Tag Archives: Jason Bateman

LIKE MOST THINGS IT’S HARDER THAN IT LOOKS…ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU SUCK

12 Dec

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actor Dwayne Johnson (L) and songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda perform onstage at The World Premiere of Disney’s "MOANA" at the El Capitan Theatre on Monday, November 14, 2016 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

1. Moana/Disney                                         Wknd/$ 55.5    Total/$ 81.1
2. Office Christmas Party/Paramount    Wknd/$ 17.5    Total/$ 17.5
3. Fantastic Beasts & Where…/WB         Wknd/$ 10.8   Total/$ 199.3
4. Arrival/Paramount                                 Wknd/$ 5.6     Total/$ 81.5
5. Doctor Strange/Disney                          Wknd/$ 4.6     Total/$ 222.4
6. Allied/Paramount                                  Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 35.6
7. Nocturnal Animals/Focus                     Wknd/$ 3.2     Total/$ 6.2
8. Manchester By the Sea/RAtt                Wknd/$ 3.2     Total/$ 8.3
9. Trolls/Fox                                                 Wknd/$ 3.1     Total/$ 145.5
10. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF                           Wknd/$ 2.3      Total/$ 60.2

BETTER TO SERVE IN FAMILY FILM HEAVEN THAN RULE IN ACTION MOVIE HELL
Moana holds the top spot and as the voice of the supporting character is Dwayne Johnson as the demi god Maui. This is perfect for him. Dwayne Johnson and Hugh Jackman have both had spectacularly spotty careers for tall, handsome, charismatic men. One out of every five films is a success and if you’re Jackman the letter “X” is probably in the title. The difference being Johnson finally realized he was better as part of a team than a lead, thus he joined GI Joe and The Fast & The Furious it’s been easy street ever since. Even in comedies, he’s working with someone else and here he’s supporting the title character and honestly doesn’t show up until almost of a third of the way through. The result is that this basically the best movie he’s ever made. And it’s also not out of the question that his character’s “theme song” just might put him on the Oscar stage for Best Song. Hell, I bought the damn thing and I hate, hate, hate musical animated movies. I know what the damn story is. You don’t have to sing it to me!

UNCOOKED COMEDY STEW
Office Christmas Party opens at number two and one sign of people who are good at what they do is that they make it seem easy. So easy it seems like anyone can do it. Athletes, musicians, porn stars…they do what we’d all like to do and make it seem like it’s not work at all. Well, it is and some of the people who do work that looks easy are the creators of the various raunchy “R-rated” slob comedies, who can trace their origins back to Mel Brooks and Animal House in the 70’s and have been reborn over the last decade or so with the comedies of Judd Apatow and the stable of actors he uses. It definitely seems easy. Take some lovable losers, let them curse, do things we’d all love to do without fear of repercussion, defeat nasty uptight assholes and show some boobs along the way. What we forget is for every one of these that succeeds there are half a dozen other that fail creatively and financially. Office Christmas Part is one such failure of the former. It has all the elements of a perfect raunchy movie: an office of kooky characters headed by the biggest character of them all is about to be shut down by his uptight bitter sister unless they land a big account and they decide to do so by throwing a big office party that gets totally out of control. Add to this a cast of talented comedic actors some of whom have had success in the recent R-comedies (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Anniston, TJ Miller, Kate McKinnon, Rob Corddry, Jillian Bell and Randall Park) and this should have been an easy win. But it doesn’t gel. Even moments that should have been funny fail because there’s no energy or heat to the proceedings and that failure starts at the basic level: the writing. No less than six of the most untalented comedy writers working were part of this. Sorry, but the guy who wrote Pixels, Just Go With It and This Means War shouldn’t be allow to do anything but serve you fries. I know they thought one of the guys who wrote The Hangover would help, but that anti-talented asshat also cranked out the mediocrity that was Bad Moms, 21 & Over and The Change Up (a few of those R-rated failures we mentioned earlier). Did you think one of the writers for Sacha Baron Cohen would help? Why!?! Add to this one newbie writer and another whose biggest credit is was an episode of the odious Trophy Wife TV show and why this fails is abundantly clear, but hey let’s top it off with two directors who brought you Blades of Glory and The Switch. One failure and one moderate success (which can be credited to Will Ferrell more than anything). And the real, cruelest irony is that it’s not bad because it’s not interesting enough to be bad. When they run this on TV it can pretty much go uncut except for brief nudity and a little cursing. That’s how bland it is. Such a waste of both talent and a concept.

