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New in Theaters October 23: Steve Jobs, Rock the Kasbah, Ghost Dimension, Last Witch Hunter, Jem

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By Chris Kavan - 10/22/15 at 06:56 AM CT

So many movies are coming out this weekend and I had to get creative to fit them all on the blog title (and I think I mostly succeeded). From Oscar hopefuls to Dwayne Johnson smacking down witches to Bill Murray finding humor (and singing) in Afghanistan - if you want to be pulled in five different directions this weekend, things are about to get very interesting. Granted, I think Steve Jobs is going to be the film to beat, but it surely will not want for lack of competition.

STEVE JOBS One of my more anticipated films out of the current batch of Oscar contenders, Steve Jobs has done gangbusters in limited release thus far (including scoring the biggest per-theater-average of the year in just four theaters). Why am I so interested? First up, you have director Danny Boyle - no stranger to Oscars (Slumdog Millionaire) and you have him paired with writer Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball) along with a premiere cast led by Michael Fassbender (who just seems damn good in whatever he does). All told, it seems like a perfect storm for success and the rest of the cast looks great too - Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen (in a non-stoner roll - mostly, I think), Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg and Katherine Waterston among others. If this isn't up for all the major awards, I would be surprised as Hollywood loves biopics and hipsters love Steve Jobs. Even if the movie portrays him in a less-than-stellar light, that is the man - warts and all - and by all accounts Jobs was kind of jerk (to put it mildly) to other people. Maybe this one will win out where The Social Network got robbed. I may not see it opening weekend, but I will see it in theaters for sure.

ROCK THE KASBAH Bill Murray seems to be pretty picky when it comes to movies (Garfield non-withstanding) and thus his projects are few and far between. Rock the Kasbah is the biggest gamble this weekend as it could sink or swim depending on your love of Murray and the premise of finding talented singers in Afghanistan (and the wacky culture clash that ensues). My only hope is that they don't go overboard with the idea and further make Muslims hate us because of our insensitivity - hey, at least this hasn't got threats like The Interview. Essentially we follow Murray, a washed-up music manager, in Afghanistan seeking out talent for a local American Idol-like singing competition. Murray looks like he's in his element from the trailers I've seen and he does have a good supporting cast from the likes of Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, Danny McBride and Scott Caan and newcomer Leem Lubany, who has the talented singing voice to take her to the top. Depending on how it deals with the locals and the country as a whole, this could either be excellent (and hilarious) social commentary or the opposite - let's hope Murray made the right choice this time out.

THE LAST WITCH HUNTER One of two films looking to capitalize on the Halloween crowd (along with Goosebumps and the largely forgotten Crimson Peak), The Last Witch hunter is more of an action film than outright horror. Vin "roleplaying for real" Diesel plays the last man of an ancient order who hunt down witches. Cursed with immortality (yes, cursed - living forever isn't all it's cracked up to be), Kaulder watches as his order dwindles until he alone survives to hunt down rogue witches. But the Witch Queen, long thought vanquished, returns with a plan to doom all of humanity. Seems like a mix between Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters and Diesel's penchant for silent but deadly kilelrs (ala Pitch Black). But, hey, at least the man gets to live out his roleplaying fantasies - as a die hard D&D fan, I think that's great. I have a feeling this isn't going to do great business (maybe along the lines of Dwayne Johnson's Hercules film) but it does look like fun. A solid streaming choice for me.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION On the other hand, we have the more traditional Halloween film, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. Frankly, the Paranormal Activity series has ran its course. I think the only reason they continue is because the movies cost little and earning a profit is an easy venture. But the last film, The Marked Ones, barely cracked $30 million - and the on before than was just $53 million - still, both of those made money, so why not continue to crank out more? The gimmick this time is a special camera that can see into the "Ghost Dimension" - and creepy things immediately appear - shadows that move, etc. etc. The mythology in this series is far too convoluted for its own good with cults and demons and even time travel. But it is the right season, so I suspect this could very well do better than the last film and lead to yet more Paranormal Activity films. Also, it's being released in 3D (surprisingly the first time for this series), so that may bump it up a bit too. Not anticipating this one at all, but it has the benefit of its October opening so may show up on opening weekend but will surely fall fast and hard afterwards.

JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS I saved the best for last - and by best, I mean, so bad it must be good, right? Jem and the Holograms. Based on the 80s animated program, this version seems to share very little with the show (other than the name). It still follows a group of girls who become famous - but only because the personas they present are not their own and have to come to terms with being who they are or who everyone else wants them to be. It looks like its going for female empowerment but every fiber of my being thinks this looks just awful. I could be wrong, maybe Jem will be a film for the ages and define a new era of women in entertainment - or maybe it will be the train wreck I'm anticipating. Eh, it has Chris Pratt, Alicia Keys and Dwayne Johnson in it - as themselves - so it can't be all bad. Just like 98% bad. At least that is my prediction.

The weekend is sure about to get even more crowded. I would say the race is going to come down to the highbrown adults who lineup for Steve Jobs and the horror offerings from Last Witch Hunter and Paranormal Activity. We'll see which audience claims the crown once Sunday rolls around.


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