Tag Archives: Man of Steel

GIRL YOU’LL BE A WOMAN…ONE DAY

20 Apr

blackwidows 1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier        Wknd/$ 26.6     Total/$ 201.5
2. Rio 2/Fox                                                         Wknd/$ 22.5     Total/$ 75.4
3. Heaven is for Real/TriStar                           Wknd/$ 21. 5     Total/$ 28.5
4. Transendence/Warners                                Wknd/$ 11.2      Total/$ 11.2
5. A Haunted House 2/ORF                             Wknd/$ 9.1        Total/$ 9.1
6. Draft Day/LG                                                  Wknd/$ 5.9        Total/$ 19.5
7. Divergent/LGF                                                Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 133.9
8. Oculus/Relativity                                           Wknd/$ 5.2        Total/$ 21.0
9. Noah/Paramount                                           Wknd/$ 5.0        Total/$ 93.3
10. God’s Not Dead/Free                                   Wknd/$ 4.8       Total/$ 48.3

THERE’S JUST NO PLEASING A GEEK
Captain America: The Winter Soldier holds onto the number one slot for the third week, which is great for me because I’m a Cap fan, but sad for me because I think this success should have been for a better Cap movie. I’m also not thrilled that this cements Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. Yeah, I know this is the third time she’s played the role, but she’s still horribly miscast. The Black Widow is a woman, not a girl and even though she’s 30 now, ScarJo (as she hates to be called) still looks like a girl and I’m supposed to buy her as the best spy in the world (which is what she’s referred to in the comics). It’s still painful to think that Emily Blunt was in consideration for this role and we got stuck with someone who was cast for obvious reasons (blonde hair, boobs). It’s not to say she doesn’t make a decent sidekick. She is and gets some great lines, most of them at the expense of Captain America whom she gently teases throughout the film, but she’s just not The Black Widow as shown in Marvel Comics for the last 50 years. Now, if they made her the character in the comics who was the successor to The Black Widow, using her name and who was in fact a young blonde, the angrygeek in me would be fine with that. But they didn’t so I’m not. Grrrrrrr….

GET IT?
Rio 2 holds at number two and it’s still too little too late for me to see or care about it.

GUESS WHO MISSES THE FIRST DECADE OF THIS CENTURY?
It’s somehow fitting that Heaven is For Real is opening at number three in front of Transcendence at number four because “transcendence” is achieving at type of heaven, no? The former is just the latest in a stream of Christian movies that its target audience is only too happy to turn out and support, turning a profit almost immediately in defiance of all reviews. What’s surprising is that Greg Kinnear is in this one, as these movies are usually for no-name actors or those who need work and are in no position to be picky. While Kinnear is far from his glory days as an Oscar nominee (utterly undeserved for his stereotypical portrayal of a gay man) he still manages to be enough of a name to get cast as a male lead in A-list films and on television. How is a mystery, given he hasn’t be in a hit since Baby Mama which was a Tina Fey/Amy Poelher success. He was just the guy lucky enough to be in it. Yeah, he was in Anchorman 2, but no one saw it for him. Same for this film. It’s a success, but he has nothing to do with it. The failure of Rake is closer to reality. It’s also becoming a reality for Johnny Depp who hasn’t had a hit without special effects, Tim Burton or a pirate hat since Finding Neverland in ’04 and now even with special effects (The Lone Ranger and this) and Tim Burton (Dark Shadows) it’s slim pickings so look for him to put that pirate hat back on in the next 15-20 minutes. In fact, he’s the main reason I didn’t bother seeing this. I likes me some science fiction and have no problem the trope of the scientist who loses his humanity when he achieves some degree of omnipotence of omniscience, so I was ripe for this. Honestly, it’s the casting of Johnny Depp that put me off. I have such a dislike of him that even with commercials every day I still didn’t remember it opened this weekend. It seems many people felt the same. I, for one, have been insisting for years that the Emperor of Cool has no clothes but now that he’s openly the pathetic stereotype of a middle-aged man, hooked up with a 20-something former model now actress (who was gay before Depp, so make of that what you will), others are seeing it as well. Such a shame too, as there’s no shortage of good actors I do like in it from crusty old Morgan Freeman to relatively fresh and new Kate Mara and people like Paul Bettany, Cole Hauser (how is this man not as star) and Cillian Murphy in between.

