Tag Archives: Liam Neeson

TAKEN…BY YOUR MIDDLE AGED SUCCESS

23 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NO SINGING MICE! THANK GOD!

16 Mar

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1. Cinderella/Disney                                               Wknd/$ 70.1   Total/$ 70.1
2. Run All Night/WB                                              Wknd/$ 11.0   Total/$ 11.0
3. Kingsman: The Secret Service/Fox                 Wknd/$ 6.2    Total/$ 107.4
4. Focus/WB                                                             Wknd/$ 5.8    Total/$ 44.0
5. Chappie/Sony                                                      Wknd/$ 5.8    Total/$ 23.3
6. The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel               Wknd/$ 5.7    Total/$ 18.1
7. The SpongeBob Movie/Par                               Wknd/$ 4.1     Total/$ 154.7
8. McFarland, USA/Disney                                   Wknd/$ 3.7     Total/$ 35.0
9. American Sniper/WB                                         Wknd/$ 2.9    Total/$ 341.5
10. The Duff/LionsGate                                          Wknd/$ 2.9    Total/$ 30.3

MONEY VS. DEPTH: WE KNOW WHO WINS
Cinderella opens at number one and two things got me in to see this and once again risk being the Solo Adult Male at a Kid’s Movie, which I’m sure is one day going to get me arrested: 1) Cate Blanchett, 2) Not A Musical. And believe me it’s the latter that carries the most weight. Remember my rule: if Gene Kelly isn’t dancing I don’t care. This isn’t so much a reinterpretation of the story, but another instance of Disney’s latest cash cow: live action versions of their animated features (Fantasia is going to be interesting). And clearly it a paid off, as evidenced by my ass in a seat and I hated the animated version. If you were hoping for maybe just a little more depth, you know, something for the adults like the great joke about “bears in San Francisco” in the trailer for Inside Out before the movie, dream on. Oh, they toy with it. They hint at actually making Cate Blanchett a three dimensional character whose evil is a result of the pain from losing the husband she loved and not truly being loved by a second husband who also dies, but they don’t follow through and just basically have her blurt out that that she’s mean to Ella (called Cider-ella due to the cinders on her face from being reduced to servant) because she’s so good. Seriously, that’s what she said. It would have made more sense if she blamed that obscenely tiny waist Cinderella has on display at the ball. Look, I know you want to try and recreate the movie, but you can’t force a human to have those proportions. Yes, she’s wearing a corset, but she also had to go on liquid diet to get into it. What. The. Fuck!?! Does Disney really think they would have lost a dollar because a real life human didn’t have the physical dimensions of a fucking cartoon!?! One thing they do get right is that Cinderella isn’t a servant for years. Seriously, I love the revisionist version with Drew Barrymore, but to think that being pretty much a slave for 20 years wouldn’t break or embitter you really is a fairy tale. Her first act as queen would have been to have her stepmother and mean sister beheaded and made the semi-nice one watch as a warning.

IT ALWAYS LEADS BACK TO CONNERY. ALWAYS.
Run All Night opens at number two and by Neeson’s own admission we’re reaching the end of this second act of his career as an action star. Probably because he’s doing it wrong. Yeah, being Dad The Action Hero worked briefly, but eventually you have to balance out that age curve by pairing him with a younger man to do all the heavy lifting. Or in the case of Neeson, the running, which he hates to do and directors have to work around it. In other words, do the Connery. Sean Connery is textbook on how to be an aging action hero, something it would do Schwarzenegger well to follow. In this one Neeson’s fighting Irish mob boss, Ed Harris in NYC, which almost makes this like a sequel to State of Grace where he was also an Irish mob boss in NYC. I like to think he survived being killed by Sean Penn…only to be killed here by Neeson (no, I didn’t see it, but do you really think he lives?). Penn also survived and went on to join the CIA, which is where we’ll see him next week in The Gunman. And if you think he’s not doing action movies because of Neeson, think again. They all owe him a check for opening this up for them.

IN HIS SIXTH DECADE OF EXPLOSIONS
Speaking of aging action heroes, Kingsman: The Secret Service rises back up to number three and as the head of The Kingsmen is Michael Caine, who did some badass movies back in his day as well, like Get Carter. It’s also a bit of a in-joke that he would play the head of a covert agency given he also played a secret agent back in the sixties. The Austin Powers character is based on him and why he also plays the father. Caine also did a turn as an elderly badass a few years back in Harry Brown, where he’s an ex-soldier who’s pushed too far. Yes, they make those films in England too. Death Wish fantasies are not just for Americans. They’re for any society with an underclass who occasionally needs to be taught a lesson.

