IT’S STUMBLING TIME!

10 Aug

Rebecca-Ferguson1
1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation     Wknd/$ 29.4    Total/$ 108.7
2. Fantastic Four/Fox                                 Wknd/$ 26.2   Total/$ 26.2
3. The Gift/STX                                            Wknd/$ 12.0    Total/$ 12.0
4. Vacation/WB                                            Wknd/$ 9.1      Total/$ 37.3
5. Ant-Man/Disney                                     Wknd/$ 7.8       Total/$ 147.4
6. Minions/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 7.4      Total/$ 302.4
7. Ricki & The Flash/TriStar                      Wknd/$ 7.0      Total/$ 7.0
9. Pixels/Sony                                               Wknd/$ 5.4      Total/$ 57.6
8. Trainwreck/Universal                            Wknd/$ 6.3      Total/$ 91.1
10. Southpaw/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 40.7

THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL ACTION CAREER
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation holds the number one spot and as the woman who finally gets to be as badass as Tom Cruise is Rebecca Ferguson. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of her. Her two biggest claims to fame before this were The White Queen mini-series and last summer’s flop, Hercules. What’s funny, sad and little bit weird is that she looks a lot like Michelle Monaghan, who played Cruise’s fiancée in Mission Impossible III. I suppose it would have been a bit much to ask that she’d become a super-agent riding bikes and kicking ass alongside him, but it was 9 years ago. A decade’s enough time to develop some secret agent skills, right? But I guess Cruise was adamant that his leading lady always be under 35 and Monaghan has aged out. Ferguson’s character is named Ilsa in this and yes, they do go to Casablanca (Ferguson was even born in Stockholm like Ingrid Bergman). When Cruise arrives she even asks him, “What brings you to Casablanca?” And he doesn’t reply “The waters.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GO THERE WHY DID YOU CALL HER ILSA AND GO TO CASABLANCA!?! Some may respect the movie for not going for the easy reference. I am not one of those people. You go all the way or you don’t go at all!

THE FANTASTIC FOURTH FAILURE
The Fantastic Four reboot opens poorly at number two and let me say right out that this is not a bad movie, certainly nowhere near the level warranting the drubbing it’s getting on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s not a Transformers or Adam Sandler movie, which open insults your intelligence with the laziness of the filmmakers. It’s just not a good movie and is so clearly misguided and a waste of time, money and energy it just makes you angry. But this was a disaster from the word “go.” Even before Josh Trank had been brought on Fox made it clear they wanted to go “dark” with this because The Dark Knight made a billion dollars and for some reason they thought that was the key. Never mind that the bright and shiny Marvel movies were making money hand-over-fist, they wanted billions with a “B”, not millions with an “M.” Trank was the second mistake because he too couldn’t see how utterly ridiculous it was to try and go dark with characters named Mr. Fantastic and The Human Torch. He’d done well with Chronicle which was a similar story about people encountering something other-worldly and developing superpowers and it was on the darker side so he must have seemed like a perfect fit to them. The final mistake was basing this adaptation the 21st Century revision of the Fantastic Four known as Ultimate Fantastic Four. Marvel Comics did it with all their characters with mixed levels of success. Elements of the Ultimate universe have been used in other Marvel-based films (Nick Fury looking like Samuel L. Jackson, Captain America having super strength) but for the most part they remained loyal to the 60’s originals. Clearly that’s another lesson Fox chose to ignore, but honestly this was more an effort merely to hold onto the licensing than make a good movie. It’s the reason Sony made the two disappointing Amazing Spider-Man movies and Man of Steel was made (both also stupidly chose to go darker with lighter characters). They had a deadline to get something, anything out there and all paid a price creatively for it. This is why Fox had no problem slicing the budget later resulting in the loss of all the action films this film desperately needed, as now it’s just a boring pilot about four already sad people (Mr. Fantastic can’t related to his parents, The Thing’s household is abusive from parent to siblings, The Invisible Woman’s behavior borders on autism and The Human Torch has daddy issues) who get transformed and become even sadder superheroes. It’s dull, boring, sad and absolutely nothing anyone anywhere wants from a superhero movie (even the odious Man of Steel had action). But hey, Fox gets to keep the property for a third try, which ironically is exactly why Canon films made the first FF movie back in 1994. Let me put it this way: this is the only Marvel film of the last decade to have no Stan Lee cameo.

I MAINTAIN I WAS A LOVABLE GEEK
The Gift opens at number three and it’s good to see the Fatal Attraction formula of “relationship crosses over to crazy” is still around. In this case it’s that weird kid from high school who thinks now as adults you can finally be friends. Personally, I can’t relate as I didn’t keep up with the actual friends I did have and blew off basically everyone who tried to reconnect. Apparently Jason does the latter a little too late and pays the price. And apparently he did something to the guy in high school that somewhat warrants this. Makes sense as the persona Bateman has in movies, while generally sympathetic, could easily be that smug prick we all knew…or were. You can prove nothing.

CHEVY CHASE: BRINGING DOWN THOSE AROUND HIM SINCE THE 80’S
Vacation is down to number four and I’m happy to see Christina Applegate working but she needs to choose better than this (I still rue the day I sat through The Sweetest Thing). Her short-living series Samantha Who would have made a great movie. The story of an evil bitch who develops amnesia and a personality reversal after being deliberately run over by one of the many people she wronged on a daily basis is still a very funny idea. And it’s not just her who’s wasted. You’ve seen Charlie Day, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus and Keegan-Michael Key (of Key and Peele), Nick Kroll and Michael Pena in better things. In fact, Pena is in Ant-Man (following at number five) and is nothing but funny (despite the racism) so he at least has something to counteract this on his resume. See, unlike The Fantastic Four reboot, Ant-Man accepted that a guy who shrinks and then controls ants is a little silly, but nonetheless doesn’t hold the idea in such contempt all sense of fun has to be abandoned.

THIS IS WHY SHE CHOSE JESSIE OVER YOU
Minions is down to number six, followed by Ricki and the Flash opening at number seven and while I love Meryl Streep, love Rick Springfield, love director Jonathan Demme and have a passing affection for screenwriter Diablo Cody, this left me cold. The trailer looks like one of the old Touchstone trailers from the 80’s which you know would have just enough risqué behavior and language to get a PG13, but never crossing the line on any level to make you uncomfortable. So while this is ostensibly about a woman who abandoned her family to chase a dream and never looked back, you just know she’s never going to be depicted too harshly, nor will there be anything short of a happy ending. In short, it’s yet another Lifetime Movie that escaped into the theaters. Rick Springfield continues his inability to launch a proper acting career, even with Meryl Streep by his side (he turned down The Right Stuff while accepting Hard to Hold even though he knew it sucked). Even hopping onboard the True Detective didn’t work as the second season has been widely panned. Oh, Ricky…

SORRY, JUST CAN’T BE HAPPY FOR ANY BRUTHA DOIN’ ANYTHING
Trainwreck is down to number eight, followed by Pixels at number nine with Southpaw closing out the top ten at number ten and this was directed by Antoine Fuqua, who despite his repeated attempts is just not a gritty director. You get the feeling he wants to evoke some 70’s Sidney Lumet era filmmaking but he’s simply too slick and his films reflect it. He got lucky with Training Day, but is better at delivering glossy, slightly inept action films like The Equalizer, Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen and my personal favorite The Replacement Killers. You know, shit that’s fun to watch at 1:00 am on cable. His attempts to be “real” result flops like Tears of the Sun, Brooklyn’s Finest and now this. I don’t think I need to tell you he comes from music videos.

 

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