Tag Archives: Jonah Hill

MAKE ‘ER TALK, TUBO

22 Aug

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1. Suicide Squad/WB                                     Wknd/$ 20.7     Total/$ 262.3
2. Sausage Party/Sony                                   Wknd/$ 15.3     Total/$ 65.3
3. War Dogs/WB                                             Wknd/$ 14.3     Total/$ 14.3
4. Kubo & The Two Strings/Focus               Wknd/$ 12.6     Total/$ 12.6
5. Ben Hur/Paramount                                  Wknd/$ 11.4      Total/$ 11.4
6. Pete’s Dragon/Disney                                Wknd/$ 11.3      Total/$ 42.9
7. Bad Moms/STX                                           Wknd/$ 8.1       Total/$ 85.5
8. Jason Bourne/Universal                            Wknd/$ 8.0      Total/$ 140.9
9. The Secret Life of Pets/Universal            Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 346.7
10. Florence Foster Jenkins/Parmount      Wknd/$ 4.0       Total/$ 146.9

HE’S NOT EVEN MAKING SONGS FOR THEM ANYMORE AND NO ONE ASKS HIM TO
Suicide Squad holds at number one and much like Batman v. Superman: Something, Something Justice, being generally reviled by critics and audience alike has not affected its box office take all that much. It’s one of those movies where curiosity seems to drive audiences to see it because they cannot believe it’s as bad as people make it out to be and they think they’ll at least have some fun. Needless to say people are finding out the hard way that this isn’t the case but by then it’s too late. They’ve got your money and you’ve lost two hours of your life you’re not getting back. And it still may not be enough simply because Warner Brothers continues the mistake of high expectations leading to ridiculous promotional budgets. Rather than being cautious, they continue to think they’re going to make Marvel-level money by simply throwing anything up on the screen. They’re wrong and in an attempt to hedge their bet by having reshoots have doomed this barely breaking even when it might have actually turned a profit. Sadly, Will Smith will take breaking even as his days of being the King of Summer ended over a decade ago, his last summer hit being Hitch in ’05. Yeah, it’s been that long. Since then it’s been a slow decline in both big budget films and even smaller dramas, Oscar nominations not withstanding. He’s still huge overseas, where After Earth made 3x as much as it did domestically and where this is also doing better, but studios make their money at home and he ain’t doing that. The last successful summer film helmed by a Smith was The Karate Kid, starring Jaden. This is why Bad Boys 3 is coming soon to a theater near you. No, I’m not kidding. You know things are bad when you need Martin Lawrence.

JUST…NO
Sausage Party holds at number two and this has apparently taken a great deal of the audience from Suicide Squad. Why am I not surprised that anyone who’d like Suicide Squad would be into this? Me, I’m not even remotely curious. The only thing that repels me almost as much as seeing Seth Rogen onscreen is “something from the mind of Seth Rogen.”

CRY HAVOC AND LET LOOSE THE DOUCHEBAGS OF WAR!
Speaking of repellant people onscreen, War Dogs opens at number three and it’s almost brilliance to put Miles Tellar and Jonah Hill together thereby keeping the amount of douche confined to one movie. The greater irony being, while they are seemingly perfect for their based-on-a-true-story roles as two asshole, douchebag arms dealers, I can’t imagine sitting in a theater and looking at the two of them for two hours. Hell, I don’t think I could make twenty minutes!

