The Popcorn Preview: Oct 23

Another week, another batch of movies. This week in particular offers an early look at Halloween, as well as a few movies desperately seeking Oscar. But which movies are actually worth seeing? And which movies you should avoid like the plague?

The Last Witch Hunter

What It's About: Vin Diesel steps outside his comfort zone (aka the Fast and Furious franchise) to play — you guessed it — a witch hunter who must hunt down and kill the evil witch who cursed him with immortality after she's resurrected from the dead by her followers. If he doesn't, all of humanity will die from a horrific plague, or something dramatic like that. Joining Diesel along for the ride are Elijah Wood and, perhaps most depressingly, Michael Caine, whose two Academy Awards are nervously making room for a potential Razzie. There's also Rose Leslie, who apparently plays a good witch of sorts. If you haven't heard of her before The Last Witch Hunter, odds are you're probably not going to hear about her after.

Should You See It?: In a word, No. Even the biggest Vin Diesel fans out there (do they even exist?) should know better than to spend $15 bucks on a movie about a bulky witch hunter. Don't believe us? Well, take a look at a review from Time Out, who referred to the movie as an "ugly, idiotic mess." You're better off seeing one of the many movies playing in theaters that will actually keep your brain cells in tact. Honestly, you're even better off just staying at home. Sorry, Vin.

Steve Jobs (Wide Release)

What It's About: Director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin take everything from the Ashton Kutcher vehicle, Jobs, and pretty much do the exact opposite. For starters: they cast an actor who, you know, can actually act (Michael Fassbender) to play the polarizing technical genius who created the many computers and phones we know and love today. The film is told in three acts that cover the most pivotal moments in Jobs' career. Some critics are saying the set-up is brilliant; others say it's incomplete. Either way, if you're currently reading this article on a mobile device, the movie will probably speak to you at least on some kind of level.

Should You See It?: Of course! The film will inevitably be a key player at the Oscars next year, especially Fassbender, who earned rave reviews for his performance. It also features fine supporting work from another Oscar-bound star, Kate Winslet, who's turning in her first legitimate work since, oh God, we can't even remember when; and Seth Rogen, aka the new Jonah Hill, aka the new "Wait, that guy can actually act." As an added bonus: Zooey Deschanel and her stupid banter with Siri are nowhere to be found.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

What It's About: This movie franchise has gotten so lazy that most sites have reduced its plot to a single sentence. Here's what we've surmised after suffering through the film's trailer: two brotastic brothers discover a bunch of creepy old VHS tapes left by a previous homeowner. The tapes come to life and wreak havoc on their family, causing a bunch of chaos and moderately scary scenes that were done 50 times better in the franchise's four previous incarnations. Fine, maybe two. Oh, and it's in 3D, so it'll cost you even more money to see it.

Should You See It?: Halloween (1978). Psycho (1961). The Exorcist (1973). The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Scream (1995). The Shining (1980). Poltergeist (1982). Misery (1990). A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Alien (1979). The Fly (1986). Nosferatu (1922). We just gave you a dozen movies that are way, way, way scarier and way, way, way more worth your time than any movie released in the last five years with the brand Paranormal Activity attached to it. Get yourself over to Netflix and start renting.

Rock The Kasbah

What It's About: There are people out there who will tell you that Bill Murray can do no wrong. Well, let's see what they say after they see Rock the Kasbah. In it, Murray plays a down-on-his-luck rock manager named Richie who decides to chance it all by hooking up his secretary (Zooey Deschanel) with a USO tour gig in Afghanistan. As with most things co-starring Zooey Deschanel, things go horribly wrong: The secretary steals Richie's stuff and Richie quickly finds himself stranded in Kabul. His only hope: a brilliant young singer whom Richie unexpectedly meets and — OMG, why are we still explaining this movie's plot? — tries to get on Afghanistan's version of American Idol. How does it go? Honestly, we couldn't care less.

Should You See It?: Let's be honest: even FOX knew when to pull the plug on the sinking ship that is American Idol. Odds are, any movie involving a televised singing competition isn't going to fare any better, especially not when it features a cameo by Kate Hudson. If you're really, really desperate for a Bill Murray fix this weekend, rent Scrooged (1988). It was co-written by Rock the Kasbah's scribe, Mitch Glazer, and it's about a million times better.


What It's About: Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan leads an all-star cast in this telling of the pivotal and often violent women's suffrage movement that took place in England during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep are among the a-listers who help Mulligan lead the cause. Streep's allegedly only in the movie for a handful of minutes — but watch her win an Oscar, anyway.

Should You See It?: File this one under "Maybe." We're all for movies that portray major moments in women's history, and we'd do anything to see esteemed actresses like Carey Mulligan star in major movies. But Suffragette is getting the kind of mixed reviews from critics that make it sound like the kind of movie that takes four days to finish on Netflix, all because it kept putting you to sleep. Your best bet would be to wait to see if it gets any Oscar nominations. In the meantime, you're better off seeing a movie with legitimate awards buzz.

Jem And The Holograms

What It's About: Remember the '80s animated musical series Jem and the Holograms? Well, someone in Hollywood had the bright idea to take that obscure show and turn it into a big — and presumably expensive — major motion picture. Cue the sound of money being flushed down every goddamn toilet in Los Angeles.

Should You See It?: Are you kidding us? No. No, no, no. No!! We can't think of a single reason to see it. Sure, it was a cute show back in the day. But as so many fans learned over the last few years, nostalgic revivals rarely work. In fact, they only tend to do more harm than good. See: Arrested Development season 4; Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer; and, hell, we can probably add Netflix's Gilmore Girls to the list already. Plus, Jem and the Holograms doesn't even have any recognizable names attached to it beyond Juliette Lewis, and she's not even in the band. Sorry, musical lovers. But Pitch Perfect, this ain't.