Tag Archives: idris elba

BETTER LUCK ON MR. TOAD’S WILD RIDE THE MOVIE

26 May

500_3_charlize_theron_w 1. Tomorrowland/Disney                          Wknd/$ 33.0   Total/$ 33.0
2. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                     Wknd/$ 30.8   Total/$ 109.6
3. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 24.8   Total/$ 88.3
– Poltergeist/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 22.6   Total/$ 22.6
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 21.7    Total/$ 404.9
5. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 15.0   Total/$ 39.9
6. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 29.1
7. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 2.2     Total/$ 347.1
8. Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 2.2      Total/$ 5.4
9. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 1.9      Total/$ 65.7
10. Home/Fox                                              Wknd/$ 1.8     Total/$ 168.1

SOMEWHERE JOHNNY DEPP LAUGHS, “NOT SO EASY, IS IT?”
Tomorrowland opens at number one and between this and Mission Impossible 4, I’m glad Brad Bird is returning to animation with a sequel to The Incredibles, ‘cause live action is clearly not his thing. There are clearly too many compromises you have to make with people that you don’t have to with drawings. Though it’s where the writing is concerned that things go astray. Granted, the simple fact that Damon Lindelof is on as a co-writer here automatically means suckage, but you’d think as director Bird could overcome it. He cannot. This seems to be the logical (and by “logical” I mean only in the mind of someone shamelessly chasing money) extension of Pirates of the Caribbean. That is, Disney making even movies based on their theme park rides. The mistake is while Pirates of the Caribbean was/is a theme park, pirate movies are an old, established genre. You could have called it anything else and still had the same movie. This, however, had to be totally original and how exactly do you tell the story of a future that never came to pass? Well, judging by this, you don’t. Ironically we see more of “the future is now” in our first encounter with the protagonist, Casey (Britt Robertson), than for any other part of the movie when she sneaks onto the Cape Canaveral base using her iPhone to control a toy helicopter. You can use your iPhone to remote control a vast number of things and this has happened in the last decade. It’s amazing but it doesn’t seem to register. Anyway, her father is a NASA engineer and in some naïve way she’s hoping to stop the dismantling of the space program by stomping the dismantling of the launch platform. She’s not only clever, but an incurable optimist and these are the reasons she’s sought out by recruitment robot that looks like a 12-year-old girl. We see this robot earlier when the younger version of George Clooney’s character goes to the World’s Fair in Queens in the 60’s to submit his jet pack idea. The robot helps him sneak into Tomorrowland when House—I mean Nix as played by Hugh Laurie rejects him because his jet pack doesn’t quite work. In Tomorrowland one of the robots fixes it so it does and he’s allowed to stay. Later, however, when the robot drops Casey off at Clooney’s place—after avoiding other killer robots—we learned he was kicked out under pain of death if he ever talked about Tomorrowland. We also learn that Casey was selected because she might be able to fix what’s wrong with it, something Clooney helped to create. As they make the journey back, we learn that the origins of Tomorrowland started with Thomas Edison, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla…and they apparently built a rocket in the Eiffel Tower which is just cool as fuck. Of course you might wonder how no one knew there was a rocket there, not even The Nazis when they took the place, but honestly it’s so nice I give it a pass. What I cannot give a pass to is basically the whole concept. A world established over hundred years ago in another dimension for the betterment of mankind…that apparently has never done anything for the betterment of mankind and then gave up in 1984. Yeah, that’s how subtle the film is at yelling at you for letting the planet go to hell. Bear in mind they built a freaking rocket in The Eiffiel Tower which was constructed in 1889, had jet packs and robots in the 60’s (not to mention some kind of fountain of youth shake) and never shared any of it, but it’s our fault. The movie never comes close to explaining why all they seemed to was plan for a better tomorrow but never actually did anything (actually that would have been a better reason for Clooney’s exile in that he realized they never would). Also, the girl robot has been recruiting dreamers, but while Casey makes the cut, Stephen Hawking and Steve Jobs never did (no, I don’t see them asking Bill Gates)? Another problem is that Casey is flat out annoying, something both Clooney and the robot mention and they’re not wrong. When Clooney tells her to just shut up and be amazed for once, he’s speaking for all of us. Speaking of Clooney the most mystifying flaw of the film beyond him vanishing off-screen for half-an-hour, is that they give him a 12-year-old girl robot as a love interest. Yes, she’s technically as old as he is, but when it comes down to it, what you see onscreen is George Clooney and a 12-year-old looking lovingly at one another (which sounds like some kind of bizarre comedy Woody Allen would write where the protagonist keeps insisting that it’s okay because she’s a 50-year-old robot while the world wants him dead). Yeah, I’m sure it was cute on the page that he’s harboring a love from childhood but fully realized it’s just creepy. That no one saw this as a problem in the initial planning stages shows you this was doomed from the beginning.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES
Pitch Perfect 2 is down to number two and returning with a promotion for this one is Elizabeth Banks who was actually one of the producers for the original as well as co-starring. Again, this remains a double-edged sword of success in Hollywood. A female driven film is one of the biggest films of the year so far, but it’s about something “silly.” As opposed to the gritty realism of The Avengers, no doubt. But this is the excuse that will be given for no increased presence of women behind the camera despite this being one of two biggest openings of the year being alongside 50 Shades of Grey. But all props to Elizabeth Banks who was the comedic woman of the moment after The 40-Year-Old Virgin back in…’08. Holy shit! Has it really been that long!?! Unfortunately most of her subsequent roles as the female lead tanked. She had the misfortune to be in both Meet Bill and Meet Dave neither of which anyone wanted to meet. She then fell prey to the attempts to make Ryan Reynolds, Sam Worthington and Chris Pine into stars, but luckily The Hunger Games appeared to give her a new lease on life. After that came Pitch Perfect and this year alone she’ll be in the Magic Mike sequel as well as the final Hunger Games movie. So basically the more female driven her work, the more she succeeds. Now there’s a lesson.

SHE USED TO BE MY GIRL
Speaking of female and driven, no matter what the title of the film Charlize Theron is the clear star of Mad Max: Fury Road, which is down to number three this week. But honestly when you think about it, Max is never really the driving force behind any of his movies beyond the first. He’s just trying to die with his pain in the wasteland when he’s caught up in someone else’s schemes to try and rebuild the world, which usually climaxes him driving a big rig that’s beset by the scavengers of the apocalypse. Seriously, that’s the plot of every movie and I don’t have a problem with that. Like Banks, the more Theron stays away from simply being “pretty girl lead” the better off she does. Her last big hits were the far from critically beloved Hancock, Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus but in none of them was she the leading man’s love interest. And she damn sure isn’t one here. Also it was her call to shave her head. Yeah, pretty people live for messing up that beauty thing whenever and wherever they can.

AND WHO WOULD HAVE A CLOWN DOLL ANYWAY!?!
Okay, apparently the remake of Poltergeist opened this weekend, but it actually doesn’t show up on some box office charts. Which would make sense as I’ve seen not one commercial, billboard or even print ad for it. It’s almost like it’s a literal ghost film. I saw the original back when I would do the scary, but honestly if I’d known this was coming out I might have given it a shot as it always felt more like science fiction (girl trapped in alternate dimension) than horror. Well, aside from that fucking clown. Whoever thought to include that (and the tree) tapped into the childhood fears of the collective planet.

