Weekend Openings: Batman, Bondage, Sequels and Spin-offs

fifty shades darker

This weekend more or less sums up Hollywood these days. All of the major new releases are either sequels or spin-offs. Originality at its finest, right? At least one of these has Batman in it, since the one with supposedly hot sex is a real dud. Alas, here are the films hitting theaters near you this weekend:

Best Bet This Week

The LEGO Batman Movie” (Warner Brothers)

This spin-off is a real delight. Sequels usually underwhelm, but this hybrid does not, as seen in our rave review on the site. Will Arnett‘s scene-stealing Batman from “The LEGO Movie” gets his own feature and it’s a joy. Fans of both properties will get a real kick out of this one. It’s easily one of 2017’s best so far. Damning with faint praise? Perhaps. Regardless, it gets more about the hero right than some recent big budget, live-action outings. All in all, it’s a home run and should be a massive success for Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 95%
Oscar Hopes – A potential player in Best Animated Feature
Screen Count – 4,000+ Screens

Also Opening of Note

“Fifty Shades Darker” (Universal)

Bad pornography gets an inevitable sequel with this erotic drama. We knew two sequels to “Fifty Shades of Grey” were coming, and this one ends with a trailer for the final one. Sadly, this installment might even be worse than the last one. It has perhaps the worst non-porn script in literally years. Dakota Johnson still gives it her all, while Jamie Dornan still seems for all the world like a serial killer. Furthermore, there’s almost no story here, indulging in the worst qualities of a trilogy’s middle chapter. If nothing else, James Foley gets to direct again. Too bad it’s in real dreck like this.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 12%
Oscar Hopes – Best Original Song might actually be a possibility
Screen Count – 3,700 Screens

“John Wick: Chapter Two” (Lionsgate/Summit)

This unlikely sequel to the surprise hit Keanu Reeves vehicle is the least craven of the follow-ups this weekend. It legitimately only exists because fans wanted it. Nobody expected “John Wick” to catch on like it did, but now there’s a full-fledged franchise at hand. With this one getting incredibly strong reviews, expect this reluctant hitman to be kicking ass and taking names for many more years to come.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 96%
Oscar Hopes – Unlikely
Screen Count – 2,900 Screens

“A United Kingdom” (Fox Searchlight)

Initially a 2016 awards hopeful, this true life dramatic romance was delayed into 2017. Not being one of this weekend’s sequels is an asset, as is its cast. David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star and while they likely won’t be getting Oscar attention this time around, there’s apparently no lack of quality here. This was just a situation where a studio simply made a choice, backing away from overt Academy Award competition.

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 86%
Oscar Hopes – We’ll have to wait and see
Screen Count – 4 Screens (Platform Release)

The Rest

“2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films” (N/A)
“Don’t Hang Up” (Vertical Entertainment)
“Duckweed” (China Lion)
“Havenhurst” (Brainstorm Media)
“Kedi” (Oscilloscope Pictures)
“Land of Mine” (Sony Pictures Classics)

What will you be watching at the movies this weekend? Discuss it in the comments below!