16 Blocks (D: Richard Donner, 105 min)
Ever since he appeared on TV's Moonlighting, Bruce Willis has basically built a career out of playing flint-nosed cops, detectives and private eyes. 16 Blocks offers yet another Bruce-with-a-badge role. He plays a New York detective who's got to travel the titular 16 blocks with a small-time criminal ( Mos Def ) to the courthouse. Their journey is blocked by various corrupt cops and hoods.
Lack of originality aside, this should be the weekend's big opener. Director Richard Donner is an old-school hack, having helmed everything from Superman to the Lethal Weapon films. And of all the rappers-turned-actors, Mos Def is, er, most definitely the best.
Aquamarine (D: Elizabeth Allen, 109 min)
This isn't an official remake, but the synopsis of Aquamarine sounds an awful lot like a tween version of Splash. Two teenage girls meet a mermaid ( Sara Paxton ) in the pool of their beach club. The mermaid falls for a hunky worker at the pool, and the girls do their best to help the creature in her fish-outta-water quest.
Bet no-name director Elizabeth Allen and the producers would have preferred their first choice in the role of the fine-finned character: Jessica Simpson. But then again, considering The Dukes Of Hazzard debacle, maybe they're happy as is.
Ultraviolet (D: Kurt Wimmer, 88 min)
Ultraviolet is the latest in a number of films that arrive with no pre-screenings for the press. Apparently, the studios believe the target demo has already decided to see the film, so why fuck up the opening grosses with (possibly) bad reviews? Judging from the poster campaign, which features a scantily clad Milla Jovovitch (Resident Evil), the demo they're going after is the male heterosexual market, teens to early 20s. Let's see if the gamble pays off. We're most looking forward to Cameron Bright (Birth, Running Scared), who plays a sinister lab-raised creature who's out to destroy humankind.
All three films open Friday (March 3). Screened after press time - see reviews of 16 Blocks and Aquamarine March 2 at www.nowtoronto.com/film. See mini-review of Ultraviolet in next week's paper.