informant’s news). Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins. All big names in the world of cinema, and deservedly so. The source material should be solid enough too, as the film is based on Hunter S. Thompson’s debut novel. If you thought Depp’s voiceover at the beginning of the trailer was reminiscent of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, that would be the reason why.

I suppose the question to ask is: if this film is really as bad as my informant’s tips might indicate, then who’s to blame? Director Bruce Robinson would be the most obvious target, as he’s the captain of the ship here, and does have a relatively weak directorial resume — his last picture was 1992′s Jennifer 8, an epic directorial hiatus of 19 years. That’s kinda sketch.

In fairness, we’ll have to actually see the film before we start tossing darts Robinson’s way. And all of this mumbo-jumbo aside, I am reserving some optimism, and it’s an optimism that’s been reinforced by this excellent trailer. Well done, trailer-makers.

Every Friday we’ll have new reviews of the latest films.
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New Blu-ray and DVDs released this week:

Captain America: The First Avenger (BD/DVD) – Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson
City of Life and Death (BD/DVD) – Ye Liu, Wei Fan, Hideo Nakaizumi
The Conversation (BD) – Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield
Dazed and Confused [Criterion] (BD) – Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey
Destroy All Monsters (BD) – Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi
Identification of a Woman [Criterion] (BD/DVD) – Tomas Milian, Daniela Silverio, Christine Boisson
Island of Lost Souls [Criterion] (BD/DVD) – Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen
Jurassic Park [Ultimate Trilogy] (BD/DVD) – Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
A Little Help (BD/DVD) – Jenna Fischer, Chris O’Donnell, Kim Coates
Shaolin [Collector’s Edition] (BD/DVD) – Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse, Jackie Chan
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (DVD) – Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy
Winnie the Pooh (BD/DVD) – Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, John Cleese

Blu-ray/DVD of the Week

Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy

The Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
The Plot: Cloned dinosaur exhibits run amok.
The Buzz: At long last, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park is here on Blu-ray. I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Sure, the entire trilogy should be slapped with the label: SILLY. But not the first film, and much like the Jaws franchise, it’s only the first film that matters here. I’ve always had a hard time deciding what my favorite Spielberg film is, there are so many great ones, but Jurassic Park ranks amongst the top, for sure. However, The Lost World might rank dead last — which makes this box-set rather bipolar. But who cares, the first film is the bomb. I don’t know if any film has ever come close to rivaling the general atmosphere, the beautiful aura of impending doom, as that giant tropical storm approaches Isla Nublar, just before all hell breaks loose. I love John Williams’ score. Sam Neill, Laura Darn, Jeff Goldblum all play greatly likable characters, and put in excellent performances. Brilliant writing. Just an awesome film.

The Jurassic Park trilogy scored in quick scattershot:

Jurassic Park: 10/10
The Lost World: 5/10
Jurassic Park III: 3/10


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