KUBO & THE UNDEVELOPED SCREENPLAY
Kubo and The Two Strings opens at number four and I was sorely disappointed by this because the trailer looked so amazing and these guys always do good visual work, but seem to stumble when it comes to storytelling. Now, Paranorman wasn’t badly told it’s just what it wound up telling me I didn’t care for. There’s always been darkness in children’s films since Bambi, but they took it too a new level and this isn’t so different as the first time we meet Kubo we find out he’s wearing an eyepatch because his grandfather, the Moon God, took it out and wants the other. Yeah, really. Again, fairy tales have always been dark like that, so that’s not the problem here. The problem is we get no real sense of the world in which Kubo lives. His grandfather is a god and given how he feels about mortals it’s probable his daughters are full gods as well and not demi-gods, which mean that’s is what Kubo is: demi-god. This explains how his guitar has the power to create origami that moves. Only no one seems shocked or surprised by this. It’s not established if they see it merely as a trick or magic is just that common in the world. Like in all fairy tales he story begins when Kubo does what his mother tells him not to, which in this case it hide at night so The Moon God can’t find him. They are subsequently found out and his mother is apparently killed by her evil sisters, but not before spiriting Kubo on away and bringing his Monkey charm to life to guide him on his quest to find invincible armor to prepare for his eventual confrontation with his grandfather. And this is where it comes apart as the monkey tries to warn Kubo about how he uses his power but there is no learning curve and no guidance. He goes from animated origami to building an entire ship out of leaves. Even Luke had to drop the ship. Also there’s a “reveal” about the characters that join Kubo on his quest that comes far too soon (not to mention being fairly obvious) and honestly the story belongs more to one of them than Kubo and might have been better told from their point of view. Ultimately this is just very lovely to watch but not much else. And we’ll discuss a bunch of white dudes using Japanese culture to tell a story and having all of two Asians involved another time.

CHARIOTS OF FIRE! NO, THAT’S TAKEN.
Ben Hur opens at number five and who the hell thought this was a good idea!?! Yes, there’s a whole new Christian film market but they all cost about $25 to make so are guaranteed to make a profit. You don’t spend $100M and think you’re getting your money back from such a narrow audience. The broad majority of people do not want to be preached to and it’s no secret that Ben Hur is more a Christian story than the simple adventure story the way all the ads are desperately trying to convince you. Want to trick people into seeing this? How about not fucking calling it Ben-Hur!?! “Chariot Revenge” would have gotten more people into the theater than fucking “Ben Hur.” Or better yet, set it in space or in a post apocalyptic landscape. But doing the same old shit again…

THEY DO ALL LOOK ALIKE!
Pete’s Dragon is down to number six and like a bad joke I honestly I thought that it was Jessica Chastain in this rather than Bryce Dallas Howard. Not that it matters, but it’s still funny. I was down for seeing this until I realized I’d never had any fucking interest in the seeing the original. Granted, it was a musical, which was mercifully dropped from this remake, but there was a little too much “Disney” stench about it still, especially in the character who wanted to kill the dragon. As if in this day and age, keeping it alive wouldn’t be the option everyone would want either for money or science so it just rang painfully false.

MILF MONEY
Bad Moms is down to number seven and this is officially a success. $85M domestic alone from a $20M budget. It’s fucking amazing, because not only does it look like shit, every review says it’s shit, but there’s clearly an audience of moms who don’t give a fuck. I know. I know one of them who admitted even though it looked like shit, she was going to see it. I feel you, babe. I see so much shit regardless of what anyone thinks simply because it appeals to me on some level and clearly I’m not alone. Still, it’s amazing. And Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell are not complaining. Somebody’s gotta make money in their households. God knows Ashton Kutcher and Dax Shepard aren’t gonna do it.

LOOKS LIKE REBOOT TIME
Jason Bourne is down to number eight and this is looking to be the failure it deserves to be and somewhere Jeremy Renner and Joan Allen are drinking in the schadenfreude.

SHOULD’VE TAKEN THAT TWO & A HALF MEN GIG
The Secret Life of Pets is down to number nine and closing out the top ten is the attempted counter-programming of “adult” material in Florence Foster Jenkins. Every year they attempt this shit of trying to put out a movie that clearly has no appeal to anyone but adults in the summer and every year they fail. Even with just a $30M budget this is still a failure. Let. It. Fucking. Go. Nobody wants to be a grown up in the summer! And wasn’t Hugh Grant supposed to quit acting a few years back! Clearly it costs money to try and bang college students all the. Especially when you’re aging like the Englishman you are.