TIME TO WORK FOR A LIVING
Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number four—or five—and finally making an onscreen appearance is someone who’s been part of the Marvel movies all along: Paul Bettany, who’s been the voice of Jarvis. Something he admits to forgetting in interviews. Must be nice to make money that easily. Well, not anymore as he has to be painted and suited up to be the android known as The Vision. You say you want a brief comics history of the character? Well, don’t mind if I do. Shut up. You were too thinking it. The Vision is created by Ultron to help him destroy humanity, but turns on him, becoming an Avenger and ultimately marrying The Scarlet Witch. And they have two kids! Well, kinda. They’re made of magic and…okay even that’s too much for me. But Bettany does a good job with a limited role that only pops in the last half hour of the film. But he’s lost that easy Iron May paycheck.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT PT II
The Age of Adaline actually rises to number five (or six), followed by Hot Pursuit at number six (or seven), Furious Seven at number seven (or eight) and Far From The Maddening Crowd rising to number eight (or nine). Okay let’s tally it up. Britt Robertson is the protagonist of Tomorrowland, followed by the women of Pitch Perfect 2, Charlize Theron and all the women of Mad Max: Fury Road, Blake Lively in Age of Adaline, Reese Witherspoon & Sofia Vergar in Hot Pursuit and Carey Mulligan here in Far From The Maddening Crowd. That makes six out of the top ten (or eleven) films female driven. Sadly, that’s kind of impressive and won’t be lasting very long now that the summer movie season has formally begun. So enjoy your moment, ladies!

THE END
Paul Blart is either number nine or ten depending how you count it and Home is either number ten or finally removed from our sights.

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MAD MAX: I-95, EXIT 23

18 May

jordana_brewster-gq
1. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                      Wknd/$ 70.3    Total/$ 70.3
2. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 44.4    Total/$ 44.4
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 38.8    Total/$ 372.0
4. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 23.5
5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 62.9
6. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 343.8
7. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 3.2      Total/$ 37.5
9. Ex Machina/A24                                     Wknd/$ 2.1      Total/$ 19.6
8. Home/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 165.6
10.Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 1.3      Total/$ 2.6

MAD MAX: ROUTE 12, EXIT 15!
Pitch Perfect 2 opens at number one with Mad Max: Fury Road opening at number two and this is bittersweet triumph for female-driven films. The sweet is obvious. The number one film in the country was written, directed, starring and co-produced by women and nothing about it suggests they gave flying fuck if anyone with a “Y” chromosome saw it They were rewarded for this with a $70M opening off estimated $30M budget. This means whomever approved the third film even before this was released looks like a genius. The bitter is the hit taken by any who hoped for more action movies driven by women as the wonderful hi-octane (literally) Mad Max: Fury Road is beaten out for the number one spot. It’s also female driven from its plotline to its actual hero, Charlize Theron. Yeah, it’s called Mad Max, but everything in it is about her and her plan to save five of her fellow models from The Humungous, er, I mean Immortan Joe, who uses them as his personal breeding stock. And if you think I’m kidding about the models part, the film is very self-aware about it. There’s not one, but two scenes where people stop and gape at them because they’re so different from everyone else. When Max first sees them, he stops dead in his tracks because the women are literally soaking wet in off-white gossamer fabric. It looks like he wandered onto the set of a music video (at any moment you expect the camera to pan over and show INXS singing). The other is such a great scene I’d rather not spoil it. Max is also a prisoner of Immortan Joe’s empire: providing healthy blood for the tumor-ridden mutant “half-life” boys. In fact, Max only gets free because of Theron’s efforts to free the girls and goes from reluctantly helping them to be willing to die for them. Yes, he does help to save the day in the end (his name is in the title after all), but it’s Theron’s show all the way, which is why her name comes up first in the opening credits and she’s the most prominent in the posters. She also has a great name: Imperator Furiosa. But you know someone somewhere is going to fault all these things as to why the latest sequel in an action franchise came in second to a movie about chicks singing. Which I’ll never see because I hated the first Pitch Perfect. I find Mad Max more grounded in reality than anyone anywhere liking Anna Kendrick singing “No Diggity.”

AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU ASKED ME? SHUT UP. YOU WERE THINKING IT.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number three and if you thought it was getting beaten up before on account of how it treated The Black Widow, just wait now that they’ve got the giant hammer that is Mad Max: Fury Road. The other prominent female superhero in this film is The Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen. Yes, sister to the Olsen Twins, who’s been carving out a critically acclaimed acting career these last few years and now has stepped up her game to big, mainstream action movies. That’s gonna get a lot of indie films no one will ever see financed. In the comics she and her brother Pietro, aka, Quicksilver are the children of Magneto and were part of his original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants alongside Toad (who was in the first X-Men movie) and The Blob (seen in the first Wolverine movie). In the most recent X-Men film, Days of Future Past where Quicksilver also appears there’s a passing reference made to Magneto being his father and a cut scene where his sister (who would be The Scarlet Witch) is referenced.

MAYBE SHE CAN MEET UP WITH BRIDGET JONES!
Also female driven, but hardly a success story is Hot Pursuit, down to number four. Besides being directed by a woman and starring women, both Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vegara are onboard for this as producers, so they truly have to take some of heat for its failures as they were making some of the decisions. I’m thinking it’s to put on the pink one more time and bring back Elle Woods. Get it right this time and put her where she’s looked down upon and is the underdog, something a pretty blonde coming from money is not in Washington DC. Now, England on the other hand…

AND IT LOOKS LIKE BALLS TOO
Paul Blart holds at number five and women should be proud they had nothing to do with this. Writers, director and producers…all men. This is an all-ball production. Pure scrotum, if you will.

TOO PRETTY TO DRIVE FAST, MUCH LESS FURIOUS
Furious Seven is down to number six and while Jordana Brewster is back it’s in a role so slight it’s almost a cameo. She never got to develop into a butt-kicking action star like almost all the other women in the series. She went from love interest to wife and mother. It may have something to do with being the prettiest cast member (behind Paul Walker, of course). There’s a montage of all the stars from the beginning of the franchise until now and it’s amazing how she’s gone from looking like Demi Moore’s daughter to her sister. I’ll let you discuss why amongst yourselves.

CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. SERENA VAN DER WOODSEN!
The Age of Adeline is down to number seven and I’m still disappointed no one has combined the trailers and produced an “Avengers: Age of Adeline” mash up yet. Me? I’m busy.

CLEARLY MY TUTION WAS FOR THAT PRIME GREENWICH VILLAGE ADDRESS—AND I’M OKAY WITH THAT
Home is down to number eight, followed by Ex Machina at number nine and Far From The Maddening Crowd opening at number ten. This is based on the famous novel by Thomas Hardy and NYU should be ashamed of the fact that I graduated with a degree in English Literature and never read it. Ashamed I say! No, I won’t see it. That would be cheating.

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YOUR CAREER STRATEGY MAY NEED SOME RETHINKING

11 May

Schermafbeelding-2015-02-12-om-12.22.42

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney     Wknd/$ 77.2    Total/$ 312.6

2. Hot Pursuit/WB                                 Wknd/$ 13.3    Total/$ 13.3

3. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate      Wknd/$ 5.6      Total/$ 31.5

4. Furious 7/Universal                          Wknd/$ 5.3      Total/$ 338.4

5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                       Wknd/$ 5.2      Total/$ 58.1

6. Ex Machina/A24                                Wknd/$ 3.5      Total/$ 15.7

7. Home/Fox                                            Wknd/$ 3.0     Total/$ 162.1

8. Woman in Gold/Weinstein               Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 27.0

9. Cinderella/Disney                               Wknd/$ 1.6     Total/$ 196.2

10. Unfriended/Universal                      Wknd/$ 1.4     Total/$ 30.9

GEEK HISTORY 101: WHAT IS AN ULTRON?

