Evan Almighty – Sequels are rarely better than their original. Bruce Almighty, starring Jim Carrey, was pretty funny, but Steve Carell stole the few scenes he was in. And when Jim couldn’t decide on being in the follow up(the then titled Bruce 2: The Ark), Steve jumped at the chance.

Carell is the new comedian in town, hot due to the audience favorite 40 Year Old Virgin, the hit TV show “The Office,” and a small role in the Oscar-nominated Little Miss Sunshine. That being said, can he carry this biblical story about a modern-day ark safely to a successful opening weekend?

Universal definitely hopes so. There is a lot riding on this, and not just Carell’s continuing hot streak. The movie cost the studio approximately $175 million to make, making it the most expensive comedy ever. But recent trends are predicting that it could take less than the original at $68 million in its opening weekend and critics are hammering this ark movie as “juvenile” and “a soggy mess.” RottenTomatoes has it at 22% now, and even the good reviews aren’t much of an endorsement.

It may make it’s money back, but we’ll see what Carell fans think of this hokey-looking comedy. It definitely has a lot of competition this weekend, which is packed with a few more serious releases, not to mention his old pals in Knocked Up still hanging around in the top 3.

– Based on a short story by Stephen King, 1408 is about a writer who specializes in debunking the paranormal and finds out he might be wrong while staying in a haunted hotel room. John Cusack plays the writer, Mary McCormack as his wife, and Samuel L. Jackson is the hotel manager. And that’s about it for the cast since he sits in a room by himself most of the film. Jackson, of course gets to say the F-word, but only one time since it’s PG-13.

Some quick trivia. The release date for 1408 was changed earlier this month when a deal switched this with Captivity, after Captivity received a suspension for their horrific billboards. The story this movie is based on was actually just an example Stephen King wrote and intended to revise as an exercise in a writing how-to book. 85% on RottenTomatoes as of when I wrote this. Impressive.

The more I read about this movie, the more I can’t wait to see it. It sounds truly creepy, rather than Hostel/Saw style torture porn or the sudden boo! moments most lame horror movies fall back on. If this is anything at all like The Shining, you will see a flattering review in a few days. But first I’m going to have to shave my back before I make all the hair stand up on it. Attractive, huh?

Angelina Jolie stars in a tribute film honoring the journalist Daniel Pearl who was captured and beheaded in Pakistan in 2002. The movie is shot in a documentary style, much like last year’s September 11th story United 93. Jolie plays Mariane Pearl, his widow, as she deals with the developing news of her husband’s kidnapping.
With a silly comedy and a pyschological horror movie this weekend, adults looking for something of substance might check this out. Reviewers are talking about her performance as one of her best, among a string of amazing roles.

Critics are also applauding the straightforward factual style rather than an exploitation and sensational view. The actors even spent time with their real-life counterparts to get a feel for how the tragedy affected them.

The main story didn’t focus on the international problem this movie highlights, but instead on one of Jolie’s lawyers barring the press from asking about her “personal relationships.” Her representatives denied the claims, but it was sort of news for a while. Brad Pitt produced the film.

Dan Futterman, who played Daniel Pearl on screen, made a comment recently that was interpreted everywhere as “this is his last acting performance.” He has said since that he’s just taking a break. Futterman was nominated for an Oscar last year for his work on Capote.

You Kill Me (limited) – Ben Kingsley stars in this action-thriller comedy about an alcoholic hit man who falls for Laurel (played by the beautiful Tea Leoni). The full synopsis reads like another Grosse Point Blank or even Whole Nine Yards. It’s been a long time since Oscar-winner Kingsley has done anything note-worthy, dating back to ‘93 with Schindler’s List (no one saw House of Sand and Fog, so shut up). The director made Rounders though, so he gets a pass to the next round.

Black Sheep (LA/NY) – Here’s a movie I wasn’t going to mention since it seemed obscure, but people seem to be talking about how funny it is. It’s a New Zealand horror/comedy about sheep run amuck. What’s not funny about killer sheep?

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