SEIZING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION
A Haunted House 2 opens at number five and this is the franchise that spun out of the Scary Movie franchise when the Wayans family realized that even though they launched it, they didn’t own it and decided to just make their own and keep all the money. And given the first Haunted House basically went head-to-head with Scary Movie 5 and made about the same but at literally 1/10 the cost, I’d say it was a wise decision. Releasing this in April rather than October? Now that decision I question. But it only cost $4M and already made $9M so clearly the Wayans family knows more than I do.

SUPERMAN FAMILY
Draft Day is down to number six and also in this is none other than Tom Welling, who played Clark Kent on the show Smallville, not to mention Frank Langella who played Perry White in Superman Returns. I like to think they both looked at Costner with pity for being in Man of Steel. And all three of them looked at Jennifer Garner with pity for being in Daredevil and Elektra.

YOU AIN’T JENNIFER LAWRENCE YET, GIRL
Divergent is down to number seven and even with a $200M+ worldwide box office, this isn’t a rock solid franchise success, given it had an $85M budget. Even by conservative estimates, it’s gonna have to hit at least $255M, which seems less and less likely as we approach the summer releases.

GOD COULD MAKE IT RAIN ON THE BOX OFFICE JUST A BIT MORE
Oculus is down to number eight and it’s already turned a profit so the producers could care less as they prep Oculus 2, while Noah—down to nine—faces the same issue as Divergent in that it cost so much, it’s$290M box office still isn’t enough to be profitable.

NO, BUT THIS FINALLY IS
Finally God’s Not Dead closes out this very Christian friendly top ten.

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THE SPRING CIVILIAN

6 Apr

gods

 

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier            Wknd/$ 96.0            Total/$ 96.2

2. Noah/Paramount                                               Wknd/$ 17.0            Total/$ 72.3

3. Divergent/LGF                                                   Wknd/$ 13.0            Total/$ 114.3

4. God’s Not Dead/Free                                        Wknd/$   7.7             Total/$ 32.5

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel/Fox                     Wknd/$   6.3            Total/$ 33.4

6. Muppets Most Wanted/Disney                      Wknd/$   6.3            Total/$ 42.1

7. Mr. Peabody & Sherman/Fox                         Wknd/$   5.3            Total/$ 102.2

8. Sabotage/ORF                                                   Wknd/$   1.9             Total/$   8.8

9. Need for Speed/Touchstone                           Wknd/$   1.8            Total/$ 40.8

10. Non-Stop/Universal                                       Wknd/$   1.8            Total/$ 88.1

 

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Buckle up for this one, kids, because Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened at number one and Cap is a character near and dear to my heart, so I’ve got a few things to say about it. First of all, take all the great things you’ve heard and bring it down a notch. It’s not bad but it is definitely not amazing and is only just a tad smarter than your average dumb action movie. And even while its attempt for relevancy by having the debate over a surveillance state at the center of the film isn’t totally bungled, the rationalization for evil acts the for greater were argued better at the end of Good Guys Wear Black with Chuck Norris. I think that says it all when you’re not as smart as a Chuck Norris flick. The Winter Solider is one of most famous and successful storylines of the Captain America comic, but the only thing this really has in common with it is the use of the titular character, The Winter Solider (whose identity is probably known by now, but just in case I’m not going to spoil it). In the comic, The Winter Soldier is an infamous assassin used by The Red Skull as he tries to take over America from within by sowing discord and putting forth a puppet candidate for president to take advantage of it. This movie is about Captain America discovering the omnipresent SHIELD isn’t what he thought it was and the Winter Soldier plays a part in this, starting with him trying to kill Nick Fury. One of the issues he faces is a secret plan to basically monitor the world and possibly kill people just for being a potential threat. Needless to say, he’s got a problem with this, but the debates about this are laughable in their lack of any real communication or exchange of viewpoints (Samuel L. Jackson sounds so bored you half expect to see a book in his hands). It’s just “This is bad” followed by “Well, you did bad stuff too.” No one is capable of seeing the advantages of something they don’t like but still convincingly argue their points. You really shouldn’t go into the deep water if you can’t swim, guys. You’d think the first thing Nick Fury would say to Cap would be “What if someone had taken Hitler out at the beginning?” But he can’t because that would required acknowledging the horrible things Hitler did, meaning The Holocaust and like the first one this refuses to do just that, no matter how often they reference Nazi Germany. On the upside, they maintain the Marvel standard of having a solid sense of humor, much of it at the expense of Captain America (the first line from The Black Widow when she shows up to pick up Cap is “Can you tell me the way to The Smithsonian? I’m looking for a fossil.”) Also the action scenes are good, especially the hand-to-and fighting, though it comes off a little unfair, because Captain America in the movies has super-speed and strength, which he doesn’t in the comics. Until he takes on the Winter Soldier who has a robot arm, it’s not really a fair fight as he beats up guys who stand no chance against him. Overall it’s still one of the better Marvel movies and does a much better job of conveying that Captain America is just one of those people who instantly inspires confidence and leadership than the first. But remember its competition consists of the “not bad” Thor movies, the “not awful” Incredible Hulk, a surprisingly lackluster Avengers, two good Iron Man movies and one godawful one.

