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New in Theaters Jan. 10: The Legend of Hercules, Lone Survivor, Her

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By Chris Kavan - 01/09/14 at 06:46 AM CT

The box office got off to a chilly start in 2014 and I have a feeling it's not going to get a much better reception going into another week. Two films are going into a wider release following a much more limited opening while a new warrior steps up to see if he can conquer the box office. I have a feeling we're going to experience another bout of deja vu as I don't think any of the films poses a challenge to the current box office champs.

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES Much like last year saw competing "let's blow up the White House" films in Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down - this year we have competing "Let's bring back a mythical figure to kick some ass" in competing Hercules films. First off the starting block is Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz (aka that other guy who is not Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner from the Twilight movies). By everything I have seen - this has "generic fantasy action" film just screaming at the top of its lungs. And sure, Lutz has the look of a half-god - but I don't know if he has the chops to pull off the main character. Director Renny Harlin is no stranger to action (Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2) but he is also the man who directed Cutthroat Island (believed to be one of the biggest bombs in movie history) and he equally as terrible Exorcist: The Beginning. I do not have very high hopes for this film - in fact, I would have to be pretty desperate to even rent this one down the road. As it stands, I would be impressed if it hits $20 million this weekend.

LONE SURVIVOR Gritty military films can turn out to be great (Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, the first half of Full Metal Jacket) or they can turn out to be equally as mediocre (Jarhead, Enemy at the Gates, the second half of Full Metal Jacket). I think Lone Survivor has a chance to be good - but I'm not convinced by the marketing that it will join the "best of" in terms of war movies. Critics agree as it stands at a paltry 57/100 right now - though that could rise (or fall) as it reaches more widely. This is the kind of film my dad would love (he's the real war buff in the family) though it almost looks too depressingly real for my tastes. Granted, I like war movies to be more gritty (which is why Pearl Harbor is such a travesty on so many levels) so as long as they get the characters right and at least make some attempt at depth in terms of that and story, this might turn out to be a win (just don't expect to go home happy).

HER After a few weeks in limited release, the latest from director Spike Jonze goes a bit wider. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a man who is unlucky in love and quite lonely - that is until he gets a new operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and he finds himself falling love with her (it?). Johansson has been earning raves - even awards talk for a supporting role (as just a voice, mind you). All I know is, if I had an operating system designed to meet my every need - she could voice it any time and I would be supremely happy. Jonze is known for his offbeat style - many music videos aside (Beastie Boys Sabotage - anyone?), he has Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and Where the Wild Things Are - are all unique. Her looks to follow in those footsteps - and I have a feeling it will (hopefully) get some awards attention. It sure looks interesting anyway and regardless of how it performs, I'll be watching it some time down the road.

Though this week looks to add some quality to the mix, I still think that Frozen and Smaug still have the steam to power through yet another weekend. We'll see if the might of Hercules can stand up to some true titans and I'll be back on Sunday with the results.


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