Tag Archives: Chronicle

TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE MUNCHIES

24 Aug

eisencera
1. Straight Outta Compton/Universal            Wknd/$ 26.8   Total/$ 111.5
2. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation            Wknd/$ 11.7    Total/$ 157.8
3. Sinister 2/Focus                                             Wknd/$ 10.6   Total/$ 10.6
4. Hitman: Agent 47/Fox                                  Wknd/$ 8.2     Total/$ 26.6
5. The Man from UNCLE/Paramount            Wknd/$ 7.4     Total/$ 26.6
6. American Ultra/LGF                                     Wknd/$ 5.5     Total/$ 5.5
7. The Gift/STX                                                   Wknd/$ 4.3     Total/$ 31.1
8. Ant-Man/Disney                                             Wknd/$ 4.1     Total/$ 164.5
9. Minions/Universal                                        Wknd/$ 3.7      Total/$ 320.0
10. Fantastic Four/Fox                                      Wknd/$ 3.7      Total/$ 49.6

ALSO I’VE NEVER SEEN FRIDAY AND NEVER WILL
Straight Out of Compton holds at number one and now that I know that director F. Gary Gray was the cameraman who watched Dr. Dre beat Dee Barnes chances of me seeing this went from slim to nil. I’ve always said you should be careful in looking into the private life of anyone creative because you probably won’t like what you find. History is filled with examples of the most talented people you can imagine being utterly fucking despicable. From Wagner’s anti-Semitism to Lewis Carroll’s unnatural obsession with the girl who inspired Alice to John Lennon and Stevie Wonder slapping around their wives to Michael Jackson molesting young boys (shut up. you know he did it) to a fucking laundry list of crappy parenting, exceptional talent seems to go hand-in-hand with being a total asshole. But where do you separate the dancer from the dance? The journalist who exposed the more than two-dozen statutory charges against R. Kelly (not that I’d ever call that fucker exceptionally talented) that Kelly bought off put it best: R. Kelly is basically singing about what he does, while Michael Jackson never sung about molesting children. There’s also an element of culpability. John Lennon admitted to what he did as a bad husband and bad father and presumably strove to be better without any public pressure. Dr. Dre didn’t admit to jackshit until Apple clearly made him issue an apology last week due to their investment in his billion-dollar Beats (horribly ironic name it seems) sound system. And even then he doesn’t own it, instead citing being a drinker. Yeah, that’s right up there with blaming racist statements on drinking. Booze doesn’t make you anything; it only reveals what you are. It’s like money in that. The problem with N.W.A. is that they did talk about beating women, which is clearly what at least one of them was doing (ironically, not the actual drug dealing gang member). So, while I can still enjoy The Italian Job remake or “Keep Their Heads Ringing (which was written by Jay Z anyway), this shit will not take up one second of my life. Ever.

‘CAUSE THAT SCORSESE THING REALLY DIDN’T TAKE NOW DID IT?
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation holds at number two and Tom Cruise seems to have finally found the right writer/director for him in Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote not only wrote Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow and Jack Reacher but directed Jack Reacher as well. He also handled writer/director duties here. They may not be perfect movies, but they are satisfying for the most part and most of all they were all successes for Cruise and having someone who maintains A-list status for over 30 years looking to you is great trump card for a writer/director. He’ll be given a free pass to work between Cruise films and there’s no way he’s going to turn that down.

AT LEAST IN THE OLD DAYS THE MONSTER SEEMED TO DIE IN THE END
Sinister 2 opens at number three and given I didn’t see the first it was pretty much guaranteed I wouldn’t be seeing this. Say it with me, kids: I don’t do the scary. Plus a sequel means the bad guy clearly won in the first film and I hate that shit.

‘CAUSE THERE’S MORE BLOOD ON NETFLIX
Hitman: Agent 47 opens at number four, one of two “super-soldier” movies opening this weekend and while I did see the first one and was a little intrigued by a second once they showed there was going to be a badass woman, I ultimately decided to give it a pass. I’ll catch it on Netflix in a year because it does look like fun at the very least. Yes, that’s the new “I’ll catch it on cable.”

KEATON WAS NEVER BATMAN TO BEGIN WITH, THAT’S WHY!
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is down to number five and I’m sorry this isn’t doing better. First, because it’s a decent movie and second, because I always root for guys playing superheroes to have careers outside of it. I don’t blame Henry Cavill for the shitstorm he signed up for and want him to have a good career because one of the reasons it’s actually difficult to get good actors to be play superheroes is because some of them are such icons you really can’t escape it afterwards (to this day, Lynda Carter is Wonder Woman). Christian Bale doesn’t live in the shadow of Batman because he had career defining roles before an after it, not to mention an Oscar. Kilmer and Clooney never played the role more than once and like Bale had significant work outside of it. But Christopher Reeve never “escaped the cape” like George Reeves before him. And let’s not pretend Dean Cain and Tom Welling had a chance to begin with, shall we?

