Source Code: It’s bound to happen to at least some smart directors, and The L’s Henry Stewart says Duncan Jones (Of Moon! And also David Bowie’s loins!) has just gotten it out of the way early: he’s made a movie that’s kinda sorta about making movies, like The Life Aquatic and Inception and I don’t know, probably Black Swan and I Heart Huckabees are all supposed to be, according to some people. The important thing is that a cool semi-indie sci-fi director has a time-travel movie out to hold me over until Looper drops in, well, let’s hope early 2012. It’s also a genuine sci-fi-looking movie, as opposed to the sci-fi-inflected superhero and robot movies that come out during the summer.
Insidious: Boo! It’s the guys who did Saw! I missed their non-Saw horror movie Dead Silence, which is weird because my wife is all about doll horror movies, or at least is all about the horror movie Dolls, but I have to say, even though Death Sentence was just another grimy revenge yarn, it had some skillful filmmaking (that was mostly wasted on another grimy revenge yarn). The Saw dudes somehow refrained from calling their haunted-house movie Death House or Insidieath, and also refrained from extreme gore, apparently, because this one’s PG-13. This January was surprisingly light on the usual horror fare, so fans should probably rush to this one or risk waiting until August for a big-screen horror experience. Presumably, whatever jump scares Insidious has to offer will play better to a packed, giggling crowd (who will nonetheless boo at the end). Basically, this whole weekend is last-call for actual-genre niche movies rather than genre-influenced kid movies aimed at everyone.
Super: My review of this movie gets into why it doesn’t quite work as either a comic(s) Taxi Driver nor a satire of comics culture, in part because I’m not sure what bloody vengeance actually has to do with most comic books these days (is the Punisher even still around? Do people read that? I thought they mostly just read these convoluted miniseries about wars between the X-Men and the Sub-X-Men or whatever. And also Dan Clowes). Ellen Page is pretty hilarious in it, though.
Hop: Universal takes a turn at copying Alvin and the Chipmunks, and based on the Warner Brothers version (remember Yogi Bear?) you can reasonable expect (a.) a fairly terrible movie that (b.) wastes some potential comic talent, in this case Russell Brand voicing the wannabe-rockstar son of the Easter Bunny, while (c.) prompting the question of why this whole movie wasn’t animated rather than awkwardly mixed with overlit live action, yet also (d.) manages to turn out mildly better than the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies through sheer odds against replicating a franchise that terrible and as such (e.) fails to make nearly so much money as Alvin. Also, I tried to bring this whole thing out of the realm of speculation by asking for a screening from the Universal reps, but was met with stony silence [It was actually screened for critics. Twice! Maybe it was something in the way you asked. -Ed.]
Rubber: I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say that I have yet to read a review of Rubber that doesn’t basically say, wow, this movie is so smart and strange and entertaining in theory! Few of the reviews have actually appended that with a “but in practice…” and in fact do make a movie about a tire that kills people sound pretty ambitious and artsy and self-aware and all that. But if there’s a way to not make Rubber sound like a film-theory exercise, I’m not sure I’ve experienced it yet.