 

MY KID COULD BEAT YOUR KID

Noah is down to number two and speaking of superheroes this contains a triumvirate of onscreen superhero dads in Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Nick Nolte who were the fathers of Superman, Thor and The Incredible Hulk, respectively. Do you think they talked about what constituted an easy paycheck? Anthony Hopkins wins because he still picks up one every few years, while the other two died onscreen so it was a one time deal.

 

WAKE UP MAGGIE, I THINK I’VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY TO YOU…

Divergent is down to number three and also in this is Maggie Q which reminds me that I still need to watch the final two seasons of Nikita. Or do I? Maybe it says something that I never went back? Then again I’ve got all of The Good Wife on my DVR and I know I like that. Am I really too lazy to watch TV? But back to Maggie Q. I don’t know anything about her character here or whether or not she’ll be in the sequels, but she needed to be in a hit. She comes from Hong Kong action movie like Michelle Yeoh, but like Michele Yeoh found out quickly the only roles really available in Hollywood are “hot good Asian female” or “hot bad Asian female” (which she played in Live Free or Die Hard). Michelle Yeoh just went home where she could still be a star and even produce her own stuff. Maybe Maggie will do a little better…but I doubt it.

 

IT’S NOT LIKE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW IT ENDS

God is Dead actually rises to number four, which is impressive. I guess not doing a “period” religious movie is what these people want more that simply seeing Jesus die for them…again.

 

THEY’RE ALSO USUALLY UGLY

The Grand Budapest Hotel rises to number four and you know why? Because it was all your pretentious, pseudo-intellectual friends going so they could feel superior all the people who went to see Captain America because they’d never deign to see “a comic book movie.” Basically they’re all that asshole in Annie Hall in the movie line.

 

TELL ME HOW THAT MAKES YOU FEEL…OR I WILL CRUSH YOU!

Muppets Most Wanted is down to number six followed by Mr. Peabody & Sherman at number seven and because it’s all geek references this week, Ty Burrell who is in both was in The Incredible Hulk as Dr. Samson who in the comics gets infused with The Hulk’s blood and becomes the world’s most powerful…psychiatrist. You think I’m kidding. I am not.

 

YOU KNOW IT’S WHAT I THINK THAT REALLY MATTERS, RIGHT?

Sabotage is down to number eight and given this is the worst opening of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie since he became a star you’d think he’d be banging on the doors at Disney and Fox and Sony trying to get into a comic book movie as he’s basically been an onscreen comic book character in everything he’s ever done (Conan was a pulp novel before he was a comic book character so he doesn’t count). Also in this is Joe Manganiello who looks like a comic book character, ridiculous with muscles and towering over Arnold. He was actually up for the odious Man of Steel and while I think it’s better for him, he’s closer to how I think Superman should be.

 

IRON DADDY!

Need for Speed is still hanging around at number nine and also in this is Dominic Cooper who was Iron Man’s dad in the first Captain America movie. His role was also played by John Slattery in Iron Man 2 and you think they’re hoping for some flashbacks so they too can get on the “easy paycheck” bandwagon like Anthony Hopkins? Me too.

 

BAT DADDY!

Finally, Non-Stop closes out the top ten again at number ten. You think there’s no geek film connection here? Think again. Also in this is Linus Roache who played Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins. Yeah. Who’s your geek daddy now!?!

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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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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!

