Your weekend time is valuable and at the end of a long week, the discretionary time must be spent to its maximum value. To help narrow down your choices on the film, television, and gaming fronts, every Friday, the Weekend Preview gives you the rundown of your options and an educated guess as to which ones make the most sense.
At the Movies
Live By Night
Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Chris Messina
Current RT Meter: 32% Rotten
Drew’s box office prediction: $13,000,000
Nicks box office prediction: $9,000,000
My oh my, what a busy schedule we have here. After a few slow weeks, Hollywood is letting loose with a bunch of releases for this cold January weekend. That's good news! The bad news? Well, most of the movies coming out have been met with tepid responses. And that's putting it kindly.
First up is Live By Night, the latest from writer/director/actor/Batman Ben Affleck. Affleck's directorial career has been strong but has also been resulting in diminishing returns. Gone Baby Gone is a damn-near masterpiece and The Town is a strong, character-driven heist film. Argo is well done but not exceptional, despite its awards. And now comes Night, which is the first Affleck picture to receive a majority of poor marks from critics. Reviews say it contains many of the same themes from his previous work but doesn't do it as well. Maybe it's time for Affleck to stake out some new thematic ground and try something different. The moody bad guy with a heart of gold act can only get him so far. Perhaps it's time for him to direct a superhero feature...
The Verdict: After years in purgatory, Affleck has definitely earned the benefit of your doubt but this one seems like it might be a pass unless you've seen all of the other terrific dramas still in theaters.
Director: Peter Berg
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon
Current RT Meter: 79% Fresh
Drew’s box office prediction: $20,000,00
Nicks box office prediction: $26,000,000
Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg really seem to get along well. Patriot's Day, a retelling of the horrific Boston bombing attack, is the third collaboration between the pair. Of all the true-life films they've made together, this is the one that average Americans are most aware of. It's also one that needs to be handled gently and not turned into a jingoistic, cheesy melodrama. Reviews are strong, suggesting Berg nailed the mood, story and emotional gravity of the events.
The Verdict: There's a lot of behind-the-scenes police work we didn't see during the Boston bombing. It was quite a scary and unprecedented event. If you're curious to know more and can handle the gut punch of emotions, this is worth your time.
The Bye Bye Man
Director: Stacy Title
Stars: Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount
Current RT Meter: 23% Rotten
Drew’s box office prediction: $5,000,000
Nicks box office prediction: $8,500,000
The Bye Bye Man is not getting good reviews or much media attention and features very few known stars. However, sometimes people don't care about any of that and are dying to see something that'll make them jump out of their seats. There is a drought of horror right now so The Bye Bye Man will find an audience, albeit a small one. Teens and the horror faithful always turn out for movies like this.
The Verdict: Do you crave jump scares and don't care about the script? Check out The Bye Bye Man if you've got a few hours to kill this weekend.
Director: Baran bo Odar
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Gabrielle Union, Dermot Mulroney
Current RT Meter: No Score Yet
Drew’s box office prediction: $9,000,000
Nicks box office prediction: $11,000,000
Sleepless is a remake of the acclaimed French cop drama. It also stars an Oscar-winning actor. Well, that's a recipe for success, right? Not so fast. Sleepless is hitting theaters in the doldrums of January and hasn't received a single review as of Thursday evening. That's not a good sign. So despite the star and the source material, this one will probably be forgotten quickly.
The Verdict: Do you love Jamie Foxx? Are you a fan of the original French film? Then - and only then - you should buy a ticket.
Director: Chris Wedge
Stars: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper
Current RT Meter: 29% Rotten
Drew’s box office prediction: $10,000,000
Nicks box office prediction: $100,000,000,000,000,006 (Nick's got a lot of faith in this one)
People have been harping on Monster Trucks since the first trailer was released. Sure, it looks silly. After all, it's a kids film about a truck that has a rambunctious, tentacled monster inside it. Those going into Monster Trucks expecting something they'll see at awards season will be sorely disappointed. But for parents who need to distract their kids for a few hours with something simple, loud and dumb in a gentle way, Monster Trucks might not be a bad idea. This movie was never for us so we shouldn't rag on it too much.
The Verdict: I doubt anyone reading this will be even somewhat interested in Monster Trucks. Well, unless they have a small child who is dying to see it.
On the Tube
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix. All episodes streaming Friday)
Based on the morbid young adult book series (and definitely not on the Jim Carrey film), A Series of Unfortunate Events stands a chance to be the Netflix show you talk about for awhile. It's dark, it's bizarre, it involves a mystery and young children in peril - what more could you ask for? Fans of the books have long waited for a faithful and fun adaptation of the series and it seems like Netflix might have nailed it here, at least in tone.
The Verdict: If you're a follower of the book series, this show is a no-brainer. Even if you're not, tune in if you want something moody and bleak in the best way.
The Young Pope (HBO. Sunday, 9PM)
Though it's become something of a (fairly funny) joke online, The Young Pope is bringing the heat. The limited series, starring Jude Law as a...young pope and Diane Keaton as a nun tasked with being his personal secretary has a lot going for it. The plot has been kept relatively under wraps but we know a lot of intrigue and great acting await us. What will the young pope get up to? Will he do sweet skateboard tricks and illegally download music? That's unlikely. But since this is HBO you can bet Law's Pope will commit some morally ambiguous things and look damn good doing it.
The Verdict: Any new show on HBO is worth your time and The Young Pope is no exception. Set your DVR now.
Homeland, Season 6 (Showtime. Sunday, 9PM)
I've never seen an episode of Homeland but I know some people are devoted fans. The show returns for its sixth season this weekend and will include the high-stakes, globe-trotting drama folks have come to expect. Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin return, of course. The show has an extremely complicated plot so this premiere might not be the best time to jump in. But returning fans are probably amped for season six to start.
The Verdict: If you're a fan, you're watching. If you haven't seen previous seasons, maybe you should catch up before starting season six.