Lockout: I was a little surprised and disappointed when it became obvious that Guy Pearce wasn’t going to happen in a big way. He was great in Memento, a lot of fun as the bad guy in the actually pretty rad Count of Monte Cristo remake back in 2002, and around then he was also rumored for the lead in Daredevil. But that went to Colin Farrell (well, because Pearce turned it down), and then so did the rest of Hollywood, it seems; and after Farrell, to the next big thing, and so on, as it usually goes. Pearce seems happy with his character parts in the years that followed—he’s never wanted for work, although he’s also been in a fair number of small Australian movies that didn’t get much attention over here—but it’s a shame there aren’t more L.A. Confidential-size roles on his IMDB listing.
Given all this, 2012 seems like an odd time for Pearce to take a detour into Luc Besson EuropaCorp action factory for Lockout, where he plays the leading role in a wide-release movie for the first time in lord knows how long (well, I guess less than a year, as he was the nominal adult male lead of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. But even that was maybe only his second wide-release lead ever, after The Time Machine, a classier attempt at sci-fi schlock, back in 2002). Even the premise itself—an Escape from New York knockoff about a badass getting sent in to a space prison to retrieve the president’s daughter—sounds vaguely late-90s; remember when studios spent money on space-set movies like Event Horizon and Supernova? Then again, as far as I’m concerned, if anyone who was even kind of approaching movie stardom in the past fifteen years wants to go and claim their Besson-given right to a cheesy action-hero role, especially in a movie set in a space prison, I can’t deny them that. And in truth, even before the parenthetical of starring Guy Pearce, they had me at “space prison.”
The Cabin in the Woods: I’ve been avoiding the mostly-ecstatic reviews for this Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard reunion (Goddard joined Buffy the Vampire Slayer in its uneven final season; his name is on two of that year’s very best episodes: “Conversations with Dead People” and “Selfless”), so all I know is that it’s horror with comedy elements (you know, as they do), plus some manners of twists. Oh, and that a good chunk of horror fans will boo at the end no matter what happens. [Actually, and just this once: no they won’t. —Ed.]
The Three Stooges: I saw an ad for this movie on SNL over the weekend ostensibly addressing ladies, telling them to go ahead and treat themselves to a nice bath while their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons go see The Three Stooges this weekend. Probably a little sexist, but not an un-clever play on the long-standing reputation the Stooges (the Larry-Moe-Curly-sometimes-Shemp kind, not the Iggy-and-the kind) have as the ultimate in regressive man-to-boy, boy-to-even-younger-boy humor. It’s also refreshing to see a movie ad flat-out admit that it’s aiming straight at a particular demo, rather than trying to sell a movie of teenage-boy sensibilities as a four-quadrant crowd-pleaser that girlfriends, wives, sisters, etc., will just have to deal with.
Speaking of which, this week’s wide-release movies really rock that young-and-male demo pretty hard, huh? I mean, I know that’s been Hollywood’s MO for the past two or three decades or more by now, and also that horror movies like Cabin in the Woods actually attract a lot of girls, too (and an R-rated geek-friendly one will probably skew a little older than usual). But the release schedule looks like maybe distributors were unduly worried about the power of a Titanic re-release and American Pie 4 (both are doing OK, and I would’ve expected even more, too, but even a peak performance from both wouldn’t have tied up the moviegoing audience for weeks on end). Anyway, I don’t really know what to make of this Three Stooges business, because I never watched the old shorts as a kid; I preferred my cartoon violence from actual cartoons, thank you very much. But I do know that the long-rumored stunt version of this Farrelly Brothers revival that would’ve starred Jim Carrey, Sean Penn, and Benicio Del Toro has made this more normal, non-starry approach look C-listier than it would have otherwise. I’m not too much of a snob for the Stooges, but I may be too much of a snob to watch a movie starring a guy from MADTV.