The 2013 Thanksgiving weekend warriors includes Frozen, Oldboy, Homefront, Black Nativity, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Box Office Battlefield is a recurring rundown of all the movie releases for the weekend. Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard earned dollars. Box Office Battlefield is here to help you decide which movie(s) will take priority over the others.
Last weekend, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire took the world by storm, breaking a box office record and killing it for 2D movies. With four new options and one limited release, audiences will be scattered throughout the cinemas this weekend.
Can Disney pick up a W against the young adult series or will Jason Statham and James Franco prove their clout? Does an unnecessary American remake stand a chance or will another musical drown out the tunes the House of Mouse will be singing? Freeze. Hammer time. This is the Box Office Battlefield:
Frozen (2013) [Opens 11/27] (Rated PG) 108 min – (Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee) Starring the voices of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff
Synopsis: Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter. (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 84% • Audience – 91%
With so much critical and commercial praise, I ask myself, “Did I see the same movie as everyone else?” Sure the animation is beautiful and the story fairly unconventional for a Walt Disney Animations Studios feature, but Frozen feels like a rough draft to me. The characters are hardly fleshed out, the songs are subpar, the sidekick character Olaf is a complete waste of space, and without getting into spoilers, the ending barely earns the note it leaves us on. I am a huge fan of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, but both of those had worlds, characters, and stories with depth, imagination, adventure, and fun. Frozen falls flat in all categories. MATINEE IT IN 2D! (I would only suggest seeing this in 3D if you want to see one of the best animated short films featuring Mickey Mouse ever.)
Oldboy (2013) [Opens 11/27] (Rated R) 104 min – (Directed by Spike Lee) Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sharlto Copley
Synopsis: Obsessed with vengeance, a man sets out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years without reason. (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 43% • Audience – 51%
Oh you know, just another unholy, unimaginative, and unwarranted remake within the last few months. Spike Lee’s Oldboy has a lot of hope sprinkled throughout, but fails to capture the tension, momentum, and uniqueness of the original. Although much of it is the same, there are a few twists and turns that will have fans of the original engaged to see where Lee takes the viewer. Unfortunately those moments of creativity are shattered with weaker story developments. Josh Brolin does a decent job inhabiting our Oldboy, but it is Elizabeth Olsen who wanders a bit aimlessly without clarity or motivation. RENT IT!
Black Nativity [Opens 11/27] (Rated PG) 93 min – (Directed by Kasi Lemmons) Starring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, and Mary J. Blige
Synopsis: A street-wise teen from Baltimore who has been raised by a single mother travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives, where he embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey. (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 54% • Audience – 68%
If you’re feeling a bit spiritual this weekend, might I suggest Black Nativity. I have not yet seen this this warm and fuzzy holiday musical, but I’m sure it will get you in the holiday spirit. There are a lot of big name stars and singers, but from all of the marketing and trailers I don’t see anything here that either A) hasn’t been done before or B) brings us interesting characters to care about. RENT IT FOR THE HOLIDAYS! UPDATE: I have seen Black Nativity now, and it is in good conscious that I must say it is a terrible waste of time. It is so stock full of unlikable characters, especially the “protagonist” we’re suppose to be hoping for redemption. The ending is predictable but comes so swiftly and unearned that it is laughable at how sudden it is. Everyone sings adequately, even Whitaker, who I had no idea had that kind of vocal range. But honestly, this movie has straight to TV movie written all over it. SKIP IT!
Homefront [Opens 11/27] (Rated R) 100 min – (Directed by Gary Fleder) Starring Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, and Kate Bosworth
Synopsis: A former DEA agent moves his family to a quiet town, where he soon tangles with a local meth druglord. (Watch the Trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 35% • Audience – 70%
It’s got Jason Statham versus James Franco, what more could you ask for? RENT IT! (Just for the James Franco factor – his character’s name is Gator Bodine.)
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom [Opens 11/27 – Limited Release] (Rated PG-13) 139 min – (Directed by Justin Chadwick) Starring Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto, and Robert Hobbs
Synopsis: A chronicle of Nelson Mandela’s life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa. (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 62% • Audience – 81%
Haven’t been able to catch this flick yet either, but all I see is another example of a recent events story that we don’t need. Morgan Freeman did aBox Office Battlefield: Frozen, Oldboy, Homefront, Black Nativity, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom fine job with Invictus. I like Idris Elba, I’m sure he does a top notch job, but I just can’t find this movie interesting enough to see why this story had to be told yet again. RENT IT!
It will be a pretty close race this weekend I feel. There will be a lot of repeat viewings of Catching Fire, but also new viewings since some audiences may have stayed away from the diehard fandom. Frozen has a lot of positive buzz coming in this Thanksgiving weekend, and with not many options for younger moviegoers to enjoy, this may be like the ideal weekend to go out to the movies. However, I don’t believe Frozen has a broad enough appeal to capture the attention of all four quadrants, leaving out the younger and older male demographic. But it will be close. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend shall be: