Tag Archives: Jason Clarke

THE CHANCES OF ANYTHING COMING FROM MARS ARE A MILLION TO ONE…

5 Oct

L-interview-beau-gosse-de-Chace-Crawford_visuel_article21. The Martian/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 55.0    Total/$ 55.0
2. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony                         Wknd/$ 33.0    Total/$ 90.5
3. Sicario/Lions Gate                                        Wknd/$ 12.1     Total/$ 15.1
4. The Intern/WB                                              Wknd/$ 11.6     Total/$ 36.5
5. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials/Fox       Wknd/$ 7.7       Total/$ 63.2
6. Black Mass/WB                                             Wknd/$ 5.9       Total/$ 52.5
7. Everest/Universal                                          Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 33.2
8. The Visit/Universal                                       Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 56.9
9. War Room/TriStar                                        Wknd/$ 2.8      Total/$ 60.5
10. The Perfect Guy/SGem                               Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 48.9

YES, THEY PLAY BOWIE. HOW COULD THEY NOT?
The Martian opens at number one and I like to think of this as “Matt Damon’s Personal Apology for Interstellar.” Seriously, everything Interstellar wasn’t this is. And by “everything” I mean “not written by an idiot.” Based on a novel with the same name, this chronicles the attempts of an astronaut left behind for dead on Mars along with the efforts to save him on earth, given nothing can get there for years. How he survives is through flat out science. Not “The Force” or “The power of love” which is basically what Interstellar wound up telling us, but zeroes and ones. Hard freaking science. I’ve rarely felt so stupid in a movie theater because everything Matt Damon’s character successfully does to survive is based in numbers. Everything NASA does to save him is based in numbers and people from the head of the agency on down effortlessly throw off numbers from the tops of their heads. When I was a kid, I once took money out of my savings account to buy a VCR then was surprised months later by not having as much money as I thought I did. It didn’t register to me at all. I’m not much better as an adult. I’m just grateful there’s no longer such a thing as debtor’s prison. Needless to say, this is what killed my desire to be an astronaut. I still like science. I just suck at it, which means I would have been dead in a week if it were me. While the film feels a little long at times, it’s not exactly unwarranted in a film about someone struggling to survive over almost two years. I think it adds something to make the audience as tired as your hero must be. This is a major save for Damon who’s recently embarrassed the shit out of himself with comments on homosexuals and minorities in the movie industry, revealing a sad lack of self-awareness and overwhelming straight white male privilege. Not to mention, this is the first film he’s successfully carried since being Bourne. All the other hits since then were with him as part of an ensemble. Yes, fucking Interstellar was a hit.

HATE THE GAME
Hotel Transylvania 2 is down to number two and it shocks and saddens me that this came from Genndy Tartakovsky, the man who brought you Samurai Jack and then used those skills to produce the infinitely-better-than-the-movies Star Wars Clone Wars shorts. Clearly this is his deal with the devil to allow the freedom of producing more interesting work and feeding his family. Don’t hate the player…

HOW MUCH HE MUST LOVE HIS ROLE AT MARVEL
Sicario jumps up to number three and while he’s always good in what he does, Benicio Del Toro must be getting tired of movies about the drug wars. He won his Oscar as cop fighting them in Traffic (when he should have won it for Usual Suspects), he was a criminal in Oliver Stone’s Savages (where he rapes and kills women he didn’t rape and kill in the book, so you know it’s an Oliver Stone movie) and here he’s a mysterious badass working with CIA…fighting the drug wars. Hell, he was even part of the drug trade when he was in a Bond movie. No, I’m not kidding. He’s in License to Kill as one of the bad guy’s flunkies.

BETTE DAVIS WOULD BE IN THE HUNGER GAMES, WHILE CRAWFORD WOULD HAVE DONE DIVERGENT
The Intern is down to number four, followed by Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials at number five and it’s a little amusing that none of the male lead sci-fi/fantasy YA Novel adaptations get the same attention of the female led ones. Hell, even the The Fault In Our Stars did better than Paper Towns. It’s an odd throwback to the 30’s and 40’s where female leads weren’t just seen as a liability, but in fact a virtue.

STRONGER THAN FICTION
Black Mass is down to number six and reading the comments of the real gangsters about this makes me want to see it even less as their problems with it sound much more interesting than what’s on screen. Apparently, Whitey Bulger didn’t curse like he had Tourette’s even while murdering people. And least of all at one of his psychopath henchmen who would have killed him in a second if he had. That sounds like a much more interesting movie that this, which sounds like it’s trying to compete with The Departed.

BUT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN SOOOO MUCH BETTER
Everest is our second based-on-real-events movie down to number seven and second movie in the top ten with Josh Brolin (who’s also in Sicario) who was apparently approached to play the older Bruce Wayne for Batman v. Superman, but chose to be the bad guy over in the Marvel films. I think that tells you all you need to know.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
The Visit is down to number eight, followed by War Room at number nine with The Perfect Guy closing out the top ten at number ten. Also in this is Morris Chestnut, who is the “good guy” to Michael Ealy’s “bad guy” and I don’t envy the filmmakers on this choice because they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. This way continues the trend in Black films for a light-skinned Black man to be evil (while women are desired) and a dark skinned Black men to be good, but if it’s reversed, it’s the Hollywood trend of lighter-skinned Black people in general to be better than their darker skinned brethren, which tends to bother Black people…the same Black people who have no problem applying this to women in both arenas. Sigh.

THE JOY CONTINUES

The new Fall season continues so here we go…

Blood & Oil: I loves me some Don Johnson and this did not disappoint me. It has officially replaced Nashville as my bad regional accent cheesefest (Rayna & Deacon, Scarlett & Gunner…I just don’t care anymore). Pretty boy Chace Crawford (seriously, he was the best looking cast member on Gossip Girl, even over the women) and his bride arrive in the new American oil boom of Nebraska to open a Laundromat, but because he can’t keep his eyes on the road and wrecks, they parlay overheard information and sheer balls into staking claim on the only entrance to some potentially oil rich land and are millionaires by the end of the first episode. It’s nothing but fun and the perfect thing to watch on a Sunday night before the start of the work week.

Quantico: Man is this stupid. It’s basically a soap opera pretending to be some kind of suspenseful action drama, but a beauty queen being the best agent in FBI training should have been your first clue. Twin Arab Muslims pretending to be one agent trainee was your second. That it’s revealed in the second episodes to be FBI sanctioned doesn’t make it any smarter. Not even a little bit. And while I’m not one to view 9/11 as some sacred day, the depictions of terrorist attacks in NYC are just handled much too lightly in these TV shows. You have no idea how freaked out this city is even after 14 years. A bomb taking out Grand Central Station would lock this city down like Escape From New York. No one anywhere would be doing anything, especially the way Beauty Queen FBI Agent who’s being framed for the blast is doing. But like I said, this is an utterly stupid soap opera pretending to be something else. Let me give you a piece of actual dialogue to make it clear: “Which is she to you: the FBI trainee you fell in love with or the terrorist who rejected you!?!” This is shouted by one high-ranking FBI Agent to another in the middle of a room filled with every possible type of law enforcement. After which we get a Hot Brown Chick fight. Latina vs. East Asian Indian. The only good thing I can say is that unlike supposedly more serious depictions, at least they had their hair tied back like female law enforcement officers actually would…which is why it wasn’t as much fun to masturbate to as it should have been.

The Player: More stupidity. This one is about a former FBI Agent who now works private security in Las Vegas. When his wife is killed by the men trying to kill one of his clients because he [the former agent] got in their way, he’s initially blamed for her death because apparently CSI only works scenes on their show. Anyone investigating that crime scene would have found evidence of the clear struggle he had with the man who killed his wife. I won’t even get into not one security camera or cell phone catching him chasing the guy down the strip (The Fugitive movie was this stupid too, but it was well made). Well, at least not until it’s needed to clear him in the end. But the show is actually about a group of “super gamblers” who can predict crime and make bets on it being foiled by an agent in their employ, who is now the former FBI agent (the show opened with Wesley Snipes standing over the body of presumably the last guy to have the job). They try to insinuate some connection between the organization and the dead wife, not to mention the former agent used to assassinate terrorists he was only supposed to find (and enjoyed it), but it’s just too stupid to make me care and not even a fun stupid.

Grandfathered: John Stamos is basically working out his own issues about growing older and alone, playing a 50-year-old bachelor who finds out he has a 20-somethng son who has a daughter. I was so impressed he’s actually openly playing a character his age (yeah, Clooney, I’m looking at you…and Cruise) I was pulling for this and wasn’t disappointed. He’s more than willing to let his character take shots, which is essential for a good comedy. It also didn’t just end happily with him and his new family but showed his anxiety at what he’d just gotten into. Hopefully, there will be growth but not in an overnight sitcom way.

Scream Queens: I’ve oddly become a fan of the second generation of Roberts in Hollywood (Emma is the daughter of Eric and niece of Julia) so I gave this a shot and the most interesting thing about it was the online debate between gay men over how they seem to love and adore women being ruthlessly bitchy to one another and emulate it in their own lives. Actually only some love it while others hate it. This comes from Ryan Murphy who brought you Glee which was filled with women being ruthlessly bitchy to one another so I think you know which side of that debate he falls under. Me, I’ve got a low tolerance for that without a palate-cleansing hero to pull for and the one given here was just too pretty-girl-bland. Not to mention, I’m not really that amused by watching girls ruthlessly slaughtered every week, even when I know it’s supposed to be a joke.

The Muppets: I’m torn here as I did enjoy The Muppets being updated to Larry David behind-the scenes type talk show sitcom, where Kermit is the show runner and Miss Piggy is the diva host with all The Muppets in various roles. But I can understand how some are dismayed by the show being a little too adult oriented. Make no mistake, The Muppets have always worked on two levels: one for the kids who followed them from Sesame Street and another for the adults who got the running joke that Gonzo was committing unnatural acts with those chickens, but sometimes it’s a little too dark and adult, like Fozzie’s relationship with a human being acknowledged inter-species and looked down upon as result and Kermit acknowledging a pig fetish. Then again, I laughed when Animal says he can’t go out on the road any longer because of “Too many women.” We’ll have to see if it can find a healthy balance.

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THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR…FOR SHUT INS

28 Sep

sanaa-barefoot
1. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony                       Wknd/$ 47.5    Total/$ 47.5
2. The Intern/WB                                           Wknd/$ 18.2    Total/$ 18.2
3. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials/Fox    Wknd/$ 14.0    Total/$ 51.7
4. Everest/Universal                                       Wknd/$ 13.1    Total/$ 23.1
5. Black Mass/WB                                           Wknd/$ 11.5    Total/$ 42.6
6. The Visit/Universal                                    Wknd/$ 6.8     Total/$ 52.3
7. The Perfect Guy/SGem                              Wknd/$ 4.8     Total/$ 48.9
8. War Room/TriStar                                     Wknd/$ 4.3      Total/$ 56.0
9. The Green Inferno/HTR                            Wknd/$ 3.5     Total/$ 3.5
10. Sicario/Lions Gate                                    Wknd/$ 1.8      Total/$ 2.4

HEY, ZUKO! WHERE YOU AT?
Okay, I’ve been absent because I decided I wouldn’t write unless I’d seen at least one film in the top ten, which was a little difficult in those final dog days of summer and the “Oh, We’re Serious Now So No More Fun” opening weeks of September. But things worth seeing are actually opening so here we go…

SECOND VERSE, WORSE THAN THE FIRST
Hotel Transylvania 2 opens at number one, wisely making the most of the utter absence of any kids-oriented films and if you thought you were rid of Adam Sandler after the massive failure of Pixels, think again. Maybe we won’t just have to look at him any longer, which is half the battle. I wish him all the success in the world so long as his ugly, fucking face is off the screen, punishing whatever attractive young actress cast as his love interest, because for it’s either that or porn.

YEAH, WOODY. THIS IS YOUR FAULT TOO.
The Intern opens at number two and I was looking forward to seeing this despite yet another lily-white view of New York City. Nancy Meyer’s films are usually about rich white people, but they’re set firmly in that world so I really don’t expect to see a lot of bruthas in Meryl Streep’s neighborhood in Long Island. But this is set in Brooklyn so unless she’s making some kind of statement about gentrification she just whitewashed it. Still, I was willing to let this go because I loves me some Anne Hathaway and this looked like fun. Then I saw the two-hour running time. This is not a two-hour film unless it takes some kind of stupid, misstep in to trying to be some kind of drama and this premise is just wide open for that kind of bullshit. Bullshit I have no time for. Much less two hours.

AND SHE’D GO TO THE CONVENTION WITH YOU IN COSTUME
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is down to number three and this is yet another science fiction/fantasy Young Adult novel adaptation and these damn kids don’t now how good they have it. You know what I’d give to have dozens of science fiction & fantasy film thrown at me all the time when I was a kid? Not to mention it’s socially fucking acceptable so asking a girl to go see one these movies is not only normal, but also she’s probably read the book! You live in a time where knowledge of witches and dystopic futures can actually get you laid. Contrast this with the look of “What the fuck?” I got when I was 16 and invited a girl to go to a comic book convention with me. Sigh.

THIN HAIR (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
Everest is down to number four and is it wrong that I couldn’t care less about this film because the leading man is unattractive? I still probably wouldn’t have seen this adaptation of the book “In Thin Air” if Josh Brolin had played the lead climber and not simply one of the group, but the follicly-challenged and aesthetic unappealing (though talented) Jason Clarke made damn sure of it. And now that I think about it, having this ugly dude play the son of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese in the horrible Terminator Genysis movie this summer probably didn’t help it much either.

YES, LOOKS ALWAYS MATTER. ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU DIFFERENT IS LYING.
Black Mass is down to number five and this is supposedly Johnny Depp’s big comeback as an actor, but I’ll never know because honestly I can’t stand looking at him any longer. He’s just such a pretentious little shit and his not even pretty anymore. Besides, I don’t see this being done any better than the fictionalized version in The Departed.

HE STILL SUCKS
Speaking of comebacks, The Visit is down to number six but as we know “I don’t do the scary” and I also “don’t do M. Night Shyamalan films” so I’ll never know. But who are we kidding? He really didn’t do anything. He just hopped on the “found footage” horror bandwagon. No name directors with no stars and low budgets have this kind of success every week with this formula (can you say Unfriended?). No one should be fooled by this into giving him a big budget film.

THE DOLLAR MATTERS MORE THAN THE YEN
The Perfect Guy is down to number seven, followed by The War room at number eight and they is part of the late summer surge of wildly different films starring African Americans (Straight Out of Compton kicked it off) holding the number one spot (two of them were actually directed by African Americans, which is honestly more notable) killing the lie that minority helmed film can’t be successful. But when this happens the “But there’s no international money” excuse comes into play which is bullshit because studios see less than 50% of that money. It’s the domestic take that still matters. The Perfect Guy is the only real surprise in my opinion as one is religious themed film and those pop up regularly to make money and the other was music based. This is the “____ From Hell” formula, which was very big in the 80’s, but that it’s clearly upper middle class African Americans is the notable aspect of it. If that seems strange to you, then you clearly don’t see yourself starring in films called “The Butler” or “The Help.” I had no interest whatsoever, but I’m glad it did well, especially for Sanaa Lathan, who seemed poised to be something bigger in the early 00’s, but for whatever reasons it didn’t happen. Sistas are big on TV right now, so maybe she can be part of the same in the theaters.

DOUCHEBAG CINEMA
The Green Inferno opens at number nine and this doesn’t so much come under my “I don’t do the scary” rule as much as “I don’t do torture porn” and that’s all Eli Roth does, no matter what kind of bullshit he spews about it being a commentary of clueless little rich liberals. There’s just no reason to depicting a virgin getting a knife into the vagina. Yes, it’s horrific and these are “horror films” but there’s no skill or talent to these films…much like Roth himself.

OH, SO YOU WERE TELLING ME THE TRUTH WHEN I ASKED YOU
Sicario moves into the top ten at number ten as its release expands. This chronicles the journey of a still-idealistic kidnap specialist for the FBI into the US war on drugs where she learns it’s literally a war and the people who fight it have little interest in arrests and prosecutions, just strikes at the enemy toward a brutally cynical and debatably realistic conclusion. This is not to say it’s a talky drama. No, it’s more of a suspenseful action film where every explosion of violence is being slowly built up to. While long, mundane scenes initially seemed to have no purpose I realized the point was to lull you so you didn’t see the next detonation coming (though I thought the first literal one was obvious). Emily Blunt is the FBI agent who ironically dead-on in her first guess as to why she’s been asked to join an interagency task force after she stumbles upon a booby-trapped house full of corpses while looking for a kidnapping victim. This makes her the slow breaking of her idealism a tad odd given both she and her partner smell what’s going on almost immediately. Also, they’re both basically told the goal is to cause as much trouble as it takes to make the local drug boss get called home to his boss, so they can find him. Seems logical to me, but still Emily Blunt is forced to ask again and again what they’re really doing when all they’re doing is what they told her and why she’s there is what she guessed at the beginning. There’s also a bit of a descent into the action movie cliché of the “super-agent” towards the end. What makes the film work are the performances. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro all do solid work, but Brolin as the mysterious government agent who just seems to enjoy the hell out of his work stands out for me. Not that Blunt and Del Toro aren’t good being dramatic, but I think it’s actually more difficult to play it lighter and still be convincing, especially in a film like this.

FOR SOME OF US, IT’S BETTER THAN CHRISTMAS
Yay! The new fall season is here! And while there are now multiple seasons of TV these days as opposed to the one I had growing up, Fall is still the big one and I try to see as much as possible.

The Bastard Executioner: I am left unimpressed. Just because you can now show the brutality of the middle ages doesn’t make up for uninspired viewing. The concept of the retired warrior drawn back into the field isn’t new and they don’t do anything new with it. When you see him doting over his pregnant wife, you know she’s not long for this world. What you didn’t count on, however was seeing her disemboweled on top of a stack of corpses of women and children. This is because the retired warrior wasn’t so retired. He and his fellow villagers have been robbing the taxmen of the local cruel baron to survive. The baron tracks them down and slaughters the village while they’re away. They catch up to the baron with an army of rebels at their side and kill him. The warrior is seemingly mortally wounded but brought back by a witch who thinks he has a destiny (cliché #7). It’s why she brands his face so the can take the place of the now dead actual executioner the baron brought along. Of course the actual executioner was a horrible drunken abuser with a family, so “ironically” he gets a wife a family who adore him because a) he’s not a drunken abuser and b) they have control over him by hiding his identity. And are you ready for the final twist? When he drops off the baron’s body to the baroness, the baron’s aide has him declared the official executioner so he can’t leave. Makes you want to watch to see what happens, right!?! Me neither.

Limitless: This is not simply based on the Bradley Cooper movie; this is a flat out sequel to it. Cooper’s poster as senator is seen almost immediately, and if you remember, this was the office he was running for at the end of the movie. The loser who gets the drug this time is a 20-something musician. His best friend who left the band to become a stockbroker gives it to him. Needless to say the friend is soon murdered so the loser uses the drug to track him down, with the FBI in hot pursuit. Probably the most unbelievable part of this show is that the government experimented with the drug, but stopped because the addiction side effects were killing the volunteers. If you recall Cooper had found a way to refine the drug to make it safe for him, but we’re to think that the government with much, much, much money and resources hasn’t done the same? Or that the day or two of genius this would give to a doctor wouldn’t take care of it? For reasons not quite clear, Cooper appears at the end of the episode to give the loser musician the “cure” (which is basically a shot once a month) and now the musician will use his skills to help the FBI solve cases. His liaison is the FBI Agent who was tracking him whose own father who was a junkie who may have been murdered because he also got the smart drug (that the FBI wants him so they can figure out why he’s not suffering side effects does make sense). This makes it yet another “Special Abilities Person Helps Law Enforcement show. Like…

Blindspot: I watched it just to see what they’d do with such an outlandish premise of a woman with her memory wiped found naked in Times Square covered in tattoos that lead to seeming threats. Not much. My disbelief—which was already stretched to capacity—hit its breaking point when amnesia woman was the only person in all the FBI in New York City to translate the Chinese tattoo on her neck. It’s stupid for so many reasons from the simple fact given all the unknown markings on her, they obviously would have focused on the thing easiest deciphered to the fact that NEW YORK CITY HAS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF CHINESE PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY! They try to say it was an “obscure dialect” but don’t seem to understand that wouldn’t change the written word! The guy delivering lunch could have figured it out! After that, finding out she was apparently a secret female Navy SEAL because of the blocked tattoo on her shoulder (because that’s what a secret female Navy SEAL would do, paint her secret on her shoulder for the world to see) and buying that with her stick thin arms she could even be a SEAL much less fight grown men toe-to-toe was just icing on the cake of never, ever watching this again. Even the end twist that she was part of the plot to do this to herself did nothing to change this. Oh, and needless to say, because she’s a NAVY Seal who can speak obscure languages and is a clue to terrorist attacks, the FBI decides to use her, making this another “Special Abilities Person Helps Law Enforcement” show. Like…

Minority Report: Like Limitless, this is a sequel to the movie, which is referenced constantly in the pilot. It’s a decade later and one of the twin males has decided to come back to the city use his abilities to help people. Unfortunately, by himself he doesn’t get enough information, so he keeps failing. He tries let a cop know, but only succeeds in leading her to him, which is how this show becomes “Special Abilities Person Helps Law Enforcement” show. The difference being it was actually fun, though a bit of a mess. The addition of the other selfish twin brother—who is no longer identical but piece of beefcake—is clearly a last minute addition and totally unnecessary. The chemistry between the good twin and the cop works fine without what is sure to be some attempt at a romantic triangle down the line. I also didn’t need the subplot of the older sister who can see everything by herself, seeing them being retaken by the government. Honestly it’s only sheer movie contrivance they were ever let go in the first place. No government in the world would let go of people who could see the future, even if they weren’t 100%. Which, by the way, is a nice subplot here. Remember how you could be jailed for a crime you hadn’t actually committed? Well, all those people were left damaged by the their imprisonment, for which the good twin feels horrible guilty for. It’s a nice motivator for him and provides you with a lot of story material, because needless to say, if they weren’t criminals before, they sure as hell are now.

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LET’S PICK ON JAKE GYLLENHAAL DAY!

