Tag Archives: Denzel Washington

ANOTHER BLOODY SEQUEL

10 Jan

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1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story/Disney         Wknd/$ 22.0   Total/$ 477.3
2. Hidden Figures/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 21. 8   Total/$ 24.8
3. Sing/Universal                                                   Wknd/$ 19.6   Total/$ 213.4
4. Underworld: Blood Wars/SGem                    Wknd/$ 13.1    Total/$ 13.1
5. La La Land/LG                                                   Wknd/$ 10.0   Total/$ 51.7
6. Passengers/Sony                                                Wknd/$ 8.8     Total/$ 80.9
7. Why Him/Fox                                                     Wknd/$ 6.5     Total/$ 48.6
8. Moana/Disney                                                   Wknd/$ 6.4      Total/$ 225.4
9. Fences/Paramount                                            Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 40.7
10. Assassin’s Creed/Fox                                      Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 49.5

THE SAD TRUTH IS NOSTALGIA PAYS…AND PAYS WELL
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story holds at number one and I’m sorry, but I cannot drink the Kool Aid on this one. It ain’t all that. It’s taking for granted your affection for this universe and so not bothering to build actual characters for you to know or care about. And on top of that throwing in useless fan shout-outs that briefly stop the momentum of a film desperately lacking it. As you know this is the story of how the plans to The Death Star came to be in the hands of Princess Leia. It’s through the use of a kinda of “Magnificent Seven in Space” which was honestly done better in Battle Beyond The Stars. What you don’t know is that it also feels the need to answer unasked questions like “Who was Red Five before Luke Skywalker?” And don’t get me started on the computer-reanimated corpse of Peter Cushing in the form of a total CGI Grand Moff Tarkin. Hella creepy and distracting. I’ve got no problem with the initial concept of the film, but it suffers from one of the same flaws as the horrible prequels: the need to set up everything that follows rather than simply tell its own story. How disappointing is it? Think of the two most inconsequential characters from Star Wars and know they show up here in a “funny” cameo.

FAILURE OF THE BLACK MAN PT 1
Hidden Figures is up to number two and this completes the hat trick of critically acclaimed film with Black actors as leads that I’ve failed to see while somehow finding time to see shit like Christmas Office Party. The other two are Moonlight and Loving. But I still say I’m going to see them. I am. Stop laughing.

PLUS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANY SUCKY NEW SONGS
Sing is down to number three and on one hand this looks like a lot of fun. On the other it’s almost two fucking hours long and this is simply not a two-hour concept. The songs do not need to be played to completion to get the joke and I have the funny feeling that’s exactly the mistake they’ve made here. But I’m sure on cable it will be nothing but fun.

HOT CHICK + ACCENT + GUNS = MY MONEY
Underworld: Blood Wars opens at number four and yes, this I found time for. Sorry, but it’s been a 14-year commitment for me. Well, that and the neverending delight of Kate Beckinsale in skintight rubber. When we last left her the nocturnal family (vampire, half-vampire-half-werewolf and their daughter) had been reunited despite the lack of Scott Speedman. If you think CGI Tarkin was distracting at least he looked like Peter Cushing. The budget of Underworld simply couldn’t handle recreating Speedman and did some sad shit to a poor actor thinking maybe porn would have been less humiliating. Also, Kate Beckinsale’s character been in suspended animation for 15 years and in that time had not given birth to to the afforementioned daughter but humans had learned of both vampires and werewolves and were trying to wipe them all out. As it turned out werewolves were behind all that getting their revenge on almost being wiped out by vampires in the previous films. Well, all that’s gone. No, seriously. They don’t mention anything about the change in the status quo or how werewolves infiltrated the mainstream. All that remains is Kate Beckinsale’s half-vampire-quarter werewolf daughter and the fact the vampires are now on the ropes. But that’s not the problem. The problem is big, emotional moments in the film that tie characters back to the first Underworld and threaten to provide actual character development are rushed through. Imagine if Darth Vader had reveal himself to be Luke’s father and there wasn’t even a beat of drama then he followed it up with “And Leia is your sister.” And even that was followed up by something else as if they had to get it all in before the movie ended. This movie is only 91 minutes so easily could have spared the characters another eight or nine minutes so they could react to things and at least feign giving their characters depth. Being almost two hours long didn’t hurt the first film and why it still remains the best is due to the wide variety of individual characters who are in fact given those little “beats.” There’s the potential for that here as we are introduced at least five new characters who seem interesting, but again, none are really given the time to be fleshed out. We never even learn the bad guy’s plan, which is kind of important because he actually says he’s trying to end the war between vampires and werewolves. And he’s got a vampire lover trying to help him for the same reason. That’s kind of an important plot point given Kate Beckinsale repeatedly expresses how she’s tired of the killing. Finally, at $35M you don’t have the loot for elaborate CGI, so again look to the original and see how many of the werewolf effects were practical, not computer animated. Being the 4th best out of a five movie series is not exactly impressive (in order of best to worst they are Underworld, Underworld Rise of the Lycans, Underworld Evolution, Underworld Blood Wars and Underworld Awakening).