Avengers: Age of Ultron holds at number one and in the film Tony Stark creates Ultron, but in the comics it’s created by Henry Pym who was an original Avenger known as Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Yellowjacket. Henry Pym wasn’t in either Avengers movie, but will appear in Ant-Man later this year, but as neither Ant-Man nor Yellowjacket. Got it? Good. I never liked Ultron as a villain because ultimately it made every bad thing he did the fault of The Avengers (one of those things being actual fucking genocide). How can you be a hero when all you’re doing is cleaning up your own mess? They hint that there’s another cause, because Tony is messing with Loki’s Scepter, but to the world at large Tony Stark and The Avengers are responsible ultimately for every life lost and every bit of damage Ultron causes so how can they still be seen as heroes? That said, one good thing they do is give him an actual personality via James Spader. In the comics he’s just “I am evil and hate humans.” Here he’s a perversion of Tony Stark all the way down to the wiseass sarcasm. At one point he unknowingly quotes Tony and becomes enraged when it’s pointed out to him like an actual character with daddy issues would be. In the comics, Henry Pym uses his own brain patterns to create Ultron, but such a simple and effective device of having Ultron act like him. has never been utilized in the character’s near 50-year history to my knowledge. It’s just, “I hate you, father.” That’s it. One of the film’s flaws is that some of the more interesting aspects get shortchanged to accommodate everyone and that is clearly one of them. Whedon says the original cut was three hours long so maybe we’ll see that restored in the inevitable directors cut on DVD. In a better world that whole bullshit “Beauty & The Beast” storyline between Black Widow and The Hulk would have gotten cut in favor of…well anything else. Seriously, it sucks that bad.

LUCKILY THEY HAVE OSCAR NOMS AND COMMERICALS TO FALL BACK ON

Hot Pursuit opens at number two and while nothing was pushing AoU out of the top spot this is still a weak opening and throws a monkey wrench into the Reese Witherspoon comeback machine. Because I like both her and Sofia Vegara, I wanted this to do better, but at the same time, I was unwilling to put myself through it. Sorry, but it just looked like the most painfully forced of “wacky hijinks.” In the past Witherspoon has been somewhat vocal about how she’ll never be in an action film. She might want to rethink that strategy in a world where an action film grossed in a day than her film did all weekend. Especially given her ex-hubby is in talks to hop on the Marvel superhero gravy train.

BEHIND EVERY STRONG ACTRESS IS A TALL, REALLY PRETTY DUDE

Age of Adaline holds at number two and while not a success, it’s not a failure either having at least made its production budget. Too bad there’s a promotional budget that often costs as much as the film itself to consider. Also in this is Michael Huisman who is the latest addition to those guys you know because they always support a stronger, more famous leading actress. Twenty years ago, David Straitharn was guy you went to for Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver. Ten years ago, Mark Ruffalo was there for Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow and now Michael Huisaman is the guy here for Blake Lively, there for Connie Britton on Nashville, with Gisele in those Chanel commercials and also for Reese Witherspoon in Wild. Expect to see him kissing Jennifer Lawrence onscreen any day now.

GUESS NO ONE WANTED ESCAPE FROM CHICAGO…

Furious Seven is down to number four and also in this is Kurt Russell, apparently knowing the place of the aging action hero is playing the higher up the younger heroes have to deal with. I’ve no doubt part of his deal was that his character doesn’t die so he too can get on the F&F gravy train. Spoiler? Oh, fuck you. It’s been out for a month and a half.

BECAUSE FEM-BOTS UNLEASHED WAS TOO OBVIOUS A TITLE

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is down to number five, followed by Ex Machina actually rising to number six, so I guess I’m the only person who has no tolerance for cautionary tales with sexy robots.

HEY, HER MONEY IS JUST AS GREEN

Home is down to number seven followed by Woman in Gold rising to number eight and I can’t imagine why. I mean who wants to see a movie about an strong, older female lead who is supported by a handsome younger man when there’s hockey and basketball playoffs on TV and a movie where some woman is cursed to look like 28-year-old Blake Lively for eternity in the theater? Oh. Your mom. And clearly you took her to see this on mother’s day.

THE END…AGAIN

Cinderella is down to number nine and Unfriended closes out the top ten at number ten.

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THE MONEY MACHINE ROLLS ON

4 May

Tyrese-Gibson-Goes-Off-on-Fat-People-Look-at-What-You-Did-to-Yourself-2
1. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney Wknd/$ 187.7 Total/$ 187.7
2. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate Wknd/$ 6.3 Total/$ 23.4
3. Furious 7/Universal Wknd/$ 6.1 Total/$ 330.5
4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 Wknd/$ 5.6 Total/$ 44.0
5. Home/Fox Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 158.1
6. Cinderella/Disney Wknd/$ 2.4 Total/$ 193.7
7. Ex Machina/A24 Wknd/$ 2.2 Total/$ 10.9
8. Unfriended/Universal Wknd/$ 1.9 Total/$ 25.2
9. The Longest Ride/Fox Wknd/$ 1.7 Total/$ 30.4
10. Woman in Gold/Weinstein Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 21.6

WATCH ME GET MY GEEK ON!
Surprising absolutely no one, Avengers: Age of Ultron opens at number one and I found this to be superior to the original because it’s more of a movie unto itself and not so much concerned with setting up the next film. This is not to say it’s not setting up the next movie. Oh, no. They’re not afraid to let you know they’re saving shit for you to pay for later. But it’s less of an obvious placeholder. Scenes that showcase every character individually are less forced and even the sub-plots don’t drop like so many lead weights. And last but not least, there’s no 10-minute sequence where Captain America and Iron Man fix an engine. Seriously. I cannot believe they shot that. The movie opens in full swing with The Avengers going after Hydra, which if you remember where the bad guys in Captain America’s two movies because god forbid he fight a Nazi (yes, I will forever be annoyed by that). There they recover Loki’s scepter from the first film and from it Tony Stark creates an artificial intelligence known as Ultron, whom he intends to use to protect the world from the next invasion. Unfortunately Ultron more than has a mind of its own and thinks humanity is the problem and just plans to wipe us all out, Stark in particular. This sets up the basic plot of the film: superheroes vs. giant angry robot. With Ultron are two enhanced (because Fox owns the rights to the term mutant) people who also hate Tony Stark, Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch making more of a fair fight and actually kicking Avenger ass. Ultron is longtime Avengers villain in the comic whom I actually have never cared for, but James Spader via writer/director Whedon has been improved immensely. Before he was just a one note bad guy while they’ve given him a much-needed personality, which is basically what if your angry, sarcastic teenage son had the power to wipe out the world? He hates Tony Stark but has elements of Stark’s personality and hates being reminded of that. You need these moments of humanity given 90% of the film they’re swimming in a sea of CGI and it gets a little tiring. Seriously. It’s fun to watch, but when it’s over you really don’t need to see any more of it anytime soon (which why I had Daredevil to watch, but we’ll get to that). Ironically the Summer Movie Season has more or less begun, so I guess I’ll be seeing more of it next week. And the week after that. And the week after that.

GONNA FINALLY SEE THAT KESSEL RUN!
Age of Adaline actually moves up to number two, a result I gather of women (or men) who just drew a line in the sand and decided not to accompany their men (or women) into seeing Age of Ultron (which would explain why the sequel failed to be top its predecessor). Basically, if they were going to watch some wacky fantasy movie, it was going to be something they were actually interested in with more kissing and less CGI. Also in this is Harrison Ford and playing him younger, Anthony Ingruber who basically got the job doing Harrison Ford impressions on YouTube. You damn kids today. Once upon a time you had to sleep your way into movies. Granted, it helps that he looks like Ford, but can also do him perfectly. If I’m at Disney I’m hiring this kid and just creating a new revenue stream of Young Han Solo movies. Tell me more people wouldn’t see that than the main Star Wars films themselves!?! And now that Lucas is gone there’d be a whole lot of shootin’ first!