27 Jul

jake 1. Ant-Man/Disney                     Wknd/$ 24.8   Total/$ 106.1
2. Pixels/Sony                              Wknd/$ 24.0   Total/$ 24.0
3. Minions/Universal                  Wknd/$ 22.1   Total/$ 261.6
4. Trainwreck/Universal            Wknd/$ 17.3    Total/$ 61.5
5. Southpaw/Weinstein              Wknd/$ 16.5    Total/$ 16.5
6. Paper Towns/Fox                    Wknd/$ 12.5    Total/$ 12.5
7. Inside Out/Disney                   Wknd/$ 7.4      Total/$ 320.3
8. Jurassic World/Universal      Wknd/$ 6.9     Total/$ 623.8
9. Mr. Holmes/RAtt                     Wknd/$ 2.4     Total/$ 85.7
10. Terminator: Genisys/Par      Wknd/$ 5.4     Total/$ 80.6

SEAN CONNERY IS ALWAYS RIGHT
Ant-Man holds at number one and also in this, obviously, is none other than Hollywood Royalty and multiple Oscar winner, Michael Douglas, who finally realized his leading man days were over and wisely hopped onto the Marvel money train. I know it seems obvious and easy, but judging by the Jason Stathams of the world who laugh at it and the Wesley Snipes who are trying to get into it despite having inadvertently launched it with Blade (they are 48 and 52, respectively) it’s not. In fact, Douglas was still trying to play the dude who could get women 18 to 80 up until ’09, in Solitary Man, where he played a guy who bangs his younger girlfriend’s daughter while escorting her to her freshman year of college. But even then he’d at least begun sowing the seeds of this because in the same year he played almost a parody of that role in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, as the player uncle who taught Matthew McConughey’s character all he knew. This what I call “The Sean Connery Rule” wherein once you reach a certain age you have to bring in a hotter, younger actor to carry the weight. And even Connery didn’t always get it right. Lawrence Fishburne in Just Cause and Christian Slater in In the Name of the Rose didn’t do much for him. Neither did Mark Harmon in The Presidio. But those were wiped clean by Nicholas Cage in The Rock, Kevin Costner in The Untouchables, Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October, Wesley Snipes in Rising Sun and even Lorraine Bracco in Medicine Man. So the commercial success of Ant-Man and the critical success of Behind the Candelabra more than wipes the slate clean of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps with Shia Lebouf. Not to mention the character he plays is part of the foundation of the Marvel Universe. In the comics he’s one of the founding members of The Avengers, playing the role of not just Ant-Man but reversing the effect and becoming, Giant Man/Goliath and also Yellowjacket (who here is the villain). He’s also the actual creator of Ultron. Yes, the antagonist of the recent Avengers sequel. There’s an opening scene here that makes him part of the SHIELD braintrust alongside Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, so he’s also tied to both Iron Man and Captain America now. Pretty sure Douglas isn’t going to hesitate signing any multi-picture deals.

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES AND SHITS HIMSELF
Pixels opens at number two to some of the most scathing reviews you’ll ever see and given this is Adam Sandler, that’s saying something. Like how much Skyfall sucks and like Bill Cosby being a piece of shit, this is something that I felt was obvious long ago but only now are others seemingly waking up to it. Adam Sandler has been a lazy-ass comedian from day one and the more money he makes the lazier he gets. Low-hanging fruit from day one, never trying harder. Only now when it has reached a toxic level do people finally seem to recognize this. This is based on a short film where video games come to life and attack NYC, pixelating everything they touch eventually taking the entire planet. The creator of that got a cool million, which is why the only thing he can say is “They could have done it better,” and even that may cost him. Honestly, this was done to perfection in an 8 minute sequence on Futurama years ago. That’s all anyone ever need see. Certainly not Adam Sandler’s, old, unfunny, rich, bored ass.

LET ME KNOW WHEN THEY MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT OLD SINGLE GEEKS
Minions is down to number three, followed by Trainwreck at number four and I don’t care how many of my friends love it I’m not seeing this. Yes, it does say something that they are single women in NYC, but that two-hour running time remains bullshit.

OR IS IT ROCKY 6 THIS IS REMAKING?
SouthPaw opens at number four and I loves me some Rachel McAdams, but I’m not going to watch a movie where she dies in the first 15 minutes so I can watch Jake Gyllenhaal struggle with it. It looks like cliché central in this thing and honestly, if I want to watch a white fantasy about boxing, I’ll watch Rocky. I mean, there’s a wizened, older black man there to guide him. What’s sad about this is that if Rachel McAdams had lived I’d probably have seen this remake of Rocky III to watch her do her Talia Shire impression. Jake Gyllenhaal is about to run out of both youth and chances soon. He simply has the worst taste in big mainstream films. Prince of Persia, Love & Other Drugs, Prisoners…all mainstream studio films and all crap. His indie work, however, End of Watch and Nightcrawler seems to be stellar (I burned out on indie long ago so I can only relay what I’ve heard), so it seems like he’s taking the big paychecks to pay for those. Well, those movies have to succeed, chief, and this seems like yet another disappointment headed your way. Time to get on that Marvel gravy train if you want to continue with your small work. But if you’re gonna do it, do it. Don’t pretend you want a big A-list movie with integrity then do Prisoners or Love & Other Drugs. Be honest and just do Transformers 5. No one will blame you.

NOT THAT I’M BITTER AND FILLED WITH SELF-LOATHING OR ANYTHING
Paper Towns opens at number six and it’s finally happened: I’m just too old for another brainy-geek-teen-in-love-with-exceptionally-pretty-girl story. Yes, this one is a tad different because the basic story is that she’s not some happy cheerleader, but a tad troubled and when she vanishes he goes looking for her. But still, he’s only looking for her because she’s pretty. That she’s portrayed by model-of-the-moment Carla Delevingne does not help. The only thing that could put me off more would be one of the Jenner sisters. Shame too, because you know they thought getting her would bring people in.

