Tag Archives: Divergent

ZACK SNYDER V COMPETENT FILMMAKING

28 Mar

Morena-Baccarin-Photoshoot-by-Robert-Ascroft-2013-morena-baccarin-35411576-748-1000

1. Batman v Superman/WB                 Wknd/$170.1   Total/$ 170.1
2. Zootopia/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 23.1    Total/$ 240.5
3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2/Uni  Wknd/$ 18.1    Total/$ 18.1
4. Miracles from Heaven/TriStar       Wknd/$ 9.5      Total/$ 34.1
5. Divergent: Allegiant/LG                    Wknd/$ 9.5     Total/$ 46.6
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane/Paramount      Wknd/$ 6.0    Total/$ 56.0
7. Deadpool/Paramount                         Wknd/$ 5.0    Total/$ 349.5
8. London Has Fallen/Focus                 Wknd/$ 2.9    Total/$ 55.6
9. Hello, My Name is Doris/RA             Wknd/$ 1.7    Total/$ 3.3
10. Eye in the Sky/BST                            Wknd/$ 1.0    Total/$ 1.7

GREED V CHARACTERS: DAWN OF A FRANCHISE
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice opens at number one to no one’s surprise. Also not surprising? It’s goddamned awful that way that only a CGI heavy muddle by a hack director like Snyder can be. The movie exists for one reason only: to make Superman and Batman fight, so they wrote it ass backwards trying to come up with reasons to make this happen and they do a horrible job of it. The movie is strongly inspired by the best-selling Batman comics ever: The Dark Knight Returns, which is set in a future where Batman is little more than a psychotic thug and Superman is a government stooge and at its climax Batman beats a weakened Superman who is honestly trying not to hurt him. I have to give the book credit for brilliantly tapping into the not-so-secret longstanding resentment of many for Superman. Simply put, he’s the status quo, the establishment. He’s everything that makes your angry teen-self feel powerless. Your parents, your teachers, the cops…etc. While Batman is literally powerless (unless you count money which makes him the most powerful superhero). Having the “powerless” character defeat the all-powerful character resonated so strongly, the status quo of DC Comics was forever changed and Superman & Batman were no longer best friends, but antagonistic. Frenemies at best. Also, the book sold millions, which never happens, so DC followed the money, which means for the better part of the last 30 years aside from continually making them fight, Batman has also been a near psychotic. Most of these stories are godawful, but all of those stories are better than this one, which involves Lex Luthor (played as “autistic evil” by Jesse Eiesenberg) hating Superman for no real reason and wanting him both disgraced and dead. Meanwhile, Superman has been doing good deeds since accidentally bringing the Kryptonian Civil War to Earth and causing the deaths of thousands. But apparently he has never once spoken to the people he’s protecting as he continues to be a miserable bastard tormented by the fact that some people still don’t like him. If only he knew someone in the media that he could convey what he was all about. Oh, right HE’S A FUCKING REPORTER! HE COULD DO IT ANYTIME HE WANTS TO! Meanwhile, in Gotham city—which in this film is located across the bay from Metropolis basically making it the Oakland to Metropolis’ San Francisco—Batman has apparently been around for 20 years and in that time Wayne Manor has been destroyed, a Robin has been killed and Batman now has no problem literally branding people when he’s not flat out shooting them down with the machine guns in his Batmobile and Batplane. If the reasons why Luthor hates Superman make no sense, neither does the seeming obsession of Clark Kent with Batman. Thousands are dead, half the world hates him, the government is holding hearings about him, but he’s concerned about the civil liberties being trampled in Gotham City. At least Batman’s resentment of Superman is somewhat legit. Some of thousands of people are dead were employees of Wayne Enterprises and in one of the few effective sequences we see the final moments from Man of Steel from the perspective of Bruce Wayne on the ground. And while his resent of Superman is valid, his psychotic need to cut his head off (which he literally tries to do in the battle that takes far too long to happen) does not. Very little of this film does. And it commits the worst sin imaginable: it’s dull. But again, most of Snyder’s films are, though supposedly action films. Man of Steel was dull. Sucker Punch was dull. Because he thinks he’s a real filmmaker he tries to have scenes were people do things besides fight, only they make no sense. And with the exception of Wonder Woman’s five-minute appearance (which is as badass as it is great) even the fights are dull and if that’s the case, this film has no reason to exist whatsoever. But again, it’s not really a movie is it? It’s just a launching platform for other movies and while Marvel/Disney is equally guilty of sacrificing a film to set up for others (both Thors, half of Captain America and even part of Avengers Age of Ultron) at least they are still capable of making a half-decent movie around it. DC/WB clearly are not.

IT’S CALLED STICKING WITH A BIT
Zootopia is down to number two and outside of the race & gender allegory it’s creating, there are still honest and funny jokes in the film and none so much as the now famous sloth one. That sloths run the DMV is near brilliant in its obvious simplicity, but what makes the joke work it is that they stick with it. At no point do they create some excuse that can make the sloths go faster. No, the audience has to wait alongside the characters and it is hysterical. And while he’s great as the straight man usually, Jason Bateman has a smarm to him as well that works perfectly as the voice of the fox and he clearly enjoys playing the other side of the fence for once.

MY BIG FAT GREEK DESPERATION
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 opens at number three and clearly God hates everyone to have both this and Batman v Superman opening in the same week. No matter what movie you choose, it’s going to be crap made by the incompetent. The first Big Fat Greek Wedding was like Batman v Superman: godawful, stupid and incredibly successful (I’m stunned to realize it got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay when it was only one of those things). Based on what I’ve seen in the commercials and trailers, this is going to get at least two of those down solid. Nia Vardalos has been trying for years to follow that up with a failed TV series (My Big Fat Greek Life) a reteaming with John Corbett (I Hate Valentine’s Day) and revisiting the Greek thing (My Life in Ruins). I hate to knock anyone’s hustle, but girlfriend, it’s time to move the fuck on. I’m sorry Tom Hanks and his wife got all the money the first time around, but you had your moment, you took your shot and you failed. Accept you’re someone’s sidekick and Move. On.

