Weekend Movie Guide 12/16: Corman's Impossible World of Ghost Shadows

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Good movies, bad movies, his are the ones with the guns! | Roger Corman courtesy American International Pictures

Warner's blowing up the promotion for next summer's The Dark Knight Rises! As with The Dark Knight, an exclusive prologue opens this weekend in select IMAX theaters, four of which are in & around LA. Just as The Dark Knight's prologue introduced us to Heath Ledger's Joker, this footage is said to offer a first look at Tom Hardy's Bane. As a bonus, The Dark Knight Rises even includes a second feature, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol!

In all seriousness, it's easy to bag on Tom Cruise for his past theatrics, but he's wisely kept his antics on-screen for Ghost Protocol. Cruise's partners in protocol are Paula Patton (the teacher from Precious), Simon Pegg & Jeremy Renner, and in a fun parallel to next week's Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Michael Nyqvist (who played investigative reporter "Kalle Fucking Bloomquist" in the original Swedish film) goes under wraps as a double-crossing Russian antagonist. The last Mission Impossible film was a laboratory of sorts for director JJ Abrams (it was his first feature film), and Ghost Protocol continues this tradition. This time, animation wunderkind Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) makes his live-action debut. Bird shot large portions of the film with IMAX cameras, and this weekend's opening is an IMAX-exclusive run (the film opens wide next Wednesday). In a nod to the Mission Impossible franchise's origins (& the continuing involvement of Abrams in its future), TV writers Josh Appelbaum & André Nemec (both of Alias) scale up to the big screen for the script.

The Dragon connection continues in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Noomi Rapace (the original Girl herself) joins Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law for the blockbuster sequel. The dynamic duo aren't the only 2009 alumni. Director Guy Ritchie returns, as does James Herbert (Ritchie's collaborator in the editing bay), Academy Award-winning cinematographer Philippe Rousselot (A River Runs Through It), composer Hans Zimmer & producers Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey & Dan Lin. In addition to Rapace, fresh faces include British comedian extraordinaire Stephen Fry as Holmes' brother Mycroft & Jared Harris (Mad Men) as his intellectual equal, the arch-villain Moriarty.

After 60+ years in the business, Roger Corman remains a true independent, whose b-movie revolutions brought American film kicking & screaming into new eras. The writer-director-producer-author-businessman extraordinaire is responsible for literally hundreds of films (including the original Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000 & Piranha), but Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel is the first documentary devoted exclusively to his legacy. Those paying tribute are an even mix of those whose careers Corman launched, including David Carradine (Death Race 2000), Robert De Niro (Bloody Mama), Bruce Dern (The Wild Angels), Pam Grier (The Big Doll House), Ron Howard (Grand Theft Auto), Martin Scorsese (Box Car Bertha) & William Shatner (The Intruder), and those who keep his legacy burning bright, such as Paul W.S. Anderson, Catherine Hardwicke, Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino & James Wan.

Full list appears below. What will you be seeing this weekend?

Wide Release
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Reviews) (Showtimes)

Limited Release
Carnage (Reviews) (Arclight Hollywood) (The Landmark)
Charlotte Rampling: The Look (Reviews) (Laemmle's Music Hall 3)
Cook County (Reviews) (Laemmle's Fallbrook 7) (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex) (Laemmle's Playhouse 7)
Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (Reviews) (Nuart Theatre)
House of Pleasures (Reviews) (Laemmle's Music Hall 3) (Laemmle's Playhouse 7)
London River (Reviews) (Laemmle's Royal Theatre)
Olive (Reviews) (Laemmle's Fallbrook 7)