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT SINGING CAREER?
Furious 7 is down to number three and trying to get on the comic book money train is Tyrese Gibson. Not that I blame him, but I do not want to see this fool as any character I actually care about. Not to mention at 5’11 he’s too short to play the character he wanted, who was Luke Cage (who will have a series on Netflix like Daredevil, but we’ll get to that). That role went to Mike Colter from The Good Wife, who is 6’3”. Damn right. Now Gibson wants to be Jon Stewart, one of the Green Lanterns. Given how Ryan Reynolds crashed and burned, DC will probably go that way. I mean given how bad all their other decisions have been, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gibson got the job. Needless to say, I don’t give a crap about Jon Stewart. I mean, I didn’t care when Common’s talentless ass was cast as him for the aborted Justice League movie, so why would I start now?

THEY’LL PAY FOR THIS NEGLECT IN THE HIGH SCHOOL YEARS
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is down to number four, followed by Home at number five and Cinderella oddly returning to the top ten at number six. I have no idea how or why. The number of screens actually dropped by almost a thousand and still it popped up. Again, I’m thinking somehow The Avengers had something to do with this. Short sighted fathers who dropped their daughters off here instead of taking them with their brothers to see The Avengers.

IT’S ALWAYS BETTER TO RULE IN HELL
Ex Machina is down to number seven, followed by Unfriended at number eight, The Longest Ride at number nine and The Woman in Gold at number ten and it’s gotta be humbling at home for Ryan Reynolds with Blake Lively’s movie getting more exposure than his. Especially when she’s the star of hers and he’s the co-star of Helen Mirren. Yeah, technically this did better, but is it better to the co-star in a success of the star of a disappointment?

YOU’D HAVE TO BE BLIND NOT TO LOVE THIS.
Since we’re discussing The Avengers and other comic book movies, it’s time I got to my long overdue discussion of Daredevil (told you we’d get to it). Simply put: it’s awesome. Seriously. Forget about that godawful movie with Ben Affleck that even he admits was crap. This. Is. Amazing. Netfilix and Marvel have pulled off something I quite frankly had my doubts about. I know it’s not saying much but this is best superhero TV show ever made. It is gritty and serious as a heart attack, but they make it work. It helps they have time. It’s not so much at TV show, but a 13-hour movie. Each episode builds on the previous episode to a great climax. Having been a fan of the comics this is based upon, my jaw dropped at some of the scenes. They’re making it clear that the comics are merely source material and they feel no obligation to follow them to the letter. Their changes are amazing and may have set the bar too high for them to follow, much less other shows that are coming set in this same world. One primary reason is the villain. It’s an old conceit that your movie can only be as good as its villain and Vincent D’Onofrio brings to life a great villain, The Kingpin. He’s not some two-dimensional bad guy, but a fully realized traumatized human being who has been consumed by his darkside, though he doesn’t admit it even to himself. The other saying is that a good villain is the hero of his own story and in this Wilson Fisk (never called The Kingpin, because what is this, a comic book?) firmly believes he’s saving the city. This city is the New York post-Avengers alien invasion. Hell’s Kitchen isn’t the new home of luxury high rises and nice restaurants that’s threatening to price me out of it, but the crime ridden HK of old thanks to the damage of the alien invasion The Avengers fought off. In a plotline all too real, criminals are making the most of all the new money coming in to redevelop the area. Having grown up there, Fisk thinks he’s saving his old neighborhood and the city with a small consortium of organized crime leaders, from Yakuza to Triads to Russian Mobs (clearly the Italians and Irish are old news). Unfortunately for him, Daredevil, aka, Matt Murdock also grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and is having none of it, going out every night dressed in black, using his hyper senses (developed when he was blinded by radioactive chemicals saving a man’s life) to find crime and beat the crap out of people committing it. They actually make you believe one unarmed guy can derail a business of armed gangsters. It’s fairly simple: you screw up their business enough and the partners start getting impatient and wind up finishing them off. They also do a great job of fleshing out the supporting characters. In the comics Vanessa, The Kingpin’s love interest, is a borderline idiot who has no idea he’s a gangster. Here she’s a woman knowing enough to bring a gun on her second date. She knows what he is and not only accepts it, but helps him somewhat. Karen Page is the secretary/love interest with little going on beyond that in the comics, but here she goes from being a damsel in distress to a pit bull determined to take The Kingpin down no matter what it takes. Daredevil himself had the sense of humor that comes and goes in the comics (depending on who’s writing) and takes a fairly realistic beating for someone fighting crime with no superpowers. When his ability to take a pounding without complaining is pointed out, he quips, “That’s the Catholicism in me.” Seriously, I cannot recommend this enough. It’s not perfect (Asians take it only the chin in all kinds of stereotypes and Daredevil functions a little too well despite vicious beatings). Let me put it this way: just make it to the hallway scene in episode two. That’s when I knew this was the real deal.

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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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HATERS GONNA HATE

5 Oct

minime
1. Gone Girl/Fox                                             Wknd/$ 38.0    Total/$ 38.0
2. Annabelle/WB (NL)                                  Wknd/$ 37.2     Total/$ 37.2
3. The Equalizer/Sony                                   Wknd/$ 19.0     Total/$ 64.5
4. The Boxtrolls/Focus                                  Wknd/$ 12.4     Total/$ 32.5
5. The Maze Runner/Fox                              Wknd/$ 12.0     Total/$ 73.9
6. Left Behind/Free                                        Wknd/$ 6.9      Total/$ 6.9
7. This is Where I Leave You/WB               Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 29.0
8. Dolphin Tale 2/WB                                   Wknd/$ 3.5      Total/$ 38.0
9. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney            Wknd/$ 3.0      Total/$ 323.4
10. No Good Deed/SGems                           Wknd/$ 2.5       Total/$ 50.2

INTERFERING WITH MY PLANS TO HATE BY ACTUALLY BEING GOOD
Gone Girl squeaks out a victory at number one and I’m going to be honest and say I’m not a David Fincher fan. He’s part of the Ridley Scott school of style over substance. That his big breakthrough was 7even, which was a beautifully shot but epically stupid movie is no surprise and would never let you forget he cut his teeth directing music videos (“Jaime’s Got A Gun” “Freedom ‘90” “Vogue”). He’s better off when he has strong source material like a novel that needs to be adhered to lest you lose that built in audience the studio is counting on rather than an originally screenplay you just do what you want with because fuck a screenwriter amirite? Gone Girl was not only a novel, but the author herself did the screenplay, which usually is the fast track to failure, but despite a shakey beginning, it manages to find its tone. Now, I never read the book, but I did guess the mid-film twist because there’s really nothing new about this genre. So the question isn’t originality, but what you do with an old idea. They do well here in the story of a man whose wife mysteriously vanishes and while it begins with the presumption of innocence, darker secrets of their marriage pop up aided in no small part by the onscreen depiction of the missing wife’s journal. While Ben Affleck may not have any anyone’s first choice, if you want someone who can simultaneously appear to be a nice guy but also an asshole, he’s your guy. I’m one of the few who remembers how his character is described by Jason Scott Lee in Mallrats: “He looks like a date rapist.” There is something very “frat boy who smile and laughs at your joke while placing a roofie in your drink” about him which works here. After reporting his wife’s disappearance he never asks for a lawyer, but at the same time is openly hiding evidence from the police and who is he talking to on the second cell phone? I didn’t want to like Fincher’s latest, but it’s been awhile since I spent two hours in a theater that held me like this. But you know the success of this will make him blow it next time, right? Just like he followed up The Social Network with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or the way he followed Zodiac with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

DOES THIS COUNT AS A FILM WITH A FEMALE LEAD
Annabelle opens at number two and I would love to see the demographics of this audience as opposed to the audience for Gone Girl, given they finished neck-and-neck and that number may actually change by the time final tally is done. Let’s not pretend we don’t have a class system, America. Though that has nothing to do with why I did not nor will I ever see this. Say it with me kids: “I don’t do the scary.” Doesn’t matter how stupid or incompetent it might be, I simply don’t do it. It doesn’t help that the very premise of this is unbelievable. No, not an evil doll. That’s horror gold. No, it’s that the doll is so freaking ugly. No one would ever own it much less leave it in their daughter’s room to begin with. Like so many other things, this was done first, better and in less time on The Twilight Zone. They understood that it’s actually scarier if the doll is attractive. You pretty much expect an ugly doll to be evil, which is why no one owns them to begin with.

