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New in Theaters September 28: Looper, Hotel Transylvania and Won't Back Down

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By Chris Kavan - 09/27/12 at 03:27 PM CT

Last week may have improved slightly over the previous week's box office disappointments, but it was still a far cry from last year's returns. It has been tough going recently with the fall looking a lot like the start of 2012, with many weeks of disappointing numbers. However, if there was one week that could bring a turnaround, I have high hopes this weekend, if only because one of the films being released is one I have been anticipating for quite awhile.

LOOPER Rian Johnson impressed me with Brick (also starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a kind of updated noir film set in a high school. When I first heard the concept behind Looper: a hit man for the mob who murders people sent from the future only to come face-to-face with his future self - I was already sold. The cast, Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Paul Dano, Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels (amongst others) also looks solid. The detail that went into this film, especially making Gordon-Levitt look like a younger version of Willis, is pretty amazing. It was not an easy process, that's for sure, and it shows how dedicated they were in making the film. I'm also interested in how they treat time travel, always a tricky subject to tackle. I had high expectations for this film and I'm happy to say that I left satisfied with the end result, even if it had a few flaws.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA It has been over a month since that last animated film, ParaNorman, hit theaters. Now, as September transitions into October, Adam Sandler hopes you're in the mood for some monstrous comedy. If there is one thing that brings me hope for this film, is that it's directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who is a talented animator having worked on The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Dexter's Laboratory and Star Wars Clone Wars Microseries (not to be confused with the ongoing current series). This is his first full-length animated movie. The voices look like a Grown Ups reunion of sorts: not just Sandler, but David Spade, Kevin James and Steve Buscemi all providing voices. Other cast include Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher and CeeLo Green. While I'm not exactly bursting with excitement over the names involved, these people do know comedy. The idea behind the film about a resort for monsters that young man stumbles upon (and falls for Dracula's daughter) has plenty of potential. Yet from all I've seen, I can't imagine this for me as more than a curiosity rental some day. I think the kids will like it, but adults may not be so lucky. It should do decent, if only because it's the only choice for families.

WON'T BACK DOWN In a film that's clearly aiming for the female audience, Won't Back Down has Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis joining forces and taking on the school system to ensure the future of their children from a breakdown in their inner city school. I'm sure the message is very uplifting and do respect the actors involved (see also, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez, Oscar Isaac, Lance Reddick and Ving Rhames) but this looks to be a whole lot of overly-sentimental, rah-rah hoopla about fighting "the man" and bringing about much-needed change. Based on a true story? I'm sure many liberties were taken to make this a much more emotional and powerful journey. Will the women targeted flock to see this? I have a feeling it may have a better chance than I think it should have.

I'm happy to say that this week actually features a movie I'm exited about watching. But time-travel sci-fi films do have somewhat limited appeal. Despite that, the mix of genres this weekend could finally mean we'll have a clear-cut victor and hopefully rise above the painfully low returns we've seen this fall so far. I'll be back on Sunday with the results.


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