CAN’T GET FROM UNDER THAT “BURDEN” CAN YOU?
LaLa Land is down to number five and I have zero desire to see this, but it’s an Awards favorite now so I guess I have to. Sorry, but they lost me at “White Guy Who Will Be The Savior of Jazz” character and nothing I’ve read about it is really changing my mind.

SUBMITTED FOR YOUR APPROVAL SOMETHING THAT’S BETTER IN SHORTER FORM
Passengers is down to number six and this is yet another Outer Limits/Twilight Zone episode that escaped into theaters. Chris Pratt is an engineer on a spaceship that puts passengers into suspended animation for its 120-year travel time. Unfortunately a meteor storm damages the ship and wakes him up and he cannot go back, so after a year of isolation he wakes up 20-something hottie, Jennifer Lawrence. I like Chris Pratt, but his acting skills aren’t really up to par showing a man who basically goes nuts from loneliness and dooms another person rather than be alone. Jennifer Lawrence can’t do anything with it either and she’s someone whose performance reflects the quality of her material. The biggest problem is the script won’t commit to its dark premise. They want Chris Pratt to stay a likable sane guy but a likable sane guy wouldn’t do what he does, so he has to either be an asshole or nuts and they won’t allow him either. And don’t get me started on the cop-out ending… The Twilight Zone wouldn’t have wussed out like that.

I MEAN…LOOK AT HIM!
Why Him is down to number seven and one of biggest problems in Hollywood is how long they try to hold onto a “younger” male actor. James Franco is not the young male lead any longer. He’s pushing 40 and this role is clearly supposed to be someone in their 20’s. Notice they didn’t cast his love interest older. Nope. She’s actually in her 20’s while he’s “playing” that role. And it looks like ass to boot.

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!
Moana is down to number eight and Disney needs to stop pushing the ballad for Oscar consideration. The best song is “You’re Welcome.” Not to mention, if nominated it means we’ll see Dwayne Johnson singing it at the Oscars (with help from writer Lin Manuel Miranda). Now who doesn’t want that!?!

FAILURE OF THE BLACK MAN PT 2
Fences is down to nine and my Guilt Trilogy has become a Guilt Quadrilogy because I haven’t seen this fucking thing either. Sigh. I’m failing at being Black in 2017…clearly holding over from 2016.

SAVED FROM MYSELF
Finally, Assassins Creed closes out the top ten at number ten and if I had the time I so would have saw this. I’m sad.

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THE AFFLECK IDENTITY

17 Oct

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1. The Accountant/WB Wknd/$ 24.7 Total/$ 24.7
2. Kevin Hart: What Now? Wknd/$ 12.0 Total/$ 12.0
3. The Girl on the Train/Universal Wknd/$ 12.0 Total/$ 46.6
4. Miss Peregrine’s Home…/Fox Wknd/$ 8.9 Total/$ 65.8
5. Deepwater Horizon/Lions Gate Wknd/$ 6.4 Total/$ 49.3
6. Storks/WB Wknd/$ 5.6 Total/$ 59.1
7. The Magnificent Seven/Sony Wknd/$ 5.2 Total/$ 84.8
8. Middle School/LGF Wknd/$ 4.3 Total/$ 13.8
9. Sully/WB Wknd/$ 3.0 Total/$ 118.4
10. The Birth of a Nation/FoxSearch Wknd/$ 2.7 Total/$ 12.2

NEXT UP: THE TAX ATTORNEY
The Accountant opens at number one and Ben Affleck needed this like he needs air. It’s clear that despite universal praise and an Academy Awards, he still wants to be a superstar in front of the camera like Matt Damon and will do most anything to get there. In case Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t made clear this attempt to create a Jason Bourne like franchise for himself will remove all doubt. As The Accountant of the title, Affleck is playing the go-to moneyman for the richest bad guys in the world and somehow in this world of near constant surveillance, not a single person has noticed or gotten a picture of him until a treasury agent is put on his tail. You know that’s kinda impossible but you let it go. Then the treasury agent investigating him is the only person who’s notices the similarity between his faux names and that’s when you realize it’s time to turn off your brain and just enjoy the violence. And we haven’t even gotten to him being a merciless trained killer from childhood…as a way to deal with his autism. No, I’m not kidding. And unlike the Bourne films it does take the time to throw a little humor into the mix. But the dumber this movie gets (and it gets dumb) the more fun it becomes. It was enjoyable enough on the big screen, but it’s going to be a choice late-night, rainy afternoon piece of cable viewing in the future. Probably back-to-back with a Bourne movie.

