New in Theaters: 'Ender's Game,' 'Last Vegas,' 'Free Birds'

Ender's Game

As is appropriate for the first days of November, this weekend is kicking off the chain of highly-anticipated holiday releases with a film adaptation of a nearly legendary sci-fi novel, an adult comedy with an old-school spin, and a slightly less-hyped animated film.

Opening today is the big screen rendering of what was perhaps the most famous novel from sci-fi heavyweight Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game. The film tells of the aftermath of a nearly disastrous alien attack in the not-so-far future, where humanity was saved largely by the heroics of one man, Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley).
In fear of another alien attack where Mazer might not be able to save the day, Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) begins searching for another strategic mastermind among the world's youth. He finds it in the awkward, but brilliant Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), who is then trained by Mazer himself to someday save humanity.

The film was decently rated by the ever-picky critics of Rotten Tomatoes at 63%. The film doesn't have the same profundity that made the book famous, and takes just a little too long to get going; perhaps director Gavin Hood will refine the next one to deliver the same punch as the novels, as this will almost certainly become a franchise. The Box Office Guru predicts an opening-weekend gross of $27 million for the film.

Also debuting in theaters is the star-studded comedy Last Vegas, coming to fill the void left by the now-concluded Hangover franchise. In this film, four childhood friends (Morgan Freeman, Robert de Niro, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline) approaching their golden years decide to channel their younger days when one friend gets engaged (to a much younger woman, naturally) by doing one last drunken romp in Vegas.

This film rated a bit lower on the Tomatometer at only 41%. The film is essentially a low-key Hangover, and while the cast makes it enjoyable enough, no one's treading any new ground. This release can expect maybe $15 million over the weekend.

Finally, in an entirely different vein is Free Birds, an animated flick about two turkeys (Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson) who team up and travel back in time to change Thanksgiving so that turkey isn't consumed in staggering numbers every last Thursday of November.

The critics of Rotten Tomatoes were even less kind to this film, as it rated at only 23%. The film is about as bland and forgettable as holiday-themed family films can get, with the unfortunate
twist of borderline racism in certain sequences. Accordingly, the film will only gross around $11 million.

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