BURYING HOLLYWOOD

8 Feb

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1. Kung Fu Panda 3/Dreamworks Wknd/$ 21.0 Total/$ 69.1
2. Hail, Caesar!/Universal Wknd/$ 11.4 Total/$ 11.4
3. The Revenant/Fox Wknd/$ 7.1 Total/$ 149.7
4. Star Wars VII/Disney Wknd/$ 6.9 Total/$ 906.0
5. The Choice/LGF Wknd/$ 6.1 Total/$ 6.1
6. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies/SG Wknd/$ 5.2 Total/$ 5.2
7. The Finest Hours/Touchstone Wknd/$ 4.7 Total/$ 18.4
8. Ride Along 2/Universal Wknd/$ 4.5 Total/$ 77.2
9. The Boy/STX Wknd/$ 4.1 Total/$ 26.9
10. Dirty Grandpa/LGF Wknd/$ 4.1 Total/$ 29.4

AND THEY KEEP USING KUNG FU FIGHTING WHICH CRACKS ME UP
Holding at number one is Kung Fu Panda 3 and the great thing about the Kung Fu Panda movies (aside from some seriously gorgeous animation going on) is that they’re actually following the progression of learning martial arts. First you learn the basic ass-whupping skills (which is the reason you started to begin with) without any true understanding of the deeper meanings of them (Kung Fu Panda) then you learn that the forms are the art in “martial art” and that to master them takes you deeper (Kung Fu Panda 2) and the next level of growth is to teach, which makes you have to learn it all over again from a new perspective, which is this film. Plus, their continued success keeps Jack Black where he belongs: out of sight. This continues the story from KFP2 where you learned Po’s father was still alive and that other pandas had survived. No to mention the great running joke that he never realized the duck wasn’t his biological father. Also present are the dual animation high points of contrasting style. In every film there’s a sequence done in a manga style, which is gorgeous to behold (making you wish for an entire movie done that way) and there’s also a great CGI sequence that reminds of just how lazy and uncreative so many animate CGI films are, and this film is no exception. It will join the other two on my shelf when it comes out on blu-ray (because old people have to own shit physically).

HAIL NO
Hail, Caesar! Opens at number two and honestly I’m at the end of my rope with the Coen Brothers. Believe it or not every film is pretty similar no matter what the plot is and obviously to different rates of success, but this is my last indulgence of their love of old Hollywood (Hudsucker Proxy, Barton Fink) and people being weird as fuck simply for fuck’s sake (almost all of them). Eccentric characters are great if you’ve got a strong narrative. Basically they’re sauce for the goose, but all too often there’s no goose, just sauce. This is one such occasion. Tilda Swinton plays twin sister gossip columnists. Why? “Why not?” is basically the answer here. The film follows a day or so in the life of real life studio “fixer” (and gangster) Eddie Mannix as he manages the clown car of people working on various movies, not the least of which is their biggest star of their biggest picture who is suddenly kidnapped. Honestly it’s so low key you kind of forget that’s the main plot as everything else seems to get equal attention. You’d think they’d all come together in the end for a satisfying resolution, but you’d be wrong. They just seem to brush up against one another. And seriously, how can you do a movie about Eddie Mannix without ever mentioning or playing with the fact he allowed his wife to have an affair with TV Superman, George Reeves and so was suspected for years when Reeves committed suicide? The Coens poke gentle fun at the Hollywood of old, but that they recreate it so completely and lovingly lets you know they’re not here to rake it over the coals….which would have actually been interesting. I’ve got Oscar bait to see and this was time wasted.

HOPEFULLY THEY’LL TREAT HIM JUST LIKE CRUISE AND HE’LL GIVE UP JUST LIKE CRUISE
Speaking of Oscar bait, The Revenant is down to number three and this is on my list…kinda. DiCaprio is doing what Tom Cruise was doing a decade or so ago: making movies for the clear and specific purpose of getting an Oscar. There’s nothing about it that seems like an expression of an actor’s genuine creatively; just a need for a trophy. Also, it’s two-and-a-half hours long of Oscar-begging. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

I HATE HIM
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is down to number four and is about to hit a billion dollars domestically and it’s already at $2B worldwide. And all they did was basically remake the first one. Well played, Abrams. Well-played.

HOPE THIS WILL KILL ITS FANS JUST AS QUICKLY
The Choice opens at number five and this is yet another Nicholas Sparks adaptation which basically means one of them (if not both) will probably be dead by the closing credits. I’d rip on the formula, but I read comic books so I’m not exactly standing on the high ground of demanding more creativity to be consumed here. I mean it’d be nice, but sometimes you just want MacDonalds with no surprises. This is the cinematic equivalent of a MacDonald’s cheeseburger. If you like it, fine. Just don’t tell me it’s good or good for you. ‘Cause it’s not.

IT’S NOT LIKE JANE AUSTEN AND ZOMBIES ARE SUCCESSFUL OR ANYTHING
Pride & Prejudice and Zombies opens at number six thanks in no small part I’m sure to an ad campaign that so underestimates the intelligence of the average person it treated it like a real horror movie, rather than the clearly joke it is. It’s so clearly a fucking joke! Why would you pretend it was anything but!?! Well they’ve gotten the returns they clearly deserve and hopefully whoever in marketing made this decision will be shown the exit they clearly deserve.