HOW CAN WE MISS YOU IF YOU WON’T GO AWAY? PT 89
Kevin Hart knew you missed the few weeks he wasn’t in the movie theaters so he sent you this concert film, Kevin Hart: What Now? to tide you over until his next mainstream movie where he’s partnered with yet another star that has come to realize they also cannot carry a movie on their own. You’re welcome.

IN CASE LIKE ME YOU WERE WONDERING WHY SHE WAS HOSTING SNL
The Girl on the Train is down to number three and this is one of those books that “everyone” has read and has been cautiously looking forward to which is how it opened at number one last week.. This year’s Gone Girl for lack of a better term. Unfortunately, it’s not in the hands of a craftsman like David Fincher who was wise enough to employ the book’s actual writer to aid in the screen translation keeping it as substantive as it was stylish. Not that Tate Taylor is without a solid history, but aside from his debut film, Winter’s Bone which proved Jennifer Lawrence could act, he’s made generic safe films like The Help and the James Brown bio, Get On Up. I never read the book so my interest in this film could only be generated by what it looked like and it never rose above mild and there’s been no word-of-mouth to help it get above that. Honestly, the most appealing thing about it for me is Emily Blunt. Shame her post The Devil Wears Prada career hasn’t gone as well as hoped. If only she’d been able to be The Black Widow in the Marvel movies as rumored. I’d soooo much prefer her to ScarJo.

APPARENTLY WEIRD PEOPLE DON’T LIKE SOLID STORIES EITHER
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children aka Tim Burton’s X-Men is down to number four and this seems tailor made for Tim Burton whose entire career has been based upon him making movies about “odd people” since he considered himself one of them. Well, he may have been but his habit of dating actresses and models pretty much secures him in “Just Another Dude” territory for me I don’t care how much black he wears or how much he listens to The Cure. And honestly, how much of an outsider can someone who only makes big-budget special effects films for major studios truly be? Both he and his frequent collaborator, Johnny Depp need to let this go or try and find a new take on it. While this looked interesting, the mere fact Tim Burton’s name was on it meant that whatever the story may have been it was going to be an afterthought for him and I just can’t waste anymore if my time on his visually stunning yet ultimately boring and uninteresting films.

OUR GUILT OUTWEIGHS OUR CONCERN
Deepwater Horizon is down to number five and watching Kate Hudson be slowly confined to playing wives and girlfriends of older leading men is just becoming sad. And no one was more annoyed than I when she was omnipresent in generic mainstream films as the lead. Here she’s the waiting wife to Mark Walberg as he fights to survive and save his crew on the offshore oil rig that created the worst oil spill in US History. It’s probably the latter that has contributed to this film’s lack of success despite mostly positive reviews. People really don’t feel sympathetic to a disaster that poisoned the Gulf of Mexico. It probably should have stressed more the culpability of BP in the disaster, but instead chose to ignore that and go straight for the human drama and is paying the price. We like our disaster movies global and leaning more towards science fiction more those that are all too real with real life consequences.

ONLY ONE AT THE TOP OF THIS MOUNTAIN
Storks is down to number six followed by The Magnificent Seven at number seven and playing that woman you’re understandably confused to learn was not Bryce Dallas Howard is Haley Bennett, who is also in The Girl on the Train making her a would-be “It Girl” of the moment, meaning she would be if these films did a little better. This hasn’t even made budget yet after a month, which is odd given Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt are supposed to be big stars. This is more Pratt’s problem than Denzel’s as Pratt hasn’t had much success after his one-two punch of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World two years ago, whereas Denzel launched his own franchise last year with The Equalizer…which also costarred Haley Bennett, thus bringing us full circle.

PROBABLY TALKS ABOUT HOW TEST PAPERS SMELLED FRESHLY MIMEOGRAPHED
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is down to number eight and exactly who thinks actually seeing authors in ads will increase sales of anything. Especially when they look like James Patterson. I don’t see this working for his adult mystery novels, much less when it’s an old man talking about a book set in grade school.

HE DIDN’T POLLUTE THE HUDSON FOR ONE
Sully is down to number nine and this is a success both Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks sorely needed. Unlike Deepwater Horizon, there’s no conflict here because the ending was straight up happy.

