Out in cinemas this week: A family comedy about a heroic blue alien who believes his own press releases, only to need help from his nerdy science whiz brother during a dangerous visit to Earth; and a paranormal southern-fried romance released just in time for Valentine's Day.
Escape from Planet Earth (2013)
Of course, the presence of blue aliens and a Planet Bob (er, Baab) may remind you of more sophisticated computer animation, but this family feature, emerging from more than five years of development hell at The Weinstein Company, will now more likely remind audiences of Planet 51 and of the more envelope-pushing animation that's come out since then.
The story: The story takes place on planet Baab where admired astronaut Scorch Supernova is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy brother, Gary, head of mission control at BASA.
Starring: Brendan Fraser (Scorch Supernova), Rob Corddry (Gary Supernova), Ricky Gervais (Mr. James Bing), Jonathan Morgan Heit (Kip Supernova), Jessica Alba (Lena Thackleman), Sofía Vergara (Gabby Babblebrock), Paul Scheer (Cameraman), Jason Simpson (Barry), Sarah Jessica Parker (Kira Supernova).
Directed by: Callan Brunker.
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Billed as a supernatural love story, this adaptation of a well received teen-oriented novel by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (which was atmospheric enough to have also been made into a manga) features an interestingly fresh cast including the breakout star of Coppola's Tetro. Meanwhile, the casually inattentive have been confusing this movie with the quirky 2000 thriller of the same name, of which it is not a remake, or, in my case, Peter Jackson's 1994 Heavenly Creatures--both of which, weirdly, involve pairs of women with a slippery understanding of what's happening to them. The writer-director here, Richard LaGravenese, has a long history of carefully constructed lush romance (his latest credit as both writer and director is P.S. I Love You, but his previous adapted screenplays include A Little Princess, The Bridges of Madison Country, The Horse Whisperer, etc., etc.).
The story: Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich (Ethan Wate), Alice Englert (Lena Duchannes), Jeremy Irons (Macon Ravenwood), Viola Davis (Amma), Emmy Rossum (Ridley Duchannes), Thomas Mann (Link), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Lincoln/Sarafine), Eileen Atkins (Gramma), Margo Martindale (Aunt Del).
Directed by: Richard LaGravenese.