SHE NEEDED SOME JESUS
Miracles from Heaven is down to number four and if you’re wondering why these Christian movies are getting more mainstream Hollywood people in them you need to look at who they’re getting. They’re not getting Ben Affleck who’s winning Oscars and starring in attempted billion dollar franchises. They’re getting his soon-t0-be ex-wife who does credit card commercials and needed the comfort of the lord something fierce this past year. She said she started taking the kids to church after making this movie but let’s not kid ourselves. We know what make you look for meaning in all this and it wasn’t some dumb Christian propaganda movie. It was your husband banging the honestly less-attractive nanny. And the whole world knowing it.

SAY IT WITH ME: THE WORLD IS MADE FOR PEOPLE WHO LACK SELF-AWARENESS
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is down to number five and I’m as surprised to see this still going on as you are because I confused it with The Hunger Games like everyone else. What’s funny is that star Shailene Woodley tries to act like we’re being strange to connect her to Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, and you’re not a tall, attractive 20-something blonde who has drawn raves in small indie films while headlining a Young Adult franchise based on a dystopian future where you’re the chosen on who leads a rebellion? No, honey. The difference is Jennifer Lawrence has four Oscar nominations and one win. You have a one Golden Globe nomination…that you didn’t win.

SERIOUSLY, I HATE YOU ALL
10 Cloverfield Lane is down to number six and this has been successful so I guess we’re going to get more of this Cloverfield shit. I hate you all for making it possible.

TALENT, SCHMALENT. SHE’S SO PURTY.
Deadpool is down to number seven and also in this is Morena Baccarin who is like Ryan Reynolds in that she’s a really pretty person that everyone seems to know whose success in Hollywood should be a foregone conclusion, but like him this is actually her biggest success happening a decade after you thought it would. That she should have been Maria Hill in The Avengers movies must be a little easier to bear now.

MADRID HAS FALLEN…OH, IT’S JUST SIESTA. NEVER MIND.
London Has Fallen is down to number eight and all you need to know about this movie is that at one point it turns into a video game. Seriously. It turns into a first person shooter as you are Gerard Butler and follow his POV into the action and like a video game, no bullets or shrapnel ever seem to hit him. Thankfully, it hasn’t even made budget yet so no other capitals will fall in the future. What? Were you really looking forward to Paris Has Fallen? Rome Has Fallen? Tokyo Has Fallen? Actually they could do it, just with different characters in each location. Come to think of it, this film would have been infinitely better with no connection with Olympus Has Fallen and just been about a James Bond-like agent dealing with similar circumstances in London. Butler almost does it as his Scottish accent becomes more and more apparent as the film drags on.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE PATRIARCHY IS REAL, YO
Hello My Name Is Doris actually rises to number nine and I’m happy for Sally Field getting this at this stage of the game. But we know that if the genders were reversed and it was a 60-something dude longing for a 30-something female he’d actually get to bang her and he’d rock her world. Or am I the only person who remembers how charming so many critics found Burt Lancaster lusting after Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City? Or most of Michael Douglas’ casting decisions, period?

I MEAN IT, FUCK THAT MOVIE
Finally, Eye In The Sky rises to number ten to remind you that every day we kill innocent people every time we try to kill a terrorist with a drone strike, which reminds me again of the end of London Has Fallen where such a strike is the cause of all the trouble and also the climax you’re supposed to cheer. Seriously, fuck that movie.

PA KENT: THE MOVIE
Midnight Special isn’t in the top ten but it’s basically Superman from the point of view of The Kents. It’s about 10-year-old boy in Texas who has special powers and his father trying to protect him from the government who wants him badly. Okay, it’s not as nice as The Kents in the comics as the father here (played by Michael Shannon who was ironically Zod in Man of Steel) actually is willing to shoot a state trooper simply because he’s in their way because his on is “More important.” In that way he’s closer the horrible Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel who is willing to let a bus filled with children die, but when it comes down to it, he can’t kill someone who might (and actually does) give them away. Also, the mother and father here (mom is Kirsten Dunst) were part of some kind of religious cult run by Sam Shepard that became centered around the boy when his powers began to manifest (Shepard actually took the boy to raise for two years as his own), so they’re a little darker than The Kents. What they do share is a clear an unconditional love for their “special” son with absolutely no fear of him and will do whatever they need to do in order to protect him, even though he clearly possesses amazing powers (at one point the boy downs a military satellite). And if you don’t think it’s not intentional, know that at one point the boy is reading a Superman comic. It could be a little tighter given it’s essentially a chase film (thy aren’t just running from the authorities but the armed cultists who what the boy back as they think Judgment Day is coming) in the era of drones and satellites and amber alerts where running unnoticed is seriously difficult but a satisfying little film nonetheless.

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EVERYBODY LOVES A CHICK FIGHT. EVERY. BODY.

13 Apr

chickfight
1. Furious 7/Universal Wknd/$ 60.6 Total/$ 252.5
2. Home/Fox Wknd/$ 19.0 Total/$ 129.6
3. The Longest Ride/Fox Wknd/$ 13.5 Total/$ 13.5
4. Get Hard/WB Wknd/$ 8.6 Total/$ 71.2
5. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 7.2 Total/$ 180.8
6. The Divergent Series: Insurgent Wknd/$ 6.9 Total/$ 114.8
7. Woman in Gold/Weinstein Wknd/$ 5.9 Total/$ 9.3
8. It Follows/RTWC Wknd/$ 2.0 Total/$ 11.8
9. Danny Collins/BST Wknd/$ 1.6 Total/$ 2.5
10. While We’re Young/A24 Wknd/$ 1.4 Total/$ 1.4