A CHARISMA-FREE PIECE AT THAT
The Finest Hours is down to number seven and if Leonardo DiCaprio is trying to get the Oscar respect he feels he deserves, then Chris Pine is just trying to get respect, period. He’s trying to prove he’s a actor and not just a piece of beef. Good luck with that, dude. He’s got three fifths of the “I wanna be taken seriously” pie. 1) An accent, albeit the second most obvious and obviously abused choice of New England (Southern is the most obvious and the most often abused). 2) It’s based on a true story and 3) it’s a period piece. All that’s missing is for the character to have some type of handicap and for it to be in a foreign country. But that’s when you want an Oscar and all he wants is respect…which he’s not going to get, ‘cause he is just a piece of beef.

LIKE GARLIC. IF GARLIC WASN’T DELICIOUS.
Ride Along 2 is down to number eight and my feelings on Kevin Hart are clear: a little goes a long way. I mean very little and a very long way. One movie I’ll never see a year is more than enough, but he seems to think that no less that half-a-dozen will do.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS…AND POSSIBLY ENDS
The Boy is down to number seven and while I never watch The Walking Dead and I can tell you this Lauren Cohan has a good agent. First off, she’s actually the star and not just the girlfriend. Second, that it’s in the same genre that has afforded her current success is a great safe choice. Topping it off is that it’s a genre movie so its success really has little to do with her anyway is a bonus. If it succeeds she gets the bump. If it fails, no one was going to see her anyway. The only failure is that it wasn’t a super cheap found footage movie. If this had cost half as much, its $20M return would have been an overwhelming success. Alas, a $10M budget just means it’s not a failure. This means her next role is going to be “the pretty girl” to the real star and probably in her underwear or a bikini at the very least. Good thing she looks good that way.

SCORSESE PLEASE COME SAVE YOUR FRIEND
Finally, Dirty Grandpa, aka Robert DeNiro’s Painfully Obvious “I’m Only In It For The Money Now” Tour closes out the top ten at number ten. And while this may seem the polar opposite of The Intern (which might as well have been called Nice Grandpa), it’s actually the flipside to the same coin: DeNiro paired with a current young star for comedy that basically doesn’t come with more than its basic premise as the jokes shown in the trailer painfully demonstrate. In fact, I’m more likely to watch this on cable than The Intern. It’s only 97 minutes, demonstrating it knows to get in and get out with its one joke, while The Intern was a painful two hours because it thought it was something more. Poor Aubrey Plaza. I like her so much and she’s clearly willing to go all out for the joke. At this rate she’s going to wind up playing all those “Best Friend to the Lead” roles that Judy Greer has aged out of.

NOT THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
The winter replacement season has started and while Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, Younger, Galavant and Agent Carter have all returned, the only new thing I’m watching (or recording, give I’m episodes behind) is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which takes supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash and has given them their own show with one complete story. Complete story seasons is a long overdue idea that’s finally finding a home on American TV and this is a perfect use of it, expanding an already successful concept. Too bad it’s a dumb as rocks. It’s fun, but stupid on a Smallville level, which is saying something. Basically a non-Justice League of White Canary (since she came back from the dead, she’s now in white), Firestorm, The Atom, Hawkwoman and Hawkman and two villains in Captain Cold and Heatwave. Now, Firestorm, The Atom and the Hawks were actual Justice League members alongside Green Arrow and The Flash, but since that concept is going to be movie in the theaters, they can never be that here. Just a group of superheroes who team up. No name. It cracks me up because the producers have clearly created their own Justice League under the noses of DC/WB. But again, it’s too bad it’s so dumb. But it is great to look at. Clearly they’ve been given a sizable budget and you see things in the first five minutes of the first episode that you’ve never seen outside of a comic, especially on TV. A giant action piece with every cast member in action which climaxed in a nuclear bomb going off (but being absorbed by Firestorm). I’m so happy to see this I can’t get angry about the stupid story, wherein they’ve all been gathered to go back in time and stop the rise of an immortal villain who takes over the world in the future. Now, if you’re going to take out someone before they become a tyrant wouldn’t say, childhood be the best place to do that? Or at least before they gain their powers? Rip Hunter, who is the “Timemaster” who has gathered them all to do this has at least tried the latter, but stupidly decides to engage the bad guy in a swordfight RATHER THAN SHOOT HIM! Not just shoot him either, but SHOOT HIM WITH A LASER GUN! It’s so beyond dumb it hurts. And if that wasn’t bad enough, even if you kill him, he’ll just come back (only Hawkwoman using a certain dagger can do it…don’t ask), so when they do kill him in the third episode, it never occurs to them to simply take his body with him, so when he comes back, then she can to it herself. Even comic books aren’t this stupid, but just like a bad comic, if it looks nice, no one will care.

SECOND CHANCE TV
Also new for the winter is The Mortal Instruments, a TV show based on the same Young Adult fantasy novels that the film was based upon. The film tanked and deservedly so, but one of the problems with it was that they tried to fit in too much in too short a timespan (and the movie was two hours long). It’s better suited for a series where they can explore the characters and I have to admit, I enjoyed even the movie failure on cable recently, so I’m enjoying the show as well. It’s not something I record or even remember is on, but if I’m flipping channels and notice I’ll watch it. But I have to say, the movie was better with all the British accents. Everyone being American makes it a little drab.

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