THOUGH I’M SURE SCORSESE DOESN’T CARE
The Birth of a Nation is down to number ten and I want to see this and will probably eventually see it, but I’m honestly not going to do anything that will contribute to Nate Parker’s career. Sometimes you just can’t separate the dancer from the dance.

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MAGNIFICENT DIVERSITY

26 Sep

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1. The Magnificent Seven/Sony         Wknd/$ 35.0     Total/$ 35.0
2. Storks/WB                                         Wknd/$ 21.8     Total/$ 21.8
3. Sully/WB                                            Wknd/$ 13.8     Total/$ 92.4
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary/Universal   Wknd/$ 4.5       Total/$ 16.5
5. Snowden/ORF                                  Wknd/$ 4.1        Total/$ 15.1
6. Blair Witch/LGF                               Wknd/$ 4.0       Total/$ 16.1
7. Don’t Breathe/SGems                      Wknd/$ 3.8       Total/$ 81.1
8. Suicide Squad/WB                           Wknd/$ 3.1        Total/$ 318.1
9. When The Bough Breaks/SGem    Wknd/$ 2.5       Total/$ 26.6
10. Kubo & The Two Strings/Focus   Wknd/$ 1.1        Total/$ 46.0

MAYBE THE NEXT TIME THERE’LL BE WOMEN OF COLOR
The Magnificent Seven opens at number one and do you know what every single remake of The Seven Samurai has in common? No matter how ridiculously inept they may be (I’m looking at you TV version which became a series), they’re still as entertaining as fuck. This is no exception. It’s not superlative in any way shape or form beyond making minorities the majority of the seven and making the people in need of help white rather than a bunch of Mexicans speaking accented English. In fact, it’s actually staggering in how shallow the characterization is, but if you know anything about Antoine Fuqua action movies that’s not surprising. Then again in the first western remake you really didn’t know anything beyond Yul Brynner or Steve McQueen or Robert Vaughn or James Coburn beyond some surface color (cool gunfighter, fancy dan gun for hire) and this is pretty much the same, so in fact it’s half-assing any attempt to give them depth that’s a problem. Either do it or don’t. There is no try. Honestly, what made them watchable before is the same as now and that’s the charisma that seasoned actors like Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke and Peter Skarsgaard (and movie stars like Chris Pratt and Byung-Hun Lee) bring to it. So if you want to watch good guy movie stars mow down lots of faceless stuntmen—and every action movie ever says you do—then this isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon. However, if you think an action movie in 2016 should be a bit more sophisticated than a movie made in 1960 then perhaps it’s not.

SOME BULLSHIT RIGHT HERE
Storks opens at number two and when small children in your audience keep making noise when the trailer for your animated movie comes up, then your movie is probably shit. No child anywhere ever went silent for Storks. It looks as unfunny as shit and only makes you count the days before the next Disney or Pixar movie.

SAVING US ALL
Sully is down to number three and its success returns Tom Hanks safely to his perch as “America’s Dad” after a series of misfires and keeps him away from playing Miles Teller’s dad one more day. Unfortunately its success also allows Clint Eastwood to remain safely in his position as “America’s Slightly Racist Sexist Grandfather Who Doesn’t Think He’s a Sexist Racist.”

YOU’RE LUCKY YOU HAD GRAY’S ANATOMY. SERIOUSLY.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is down to number four and while I loves me some Bridget Jones, I’ve never seen or read anything beyond the first book and movie (which are decidedly different but equally entertaining). Ironically, while there was no reason whatsoever for Hugh Grant to be in a sequel, Patrick Dempsey is such a poor replacement you wish they’d bent over backwards to find a way. There’s absolutely no way he’s competition for Colin Firth in anything, anywhere at any time. He is proof positive some people simply do not have the presence to occupy the big screen. Clooney can, Dempsey cannot. It’s just that simple. See you in your new show with a decade-younger wife in the fall of 2017.

AND SO IT BEGINS…
Snowden is down to number four and this signals the official beginning to Oscar-bait season. In other words, I’ll see it only once it’s been nominated by a body I respect (not you Hollywood Foreign Press). I have a firm rule against Oliver Stone so it has to be exceptional to make me break it.

ONCE AN INNOVATOR NOW JUST ANOTHER FACE IN THE CROWD
Blair Witch is down to number six and the movie that not only kicked off the “found footage” horror genre but “viral marketing” is back for another serving. It cost $5M to make and has so far made $15M. Of course if they were really smart they’d have waited until Halloween, but they’ve been out of the fame awhile. Needless to say I didn’t see it as I did not see the first and have only seen one “found footage” movie (Cloverfield) and regretted the shit out of it.