CHICK FIGHT!
Furious 7 holds at number 1 and in addition to Tony Jaa the other martial artist in this is MMA Champion, Ronda Rousey. Like Jaa she has to pretend that her opponent wouldn’t be toast in 30 seconds. Just as Paul Walker’s character suddenly became a master of hand-to-hand combat, Michelle Rodriguez’s character also developed martial skills. Not only does she take on Rousey, but a team of female Arab bodyguards before that. And in the previous installment she took on Gina Carano. But like Carano and Tony Jaa and Bruce Lee before her Rousey clearly made it part of her deal that she wasn’t going to lose in a straight-on fight to some actor. Yes, Jaa loses, but not because Walker punches him out or anything. Similarly, Rousey’s fight with Rodriguez ends in a draw, which is good, because if my eyes had rolled back any further in my head I’d have seen my own brainstem. But don’t get me wrong. I am perverse enough to enjoy a good chick fight and I’m not alone considering this was twice as long as the Carano fight. Though the fact they were in evening gowns is clearly someone else’s fetish. Seriously, you just know that’s his kink because he views it as some kind of clever irony. It’s not.

HE HAS HIS OWN SUPER POWER: PANTY DROPPING
Home holds at number two, followed by The Longest Ride opening at number one and the most notable thing about this is that the male lead is Scott Eastwood. Yes, it’s his son, if you couldn’t tell simply by looking at him. Now I will give him credit for at least attempting a career without using his famous name (he used his mother’s surname), but he quickly realized that it’s stupid not to use every advantage you have. Especially when you actually like your dad unlike say, Angelina Jolie Voight. But let’s face it, if a name really did anything for you, Tyrone Power Jr. would have been a giant star, as would Jennifer Grant (yes, Cary Grant’s daughter). And do we have to once again bring up the sad story of the other son of Kirk Douglas who was an actor? Not everyone can be Jeff and Beau Bridges either. Needless to say the simple fact it’s based on a Nicholas Sparks novel guarantees this a place on the crap list, but I’ll never know because I will never, ever see it. In fact, I’m still angry I was tricked into seeing The Notebook (and by “tricked” I mean a really pretty girl I knew named Jennifer wanted to see it). But being in one has never hurt a career if you’re young (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Miley Cyrus, Amand Seyfried), so it’s a smart move on his part. Another smart move is getting into a comic book movie. Learning that he’s going to play Steve Trevor actually made me interested in a Wonder Woman movie for the first time.

IT’S AN ABOMINATION
Get Hard is down to number four, followed by Cinderella at number five and yes, they are making live action versions of everything now, including Winnie The Pooh and Dumbo. Now, Pinocchio I get, because that has been made into live action features before, but Winnie The Pooh and Dumbo? Why!?! Simply because CGI means you can doesn’t mean you should. May god have mercy on their money grubbing souls…which they clearly gave up long ago.

NOW BEST KNOWN AS A NAME IN AN EMINEM SONG…
The Divergent Series: Insurgent is down to number six and let’s rundown the adult cast in this thing: Oscar winner Kate Winslet, Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, two time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Tony Goldwyn, Daniel Dae Kim and Mekhi Phifer. Remember when he played the male lead to Beyonce in MTV’s version of Carmen? Me neither. Though judging by his size on House of Lies last season, brutha hasn’t missed many meals.

IT’S THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
The Woman in Gold holds at number seven and also in this is…Katie Holmes? Well, it makes sense given this is little more than a TV movie that escaped into theaters, though the smart move would have been to be an adult in one of the YA novel film adaptations. I also recommend taking that “hot mom” role on a TV show. After all, it’s where you began. Dawson and Pacey have already accepted their small screen fates. Time to join them, Joey.

HOLDING MY WUSSY GROUND
It Follows is down to number eight and yes, I still refuse to see this.

IMAGINE IF THE LETTER HAD BEEN “YOU SUCK. QUIT NOW.”
Entering the top ten at number nine is Danny Collins, which is based on the true story of a folk singer to whom John Lennon once wrote a letter of encouragement, but since no one really gives a crap about a folk singer, the movie makes it a rock singer and if you’re having trouble seeing Al Pacino as an aging rock singer, come sit right next to me. Yes, he was the same age as John Lennon, but still it doesn’t seem to fit. That said, the movie follows this fictional character who like the real life folk singer never received the letter until 40 years later and it makes him reevaluate his life. Honestly, though I still don’t give a crap about folk singing, I’m more interested in how the real life guy handled it, not this clichéd story of about a man trying to re-connect with the son he’s basically ignored for almost 40 years. Not helping is that his growth is also indicated by him dumping his 20-something girlfriend and becoming more interested in the older manager of the hotel where he’s staying, played by Annette Benning. Pacino is 74. Benning is 56. That’s not age appropriate. Not even close. God forbid you give an actress his age a job. Last I heard Julie Christie is still working. How about giving her some fucking work?

OLD PEOPLE NEED MORE SLEEP
Speaking of age appropriate casting, Ben Stiller is forced to submit to it in While We’re Young, entering the top ten at number ten, since age is kinda the focus of the movie. It’s about two 40-somethings played by Stiller and Naomi Watts (two movies in the top ten this week) who reevaluate their lives after striking up a friendship with two 20-somethings, played by Amana Seyfried and the actor, Adam Driver, who plays Hanna’s creepy boyfriend, Adam, on Girls. This is from writer/director, Noah Baumbach (whom I’ve loved since Kicking & Screaming) who’s banging a 20-something in real life while getting divorced from Jennifer Jason Leigh so like most of his work it’s drawn from his real life. I’m not going to say what’s keeping me from seeing this is because it strikes a little too close to home (not the banging a 20-something part), because it’s not. I’m just lazy. That’s the real reason.

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NOT JUST BLAND. DREAMWORKS BLAND.

