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Trailer Talk: This Week In Movies - 'Safe House,' 'The Vow'& More

February 6th, 2012 11:00am EST

Trailer Talk: This Week in Movies It turned out that my initial optimism about “The Woman in Black” last week was for naught. Unfortunately it is a ridiculous horror movie that made me laugh much more than it actually scared me. For more on why I thought it was silly, check out my review.

This week in theaters, there will be a nice mix of action, romance, adventure, and drama. You’ll have the chance to see Denzel Washington’s action thriller “Safe House,” the tragic Rachel McAdams romance picture “The Vow,” the lighthearted adventure film “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” the Woody Harrelson Los Angeles cop drama “Rampart,” the Ewan McGregor romantic drama “Perfect Sense,” and the foreign film “Tourin House.”

MY PICKS FOR THE WEEK: Safe House and Rampart

*I am aware that “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” is being re-released in 3D this week, however I don’t feel like old films coming out again in theaters deserve note here. The idea is to talk about what’s new, rather than rehash what we already know.

SAFE HOUSE

A young CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds) is tasked with guarding a fugitive (Denzel Washington) in a safe house. The situation turns desperate, when the building is attacked, and he’s forced on the run with his prisoner.

Director: Daniel Espinosa (“Easy Money,” “Outside Love,”)

Writer: David Guggenheim (“Exit Strategy”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Robert Patrick

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. “Safe House,” seems to fall into the same genre as films like “Bulletproof” and “Midnight Run,” but the trailer reveals it to be serious instead of comedic. I think part of the fun will be trying to figure out who is attacking Reynolds and Washington, and the other half will be deducing whose side that Denzel Washington’s character is on. I love Denzel in pretty much everything he’s in, so that’s one reason this is one of my picks for the week. The other is that the trailer reveals a decent variety of fast-paced action sequences that I think will bring a high level of entertainment.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Action junkies that like a little bit of everything: car chases, hand-to-hand fights, gunshots, and explosions. If you prefer actor Denzel Washington in roles like “Training Day,” where he plays someone with questionable morals, then you should see “Safe House.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Opening night.

THE VOW

After a tragic car accident causes severe memory loss for Paige (Rachel McAdams), her husband Leo (Channing Tatum), must work to win back her love.

Director/Writer: Michael Sucsy (“Grey Gardens”)

Co-Writers: Jason Katims (“Parenthood”), Abby Kohn (“He’s Just Not That Into You”), Stuart Sender (“Harmony”), Marc Silverstein (“He’s Just Not That Into You”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Jessica Lange, Sam Neill

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. Throughout cinematic history, men have had to win back their wives and girlfriends, but what sets this film apart, is that Leo didn’t do anything wrong to lose his woman. He just has to deal with the cards fate has dealt him. The trailer tells us this film is based on true events, but since it doesn’t say whose events, it feels a bit phony. There are a few funny moments, like the use of Meatloaf, so hopefully this movie won’t be overly sappy. However, it is obvious Valentine’s Day fodder, geared toward women who want to see something romantic around the holiday.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Female viewers who prefer romantic fare at the movies for Valentine’s Day. If you enjoy the idea of Tatum’s character trying to woo his wife all over again, then you should watch “The Vow.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait a week, so you don’t have to fight the crowds.

JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND

Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) teams up with his mom’s boyfriend (Dwayne Johnson) in order to find his grandfather (Michael Caine), who went missing on a mythical island.

Director: Brad Peyton (“Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”)

Co-Writers: Cousins Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn (“Bring it On Again”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Luis Guzmán, Vanessa Hudgens, Kristin Davis

Based on: Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. “Journey 2” seems reminiscent of “Land of the Lost,” given the extraordinary wildlife and the humorous awkward situations. I like that they actually reference Jules Verne’s novel as the inspiration for the “real” island they visit. It makes the movie somewhat meta, and it’s a more fun approach than just copying from Verne’s story. With the presence of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Luis Guzmán, the trailer establishes that this will be a lighthearted adventure, but none of the humor is funny enough though to get me interested in seeing it.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Parents who won’t be seeing “Safe House” or “The Vow,” and are searching for something this weekend for the whole family. If you like adventure films with fantastic creatures and exotic locales then you should seek out “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait for DVD.

RAMPART

Set in 1999 Los Angeles, veteran cop Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) struggles to take care of his family and to preserve his career after he comes under suspicion for abusing a suspect.

Director/Writer: Oren Moverman (“The Messenger,” “I’m Not There”)

Co-Writer: James Ellroy, author of the novels The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential

Notable Supporting Actors: Ben Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi

ORIGINALITY FACTOR: Medium. The trailer for this film presents a very aggressive portrait of its lead character Dave Brown, by building up tension with its rock music and its extremely positive testimonials about Harrelson’s performance. I like the idea of exploring the dark aspects of Brown’s personality, since I think not enough films feature solid anti-heroes. As a guy that you love to hate, Brown seems very similar to corrupt Secret Service agent Richard Chance in “To Live and Die in L.A.” In addition to the solid looking anti-hero, the other reason this movie made my picks for the week is the expertise of writer James Ellroy. The L.A. native has a knack for telling stories set in his hometown.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: James Ellroy fans who prefer films set in Los Angeles. If you enjoyed Oren Moverman and Woody Harrelson’s last project together “The Messenger,” then you should catch “Rampart.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Opening night.

PERFECT SENSE

A chef and a scientist (Ewan McGregor and Eva Green) fall in love in the midst of an epidemic which strips people of their sensory perceptions.

Director: David MacKenzie (“Spread,” “Mister Foe”)

Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson (“Happy End,” “Room 304”)

ORIGINALITY FACTOR: Low. This looks like your average romantic drama about two people who have to fight to make things work. Use of voiceover from the female lead gives the film a sort of indie feel. The trailer also hints at an almost sci-fi subplot about this epidemic that causes the characters to go berserk. Neither of these aspects got me excited to see the movie however.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Audiences looking for a romantic film this Valentine’s Day that may not have the stereotypical happy ending like “The Vow.” If you appreciate actor Ewan McGregor no matter what he’s in, then you should check out “Perfect Sense.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait for DVD.

THE TURIN HORSE

In 1889 German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse while visitin Turin, Italy. To protect the animal, he threw his arms around the horse’s neck, before collapsing to the ground. Less than a month later, Nietzsche was diagnosed with a mental illness that made him bed-ridden and mute for until his death. But what happened to the horse? “The Turin Horse” is a fictionalized tale of what occurred.

Director/Writer: Béla Tarr (“The Man from London”)

Co-Director: Ágnes Hranitzky (“The Man from London”)

Co-Writer: László Krasznahorkai (“The Man from London”)

ORIGINALITY FACTOR: High. Taking a real part of Friedrich Nietzsche’s life and spinning it off into its own fictional account is a pretty fascinating idea. The black and white footage, combined with the haunting score, and patient camera movements in the trailer indicate that this film will most likely be artsy and loaded with symbolism. It doesn’t get any more symbolic than a lantern burning out, like the one at the end of the trailer.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Foreign film aficionados that don’t mind reading subtitles. If you have studied Nietzsche and you like to imagine what happened to the horse he saved, then you should find “The Turin Horse.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Limited release in NYC.

Related: Channing Tatum, Daniel Espinosa, Denzel Washington, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Green, Ewan McGregor, Josh Hutcherson, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Luis Guzman, Perfect Sense, Rachel McAdams, Rampart, Ryan Reynolds, Safe House, The Turin Horse, The Vow, Woody Harrelson, Starpulse Exclusives, Movies, Movie Trailers, Columns, Weekend Movie Preview

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