CLARK KENT’S MOM HAS GOT IT GOING ON…

7 Jul

mrskent

 1. Despicable Me 2/Universal                    Wknd/$  82.5            Total/$ 142.1

 2. The Lone Ranger/Disney                        Wknd/$  29.4            Total/$  48.9

 3. The Heat/Fox                                            Wknd/$  25.0            Total/$  86.4

 4. Monsters University/Disney                   Wknd/$  19.6            Total/$ 216.1

 5. World War Z/Paramount                        Wknd/$  18.2            Total/$ 158.8

 6. White House Down/Sony                        Wknd/$  13.5            Total/$  50.5

 7. Man of Steel/Warners                               Wknd/$  11.4            Total/$ 271.2

 8. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain/LGF           Wknd/$  10.0            Total/$  17.5

 9. This Is The End/Sony                                Wknd/$   5.8             Total/$  85.6

10. Now You See Me/LGF                              Wknd/$   2.8             Total/$ 110.4

 

SHOULDN’T THIS STAR DAFFY DUCK?

Despicable Me 2 opens at number one and I didn’t care too much for the first one, finding it more style than substance and was going to give this one a pass as a result.  Then I saw that damn commercial with the minions as the Village People doing “YMCA.”  Everyone who came up with that gets a raise because if it got even me into the theater I don’t want to think about how many others followed suit.  Of course that wound up being one of the high points of the movie as this suffers from all the flaws of the first, thinking a few cute jokes and nice style makes up for a complete and utter lack of depth for the characters.  This is why Pixar continues to leave all its competitors in the dust as despite all the cute animation all their films are nothing but character driven. Strip away the fantastic and Monsters University is about two college freshmen.  Strip away the fantastic and Brave is about a mother and daughter.  Strip away the fantastic and Finding Nemo is about a father and son.  What is Despicable Me 2 without the fantastic?  It doesn’t exist.  This time around Gru is a devoted single father having given up super-villainy to start a jam and jelly business and occasionally fending off being set up by other moms in the neighborhood.  He’s approached by The Anti-Villain League to help them catch a new an unknown supervillain and after initially refusing, is prompted to take the job after his head scientist quits because he misses being a bad guy (and hates making jelly) leaving Gru at loose ends.  There’s so much here to play with and all of it goes unused.  That Gru is an eligible bachelor as a single dad is just used for cheap jokes about blowing off the woman trying to set him up and her bad choices.  That Anti-Villain League was nowhere to be seen when Gru was stealing the moon is never broached though it would be funny to point out that super-villains in fact do outmatch the heroes simply by virtue of numbers.  The girls have no personalities other than cute youngest, tomboy middle, and smart eldest. How do you know she’s smart? Because she wears glasses, duh. Not because of anything she actually does. Just when the film looks like it might go somewhere when she discovers boys, it’s only for the blandest type of sitcom humor.  The minions are wisely used to sell this movie because they are the only things worth watching.  Like the penguins in the otherwise mediocre Madagascar movies, they are a jolt of refreshing, anarchistic fun that keeps the film from dying on the table.

 

MOCK WITH US NOW THOSE THRILLING DAYS OF YESTERYEAR

Opening at number two is The Lone Ranger which had disaster written all over it the moment Johnny Depp’s name came up as Tonto and it doesn’t disappoint in being disappointing.  This is one of those movies that makes so many wrong choices you can’t believe no one noticed while they were filming it.  You can’t believe anyone saw this script and EVER thought it was a good idea. I’m assuming there was a script because if we found out there really wasn’t one it actually would explain a lot. The film’s biggest mistake is assuming that we want to laugh at the very idea of The Lone Ranger, that he’s too much of an anachronistic stiff to ever be taken seriously, therefore he must be mocked. He’s basically played as an idiot for most of the movie, starting off with the first scene where he’s basically Jimmy Stewart in the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, as a tenderfoot lawyer returning to Texas from the east and he just happens to be on the same train where Butch Cavendish is being transported to be hanged. Next to Cavendish? Johnny Depp camping it up as Tonto. Their first meeting as a result of Cavendish’s escape is the first big action scene and is needless drawn out and utterly uninteresting. It’s downhill from there starting with an odd love triangle involving his soon-to-be departed brother and sister-in-law (we learn from Tonto that this time around “Kemo sabe” means wrong brother as the brother who dies is an ass-kicking Texas Ranger) that amounts to nothing. I mean you can’t have a love triangle if one of them is dead in the first act.  It’s so boring it’s boring me to even try and re-account it and I’m questioning wasting yet another second on a movie that already stole 2+ hours from my life. Basically nothing works. Not the script, not the directing, not the acting not even the too little, too late use of “The William Tell Overture.” Somewhere, Klinton Spilsbury whose career crashed and burned in the last attempt at a big screen Lone Ranger movie feels a sense of redemption.

