3 Jan

1. Mission: Impossible 4/Parmount            Wknd/$  29.6            Total/$ 132.5

2. Sherlock Holmes 2/Warners                    Wknd/$   21.0            Total/$ 131.0

3. Alvin & The Chimpmunks 3/Fox             Wknd/$   16.4            Total/$   92.7

4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo           Wknd/$   14.8            Total/$   55.8

5. War Horse/Disney                                      Wknd/$   14.4            Total/$   40.4

6. We Bought A Zoo/Fox                                Wknd/$   13.0            Total/$   40.7

7. The Adventures of Tintin/Par                   Wknd/$   11.4            Total/$   47.3

8. New Year’s Eve/Warner                             Wknd/$    6.4            Total/$   46.0

9. The Darkest Hour/Summit                        Wknd/$    4.3             Total/$   13.3

10.The Descendants/FoxS                               Wknd/$    3.4            Total/$   39.4


Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol holds at number one, showing there’s still some life left in this tired franchise as it recycles the plot of the first for the third time: Ethan Hunt is disavowed and must clear his name.  Seriously. Say what you want about the John Woo helmed sequel, but at least it had an original plot (I mean, original so long as you haven’t seen Cary Grant in Notorious).  You have to wonder what other agents think of this guy who’s always being branded a traitor. You’d think he’d be the most distrusted operative in the US Government.  This time an insane Russian scientist wants to start WWIII because he thinks it makes humanity stronger and blows up a part of the Kremlin just get things rolling.  But that’s not important. It’s could be anything. Like any good “macguffin” it’s just the excuse to justify globe-hopping, outrageous stunts and high-tech devices, but this time it seriously crosses the line into parody as one such device is a screen that hides a hallway making it look empty…like something Wylie E. Coyote would use to trap the Road Runner. No, I’m not kidding. And that’s only the beginning of the silliness. The other thing that must always be in a Mission Impossible movie is that Tom Cruise must dangle from something, no matter how much the story must bend over backwards to accommodate it. This time he has to climb outside the world’s tallest building in Dubai.  Which must be empty because in the middle of the day no one seems to see him out there (“Um, front desk? You’re not going to believe this, but…”). No one in the street sees him doing this either.  But the same logic that would stop here is about as present as those laws of physics which would also stop him.  That’s par the course in this series.  Both come and go as the story (and I use that word very loosely) needs them. I’ve got nothing against stupid fun, but you can actually reach a point where the stupidity actually interferes with the fun.  We crossed that line about a mile back with these movies. I expected better from the director who brought me The Incredibles.


Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows is at number two and the recreation of Sherlock Holmes as an action hero was incredibly successful so here we have more of the same paired with Guy Richie’s patented, “slow-motion, extreme close up style. There’s no real “mystery” here to be solved like the first, which had a man rising from the grave and seeming killing people with magic. This is more “James Bond, 1897” with Sherlock Holmes’s arch nemesis Professor Moriarty embarking on scheme which sadly seems to be lifted intact from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the movie that pushed Sean Connery into retirement it sucked so much.  It’s globe trotting and high-tech devices (in 1897, a pistol with a multiple shot cartridge is high tech), but like MI4 this isn’t built on plot. This is built wholly on the charm of Robert Downey Jr and Robert Downey Jr. interacting with Jude Law.  If you like him, if you like them, you’ll like this.  If you don’t, well then there’s not much here for you, because again: PLOT LIFTED FROM THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.  Do you remember it? Exactly.


Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is at number three and the less said of this the better.  Similarly War Horse at number four and this just looks too damn “Speilberg-ian” for me. I fear far too many scenes where the lighting makes it look like they were drenched in honey. I’d sooner see Ride a Wild Pony if I want to see the story of a boy and his horse. Not to mention isn’t raison d’être of the stage show this is based upon the use of puppetry?  It kind of defeats the purpose to use real horses doesn’t it?


At number four is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the first Hollywood adaptation of the worldwide series of books.  I have a strong contrarian streak in me, so if something is too famous and too popular, I’ll never touch it, so I’ve never read the books and never will, but this frees me to judge the movie on its on merits rather than any preconceived notions of how it “should be” or whether or not characters have been watered down.  That said, it’s too long, period.  The first 20 minutes and especially the last ten could easily have been cut with no change to the main story, which is a recently disgraced journalist being hired to solve a 40-year-old mystery of a missing girl.  I don’t know how it is in the books, but the movie’s two main characters don’t even meet until halfway in.  It’s like a movie where the Lone Ranger and Tonto don’t partner up until the 60-minute mark and one of them is doing anything pertinent to the plot but we have to watch it anyway.  Until Rooney Mara as the title character meets the actual star of the movie (Daniel Craig) we see her enduring her struggle of a life while he works to solve a mystery.  That might work in print (though I doubt it), but basically it means the story has to stop while we see what his eventual sidekick is up to, which in his case unfortunately means watching her being first blackmailed into sexual favors by her social worker and then anally raped by him and then her extracting a brutal revenge.  I suppose there’s some correlation between that and what we eventually learn about the missing girl, but it’s really not as if the film itself works to establish that.  Rooney Mara is very good in her role as the damaged, most-likely-autistic Lisbeth Salander, but however the segue from assisting the journalist to becoming his lover happens in the book, it’s such a 180 degree turn here it borders on fantasy.  That she flinches he makes a move toward her makes more sense in light of her recent violation, than her suddenly dropping trou and mounting him.  Others have complained that she becomes far too much male fantasy here, but I’d say the seeds were already laid for that in the book where the tough, anti-social, tattooed pierced young girl still wants to fuck the older guy she just met. Hollywood just makes it clear what a male fantasy that was to begin with by stripping it of all literary pretension.  It’s even a problem from the point of view of the male character? Why would he fuck her simply because she wants to? Not to mention he’s pretty much in shock having just someone take a shot at him. Not conducive to the instant erection he achieves here. Like I said, it was always a male fantasy no matter how noble the original author’s intentions.


We Bought A Zoo is down to number six and I do plan on seeing this, but was put off by all the “Oscar bait” runtimes.  Over two hours a film needs to be great or you feel like some of your life was stolen from you and I don’t see this as being great. Not with Scarlett Johansson in it. Yes, I know that’s unfair. I don’t care.


The Adventures of Tintin is down to number seven and as a comics fan, of course I know who Tintin is, but I’ve never likes him because I always found his look unappealing, but for the earlier part of the 20th Century he was a sensation overseas.  Even in his notoriously racist adventures in Africa are in fact prized in Africa because it meant they’d been in a Tintin story.  He never really had the same impact in the US, which is why it’s only made $50M here and $260M overseas.  Also, I don’t see the point in using animation to try and duplicate humans rather than follow the style of the original artist. Why not just use people.  Again, what is the point?  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised Spielberg is involved here as well.


New Year’s Eve holds at number eight dooming us all to more of these piss-poor ensemble cast features from Garry Marshall who is destroying his TV reputation with horrible movie after horrible movie. And he started so well with The Flamingo Kid all those years ago.  I think this movie can be summed up by the fact the actor in it who most represents New York, Robert DeNiro, is dying of cancer in the film.


The Darkest Hour holds at number nine and back in the 50’s massive alien invasions were common in the movies, a reflection of the paranoia of the time period. Needless to say, history is repeating itself as post-9/11 we can’t stop making these movies about “them” come to destroy our way of life.  What’s sad is that we’re no better at making them because this looks awful.


Finally, still holding on at number ten is The Descendants.

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