IT HELPS REDMAYNE ISN’T A DRUNK
Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them is down to number three and how do you think Colin Farrell felt about seeing Eddie Redmayne every day? Once Farrell was the new hot young thing destined for greatness and now he’s the bad guy in a big CGI franchise movie that stars a hot young thing, who not only fulfilled his promise but did so almost immediately. I’m thinking it either stung a little or he’s achieved a level of zen about it all and it just happy to be able to still get a paycheck in a big CGI franchise.

YOU KNOW THERE ARE OTHER MINORITIES IN THE MILITARY TOO
Arrival is down to number six and also in this is Forrest Whittaker who you may remember has an Oscar. Nonetheless I think he’s here only because they couldn’t get either Samuel L. Jackson or Lawrence Fishburne as Black Guy of Significant Rank To Show We’re Not Racist because no way was a person of color going to be the lead.

THE NEW FACIAL HAIR STAR
Doctor Strange is down to number five and is now the 9th highest grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beating out both Thors (big surprise) Ant-Man, The Incredible Hulk and the First Captain America Movie. In other words almost everything that didn’t have Robert Downey Jr in it. Read into that what you will, but if you’re Benedict Cumberbatch’s agent you’re very happy right now.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS
Allied is down to number six followed by Nocturnal Animals at seven and I’m interested in both these grown up, totally adult films which have gotten decent reviews, but yet I saw the universally Office Christmas Party instead. I’m part of the problem. But so are you.

I KNOW ME. I MAY NEVER SEE IT.
Oscar bait Manchester by the Sea enters the top ten at number eight and I tell myself I’ll see this but again, I saw Office Christmas Party this weekend. Heavy sigh.

IT GOES WITH THE JUST DESSERTS
Trolls is down to number nine and know it’s killing these people that their film with is based a firm piece of pop culture, had superstar Justin Timberlake doing not just the voice but wrote a hit song for it and still didn’t do as well as The Secret Life of Pets whose main voice was Louis CK. Seriously, it literally hasn’t made half as much and has made in six weeks what Moana made in three. I drink their confusion and disappointment like the sweetest wine.

JUST DON’T LET US SEE YOU
Finally, Hacksaw Ridge closes out the top ten at number ten and this was not the disappointment you may think it is. It only cost $40M and has made $60M domestically. Not a home run, but not a strike out either and if it gets any Oscar nods (probably for sound design like war movies usually do) Mel Gibson’s career as a director will continue (though his acting career will remain as dead as Dickens).

ONE OF THOSE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES
I know it’s late for TV, but I’ve really been enjoying No Tomorrow, which will probably be cancelled tomorrow, thus living up to its name. Truth be told I don’t know how this got the greenlight to begin with. A romantic comedy about a woman who plays it safe who meets a guy who thinks the world will end in 8 months and so is trying to live life as much as possible and gets her out of her shell to start living the same way is a movie, not an open ended series. After all, the world won’t end in 8 months and how long can you put that off? After that you just have to accept he’s nuts. But for now it’s light and fun and they do develop the supporting cast which helps make it interesting. They don’t stay in one place, which is almost unheard of for TV as the Slutty Best Friend has to always be the Slutty Best Friend but here she gets her own subplot, which allows her to develop. And they have shown consequences for his lifestyle. Since he thinks the world will end he spends money like, well, there’s no tomorrow, but the bill is coming due today and a few episodes in he loses his home and most of his possessions. Again, that’s development you don’t expect in such a lighthearted premise and honestly cannot stretch out for five years. But I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts because like the beliefs of its male lead, it doesn’t have a future.

