Sometimes a film that can affect you viscerally — make you jump out of your seat or cover your eyes with your hands — is the perfect distraction. Everything outside the theater melts away. This winter’s adventure films and thrillers tell the stories of an alien who comes to Earth with some bad news for the planet; a dead cop who comes back as a superhero; an ex-Special Forces agent who specializes in dangerous deliveries; a vigilante crime fighter; and a man who travels through time involuntarily. Lose yourself in the moment.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still”
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, Jaden Smith, Jon Hamm Director: Scott Derrickson Story: This remake of the 1951 film stars Reeves as Klaatu, an alien from another planet, who arrives as a “friend of earth” but warns that unless there’s peace, the planet could be destroyed. Gort, an indestructible robot, gives a preview of what may be coming, inciting a panic. A group of military officials and scientists try to figure out how to stop the impending doom and a woman (Connelly) and her stepson (Smith) get caught up in Klaatu’s mission for peace. Worth seeing? Looks promising. It’s a quirky choice for a remake and if done correctly could be more satisfying that Spielberg’s silly “War of the Worlds,” or it could end up as part of a B-movie end-of-the-world double feature. “If you’re gonna remake a classic, you’ve got to have a good reason,” director Derrickson said at Comic-Con. “The idea of updating it made sense because times have changed. We have different issues. This film seemed like the perfect venue to address some of those.” Web site: http://www.thedaytheearthstoodstillmovie.com/ Release date: Dec. 12
Starring: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, Eva Mendes, Dan Lauria, Paz VegaDirector: Frank Miller Story: Rookie cop Denny Colt (Macht) comes back from the dead as The Spirit to fight the bad forces of Central City. But the evil Octopus (Jackson) isn’t going to back down quietly. The Spirit also has a way with the ladies (Scarlett Johansson, Mendes, Vega, etc.), who all want to seduce or kill the masked man. Adapted from Will Eisner’s comic book series. Worth seeing? Questionable. Graphic novelist Miller obviously took lessons from “Sin City” co-director Robert Rodriguez, because this film has a very similar look and feel. “Any way I can explore the hero and bring him to life is another way to do my life’s passion. It’s my job to give you what you don’t ask for and don’t know you want,” Miller said at Comic-Con. Macht described his character at Comic-Con by saying, “He can laugh at himself, he falls in love with every woman he meets, and he beats the hell out of Samuel L. Jackson.” Web site: http://www.mycityscreams.com/ Release date: Dec. 25
Starring: Jason Statham, Jeroen Krabbé, Francois Berleand, Natalya Rudakova, Robert KnepperDirector: Olivier Megaton Story: Frank Martin (Statham), the ex-Special Forces agent who specializes in dangerous deliveries, is back with a new adventure. Not many details about the story have leaked, but it does involve a bracelet that could explode if Martin removes it. “Prison Break’s” own T-Bag (Knepper) co-stars as this installment’s villain. Worth seeing? If you’re a fan, why not? Megatron (who named himself after the bomb that hit Hiroshima) takes over the franchise from Louis Leterrier (who took over from Corey Yuen), though Luc Besson co-wrote all three movies and is the real brains behind this series. Statham told IGN.com that the film is “in a spot where I'm very happy with it. It's got a bit for everybody in it. I think it's a decent script.” Talk about a lukewarm endorsement. At least you won’t go in with high expectations. Web site: http://www.transporter3film.com/ Release date: Nov. 26
“Punisher: War Zone”
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Doug Hutchinson, Colin Salmon, Wayne KnightDirector: Lexi AlexanderStory: Nope, this is not a sequel to 2004’s “The Punisher.” Instead it is a complete rethinking of the character (think “The Hulk” vs. “The Incredible Hulk”). Stevenson stars as Frank Castle (aka The Punisher) a vigilante crime fighter who wants to stop mob boss Billy Russoti (West). When Russoti is disfigured, he becomes the evil Jigsaw who recruits an army to help him take on The Punisher.Worth seeing? Looks more promising than the 2004 movie. But that ain’t saying much. This film had a rough ride to the screen. It started as a sequel, but star Thomas Jane pulled out after seeing the script, telling Ain’t It Cool News, “What I won't do is spend months of my life sweating over a movie that I just don't believe in.” The script has since been rewritten. At one point rumors swirled that Alexander had been fired, so the movie could be recut to be PG-13. Lionsgate released an official statement denying that. Lots of drama behind the scenes, but what about what’s on screen? The cast, which includes some fabulous HBO vets, such as Stevenson (“Rome”) and West (“The Wire”), definitely doesn’t have the star wattage of John Travolta and Jane, but maybe a smaller budget and a better story is just what this superhero needs.Web site: http://www.punisherwarzonemovie.com/Release date: Dec. 5
“While She Was Out”
Starring: Kim Basinger, Lukas Haas, Jamie Starr, Leonard Wu, Luis Chavez, Craig ShefferDirector: Susan MontfordStory: Basinger plays a suburban housewife who has an angry encounter with a group of young men (led by Haas) in a mall parking lot who then decide they’re going to kill her. With only her wits and a toolbox to defend herself, she attempts to make her escape in the woods.Worth seeing? Maybe. Talk about counter-programming for the holiday season. After seeing a sneak preview, Ain’t It Cool News’ Moriarty wrote, “This is a survival story, pure and simple, and by making these characters so direct, so archetypical, it makes it easier for an audience to see themselves in what’s happening onscreen.” George 'El Guapo' Roush of Latino Review.com wrote, “For those of you who enjoy stories that have a person finding their inner strength and facing unimaginable odds, you'll enjoy ‘While She Was Out.’”Web site: NARelease date: Dec. 12
Note: All release dates are subject to change.