29 Mar

common_teaser
1. Home/Fox                                                           Wknd/$ 54.0 Total/$ 54.0
2. Get Hard/WB                                                     Wknd/$ 34.6 Total/$ 34.6
3. The Divergent Series: Insurgent                    Wknd/$ 22.1 Total/$ 86.4
4. Cinderella/Disney                                             Wknd/$ 17.5 Total/$ 150.0
5. It Follows/RTWC                                              Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 4.8
6. Kingsman: The Secret Service/Fox               Wknd/$ 3.1 Total/$ 119.4
7. Run All Night/WB                                             Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 23.8
8. The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel             Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 28.1
9. Do You Believe/PFR                                         Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 7.1
10. The Gunman/ORF                                           Wknd/$ 2.0 Total/$ 8.8

THOUGH MADAGASCAR 3 IS TRULY AWESOME
Home opens at number one and the ad campaign for this was so utterly bland you knew it was a Dreamworks film. When every joke beats you over the head and the stars behind the voices are shoved down your throat, you know it’s definitely not Pixar. Seriously, who the fuck are you people who make a decision on whether or not to see an animated movie based on who does the voices!?! “Oh, I wasn’t going to see that until I heard that Brad Pitt was doing the voice.” What does it fucking matter!?! And seriously who the fuck sees Jim Parsons and wants to see anything!?! Oh, you tasteless fucking Big Bang Theory fans. You probably thought this was brilliant. Me, I couldn’t be bothered. The majority of DreamWorks animated films are barely adequate at best and boring and generic to the point of being offensive at worst. And no, Rhianna doing a voice is not going to change my mind.

YOUR PUN ABOUT THE TITLE HERE: ______
Get Hard opens at number two and the irony of Kevin Hart and Will Farrell working together isn’t lost on me given how I feel about them. They’re great in small doses. They both need a straight man so the two of them as leads is twice the film I never need to see in my lifetime. Hopefully this movie finally put Kevin Hart into a position financially where he doesn’t have a film coming out every other fucking week.

HE LOOKS LIKE A HUMAN HOUND DOG.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent is down to number three and basically every hot young star who wasn’t in The Hunger Games wound up here. I had no idea Miles Teller was in this and if you’ve read any of his interviews he kinda wishes he wasn’t. He’s hot from his indie film work of The Spectacular Now and Whiplash so he’s starting to look down his nose and big paycheck roles like this. Dude, you were in the fucking Footloose remake, not to mention Project X the teen Hangover movie which was actually from the director of The Hangover and 21 & Over which was from the writers of The Hangover. How these are better than an adaptation of a Young Adult novel is beyond me. Oh, and he’s in the Fantastic Four reboot. Yeah, you’re going for the blue chip roles, buddy. But my favorite thing about him is how In Style interviewed him and pointed out immediately that he wasn’t traditionally good looking and he clearly got a little pissed given he’s normally cast in the sidekick role to some guy who actually is traditionally good looking like lack Zac Efron in That Awkward Moment (another movie he seems to have forgotten he made to pay the bills). He’s also not the love interest dude here, which is ironic because the star, Shailene Woodley, was his love interest in The Spectacular Now. That’s gotta sting. Sorry, but it amuses me when dudes occasionally go through what women go through all the time.

SHE STARVED FOR MERCHANT IVORY. THAT WAS ENOUGH.
Cinderella is down to number four and also in this is Helena Bonham Carter and apparently she got used to that Disney money while she was with Tim Burton making crap like Alice in Wonderland. Though, honestly, their Sweeny Todd wasn’t bad.

NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.
It Follows enters the top ten at number five and I will never see this. Unlike 99% of what’s sold as scary, this looks as scary as hell. It’s also the effective metaphor for price paid for sex that other films only pretend to be. Basically, there’s a “thing” after you and the only way to get it off is to pass it to someone else through sex. However, if it catches that person and kills them, then it comes back to you. Also, no one else can see it but you and it can transform into anyone to get next to you. Fuck. Me. The trailer alone messed me up. Movies like this are why I don’t do the scary.

GETTIN’ BY ON HIS LOOKS
Kingsman: The Secret Service is down to number six, followed by Run All Night at number seven and also in this is Common and will someone please explain to me how he keeps getting work? He’s not a good actor and his rap career hasn’t been relevant for about a decade, so how is this happening? Basically he’s getting by on his looks. There’s just no other explanation. Producers think they’re getting a built-in audience (young people, black people) by casting someone from hip-hop, which isn’t exactly rich in attractiveness. Most of them look like Jay-Z or Lil’ Wayne, so the bar is pretty low. You can imagine how good Common appears in that line-up. Ironically, he’s the physical opposite of Miles Teller, but like him is successful for the reason women are every day. Oh, are you going to argue the reason you even know Olivia Wilde’s name with me now?

HE DOES HAVE MULTIPLE OSCARS AFTER ALL
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number eight, followed by Do You Believe at number nine and The Gunman closes out the top ten at number ten and in this are Ray Winstone, Javier Bardeem and Idris Elba, who clearly only did this because Penn was in it, because Elba barely is. Javier’s scenes take place only in Spain where he lives so for him it as an easy paycheck and he got to stay home with Penelope and the kids. Ray Winstone’s are primarily England it was also an easy gig. Oh, and the female lead. Italian actress, Jasmine Trinca, is twenty years younger than Sean Penn who also co-wrote and co-produced, so clearly it was no accident.

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TAKEN…BY YOUR MIDDLE AGED SUCCESS

23 Mar

Mira-Sorvino-Wallpaper-3-mira-sorvino-464181_1024_768
1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent Wknd/$ 54.0 Total/$ 54.0
2. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 34.5 Total/$ 122.0
3. Run All Night/WB Wknd/$ 5.1 Total/$ 19.7
4. The Gunman/ORF Wknd/$ 5.0 Total/$ 5.0
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service/Fox Wknd/$ 4.6 Total/$ 114.6
6. Do You Believe/PFR Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 4.0
8. Focus/WB Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 49.4
9. Chappie/Sony Wknd/$ 2.7 Total/$ 49.4
7. The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 28.3
10. The SpongeBob Movie/Par Wknd/$ 2.4 Total/$ 158.8

I’M JUST SAYING IT’S NOT FAIR!
A Poor Man’s Hunger Games, er, I mean, Divergent: Insurgent opens at number one and this is the second installment of the series from that popular Young Adult genre that’s being mined for all its worth. But do you hear people bitching about it the way they do movies based on comic books? Apparently being based on a fantasy/science fiction book aimed at kids without pictures is much more respectable than being based on fantasy/science fiction book aimed at kids with them. No, I’m not being overly-sensitive! Why do you ask!?! Didn’t see read or see Twilight, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, so I’m not going to read or see this.