 

BECAUSE PIXAR IS TOO CLASSY TO TELL YOU

The Heat is down to three followed by Monsters at number four and along for the ride this time doing voices are Helen Mirren, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Dave Foley, Sean Hayes, Bonnie Hunt, John Krasinski, Bill Hader Bobby Moynihan, Charlie Day and of course Pixar mainstay, John Ratzenberger who returns as the Yeti.

 

WAR IS UGLY, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE

World War Z is down to number five and also in this as the cute Israeli soldier who becomes Brad Pitt’s badass sidekick is Daniella Kertesz who is actually Israeli, meaning at one point she actually was a soldier as service is mandatory. So anyone who tells you that no soldiers look like this doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

 

SECRET SERVICE SCREENINGS NEED WORK

White House Down drops to number six and also in this is James Woods as the traitorous Secret Service Agent about to retire.  Not to be confused with Dylan McDermott from Olympus Has Fallen as the traitorous already retired Secret Service Agent.  Both oddly love their country so much they betray it to start World War III.  Not sure how that works, but at least James Woods’ character has the virtue of a brain tumor to explain why his logic centers aren’t working.  Woods is doing it because of a Middle East Peace treaty he hates.  Dylan McDermott was doing it because no bankers went to jail during the financial crisis. No, I’m not kidding.

 

“CLARK KENT’S MOM HAS GOT IT GOING ON…”

Man of Steel is down to number seven and also in this is Diane Lane as Martha Kent and while she has a very nice moment with Clark as a young boy helping him to navigate his powers by virtue of her love, she spends the rest of the film in lousy old age makeup begging the question, why the hell did you hire Diane Lane to begin with if you were going to do that to her!?!  She’s 18 years older than Henry Caville.  That’s old enough to be his mother without needing to tip the scales with crummy make up.  Again, it’s not just that it was old age makeup, but that it was crummy old age makeup.  Annette O’Toole was perfectly fine (literally) as being Clark Kent’s severely hot mom on Smallville untouched by the makeup artist’s brush.

 

HOW MANY SIZE JOKES ABOUT HIM CAN I MAKE?

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain opens well (relatively speaking) at number eight and this is when you know you’re one of the “comics of the moment.”  You get a concert film.  The irony here is, if you’re really, really white hot, you actually get an HBO special. More people will actually see you on cable than will actually go to a movie.  So yes, while he has a show on BET and has hosted Saturday Night Live, Kevin Hart isn’t big enough for HBO.  The greater irony is that I won’t see this until it’s on cable, because while I do like Kevin Hart, I’m not making a trip to the movies to see him. Not to mention a little goes a long way with him.  Being short, funny and borderline annoying, he was born to be the wacky sidekick in a movie.

 

THE END

This Is The End is down to number nine, followed by Now You See Me closing out the top ten at number ten.

IT’S FALLEN AND CAN’T GET UP

30 Jun

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 1. Monsters University/Disney           Wknd/$  46.2            Total/$ 171.0

 2. The Heat/Fox                                     Wknd/$  40.0           Total/$  40.0

 3. World War Z/Paramount                Wknd/$  29.8            Total/$ 123.7

 4. White House Down/Sony                Wknd/$  25.7            Total/$  25.7

 5. Man of Steel/Warners                       Wknd/$  20.8           Total/$ 248.7

 6. This Is The End/Sony                       Wknd/$   8.7             Total/$  74.7

 7. Now You See Me/LGF                       Wknd/$   5.5             Total/$ 104.7

 8. Fast & Furious 6/Universal              Wknd/$   2.4            Total/$ 233.3

 9. Star Trek Into Darkness/Par            Wknd/$   3.0            Total/$ 216.6

10. The Internship/Fox                           Wknd?$   1.4             Total/$  41.7

 

IT’LL BE DIFFERENT EXCEPT WHEN IT’S THE SAME

Monsters University holds onto the number one slot and Pixar announced that their new strategy is one year an original film, then the following year a sequel to an original film and so on and so on.  So yeah, the golden age of Pixar pretty much ended how it started: with Toy Story. Number one kicked it off and number three was its beautiful closer. Since then it’s been lesser efforts (Brave) and sequels like Cars 2 and this one, which honestly I prefer to the original, but that’s only because Monsters, Inc. wasn’t one of their A-list films to begin with.  I won’t lie: I’m dying to see Finding Dorry, but I could have lived with just Finding Nemo, which is my absolute favorite Pixar film and proof that not including animated features in the Best Picture category at the Oscars is just Hollywood protecting its own ass, because Pixar would have owned it for years.  No one and I mean not even Pixar itself was hot on a Cars sequel, but the merchandising just made so much money they basically had to, which is sad and that was the beginning of the end. Again, I’ll see an Incredibles sequel, but Ratatouille 2: This Time It’s Roaches is going to have a hard time finding an audience.