So, some TV…

I LIKE HAPPY COMICS AND I WON’T APOLOGIZE FOR THAT!
I finally finished off the Preacher series on AMC and it was very much what I expected from a series based on the works of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. What that means is it’s darkly funny, profane, sordid and graphically violent usually for the simple point of being profane, sordid and graphically violent. Let me put it there’s a character called “Assface” who is that way because he tried to kill himself by putting a shotgun in his mouth and upon failing was left with a face that basically looks like an asshole. All his dialogue is subtitled. Every character is has some dirty, mean, violent sordid side and Ennis & Dillon revel in it. It’s not to say the show is without interest—a small town preacher with a dark history searching for redemption finds himself imbued with a godlike power— but once the secrets were revealed, I was done. I really don’t want to spend any more time in this world. There’s a reason I read Superman and not these types of books. But if you like this sort of thing and the bulk of violent, graphic, borderline cruel shows that dominate cable basic and pay shows that you do (Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Lords of Anarchy, True Blood, American Horror Story, Real Housewives of What-The-Fuck-Ever) then you’d probably like this.

ONE OF THE FEW TIMES I DON’T MIND REVISITING THE 80’S
Stranger Things on Netflix is an homage to the science fiction, horror and adventure films of the 80’s that involved kids. In this series set in 1983 in a small Indiana town, four kids lose one of their number and in searching for him find a girl with special powers who has escaped from a mysterious nearby government facility…and a monster somehow connected to her. In this you’ll find deliberate homages to e.t.: The Extra Terrestial, Firestarter, Poltergeist, The Goonies, Stand By Me, War Games, Alien etc. Hell, even John Hughes films show up and two of the actors flat out looks like Mia Sara from Ferris Bueller’s Day and Molly Ringwald. They even add specks of dust and damage to the title sequence, which obviously wouldn’t exist in the current digital format. And did I mention that sequence has a total synth score? It’s very, very good, more than transcending the novelty of its non-stop 80’s homage. My only problem is they build a sequel into the end. Honestly in the early 80’s they didn’t do that. That didn’t come until later when Friday The 13th and Halloween took off. I personally would’ve been happy if they’d just made it like there wouldn’t be another. A lot of people keep mentioning the influence of Stephen King (who is flat out referenced in the movie) and Steven Spielberg here, but they weren’t the only people doing these types of movies and honestly they had nothing to do with the very best kids adventure/horror/sci-fi movie of the 80’s: MONSTER SQUAD!

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TOUGH GUYS DON’T DIRECT MUSICALS

22 Jun

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1. Think Like A Man Too/SGem                         Wknd/$ 30.0       Total/$ 30.0
2. 22 Jump Street/Sony                                        Wknd/$ 29.0       Total/$ 111.5
3. How To Train Your Dragon 2/Fox                 Wknd/$ 25.3        Total/$ 95.2
4. Jersey Boys/Warners                                        Wknd/$ 13.5         Total/$ 13.5
5. Maleficent/Disney                                              Wknd/$ 13.0       Total/$ 186.0
6. Edge of Tomorrow/Warners                            Wknd/$ 10.3       Total/$ 74.5
7. The Fault In Our Stars/Fox                              Wknd/$ 8.6         Total/$ 98.7
8. X-Men: Days of Future Past/Fox                    Wknd/$ 6.2          Total/$ 216.8
9. Chef/ORF                                                             Wknd/$ 1.8          Total/$ 16.9
10. Godzilla/Warner                                               Wknd/$ 1.8          Total/$ 194.9

THE BEST MAN 2.5
Think Like a Man Too opens at number one and I’ll say it again: when the primary depictions of yourself onscreen are as sidekicks, servants (or slaves) or how you heroically endured oppression, you tend grab any depiction of yourself as happy and whole and enjoying life with both hands, which why this sequel opens big. You could make Latino-American and Asian-American versions of this and also make money and I can’t believe no one has. In fact, given it’s basically about a best man it could be counted as an unofficial sequel or spin-off of The Best Man which first dared to show happy, successful, educated African Americans. I gave this a pass because a) a little Kevin Hart (who is working his 15 minutes) goes a loooooonnnng way and b) I will put no money the misogynist pocket of Steve Harvey, whose book the original drew upon as source material is basically saying the problem with men and women is women. This from a man divorced three times. I’m just sayin’, maybe the problem is you and your attitude, playa.