REVIVAL OF 1776 IN THREE, TWO, ONE…
So I got me some culture of a different sort thanks to my musical theater-loving cousin who occasionally comes into the city on business (she’s an attorney for the Justice Department) and always tries to catch a show. Well, she couldn’t make it this time and so sent me her ticket to none other than Hamilton. No, I’m not kidding. Sorry I this hurts you, but fortune tends to smile on lowly creatures. Now, I never would have seen this on my own. Ever. I simply do not care for musical theater. In fact, if Gene Kelly isn’t dancing you can actually keep musicals, period. The closet I’ve come was a date with a woman who was a sound engineer for the documentary about the making of the show. So when she cleared me to sell it if I couldn’t make it that was my thought first and foremost. Get the money, dolla-dolla bills y’all. But as we all know guilt rules my life so if I sold it had to be for an extravagant amount so when I told my cousin she’d understand. This is how it wound up on Stub Hub for $1200. Now, if that seems a lot, know that it was a) mezzanine center and front and b) seats around it were going for $1500 so I was actually undercutting the competition. But by 7:30 the night of the show no one had bought it and since it was a physical ticket that needed to be picked up it was clear no one would, so I begrudgingly let the dreams of serious Christmas shopping with that extra loot fade away (they were such nice boots…). Fortunately it was very good. I mean, I don’t know musical theater so I’ve got little to compare it to. I saw Wicked (again because of her), which was also a huge Broadway show but don’t remember much about it and only remember one song from it, while Hamilton held my attention for the 2+ hours it ran and I’ve honestly been listening to the soundtrack ever since. My favorite song is “The Schuyler Sisters” but a close second is everything from the King of England, which is done delightfully in Brit-pop style in contrast to the R&B feel of the rest of it. As you may know it’s famous for incorporating rap and hip-hop into this story of one of America’s founding fathers (created our initial financial system, the Coast Guard, The New York Post and is on the $10 bill), but when all is said and done it’s still 50% straight-up Broadway “I’m gonna sing you the plot and my character” which normally I hate. It makes sense that the same person who wrote the song from Moana that I love wrote and starred in this as well: Lin-Manuel Miranda. Now, I didn’t see him. He’s long gone from the show as are a lot of the original stars. In fact, I saw the understudy to the guy who’s taken over the lead, but again, I’ve nothing to compare it to so I thought they were all great. In fact, in listening to the original cast soundtrack I prefer the Understudy-to-the-Replacement because he has a better voice. He had to. He got the role by earning it whereas Lin-Manuel was the star because he wrote it and didn’t have to compete for it. The show is taken from a modern warts-and-all bio of Alexander Hamilton and watching it I was reminded I was actually a bit obsessed with that type of history and that time in American history for awhile in high school thanks to Gore Vidal who wrote the historical novel Burr, about the man who kills Hamilton in a duel (though it can be argued what killed most men of duels in that time was infection from the wound) and is a major part of the show. Vidal is notoriously iconoclastic and I loved his work. The show is similar as it doesn’t shy away from Hamilton’s flaws, most notably his voracious need to climb in society due to his humble beginnings, but decides to keep its lead somewhat sympathetic in omitting one of the rumored reasons for the duel that ended him: Hamilton was telling people Burr had an incestuous relationship with his daughter. Yeah, you deserve to get shot for that shit. I was also all about Thomas Jefferson who was the perfect founding father to me as writer of The Declaration of Independence, the bill establishing religious freedom, executed the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country, created the University of Virginia and died on the muthafucking 4th of July. Of course my continued reading killed this hero worship, starting with his inability to oppose slavery and hammered home by his slave-mistress/sister-in-law Sally Hemmings. Yes, she was the daughter of his father-in-law making her technically his wife’s sister and his sister-in-law. He also raped her regularly enough to bear him some kids (it’s rape because a slave cannot give consent). Also, the land he bought from France really wasn’t theirs to sell and contributed to the genocide of the its Native America populace. Nonetheless, when he makes his appearance in the show as a significant character, I was delighted and loved every little aside about his accomplishments (there’s even a Sally Hemmings mention). Hero worship dies hard it seems. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to be frequenting any more Broadway shows, but for something I got utterly for free and making no effort it was a pretty good time. And it was needed because good art has a way of inspiring you and improving your view of the world. After seeing this I was optimistic about the future no matter how what the news tells me. After all, do you really think this is the first time we’ve had racists running the country who’d sell us all out for a dollar and wipe their asses with The Constitution? Hardly and we made it through. Then I saw Office Christmas Party and left convinced of our doom and I still haven’t shaken it. So the lesson here is good art will help you make it through, like a good-hearted negro friend in the movie of your life. But don’t pay hundreds of dollars for it. That’s just stupid.

