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New in Theaters Nov. 1: Ender's Game, Free Birds, Last Vegas

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By Chris Kavan - 10/31/13 at 01:46 PM CT

October is behind us and November enters with some big guns - or at least some big names. You have a quartet of seasoned veterans descending on Sin City - an adolescent sci-fi epic and some animated feathered friends that hope their film isn't a turkey. Gravity may have dominated October (even in the overall month was down compared to 2012) but it looks like November is going to have a lot more competition. And things are going to start off with a bang.

ENDER'S GAME There has been more controversy surrounding this movie - not due to budget concerns, actors involved or directorial vision - but no, it all stems from comments made by the author of Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card. Everyone from Lionsgate to director Gavin Hood to Harrison Ford have defended the film - but, let's face it, nothing anyone says is going to be able to erase the hateful message Card has said about the LGBT community. Even though Card himself has conceded defeat - the fact he is going to reap some profit from this film is enough that many are boycotting the film. I don't agree with Card's views one bit - however, the fact remains Ender's Game is one of my favorite sci-fi novels and, despite the controversy, I am not going to skip this film because of one man's opinion. If other's want to boycott the film - more power to them - but when the controversy overshadows the movie - no one really wins. It remains to be seen if the uproar with have a significant impact on the film - good or bad - the reports have certainly put Ender's Game in the news and rather than driving people away, perhaps it will drive more people in just to see what the fuss is about (despite the fact the book and film have absolutely nothing to do with Card's rhetoric). Although this is squarely aimed at a younger audience (as was the book) - I'm still anticipating it and the fact they have so many talented people on board - Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis - it's shaping up to be worthy of the book. While early reviews have been more average than outstanding - I still think this the movie to beat for the weekend.

LAST VEGAS Usually following a bunch of old farts around on vacation is a bad idea. And as we've seen, at least some old stars haven't been having a good year (I'm looking at you Sly and Arnie). But Last Vegas is a different beast. Instead of guns blazing - we have aching backs and old rivalries - all on the Vegas strip. You have Michael Douglas as Billy - the lone bachelor of this 60-something group. about to get hitched (to a much younger woman - played by Mary Steenburgen) for the first time - so where else to throw your bachelor party but the party capital of America. Along the way are his long-time friends Paddy (Robert DeNiro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline). Just those actors alone are enough for me to take notice. Although good actors alone don't necessarily mean the movie is going to be a home run (I'm thinking of the somewhat underwhelming Stand Up Guys) - the trailers make this out to be a fun romp with some seasoned veterans. The fact this is the first time these well-known thespians have worked together makes it all the more fun. While I think this will attract a more modest crowd, I would love to see this at home just to see how the actors play off one another - and what kind of trouble they get into.

FREE BIRDS Finally we have a movie targeting a much different audience - the family crowd. With Cloudy and a Chance of Meatballs 2 entering its sixth weekend in theaters (and enjoying a mildly successful run) - it's high time we saw another film enter the picture. I admit, I haven't heard much about Free Birds - the marketing has been under the radar for the most part - but I know it has a lot of interesting choices: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Colm Meaney and Keith David are all on board. The story sounds ridiculous but perfect for a young crowed: a pair of turkeys with nothing in common must work together and go back in time to change history and keep turkey off the menu for Thanksgiving. Absurd - and yet it make perfect sense. But I have a feeling this is going to be a sub-par offering at best. It might have a week or two of decent returns but with Frozen on the way - it will be largely forgotten and I doubt this will become a holiday favorite.

With a trio of new offerings, there is no shortage of choice at the box office. Ender's Game should win the weekend handily I suspect, but we'll see if any of that negative publicity will affect the outcome. I'll be back Sunday with the final results.


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