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Trailer Talk: This Week in Movies - 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,' 'This Means War,' & More

February 13th, 2012 1:30pm EST

Trailer Talk: This Week in Movies Last week I got to see three of the films coming out: “Safe House,” “The Vow,” and “Rampart.” I didn’t absolutely love any of them, but the one I found most enjoyable was “Safe House.” If you haven’t read my thoughts already, check out my review. I haven’t had a chance to write up ones for the others yet, so keep a look out for those later this week.

Arriving in theaters this week are the unnecessary Nicolas Cage sequel “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,” the romantic spy comedy “This Means War,” the inspirational documentary “Undefeated,” the anime adventure “The Secret World of Arrietty,” the dark crime dramedy “Thin Ice,” and the Alaskan indie drama “On the Ice.”

MY PICKS FOR THE WEEK: This Means War

GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE

While Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is laying low in Eastern Europe, he is summoned to stop the devil from taking human form.

Co-Directors: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (“Crank,” “Gamer,”)

Co-Writers: David S. Goyer, Seth Hoffman, and Scott M. Gimple producers and writers on “FlashForward”

Notable Supporting Actors: Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Christopher Lambert, Violante Placido

ORIGINALITY RATING: Low. The first “Ghost Rider” movie was pretty terrible, so I was surprised when I heard another one was coming out. It’s very likely that money was the motivator that brought Cage back to the franchise. Cage starts out strong in the trailer with his solemn narration, but things quickly devolve as we hear Violante Placido struggling to maintain her accent. The only moments that catch my attention are things that Ghost Rider (not Cage) does, like turning a combine into flames and firing flaming bullets out of his skull. I’m slightly hopeful those portions are the visual influence of directors Neveldine and Taylor, who I think are this film’s only shot at being halfway decent.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Viewers still like Nicolas Cage regardless of his tendency toward quantity over quality with his movies. If you enjoy the zany quality of Neveldine and Taylor flicks like “Crank” and “Gamer,” then you should watch “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”

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

THIS MEANS WAR

Two CIA operatives (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) launch an epic battle against each other after discovering that they’re both dating the same woman (Reese Witherspoon).

Director/Writer: McG (“Terminator Salvation,” “We Are Marshall”)

Co-Writers: Timothy Dowling (“Just Go With It”) and Simon Kinberg (“Sherlock Holmes”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Chelsea Handler, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. Spy movies seem to be all the rage with the recent releases of “Haywire” and “Safe House.” Normally I would be more annoyed about yet another one; however this film looks like serious fun. It’s amusing to watch best friends fight over the same woman in your average comedy, but it’s twice as hilarious watching spies do it because these two guys have all the surveillance equipment and skills necessary to really mess with each other. The silly part in the trailer where Chris Pine gets shot by a tranquilizer dart reminds me of one of my favorite lines from “Sealab 2021,” “Whoops, dart in your neck!”

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Couples looking for something more lighthearted and goofy than a movie like “The Vow” this Valentine’s Day. If you appreciate the idea of fusing an action comedy with a romantic comedy, then you should see “This Means War.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Opening night.

UNDEFEATED

This documentary focuses on an underdog football team looking to reverse their luck with Coach Bill Courtney.

Co-Directors: Daniel Lindsay (“Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong”) and T.J. Martin (“On the Rocks”)

ORIGINALITY RATING: Low. Yes it may be a documentary, but the underdog narrative is hardly new to football or sports in general. Regardless of whether the stories are fiction or non-fiction, most sports legends worth telling, have inspirational value because they involve people triumphing overwhelming odds to achieve victory or at least change. Those trials are a key part of what the students from Manassas High School face in this documentary; however the element that gives this film any originality is the perspective of the students involved, and how their particular experience is shaped through the events that transpire.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Football fans who love a classic underdog tale. If you want to get an inside perspective on the challenges faced by students trying to play sports in urban schools like Manassas High or you sympathize with what it’s like, then you should seek out “Undefeated.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait for DVD.

THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY

The Clocks are a four-inch-tall people who live quietly in another family’s house, borrowing small items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks however when their daughter Arrietty is discovered by their host family.

Directors: Newcomer Hiromasa Yonebayashi – Japanese version and sound designer Gary Rydstrom – English version

Co-Writers: Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa – Japanese version and Karey Kirkpatrick- English version

Based On: Mary Norton’s novels The Borrowers

Notable Voice Actors in U.S. version: Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett

Notable Voice Actors in U.K. version: Mark Strong, Saoirse Ronan, Geraldine McEwan

ORIGINALITY FACTOR: Low. Because a couple of anime films like “Spirited Away” and “Ponyo” have met with success, studios feel the need to keep pumping out similar adventures, where you just swap the characters for the same story arc. It’s even worse when they feel the need to dub special versions in English for Britain and the U.S. I have two main problems with this: one is that these films become a dime-a-dozen which ruins the imaginative spirit anime is famous for and the second is that dubbing detracts from the intended meaning in the dialogue. Most people who watches anime extensively prefer to read subtitles than listen to dubbing because a great deal can get lost in the second actor’s interpretation.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Anime aficionados who can’t get enough of the famous Japanese cartoons. If you like Mary Norton’s novels and you’re not bothered by dubbing, then you should catch “The Secret World of Arrietty.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait for DVD.

THIN ICE

An insurance agent (Greg Kinnear) trying to get out of Wisconsin is blackmailed by an ex-con (Billy Crudup) in the theft of a rare violin belonging to a farmer (Alan Arkin).

Director/Writer: Jill Sprecher (“Thirteen Conversations about One Thing”)

Co-Writer: Sister Karen Sprecher (“Thirteen Conversations about One Thing”)

ORIGINALITY FACTOR: Medium. I get strange mixed signals from this trailer. Given the presence of comedic actors like Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin, who worked together on “Little Miss Sunshine,” I feel like I should probably laugh. But given the potential implications of foul play and other dirty dealings, it just doesn’t feel right, even if “Thin Ice” is meant to be a dark comedy. The only way I can think of to really understand the movie is to just watch the whole thing, though I am still slightly way that even then it might still have a hard time sticking to a particular genre.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: People who like crime dramas and possess a dark sense of humor If you enjoy murky films set in the Midwest like “Fargo” and “The Ice Harvest,” then you should check out “Thin Ice.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: Wait for DVD.

ON THE ICE

In Barrow, Alaska, teens Qalli and Aivaaq have their bond challenged when an average tussle goes wrong, resulting in the death of their friend.

Director/Writer: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (“When the Season Is Good: Artists of Arctic Alaska”)

ORIGINALITY FACTOR: High. Andrew Okpeaha MacLean seems to bring a new perspective to a theme that has been addressed before: accidental death. The teens in “On the Ice” must try to cover up the reason for their friend’s death in a very unique community you don’t normally get insight into. These people are from a small town, which is isolated by severe climate and desolate geography. When you watch the trailer though, you feel like you’re seeing real, average people, and not ones thrown together for the sake of creating drama.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Indie film lovers that like tales about everyday people. If you gravitate toward dramas where friends must attempt to hide a dark secret that tears them apart, then you should find “On the Ice.”

WHEN TO SEE IT: It is limited release, so wherever you can find it.

Related: Chris Pine, Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance 3D, Greg Kinnear, Nicolas Cage, On the Ice, Reese Witherspoon, The Secret World of Arrietty, Thin Ice, This Means War, Tom Hardy, Undefeated, Starpulse Exclusives, Movies, Movie Reviews, Movie Trailers, Weekend Movie Preview

Photo Credits: © Sony Pictures Digital Inc. All Rights Reserved, © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication, © Disney Enterprises, Inc

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