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IT’D BE A WONDER, WONDER WOMAN

11 Apr

wwomen
1. The Boss/Universal Wknd/$ 23.5 Total/$ 23.5
2. Batman v Superman/WB Wknd/$ 23.4 Total/$ 296.7
3. Zootopia/Disney Wknd/$ 14.0 Total/$ 296.0
4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2/Uni Wknd/$ 6.4 Total/$ 46.8
5. Hardcore Henry/STX Wknd/$ 5.1 Total/$ 5.1
6. Miracles from Heaven/TriStar Wknd/$ 4.8 Total/$ 53.9
7. God’s Not Dead 2/PFR Wknd/$ 4.3 Total/$ 14.1
8. Divergent: Allegiant/LG Wknd/$ 3.6 Total/$ 61.8
9. 10 Cloverfield Lane/Paramount Wknd/$ 3.0 Total/$ 68.0
10. Eye in the Sky/BST Wknd/$ 2.8 Total/$ 10.4

IT’S A THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVING ONE THING AND HATING SOMETHING ELSE
The Boss opens at number one and more power to Melissa McCarthy and her husband for riding this train until the wheels come off. While I personally feel all jokes I needed to see about this were in the “R” rated trailer, I’m glad others felt different, because I like to see women succeed and I especially like when women succeed doing the same shit men do: crude anti-hero comedies. Basically she’s getting that Adam Sandler dollar and I’d much rather she have it than him (though I’m not giving her mine either). At least her trailers make me laugh. He can’t even do that. Next I want her to take the next step and have a Hemsworth brother hot for her, the same way we’ve had to buy Sandler as some kind of pussy magnet. God, I hate him…

IT’D BE A WONDER
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is down to number two and as you may have heard (probably from me) Wonder Woman is the best thing about this. I will give credit to Snyder for this: he has her show up, say very little and be badass (even her music is great). The time-honored prescription to making a pretty actor with discernible personality or skills become successful. Action movies are the perfect vehicle for people like Gal Gadot. It’s no surprise her big break was in The Fast & The Furious franchise. If the director of Wonder Woman can follow this example and ignore literally everything else Snyder does it might not be half bad. Gal Gadot is the former Miss Israel, which takes on a new level when you realize Lynda Carter the Wonder Woman most people know was Miss World USA.

YOU ONLY THINK IT’S NEW BECAUSE YOU’RE YOUNG…AND STUPID
Zootopia is down to number three, followed by My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 at number four and Hardcore Henry opening at number five and while some make think this is an interesting idea to shoot a film strictly from the first person, it’s actually already been done. The Lady in The Lake was a shot purely in the first person in 1947 and honestly isn’t every “found footage” film just that? And this particular case isn’t so much emulating that experiment as much as it is just continuing to the sad evolution of action films into video games. London Has Fallen basically turns into that one point and the comparison I most heard from gamers is how much Batman’s big scene in Batman v Superman was like a video game. This is not a good thing people, from defeating the purpose of cinematic storytelling to the fact that all this would mean to me is two hours puking from motion sickness.

WHAT WOULD JESUS WATCH? THE BOSS, PROBABLY.
Christian propaganda takes the number six and seven spots with Miracles From Heaven followed by God’s Not Dead 2 and given this probably cost nothing even with its low return of $14M you can rest assure God will continue to not be dead and inspire his people to fight the imaginary tyranny of atheists in God’s Not Dead 3.