CINEMATIC COITUS INTERRUPTUS
Down to number four is Focus and also in this is Rodrigo Santuro. Best known, unfortunately for being the Persian leader, Xerxes in 300 and its horrible sequel, but people of taste will know him as the hot guy Laura Linney doesn’t get to bone in Love Actually. Seriously, that was just mean.

SOAKING UP THAT CASH
Chappie is down to number five, followed by The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at number six and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water at number seven and from a $74M budget, this has made $270M worldwide and somewhere the creator of Ren & Stimpy weeks because his little cartoon never graduated from the love of hip kids to an actually license to print money like this one did.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GEEK CRED
McFarland, USA is down to number eight, with American Sniper returning at number nine and finally The DUFF closing out the Top Ten at number ten, and starring in this Mae Whitman who is none other than the President’s daughter in Independence Day. Think she’s coming back for the sequel? And she’s got even more geek cred as the voice of a child Lois Lane on Superman The Animated Series, Batgirl on Batman: The Brave & The Bold and Wonder Girl on Young Justice. Geek cred is there for Robbie Amell, the cousin to none other than Stephen Amell, also known as Green Arrow on Arrow. He recently appeared on The Flash to become the superhero known as Firestorm himself. No geek cred for the pre-naturally pretty Bella Thorne, but given she’s a pretty redhead and they’re rebooting Spider-Man again as a teenager, it should be happening any minute now. I feel I’ll go to jail just for writing about her given she’s only 17 (was it even legal for the 26-year-old Amell to kiss her?). Her porn star name doesn’t help matters in the slightest. Her siblings are equally named Remy Thorne, Kalli Thorne and Dani Thorne because apparently Mary, Susan or Katherine just wouldn’t do. Do I even have to tell you they’re from Florida? Irony alert: in this film she plays the “mean girl” of the high school and like Lindsay Lohan she’s a henna-headed product of the Disney machine. Hopefully being from Florida won’t doom her the way that being from Long Island doomed Lohan.

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THE OPPOSITE OF KIERA KNIGHTLEY

2 Feb

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1. American Sniper/Warner                           Wknd/$ 31.9    Total/$ 248.9
2. Paddington/Weinstein                               Wknd/$ 8.5      Total/$ 50.5
3. Project Almanac/Paramount                     Wknd/$ 8.5      Total/$ 8.5
4. Black or White/Relativity                           Wknd/$ 6.5      Total/$ 6.5
5. The Boy Next Door/Universal                   Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 24.7
6. The Wedding Ringer/SGems                     Wknd/$ 5.7      Total/$ 48.1
7. The Imitation Game/Weinstein                Wknd/$ 5.2      Total/$ 68.0
8. Taken 3/Fox                                                  Wknd/$ 3.7      Total/$ 76.1
9. Strange Magic/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 3.4     Total/$ 9.0
10. The Loft/ORF                                              Wknd/$ 2.9     Total/$ 2.9

OH, I LOVED KEEN EDDIE SO MUCH
American Sniper holds at number one, which makes sense given this is the holy American holiday of the Super Bowl, but sadly getting lost in the controversy is the return of Sienna Miller. You remember her from the 00’s, right? Pretty, blonde, English actress slowly rising before sadly becoming most famous for boning Jude Law during his “moment” then being humiliated when he started boning his kid’s nanny. Not helping was an unremarkable indie film career. It’s one thing to do good work and go unnoticed, but she wound up in mediocrity both big (Alfie, Stardust, GI Joe: Rise of Cobra) and small (Casanova, Factory Girl, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh). This is her second go round and don’t think she doesn’t know it. I know she’s happy to be in a hit, but it’s got to be killing her that she’s making a comeback (she’s also in Foxcatcher) and no one is noticing.

TIME (TRAVEL) AFTER TIME (TRAVEL)
Paddington rises to number two, while Project Almanac opens at number three and once upon a time I would have been head first into this kind of thing, but as I’ve grown older nothing turns me off sooner than a time paradox movie. Honestly, I could not give less than a crap that the main character couldn’t exist unless he’d gone back in time and introduced his grandparents or the main character accidentally kills his dad before he’s conceived. They all think they’re clever and they rarely are (I’m looking at you, Looper, Interstellar, etc). Not to mention it’s another “found footage” film, which means it means instant nausea from the ironically named “steady cam.” Sadly it probably cost nothing so at the very least will probably break even thus insuring more of them are made. Sigh.