HAVE SOME GODDAMN STANDARDS FOR YOUR SCARY
Ironically, one of Blair Witch’s low-budget horror stepchildren is showing how it’s done in Don’t Breathe, which is down to number seven, but has made a whopping $91M off a paltry $10M budget. That’s fucking ridiculous. What’s wrong with you people!?!

YET ANOTHER REASON TO HATE THIS MOVIE
Suicide Squad is down to number seven showing ridiculous legs even in a weak movie season. So far it’s out-grossed Man of Steel while costing less and is only $12M away from Batman v. Superman’s domestic gross. To repeat: a superhero concept almost no one knows has outgrossed the most famous superhero ever and is gaining on the first ever screen outing of the three most famous superheroes ever. But the greatest sin is that it’s helping to sustain the career of Jai Courtney, aka Sam Worthington 2.0. Proof positive that no matter what Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth have led you to believe, not all Australians are charismatic.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
When The Bough Breaks is down to number nine, but like the other low-budget films on this list that is not the end of the world because it only cost $10M to make and so far has made almost $27M. Sadly I estimated 2o years ago that if you wanted to make Black films keep the costs $8-10M and you’d be okay and nothing has changed. If you’re not Denzel Washington or Will Smith keep it low. Or better yet, just stick to TV where the checks come every week for years like the lead of this, Morris Chestnut, has learned and the female lead, Regina Hall is hoping to learn with that shitty looking TV adaptation of Uncle Buck. Just ask Keenan on Saturday Night Live who has become the new Tim Meadows who did not become the new Eddie Murphy.

A PRETTY PICTURE OF FAILURE
Finally, Kubo & The Two Strings closes out the top ten at number ten and maybe this will teach these guys to stop trying to write their own stuff.

THE MOST WONDERFULEST TIME OF THE YEAR

The new fall season has started and because I love, love, loves me some TV I try to give every new show a shot. I mean unless it stars someone like Kevin James or Tim Allen or that douchey-looking guy from CSI who should have stuck with a sure thing and not let his agent blow smoke up his ass that he was some kinda lead. Especially in a show inspired by fucking Dr. Phil. But it’s on CBS and people who watch CBS will watch any. fucking. thing.

Atlanta: I was never a fan of Community. A little of that show went a long way and the jokes were always a beat or two off from truly being effective in my opinion. But I am a fan of Donald Glover and his music under Childish Gambino after avoiding it for years because of that stupid name. Also, being from Atlanta I had to give it a shot…and it is some good shit. Aside from the fact it’s getting a total pass on FXX for language (yes, the F bomb drops regularly) it’s wonderfully weird for the sheer sake of being weird and indulges in mercifully needed irreverent wit in black-centric TV shows, especially comedy. In a world where Michael Epps works far too much this is needed like oxygen. And the character of Darius is everything for me. He takes the weird sidekick beyond the one-note level of the average weird sidekick.

Designated Survivor: I have to admit this sounds more like the premise of a movie starring Larry the Cable Guy or Adam Sandler than a dramatic show much less a real thing, but it is very much a real thing and while I was just giving the show a cursory look, it hooked the shit out of me. They stacked the deck hard with Keifer Sutherland’s character as the the bleeding heart Housing Secretary (who was actually being fired by the president the day of the terrorist attack) who has to man up for a nation in chaos, but you know he’s going to and you want to see it happen. Even the improbably pretty and painfully thin Maggie Q as a seasoned anti-terrorist FBI agent doesn’t take away from it.

Lethal Weapon: I can’t help but think this is a way of pushing Mel Gibson out of public consciousness once and for all. After all, the first one came out in the 80’s and unlike the superior Die Hard hasn’t really continued into the new century for the kids to know it. At the same time it’s amazing it took this long for them to do it. Back in the old days a successful movie had a TV series based on it the next year, not 30 years later. But Keenan Wayans isn’t complaining. Last time you saw him he was playing his fully adult son’s father on Happy Endings about three years ago (sigh, has it been that long). At one point in his stand up years ago he joked about how his film career vanished. The show is as silly and disconnected from reality as the movies ever were so if you liked them, you’ll probably like this. I never liked the movies and in fact like this a bit better because it doesn’t ask you to take it all that seriously. It’s Bugs Bunny as an action hero and as stupid as it is, maybe a little less stupid than the movies. Certainly less ham-fisted.

