Notable new releases and events
The symbol indicates titles of unusual interest, quality, and/or critical acclaim.
If Fox is pinning its midseason hopes on new drama The Following (Monday, 9p), it's unfortunate that it's not a better show. Certainly the most high profile (and most promoted) freshman series on the suddenly struggling network's 2012-13 schedule, this dark and violent drama was created by Kevin Williamson (Scream, The Vampire Diaries) and marks the first regular series television role for Kevin Bacon. He plays a former FBI agent drawn back into duty when the notorious serial killer (Rome's James Purefoy) he once captured escapes from death row and begins a new killing spree. Natalie Zea (Justified), Annie Parisse (Law & Order), and Marin Ireland round out the cast. While some critics are definitely on board, others find the writing too weak or the violence too gratuitous to make for compelling TV.
Also debuting this week is Spartacus: War of the Damned (Friday, 9p), the final season of the Starz costume drama. This concluding 10-episode run picks up with Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) now commanding nearly 30,000 men after a series of military victories has boosted his stature. Meanwhile, ABC's new cooking competition The Taste (Tuesday, 8p) lies somewhere in between The Voice and Top Chef; professional chefs will compete against home cooks, and the judges (including Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, and Ludo Lefebvre) will not know who cooked which dish until after they eliminate the loser.
The Japanese RPG Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3 exclusive) finally arrives in North America on Tuesday, and critics are impressed—not a surprise, given that the game is a collaboration between Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli (the animation house behind such acclaimed films as Spirited Away) and game developers Level 5 (creators of the Professor Layton series). The story follows an orphaned young boy who enters a magical parallel universe where his mother may still be alive, and the visuals are especially strong.
Also out this week is the downloadable title The Cave (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U), a puzzle/adventure game from Double Fine Productions. The game comes from the mind of Ron Gilbert, best known for Maniac Mansion and the Monkey Island games, and asks up to three players to explore a magical talking cave filled with a subterranean amusement park, a nuclear missile, and plenty of other mysteries.
In yet another unsurprisingly unexciting January movie week, Friday's Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is the least underwhelming new release. One of several adult-oriented fairy tale projects due this year (see also: Jack the Giant Slayer), the new film plays the Hansel and Gretel story as an R-rated horror-comedy-adventure, with the action picking up 15 years after the events you read about as a child; the siblings (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) are now a bounty-hunting tandem hired to target an evil sorceress (Famke Janssen). (For some reason, they have modern weaponry.) The film was originally set for a March 2012 release, but was delayed in the (possibly misguided) hope that Renner would become a bigger star in the interim.
Also opening Friday is Parker, a thriller starring Jason Statham as a professional thief; Taylor Hackford (Ray) directs, and it's based on the novel Flashfire by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake). The Peter Farrelly-backed Movie 43 (that's the title, not the Metascore—at least, not yet) is a dozen short movies in one, though all of them look to be juvenile and offensive R-rated comedies. The absolutely enormous ensemble includes nearly everyone working in Hollywood today, plus Snooki. This week's most notable limited release is John Dies at the End, a dark horror comedy from Beastmaster director Don Coscarelli, based on David Wong's novel of the same name. Watch trailers for all three of these films below:
Tuesday's key DVD/Blu-ray releases include the Oscar-nominated music documentary Searching for Sugar Man, the divisive Lee Daniels pulp thriller The Paperboy, and the L.A. cop drama End of Watch. Check our DVD Release Calendar for a full list of this week's new releases.
In a slow week for major album releases, the most prominent title is the double live album 12-12-12 The Concert for Sandy Relief, recorded during last month's star-studded Hurricane Sandy benefit. Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, The Who, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, and Bon Jovi are just some of the artists appearing on the album, which was previously available through iTunes. Anyone who watched the concert will likely wonder why the best moments (Kanye West, a Nirvana reunion with McCartney) aren't included on the CDs, but the proceeds do benefit the Robin Hood Relief Fund.
Also out Tuesday is True North, Bad Religion's 16th studio LP, and the entire album is streaming right now on YouTube. A mere 15 albums behind Bad Religion, fellow Los Angeles punks FIDLAR release their self-titled debut this week. Also out this week are Anything in Return by Toro Y Moi (aka producer Chazwick Bundrick), and We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, the second album from Jagjaguwar-signed singer-songwriter duo Foxygen. Those last three albums are all streaming at Pitchfork, but only through Monday.
Closing the book on last week
|Most Popular Title on Metacritic|
|DmC: Devil May Cry (360) 86||Week of 1/13-1/19|
|Weekend Box Office Champion (Estimated, U.S. only; source: Boxofficemojo.com)|
|Mama 58||$28.1 million; 1st week at #1|
|#1 Album on Billboard 200 (Source: Billboard.com/Nielsen SoundScan)|
|Chris Tomlin: Burning Lights||1st week at #1|
|Top-Rated Primetime Broadcast Show (Source: Nielsen)|
|NFL Playoffs (Fox)||30.9 million viewers; week of 1/7-1/13|