MAYBE IT’S A PLOT BY SPIELBERG TO MAKE SURE HIS IS ALWAYS THE BEST ONE
Inside Out is down to number seven followed by Jurassic World at number eight and this has made over a billion worldwide. Over $600M in the US and $900M overseas. This is great for Chris Pratt and Spielberg and Universal, but sad for anyone who wants good movies because this was an entertaining piece of crap. The kind of crap Jake Gyllenhaal needs to be a part of. Every legitimate piece of criticism now falls on deaf ears so you can expect the next one, already scheduled for 2018, to suck equally.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT
Mr. Holmes actually rises to number nine and this is how you do it, Jake. Not one, but two big franchises (Lord of the Rings and X-Men) which allows Ian McKellan to get funding for movies like these, which turn around and are unexpectedly more successful than anticipated. Probably a few award noms for McKellan coming down the pike as well. And apparently this is a universe where Sherlock Holmes is world famous and appears in movies. Yes, they include the Basil Rathbone series in the film. That alone makes it a guarantee that I will see it…eventually.

CONAN MAY BE YOUR LAST CHANCE
Finally, Terminator Genisys closes out the top ten at number ten and Arnold’s comeback has proven to be anything but. And this was the go-t0-no-way-it-could-fail-endorsed-by-James-Cameron-vehicle. Why did the equally bad Jurassic World succeed while this failed? Well, for one it has a simpler concept: monsters on the loose. Terminator movies have a simple one as well but they forgot it. It’s supposed to be unstoppable killing machine after someone, but they tried to get cute by merging John Connor with the machine and he’s honestly not trying to kill them. There’s another Terminator in the movie that is initially chasing them, but honestly I can’t tell you what happens to him. There’s even a third one and I can’t tell you what happens to her either (she’s played by Sandrine Holt…and not that I think about it, both the forgotten Terminators are Asian). It’s that bad. And Arnold once touched on the appeal of The Terminator himself: the machine does whatever it wants anywhere it wants. That never occurs here. He’s trying to blend in, so if you’re looking for him to kick the shit out of people much less a bunch of cops like he did in the three successful films look elsewhere. So clearly there’s an anti-establishment aspect to the character that they’ve overlooked…in addition to logic and proper casting.

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SO WONDERFULLY ADEQUATE!

20 Jul

Flash-Gordon-flash-gordon-poster 1. Ant-Man/Disney                    Wknd/$ 58.0    Total/$ 58.0
2. Minions/Universal                Wknd/$ 50.2    Total/$ 216.7
3. Trainwreck/Universal           Wknd/$ 30.2    Total/$ 30.2
5. Jurassic World/Universal    Wknd/$ 11.4     Total/$ 611.2
4. Inside Out/Disney                  Wknd/$ 11.7    Total/$ 306.4
6. Terminator: Genisys/Par      Wknd/$ 5.4      Total/$ 80.6
8. The Gallows/WB                     Wknd/$ 4.0     Total/$ 18.0
7. Magic Mike XXL/WB             Wknd/$ 4.5      Total/$ 58.6
9. Ted 2/Universal                      Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 77.5
10. Mr. Holmes/RAtt                  Wknd/$ 2.5     Total/$ 2.5

DECENT THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Ant-Man opens at number one and Marvel clearly has formula to make a superhero hit movie. The problem is the formula is getting a little stale and it’s not simply because it’s a matter of having seen it all before so much as their need now to control everything. The original writer/director of this was Edgar Wright and he started even before Iron Man was made, but in taking so long, an industry crept up around him and he was asked to conform to it and could not or would not. Can’t say as I fault him much. Having to use chunks of my movies to promote other movies would have annoyed me too. Both of the Thor movies sit at the bottom of my list of the Marvel work, because basically they seem to exist only to set up a later Marvel movie and are not films unto themselves (Iron Man 2 is the very bottom because it does that and it sucks). Captain America and Avengers Age of Ultron also suffer from this. But what’s oddly ironic is that, while clearly part of the Marvel movie universe, Ant-Man isn’t sacrificed for it, so Wright may have walked for no reason in the end beyond less creative control, which is still an issue because this needed a little more creativity. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still a fun movie. Entertaining from start to finish. It’s just lacking that extra element to make it above merely competent. In a weird way, it’s almost a superhero remake of The Mark of Zorro with Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas with its wise mentor, estranged fiery daughter, and ex-con hero seeking redemption. Michael Douglas as we learn throughout the course of the film was the original Ant-Man, out being a superhero for SHIELD back in the day (where we see Iron Man’s dad and Captain America’s girlfriend, Peggy Carter) when personal tragedy forced him to quit and take his super-shrinking technology with him. Now his former assistant has figured it out on his own and wants to sell tiny superpowered soldiers to the world and is willing to kill anyone who stands in his way. To stop him, Douglas tricks the fresh-out-of-prison cat burglar Paul Rudd into stealing the Ant-Man suit to test him, much to the annoyance of Douglas’ estranged daughter, Evangeline Lilly, who is pretending to be loyal to the former assistant, but wants to put it on herself and do the job. Aside from the by-the-numbers filmmaking a big problem her is the villain. Your hero can only be as good as he is and Corey Stoll lacks the weight of a Jeff Bridges (Iron Man) or a Hugo Weaving (Captain America) or even the voice of James Spader (Avengers: Age of Ultron). There’s supposed to be a type of father-son dynamic between Stoll and Douglas, but we only know because they tell us. They don’t give it any real depth. Similarly the estrangement between Douglas and his daughter is saucer deep and the revelation of the reasons behind it handled about as well as an episode of Gray’s Anatomy. There’s no reason he’s only telling her now with Paul Rudd around how her mother died a superhero in her own right and not previously in the 25 years beforehand. Especially when it relates to why they have to stop the bad guy. He could still refuse to let her wear the suit, which would more than justify the animosity. They were simply lazy about it. And that’s basically what this film is: fun but lazy in its execution. Rudd is the most charismatic lead they’ve had since Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man and if they’d risen to meet him they would have had the best Marvel film since Iron Man, which I still regard as the best.