IF THEY’VE WON A VIDEO MUSIC AWARD, LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
The Equalizer is down to number three and this reunites Denzel Washington with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua, who is somewhat competent action director who also comes from music videos and like David Fincher has problems with story and this is no exception. But if you’ve seen what is for the most part immensely watchable schlock like The Replacement Killers, Bait, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter and Olympus Has Fallen (also skipable) like I have, you know exactly what you’re walking into when you see his name on the poster and you’re not even remotely surprised he manages to create a typical climatic showdown in the rain even though we’re inside a Home Depot. Even Training Day suddenly loses its footing in the final 10 minutes. I’m thinking too many music videos taught both him and Fincher that making sense really doesn’t matter as much as making it look good.

THE WANT OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL BAD FILMS
The Boxtrolls is down to number four followed by The Maze Runner at number five and Left Behind opening at number six and normally I’d say this nonstop dreck from Nicholas Cage (look him up on Netflix and you’ll see a dozen films you never heard of all released in the last two years) was just because he was paying off a debt he owed to the IRS, but he was making lots of crap even before the government showed up with a bill. In fact, it was taking all those big money paydays that lead him to not just making Christian fundamentalist films, but remaking them as this was done first by none other than Kirk Cameron. When you’re swimming in Kirk Cameron you seriously need to look into a TV show. A paycheck every week TV show. You can pay your debts, rehabilitate your stardom and for god’s sake, save your dignity.

YEAH, THIS IS TRASH BAD DIRECTORS DAY. GET OVER IT.
This Is Where I Leave You is down to number seven and also if you need a reason as to why this sucks so much just look at the director: Shawn Levy. At best he’s underwhelming you with Real Steel, Date Night and Night at The Museum and at worst he’s dropping turds like The Pink Panther, Night At the Museum 2 (and 3 which is coming and looks to be the worst yet) and this. It’s takes negative amount of talent to drain people like Steve Martin, Ben Stiller, Jason Bateman, Robin William and Tina Fey of it and that he does so frequently and well shows you what a creative black hole this man truly is.

CLEARLY WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE MATTERS MORE THAN WHAT HE SOUNDS LIKE
Dolphin Tale 2 is down to number eight, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy at number nine and No Good Deed closing out the top ten at number ten having made almost 4x its budget domestically alone. Domestically, because the big excuse for not having films with minority leads is that they don’t perform internationally. Know where it’s been released overseas? Africa, period. Bear in mind Idris Elba is fucking English and has a successful TV show there.

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
Yes! The new Fall TV Season. Because I loves me some TV I do try to give every show at least one shot unless it is clearly just ridiculously awful like Scorpion or Stalkers or NCIS New Orleans or The McCarthys (are you surprised that the network of Two and A Half Men has more shit than most?). I mean life is just too short. Let’s get started, shall we?

Gotham
This was a no brainer for a comic book geek like me. Basically, it’s the story of Young Commissioner Gordon in Gotham City almost 20 years before Batman. We know this because the first episode is about the murder of The Waynes. Now this would make an interesting one-off movie or even a mini-series, but as an open-ended series makes no sense whatsoever. First of all, they insist on trying to shoehorn Bruce Wayne into the show. Bruce Wayne simply has no stories to tell between his parents’ death and the arrival of Batman. It’s not like Clark Kent who did have his powers as a boy so could do Superman-like things. Bruce Wayne has to be an adult after years of training himself to be Batman. Nonetheless Jim Gordon is being given excuse after excuse to drive out to Wayne Manor were we get to see Bruce Wayne getting progressively darker. Then there’s the need to include young versions of Batman’s villains. Now, while The Penguin as a young flunky for a mobster and The Riddler as your typical CSI tech both work it doesn’t change the fact that it means Batman’s gonna be punching out couple of old dudes when he finally shows up. Not that the alternative of showing them as kid is much better, as witnessed by a 10-year old Poison Ivy (her name needlessly and stupidly changed from Pamela Isley to Ivy Pepper because the people running this show want to show they’re “creative” when they clearly are no) and the a pre-naturally beautiful 13-year-old Catwoman who’s already running around the rooftops as a thief. In fact she looks just like Dina Meyer who played Batgirl on the awful Birds of Prey show so maybe they’ll give her a job as the mom she insists is still alive. If the biggest flaw is that they keep trying to shove elements of the Batman mythos without Batman (you know, ignoring the very premise of the show), the second biggest is young Jim Gordon as a good cop in a dirty town. Rather than show his compromises as he tries to eek out some measure of justice, they’re just having him be annoyingly self-righteous every week. If you know the mayor’s lazy, you don’t call him lazy to his face. You play him to get what you want but this Jim Gordon is too full of his own morality to do that. That more than anything will drive me away from this show.

A to Z
Now, I was prepared to hate this because the previews made it look like he stalked her and she rewarded him with a date, but it’s not. It’s actually about an 8-month relationship between two people who almost met previously due to friends and job proximity, but don’t actually do so until she comes into his office to complain about being listed as a lesbian on her dating profile (he works at an internet dating service) and he actually approaches her like a normal human. They go on a normal date, but when he realizes she was the girl he saw years ago that he thought could be “the one” she freaks out because her parents were starry-eyed hippies and she has no patience for that. Of course in the end she decides to give it a try and we have our show. But now we have the same question as Gotham. How can this be an open ended show about an 8-month relationship? How many years can they drag out 8 months? While it was better than I expected (which isn’t saying much) the premise doesn’t really grab me, but they get points for trying to be a little different (amidst a ton of clichés like straight laced lawyer dates free spirit and they both have wacky best friends). Oh, and it had a great Back to The Future joke which makes at least watching the pilot worthwhile.

The Mysteries of Laura
I love Debra Messing. I love her so much I’ve watched every crap show she’s been on since Will & Grace even though each got progressively worse. Just as Smash was worse than Starter Wife, this is worse than Smash. We get it, Debra. You’re willing to let yourself be shown as pathetically as possible for a joke. Only it’s not funny. Not even a little. Especially when every “humiliation” is followed by a “whoa, she’s really hot” scene. She’s a detective in NYC who’s dealing with her ex-husband as her boss and being a mom to two hellions. I can’t tell you how awful and lazy this show is. As flat as the jokes fall the attempts at drama are even worse. I really hate saying because they actually made the effort to film in NYC. It would really do them better to just go full sitcom with this like the much superior Bad Judge.

Bad Judge
This looked initially like The Mysteries of Laura (only she’s a judge not a cop) all the way down her working with a black guy who sees her in a state of undress and exclaims “Dayum!” But the execution is night and day. First of all they know they’re doing a sitcom, meaning it’s only 30 minutes and the goal is humor and even the small nods to drama are punctuated by humor. And while Kate Walsh plays the same ego-free card of willing to look bad on camera it’s not nearly as desperate as Debra Messing’s performance. But it helps when Will Farrell is one of your executive producers. It was co-created by Anne Heche who’s also a producer and that’s gotta mean some odd-as hell production meetings, but they clearly work.