BUT I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU AS CRASH DAVIS
Black or White opens at number four and while this may seem like a timely film, the presence of Kevin Costner (who also financed it) means it’ll be about as deep as a saucer with nothing really to say about race relations in America. The trailers suggest hamfisted deliveries without the slightest hint of nuance. I sat through Losing Isaiah so I feel no need to go through it again here.

‘CAUSE THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS TO SLUTS, AMIRITE, FELLAS?
The Boy Next Door is down to number five and also in this is Kristen Chenoweth, so it’s just filled with women who deserve better but have bills to pay. Given this all about punishing a woman for sex (when was the last time you saw a movie about a guy who bangs a legal teenager and suffers for it?) and she’s the horny best friend, I’ve no doubt she dies a horrible death and I seriously don’t have time for that bullshit.

DOUBLE EDGED SUCCESS SWORD
The Wedding Ringer is down to number six, followed by The Imitation Game at number seven and Taken 3 at number eight. Probably my favorite commercial of the Super Bowl was Liam Neeson making fun of his new tough guy image as an angry online gamer. I know a few women who loved it a little too much…and by that I mean it’s become basically a 30 second porn film. Much in the way that other online gaming commercial with Kate Upton is for lonely, lonely, lonely dudes.

IT’S A GEEK’S WORLD NOW
Strange Magic is down to number nine while The Loft opens at and closes out the top ten and because I can only think geek, when I see a movie with Karl Urban, James Marsden and Wentworth Miller all I see is a movie about Judge Dredd, Cyclops and Captain Cold (the comic book characters they’ve played) getting an apartment together. Of course it’s going to end badly, what with the superbattles. And you may not know it, but there are actually five guys involved in the loft, but one is European actor you wouldn’t know and the other is Eric Stonestreet who plays Cam on Modern Family. Yeah, exactly. They’re not going to show the fat guy who’s probably better known than all of them put together. Poor Cam.

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

11 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DUMB ENOUGH FOR SUMMER

28 Sep

taraji
1. The Equalizer/Sony                               Wknd/$ 35.0    Total/$ 35.0
2. The Maze Runner/Fox                         Wknd/$ 17.5     Total/$ 58.0
3. The Boxtrolls/Focus                             Wknd/$ 17.3     Total/$ 17.3
4. This is Where I Leave You/WB          Wknd/$ 7.0      Total/$ 22.6
5. Dolphin Tale 2/WB                               Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 33.7
6. No Good Deed/SGems                         Wknd/$ 4.6      Total/$ 46.6
7. A Walk Among The Tombstones/U   Wknd/$ 4.2      Total/$ 20.9
8. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney        Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 319.2
9. Let’s Be Cops/Fox                                  Wknd/$ 1.5      Total/$ 79.6
10. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles/Par  Wknd/$ 1.5      Total/$ 187.2

FRANKEN-ACTION!
The Equalizer opens at number one and this isn’t just another “ex-government agent bringing vigilante justice movie” it’s also a Frankenstein’s monster of other Denzel Washington movies. Ex-government assassin/agent with some lingering guilt of what he’s done who decimates organized crime? Man on Fire. He’s also a working class joe? John Q. There’s a young Russian hooker to save? He Got Game. Because there are no black women in the cast he’s sexless? Almost all of them. Based on the TV show from the 80’s that I never watched, Denzel is yet another government killing machine trying to live a normal life and is almost doing so, but then some Russian mobsters (Russians having taken the place of the Italians as the boogey men of crime) hurt a girl he’s become friends with and they awaken the sleeping dragon who burns their house down. Literally. Now, you don’t expect too much reality in an action film, but you’re not really helping people when you blow up an oil tanker on the docks! It would have felt like a nuke dropped on the city and the damage would have been enormous, most likely destroying legitimate businesses and we’re not getting into the environmental damage! Oh, and it’s set in Boston. Pretty sure a giant explosion would cause all sorts of panic amongst the populace, not to mention the very people Denzel Washington used to work for. It gets so over-the-top towards the end (learn how your local Home Depot can be turned into a killing field with ordinary house and gardening appliances) you wonder how something this dumb escaped a summer release date. But it is fun and honestly you need this as all the humorless, solemn would-be-oscar bait falling around our ears right now.