STUPID PEOPLE CANNOT LEARN BY DEFINITION
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is down to number six they’re probably regretting splitting this into two parts already, given that every entry of this series is lower than the previous one and this one may not even break $100M. Considering given it cost $110M to make that’s not good. I’d say this should be a lesson to others as the last chapter of The Hunger Games (also stupidly split in two) also came in below expectations, but I think we know they won’t and nonetheless expect to reap the same rewards as Harry Potter and Twilight.

THE END
10 Cloverfield Lane is down to number nine and Eye in the Sky closes out the top ten at number ten.

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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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YOU’LL NEVER SEE WILE E. COYOTE THE SAME

14 Mar

ryan-reynolds-gq-magazine-photoshoot-by-peggy-sirota_2 1. Zootopia/Disney Wknd/$ 50.0 Total/$ 142.6
2. 10 Cloverfield Lane/Paramount Wknd/$ 25.2 Total/$ 25.2
3. Deadpool/Paramount Wknd/$ 10.8 Total/$ 328.1
4. London Has Fallen/Focus Wknd/$ 10.7 Total/$ 38.9
5. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot/Paramount Wknd/$ 4.6 Total/$ 14.6
6. The Perfect Match/Lions Gate Wknd/$ 4.2 Total/$ 4.2
7. The Young Messiah/Focus Wknd/$ 3.2 Total/$ 3.4
8. The Brothers Grimsby/Sony Wknd/$ 3.2 Total/$ 3.2
9. Gods of Egypt/Lions Gate Wknd/$ 2.5 Total/$ 27.3
10. Risen/Sony Wknd/$ 2.3 Total/$ 2.3

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN CARTOON ANIMALS TALK
Zootopia holds at number one and the rumors you have heard are true: Disney’s animated wing has finally caught up to Pixar. Of course it’s under the control of Pixar that it’s happened, but nonetheless it has. Aside from being technically gorgeous, Zootopia not only comes up with good characters, but works on a level aside from funny talking animals because Zootopia is all about race and gender discrimination. Seriously. It’s about a bunny (Judy Hops) wants to be a cop all her life despite everyone telling her she can’t be and that there are no bunny cops because only predators can be cops and bunnies are prey. That predators are “masculine” and “prey” are feminine is pretty obvious. Especially when Judy actually does become a cop it is a clear mandate of a “diversity program” and she’s promptly assigned to be a meter maid. But it doesn’t stop there as the actual plot of the film is how some predators are de-evolving to walk on all fours and want to hunt fellow prey citizens. We learn then that predators are actually a “minority” in Zootopia and are seen as aggressive and dangerous. Get it? This is crystalized in the form of the fox, Nick Wilde, who first outwits Judy but is later outwitted and blackmailed by her into helping with the case. Like Judy, he wanted to break outside of society’s conventions about what a “minority” could be and like her was violently rebuffed as a child. Do I even have to point out that foxes are seen as deceitful and untrustworthy? This leads to a scene I thought I’d never see in an animated Disney movie where Nick confronts Judy about what she erroneously said about predators and she blurts out, “But you’re not like the others.” As someone who has actually had this said to his face (thank you, Georgia upbringing) it was beyond stunning. I’m actually surprised the same idiots who slowly realized the Ice Queen in Frozen was a lesbian haven’t attacked the lessons of this movie. And while I wish I could praise it for being yet another animated film that wasn’t a fucking musical, we do have a song by animal superstar, Gazelle (voiced by Shakira). But luckily it’s at the very end. And yes, the sloth joke still works.

JUST…NO
10 Cloverfield Lane opens at number two and since I hated the first Cloverfield, this was never going to get a moment of my time.

