Friday movie roundup – Sept. 14

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Three wide releases this weekend, one better than expected, one worse than expected, and one not screened for critics but featuring dragons as its main characters (!)

The better-than-expected is “Mr. Woodcock,” which — make no mistake — is still not a great movie. But its physical humor is surprisingly well done, and that thing Billy Bob Thornton does where he hates kids and says mean, sarcastic things — well, that’s always funny. Just like “Yakety Sax.”

Not as good as it should have been is the Jodie Foster vigilante drama “The Brave One,” which has some conflicting messages and tries to be both a crowd-pleaser and a cautionary tale. My review of that film is at

And the one about dragons is “Dragon Wars,” a Korean-made (but English-speaking and American-cast) fantasy flick about, um, dragon wars. These wars take place in our modern cities, so you can imagine what kind of hassle that is.

Speaking of which, the other night I saw the trailer for Will Smith’s “I Am Legend,” which looks awesome. It begins with scenes of bombs dropping on New York City, destroying the Brooklyn Bridge, among other things. All well and good … except that it happened to be Sept. 11 that we were watching this trailer. But what can you do? If we stop making movies in which terrorists or aliens or dragons destroy our metropolises, then the terrorists, aliens, and dragons have won.

This weekend is so-so, but there are some truly excellent films coming out in the next couple of weeks: “The Kingdom,” “In the Valley of Elah,” and “Eastern Promises.” I look forward to telling you about them when the time comes.