22 Jan

1. Underworld Awakening/SG                        Wknd/$  25.4            Total/$   25.4

2. Red Tails/Fox                                                 Wknd/$  19.1             Total/$    19.1

3. Contraband/Universal                                  Wknd/$  12.2            Total/$    46.1

4. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close           Wknd/$  10.5            Total/$    11.2

5. Haywire/Relativity                                        Wknd/$   9.0             Total/$     9.0

6. Beauty & The Beast/Disney                         Wknd/$   8.6             Total/$    33.4

7. Joyful Noise/Warner                                     Wknd/$    6.1             Total/$    21.9

8. Mission: Impossible 4/Parmount               Wknd/$    5.5            Total/$  197.3

9. Sherlock Holmes 2/Warners                       Wknd/$    4.8            Total/$  178.6

10. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo              Wknd/$    3.8            Total/$   94.8


Underworld: Awakening opens at number one and here’s a quick guide to the franchise: if Kevin Grevioux, the creator of the concept, writes and appears as Raze the werewolf it’s gonna be good. If he’s nowhere in sight, it’s gonna be a tad lackluster. He’s nowhere in sight here and yeah, it’s not nearly as much fun as the previous installment. This one begins 12 years after the second one (the third was the story of how it all began) and Kate Beckinsale has been on ice literally in a research facility while the world has discovered werewolves and vampires and is trying to wipe them all out.  She’s freed by another subject in the lab: a girl with jet black hair, an English accent and is about 12-years-old.  Gee, guess who she is?  Seriously, the idea that we’re not supposed to know it’s her daughter is one the weakest elements of the film—though not as weak as the pathetic attempt to keep Scott Speedman in the film when Scott Speedman clearly refused to come back. A mixture of stunt doubles and CGI is bad to the point that Speedman should sue for them using his likeness in such a poorly conceived fashion. And it’s so unnecessary.  Just have Beckinsale tell the story. You don’t have to show it.  Save yourself the millions spent on that one embarrassing scene and the revelation of your utter incompetence.  What makes this so bad is that we see this used effectively later on to explain how the werewolves have be reduced to diseased wretches hiding underground. We don’t see how this happened we’re told the story and we see the results.  While the werewolves have apparently been reduced to nothing, the vampires only marginally better due to the fact they can blend in at night and given the cheekbones on display I’m thinking they’re also hiding within the modeling industry.  The older vampires see Beckinsale as a traitor while the younger see her as someone come to lead them to fight.  Again, the fact she’s an famous “death dealer” is utterly wasted in the story.  The fact that she was transformed into a “daywalker” in the second film also goes underutilized. The movie wants to use its somewhat rich history one moment then utterly disregard it the next and that simply doesn’t work.  There’s a nice twist at the end that serves to restore the series to its roots, but honestly you should see it coming from a mile away.


Red Tails opens at number two and I feel guilty about not seeing this, but it was a busy weekend and I had to see chicks kick ass (and honestly what says “black man” more than choosing white women over your own people?).  And who the fuck thought this was a good idea anyway!?!  A big movie about the triumphant of Black people the after the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday!?! You know, when people had three days to see this rather than two!?!  You know someone thought “We can’t take Marky Mark, but we should be able to handle a couple of broads.” Yeah, it’s not like this is the FOURTH Underworld film or the series is so strong it succeeds even without its star.  Oh, no. Morons.


Speaking of Marky Mark, Contraband is down to number three and also in this is Kate Beckinsale giving her the top spot in two different films in two consecutive weeks.  Unfortunately, she’s little more than “the wife” here, screaming and being in dire peril.  What is impressive, however, is that she’s the same age as Mark Wahlberg.  Age appropriate wife/girlfriend casting is a rare thing for actors in their 40’s and given Wahlberg is a producer he had a little some say in the matter so kudos to him for being the rare grown up and not hiring Blake Lively or someone.  Unfortunately, being a producer also means the weak script falls under his responsibility as well.


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close enters the top ten at number four and this tries to insist it’s not a 9/11 film.  Here’s a little something for the future: movies that aren’t about 9/11, don’t have to say that.  9/11 is depicted in the film and the story spins out of those events, so yeah, this is a 9/11 film about a kid dealing with the loss of his father and because that father is Tom Hanks and the mother is Sandra Bullock I care even less than I normally would.  First Tom Hanks teams up with Julia Roberts and now with Sandra Bullock. Aren’t both of these about 15-20 years too late?


Haywire opens at number five and Steven Soderbergh isn’t the first guy to see a martial artist and try to make that person into a star. Steve Seagal started off as akido instructor to then super-agent, Michael Ovitz, who leveraged him into an action star. This is a case of either Soderbegh having the hots for MMA Gina Carano and using the camera as his surrogate penis or given the multi-generational beefcake quotient of the male cast (Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and Channing Tatum) the price Soderbergh’s wife made him pay when it leaked out he’d cheated on her and knocked up some woman in Australia. “I want a movie about a woman who kicks ass, never shows her boobs and I want all the men in it to be hot. That or you can talk to my lawyer.” Superstar director and all-star cast aside, this movie is a throwback to the 80’s when any and every half-decent martial-artist could be a B-movie action star playing come government agent in a movie where the plot only served to find excuses to show that person kicking ass. Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Gary Daniels and yes, Jean Claude Van Damme could all be plugged into this (super government agent out for payback) without a changing a note. Ironically, the plot is trying so hard to be smarter than it needs to be it ultimately requires a painful expository scene explaining it all. And even then it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. At least B-movies know it doesn’t matter.  Not to mention Soderbergh is not an action director and while there is something refreshing about lack of slickness (quite a few of the action scenes have no music to tell you how to feel) when your primary goal is to showcase the skills of your star this can be a problem. It’s an action movie, not an art film.  And what’s with the seriousness when your star takes the time to cornrow her hair before kicking ass?  Not simply tie it up, she cornrows it.  If you’re going to do more of these, Soderbergh, I suggest you heed the immortal words of Sgt. Hulka from Stripes and “Lighten up, Francis.”


Beauty & The Beast 3D is down to number six, followed by Joyful Noise at number seven and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol at number eight and every Mission Impossible film has at least one great actor slumming. In the first it was Vanessa Redgrave (Jon Voight was no longer a member of that club). In the second, Anthony Hopkins.  For number three Laurence Fishburne and Phillip Seymour Hoffman were both there lend some weight to the proceedings and for this one Tom Wilkinson shows up for about five seconds.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is down to number nine and playing Professor Moriarty, the archenemy of Sherlock Holmes, is Jared Harris, son of legendary actor Richard Harris and he and his bother Jamie are proof that talent may be genetic.  In fact, he’s so good as Moriarty it’s hard to believe that Robert Downey Jr. is any real threat to him.


Finally, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo closes out the top ten at number ten and also in this is Julian Sands playing the younger version of Christopher Plummer and it’s as perfect a piece of casting as you can get.  Hopefully this will mean something of a comeback for him given he was a hot young thing alongside Helena Bonham Carter in Room With A View over 25 years ago.  Where did things go wrong?  For a while there he was bearding nicely for Jodie Foster then he slid into B-movies and never came back, most recently seen playing Jor-El on Smallville.

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