THIS IS WHY YOU’LL SEE WONDER WOMAN’S BOOBS ONE DAY
Deadpool is down to number three and finally Ryan Reynolds is successful just being Ryan Reynolds as he’s done in almost every role in his career from Van Wilder to this. In fact, this is just superpowered Van Wilder. Deadpool is a character that gained success after I’d walked away from X-Men books, but in my meager knowledge of the character I know exactly why he’s such a fan favorite: he’s a 14-year-old boy’s dream. He’s vulgar, indestructible, with a dark origin and hangs out with Wolverine. Also he breaks the fourth wall in the comics as he does in the movie (there’s even a joke about how Reynolds’ career has lasted only because of his good looks) and while the chorus chants how this is exactly the kind of shake up superhero needs, I have to point out its just being loyal to the source material. That’s why it succeeded. Yes, being an R-rated comedy helped distinguish it from the pack, but that’s what the books were (or so I’m told). All the most successful superhero movies are loyal to their source material in spirit. The failures are from assholes who are ashamed of comics and think those ties need to be abandoned for something more “realistic.” How’s that realism treating The Fantastic Four? Exactly. Of course Hollywood took only the worst lesson from this and now the next Wolverine movie will be R-rated. And while it does make sense that a guy whose primary power is slicing people up will get an R-rating, that’s not why they’re doing it. And there’s simply no reason ever for Superman to be in a movie with an R-rating but apparently that’s going to be a thing that happens too when Superman v. Batman is released on DVD. Please note that Marvel, the studio that gets it so right it sold you Ant Man, has flat out declared it won’t be making R-rated superhero movies.

INTELLIGENCE HAS FALLEN AND CAN’T GET UP
London Has Fallen is down to number four and how this got made is astonishing to be as the first one sucked and didn’t do that well. Granted it did better than White House Down, but at least there was fun to be had in White House Down. Olympus Has Fallen took itself seriously if you can believe that shit. But numbers don’t lie and relative to its cost, it was the better performer and clearly had a life on home video that garnered a sequel. Granted, this is more fun than the previous version and unlike that one is a serviceable action movie and by that I mean I wouldn’t turn the channel if it were on cable and I do that to Olympus Has Fallen (there’s not one second of that film I want to see again). But as dumb as OHF was, this is even dumber. The British Prime Minister has died so all the actual heads of government gather in London for the funeral where terrorists attack, killing the heads of Japan, Italy and France. Apparently none of the other heads of state who clearly would have been in attendance—especially the European Union—mattered enough to kill. Speaking of the European Union, serious shade is thrown at Italy and France in this. First off, the head of Italy is a middle-aged man showing his new wife around Westminster Abbey as a present for her 29th birthday. No, I’m not kidding. So you know what this movie thinks of Italians. Second, the French PM dies because he makes a conscious decision to arrive late. I’m not kidding. If he leaves on time, he lives, period. Better still we see later that the US is scrambling to get its nearest forces in from Italy because the terrorists shut London down by disguising themselves as police so there’s no way any force in London will be able to distinguish good guys from bad and will be slaughtered. No, this doesn’t stand up under any logical examination (like simply officially ordering all police off the street so anyone who remains is clearly a terrorist), but go with it. France is the closest of all, but not once do we hear of them making a move to avenge their fallen leader. Guess they were too busy smoking cigarettes and hating America. And you say you want some racism and xenophobia with your stupid action? Well, you got it as the terrorists are Arab Muslims, the head of which is avenging the death of his daughter whose wedding was hit by a drone strike ordered by the G8. Oh, did you think that includes Russia? Well, not in this movie as there is no Russian PM to be seen. The plot point about civilian loss is important because at the end when they get the bad guy—hardly a spoiler now—and after Gerard Butler gives a little speech about how “they” will never beat “us” as he beats on one of the terrorists, WE ARE SHOWN CIVILIANS BEING KILLED IN A DRONE STRIKE. I’m not kidding. God bless this stupid fucking movie and God Bless America!

I’M HERE FOR YOU, BABY…ONCE I WAKE UP
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is down to number five and I will see this. I loves me some Tina Fey and will do my best to support her. Unfortunately Daylight Savings Time and some mild food poisoning screwed up my weekend and daddy needed sleep.