THE SECRET IS NOT TO DO IT IN CRAYON. USE A PENCIL.
The Maze Runner is down to number two and this is yet another Young Adult novel which has produced box office gold. A sequel has already been green lit. I know very little about the plot other than a group of boys are trapped a environment by a giant maze, but presumably your hero makes it through the maze otherwise you’ve got a very unsatisfying movie, so what’s the second film going to be? Another maze? Is really adaptation of a novel or one of those Big Book of Mazes your parents give you on a long trip to keep you quiet, so they’re just moving onto the next maze? The Maze Runner 2: This Time It’s A Square One.

I AM THE ENEMY OF ALL SUBSTANCE
The Box Trolls opens at number one and I not proud of myself but I disliked the animation style of this too much to even give it a try. It bothers me because actual stop-motion animation is rare these days and it should be supported, but I just can’t with this. It’s just too damn ugly! It’s about kindly trolls who raise a boy. Um, okay. Whatever.

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOBS, KIDS
Speaking of Oscar bait, we’ve had our first failure with This Is Where I Leave You which clearly wanted to me some Robert Altman-mish combination of comedy and drama about a family coming together after the death of the patriarch. Unfortunately it more resembles a TV movie that escaped into theaters, thanks in no small part to the fact that all its stars are best known from the small screen. Tina Fey (30 Rock, SNL), Jason Batman (Arrested Development), Adam Driver (girls), Rose Byrne (Damages) Connie Britton (Nashville) and Timothy Olyphant (Justified). The only real movie star is Jane Fonda. The other aspect that makes it feel like a TV movie is how utterly antiseptic it looks and feels. Aside from looking like no dirt has touched anything anywhere, the drama is saucer deep. We’re told that Jason Bateman’s problem is that he wanted a perfect life with nothing complicated or messy, but he never demonstrates those type of negative character aspects at any time. We only know because other characters tell us. He’s just playing the usual Jason Bateman straight man role, where he comments dryly on the behavior of others. We’re never given any indication that he might not be anything other than the wronged husband great until his wife reveals her affair with his boss might have had a little to do with the fact he withdrew after her miscarriage. Likewise, the affair is used only for comic relief. When your spouse sleeps with your boss, the goal is clearly to hurt you. Otherwise it would have been a stranger. The film never for once examines this and gives only lip service to the other attempts a drama. I know it comes from a much-loved book, but I can only think they took all the best jokes from it and left the depth behind. It wouldn’t be the first to do this, nor will it be the last.

AIN’T NO MONEY LIKE REGULAR MONEY
Dolphin Tale 2 holds at number five, followed by No Good Deed down to number six and also starring in this is Taraji P. Henson who’s having a pretty good year between this and Think Like A Man Too. Almost makes up from having been killed off on Person of Interest. Almost, because nothing beats a regular TV paycheck during the fall with movies in the summer, which is clearly what she was doing.

DON’T MESS WITH SUCCESS, LIAM
A Walk Among The Tombstones opens at number seven letting Liam Neeson know that if he’s going to be investigating a kidnapping, it had better be of his own family by European gangsters whom he will then all kill. What’s funny is he almost turned this down because he didn’t want to another kidnapping movie…even though he’s currently making Taken 3. Who’s left to be taken!?! Mom? A cousin? A maiden aunt? This however isn’t an action film but a mystery suspense crime drama as he’s an ex-cop now a private detective hired to investigate the apparently kidnapping and murder of the wife of a gangster. I’m a sucker for private eye movies, but this opened on a busy weekend and I had to watch Denzel do what he normally does.

GOING ON RIGHT NOW IN THIS GALAXY RIGHT HERE…
Guardians of the Galaxy is still around and the only funny thing about Chris Pratt’s hosting of Saturday Night Live were the spoofs of it. Especially “Marvel’s Star Wars” which, ironically is what this already has already become.

THE BABARINO EFFECT
Let’s Be Cops is down to number nine having made $80M off a $17M budget. Holy shit. Right now they’re both checking the fine print of their New Girl contracts to see how to get the hell out or at the very least a serious pay raise.