NO 23 JUMP STREET. NOT. EVER.
22 Jump Street is down to number two and apparently there’s a hysterical end credit sequence where they show the next 20 sequels to this, basically letting you know there will actually be no sequels to this. What there will be coming down the pike is a return to good-looking person/not-so good-looking person team up comedies. You’ve already seen it for women with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat and between this and Neighbors and the utter failure of Adam Sandler’s last film, consider the days of solo “ugly but funny” days over. How it differs from the past is that the less attractive person isn’t just here for fat loser jokes. Progress?

HOW TO COUNT YOUR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY’VE HATCHED
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is down to number three and how cruel an irony is it that Jonah Hill is technically in this as one of the voices? He had a great weekend last week. Everyone else, not so much. Jay Baruchel (the voice of Hiccup) was a guest on Craig Ferguson’s show (he’s the voice of Gobber) and they talked about being in the third installment of this. Needless is to say, not so fast, fellas.

GO AHEAD. MAKE MY MUSICAL.
Jersey Boys opens at number four which isn’t as disappointing as it seems given it only cost $40M to make. Clint Eastwood is famously frugal a director. He’s also famously sparse and laconic which are not two things one associates with Broadway shows. Existentialist westerns? Sure. But a story filled with passion and music? Not so much. Yes, it borders of pigeonholing the man, but given his open love of popular music (take it out of his films and see what happens) and the fact this combines it with both Italian Americans and the mob, how the hell did Martin Scorsese not do this!?! He would have brought the style and passion this story needed. And while that’s a big problem with this movie, the other is the problem that afflicts most stage-to-screen adaptations and that’s an inability to depict it properly without it being just a filmed version of the play. The best way to deal with it is to set it in the same type of “non-reality” the show existed in. Chicago clearly takes place in no Chicago that ever existed and if they’d tried to ground it reality too much it would have faltered. This tries to take place in the real world, which granted, makes sense given it’s a true story, but when you do that you have to pay more attention to details. You have to fill out the world in which they exist. Not having it leads to the common problem of most movie bios: a lack of context because they don’t fill out the world in which these people exist. The only other musician ever mentioned is Frank Sinatra (who was the ironically enough the only other musician ever mentioned in the Ray Charles bio pic). Pretty sure they weren’t competing with him. In fact, there was an entire East coast vs. West Coast stunt set up with them and The Beach Boys. You wouldn’t know they or any other musical act from that time period existed by this film (Elvis? Beatles? Who are they?), not to mention the incredible social changes going on around them. Again, that’s fine for a stage show, but with film you have to flesh these things out. There’s also such a thing, ironically enough, as being too faithful to the stage production. Yeah, the lead actor can play a character 15 to 50, but on film a 30+ actor playing 15 is simply not going to fly. Just get a younger actor! I won’t even get into the makeup disaster that is the climax of their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Everyone a party to that should be embarrassed. The stage show probably did it better just painting their hair gray.

RIPLEY COULD HAVE SAVED THE DAY…AGAIN
Maleficent is down to number five, followed by Edge of Tomorrow at number six and obviously Emily Blunt is the female lead here and she’s in her 30’s while Cruise is in his 50’s, my usual pet peeve. The director, Doug Liman, overheard this criticism at a party and felt it was unjust because the film wasn’t about them as a couple. Well, dude, then you probably shouldn’t have had her seemingly falling for him towards the end, much less have her kiss him. And not that hindsight is 20/20, but how could casting Sigourney Weaver in her role as the badass alien fighter not have been a great idea? She would have brought in so many other people (i.e., women) who might not have otherwise seen a Tom Cruise vehicle. But 50-something Cruise isn’t kissing a 60-something Weaver onscreen so you can just forget that.

AS FATTY ARBUCKLE ROLLS OVER IN HIS GRAVE
The Fault in Our Stars is down to number seven, followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past at number eight and at almost $700M from a $200M budget, we can safely say that that this train is back on track…and that Fox will be coughing up an ungodly amount of money for Bryan Singer’s legal defense, because he is clearly the key.

SOMEWHERE MATTHEW BRODERICK LAUGHS
Chef actually rises to number nine and I couldn’t be happier, while Godzilla drops to number ten and I honestly couldn’t care less. It wasn’t bad, but as time passes, the more I think about how the director jerked us around not showing Godzilla for the longest time then having it happen at night, the more annoyed I become. He thought he was being clever, well given it’s barely going to break the 3x budget rule of profitability, he was a little too clever for his own good. Honestly, it’s only done a little better than the much-maligned version with Matthew Broderick. A good lesson in how perception is reality.