THERE MUST BE BETTER LOOKING BRUTHAS OUT THERE
The Perfect Match opens at number six, followed by Young Messiah at number seven and this makes sense because both are aimed at niche audience. The former is Black people and the latter is Jesus freaks. And that’s not a bad thing. Every film can’t be all things to all people and they shouldn’t always have to try. Work for your audience and fuck everyone else. The Perfect Match is yet another variation on the lothario who meets his match theme and Young Messiah is Adventures of Young Jesus. While I do maintain a soft spot in my heart for romantic comedies the formula has grown tiresome for me as I’ve gotten older. It needs to be changed up a little. And while I don’t know who the fuck Terrence Jenkins is I do know that he’s not good looking enough to pulling women like Cassie (yes, I know she was dating P. Diddy, but he’s rich and gave her a music career she didn’t deserve). I need my romantic leading men to be good looking, especially if they’re playing ladykillers. And Judeo-Christian mythology has never held my interest so Young Messiah was never happening. Yeah, I said it!

SERIOUSLY, THAT SHIT HURTS
The Brothers Grimsby open at number eight and Mark Strong inches just a tad closer to actually being the good guy lead in an action movie. That’s all I can say about this as I find Sacha Baron Cohen as funny as an ingrown hair on my nutsack.

UP NEXT: GODS OF JAPAN STARRING JENNIFER LAWRENCE AND BRADLEY COOPER
Gods of Egypt is down to number nine and when was this ever a good idea!?! Did someone stupidly see Thor and think you could plug in any mythological gods and make a dollar? Or were they just a decade late for the whole Mummy franchise? And then the casting… It’s the Gods of Egypt, not Switzerland. Who the fuck makes a movie about Egyptian gods and casts White people? Yes, Idris Elba was Heimdall in Thor. But he was one, not the star and the majority and most powerful gods were all White. Here only one of the Egyptian gods is Black and none are Arabic and is not the star (and if you need more proof this was probably based on Thor, know that they also have a single Asian in the mix). And the logic is as racist as the casting. You won’t invest $140M in a minority led cast, but you would in Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau? Are you fucking kidding me!?! They wouldn’t cough up that money for him for the goddamn Olympus is Fallen sequel. And if you didn’t that was sad enough, director Alex Proyas (who has made 1 ½ good movies between The Crow and Dark City) blamed the critics for the hate this film received. Not that it had a bunch of brown people worshiping white people or anything. It was the critics.

YOU KNOW, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE STILL HOLDS UP
Finally, it’s a good time to be a Jesus-loving movie goer because you have not just Young Messiah, but Rising, which tells the tale of the resurrection of Jesus from the point of view of Roman Soldier sent out to investigate. Of course he’s changed by the experience. If they had any real balls they’d show him catching up to Jesus now living in France with Mary Magdeline under a different name with their kids. I see the name of Joseph Fiennes in this and I wonder how much he misses the 90’s when he had that white-hot moment of fame. And his hairline.

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SOMEONE MADE A BETTER VERSION OF THIS ALREADY

31 Aug

Shannyn-Sossamon-1
1. Straight Outta Compton/Universal     Wknd/$ 13.2   Total/$ 134.1
2. War Room/TriStar                                 Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 11.0
3. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation     Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 170.4
4. No Escape/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 10.4
5. Sinister 2/Focus                                      Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 18.5
6. The Man from UNCLE/Paramount    Wknd/$ 4.4      Total/$ 34.1
7. Hitman: Agent 47/Fox                           Wknd/$ 3.9      Total/$ 15.3
8. The Gift/STX                                            Wknd/$ 3.1     Total/$ 36.0
9. Jurassic World/Universal                     Wknd/$ 3.1      Total/$ 643.1
10. Ant-Man/Disney                                   Wknd/$ 3.1      Total/$ 169.2

HEY, I HEAR THIS RAP THING MAKES MONEY
Straight Outta Compton holds at number one and sound you just heard is the Tupac bio being greenlit because naked greed makes for short memories. Clearly that Biggie had a bio-pic that no one saw (which had Tupac in it) is being put down to bad marketing.