BECAUSE COLORBLINDNESS ONLY EXISTS IN A FAIRY TALE. BOOM!
Cinderella is down to number two and one thing I did like about this was the multi-racial casting. It’s a fairy tale. Why the hell should it obey the segregation of a real world!?! When you think about it, it’s actually amazing that it took this long for it to happen. Yes, I know Brandy was Cinderella on TV, but that was the exception and on TV where Brandy had a successful sitcom. This is “a major motion picture” as the saying once went, the first step to it becoming the rule. So in that respect I’m glad it’s doing disgustingly well.

TAKEN…BY FIRST WORLD LIBERAL GUILT
Run All Night drops one notch to number three but still doing better than The Gunman, opening at number four which is a victory of sorts for Liam Neeson. All those who’ve tried to imitate his Older Action Hero transition have failed for the most part showing it has as much to do with him as anything. The Gunman even has the same director as Taken, but while he clearly understood that action films are guilty-free violent fantasies, no one told this to Sean Penn, who as star, co-writer and producer made sure you felt guilty as hell while watching necks being snapped and throats being cut. While we know nothing of what Liam Neeson may have done during his CIA days, Sean Penn is not only openly a mercenary, but also one who assassinates an honest politician for his employer then leaves behind the woman he loves per his orders. Years later he’s atoning for his crime digging wells in the same country he helped tear apart when a hit team comes for him. I will give them credit for throwing around enough jargon to give it the feel of a more grounded type of film (also to travel he needs a false ID so he lacks that magical ability to go from country-to-country untouched like all other action heroes), he’s still as indestructible as James Bond or Jason Bourne, despite having permanent brain injury from a lifetime in combat which hits him at various points…though never when a bad guy needs to die. If you’ve ever seen one of these types of films, you know exactly who the bad guy is immediately, but we have to wait for Penn to figure it out as he tracks down the only other people who knew about the job, one of whom married the girl he left behind. He’s none too happen to see Penn, while she can’t contain how much she still wants him. A good idea of how confusing this film is about its purpose is a) how the violence alternates between graphic (bullets through heads) and shies away (a decapitation happens just off screen) and the love interest who is regularly unclothed, but you never see her. It’s an R-rated film. It’s a Chuck Norris type of myopia where you can have all the violence in the world, but no sex or nudity. Well no female nudity. If starring, writing and producing didn’t say “vanity” the way Penn’s shirt comes off should make it clear. It almost seems like it’s a message from Penn to the rest of Hollywood that he’s in the best shape of his life. At one point he’s wearing a flak jacket with no shirt on! Aside from being humorless it drags on a bit too long, so by the time the final battle at a bullfighting arena occurs you just want them to wrap it up so you too can try to go dig a well to absolve your first world guilt. Ironically, Taken was a no-apologies celebration of bad-ass America over foreigners. Nobody likes a well-intentioned action film.

“AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO BEG. THAT WAS MY MISTAKE.”
Back in the world of fantasy violence, Kingsman: The Secret Service is down to number five and with near $300M worldwide total there will probably be a sequel. Hopefully Mark Hamill who has a part that’s little more than a cameo (in the comic book it’s actually Mark Hamill mixed up in the villain’s plot) had some words of advice for the youthful lead, Targon Egerton, given he just got a franchise under his belt. Maybe something like “Be really, really nice to the director so maybe he’ll think of you for his other movies. I mean, couldn’t Indiana Jones have a sidekick? Was that really too difficult to imagine!?!”

THERE ARE NO ATHIESTS WHEN A CAR PAYMENT COMES DUE
Do You Believe opens at number six and this is yet another Christian-themed film which only succeeds in letting you know a) just how many stars you like are religious nutcases and b) the correlation between being a religious nutcase and a lack of career success. For example: Kevin Sorbo. Nothing after Hercules. Religious nutcase. And who’s in this? Mira Sorvino, who was white-hot for a moment then vanished. Wanna take bets that she’s found God over the last few very barren years, while watching former boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino give his crush, Uma Thurman, a classic, career resurging action film. Know what action movie she got when was still dating him? The Replacement Killers. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but Kill Bill it ain’t and tall blonde, OSCAR WINNER Sorvino could have slid right into that and don’t think she doesn’t know it.

BUT HE WON’T SINK AS FAR AS INDEPENDENCE DAY 2
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to number seven, followed by Focus down to number eight and if you’re wondering why Will Smith hopped on the comic book movie gravy train as part of an ensemble rather than a lead (really, do you think if he wanted to be The Black Panther that Disney would have turned him down?) and just agreed to Bad Boys III, look at this disappointment. Well, I’m sure Martin Lawrence constantly begging helped with Bad Boys III. “Yo, man. I’m sharing a sitcom with Fraiser! Sharing. With. Fraiser. Help me, please!”

OR BE AN “M” TO SOME DUDE’S BOND
Chappie is down to number nine and speaking of returning to the well for a career boost, also in this is Sigourney Weaver who’ll be returning to the Alien franchise for a movie that ignored the third and fourth films. Amen, sister! Get that cheddar! Apologize for nothing. Harrison Ford still thinks he’s got another Indiana Jones in him so why can’t you have this? Though honestly, you need to get on that live action Disney movie gravy train and rock the hell out of a wicked witch.