 

GLORIA STEINEM WILL UNDERSTAND

The Heat opens strong at number two and while the feminist in me is delighted to see a female led film doing well in the summer where dudes are failing (yes, I’m still laughing at the failure of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) I personally gave it a pass, because I so hated the original, unfunny trailers even though the final batch of commercials contained some genuinely funny moments. Too little, too late.  Oh, and I don’t like Sandra Bullock to begin with so there was that hurdle to overcome and they didn’t get it done.

 

SORRY, GEORGE A. ROMERO, BUT THAT’S HOW I FEEL

World War Z is down to number three and one of my all time favorite science fiction films is The Andromeda Strain, which is basically about scientists trying to fight an alien invasion…of a virus.  Yep, no ships or monsters, just virus from space that wipes out a small town leaving only an infant and an old man alive and they race against the clock to find out how to beat it.  This is why I enjoyed World War Z because it is to zombie movies what that was to alien invasion movies.  I don’t want to call it a “thinking man’s” zombie movie, because it’s still plenty dumb (civilization is collapsing but somehow everyone still has power) but it’s not your typical game of “10 Little Indians” with zombies picking off a group of people one by one.  Ironically, I could still give a crap about The Walking Dead.

 

YEP, IT’S DOWN AGAIN

White House Down opens at a disappointing number three and I honestly don’t understand why. It’s no worse than your average Hollywood action film and certainly better than anything Michael Bay does, not to mention the latest Die Hard movie.  Of course we have to compare this to Olympus Has Fallen, the first “Die Hard In The White House” movie released earlier this year.  It’s better in some ways and worse in others.  Better because the villain is not some evil minority from a nation we could defeat in our sleep and that we’re mercifully spared having to watch the hero’s backstory. Worse in that even without having to watch the hero’s backstory it’s still over two hours long and Roland Emmerich is a shitty director, while Antoine Fuqua knows how to make an action flick.  This follows the Die Hard formula more closely in that Channing Tatum has a woman in his life that he needs to please then save. In this case it’s his 11-year-old daughter, who just so happens to be a political—and specifically Executive Office and very specifically this president—junkie.  The president is played by Jamie Foxx who is still…Jamie Foxx and while you could buy Aaron Eckhart being the president, Jamie Foxx is something else again. Also the president’s son plot line in Olympus Has Fallen was so useless you wonder why it was even there. Here Channing Tatum’s daughter is a vital part of the story for better or worse.  It’s a matter of personal taste whether or not the relatively bloodless carnage of White House Down is better than the full on R-rated violence of Olympus Has Fallen.  I’m good either way, but I’m pretty sure when this kind of thing happens there’s a lot more cursing.  There are also fewer wasted actors here. While you know Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, etc all could and should be doing better things than Olympus Has Fallen, but with the exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal you know pretty much everyone else here is right where they belong.  The stories are basically the same: bad guys take the White House with some help from within (apparently no one retires gracefully from the Secret Service) with stupefying ease, the president get lectured how he’s actually betrayed the nation and the ex-solider now a cop in DC is the rogue element who steps in to save the day.  Channing Tatum is much more appealing as the younger man trying to save his daughter than Gerard Butler was as the older man looking for redemption.  Also, it’s a buddy film so he doesn’t have to carry the full weight on his shoulders. It works for me because a little Jamie Foxx goes a long way. Plus, as president he has to play the straight man so he’s less Jamie Foxx than usual (in case you haven’t guessed I’m not a fan).  Both films are ridiculous and require massive suspensions of disbelief (one wants you to believe you could take the White House without an army while the other wants you to believe that one was imported from Korea without being noticed), but White House Down, coming from the man who brought you Independence Day of course has to kick it up to 11 with a high speed chase. On the White House Lawn.  In circles around the fountain.  Yeah. That pretty much sums this movie up.