Manhattan Love Story
Another sitcom that’s better than the commercials would have you believe thanks to the inclusion of some actual wit (his family runs a trophy-making business and America’s willingness to celebrate mediocrity has made their business better than ever) and I’m always a sucker to shows that film in NYC, but in the end the two leads are just too vanilla to hold my interest. I mean when you think “Manhattan Love Story” do you think the WASPiest people on earth? I mean at the very least make the native- New York some kind of ethnicity (the way the other members of his family clearly look).

Blackish
As much as I love Debra Messing, I hate Anthony Andrews who has always been the “black Tom Arnold” to me and that says it all. Nonetheless Lawrence Fishburne is here so I gave it a chance and it just didn’t make it. Granted I was told the second episode wasn’t as dependent on the whole “fear of assimilation” angle that the pilot episode was based upon, but I’m really not going to make an effort to see Anthony Andrews. Like I said, I hate him.

Forever
Pete Hamill is a longtime New York City journalist who wrote a novel called Forever about a man who is basically immortal and has been living in Manhattan since the Revolutionary War. This is not based on that and I cannot believe he hasn’t sued them. Then again he didn’t sue New Amsterdam about a cop with a similar affliction. This is about a medical examiner who as been alive for two hundred years only not consistently. He can die, but is reborn in water. Basically, you shoot him in Central Park, he wakes up naked in the East River and is picked up by his senior citizen adopted son played by Judd Hirsch. He uses his extensive experience in dying to solve mysteries and between this and CSI I’m thinking Jack Klugman as Quincy was the only unattractive television M.E. ever. It’s entertaining if not exceptional and it also preys upon my weakness by actually being shot in NYC, but not something I’m going to make an effort for. Basically, if you like Castle you’ll like this and I tired of Castle long ago.

How To Get Away With Murder
In all honesty, I barely watched it (god bless fast-forward) but what I did watch didn’t interest me in the slightest. But I’m not its audience. I don’t watch Scandal either.

Selfie
Yes, an entire TV series based on My Fair Lady. Her name is actually Eliza Dooley and John Cho plays “Henry.” This is where you eye roll. There are the barest glimmers of wit as they work at marketing firm where he succeeded in re-branding a drug that had been condemned by the FDA and basically he thinks he can “re-brand” her. Unfortunately there isn’t nearly enough of that wit and the whole show is burdened with a title that’s already dated and will only become moreso as time passes. It doesn’t help they don’t have the courage of their convictions as deep down inside she’s a former unattractive, unpopular girl who blossomed into a beauty and has used popularity to fill the hole inside her. Yawn. Give me someone genuinely shallow who finds their humanity while merely pretending to seek depth. That way we can laugh at her without feeling bad because we know it’s just a mask to hide her pain. Not that there are a lot of laughs here. Too bad. I want John Cho to succeed.

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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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CHICKS DIG BAD BOYS…WHEN THEY’RE ALREADY HOT

14 Sep

idris elba shirtless 2

1. No Good Deed/SGems                                  Wknd/$ 24.5     Total/$ 24.5
2. Dolphin Tale 2/WB                                       Wknd/$ 16.6     Total/$ 16.6
3. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney                Wknd/$ 8.0       Total/$ 305.9
4. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles/Par           Wknd/$ 4.8       Total/$ 181.0
5. Let’s Be Cops/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 4.3        Total/$ 73.0
6. The Drop/FoxSearchlight                           Wknd/$ 4.2        Total/$ 4.2
7. If I Stay/WB                                                    Wknd/$ 4.1        Total/$ 44.9
8. The November Man/Relativity                  Wknd/$ 2.8        Total/$ 22.5
9. The Giver/Weinstein                                    Wknd/$ 2.6        Total/$ 41.3
10. The Hundred-Foot Journey/Disney       Wknd/$ 2.5        Total/$ 49.4

YOUR MOM LIKES HIM TOO
No Good Deed opens at number one starring your wife’s/girlfriend’s fantasy boyfriend, Idris Elba. Oh, he is. Don’t kid yourself. I don’t care what she’s telling you, he is. And apparently when he’s good, he’s good; but when he’s bad he’s better as this almost doubles its budget the opening weekend. And don’t be surprised to find it in her Netflix cue or on her DVD shelf in about 6-12 months. For Elba, whose fame has been bubbling under A-list for a few years now, this is a wise move, being willing to be play the bad guy, albeit not in a stereotypical manner. Range and courage will take you far. Of course being hot helps. A less attractive actor might not have had the same level of success. Your girlfriend/wife is shallow.

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO SAD
Dolphin Tale 2 opens at number two because apparently somebody somewhere saw the first Dolphin Tale. Only now am I realizing both these films feature the re-teaming of Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, who were both white hot after Kiss The Girls to the point where they a) both were given suspense thriller movies (she got Double Jeopardy and he got Along Came A Spider, another Alex Cross adaptation) and b) reteamed to hopefully repeat the success (High Crimes, which didn’t). It’s sad they’re doing this type of family film treacle because they actually had wonderful chemistry. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s only here as a favor to her, because he’s got plenty of hits in a starring role, while she’s now playing the mom to the star. Hell, she’s the mom to the protagonist here too. I still love you, Ashley Judd! Even if rumors have it that male actors have turned down parts once they’ve learned you were cast…

I AM PAID
Guardians of the Galaxy is down to number three and also in this is Vin Diesel as the voice of the biggest breakout character of the movie, the sentient tree, Groot. Everyone loves Groot. The only thing they love more than Groot is Dancing Baby Groot. It’s the easiest and hardest job. After all it’s only three words “I Am Groot” but the intonation has to be different each and every time. It’s also the more perilous gig, because it’s just a voice (neither he nor Bradley Cooper were ever on set). He can’t bargain for more money, because honestly, anyone can do this. But for now this makes him the rare actor with not one, not two, but three franchises to his name: Guardians of the Galaxy, Fast & The Furious and Riddick. And while I loved this movie, I love Chronicles of Riddick just as much if not more.

HEY, AT LEAST IT’S NOT STEVIE-O OR BAM
Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles is down to number four and speaking of an easy paycheck by just being a voice, Johnny Knoxville is actually one of the turtles, giving him two franchises as well. He’s got the Jackass series, which includes Bad Grandpa and now this. If I told you ten years ago Johnny Knoxville would still be around and making money, you’d have called me crazy, but now you see it’s the universe that’s crazy.

IT’D BE TASTELESS TO SAY HE WENT OUT WITH A BANG, RIGHT?
Let’s Be Cops is down to number five followed by The Drop opening at number six and this James Gandolphini’s final film and it’s both fitting and sad that it’s a gangster flick. Fitting because it was Tony Soprano that made him a star and sad because he’d begun transcending it, especially with the wonderful Enough Said. It’s gotten good reviews and it’s on my radar to see, but we know my likelihood when I don’t catch something on opening weekend. And the new fall TV season is coming too? Hoo, boy.

IT’S WHY I SAW THAT MOVIE WITH DENZEL WASHINGTON
If I Stay is down to number seven, followed by The November Man at number eight and part of the lack of interest in this is the lack of a strong antagonist. It’s yet another one of these generic, Australian pretty boys of whom they seem to have a neverending supply. Imagine how much more interesting this would have been with Pierce Brosnan against a younger actor you actually knew? Even Stallone knew that it was good to have then rising star, Antonio Banderas facing off against in him in Assassins (not that it was a great success either). You would have had my money yesterday if you gave me the possibility of seeing Pierce Brosnan kicking the ass of Ryan Reynolds.

MARKETING FAIL
The Giver is down to number nine and also in this…Taylor Swift!?! Clearly there’s something in her contract prohibiting them from pushing this point because when your film is disappointing, you might want to mention it’s got one of the biggest pop stars on the planet in it.

THE END
Finally, The Hundred Foot Journey closes out the top ten at number ten, a modest success with $61M worldwide from a $22M budget. Emphasis on “modest.”