NOW YOU’RE LUCKY JUST TO HAVE HIM
Minions is down to number two and lending her voice to this is Sandra Bullock and like most A-listers who do animated films this is just for the fun of it. She doesn’t need it and can show it to her kid. As a matter of fact, most of the “name” voices are clearly just here for the fun of it, not needing any kind of cheap career boost. Okay, maybe when they were making it two years ago Michael Keaton might have needed it, but now he’s another legitimate star alongside Allison Janney, Steve Carell and Jon Hamm.

SOMEWHERE WHITNEY CUMMINGS IS WONDERING WHAT HAPPENED?
Trainwreck opens at number three and if you’ve doubted this is the “Summer of Women” at the movies, this should shut that door soundly. Not only does it put Amy Schumer firmly in the top echelon of comedy stars (she also wrote it), but it exceeded expectations. And don’t think there weren’t many hoping she’d fail as she has reached a saturation point. I can take or leave Amy Schumer. I think her stand up is good, marred only by her ventures into race (her bullshit non-apology “I’m a comedian so it’s okay” doesn’t help) and the show borders on brilliance at times, so I might have seen this…until I saw the 2-hour running time. What. The. Fuck? This is not a 2-hour concept. Party girl meets boy, party girl loses boy and party girl gets boy back is a 90-minute concept at best and a cast filled with pretty much everyone with a day off still doesn’t give me faith that they fill it the way they managed to do with 40-Year-Old Virgin. Unfortunately Judd Apatow is the director and he’s got a problem cutting himself. All his movies are too long but he’s now too powerful for anyone to make him do it. I suspect some needless maudlin melodrama that has no place in a movie about a guy with a giant dick.

NO CRAP MOVIE BUT WHAT YOU MAKE
Inside Out is down to number four, followed by Jurassic World at number five and Terminator Genisys at number six and rounding out the bad performances in this is Jason Clarke giving the worst John Connor portrayal ever. Granted the crappy script gave him nothing to work with, but if you’d been burdened from birth with the knowledge you’d save all humanity, you might at least show a little wear and tear on your soul. As the trailers give away, John Connor is possessed by Skynet, making him into a “terminator” in his own right. Yeah, it’s as dumb as it sounds and you just know they thought they were being clever, but if Skynet could do this, why wasn’t it doing it all along to all the humans? Why build detectable machines, when you can possess undetectable humans? Also the script ignores that John Connor doesn’t want to kill his parents, but wants them to join him, which means he’s in there somewhere and isn’t just a machine. A better movie would have explored the idea that Skynet may have him, but he also has Skynet. But this is not a better movie.

THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR SELF HATRED
Magic Mike XXL is down to number seven and adding the aforementioned minority quotient to the movie are Jada Pinkett, Donald Glover, Michael Strahan and Stephen “Twitch” Boss who, like Channing Tatum has a “Step Up” movie or two under his belt. Jada Pinkett plays the ex-girlfriend and ex-boss of Channing Tatum who runs her own strip club, though it’s more of a house women come to. Boss, Strahan and Donald Glover all work there. Granted Strahan has the body, but seriously? We couldn’t find anyone better looking? I know for a fact Shemar Moore ain’t that busy and Will Smith could a have used a hit, so maybe Jada should have brought him along. And I’m sorry but, Donald Glover? He looks like Stripper Smurf next to all the others and no woman is paying for that. You pay for the fantasy you can’t have, not the geek you can have anytime he comes up from IT to fix your computer. No, I’m not projecting my own self-loathing! Why do you ask!?!

THE DEFINITION OF TRIVIA(L)
The Gallows is down to number eight and also in this is the daughter of Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford….Yeah, I still don’t care.

FLASH! NO-OOOOOO!
Ted 2 is down to number nine and once again Sam Jones returns because of Seth McFarland’s love of the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. Okay, now we have to put an end once and for all that this was a good movie that was simply misunderstood for being campy when Star Wars and Star Trek were being serious. It’s. Just. Bad. Even as a camp film it fails. Just because you’re campy doesn’t mean you still don’t have a responsibility to tell the story as if it were straight. It was directed by Lorenzo Semple Jr who to no surprise directed the 1966 Batman TV show. Like many directors, the limitations of television worked for him in a way the freedom of film did not. Not to mention he had Dino DeLaurentis to deal with and it’s typical of Europeans to insist that fantastic concepts cannot be taken seriously (the producers of Superman tried to make that campy all the way down to having Superman grab Telly Savalas because he mistakes him for Lex Luthor). So that’s two strikes with the third being a flat out untalented lead actor in Sam Jones. The best things about it were Max Van Sydow as Ming, Ornella Muti as Princess Aura and of course that amazing Queen soundtrack. Otherwise it’s crap and we need to stop seeing it through the easily impressed eyes of an 8-year-old who knows no better. There’s a six minute edited version of the movie on YouTube whose brevity not improves the movie immeasurably, it also shows how much it sucks by how much can be cut without being missed.

ELEMENTARY MY DEAR…UH, WHAT WAS YOUR NAME AGAIN?
Mr. Holmes closes out the top ten and yes, this is about Sherlock Holmes in the twilight of his years, Watson long dead, trying to solve a case as his mental facilities deteriorate. Ian McKellan plays Holmes and while I’d love to see it, honestly I’m two seasons behind on both Sherlock Holmes series (Elementary and Sherlock) that I was watching, so this will have to get in line.