 

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME…

Man of Steel, which is down to number five this week is like World War Z in that the only thing this it has in common with the source material is the name.  The difference being if they’d called World War Z something else it would still be a decent movie, but even if you’d called Man of Steel  “Ultraman” or “Stupendousman” it would still be a bad movie. It’s not just a failure to understand the source material, it’s just a flat out bad execution. The film is overlong, joyless and ends in an orgy of CGI for the sake of it and not much else.  Yes, I’m going to rip on it until it goes away because so long as this damn movie is in the top ten I’m unable to wear any of my 20 Superman T-shirts because if I do I’ll have to talk about it to strangers every time I go out! Seriously, you’d think I was the first person they’d ever seen in a Superman t-shirt.

 

YOU TOO, CHELSEA HANDLER!

This Is The End is down to number six and looking at this and seeing all the cast members is like a party of all the coolest kids in high school, so if you’re not in it, then you’re nobody.  In this case the high school is the world of comedy, so take a hint, Whitney Cummings.

 

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Now You See Me is down to number seven with Fast & The Furious 6 still here at number eight and with us for the last time is Sung Kang, as Han Seoul-Oh. Seriously, that’s his name.  If you stick around after the credits the final scene is his demise in Tokyo Drift setting up the next film with a surprise guest star who is no stranger to movies about cars. Yes, that means. Fast & The Furious 4, 5 and 6 ALL took place before number three.  And now Vin Diesel’s appearance at the end of Tokyo Drift now will formally tie into 7.  The only question is will the stars of Tokyo Drift now finally be able to tap into some of this F&F sequel money?  Apparently Lil Bow Wow needs a check from what I hear?

 

SPACE ADVENTURE II: THE RETRIBUTION OF BAHN

Star Trek Into Darkness is down to number nine so let’s go through the numbers. It had a $190M budget and the basic rule of thumb is that due to marketing costs you need to make twice your budget to break even and 3x your budget to turn a profit theatrically.  It’s hit $438M worldwide so breaking even is assured, but it’s not even going to come close to the $570M needed to turn a profit theatrically.  That will probably come from Pay-per-view and DVD sales.  The only upside here is JJ Abrams is now gone to screw up Star Wars so maybe the next Star Trek movie might actually be a Star Trek. As it stands if you called these movies “Space Adventure” they wouldn’t be awful, but they are failures as Star Trek films.

 

THE SCHADENFREUDE

Finally, The Internship closes out the top ten at number ten and yes, I’m still laughing at its abject failure.

MONSTERS VS. MONSTERS

23 Jun

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1. Monsters University/Disney                    Wknd/$  82.0           Total/$  82.0

 2. World War Z/Paramount                        Wknd/$  66.0           Total/$  66.0

 3. Man of Steel/Warners                              Wknd/$  41.1            Total/$ 210.0

 4. This Is The End/Sony                               Wknd/$  13.9           Total/$  57.8

 5. Now You See Me/LGF                              Wknd/$   7.9            Total/$  94.5

 6. Fast & Furious 6/Universal                     Wknd/$   4.7            Total/$228.4

 7. The Internship/Fox                                   Wknd?$   3.4            Total/$  38.4

 8. The Purge/Universal                                 Wknd/$   3.4            Total/$  59.4

 9. Star Trek Into Darkness/Par                   Wknd/$   3.0            Total/$ 216.6

10. Iron Man 3/Paramount                           Wknd/$   2.9            Total/$ 399.6

 

MEH UNIVERSITY

Monsters University opens at number one to no one’s surprise because even the odious Cars and Cars 2 opened at number one.  Not even Superman can stand against the might of Pixar.  Now for me Monsters, Inc was something that should have been great short film (there really are monsters in your closet, but they’re not here to hurt you) but was stretched out into a mildly entertaining movie with pretty much a rock solid ending that honestly left no where to go.  They seemed to have realized this which is why they went with a prequel, answering questions no one really asked about Mike and Sully.  This actually contradicts Sully’s line in Monsters Inc about knowing Mike in the 4th grade as they meet here in college.  Sully is a lackluster student due to his family name and innate “scaring” skill while Mike is a perfect student, but honestly not being even remotely scary to anyone and they clash almost immediately.  Their rivalry gets them both kicked out of the “Scaring Program” so they have to join forces and also a frat of underachievers to prove themselves to get back in. Wait. Did I just describe the plot of Revenge of the Nerds?  It’s not Pixar on the level of Toy Story, Wall-E, Up, Finding Nemo or The Incredibles, but more Pixar on the level of A Bug’s Life (which I love) Brave and Ratatouille.  Better than pretty much all other computer animate films, but paling in comparison to their best.  That’s it’s a sequel is no excuse as the Toy Story films got better with each installment, so I was a bit disappointed they didn’t up their game with the inventiveness of their humor.  At its best Pixar works on many levels, from childlike humor to elements that have the adults in the audience trying to explain to their children why mommy and daddy are crying. None of that is present here.  The laughs are simple but effective as is the message (believe in yourself).  There’s no human element this time, but honestly I preferred it.  Boo was a little too cute at times.  Besides the emotions of the monsters are human enough.