THE DEFINITION OF BEING LIQUID
Finally, closing out the top ten at number ten is The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

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NEXT TIME YOU’LL BE TAKEN STRAIGHT TO STREAMING AND DVD

11 Jan

gander
1. Taken 3/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 40.4   Total/$ 40.4
2. Selma/Paramount                                     Wknd/$ 11.2    Total/$ 13.5
3. Into the Woods/Disney                            Wknd/$ 9.8     Total/$ 102.3
4. The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies        Wknd/$ 9.4     Total/$ 236.5
5. Unbroken/Universal                                 Wknd/$ 8.4     Total/$ 101.6
6. The Imitation Game/Weinstein             Wknd/$ 7.6      Total/$ 40.8
7. Night at the Museum: Secret…                Wknd/$ 6.7     Total/$ 99.5
8. Annie/Sony                                                 Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 79.4
9. The Woman in Black 2/Relativity          Wknd/$ 4.8     Total/$ 22.3
10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1  Wknd/$ 3.8     Total/$ 329.5

I SINCERELY DOUBT IT TAKES LONGER TO BEAT UP PEOPLE IN LA
Taken 3 opens at number one while Selma moves into the top ten at number two and what’s the difference between it and the second sequel to an utterly ridiculous action film? 19 minutes. What. The. Hell!?! There’s not much good I can say about the first Taken movie other than it gave Liam Neeson a new career and it was short. 93 minutes was all it needed to tell its severely right wing fantasy (American dad is the savior while mom is wrong, daughter is wrong, foreigners are bad, the French are untrustworthy allies, the party girl dies a heroin addicted prostitute and the virginity of the good girl saves her because it makes her valuable to the dirty Arabs trying to buy her). This somehow needs nearly the same amount of time another film needs to deliver a complex, detailed accounting of one of the most turbulent times in this nation’s history. This is not to say a good, dumb action film cannot be long. Die Hard is over two hours, but given how the first one was so ridiculous I passed on the second (which was actually 92 minutes, because they didn’t need to explain the plot), I sincerely doubt this is similar. I did mean to see it but either I was more tired than I thought or my subconscious simply refused to let me awaken to go through this again. This is supposedly the last one but don’t kid yourself. They are not going let go of this cash cow. Neeson just won’t be in it. And it’ll probably show up on Netflix. Let me put it this way. They fourth Scorpion King movie has just arrived on DVD. Fourth. There were only three Mummy movies, which is where the character originated.

CLEARLY SOMEONE REALIZES STAR TREK CAN’T BE DEPENDED UPON
Down to number three is Into the Woods and once again I have to give Chris Pine his props for choosing roles that take him outside of the typical leading man fare. Though he’s playing the leading man archetype of Prince Charming it’s still a musical, which is as anti-action film as you can get. Not to mention it’s a supporting role. This is how you manage a career, people. Especially when you’re never going to be mistaken for Daniel Day Lewis.

BECAUSE THE BRITS ARE EVIL TO BEGIN WITH, THAT’S WHY
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is down to number four, followed by Unbroken at number five and The Imitation Game rising to number six and also in this are Charles Dance and Mark Strong which would be so awesome if this were a Bond film and they were facing off against Daniel Craig. If you don’t recognize the names, trust me, you know their faces. If you’ve been watching action films for the last 20 years you’ve seen them on a regular basis tormenting basically every leading action hero from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Russell Crowe. Strong is actually in that Jaguar commercial about being a villain. He’s neither Gandhi nor Loki. Yeah, that guy.

UNFORTUNATELY NOT EVERYONE CAN END IT WITH MOVIE LIKE NETWORK
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is down to number seven and it’s not just Robin Williams for whom this is a posthumous release, but Mickey Rooney as well. If you remember he was one of the night watchmen along with Dick Van Dyke. If you’re surprised he lasted that long, know that no one was more surprised than Mickey.

PEOPLE DON’T APPRECIATE A MOVIE CALLED SEX TAPE WITH NO NUDITY. JUST SAYIN’.
Annie is down to number eight and also in this is Cameron Diaz who had a bad 2014 thanks to Sex Tape and the abomination that was The Other Woman. She needed a good film like this to round it all out, even if it’s not breaking box office records. Needless to say, Bad Teacher 2 is coming, as it was her last real hit.

NOT BAD. FOR A GIRL.
Woman in Black: Angel of Death is down to number nine with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 finally closing out the top ten at number ten after being here for two months. Let’s take a look at the numbers: $125M budget, $701 worldwide with $330 of that being domestic, which is the money that really matters. Divergent comes from the same studio so you’re probably not surprised when I tell you that the final book of that series has also been divided into two films. Thanks for nothing, Harry Potter. You realize if they did Star Wars now Return of the Jedi would probably be two movies? It’s only got about 30 minutes of watchable material as it is. Hey, there are no sacred cows here!

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YOU TAME A DRAGON WITH TATUM!

15 Jun

channing-tatum-august-2009-GQ-article-1-lowres

1. 22 Jump Street/Sony                                       Wknd/$ 60.0     Total/$ 60.0
2. How To Train Your Dragon 2/Fox               Wknd/$ 50.0      Total/$ 50.0
3. Maleficent/Disney                                           Wknd/$ 19.0       Total/$ 163.5
4. Edge of Tomorrow/Warners                         Wknd/$ 16.1        Total/$ 56.6
5. The Fault In Our Stars/Fox                           Wknd/$ 15.7        Total/$ 81.7
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past/Fox                 Wknd/$ 9.5          Total/$ 205.9
7. Godzilla/Warner                                              Wknd/$ 3.2          Total/$ 191.3
8. A Million Ways To Die in the West              Wknd/$ 3.2          Total/$ 39.0
9. Neighbors/Universal                                       Wknd/$ 2.5         Total/$ 143.1
10. Chef/ORF                                                         Wknd/$ 2.3         Total/$ 14.1

“LIVER & POTATOES, PLEASE” SAID NO ONE EVER.
22 Jump Street opens at number one and I’m serious: Jonah Hill is on my list of actors I will look at only if I have to, right next to Seth Rogen. It had better be some big-ticket item like an Oscar-bait Scorsese film or it’s simply not going to happen. Give this is clearly not from Marty, it’s safe to say I gave it a pass, though clearly one of the few. I like Channing Tatum…enough. He’s like a big potato; only as tasty as what you add to it and teaming him with Jonah Hill is like adding liver.