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NEXT TIME IT’LL BE JUST “WOLV”

28 Jul

Image

 1. The Wolverine/Fox                                Wknd/$  55.0            Total/$  55.0

 2. The Conjuring/WB                                Wknd/$  22.1            Total/$  83.9

 3. Despicable Me 2/Universal                   Wknd/$  16.0            Total/$ 306.4

 4. Turbo/Fox                                               Wknd/$  13.3            Total/$  55.8

 5. Grown Ups 2/Sony                                 Wknd/$  11.5             Total/$ 101.7

 6. Red 2/LG                                                 Wknd/$    9.4            Total/$  35.1

 7. Pacific Rim/Warners                              Wknd/$    7.5            Total/$  84.0

 9. R.I.P.D./Universal                                  Wknd/$    5.9            Total/$  24.4

 8. The Heat/Fox                                          Wknd/$    6.9            Total/$ 141.2

10. Fruitvale Station/Weinstein                 Wknd/$    4.7            Total/$    6.3

 

NOT EVEN REMOTELY THE BEST AT WHAT HE DOES, THOUGH WHAT HE DOES BEST ISN’T VERY NICE…AND THAT’S FAIL

Opening at number one, yet still a disappointment is The Wolverine, as if somehow shortening the name was going to make it better. Yes, it’s better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but that’s like saying it’s better when your dog leaves solid poop on your carpet rather than runny poop. It’s still poop on your carpet and this is still a bad movie in the theater. Wolverine first became a runaway success in the 80’s with the success of a four issue comic book mini-series wherein he leaves the X-Men for awhile to go to Japan to help the woman he loves who just happens to be a Yakuza (Japanese mob) princess and gets caught up in a mob war.  It was so successful not only did he get his own solo book and become one of Marvel Comics’ biggest stars, but also they never stopped writing “Wolverine in Japan” stories trying to recapture it.  At the heart of the original story was that spiritually Wolverine was very “Japanese” (a character flat out says it on page 8) in that he had the soul of a samurai warrior and found a certain amount of peace there where he didn’t elsewhere.  He spoke fluent Japanese and was immersed in its culture and customs. Well, none of that is here. It begins with Wolverine mentally tortured by having had to kill Jean Grey in the last X-Men and that you’d even acknowledge that piece of crap is your first mistake. But it does add to the basic premise that he’s tired of living and burying people that he loves—except that it’s well documented that he can’t remember his past so how does he know? Well suddenly he can remember that he was in World War II and saved the life of a Japanese solider at Nagasaki. This soldier went on to create the equivalent to Sony and is now dying of cancer (rather than say the fact he’s in his freaking 90’s). He offers to make Wolverine mortal to repay him.  So you can imagine what happens next, right? Wolverine mulls it over, accepts, and lives a life of peace for a little while before realizing that to save the lives of the people he loves he has to take back his curse. Nope. He turns him down and that’s the end of that interesting premise. Seriously. After that it’s just dumb things that never stop happening climaxing in the appearance of giant robot, which is always, always stupid. Let me put it this way: when the most sympathetic character is a guy trying to murder his own daughter, your story has gone horrible wrong.  I personally knew it was over when the first five minutes felt compelled to show a CGI bear urinating.  No, I’m not kidding.  It immediately shows you the maturity level of the storytelling and all the rest is just academic.

 

THE JAMIE LEE CURTIS OF THE 21ST CENTURY IS A DUDE!

The Conjuring is down to number two and from a $20M budget has made $96M worldwide. Everybody’s getting cheese on their whoppers!  Also in this is Patrick Wilson who is starting to make a career out of these low-risk, high return horror films as he was also in last year’s Insidious, which has a sequel coming later this year.  Given he comes from Broadway he brings a nice gravity to whatever he does, serving to legitimize it despite the many obstacles of bad writing and poor direction. He proved that by being the highlight of The A-Team movie a few years ago as the obnoxious CIA Agent that sets the plot in motion.  It helped that he seemed to realize it was a comedy and played it just that way.

 

THE SCHADENFREUDE IS STRONG IN ME

Despicable Me 2 is down to number three followed by Turbo at number four and the irony of this one-two punch of success and failure from Dreamworks is staggering.  Well, not for you or me, but for Netflix, which is locked into a deal with Dreamworks to make a Turbo cartoon.  Oops.  Note that there’s no Despicable Me cartoon. Or even one about The Minions which is actually the only thing worth watching in a Despicable Me movie.  Someone’s lawyers are going to be burning the midnight oil (of billable hours) looking for a way out of this.  Heh-heh-heh.

 

YOU KNOW HIGH SCHOOL WAS ANNOYING FOR HIM WITH THAT NAME

Grown Ups 2 is down to number five followed by Red 2 at number six and part of the reason I was looking forward to this was that a) Brian Cox who was the best part of the first was returning and b) Anthony Hopkins was in it. For those of you who don’t know, Brian Cox first brought Hannibal Lecter to life onscreen in Manhunter, which was based on the novel Red Dragon. After the success of Silence of the Lambs where Hopkins won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter he went on to do it twice more in Hannibal and yes, Red Dragon. Both Hannibal Lecters in one movie. Awesome.  Or not. They don’t even exchange words in this film. Now I wasn’t looking for some horrible joke about eating liver with fava beans and Chianti, but what’s the point in having great actors together in a movie if you’re not going to put them together? It would be like if Robert DeNiro was in that dumb heist movie with Marlon Brando and they never met.  I haven’t been this disappointed since Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Spud (Ewen Bremer) were in Jack The Giant Killer and didn’t share a scene.

 

GOTTA BE IN IT TO WIN IT, DUDE

Pacific Rim is down to number seven and also in this is Idris Elba the man who should be pushing Denzel Washington into retirement (remember: Hollywood can only handle one minority lead at a time), but he keeps making less-than-wise screen choices like this one…and whatever the hell that movie was he did with Beyonce where he shaved.  Not that it isn’t enjoyable, but he’s not really the star of it, good or bad and to be a star you need starring roles.  Yeah, Luther is in its third season on the BBC and he’s the star of that, but being the star of a BBC series isn’t even like being a big fish in small pond. It’s like being a special fish in a specialty aquarium store, while guys like Denzel Washington are blue whales.

 

IT’S ONLY FEMINIST TO WANT MORE MONEY

The Heat is down to number eight and Sandra Bullock says she can’t imagine making a sequel to this…even though she made two awful Miss Congeniality movies.  Clearly the check Paramount sent to her home wasn’t big enough.  But you know what? I’m down with her thinly veiled suggestion that it’s going to take a buttload of money for a sequel.  It the mint has to work overtime to provide Disney with enough money pay Robert Downey Jr. to come back as Iron Man, she deserves her payday too.

 

SOMEWHERE COLIN FARRELL NODS WITH UNDERSTANDING

R.I.P.D. is down to number nine and yes, I’m still laughing at yet another Ryan Reynolds flop.  He couldn’t be having more career disappointment if he’d been on the cover of Vanity Fair as the next big thing. What’s funny is that when he was on the cover it was with Jake Gyllenhaal, another “It Boy” whose career hasn’t quite taken off either. Next to them is James Franco who has big mainstream hits he could clearly give a crap about and smaller hits he loves. Wait. Am I laughing again?