NOT EVERYONE LIKED HAVING THEIR CHILDHOOD TRASHED
Finally Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles closes out the top ten at number ten and don’t believe the hype about its success. Yeah, it’s made $187M domestically (the numbers that really matter) but it cost $125M to make, so profitability is still in the distance.

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HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN

30 Mar

Ashley-Judd-ashley-judd-146503_581_666

1. Noah/Paramount                                       Wknd/$ 44.0      Total/$ 44.0
2. Divergent/LGF                                          Wknd/$ 26.5       Total/$ 95.3
3. Muppets Most Wanted/Disney              Wknd/$ 11.4        Total/$ 33.2
4. Mr. Peabody & Sherman/Fox                 Wknd/$ 9.5         Total/$ 94.9
5. God’s Not Dead/Free                                Wknd/$ 9.1         Total/$ 22.0
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel/Fox             Wknd/$ 8.8        Total/$ 24.5
7. Sabotage/ORF                                            Wknd/$ 5.3        Total/$ 5.3
8. Need for Speed/Touchstone                   Wknd/$ 4.3         Total/$ 37.8
9. 300: Rise of an Empire/Warner            Wknd/$ 4.3         Total/$ 101.1
10. Non-Stop/Universal                               Wknd/$ 4.1         Total/$ 85.2

BASED ON THE “ORIGINAL” BEST SELLER…
Noah opens up at number one and apparently The Bible is big box office these days. Well, maybe when you remake it as ecologically minded disaster porn, which basicall makes this a biblical version of The Day After Tomorrow. And just as we last saw Jesus as a hot surfer dude, Noah’s back as a sexy DILF, played by none other than Russell Crowe who’s gotta be glad this is washing the memory of Winter’s Tale out of people’s minds like the great flood. Needless to say, I had no interest. Not simply because it was a Bible story, because director Darren Aronofsky is using the “good book” merely for source material like any other best seller. In other words: giving it lip service. They even added the disclaimer “inspired by” to make it clear to the bible-thumpers they were not getting their usual handjob of a movie like those that have preceded this one. This is Hollywood, baby. We’re here to put butts in the seats, lifting your wallets, not your spirits. And clearly they’ve done it, but the question is what happens next week when that Christian money is gone, because if you’ve noticed something about these films, they open big because every. single. one. of those goes to see it, but rarely twice and no one else really cares. That’s okay when your movie costs about $10 and your biggest stars are Dean Cain and Kevin Sorbo (more on that later), but this is a $125M film with an Oscar winner who has flat out told you he doesn’t cut his fee for big studio films. It’s gonna have to hang around for a while if you ever want to see another big budget Ten Commandments. My guess? Don’t hold your breath.

THAT MATTHEW MCCONUGHEY ISN’T PLAYING DADS HAS GOT TO HURT
Divergent is down only to number two so we may have actually found our successor to The Hunger Games and while I personally don’t care I’m a little pleased that the trend seems to be female driven. None of the dude-based Young Adult novels have come through onscreen besides Harry Potter. Between Twilight, Hunger Games and now this, it’s clear that women are more likely to turn out to see themselves. And you’ve even got an earlier generation of female lead actresses on-hand to support them as Ashley Judd is here and there was a brief moment in time when her name was above the title and expected to bring people in. Now she’s the mom of the main character. I am so old…

WHAT’S PLURAL FOR JESUS? JESUII?
Muppets Most Wanted is down to number three, followed by Mr. Peabody & Sherman at four and God’s Not Dead at number five and in this are Superman and Hercules, aka Dean Cain and Kevin Sorbo. Somehow it seems appropriate that a pagan Jesus and a pop culture Jesus are in this movie. And given that Dean Cain is a bit of a jerk (we now see that it wasn’t Teri Hatcher but him all this time) there’s schadenfreude that he’s been reduced to doing these kinds of movies. Feel bad for Sorbo, though. Even if he does believe his career has been hurt by being a devout Christian in Hollywood. Yeah, that’s the reason all your co-stars from the show have become such huge stars.