HOW TO TAME MULTI-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS
How To Train Your Dragon 2 opens at number two, which was a great surprise to everyone given it’s a big animated film. Me, I’m not so surprised give how the first was just good and not much else. It was the definition of perfunctory, utterly lacking in any ambition beyond simply telling a simple story. This is more of the same, if not beautifully so. Seeing the giant alpha dragons almost made me wish I’d seen it in IMAX. Almost. It’s just that gorgeous, as are most of the flight scenes. What’s steadily earthbound is a script where there are earth-shattering emotional events that are simply glossed over as if they were nothing. As the commercials and trailers show, Hiccup’s mother is still alive and is a dragonrider herself. Seems she’s been with them all this time, letting her loving husband and infant son think she was dead…and neither of them care. Seriously. Not even a single, “Why didn’t you come back to see me?” Nothing. No. Thing. A complete and utter abandonment by a wife and parent results in zero resentment from the characters. They’re just a happy family again. Bear in mind she’s the caretaker of FLYING DRAGONS. She could have gone home at any time. She just didn’t. Her excuse was that she believed dragons were not evil but no one there did, so why try? You know the way her son did in the first film and basically changed their culture in a week? Because he actually tried. Once again, you shouldn’t go into the deep water if you can’t swim and they can’t even float. This is what it has in common with the number three film, Maleficent. It also tries to go into the deep water by having the king and Maleficent be in a previous relationship, but also backs away from it, but at least they muddy the water a little (he can’t kill her because he loves her and she loves his daughter), in what is purely a soulless, naked, corporate money grab. There’s not so much as a dust cloud here. But it is purty.

ALWAYS A PLACE FOR OLD MEN
Edge of Tomorrow is down to number four here and also in this is Brendan Gleeson and if you’re paying attention, if Tom Cruise likes you, you’ll be back in one of his other films. Robert Duvall was in Days of Thunder and returned in Jack Reacher. Brendan Gleeson, who also improves anything he’s in, was in Mission Impossible II and returns here as the general who sends Tom Cruise to the front for being a coward, but you should really check him out in The Guard with Don Cheadle. He was cheated out of an Oscar nod for it. Then again, people would have to see it first…

AMERICA’S NEW SWEETHEART
The Fault in Our Stars is down to number four and your new Jennifer Lawrence is…Shailene Woodley. She’s got the critical acclaim and now a one-two punch of box office success with a franchise (Divergent) and now a romantic drama. It would have been two franchises, but her role as Mary Jane in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was cut. Right now there’s someone at Sony combing through her contract to see if she’s obligated to come back for fear of losing his job.

PRETTY WOMAN SUCKED THEN AND SUCKS NOW
Speaking of Jennifer Lawrence, X-Men Days of Future Past is down to number six and it’s no accident her role was bumped up or that she and Hugh Jackman are the most prominent on the poster. This actually gives her two franchises in addition to the prestige stuff she keeps getting Oscar nominations for. It’s good there’s a new Jennifer Lawrence as she’s moving on to be the new Julia Roberts, that all-encompassing movie star who can’t fail. Except she can actually act.

NOTHING MORE LEFT TO BE SAID
Godzilla is down number seven, A Million Ways to Die in The West is down to number eight and Neighbors is down to number nine.

IRON CHEF?
Chef finally drops a notch to ten and is probably coming to the end of its noble little run. You done good, Jon (he’s also behind the TV adaptation of About A Boy, which will be coming back). Hope you made a little loot and learned a lesson.

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FOOD PORN IS THE BEST PORN BECAUSE YOU CAN ACTUALLY GET FOOD

12 May

sofia-vergara-in-jeans

1. Neighbors/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 51.1        Total/$ 51.1
2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2/Sony          Wknd/$ 37.2        Total/$ 148.0
3. The Other Woman/Fox                             Wknd/$ 9.3         Total/$ 61.7
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier    Wknd/$ 5.6          Total/$ 245.0
4. Heaven is for Real/TriStar                       Wknd/$ 7.0          Total/$ 75.2
6. Rio 2/Fox                                                     Wknd/$ 5.1          Total/$ 113.2
7. Moms’ Night Out/TriS                              Wknd/$ 4.2          Total/$ 4.2
8. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return            Wknd/$ 3.7         Total/$ 3.7
9. Divergent/LGF                                            Wknd/$ 1.7          Total/$ 145.0
10. Brick Mansions/Relativity                      Wknd/$ 1.5         Total/$ 18.3

YOU CAN’T KILL EVIL…ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S UGLY
Neighbors opens big at number one and it’s like some nightmare I’m having as this returns Seth Rogen to the forefront as a comic leading man after wonderfully stumbling with The Guilt Trip and The Green Hornet. My only hope is that this confirms he’s better being partnered with someone else…someone actually attractive and he cannot ever, ever, ever be the male lead who gets the hot girl. No offense, Rose Byrne but Zac Efron is prettier than you and we all know it. You’re actually somewhat attainable for someone like Seth Rogen.

LAMENTATIONS OF AN AGING GEEK
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is down to number two and while I maintain that what makes this movie enjoyable is the characters, let’s not pretend the storyline itself is nothing short of a cosmic mess, but this is what I like to call “Harrison Ford Syndrome.” This is when you so enjoy what’s happening onscreen you don’t stop to think about it. Like Indiana Jones on the sub in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or every single freaking moment of The Fugitive. Because if you do, you realize that it makes little to no sense. You know, like Spider-Man’s plan is basically to kill Electro. No, I’m not kidding. Even though he knows that Electro is a poor schlub that’s been turned into a monster and initially tries to help him, from that point on his big plan is to just blow him up, even though he defeats him with a water hose (which straight from Electro’s first appearance in the comics). There’s never any “I don’t want to hurt you.” Nope. It’s just “let’s blow him up real good!” This a failure of both character and plot, because if there’s one person less likely to kill than even Superman, it’s Peter Parker. But you saw what they did to Superman in Man of Steel. Guess it’s par the course now for you damn kids today.