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YOU TAME A DRAGON WITH TATUM!

15 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I, NOT A SEXY VAMPIRE

26 Jan

oldyounglion

 1. Ride Along/Universal                              Wknd/$  21.2            Total/$   75.4

 2. Lone Survivor/Universal                        Wknd/$  12.1            Total/$   93.6

 3. The Nut Job/ORF                                    Wknd/$  12.3            Total/$   40.3

 4. Frozen/Disney                                           Wknd/$   9.0           Total/$ 347.8

 5. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par            Wknd/$   8.8           Total/$   30.2

 6. I, Frankenstein/LGF                                Wknd/$   8.3            Total/$     8.3

 7. American Hustle/Sony                            Wknd/$   7.1             Total/$  127.0

 8. August: Osage County/Weinstein         Wknd/$   5.0            Total/$    26.5

 9. The Wolf of Wall Street/Par                   Wknd/$   5.0            Total/$    98.0

10. Devil’s Due/Fox                                        Wknd/$   2.8           Total/$    12.9

 

D.W.A. (DADDIES WITH ATTITUDE).

Ride Along holds the number one spot which I’m thinking Ice Cube appreciates more than Kevin Hart given it’s been a long time since he made money at the movies playing anything more than a dad with a ruff exterior but with a heart of gold and it’s not like he’s selling albums…

 

SOMETIMES A CIGAR IS JUST A CIGAR AND A SINGLE QUEEN JUST HASN’T MET THE RIGHT GUY

Lone Survivor holds at number two followed by The Nut Job also holding at number three, but Frozen steps up to number four probably because kids who went to see The Nut Job last week told mom and dad they wanted to see Frozen again.  It’s also got a growing audience who see it as a metaphor for not just her emerging sexuality, but her homosexuality, because as you may notice, Elsa never winds up with a dude and one is never introduced for her. There are also some who read every tiny action as an example of feminism, from the accommodating male character to the fact that Elsa governs alone. Yes, art is subjective, but I think they’re looking for Atlantis in a puddle. In other words, it ain’t deep enough for all that.

 

THE MOVIE STAR CIRCLE OF LIFE

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit drops one notch to five and you know who comes across decently? Kevin Costner.  It seems he’s finally adjusted to this “lion in winter” stage of his career and it makes sense he should given his biggest break was in someone else’s.  He was the young star for Sean Connery in The Untouchables two decades ago.  Now, between this and Man of Steel, he’s the mature male lead for the rising leading man (or rather would be if this weren’t tanking).  Lending instant legitimacy to the new guy as well as providing something for the moms to look at when they take their teenagers to the movies.

 

ME, HAD A GOOD TIME

I, Frankenstein opens weakly at number six which is a great disappointment to me, because I enjoyed this silly, silly movie from the same people who brought you Underworld, which was also silly, silly fun combining classic monsters with CGI.  It’s more of the same: secret war to save all mankind that’s been going on for centuries and now there’s been discovered a man who will tip the balance for one side unless the other side finds out why that is.  This time however it’s the super-strong immortal creation of Frankenstein wanted by demons for their nefarious plan, while—and hang on now—it’s gargoyles representing the angels on Earth defending mankind. Yes, gargoyles.  No, I don’t know why that is other than they look awesome flying around and smashing demons that descend to hell in a red fireball when they go down, while gargoyles ascend to the heavens in a bolt of blue-white light.  Granted it’s not as fun as Underworld because, let’s face it, the sexy decadence of vampires is missing.  There’s a reason people never get tired of them and often want to be them. Reanimated patchwork , demons and gargoyles? Not so much.  Also missing are the solid characters that made Underworld feel so fleshed out.  Nearly every substantial speaking role was different from the next and you felt the weight of a story behind them even if were untold. Selene, Michael, Kraven, Viktor, Lucien.  Even the minor roles of the vampire gunsmith, the werewolf scientist and vampire scheming for advancement where are distinct and memorable.  Not so much here. Only two demons are different from the horde and mainly because one is played by the writer/producer Kevin Giroux.  The gargoyles are even worse. The queen wants to save the monster (who rejects the Frankenstein name) while her right hand wants to destroy him. That’s it. Black and white. There are two others that seem to have personalities but in their five minutes of screen time aren’t given a chance to distinguish themselves.  Even a potentially interesting aspect isn’t revealed until they “ascend” so there’s no exploration of it whatsoever. Still, it was more fun than freaking Shadow Recruit, which deserved its January graveyard release date aka fast track to April home video release date.  It’ll be sitting right next to I, Frankenstein I’m afraid.

