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Weekend Movie Preview: ‘Resident Evil: Retribution,’ ‘Stolen,’ ‘Liberal Arts’ & More

September 14th, 2012 11:00am EDT

Resident Evil Retribution Poster This week has a few promising films coming out, so I’m going to talk about a couple of limited release flicks in addition to mainstream ones. Arriving in theaters today are “Resident Evil: Retribution,” “Stolen,” “Liberal Arts,” “Arbitrage,” and “The Master.”

MY PICK: “Liberal Arts”

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION

The Umbrella Corporation’s T-virus continues to devastate the planet, transforming humans into legions of flesh eating zombies. Mankind’s last hope, Alice (Milla Jovovich), wakes up in the heart of the evil company’s clandestine facility, where she uncovers more of her past, the deeper she travels into the complex.

Director/Writer: Jovovich’s husband Paul W.S. Anderson (“Three Musketeers,” “Resident Evil: Afterlife”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Oded Fehr, Sienna Guillory

ORIGINALITY RATING: Low. I can’t believe that they’ve made it to a fifth “Resident Evil” movie or that anyone still wants to watch this franchise. I personally stopped caring after the third film in the series. The trailer opens with a cheesy suburban scene to illustrate how the Umbrella Corporation is manipulating Alice’s mind. It tries to make the movie seem deep, where you’ll constantly keep guessing what’s real and what’s not. But a few seconds later you see the same familiar over-the-top slow-mo CG explosions, creatures, and wire stunts that the previous flicks have popularized. Oh, and they also recycle tons of characters from previous “Resident Evil” outings. I’m going to pass on this one and hope they don’t make a sixth movie.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Viewers with a fondness for mindless CG action flicks. If you’re somehow not bored by Milla Jovovich doing ridiculous acrobatics and killing hordes of undead monsters, then you should see “Resident Evil: Retribution.”

STOLEN

A former thief (Nicolas Cage) anxiously searches for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and thrown into a taxi.

Director: Simon West (“The Expendables 2,” “The Mechanic”)

Writers: David Guggenheim (“Safe House,” “Exit Strategy”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Josh Lucas, Danny Huston, Malin Akerman

ORIGINALITY RATING: Low. I can’t comment Simon West’s “Expendables 2” since I haven’t seen it yet, but his 2011 remake of “The Mechanic” was a pleasantly enjoyable action film, despite its predictable plot. Now if I could only get over my intense dislike for Nicolas Cage, then I might be interested in seeing “Stolen.” Alas, I still can’t stand Cage, and this trailer doesn’t show me anything terribly interesting. For an action thriller, there’s not much intensity even when you see things like flaming cars crashing into the water. The lame voiceover and music in the trailer somehow makes the movie seem less interesting than it already was.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Nicolas Cage fans who can’t get enough of the prolific actor’s awesomely bad movies. If enjoyed Simon West’s direction of “The Expendables 2” and “The Mechanic,” then you should watch “Stolen.”

LIBERAL ARTS

30-something Jesse (Josh Radnor) comes back to his alma mater for a professor’s retirement party, but unexpectedly falls for Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a spunky emotionally mature coed. Jesse is forced to decide whether to continue his relationship with this much younger woman or to break things off and return to his normal life.

Director/Writer: Josh Radnor (“Happythankyoumoreplease,” “How I Met Your Mother”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Zac Efron

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. “Liberal Arts” seems quite similar stylistically to other indie dramedies we’ve seen before, with its quick sound-bite style dialogue. Despite that though, its trailer still has a very airy, fresh vibe with the unconventional romance at the center of its story. The preview showcases lots of humorous sarcastic quips about the usefulness of a college education and the concept of an older guy dating a much younger girl. In some ways this film is like “A Solitary Man,” with its back at college theme, except the main character isn’t a selfish jerk. He’s also younger and nerdier. This movie is my pick for the week because I’m interested to see a novice director like Radnor at work and to see a performance which has been earning Elizabeth Olsen praise.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Indie film lovers that dig romantic dramedies. If you appreciate mid-life coming-of-age movies filled with lighthearted humor and profound moments of self-discovery, then you should catch “Liberal Arts.”

ARBITRAGE

A hedge fund magnate (Richard Gere) desperate to finalize the sale of his troubled trading empire makes a dire mistake that forces him to ask an unlikely person for help.

Director/Writer: Nicholas Jarecki (“The Informers,” “The Outsider”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Bruce Altman

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. When I first heard about this flick I thought it was going to be another one of those stuffy Wall Street dramas about the greed that led to our economic downturn in the U.S. However I was happily surprised when I watched this trailer and discovered that this was a tense thriller about a financial player trying to cover up fiscal misdealing AND a murder. It’s very cool to see Richard Gere stepping into a different type of part, where he’s a power-hungry guy, trying to stay on top by any means necessary. Although the trailer doesn’t display any super intense plot twists or moments, the presence of Tim Roth as Gere’s foil makes me confident that “Arbitrage” has potential to be a solid cat-and-mouse film.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: People curious to see Richard Gere play against his normal nice-guy type as an unlikable character. If you seek out suspenseful thrillers where the main character stacks up lies like a delicate house of cards to hide misdeeds, then you should check out “Arbitrage.”

THE MASTER

A Naval veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) of World War II arrives home uncertain of how to adjust and to integrate himself back into society until he is taken in by a faith based organization and its charismatic leader “The Master” (Philip Seymour Hoffman). He starts to question that belief system and The Master however, once the organization gains a zealous following.

Director/Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood,” “Punch-Drunk Love”)

Notable Supporting Actors: Amy Adams

ORIGINALITY RATING: Medium. Some are comparing Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character to L. Ron Hubbard, but I’m not familiar enough with Scientology to take a side in that argument. Regardless, “The Master” seems like a very solemn, emotional drama designed to provoke strong reactions from its viewers about the dark side of religious devotion. Joaquin Phoenix’s character is a deeply troubled man riding a very thin line of sanity. His breakdown in the trailer where he’s slamming his head against a prison bunk is deeply disturbing, although the classical music toward the middle of it comes off as pretentious. I don’t really get Anderson’s other movies and I really didn’t care for his last one “There Will Be Blood,” so I’m fairly certain that “The Master” won’t be my cup of tea either.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT: Audiences searching for a more serious, complex movie at the theater this weekend. If you’ve been anxiously awaiting Paul Thomas Anderson’s follow up film to his Academy Award-winning effort “There Will Be Blood,” then you should track down “The Master.”

Related: Arbitrage, Liberal Arts, Resident Evil: Retribution, The Master, Starpulse Exclusives, Movies, Movie Trailers, Columns, Weekend Movie Preview

Photo Credits: © The Independent Film Channel LLC. All rights reserved, © Roadside Attractions ,

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