They’ve been a long time coming, but Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are reaching the climax with Fifty Shades Freed, opening wide this Friday. And if history is any indication (Grey and Darker are 25% and 10% respectively on the Tomatometer), Freed won’t be hitting the spot with critics, prompting this week’s gallery of the most Rotten movie trilogies ever.

Three of this week’s new releases on home video were recognized by the Academy with Oscar nominations this year, so that’s already a pretty good start. The other three selections include two comedies that earned mixed reactions and one French import featuring some impressive performances, and those are followed by a number of notable rereleases. See below for the full list!



The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

64%

After the success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations, it was impossible not to approach his interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit with high anticipation. When Jackson announced that The Hobbit — a single volume much shorter than the LOTR saga — would also be stretched into a trilogy, however, some fans expressed a bit of concern, and Jackson’s use of the higher frame rate was also met with mixed reactions. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey chronicles the first portion of the tale of young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept up in a journey alongside thirteen dwarves to recapture their kingdom, which has been usurped by a fearsome dragon named Smaug. With Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen, reprising his role from the Rings series) in tow, their quest leads them into perilous encounters with all sorts of creatures, including Gollum (Andy Serkis), whose fate is intimately tied to Bilbo’s. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was an “event movie,” if ever there was one, and while most critics found it both visually spectacular and evident of Jackson’s earnest affection, some also found that its pace was too deliberate and that it ultimately failed to meet the same standard for majesty and wonder that was set so high in Jackson’s previous trilogy. At 65% on the Tomatometer, this is probably still a trip worth taking.



Zero Dark Thirty

91%

Kathryn Bigelow took home a few Oscars for 2008’s The Hurt Locker, and she’s always had a knack for action flicks (“The FBI’s going to pay me to learn to surf?”), so it’s not entirely surprising that her gritty action/procedural about the search for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, garnered five Oscar nods (including Best Picture and Best Actress) of its own. The story follows fledgling CIA operative Maya (Jessica Chastain) over the course of her entire career — which is dedicated to the capture of Osama bin Laden — as she collects intelligence, pursues leads, participates in classified interrogations, and ultimately oversees the mission to raid bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. There was some controversy over the kinds of access that Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (who also wrote The Hurt Locker) were allegedly given to classified records, as well as some grumbling over whether or not the film condoned torture, but the vast majority of critics simply saw a gripping, intelligently crafted film with an eye for detail. Certified Fresh at 93%, it was one of last year’s highest rated wide releases, so if you’re looking for a solid thriller, this one comes highly recommended.



Les Misérables

70%

Victor Hugo’s classic novel of redemption has been adapted several times before on both stage and screen, so it’s tempting to ask, “Is this a story worth revisiting again?” Most critics say yes, as did the Academy when it honored the film with eight Oscar nominations (it won three of them). Anyone who’s taken high school English will be familiar with the tale: Ex-convict Frenchman Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released from prison in 1815 at the end of a 19-year sentence, and after benefiting from an act of kindness by a local bishop, he vows to live an honest life. Thus begins a sprawling historical narrative that follows several characters in Valjean’s life and culminates in the June Rebellion of France in 1832. Directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), Les Misérables received some attention for its actors singing live on set (some better than others), and though its story was familiar, its accomplished cast (including Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway) helped to elevate the film.



This Is 40

51%

Judd Apatow’s been wearing his Producer hat more often lately, but he decided to jump back behind the camera again for This Is 40, the “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up,” as its poster so proudly proclaims. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife) reprise their roles from that previous film as upper-middle-class married couple Pete and Debbie, who both celebrate their 40th birthdays. In the week between Debbie’s actual birthday and Pete’s party, audiences bear witness to the conversations, the arguments, the intimate moments, the public meltdowns, and everything in between that the couple experience with each other and their children (played by Maude and Iris Apatow, they of Judd and Leslie’s loins). Unfortunately, there were a lot of critics who just didn’t find This Is 40 to be a winning effort; while many conceded the film successfully made light of some hard truths, most also felt the story was unfocused and muddled, and that it appealed to too specific an audience.



Rust and Bone

82%

We last heard from French filmmaker Jacques Audiard back in 2010, when his acclaimed film A Prophet was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Though his latest effort, Rust and Bone, failed to make it onto the Oscar list this year, it’s received a number of accolades, particularly for its acting. The film stars Matthias Schoenaerts as unemployed single father and aspiring kickboxer Alain, who moves to Antibes to live with his sister and look for work. After securing a job as a bouncer at a night club, Alain meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a whale trainer at the local marine park who forms a close relationship with Alain when she suffers a tragic accident that results in the amputation of her lower legs. A handful of critics felt Rust and Bone‘s third act could have been a little stronger, but most agreed that both Schoenaerts and Cotillard put in powerful performances here, and that Audiard’s script succeeds in being sensitive without veering into melodrama. Certified Fresh at 81%, it’s an unconventional love story that may move you if you give it a chance.



