A DINOSAUR AND HIS PET BOY

30 Nov

michael_b_jordan_main 1. The Hunger Games Mockingjay 2      Wknd/$ 51.6     Total/$ 198.3
2. The Good Dinosaur/Disney                Wknd/$ 39.2     Total/$ 55.6
3. Creed/WB                                               Wknd/$ 30.1     Total/$ 42.6
4. Spectre/Sony                                          Wknd/$ 12.8     Total/$ 176.1
5. The Peanuts Movie/Fox                       Wknd/$ 9.2       Total/$ 116.8
6. The Night Before/Sony                         Wknd/$ 8.2      Total/$ 24.1
7. The Secret in Their Eyes/STX            Wknd/$ 4.5        Total/$ 14.0
8. Spotlight/ORF                                       Wknd/$ 4.5        Total/$ 12.3
9. Brooklyn/FoxSearchlight                    Wknd/$ 3.8        Total/$ 7.3
10. The Martian/Fox                                 Wknd/$ 3.3        Total/$ 218.6

TO WHICH HARRISON FORD RESPONDS, “IT’LL NEVER END.”
The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part II: The Cash Grab Everyone Learned From Harry Potter About Splitting Books holds at number one and you think Jennifer Lawrence just joined the club that Daniel Radcliff and Kristen Stewart started called “Not That I’m Ungrateful, But Thank God It’s Over?” And somewhere Rooney Mara is part of a much, much, much larger club called “It Never Even Got Started.”

IT’S ACTUALLY A JURASSIC WORLD…BUT MUCH, MUCH BETTER
The Good Dinosaur opens at number two and two original Pixar movies in a row!?! In the same year!?! And both of them good!?! Hell, Christmas may have just been taken care of. This is the story of a boy and his dinosaur. Wait. Scratch that. It’s a dinosaur and his boy who is basically a dog. And in case you didn’t get it from the sniffing, the howling and the life on all fours, his name is “Spot.” Set on a world where the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs misses so prehistoric man actually shares the planet with dinosaurs, but in a decided non-Jurassic Park way. Mankind is not only not the top of the food chain, but are so low they aren’t even considered a primary food source by the T-Rexes that later show up. They’re considered “critters” little more than squirrels and annoying in the way they eat the crop the Apatosaurus clan is trying to grow and store for the winter. Because he’s the smallest and can’t farm like his brother and sister, Arlo has the responsibility of a) feeding the scary prehistoric turkeys (why they’re keeping them if they’re vegetarians is unexplained) and b) trapping and killing the “critter” who’s been eating their stored crops. When Arlo instead frees the small boy, his father insists they track him and finish him which leads to the required Disney “Death of a Parent” in a storm that causes the river to flood. It’s hardly a spoiler as I don’t think you’re allowed to make a film associated with Disney without it. It’s probably half the reason they bought Marvel to begin with. From Spider-Man to Captain America to Iron Man to Thor to…shit all of them have at least one dead parent if not both (and in Spider-Man’s case two dead parents and the death of a father figure). Blaming the little human they were tracking instead of his father’s own stubborn nature, Arlo chases him and gets caught in a storm similar to the one that killed his father and both are washed away miles from Arlo’s home. This is when Arlo finds out Spot—as he names him—has bonded with him because Arlo spared his life and they begin a Journey of Natty Gann type of return to his home, where Arlo of course learns to overcome the fears that have plagued him his entire life. It’s not A+ perfect Pixar like a Finding Nemo or The Incredibles or Up, but it’s a solid A and thankfully not a freaking sequel.

AKA ROCKY 7. YEAH, 7
Creed opens at number three and making a seventh film in the Rocky saga sounds like a horrible money-grubbing idea…until you hand it over to an acclaimed indie film director and cut Sylvester Stallone completely out of the creative process. While I thought the last film, Rocky Balboa, was actually a nice little movie with probably the best Stallone performance since the first film (only surpassed by this one), the rest all suffered from Stallone’s total control but limited talents, much in the same way the inspired idea of The Expendables has died so quickly. Stallone’s reach (aka, his ego) continually exceeds his grasp. Ryan Coogler, however, who made the much-acclaimed Fruitvale Station a few years back, is only interested in making a good movie, not feeding his ego and reteamed with his leading man, Michael B. Jordan, that’s exactly what he does. Nothing is new here, but there are no new stories, only how you retell the old ones and the old ones are all retold here very well. Seriously, the main plot is one of a son living in the shadow of his father, topped off with him being a bastard was born after his father died. It doesn’t get more cliché than that…at least until the older mentor develops cancer. Like I said, very few clichés are left unturned. But again, it’s about the execution. The film is over two hours, but it never seems to drag and even the old Rocky theme is dragged out and updated to maximum effect.

