New movies this week
The gist: An animated fable about a trio who team up to defeat a snow queen who has put a spell of eternal winter on the land. The trailers look so fun-loving, we're pretty sure this one is going to win the weekend box office. PG
The cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana and Alan Tudyk
The buzz: Critics seem to think so, too. "The music consistently entertains. The writing in particular is smart, with nuanced characters and a premium on clever wordplay over cheap laughs and deprecating humor," the San Francisco Chronicle says.
The gist: A Yankee "reimagining" of the Korean flick about a man kidnapped and held in solitary confinement for 20 years, only to be let out with no explanation. He goes on a brutal rampage and does things so unspeakable, you'll probably feel sick about it. If you've seen the original, don't spoil it for anyone else. R
The cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley
The buzz: It's an uneven effort by Spike Lee, especially in the face of Park Chan-wook's first effort. "So much of Oldboy works so well that it's a huge disappointment when the movie loses its nerve in the climax, opting for a radically different and less subversive ending than the original," the Miami Herald says. Wow, never mind what we said in "the gist."
The gist: An Englishwoman who got in trouble as a teen and had to give her newborn son away to a family in the United States decides years later to ask a reporter to help her find him, long after she grew up and had her own family. Based on the Martin Sixsmith book, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. PG-13
The cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Anna Maxwell Martin, Ruth McCabe and Barbara Jefford
The buzz: An exceptional yarn about family ties that will feel cozy and engaging about this time of year. "A subtly told tale of tragedy and redemption, with much of the sentimental payoff you're expecting but several intriguing plot twists along the way," Salon.com says.
The Book Thief
The gist: A film based on the novel about a girl living with a foster family in World War II Germany who starts a book collection to escape reality. Another young adult title gets made into a movie, but at a sufficient distance from Catching Fire. PG-13
The cast: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch and Roger Allam
The buzz: It's not a terrible movie. It's just a movie. "And so another awards season brings another film (adapted from another international bestseller) offering up the unrelated and uncontroversial lessons that reading is good and Nazis are bad," The Atlantic says.
The gist: A movie adaptation of the Langston Hughes musical about a teen traveling between Baltimore and New York for Christmas and the lessons he learns along the way. Hey, Thanksgiving is almost here, so it's time for a holiday movie. PG
The cast: Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jacob Latimore, Mary J. Blige, Nasir Jones and Jennifer Hudson
The buzz: It's only based on Hughes' work, really, and it's kind of schmaltzy. "The movie doesn't weave religion into the familiar structure of a comedy or melodrama. Instead, everything works in service to the sermon at the core," the New York Daily News says.
The gist: Jason Statham plays a widower who moves his daughter to a small town because he's not looking for trouble. But this is Hollywood, so maybe trouble is looking for him. Somebody will have to tell us if he still has his accent or not. R
The cast: Statham, James Franco, Kate Bosworth, Frank Grillo, Izabela Vidovic, Clancy Brown, Omar Benson Miller and Winona Ryder
The buzz: Oh, come on, it's got Jason Statham in it. What do you think? "We don't really need this old thing, which tries to be a modern Western but ends up being a swampy, derivative action film, indebted to B movies of the '70s but unable to pay the debt in an interesting way," the Chicago Tribune says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org