New in Theaters: 'Frozen,' 'Oldboy,' 'Homefront,' 'Black Nativity'

Frozen

After a few weeks of standalone releases (or big-name releases accompanied by a smaller, somewhat negligible release), this Thanksgiving weekend features an explosion of new releases that, in conjunction with the blockbusters of the last month, should cater to just about every audience heading to the theaters over the weekend.

Disney’s latest animated masterpiece, Frozen, opened in theaters on Wednesday. The film spins a charming tale of two princesses (Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel) who have lived their lives in isolation because of the elder sister’s barely-controllable magical powers over ice. After a disastrous coronation ceremony, the elder sister flees, and inadvertently plunges the kingdom into everlasting winter. With her kingdom in peril, it’s up to the younger princess and the friends she meets along the way to end winter, and save her sister.

The folks at Rotten Tomatoes liked the film, rating it at 84%. Between the lovable characters, catchy vocal numbers (written by Tony Award-winning writer Robert Lopez), and gorgeous animation, it’s difficult to say something bad about the film. Box Office Guru estimates its weekend earnings at $45 million.

On a much grimmer note, Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy also opened on Wednesday. This film tells of an ad-man (Josh Brolin) who is suddenly kidnapped and held prisoner for twenty years, and equally suddenly released. Naturally, he’s a little curious as to who did this, so he sets of on an obsessive, often violent quest to find out exactly that.

This film did not fare so well with critics, rating at only 43% on the Tomatometer. The film lacks the punch and depth of the original cult classic, and doesn’t thrill the viewer so much as it confuses them. Accordingly, it can only expect $2 million to $3 million over the weekend.

Also in the darker vein of Wednesday releases was Homefront, written and produced by Sylvester Stallone. Jason Statham stars as a retired DEA agent who settles down in a backwoods bayou with his family after retiring. His choice of location is poor, because in addition to the abundance of hordes of mosquitoes and bloated, lethal reptiles, this bayou is also home to a meth kingpin (James Franco) who forces Statham’s character out of retirement to save the town and his family.

This film received the lowest Tomatometer rating of all the new releases this weekend, a lowly 32%. It is about as formulaic and dull as action-thrillers can get, with nothing in particular to differentiate it from any of the other myriad trite action films. The film is looking at around $8 million over the weekend.

Finally, we have Black Nativity, the film adaptation of Langston Hughes’ famous play. In the film, Baltimore teen Langston (Jacob Latimore) goes to spend the holidays in NYC with his estranged aunt and uncle (Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker, respectively), the latter of which happens to be an austere Reverend. Not finding the accommodations to his liking, Langston heads home to his mom (Jennifer Hudson) on an unexpectedly cathartic journey.

This film fared a little better than this weekend’s more dismal releases, having received a 53% from Rotten Tomatoes. The film doesn’t quite capture the metaphorical depth of Hughes’ original script, and thus falls into the rut of familiar tales about family and faith. This film can expect around $9 million in the way of weekend revenues.

On a side note, the film adaptation of the famous novel, The Book Thief, enters wide release this weekend after three weeks in limited release. The film, narrated by Death, is set in Nazi Germany, where the young, brave Liesel (Sophie Nelisse) saves books and people alike in spite of the danger surrounding her. Rated at 48% for its too-safe treatment of the controversial themes, it can expect only $4 million over the weekend.

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