New releases are still light on the ground this early in the year, but a few notable films make their debuts this week, including: Elmore Leonard‘s Western 3:10 to Yuma, the dramatic sci-fi movie Sunshine from director Danny Boyle, the intense melodrama After The Wedding, plus a few re-releases and new television seasons on DVD.
3:10 to Yuma
Christian Bale seems to adapt to any role he takes on, but there’s something remarkable about about his transformation for this Western. In 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of the 1957 film based on the Elmore Leonard story, Bale is Dan Evans, a rancher who is struggling to take care of his family. When the outlaw Ben Wade, played by Russell Crowe, has to be escorted to the train that will take him to prison, Dan volunteers for the job but few others will join in for fear of Ben’s gang coming for them. What follows is a wild, dangerous ride and a test of Dan’s resolve and ingenuity.
While 3:10 to Yuma is primarily a Western, the film received a lot of praise for the way it also incorporates modern action into the story, and manages to do it without wrecking the style of the film. The film also benefits greatly from the pairing of Bale and Crowe, two very strong actors, as archetypal symbols of good versus evil.
What also makes the film interesting is the idea that, perhaps, we’re overdue for a new wave of great Westerns. As critic Richard Schickel of Time Magazine said in his review, “When a movie is as entertaining as this one, you begin to think this formerly beloved genre is due for a revival.”
Director Danny Boyle, well-known for his films 28 Days Later and Trainspotting, makes his science fiction debut with the film Sunshine, and once again he brings actor Cillian Murphy along for the ride.
Set in the not-too-distant future, Sunshine is the story of a group of people sent into space with a device that will re-ignite the sun after it begins to die. With Earth already freezing, and one mission failed before it, this is humanity’s only hope, but as the crew gets closer to their objective, things start to go very wrong.
Compared primarily to smart and stylish science fiction like 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film is a clever mix of sci-fi, drama, and thrills. Overall reviews are very positive for Sunshine, with Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter calling Sunshine “an extraordinary film, operating simultaneously at visceral, psychological and spiritual levels.”
After the Wedding
Writer and director Susanne Bier delivers a melodramatic gem in her film After the Wedding. Mads Mikkelsen, who you might recall as the villain from the last James Bond movie Casino Royale, stars as Jacob – a man who runs an orphanage, but needs help to keep it open. When a businessman offers to save the orphanage, demands are made of Jacob that lead to family secrets and revelations about the past.
Also arriving on DVD this week are a few re-releases, including David Fincher thriller Zodiac: The Director’s Cut, a highly-rated film from 2007 that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as puzzle fanatic who helps solve the mystery of a serial killer. Plus a two-disc edition of the documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, which takes a look at why metal music fans are so fanatical, while also exploring topics of religion, violence, and death in the music culture.
This week you can also pick up new television season on DVD, with the first season of the 80s family comedy Growing Pains, the fourth season of The Dukes of Hazzard, season two of Two and a Half Men, and the first season of the soap Knots Landing.