NOT SCOTT PILGRIM VS. ONLY THE CIA
Speaking of super soldiers and Superman, American Ultra opens at number six and this is basically what if Captain America or Jason Bourne were a stoner. Seriously. Jesse Eisenberg is playing Lex Luthor in the next horrible Superman movie, but here he’s a three-strike stoner who gets recruited by the government for experiments into making super-soldiers. For reasons that are explained later the program is shut down and he’s dropped into a one-horse town as a convenience store clerk with a post-hypnotic suggestion that causes him anxiety attacks whenever he tries to leave. He’s clearly self-medicating with weed but has a girlfriend who seems to have no problem with him. Problems occur when Topher Grace (whose ease at playing dicks seems to confirm rumors about him) decides that Eisenberg has tried to leave town one too man times and sends assassins in to take him out. Connie Britton was the head of the program that recruited Eisenberg and to save him, activates him, so much to his own surprise, he becomes a badass killer whenever he’s attacked…but reverts to his sad stoner self between attacks. Given how often he and Michael Cera are so often and justifiably compared this is very much his own Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, where Cera kicked ass left and right, while otherwise being a whiny dweeb. Unfortunately, it’s meeting with the same lack of success. It’s also not as good, being seemingly unwilling to really cut loose with its premise until the final showdown. They get the stoner part right, but take far too long with the killing machine aspect. It’s a one-joke premise that needed to move a little more quickly before wearing out its welcome.

PUTTING THAT EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS MONEY TO GOOD USE
The Gift is down to number seven and I had no idea Joel Edgerton both wrote and directed this. Also well played to choose the weirdo role over the protagonist. He’s become the odd genuinely talented Australian import, in a world where Jai Courtneys and Sam Worthingtons are given big budget films in which to be utterly bland. Not even bad, which would be fun at least, but boring which is the worst thing an artist can be.

MONEY, HONEY
Ant-Man is down to number eight and while this is far from a flop, it’s not the hard success some might have you think. $361M worldwide from a $130M budget may seem good, but you have to remember that studios get less than half of the overseas take, so at best they’re getting $80M from that $197M overseas take. Combine that with the $165 domestic take and you haven’t even doubled the budget, which is the basic minimum to cover production and advertising costs. Expect a sequel to be much heavier on super-hero guest stars to help out.

AN AMC SERIES JUST AIN’T PAYING FOR SHIT
Minions is down to number nine while Fantastic Four closes out the top ten on its third miserable week and I can’t stop laughing at it. Thankfully, no one will blame Kate Mara (who was apparently forced onto them by the studio), Michael B. Jordan (who was in Chronicle) or Jamie Bell (who should have played Don Blake in a proper adaptation of Thor) for this mess. Especially Jamie Bell. This was clearly to give him some kind of clout to make better indie films, like how Snowpiercer was probably only made because his co-star in that film, Chris Evans, agreed to be in it. There’s no other reason he’s here.

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BASED ON THE P.A.S.T.

17 Aug

mfu
1. Straight Outta Compton/Universal     Wknd/$ 56.1   Total/$ 56.0
2. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation     Wknd/$ 17.0   Total/$ 138.1
3. The Man from UNCLE/WB                  Wknd/$ 13.5    Total/$ 13.5
4. Fantastic Four/Fox                                 Wknd/$ 8.0     Total/$ 42.0
5. The Gift/STX                                            Wknd/$ 6.5     Total/$ 23.6
6. Ant-Man/Disney                                     Wknd/$ 5.5      Total/$ 157.6
7. Vacation/WB                                            Wknd/$ 5.3     Total/$ 46.9
8. Minions/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 5.2     Total/$ 313.0
9. Ricki & The Flash/TriStar                     Wknd/$ 4.6     Total/$ 14.7
10. Trainwreck/Universal                          Wknd/$ 3.8     Total/$ 97.1

FRESH OUTTA INTEREST
Straight Outta Compton opens at number one and I’m still staggered by the fact Ice Cube has a son old enough to play him in a movie about his life. Fuck. We’re both old. The only difference being I don’t keep my hair dyed jet black the way he does. You’re not a sports announcer, Cube. Let it go, brutha. I’ll probably watch it on cable in a year because N.W.A. and gangsta rap was never my thing and honestly could give a shit (and don’t let anyone fool you: it started on the east coast. It just blew up on the west coast). I couldn’t name another song beyond the one used for the title of this movie. It might as well be a New Kids on the Block movie as far as I’m concerned. I liked Biggie more and didn’t go to see his movie either.