MRS. SUCCESSFUL PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
The Other Woman is down to number three and are we even pretending that Leslie Mann’s career is based on anything less than being Judd Apatow’s wife? I like her, but let’s not kid ourselves. She’s who you go to in order to make a connection with him or because Sarah Jessica Parker didn’t return your phone calls because she looked at this script and saw for the mildly misogynist treacle it was…or was too expensive. It’s 50/50 with her.

DOUBLE EDGE SWORD
Heaven is Real is down to number four and given Rake was just cancelled is Greg Kinnear happy to have this feather in his cap or is it a mixed blessing given it’s not a “real” movie and would have succeeded with basically anyone in it? I wonder how much work he’s losing to Patrick Wilson who plays similar roles, but is a much better actor?

THEY TRULY LOVE AMERICA
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is down to number five and also in this is Emily VanCamp, best known to most of you and the most ineffective pursuer of Revenge ever. It’s been how many years and she still hasn’t taken that family down!?! Here she’s known as Agent 13, which was also the title Captain America’s girlfriend, Peggy Carter. In the comics it’s no coincidence because she’s, Sharon, the younger sister of Peggy Cater. That was when he reawakened in the early 60’s. As time passed Sharon had to eventually become Peggy’s grandniece, because a woman who was fighting WWII couldn’t have a 29-year-old sister. It hasn’t been made clear if they’re going that route with her here, even though 90-something Peggy Carter does appear. I was impressed that they went hardcore and gave her Alzheimer’s, not making their reunion too touchy feely.

JESUS DOESN’T LIKE FUN OR SO THEY’D HAVE YOU BELIEVE
Rio 2 is down to number six, followed by Mom’s Night Out opening at number seven and how is Leslie Mann not in this? Probably because she doesn’t have to, as this is yet another Christian themed film. How’s that make it any less generic than any Hollywood film with a similar plot? No one has sex or gets high or wants to have sex or get high. And if there’s a divorced woman she’s probably unhappy and a whore.

IT’S ONLY CRAP AND THAT’S ALL
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return opens at number eight and there simply aren’t enough WTF’s for this. This isn’t just an attempt to milk a dead cow, but to milk a dead horse. Even if it were alive you’d still be an idiot. This is based on an Oz sequel written by one Frank L. Baum’s grandkids. He qualifications other than being one of Frank L. Baum’s grandkids? Probably failing at everything else in life, as I’m pretty sure talent isn’t genetic or Mariel Hemmingway’s hiding her talents. He was milking the dead horse and now this film wants to join him and has all the results of what happens when you try to milk a dead horse. Can you imagine how bad a film has to be for the combination of OZ and animation to flop? Personally, I like to think “songs by Bryan Adams” is what did it in, because I still believe in justice.

FOR YOU BEAN COUNTERS
Divergent is down to number nine and this is only $3M away from being profitable by our 3x budget rule of them.

THE END
Finally Brick Mansions closes out the top ten at number ten.

MAKING MORE MUNCHIES THAN WEED
Not entering the Top Ten is Chef, the latest from Jon Favreau since he left or was booted from the director’s chair of Iron Man, depending on which rumor you believe. It’s probably a combination of both. He demanded more money for Iron Man 2, so when it under-performed and he was denied The Avengers he probably threatened to walk and they said “See ya!” If this is his middle finger to them, then they’ve lost creatively if not financially (Iron Man 3 was the highest grossing Iron Man film). It’s not a new story, but there are no new stories. It’s all in how you tell the old ones. Writing, directing and starring, Favreau is a chef in a creative rut under owner Dustin Hoffman. He’s no longer happy doing what he loves and it’s taking its toll on him personally and professionally. He’s not only divorced but neglecting the son who adores him. Finally, a confrontation with an influential blogger pushes him over the edge and he leaves to restart with a food truck. What makes this more of an indie film than a mainstream film is the time it takes to get to Favreau’s breakdown and his eventual rise from the ashes. His should fall by minute 30, spend 31-60 fighting back and 61 – 90 is his triumphant return. Not so here in this near two hour film where the time is used to make all these events feel more organic. Also, uncomfortable moments aren’t skipped over or blown out of proportion so mouth-breathers can get it. His blow up on critic Oliver Platt is as uncomfortable to watch as such an actual breakdown would be. Also, his neglect of his son’s needs isn’t sugar coated. He makes mistakes all the way up to the end only realizing it thanks to his son’s non-stop efforts to get his father’s love. It’s not perfect. His comeback is effortless, lacking any real struggle and filled with hipster cameos and Sofia Vergara is just too perfect a loving, supportive ex-wife and not much more. Her role could have used a few more layers. Is she really not just a little bit angry at how he treats their son in his clear depression? And characters that were very important to the beginning just kinda vanish, which some would say is more like real life, yes, but in real life people who are important to you, just don’t disappear because that actor or actress clearly didn’t have more time to shoot. But it’s clearly a film about a man who loves food directed by a man who loves food and its preparation is so lovingly depicted I left starving. There is no greater praise for a movie about cooking. Normally, I’d rip on a film showing Favreau being married to and now banging Scarlett Johansson, but unlike the masturbatory fantasy of John Turturro who is a gigolo hired by Sofia Vergara and Sharon Stone for a threesome, you can believe this because Favreau shows his character being a great cook, first. His foreplay with Johansson is literally making a meal for her and you can understand why she or any other woman would bang him senseless. Hell, I’m ready to fuck him after 2 hours of watching him cook.

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