The Good Place: Another show that seems more like a movie concept than a sustaining series turned out to have more to it that meets the eye. Kristen Bell is a pretty awful person who mistakenly gets into a neighborhood in heaven, but we learn heaven is far from perfect which is what saves it from being a dull show about her learning a lesson in sharing & caring each week. Not only is its designer, Ted Danson, enormously flawed, but even the other people there are a tad questionable. Best part: the sins and virtues that got people in and kept them out are hysterical as they’re on a point scale. Commissioner of any Sports Organization is a negative but being a devoted Cleveland Browns Fan is a positive. Being a vegan is a positive, but being a vegan who never reveals this unless prompted is even more points.

Better Things: I like all the tiny brunettes in Hollywood and Pamela Aldon is no exception and that she opens the show with her and another tiny brunette, Constance Zimmer, audition for the same role endeared this show to me instantly. The only way it could have been better would be to have Janeane Garafolo also show up. Granted, the world didn’t need yet another behind-the-scenes of the lives of show business people because they aren’t nearly as interesting to us as they think they are, there’s enough here worth watching as it’s just as much about her raising her three daughters and dealing with an English mother who lives across the street. That it’s yet another show that allows celebrities to play obnoxious versions of themselves is another plus. David Duchovny repays his Californication co-star in the third episode.

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DUMB ENOUGH FOR SUMMER

28 Sep

taraji
1. The Equalizer/Sony                               Wknd/$ 35.0    Total/$ 35.0
2. The Maze Runner/Fox                         Wknd/$ 17.5     Total/$ 58.0
3. The Boxtrolls/Focus                             Wknd/$ 17.3     Total/$ 17.3
4. This is Where I Leave You/WB          Wknd/$ 7.0      Total/$ 22.6
5. Dolphin Tale 2/WB                               Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 33.7
6. No Good Deed/SGems                         Wknd/$ 4.6      Total/$ 46.6
7. A Walk Among The Tombstones/U   Wknd/$ 4.2      Total/$ 20.9
8. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney        Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 319.2
9. Let’s Be Cops/Fox                                  Wknd/$ 1.5      Total/$ 79.6
10. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles/Par  Wknd/$ 1.5      Total/$ 187.2

FRANKEN-ACTION!
The Equalizer opens at number one and this isn’t just another “ex-government agent bringing vigilante justice movie” it’s also a Frankenstein’s monster of other Denzel Washington movies. Ex-government assassin/agent with some lingering guilt of what he’s done who decimates organized crime? Man on Fire. He’s also a working class joe? John Q. There’s a young Russian hooker to save? He Got Game. Because there are no black women in the cast he’s sexless? Almost all of them. Based on the TV show from the 80’s that I never watched, Denzel is yet another government killing machine trying to live a normal life and is almost doing so, but then some Russian mobsters (Russians having taken the place of the Italians as the boogey men of crime) hurt a girl he’s become friends with and they awaken the sleeping dragon who burns their house down. Literally. Now, you don’t expect too much reality in an action film, but you’re not really helping people when you blow up an oil tanker on the docks! It would have felt like a nuke dropped on the city and the damage would have been enormous, most likely destroying legitimate businesses and we’re not getting into the environmental damage! Oh, and it’s set in Boston. Pretty sure a giant explosion would cause all sorts of panic amongst the populace, not to mention the very people Denzel Washington used to work for. It gets so over-the-top towards the end (learn how your local Home Depot can be turned into a killing field with ordinary house and gardening appliances) you wonder how something this dumb escaped a summer release date. But it is fun and honestly you need this as all the humorless, solemn would-be-oscar bait falling around our ears right now.

THE SECRET IS NOT TO DO IT IN CRAYON. USE A PENCIL.
The Maze Runner is down to number two and this is yet another Young Adult novel which has produced box office gold. A sequel has already been green lit. I know very little about the plot other than a group of boys are trapped a environment by a giant maze, but presumably your hero makes it through the maze otherwise you’ve got a very unsatisfying movie, so what’s the second film going to be? Another maze? Is really adaptation of a novel or one of those Big Book of Mazes your parents give you on a long trip to keep you quiet, so they’re just moving onto the next maze? The Maze Runner 2: This Time It’s A Square One.

I AM THE ENEMY OF ALL SUBSTANCE
The Box Trolls opens at number one and I not proud of myself but I disliked the animation style of this too much to even give it a try. It bothers me because actual stop-motion animation is rare these days and it should be supported, but I just can’t with this. It’s just too damn ugly! It’s about kindly trolls who raise a boy. Um, okay. Whatever.