 

MUCH IN THE SAME WAY JOHN WAYNE WAS AN ACTOR

American Hustle drops one to number seven followed by August: Osage County holding at number eight and The Wolf of Wall Street holding at number nine and while I find Jonah Hill personally repellant to the point where I avoid his films (along with his frequent co-star, Seth Rogen) as much as possible only making exceptions for major stuff like this, I cannot deny he’s very good here. He didn’t deserve a best supporting actor nod for Moneyball but he definitely earned it this time. Then again, he’s playing a complete jerk and based on his interviews (and one horrible story told to me by someone who dated him at a party that I will not repeat) there may not be a lot of acting is going on beyond the Noo Yawk accent.

 

AND THE TRILOGY CONCLUDES WITH PRESCHOOL IN HELL

Finally, Devil’s Due closes out the top ten at number ten and with a $19M return off a $7M budget you can be sure that there will be a Devil’s Due 2: Deadly Daycare!

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“SECRET” LIFE SOUNDS BETTER THAN “QUIET DESPERATION”

29 Dec

47_Ronin_Poster_Intenational_e_JPosters

 1. The Hobbit 2/Warner                               Wknd/$  29.9           Total/$ 190.3

 2. Frozen/Disney                                            Wknd/$  28.8          Total/$ 248.4

 3. Anchorman 2/Paramount                        Wknd/$  28.8          Total/$   83.7

 4. American Hustle/Sony                             Wknd/$  19.6           Total/$   60.0

 5. The Wolf of Wall Street/Par                    Wknd/$  18.5            Total/$   34.3

 6. Saving Mr. Banks/Disney                         Wknd/$  14.0           Total/$   37.8

 7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty/Fox       Wknd/$  13.0           Total/$   25.6

 8. The Hunger Games 2/LGF                       Wknd/$  10.2           Total/$ 391.1

 9. 47 Ronin/Universal                                    Wknd/$   9.9           Total/$   20.6

10. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Xmas/LGF          Wknd/$    7.4          Total/$   43.7

 

FILLED WITH ELFIN HOTNESS

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug holds at number one and here as the character of Badass Chick Elf created by Peter Jackson is Evangeline Lilly and I maintain that’s the name of someone who sleeps with James Bond, not a real, live person. She acquits herself well enough with the English accent—that all characters must have in fantasy films and historical characters that are not American must have—like Liv Tyler before her. Which makes sense given that she’s here basically to fill that hole of a hot, badass chick elf.

 

DOING THE HEAVY LIFTING THE SCRIPT DOESN’T

Frozen actually rises to number two and I seem to be in the minority of people who don’t see this as a new Disney “classic.”  I’m thinking crap like Madagascar has lowered the bar so severely of what people expect from an animated film that anything even slightly above average gets an undue amount of praise.  In this case it’s that damn song that’s basically carrying this whole film, which I kinda understand. I hate songs in animated films, but even I like it. It’s that good.

 

WILL FERRELL IS BETTER FOR YOU THAN A GIANT ROBOT

Anchorman 2 is down to number three and finally in a big A-list film is Meagan Good, who was basically Megan Fox before Megan Fox, as in an actress whose name and look is more commonly found in porn, in that both are very exaggerated.  Between this and actually being the lead in a serious “let’s-cash-in-on-the-success-of-Scandal-with-a-hot-black-chick” drama in prime time (yes, it was cancelled almost immediately, but that she even got the role is the victory), it seems after 15 years in front of the camera, Meagan Good is becoming an overnight success.  I mean, unless you’re black, which means you’ve been watching her for 15 years, since Eve’s Bayou and are quite frankly shocked to see her in a role where she’s not in short-shorts and a push-up bra. Maybe we’ll all be shocked to see Megan Fox make the same type of ascension in ten years. Hey, it could happen!