MOVIE FROM N.O.S.T.A.L.G.I.A.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is down to number two followed perfectly by Man From U.N.C.L.E. as both are adaptations of Cold War spy shows from the 60’s. Now I knew a little about the MI, but nothing about Man From U.N.C.L.E. Seriously. It never showed up on reruns as when I was kid so I have no idea if and when they’re being loyal to the spirit of the show…and it feels great. Seriously. Being pissed off about Star Trek, Superman, etc., uses up a lot of energy that could be better spent doing… Okay, fine. I wouldn’t be doing anything else, but the point is it’s a little exhausting. Here I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I’m just another mouth-breather in the theater looking for a good time. And I got one. It’s not an exceptional movie, but it is an entertaining one. Unlike Mission Impossible, which opted to go modern, Man From U.N.C.L.E. chooses to stay in the 60’s because director Guy Ritchie adores the look and style of the original Bond films and I ain’t mad at him (using period pop music, but staying away from any well-known hits is nice touch). The movie is as much style as substance and doesn’t pretend otherwise. There are a few too many Ritchie-isms (instant flashbacks to let you know how we got to where we are), but his style is a welcome break from the usual action film formula of quick cuts and explosions. Also, Ritchie is clearly more interested in the characters than the toys they play with and it shows with all the chemistry between Henry Cavill and Arnie Hammer. One that Hammer lacked in his last small-to-big-screen attempt, The Lone Ranger. And Cavill gets nothing but points for doing a straight up impression of original star Robert Vaughn the whole time.

IT’S NOT ENOUGH THAT I SUCCEED, BUT OTHERS MUST FAIL
The Fantastic Four is down to number four appropriately and every day there’s a new story about how Fox and/or director Trank screwed the pooch from the beginning…and the schadenfreude is delicious. Seriously. I love the fact that everyone who stupidly tried to take a concept as light-hearted as The Fantastic Four is getting burned by it (their name alone should have been a clue). Not helping matter is the fact that Matthew Teller is a bit of a dick and not able to hide it in interviews where he’s ostensibly promoting the film. He talks about how a car accident changed him (his scars are visible in the film) but clearly not enough. Apparently he and Trank nearly came to blows during production and I can’t help but smile as I write that. And it’s not just me. Trank got this film because of Chronicle, which was successful dark superhero film. But he didn’t write it. Max Landis did, but was apparently not invited to continue the collaboration on a $100M+ superhero movie because when this disaster landed, Landis released the first few pages of his Fantastic Four movie, which is a thousand times better. Basically letting the world know that Trank’s decision to leave him behind was a horrible mistake. Oh, the schadenfreude…it was already delicious, but not more so when seasoned by the hatred of others.

HERE TO BRING EVERYTHING DOWN
The Gift is down to number five and while this is getting stellar reviews for being a genuine suspense thriller without descending into bunny-boiling and black-and-white good and evil I still have no interest. See, while I don’t do the scary I still have a curiosity about them and read the movie spoilers. The end result seems fairly predictable to me and more-than-given-away by the trailer. This isn’t to say it’s bad as a result—after all there are no new ideas only levels of execution of the old ones—but not the mind twister one might think it is by the praise, much less what people are calling the “twist.”

THE OTHERS
Ant Man is down to number six, followed by Vacation at number seven and minions at number eight.

TAKE OFF THE ROSE COLORED GLASSES, PEOPLE
Ricki and the Flash is down to number eight and I was going to ask what the hell happened to Jonathan Demme but then I look over his history and realize it’s always been hit and miss. And for every Something Wild, Married to The Mob, Silence of the Lambs and Rachel Getting Married, there’s a Manchurian Candidate, Beloved, the hideous mediocre and overpraised Philadelphia and the inexplicable decision to cast Mark Wahlberg in a role once played by Cary Grant in The Truth About Charlie. This is less an unusual failure and more standard operating procedure. The only good thing to come out of this mess is me realizing that they finally put Married to the Mob out on blu-ray last fall. About goddamn time…and keep giving it shitty cover art. Sigh.

SOMEWHERE JUDY GREER WONDERS WHAT THE FUCK!?!
Finally, Trainwreck closes out the top ten at number ten having made almost $100M domestically (it’ll easily reach that goal by this time next week). And this from a $35M budget. Amy Schumer is officially a comedy star and she did it as the lead without first playing the sidekick (which this character usually is), which is doubly impressive. Yes, she’s still an attractive blonde white woman, but she’s not typically so, so it’s still an accomplishment. Needless to say, the clock on her Comedy Central show has probably already started ticking. Hell, Key & Peele have already announced they’re done and without the benefit of a hit movie, so expect hers to come soon. The downside is this secures Judd Apatow’s power in all things comedy related, especially female-oriented. I guess it’s better than nothing or Adam Sandler, but still…

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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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