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New in Theaters September 26: The Equalizer, The Boxtrolls

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By Chris Kavan - 09/25/14 at 06:45 AM CT

Finally last weekend gave us a spark for the month of September as The Maze Runner bucked the YA trend by having an above-average opening and giving a much-needed boost to the month. This weekend hopes to continue the upward swing as a family-friendly animated tale and dark, gritty crime drama look to make their own (hopefully) impressive debuts. While the newcomers may have a tough time matching Maze Runner, it still looks a lot better than what opened the month.

THE EQUALIZER Last week, Liam Neeson's Walk Among the Tombstones gave off a mighty whimper compared to his past endeavors. Now, on the surface The Equalizer looks like it could fall into the same trap - it's dark, R-rated and violent. However, The Equalizer has two big things going for it: director Antoine Fuqua and actor Denzel Washington. This is the same duo that gave us Training Day - and if The Equalizer can match that film in any terms (and from the trailers I have seen, it looks like it's trying mighty hard) then it could bring in a decent crowd. However, early reviews have this pointing more toward the rather over-the-top nature of Olympus Has Fallen as compared to the hard-hitting drama of Training Day. You also have to remember this is based on an 80s action television show - an odd choice for a adaption. The story is familiar - Washington plays a former agent of some sort who thinks he has left that life behind. But a chance encounter with a young girl - a prostitute controlled by the Russian mob - puts him back into the game - and up against some very dangerous people. It's a story that has been told before but the supporting cast looks solid - ChloŽ Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman and Marton Csokas are all along for this ride. Even if the movie turns out to be a bit less gripping than it should, Washington is a big draw and hopefully Equalizer will turn out a bit better than the disappointing return for Tombstones.

THE BOXTROLLS On the complete opposite end of the spectrum for the weekend, The Boxtrolls becomes the first animated film to hit theaters since Planes 2 back in July. It was a notably underwhelming year for animated films over the summer with even the best of the bunch (How to Train Your Dragon 2) falling short of expectations. So what will the fall/winter bring? The first offering is going to be The Boxtrolls, from the same studio that brought us Coraline and ParaNorman. The animation style is certainly the same - though this doesn't look nearly as dark as the previous two films. In fact, it looks like a lot of fun - and the vocal talent also looks good - Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Tracy Morgan, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg and Richard Ayoade are all on board for this one. The question remains whether the unique animation, rather British-leaning story and the fact that school has started is going to affect the returns. The best thing going for it is that, other than the live-action Dolphin Tale 2, there really isn't much targeting the family audience right now. So Boxtrolls may score a win for simple lack of any compelling competition.

The weekend might not bring as much action as The Maze Runner scared up - and it will be interesting to see how it fared after the YA crowd has died down - but it shouldn't be a complete failure, either. Hopefully people are in the mood for animation and crime dramas - we'll find out come Sunday.


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