EVEN JESUS WAS OUT WATCHING NWA
War Room opens at number two and this is one of those Christian “niche” films that opens up from time-to-time. In fact it’s super-niche as its Black Christian. Sadly, I know exactly who the audience is for this. Relatively speaking it’s a success, but note that an R-rated film about a rap group from 30-years ago on its third weeks still made three times as much, so don’t break your arm having Jesus pat you on the back.

MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL CAREER MOVE
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is down to number three and Alec Baldwin is the latest in the series of “serious actors” cast as Tom Cruise’s superior to ground the series as something more than silly popcorn…which it totally is. It’s mutually beneficial. The series gets grounding and the “serious actor” gets exposure to an audience that wouldn’t have seen them otherwise and presumably a nice paycheck for a day’s work. This was pioneered in the superhero film (Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman in Superman; Jack Nicholson and Jack Palance in Batman). The first was obviously Jon Voight, followed by Anthony Hopkins, then Laurence Fishburne, then Tom Wilkinson. I expect the sixth film will go the James Bond route and hire a “serious” female actor. I’m thinking Meryl Streep. Mainly because she hasn’t done a superhero movie yet and she’s clearly in the “I’m Just Gonna Have Some Fucking Fun” stage of her career. Plus Cruise already worked with her once so he has an “in.”

HONESTLY WHO CARES ABOUT A SERIOUS OWEN WILSON?
No Escape opens at number four and honestly who thought this was a wide release film even at the end of the summer? And I can’t help but feeling I’ve seen the “Americans trapped in country of revolution” film before. Given that Pierce Brosnan is in this it feels like it should have been about him as a CIA agent there toppling a government when he feels an obligation to get a family out. That’s so much more interesting that this movie which seems to be about rightfully pissed off rebels trying to kill all the people they rightly feel are responsibility for their problems (Owen Wilson’s character brings his family there as part of a corporate job).

ANY RESEMBLANCE TO LISA BONET IS PURELY DELIGHTFUL
Sinister 2 is down to number four and in this is Shannyn Sossamon. Remember her from the turn of the century? She’s sooooo pretty. But hey, they’re a dime a dozen in Hollywood and her career is proof of it. Nonetheless, I’ve a special affection for her and am glad to see her still working, especially in a genre franchise, which puts an easy win on her resume. And I just learned she’s going to be on Sleepy Hollow this fall…, which means I have to give it another chance when I was read to write it off after the second season. Sigh.

EXCEPT FOR THAT
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is down to number five and Arnie Hammer simply cannot catch a break. He started so high up with great performance in The Social Network, but has had the worst luck in projects sense then, but it’s totally understandable. How do you say “No” to a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio directed by Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar)? How do you turn down a movie with Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)? How do you turn down a potential franchise with Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger)? And finally, how do you turn down a second potential franchise directed by Guy Ritchie? All his mistakes are understandable from a conventional career viewpoint. They all looked like smart choices. Unless you’re familiar with the hit-and-miss nature of Eastwood’s work, that almost every movie Julia Roberts has made sucks and that Johnny Depp is a soulless, pretentious whore.

IT’S A PREJUDICE!
Hitman: Agent 47 is down to number six and Zachary Quinto is in this, clearly realizing his options after playing Spock are more limited to genre films than he realized. Seriously, being openly gay is nothing compared to getting famous through science fiction. Just ask Mark Hamill. Oh, you say Harrison Ford? What the fuck do you call Indiana Jones? What Lies Beneath? Even Jack Ryan. He was just in big, successful genre films. His Working Girls and Fugitives are not what made him a superstar. His resume is more populated with Regarding Henry, The Mosquito Coast, Sabrina, Six Days Seven Nights, Random Hearts, Hollywood Homicide…etc.

THE END
The Gift is down to number eight, followed by Jurassic World returning for one last time at the end of summer and Ant-Man closing out the top ten at number ten.

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TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE MUNCHIES

24 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BASED ON THE P.A.S.T.

17 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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