 

OH, BY THE WAY: SUPERMAN’S NOT EVEN HUMAN

Finally, entering the top ten is Fruitvale Station and there’s been buzz about this since it was on the film festival circuit and apparently it lives up to the hype.  It’s gonna take some effort for me to see because a) it’s summer and I like to keep it light and b) I’m really not looking forward to being reminded that the difference between life and death for can be whether or not someone is afraid of me.  Whoa. That’s kind of a bummer note to end on. Okay, let’s lighten it up. The star of this is Michael B. Jordan who clearly had to be forced by SAG to use his middle initial because like poor Vanessa L. Williams who had her SAG card first!  He’s been mentioned as being Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot and that has geeks in a tizzy, not that they’re racist or anything.  They’re just concerned about accuracy…in the character of a flying man on fire. Note how they didn’t care when Jessica Alba was squeezing her Latina curves into a tight blue outfit. So I guess it’s just their genitals which are color blind.  Figures, only having one eye and all.  Yeah, I went there.

NOT SIMPLY A “FAILURE” BUT “TYLER PERRY’S FAILURE”

21 Oct

 

 

1. Paranormal Activity 4/Parmount            Wknd/$  30.0            Total/$  30.2

 2. Argo/Warners                                              Wknd/$   16.6            Total/$  43.2

 3. Hotel Transylvania/Sony                           Wknd/$   13.5            Total/$ 119.0

 4. Taken 2/Fox                                                  Wknd/$   13.4            Total/$ 106.0

 5. Alex Cross/Summit                                      Wknd/$   11.8            Total/$  11.8

 6. Sinister/Summit                                           Wknd/$    9.0            Total/$  32.0

 7. Here Comes The Boom/Sony                     Wknd/$    8.5            Total/$  23.2

 8. Pitch Perfect/Universal                               Wknd/$    7.0            Total/$  45.8

 9. Frankenweenie/Disney                               Wknd/$    4.4            Total/$  28.3

10. Looper/TriStar                                             Wknd/$    4.2            Total/$  57.8

 

THE SOURCE OF ALL EVIL

As you well know, I don’t do the scary.  Not good scary, not bad scary, not bloodless nail-biting suspense scary and not super graphic torture porn scary. None of it. So I’ve seen none of these Paranormal Activity movies and I’m not going to start now.  Clearly I’m alone in this as the fourth in this series opens at number one.  But if you’re looking for someone to blame, know that for the first movie Steven Spielberg advised them to an ending that allowed for sequels.  So along with Shia LeBeouf and Robert Zemeckis, you can add this to his list of crimes.  But I suppose this beats a new freaking Saw movie every year.  Barely.

 

SCHADENFREUDE: IT’S A WAY OF LIFE

Argo or as it’s know around the Affleck household, “I got your Bourne right here, pally,” holds onto number two while Hotel Transylvania actually rises to number three and again I must hold this against ParaNorman.  Guys you didn’t even try.  But this isn’t the hit you think it is.  With an $85M budget $119M isn’t that great and even with overseas returns of $68M it hasn’t reached the break-even point (usually twice the budget) so my little black heart feels a touch of joy.

 

ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO BETTER

Taken 2 is down to number three and back for an easy paycheck is Famke Janssen as Liam Neeson’s ex-wife, who has clearly dumped her husband from the first movie, in the face of Neeson’s sheer daughter-rescuing manliness.  Geek Connection: She did at least two indie films with Jon Favreau back when that was his thing so you have to wonder if she encouraged him to hop on the comic book money train, because she wound up in the X-Men franchise while he followed to helm the first two Iron Man films as well as co-starring as Happy Hogan (he’ll be back in the role for 3, though not directing).

 

SCHADENFREUDE PART DEUX

Alex Cross opens poorly at number five and this was doomed from the moment anyone anywhere decided Tyler Perry should be the lead, taking over a role after none less than Morgan fucking Freeman.  If that weren’t bad enough Idris Elba was originally announced as the new Alex Cross.  Who the hell goes from sex-on-two-legs Idris Elba to a man best known for bad movies where he wears a dress!?!  Seriously. He’s not even good-looking, much less a good actor.  But someone somewhere saw he made a lot of money starring and thought it was just translate. Uh, no.  Because I cannot stand Tyler Perry or his minstrel show movies and TV series this tanking kinda made my weekend. Haters gon’ hate!

 

A DOLL’S HOUSE…OF DEATH

Sinister is down to number six and I can only think Ethan Hawke is only here for some quick genre movie cash so he can continue to do his theater work.  It only cost $3M and has made $31M so it seriously paid off.  I hope he negotiated for some of the backend because that will pay for a lot of Ibsen. God knows I won’t even though it’s only six blocks away and I know the theater manager.

 

BLAKE LIVELY AS JULIET?

Here Comes The Boom is down to number seven and also in this is Henry Winkler and there’s a soft spot in my heart for him. Not simply because he was The Fonz, but because he when he was briefly a superstar, he once did one of those TV shows designed to introduce kids to Shakespeare and sure enough I read my first Shakespeare play after seeing it.  So I guess what I’m saying is, you had your chance and you blew it, Zac Efron.

 

PTICH PERFECT 2: EVEN MORE UTTERLY SOULESS RENDITIONS OF YOUR FAVORITE SONGS

Pitch Perfect is down to number eight and this is actually a small success.  With a budget of $17M ($10M was probably pure music licensing fees) it’s made $45M, which is only $6M shy of the “3x budget” rule that measures profit at the box office. So expect more “Glee” type movies and at the very least some direct-to-video sequels to this.  Let me put it this way: Bring It On has had four of them. 

 

THEY COULD HAVE CALLED THIS OLD YELLER 2. NO?

Frankenweenie is down to number nine and this has gotta hurt. How do you not make money with kid’s Halloween movie at Halloween?  When your main character is dead dog, that’s how (or you just wuss out like ParaNorman).  This personally was always my issue with Casper the Friendly Ghost. You don’t have a kid ghost without a dead kid somewhere.  And you can’t bring your dog back from the dead without having it die first which is not something most kids want to see. Even the little goth ones.

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE CHICKEN COMES BACK IN TIME AND SHOOTS THE EGG?

Finally, Looper closes out the top ten at number ten and with a modest $30M budget this has made only $57 domestically, but overseas has brought in another $75M so it’s a hit.  I’d say it was a spoiler that Bruce Willis kills a lot of people but honestly who goes to a Bruce Willis movie and doesn’t expect that?  In any case so much of the movie revolves around actions that do and don’t change the past, but little thought is given to the fact that Bruce Willis basically comes back and wipes out the mob. Um, doesn’t that change the future a tad?  Also, the film opens with a similar incident happening where another Looper’s future self gets loose.  They say they can’t kill his younger self because that will screw up time, but they horrifically mutilate him until his future self comes back, because every time they take a finger or limb, the future self loses it.  It’s a great scene but then you have to ask, what about the two-legged, five-fingered life this guy has lead for the last 30 years. He clearly isn’t going to lead it now, so things have been changed.  At least the film is self-aware enough to make more than one joke about how thinking too much about time travel makes your head hurt.

 

“YA’LL” ALONE DOES NOT A SOUTHERNER MAKE

The Most Wonderful Time of the year is winding down as the last few new fall shows make their debut and I have to admit that—your usual bad southern accents aside—Nashville lives up to the hype. Not only is it a top notch soap opera with some nicely realized characters up meshing nicely with some wonderfully rendered near-caricatures (Powers Boothe may be the best nighttime soap villain since JR Ewing) but they accomplish the impossible: make you like country music.  Seriously, there’s a song at the end of the first episode that had everyone asking “What the hell is that!?!” (It’s called “If I Didn’t Know Better” and it’s from The Civil Wars and you can download a live version free from their website).  Now, it might be expected given the show’s music producer is T Bone Burnett and that it was created by Callie Khouri who happens to be his wife (and friggin’ JD Souther is a cast member), but A-listers in other areas come to TV every year to fail miserably.  Ask Steven Spielberg.  He’s been failing on TV since Amazing Stories in the 80’s and kept his streak going with Terra Nova and Smash last. Yes, Smash is coming back, but it’s still awful. I know because I watched every single episode.