YOU KNOW THEY WANTED THE BEASTIE BOYS SONG
The Grand Budapest Hotel is down to number six with Sabotage opening at number seven and it’s an apt metaphor for Arnold’s attempts to return to movies. He can’t get out of his own way if these are the choices he’s making. First we need to give props to the audacity of the marketing. Rarely has a film been so utterly misrepresented in an attempt to get people into the theater. You think you’re seeing a film about Arnold and his team taking on a drug cartel who are coming after him and his family because they think money was stolen from them? Nope. His wife and family are shown taken (and killed) in the first two minutes then when jump ahead eight months where we see Arnold and his team steal the $10M in a raid where they destroy the rest. The movie is actually a grim drama about the corruption of vengeance with a Hamlet level body count so don’t get too attached to anyone and I mean anyone. But that doesn’t mean it’s any smarter than say Commando. No, Commando looks like it was written by Shakespeare compare to this. It’s stupid beyond measure and lacking the gunfire and explosions you need to forgive it. After the opening raid where the $10M goes missing, the entire DEA team is investigated. One character even asks how the government knew $10M was missing given their mission was to blow it all up and he’s never answered because there is no way they could have known! None! It was a perfect robbery. Then we get to our second bit of stupidity, that the Mexican cartels would be after them for stealing $10M when the team incinerated HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS. Um, wouldn’t they be more pissed about that!?! And once we get into the story of Arnold’s wife and kid being kidnapped and killed we’re asked to believe that they [the cartels] came after them because Arnold’s team arrested a kingpin. Okay, that makes a little sense, but then we see that the cartel had the kingpin assassinated in custody, so why take a DEA agent’s family? And then we’re told body parts were shipped to him weekly? Pretty sure the DEA and the Justice Department along with the military would have unleashed the mother of all retaliations if for no other reason than to let it slide would set a horrible precedent for everyone carrying a badge everywhere. The cherry on top this is when we see part of the video of his wife’s death, the face of the guy who kills his her is easily identified (Arnold finds him relatively easily as well), but the whole of the entire US Justice department couldn’t find him!?! Also when the reasons for who is killing the team one by one (and horribly) is revealed it makes No. Freaking. Sense. At. All. It’s a waste of time, talent (seriously, look at that cast) and your life. No wonder Arnold is doing another Terminator film. He needs it like he needs air if these are the only other options available to him.

RENAME IT QUICK & ANGRY ALREADY
Need For Speed is down to number eight and you think this was a complete flop? Think again. It’s made $130M overseas. Yeah, I can’t believe it either. This actually makes sequels a possibility. Well, they’ve got nowhere to go but up quality-wise and given the bulk of the money came from overseas, expect it to be set there as well. You know, like that franchise it really wants to be.

THE END
300 Rise of an Empire is down to number nine followed by Non Stop closing out the top ten at number ten giving everyone in it one in the “win” column and Liam Neeson showing exactly how a 60-something has an action career. Paying attention, Arnold?

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THIS! IS! CRAP!

9 Mar

300

 1. 300: Rise of an Empire/Warner            Wknd/$  45.1            Total/$  45.1

 2. Mr. Peabody & Sherman/Fox                Wknd/$  32.5            Total/$  32.5

 3. Non-Stop/Universal                                 Wknd/$  15.4            Total/$  52.1

 4. The LEGO Movie/WB                             Wknd/$   11.0            Total/$ 225.0

 5. Son of God/Fox                                         Wknd/$  10.0            Total/$  41.5

 6. The Monuments Men/Sony                    Wknd/$    3.1            Total/$   70.6

 7. 3 Days To Kill/Relativity                          Wknd/$    3.1            Total/$   25.6 6.

 8. Frozen/Disney                                           Wknd/$    3.0            Total/$ 393.1

 9. 12 Years A Slave/FoxSearchlight            Wknd/$    2.2            Total/$   53.1

10. Ride Along/Universal                               Wknd/$    4.7            Total/$  123.2

 