STRIKE TWO
Spectre is down to number four and if you need any greater clue to how incompetent this film is, know they wasted Christoph Waltz, which I thought was impossible. First they waste Monica Bellucci in what is little more than a glorified cameo—seriously, Teri Hatcher had a more important role in Tomorrow Never Dies and she gets killed—and then Christoph Waltz as the villain is pissed away which is a horrible mistake as most action films tend to only be as good as their villains.

IT’S NOT ENOUGH THAT I LOSE WEIGHT, BUT THAT OTHERS GET FATTER
The Peanuts Movie is down to number five, followed by The Night Before at number six and yes, Thanksgiving does officially open the doors for the Christmas Season, but this still feels too soon. That said, Seth Rogen’s participation basically means an automatic pass for me and there’s precious little to change that opinion. Yeah, I like Lizzy Caplan, but not that much. In fact, the best thing about this for me was seeing the three leads on Lip Sync Battle, where we got to see how flabby Anthony Mackie is currently. Yes, schadenfruede is how I roll. Now and always.

AIN’T NO PRETTY WOMAN TO ME
Speaking of movies I give an automatic pass to, The Secret in Their Eyes is down to number seven and this stars Julia Roberts and I’ve been an anti-fan since Pretty Woman. I’ve never understood her popularity much less her success or any indication of talent. She’s a movie star like Tom Cruise is movie star. Neither is an actor. It’s a shame because there are two good actors in this: Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor. They’re actually capable of being other people in films. Roberts, not so much.

MOVIES I SWEAR I’LL SEE, BUT PROBABLY NEVER WILL
Spotlight holds at number eight and this is another for the “Oscar Bait” list, which is getting longer every day. So far it’s Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies, Trumbo and Room. And hell, since we’re making a list, let’s just throw the number nine entry, Brooklyn, on it. Based on the novel about an Irish immigrant girl in 1950’s Brooklyn it looks freaking gorgeous and has garnered great reviews but I’ve got cartoon and sequels to see. I’ll get to it one day (maybe never).

NEED THAT FUNNY MONEY
The Martian holds at number ten and also in this is Kristen Wiig, who needed a hit more than you know. Seriously. It’s been awhile since Bridesmaids and while it’s great she’s been putting herself out there with dramatic indie work (always remember: brave = naked when it comes to female actors) lending her name to get smaller films made, that means about as much as good intentions. She needs to be in something that makes money. Hopefully, next time she’ll be the actual star.

END OF THE LINE
Okay, there are no more new TV shows (until the mid-winter replacement season), but there are at least two more to mention…

Agent X: Seemed like a decent enough concept. The Vice President actually has a freaking job beyond going to funerals and that job is deploy a one man task force (charming and wisecracking of course) to handle threats totally off the books and beyond political affiliations and this has been in place since the founding of the country. Also, the VP is none other than Sharon Stone, rocking pantsuits and knee-high boots in modest skirts. Seemed pleasant enough for light Sunday night viewing. I rag on shit like Quantico, but I get why people like it for the same reason I like Blood & Oil, which airs right before it. Dumb fun. Unfortunately, Agent X lost me when it decided that it was going to have a serialized subplot about a conspiracy within the government. Just…no. I wanted light “one-and-done” episodes along the line of Burn Notice with maybe a reoccurring villain (which the plot set up). This conspiracy was not only a buzzkill, but doubled down it by making Sharon Stone’s late hubby on the show an adulterer and maybe the car crash that killed him wasn’t an accident. Yawn.

Into the Badlands: Now this is what I’m talking about. Set in a dystopic future where a feudal system has evolved and there are no guns so martial arts and swordfights (which is technically a martial art but a lot of people don’t get this) are how people settle their business. So basically, every Sunday I get mucho buttkicking in the best way possible. Of course our hero, Sunny, is the best fighter of them all, but is working for an evil baron who only becomes moreso once he learns a tumor is killing him. Our Sunny’s only hope is a teenaged boy from a mythical city beyond The Badlands. It seems Sunny may have been born there as well, but cannot remember. The boy can lead him to the city, but to do so they must go…INTO THE BADLANDS. Oh, did I mention the boy has some kind of power that manifests itself whenever he bleeds and another evil baron known as “The Widow” is after him for it? Unlike Agent X that addition only makes the show more interesting. It’s probably science but if it’s magic I’m down with that too. The fight scenes are so well done, you’d never know the lead actor isn’t even a martial artist. Can’t say that about every show (I’m looking at you, Arrow). And do I even have to say it? An Asian dude as the lead. Yeah, he’s doing martial arts, but sadly it still means something. Especially when they a) actually give him a love interest and b) she’s not Asian.

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