 

THE DOUCHE OF WALL STREET

American Hustle holds at number four and no matter how many people tell me this is a mess, a mess with this cast is still going to be interesting at the very least, unlike say The Wolf of Wall Street which opens at number five.  It has a pretty interesting supporting cast, but unfortunately a center of doucheness composed of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. Yes, I know that their actual personalities shouldn’t affect your opinion of them onscreen, but guess what? They’re playing douchebags here too, so I’m not sure how much acting went into it.  But it’s Scorsese Oscar-bait so I guess I have to see it.

 

NICE PEOPLE DON’T GET MUCH DONE

Saving Mr. Banks (the unofficial sequel to Saving Private Ryan?) is down to number six and remember how I said this was a fairy tale to portray Walt Disney as a great man at her expense?  Well, she was no saint either.  Seems she adopted a little boy…but not his twin brother! Why?  Astrology. You only wish I were joking. But it gets worse. She never told him he had a brother…until he ran into him in a bar one day.  A bar because they both developed alcohol problems.  Gee, I wonder why?  Yeah, you’d have to lie to tell a story that put either of these two people in a favorable light.

 

THE BEN STILLER MOVIE

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty opens at number seven and this isn’t so much a remake as it is a reinterpretation of the short story, as the difference in tone and intent is as different as night and day.  The Danny Kaye version was a lighthearted musical comedy while this is an introspective comedy drama about a man who feels his life has so passed him by he can only cope by constantly losing himself into his daydreams.  Now if you’re someone of a comparable age and situation you might find yourself crying at regular points throughout, especially when his daydream actually enables him to find the courage to take a literal leap when reality fails him. All set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” being sung by Kristen Wiig (I’m not crying! You’re crying!). I’ve long complained about not being able to take any more of Ben Stiller’s “Theater of Pain” style of comedy, which is basically watching him suffer an infinite number of indignities. It got so bad someone once joked that it was amazing he wasn’t in Passion of the Christ (get it? a suffering Jew?).  This film is ironically both the best use of that idea and the source of its worse missteps.  The humor that comes from him struggling to live life rather than just dream about it as he unburdens himself with the responsibility of taking care of his family is  very natural. The bit where he’s beaten down by airport security over a flute—all seen through an x-ray machine—is like a leftover bit from his show on Fox in the 90’s.  It’s a very flawed film, but sadly it spoke to me and I loved it as a result. This unfortunately means I lose the high ground I once had over my baby sister who loves the horrid Casual Sex movie for similar reasons. Nah. This is still better than that turd of a film.

 

47 REASONS WHY NO ONE SAW THIS

The Hunger Games: Catching Fires is down to number eight while 47 Ronin opens at number nine and Universal has already written this off for their 2013 taxes.  Ouch.  It was plagued with production troubles and while I don’t mind taking the famous story of the 47 Ronin (it’s considered a defining moment in Japanese culture and is celebrated annually) and setting it in within the world of Japanese mythology where magic and monsters are real you kinda wonder what was the point?  Especially when there are a) so few and b) only one of them that really matters.  And you have ample time to wonder because the film is paced so poorly. The first 30 minutes should have been part of the opening narration, as the story doesn’t begin until the 47 samurai become 47 ronin at the death of their lord (a samurai’s duty is to protect his lord and to become ronin is a disgrace because it means he as failed).  That would take this down from a bloated two hours to a tidier, yet still weak 90 minutes. Sorry, but a samurai film where the only blood seen is when they cut their thumbs to mark a document is ridiculous.  And we haven’t even gotten into the Keanu Reeves factor. Now, I like Keanu and am impressed that he’s finally playing Asian after all these years (his father was Philipino-Chinese) but he still sounds like a surfer with a head cold and even though the film is filled with Japanese actors speaking accented English, it sticks out like a sore thumb. The best part is the female villain who is working for a much better movie than she gets.

 

DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE ASS

Finally, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas closes out the top ten at number ten and good riddance.

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