It’s not often we here at WWTW find an actor up against a director for our weekly award, but that’s what went down this weekend as Liam Neeson returned as the bad-ass retired CIA operative in “Taken 2″ and Tim Burton’s latest ode to horrors, the black-and-white animated feature “Frankenweenie.”
With late-night theater showings looking to finally go back to normal since the horrific shooting in Aurora in July, the box office was strong this weekend with a 41% increase from last year. “Taken 2″ opened with a strong $50 million take, which is the second largest October opening (behind “Paranormal Activity 3″ with $52.6 million), however, Burton’s “Frankenweenie” came in 5th with only $12 million.
Let’s see if Neeson’s kick-butt mode or Burton’s spooky style won the week.
Liam Neeson – “Taken 2″
What the heck has happened to Liam Neeson? Don’t get us wrong, we know the Irishman liked to turn to genre films once in a while in the past—“Darkman,” “The Phantom Menance”—but we always considered him a serious actor, with roles in “Schindler’s List,” “Rob Roy,” “Michael Collins.” But recently, the actor has completely shifted our perception of him. “Unknown,” “The Grey” and now a sequel to his surprise hit, “Taken.” He’s suddenly an action star!
The story of a CIA father who must rescue his daughter from a European prostitution ring became a surprise hit and now the sequel, though amongst shaky reviews, has done better than the original. Likely leading to a third “Taken.”
Neeson took his tough guy role on the publicity circuit this week, showing up at “The Daily Show” to talk about his favorite Turkish dish, TZM caught him throwing out an S-bomb on a visit to “SportsCenter” and admitted to MTV that he was wary of making a “Taken” sequel.
Looks like he made the right choice.
Tim Burton – “Frankenweenie”
Tim Burton has never been one to take popularity over substance, in fact, if it’s stranger it’s probably better for the director. However, “Frankenweenie” has been regarded by many to be one of Burton’s more appealing films in a while.
A stop-motion 3D family “horror” that is the feature-length version of a short he made when he was a wunderkind at Disney (and legend has it got him fired), it follows a young boy who conducts a science experiment to bring his dog back to life. Of course, this leads to a slew of undead problems. Its cute premise received high marks when it screened at Fantastic Fest last month, and includes the voices of some familiar Burton actors like Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Landau.
Rebounding from his disappointing reteaming with Johnny Depp in “Dark Shadows,” the often recluse Burton did press, showing up in profiles in the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and Movieline.
And the winner is…
This is a tough one, but we have to give it to Neeson. His transformation into an action hero is something we’re still trying to wrap our heads around, but he’s so convincing that you can’t help but love it. And he’s got a couple more bad-ass roles coming up, so if you like his gruff one-liners get ready for more.