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOBS, KIDS
Speaking of Oscar bait, we’ve had our first failure with This Is Where I Leave You which clearly wanted to me some Robert Altman-mish combination of comedy and drama about a family coming together after the death of the patriarch. Unfortunately it more resembles a TV movie that escaped into theaters, thanks in no small part to the fact that all its stars are best known from the small screen. Tina Fey (30 Rock, SNL), Jason Batman (Arrested Development), Adam Driver (girls), Rose Byrne (Damages) Connie Britton (Nashville) and Timothy Olyphant (Justified). The only real movie star is Jane Fonda. The other aspect that makes it feel like a TV movie is how utterly antiseptic it looks and feels. Aside from looking like no dirt has touched anything anywhere, the drama is saucer deep. We’re told that Jason Bateman’s problem is that he wanted a perfect life with nothing complicated or messy, but he never demonstrates those type of negative character aspects at any time. We only know because other characters tell us. He’s just playing the usual Jason Bateman straight man role, where he comments dryly on the behavior of others. We’re never given any indication that he might not be anything other than the wronged husband great until his wife reveals her affair with his boss might have had a little to do with the fact he withdrew after her miscarriage. Likewise, the affair is used only for comic relief. When your spouse sleeps with your boss, the goal is clearly to hurt you. Otherwise it would have been a stranger. The film never for once examines this and gives only lip service to the other attempts a drama. I know it comes from a much-loved book, but I can only think they took all the best jokes from it and left the depth behind. It wouldn’t be the first to do this, nor will it be the last.

AIN’T NO MONEY LIKE REGULAR MONEY
Dolphin Tale 2 holds at number five, followed by No Good Deed down to number six and also starring in this is Taraji P. Henson who’s having a pretty good year between this and Think Like A Man Too. Almost makes up from having been killed off on Person of Interest. Almost, because nothing beats a regular TV paycheck during the fall with movies in the summer, which is clearly what she was doing.

DON’T MESS WITH SUCCESS, LIAM
A Walk Among The Tombstones opens at number seven letting Liam Neeson know that if he’s going to be investigating a kidnapping, it had better be of his own family by European gangsters whom he will then all kill. What’s funny is he almost turned this down because he didn’t want to another kidnapping movie…even though he’s currently making Taken 3. Who’s left to be taken!?! Mom? A cousin? A maiden aunt? This however isn’t an action film but a mystery suspense crime drama as he’s an ex-cop now a private detective hired to investigate the apparently kidnapping and murder of the wife of a gangster. I’m a sucker for private eye movies, but this opened on a busy weekend and I had to watch Denzel do what he normally does.

GOING ON RIGHT NOW IN THIS GALAXY RIGHT HERE…
Guardians of the Galaxy is still around and the only funny thing about Chris Pratt’s hosting of Saturday Night Live were the spoofs of it. Especially “Marvel’s Star Wars” which, ironically is what this already has already become.

THE BABARINO EFFECT
Let’s Be Cops is down to number nine having made $80M off a $17M budget. Holy shit. Right now they’re both checking the fine print of their New Girl contracts to see how to get the hell out or at the very least a serious pay raise.

NOT EVERYONE LIKED HAVING THEIR CHILDHOOD TRASHED
Finally Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles closes out the top ten at number ten and don’t believe the hype about its success. Yeah, it’s made $187M domestically (the numbers that really matter) but it cost $125M to make, so profitability is still in the distance.

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WHO ASKED FOR ANOTHER LETHAL WEAPON MOVIE!?!

4 Aug

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1. 2 Guns/Universal                                    Wknd/$  27.4       Total/$  27.4

 2. The Wolverine/Fox                                Wknd/$  21.7        Total/$  95.0

 3. The SmuRfs 2/Sony                               Wknd?$  18.2        Total/$  27.8

 4. The Conjuring/WB                                 Wknd/$  13.7         Total/$ 108.6

 5. Despicable Me 2/Universal                   Wknd/$  10.4        Total/$ 326.7

 6. Grown Ups 2/Sony                                  Wknd/$    8.1        Total/$ 116.4

 7. Turbo/Fox                                                 Wknd/$    6.4         Total/$  69.5

 8. Red 2/LG                                                   Wknd/$    5.7         Total/$  45.2

 9. The Heat/Fox                                            Wknd/$    4.7         Total/$ 149.6

10. Pacific Rim/Warners                              Wknd/$    4.6         Total/$  93.0

 