IF THIS WERE A ROCK STAR IT’D BE DAVID COVERDALE

300: Rise of an Empire opens at number one and before seeing this, 21st Century Movie Buddy and I had a few drinks.  Now, when I say “before” I mean I smuggled a 32 oz container of hard cider with a few shots of whiskey in it into the theater. That 32 ounces was not enough tells you all you need to know. 300 was not a good movie, but it was at least fun to watch and not boring. In addition to not being good, this is not fun to watch and is mostly boring; the trifecta of suck.  In a weird way this almost validates crap filmmakers like Michael Bay and Zack Synder much in the same way the $50M attempted makeover of Jessica Simpson into a dance pop princess validated Brittney Spears: it’s harder than it looks (it ended Tommy Mottola’s tenure at Sony). No, it’s not art but some kind of effective skill is clearly needed.  Needless to say director Noam Murro lacks these skills. Yes, he’s hobbled by Zack Synder still writing and producing, but his previous effort was a talking head movie with Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid called Smart People and that wasn’t much good either, so his skills are questionable in any arena.  In actual history while Leonidas and the 300 (not to mention twice the number of slaves and additional Greeks, so the number was closer to 5,000) were fighting on land, there was another war being waged at sea by Themistocles, which he won. While Athens itself actually burned, the people themselves had been evacuated, the culture survived and the Persians were finally stopped a year later in the battle that’s about to start at the end of 300. This was supposedly going to be that story…except it’s not.  It’s so desperate to tie itself to 300, it forgets to be its own film (they even open like the first with a narration telling you that the hero of the story is the person who partially caused the trouble and it is equally erroneous).  Basically every actor from 300 they could get to make an appearance is here. Xerxes, the queen, the guy who was sent back, the emissary who was thrown into the pit, even the hunchback.  Sadly, all played by the original actors whom you think would have moved on to better things and been able to say no. Even Lena Headey who has enjoyed a bump thanks to Game of Thrones is here (then again, she’s in the middle of a messy divorce and probably needed the cash).  Even the physiques of the male actors, for which the first film is most famous, is inferior. They couldn’t even get a trainer as good as the first. Now that’s just sad.

 

THIS TRICK NEVER WORKS

Mr. Peabody and Sherman opens at number two and while I hold a special place in my heart for these characters and was considering seeing it I ultimately gave it a pass because as part of the Jay Ward universe of Rocky & Bullwinkle and George of the Jungle the heart of the humor was the self-aware satire.  They mocked their cheap animation as world much as they were part of it.  This a $145M CGI feature. Not much to mock there.  Well, actually there’s a lot to mock about spending $145M on a near 50-year-old cartoon that wasn’t even title character (it was part of The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show), but the trailer shows they aren’t even trying. This kind of misses the point to me, but I will watch when it shows up on cable next year.

 

BABY, SHE’S A STAR

Non Stop is down to number three and shouldn’t they be broadcasting that it also stars Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o?  Strike the iron while it’s hot, kids. In fact, between Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Lupita, there’s a boatload of all kinds of nominations and awards…and more people will see this than any of those films that earned them.  Same for Liam Neeson’s other film on this top ten, The Lego Movie, now down to number four. Real talk.

 

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL

Son of God is down to number five, followed by The Monuments Men at number six and Three Days to Kill at number seven and also in this is Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld who is learning as Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore have that nominations are nice, but they pay for jack shit.  Gotta do the popcorn movies too. Though hopefully better ones than this. Liam Neeson will always need someone to play his kids that are threatened so he can whoop some ass.

 

LEMONS FROM LEMONADE

Surprisingly Frozen got no Oscar bump from wining Best Animated Film. I’m sure the fact that the Academy utterly screwed up Idina Menzel’s performance didn’t help her.  Not only did they rush her, but also a verse was clearly cut.  The Roots did better with children’s instruments on The Tonight Show. Fortunately for her that was all overlooked thanks to John Travolta screwing up her name, which actually put her name on everyone’s lips the next day.

 

LIKE A WELL-MADE VEGETARIAN DISH; GOOD FOR YOU TO EAT, BUT YOU ‘D PREFER NOT TO MAKE A HABIT OF IT

12 Years a Slave did get a bounce for its Oscar wins back into the top ten at number nine. Now I said when it came out this was the type of film I’d probably see only if it got Oscars nominations and even then only on the day of.  That’s how I did Schindler’s List and this was the same. It’s good. It’s very good, but it’s difficult to watch for reasons you might expect. Accurate depictions of slave conditions will never be G-rated or for the weak of stomach and sadly, many of the things that transpire were taken directly from the book written by Solomon Northrup. I can’t really fault anyone for wanting to take a pass for that very reason, though like Schindler’s List when it’ s this good it’s something you need to do…and then you have a built-in excuse not to see any others.

 

MUCH LIKE THAT COFFEE, PEOPLE COMPLAIN, BUT THEY KEEP BUYING

Finally, Ride Along hangs on like a freaking barnacle. I blame the endless winter.  Cabin fever forces people to leave their homes, but the cold means they have to find another place to keep warm.  And it’s cheaper than Starbucks.

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