New in Theaters: 'Wolf of Wall Street,' '47 Ronin,' 'Secret Life of Walter Mitty,' 'Grudge Match,' 'Justin Bieber's Believe'

47 Ronin

This Christmas, the theaters were absolutely inundated with new releases—five movies opened last Wednesday, and unfortunately, only one of them wowed critics enough to be deemed passable. Given the less-than-spectacular reception of these releases, it’s entirely possible that this year’s installment in The Hobbit trilogy will continue to pull in the highest earnings three weeks in a row, just as it did last Christmas.

The best of this week’s new releases is The Wolf of Wall Street, the latest from the great Martin Scorsese. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jordan Belfort, an ambitious stockbroker who quickly ascends the corporate ladder through means both legal and otherwise, slowly transforming from the epitome of the American dream to an embodiment of all that’s despicable about American culture.

The folks at Rotten Tomatoes were fairly impressed with this film, rating it at 77%. While some were unimpressed with Scorsese’s commentary and fascination with corporate crime, most are applauding the combination of Scorsese’s premise and DiCaprio’s interpretation of Belfort. According to Box Office Guru, the film can expect around $22 million over the weekend.

Our next release, 47 Ronin, follows an entirely different vein, as it retells an ancient Japanese tale about an outcast, Kai (Keanu Reeves), who joins a band of 47 samurai led by a man named Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada) as they seek to avenge the death of their master.

This was the poorest-rated film of the week (given that there’s also a documentary about Justin Bieber coming out, this is rather sad), with a Tomatometer rating of only 12%. The cast, which could have been better utilized, are pinioned by a lackluster script with zero character development. Ultimately, the film is a wasted opportunity, and can only expect $9 million at the box office this weekend.

Switching gears yet again, we also have a sort of dramatic comedy in the form of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Ben Stiller stars and directs a whimsical tale of a man who escapes the daily grind by indulging in fairy tale-esque fantasies and daydreams (think Brazil, but without the totalitarian society) until he embarks on a real-world adventure to save his job, along with that of his co-worker, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig).

This film didn’t miss the mark quite so badly as 47 Ronin, managing a 47% on the Tomatometer. The film is just a little too ambitious in its scope, and it doesn’t have quite enough substance to fill out its grand concept. This film may open to $13 million this weekend.

Let’s return to the world of dark, gritty films with Grudge Match, the latest from aging action heroes who won’t (or can’t) do anything else. Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one final, epic showdown—however, their match becomes a viral joke, and social media blows it out of proportion until it’s the must-see event of the season.

This film was also hit pretty hard by critics, who gave it a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. Intended as a tongue-in-cheek homage to Rocky and Raging Bull, the film is so badly done that it ends up as a twisted mockery of these films, and is hardly worth watching. Accordingly, it may only earn around $13 million this weekend.

Joining this onslaught of releases is a documentary on what may be the decade’s most despicable, spoiled pop culture icon, Justin Bieber’s Believe. The film takes the “there’s more to this person than the headlines” approach, detailing his meteoric rise to fame and his maturation (ha) under the scrutiny of the public eye; as to whether this covers getting thrown out of chain stores, publically cursing other musicians, or spitting on his fans remains to be seen.

Surprisingly, the film managed a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics say that, for the kind of film that it is, it’s not bad; most agree that this isn’t so much a documentary as it is “damage control” for the pop star’s recent abominable behavior. Still, it might manage to pull in a small pile of $6 million over the weekend.

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