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The Dark Knight Rises is in its second week, and it defintely dwarfs this weekend’s duo of the dance flick Step Up: Revolution and sci-fi comedy The Watch. The specialty box office seems to have the more favorable titles with the romantic indie flick Ruby Sparks, dark comedy Killer Joe, and documentaries Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Searching for Sugar Man.
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
Written by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Jared Stern
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade
Theater Count: 3,000
What’s It About? The plot device of middle-aged dads scheming to get out of their normal routines is nothing new in entertainment. Though it’s more commonly explored in television sitcoms, Akiva Schaffer’s The Watch takes that concept to the silver screen and adds an alien invasion twist to the formula. Despite boasting a sci-fi plot, the presence of comedy mainstays Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn and Oscar nominee Jonah Hill, who’s more known for comedy than any other genre, indicates that this one will focus on the laughs more than the action.
Early Reaction: Hill’s last two features were huge hits with the critics, but the outlook for The Watch isn’t promising. Considering that Stiller and Vaughn’s most recent mainstream offerings haven’t swayed the critics, it isn’t too surprising.
Rotten Tomatoes: 14%
What to Watch For: Richard Ayoade's big break. The Watch marks the first time that Ayoade will have a big role in a major Hollywood production. The actor made his directorial and screenwriting debut with the indie comedy Submarine, which played at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and eventually earned him a BAFTA nomination. Ayoade now makes the leap to mainstream big-budget features in The Watch. His casting might make for an interesting ingredient in this otherwise predictable formula.
Step Up: Revolution
Directed by Scott Speer
Written by Jenny Mayer (screenplay), Duane Adler (characters)
Starring: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Cleopatra Coleman
Theater Count: 2,500
What’s It About? This installment of the popular dance-oriented franchise seems to boast a more political plot than the three films that preceded it. Well, it’s trying. When a big businessman wants to develop a neighborhood – and consequently force thousands out of their homes – a group of dancers called The Mob uses its talent to make a political statement.
Early Reaction: The “Step Up” films always feature incredibly talented individuals – at least when it comes to the art of dancing. However, great dancing and choreography does not a good movie make.
What to Watch For: The soundtrack. With new songs from Timbaland, Ne-Yo, and Jennifer Lopez among others, the soundtrack to “Revolution” reads like a who’s-who of musical talent. There’s nothing as lyrically resonant as the Oscar-winning tunes “Falling Slowly” or “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” but if you’re looking for danceable pop tunes, you’ve come to the right place.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – This profile of contemporary artist Ai Weiwei took the Special Jury Prize for its “spirit of defiance” in documentary filmmaking. (Metacritic: 78/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%) — IFC Films
Home Run Showdown – Dean Cain and Matthew Lillard play siblings whose rivalry passes on to their little league teams, culminating at a showdown in the outfield of the annual Home Run Derby — Image Entertainment
Iron Sky – This sci-fi comedy imagines that Nazis hid on the dark side of the moon and rebuilt their forces to attack Earth. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. (Rotten Tomatoes: 42%) — Entertainment One
Killer Joe – Matthew McConaughey leads this darkly comic crime flick, which took the Golden Mouse award at last year’s Venice Film Festival. (Metacritic: 62/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%) — LD Entertainment
Klown – A man takes his girlfriend's 12-year-old nephew on a canoe trick with his sex-obssessed friend to prove to he's father material. Klown is a film installment of a Danish TV show. (Metacritic: 62/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%) — Drafthouse Films
Ruby Sparks – This quirky comedy sees Paul Dano as a writer who brings his imaginary muse, Ruby Sparks — played by screenwriter Zoe Kazan — to life. The film premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival earlier this year. (Metacritic: 68/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%) — Fox Searchlight
Searching for Sugar Man – This documentary about '70s rocker Rodriguez won two prizes at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. (Metacritic: 73/100, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%) — Sony Classics
Pick of the Week: Ruby Sparks
Even if it’s not as good as we’re expecting, the unique idea behind this little film is enough to give it a boost over a thinly-plotted dance flick, the tired shtick of Stiller and Vaughn, and even the more appealing titles such as Killer Joe and Searching for Sugar Man.