SOMEWHERE DANNY GLOVER AND MEL GIBSON ARE CONFUSED BECAUSE THEY DON’T REMEMBER MAKING THIS

2 Guns opens at number one and apparently some people seriously miss the Lethal Weapon series, because that’s all this is. You’ve got the older, less flamboyant black guy and the borderline nuts younger white guy. You’ve also got your “R” rating and gratuitous nudity by the female lead who basically just around to do just that. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are DEA and Naval Intelligence, respectively, only neither knows the other is undercover and each thinks the other is just a criminal.  They’re both using one another to take down a Mexican drug lord and decide the best way to do so is to rob the bank where he keeps his money. Unfortunately for them it winds up being where the CIA stores its ill-gotten goods and while the CIA frames Denzel for murder to get it back, Marky Mark finds out his operation was merely a front to rip off a drug dealer and now his commanding officer and buddies are out to kill him. This means he and Denzel have to team up for some post-racial justice using guns!  Honestly, I enjoyed this more than any Lethal Weapon movies because I hated the Lethal Weapon movies. Even for action movies they were exceptionally stupid.  This is dumb too, but not that dumb and both leads are endlessly more appealing and that’s honestly what carries this film. I know this is based on a comic book, but I could have used a little more modern treatment of women. Paula Patton is playing Denzel Washington’s boss in the DEA so she should have been allowed to kick a little ass instead of her character basically showing once again how writers are made up of guys who didn’t date much in high school. Or college. Or ever.

 

FIRST YOU GET THE MONEY, THEN YOU GET THE POWER THEN YOU GET THE BLAME

The Wolverine is down to number two and this is a movie that makes you angrier the more you think about it because the more flaws and mistakes you begin to see. Though honestly, for an action film it’s greatest flaw is the lack of any memorable action scenes. A fight on the roof of a Japanese bullet train is as stupid as it is IMPOSSIBLE!  They might as well have all started flying it’s so detached from reality.  Credit mediocre director James Mangold for that. Clearly no one learned anything from the underperforming Knight & Day last year or the 3:10 To Yuma remake or the TV movie level of drama from Walk The Line.  And clearly Hugh Jackman forgot how much Kate & Leopold sucked to have worked with him again. Jackman clearly has to start taking blame for these bad Wolverine movies as he isn’t just an actor but a producer as well so the bad choices are partially his fault.

 

AMERICA VS. THE WORLD

The Smurfs 2 opens at number three and before you get all happy and think this is the end of the line, know that the only reason this sequel even exists is because overseas it nearly QUADRUPLED its box office.  Once again the argument is made for isolationism because they might just save this franchise again. And do I have to point out that the French created The Smurfs to begin with?  Somehow that just makes sense.

 

OUR WEEKLY INSTALLMENT OF “LOVE HER!”

The Conjuring is down to number four and another reputable actor lending this film credibility is Vera Farmiga, whom I’ve personally loved since she was on the short-lived American remake of the Touching Evil series.  I know she kills it on the Bates Motel series on TV, but I can’t watch that show knowing that every pretty girl basically has an expiration date on her forehead.  But she’s developing a slow and steady stream of box office and critical successes, including Higher Ground where she starred and directed. You go, Glen Coco!

 

EVIL NEVER DIES

Despicable Me 2 is down to number five, followed by Grown Ups 2 at number six and as much as I enjoy the summer, sequels do get tiresome. Especially when they blow like these two.

 

NO, THIS NEVER GETS OLD

Turbo is down to number seven meaning there’s still time to laugh at Ryan Reynolds but he’s not alone in this turd. No, there’s Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez, Snoop Dogg, Bill Hader and Ken Jeong. The only difference being most of them have other successful films (Maya Rudolph is in Grown Ups 2 on this very list) if not careers to fall back on. Reynolds can’t say the same. Heh.

 

SO, SO PRETTY

Red 2 is down to number eight and with god as my witness, Byung-hun Lee isn’t in this movie thirty seconds before he’s stripped down naked. He truly is “the girl” in all the movies that he makes.  If you look him up on Google, they’ll ask you “Do you mean Byung-hun Lee Abs?”  Why, yes. Yes, I do.  Clearly he’s taking the younger sex appeal mantle up from Karl Urban in the first film to make sure someone under 40 is in the theater. And to make Bruce Willis look young by fighting him, as if either man wouldn’t have kicked his ass in two seconds.

 

TOO PRETTY TO BE IN ANY OTHER APATOW MOVIES

Finally, Pacific Rim closes out the top ten at number ten and don’t fret Charley Hunnam.  You still have Sons of Anarchy. Though you’ll always be the English man-whore Lloyd from Undeclared to me.  I think the reason he hasn’t be in any other Judd Apatow movies is obvious.  Still the action world needs new leading men and it’s a shame this didn’t help to launch him in that direction.