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YOUR CHILDHOOD TUB BATTLES MADE REAL

14 Jul

spacegians

1. Despicable Me 2/Universal               Wknd/$  44.8            Total/$ 229.2

 2. Grown Ups 2/Sony                            Wknd/$  42.5            Total/$  42.5

 3. Pacific Rim/Warners                         Wknd/$  38.3            Total/$  38.3

 4. The Heat/Fox                                      Wknd/$  14.0            Total/$ 112.4

 5. The Lone Ranger/Disney                  Wknd/$  11.1             Total/$  71.1

 6. Monsters University/Disney            Wknd/$  10.6            Total/$ 237.8

 7. World War Z/Paramount                  Wknd/$    9.4            Total/$ 177.1

 8. White House Down/Sony                  Wknd/$    6.2            Total/$  63.0

 9. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain/LGF     Wknd/$    5.0            Total/$  26.4

10. Man of Steel/Warners                        Wknd/$    4.8            Total/$ 281.0

 

FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU; FOOL ME TWICE, I’M AN IDIOT WHO FELL FOR A COMMERCIAL

Despicable Me 2 holds sadly at number one and I say “sadly” because it means the inevitable #3 is on its way. It won’t be the hat trick on my wallet, however.  Short of a crossover with The Incredibles, I’m out.  The only good I can see coming out of this mess is that Kristin Wiig has another hit under her belt. You get yours, girl.

 

LEMONADE

Speaking of horrible box office success that might mean a third unfunny film, Grown Ups 2 opens at number two. So I guess that makes two good things to come out of Despicable Me 2 holding the stop spot. It kept this piece of crap from opening at number one.  Adam Sandler is stunning how he has managed to carve out a very successful career going for the lowest hanging fruit possible.  He’s even passed Tim Allen.  After awhile I can’t even blame him for it. I blame you people who keep rewarding his utter bankrupt excuse for comedic talent.  You need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

 

ULTRA MAN WASN’T A ROBOT! THAT’S DIFFERENT!

Pacific Rim opens at a disappointing number three and America is funny in how we clearly love giant fighting robots and are no strangers to giant monsters, but put them in the same movie and we’re utterly disinterested.  We all did it in the tub when we were kids with our toys, but apparently put away such childish conflicts as adults for a mature separation of giant monster and giant robot.  Now this is an ingrained part of Japanese pop culture, but I feel we’re basically just too rational for it. Seriously. We cannot get over the fact that building a giant robot to fight a giant monster is just stupid.  If that giant monster is causing mass death and destruction with every step, how dumb is it to build a giant robot to fight it in the city streets?  You’ve just doubled your carnage!  Especially when the movie flat out tells us the first monster to attack was killed by conventional weaponry.  Why would you waste valuable time and resources building a giant robot rather than building more powerful, more effective weapons!?!  Clearly you can if you’ve got the technology to building giant robots with plasma cannons.  Why can’t that plasma just be mounted on a ship or tank?  BUT…if you can get over your very American questioning of the premise, Pacific Rim is a good time. Giant monsters come to Earth from another dimension through a rift located in the Pacific Ocean and we fight them off with giant robots. After initial success the monster attacks become more frequent with ever larger, more effective monsters so the governments of the world decide to give up on it and instead just build a big wall,  pulling the plug on the robot funding.  This leaves the commanding officer just 8 months to use his remaining robots to shut down the rift once and for all because anyone with a brain knows that wall thing is not going to work.  It’s little too long—especially given you go 30 minutes without any giant monster and robot fights in favor of people who amount to little more than character sketches and never really become characters themselves—but this is the definition of a summer flick. Big, outlandish, but made by somewhat talented people and not insulting your intelligence while asking you to suspend your disbelief. Case in point: the film’s primary character is a giant robot pilot that left the program after his brother was killed. When Idris Elba goes to bring him back, he declines and Elba points out the world is going to end so where is he going to go?  There’s a similar ultimatum put forth in World War Z to Brad Pitt. He also realizes his personal feelings mean nothing when the world is at stake.  But in the odious Transformers 2 the result is that Shia Lebouf chooses going to college over saving the world because apparently its destruction will leave the mixer in his dorm on Thursday night undisturbed.  And unlike Man of Steel, when a monster attacks the city, the first action is to evacuate or get people to bunkers and the streets and buildings are clearly shown to be empty.

 

ALL PERIOD PIECES ARE NOT THE SAME, HONEY

The Heat is down to number four followed by The Lone Ranger at number five and why is Helena Bonham Carter here?  Did she and Johnny Depp make an agreement on the set of Tim Burton’s films to be weird for the sake of being weird together as much as possible?  Bear in mind when she’s not doing that or working with him she makes movies like The King’s Speech.  Yeah, exactly.

 

PARTY OF ONE…MAYBE LESS

Monsters University is down to number six, followed by World War Z at number seven and also in this with exactly one line from a character with no name is Matthew Fox.  It’s so odd it actually pulls you out of the film for a second. But only for a second because it’s just Matthew Fox.

 

HEY, IT’S THAT GUY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

White House Down is down to number eight and also in this is Jason Clarke who is becoming a character actor (i.e, actors talented, but not attractive enough to be leads) of some weight. First there was critical acclaim for Zero Dark Thirty, then an at least one successful this summer in The Great Gatsby and now this mess for which no one will blame him.  It makes an odd sense he’s working for James Woods in this because Woods is getting old and someone has to take these roles.

 

WHAT’S SUMMER WITHOUT A BIG “S” ON YOUR CHEST?

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain is down only one notch to number nine, which is impressive and wrapping up the top ten at number ten is Man of Steel. Finally! Now that this damn thing is out of the top ten, I can start wearing my Superman t-shirts again. It’s been a long five weeks!