Bachelorette

57%

Much to the chagrin of its producers, Bachelorette was just about to start shooting when Bridesmaids hit theaters back in 2011, thereby snatching up the “female answer to The Hangover” crown. When it finally opened back in September of last year, however, its makers decided to take a chance and release it on Video On Demand a month ahead of time. The story centers around a group of friends who reunite when one of them (Rebel Wilson) announces she’s getting married. What ensues is a series of mishaps as the bridesmaids (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher) accidentally ruin the wedding dress and attempt to fix the situation, all after having insulted the bride and ingested copious amounts of booze and drugs. Critics were relatively split on Bachelorette; some thought it was funny and well-written by Leslye Headland (who also directed), but others felt the film’s leads were a bit too unlikeable to fully earn the sentimental ending. It might be a risk at 55%, but the cast — which includes Adam Scott, James Marsden, and Ann Dowd — may win you over.

Also available this week:

  • Two choices from the Criterion Collection: Terence Malick’s Badlands (98%) and Powell and Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (95%), now both available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • The HBO original film The Girl, which explores Alfred Hitchcock’s relationship with Tippi Hedren.
  • The 1981 cult favorite sex comedy Porky’s (30%) on Blu-ray.

Bob Clark, director of "A Christmas Story," "Porky’s," and many other works in a career that spanned four decades died in a car crash early this morning in Los Angeles.

The LA Times reports that Clark was driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades when he was hit head-on by a drunk driver at 2:20am. Clark’s 22 year-old son Ariel was also in the car and died.

Clark was a prolific filmmaker whose works spanned four decades; he wrote, produced, and directed films from a wide variety of genres, including "Porky’s" (1982), "A Christmas Story" (1983), the Dolly PartonSylvester Stallone comedy "Rhinestone" (1984), and the more recent "Baby Geniuses" (1999) and "SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2" (2004).

Though his more recent projects tended towards family-oriented comedy and drama, Clark started out in the 1960s and ’70s making independent and horror films like the transvestite dramedy "She-Man" (1967), "Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things" (1972), zombie pic "Deathdream" (1974), and the original "Black Christmas" (1974).

Clark had several projects in the works, including a remake of his "Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things," the spring break-themed comedy "Spring Broke," and the dark comedy "There Goes the Neighborhood."

Clark was 67.

Source: LA Times

If you enjoyed the comedic partnership of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in "Talladega Nights," then you’ll be pleased to learn that Sony has signed both goofballs to co-star in "Step Brothers," which will be co-written by Adam McKay, Ferrell’s partner on "Anchorman" and "Ricky Bobby."

From IGN FilmForce: "Columbia Pictures, the studio behind "Talladega," snapped up the pitch in preemptive deals for the script and its stars’ salaries. McKay and Ferrell will write the script for producers Judd Apatow and Jimmy Miller.

Variety says "Ferrell and Reilly will play coddled guys who live with their respective single parents. Their folks fall in love and marry, making the guys stepbrothers."

Director Bob Clark ("Porky’s," "A Christmas Story") has announced that he will go back to his teen-sex-comedy roots to direct "Spring Broke," which is about three college students who travel to Cancun to get some action.

Some preliminary trailer shooting took place over the weekend in Atlanta, GA (at "The Atrium"). Some celebrities signed onto the project who were reported on set include Gbenga Akinnagbe, star of the upcoming season of HBO’s "The Wire," and Tom Pelphrey, star of CBS’s "Guiding Light."

"Porky’s," which was originally released in 1982, is now being remade by Howard Stern and directed by old-time 80’s director Savage Steve Holland ("Better Off Dead," "One Crazy Summer").

Both films are currently in development and should be released around the same time.

Popular shock-jock Howard Stern ("Private Parts") mentioned several years ago that he was planning to produce a remake of Bob Clark‘s original "Porky’s," and it now looks like the project just might be moving forward: Mr. Stern has partnered with producer Paul Bronfman to bring "Howard Stern’s Porky’s" to the big screen.

Mr. Bronfman indicated that the new screenplay is "on its fifth or sixth draft" — which is probably four more drafts than a remake of "Porky’s" really needs. But with Howard Stern involved, at least we won’t have to worry about the possibility of the new "Porky’s" being rated PG-13.

You know the horror-remake machine is getting a little crazy when a title like "Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things" is being suited up for a revisit, but that’s precisely what writer/director Bob Clark plans to do. Clark’s "Black Christmas" is already being remade by James Wong and Glen Morgan, so remaking his 1973 "Children" only seems the next logical step for the filmmaker.Best known for directing "Porky‘s" and "A Christmas Story," Bob Clark has spent the past few years making the "Baby Geniuses" movies … so maybe a horror remake is actually not that bad of an idea.

The writing/producing/directing team of James Wong and Glen Morgan ("Final Destination," "Willard") has been commissioned to mount a remake of the 1974 cult classic "Black Christmas." Production is scheduled to begin this September, and producer Steve Hoban says "It’s going to be a classic horror film, but it won’t be a gorefest … This is an era of paranoia, so I think the timing could be really good, because this is a film all about paranoia."The original "Black Christmas" was directed by Bob Clark ("Porky’s," "A Christmas Story") and starred Keir Dullea ("2001: A Space Odyssey"), Olivia Hussey ("Romeo and Juliet") and Margot Kidder ("Superman").

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