 

THE REAL MONSTER IS MAN’S INHUMANITY TO MAN…OR SOMETHING

World War Z opens well at number two which is ironic even this apocalyptic film had a buzz of certain disaster written all over it, from rewrites to reshoots to Brad Pitt allegedly not speaking to the director.  I enjoyed it, but I never read the book, so I had no outrage ready and waiting in the chamber primed to fire.  Also, the trailers were well cut in my opinion selling the movie not so much as being about zombies as the world coming to an end because of a plague and a handsome brave scientist was out to stop it (for a movie about zombies, shots of them were conspicuously missing from the trailer).  That worked for me, he who has no interest in zombies or horror.  Well, I was right for the most part.  Brad Pitt is actually a former operative of sorts for the United Nations, not a scientist.  He’s so good he’s the first person the secretary general apparently calls when zombies overrun Manhattan. Though in his defense, when Pitt witnesses his first zombie attack he instinctively counts how long it takes for an infection to turn someone, which is something I’d be too busy stepping over the guy in front of me to do. While Brad Pitt then refusing to help stop the apocalypse makes no sense (the line where the general tells him his family is going to die too is missing from the film) the reaction of “Well, then we’re kicking you and your family to the curb. Good luck with those zombies” sure as hell does. Needless to say Pitt’s then off to South Korea with a team of NAVY Seals and an actual brave young scientist—who accidentally shoots himself in the head when zombies attack.  Now it’s up to Brad Pitt to take what little info the scientist gave him to find a cure. Along the way we find out North Korea solved the zombie problem by yanking the teeth out of all 23 million people. Damn. We also find out that Israel was so prepared for this they built a wall…but oddly never noticed that zombies were attracted by noise. They find this out the hard way, but not before Brad Pitt gains the cutest female Israeli soldier ever as his sidekick and they’re off to their next stop.  WWZ works because it realizes what the best monster movies always realize: the monster represents something else. It’s not just a creature for the sake of a creature.  Either it’s greed, rage, pollution, etc. Here it spreads from disease and neglect and poverty and is beaten by multi-national cooperation.  So you can guess what the monster is. The president of the US is dead; but the secretary of the UN is working to save the world.

 

MY TWO SUPER DADS

Man of Steel is down to number three and also in this are Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as Superman’s fathers. Yes, both his dads were Robin Hood. Can we move on?  Russell Crowe acquits himself nicely as Jor-El the scientist who’s ready to whoop a little ass on when he has to on Krypton in order to save his son.  He fares much better than Kevin Costner who is burdened by a script that insists that Jonathan Kent not imbue Clark with the moral foundation that will one day make him Superman, but instead raises him in a climate of petrifying fear, actually suggesting that the deaths of all of a teenage Clark’s classmates is worth keeping his secret because Clark is just that important. This doesn’t make your son a good person. This makes your son that frat boy who breaks all sorts of laws then skips the country once you’ve mortgaged your house to pay his bail because you’ve told him all his life he’s so special that conventional morality doesn’t apply to him.  People mock the Clark Kent aspect of Superman all the time, not realizing that if you get him wrong then you get Superman wrong. This movie sadly proves that.

 

THEY HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON: THEY’RE ALL EVIL

This Is The End is down to number four followed by Now You See Me at number five and also in this is Isla Fisher whom I tend to confuse with both Amy Adams and Kate Mara.  No, I’m not saying all redheads look alike…I’m saying all short, skinny redheads between 25 and 35 look alike.  And I’ve dated enough of them to know.

 

ENTER THE FOINE ASS DRAGON

Fast & The Furious 6 is down to number six and also in this is Gina Carano, former MMA superstar following in the footsteps of people like Chuck Norris and Don “The Dragon” Wilson in attempting to become a martial arts action star.  Her first film was the underwhelming Haywire because Steven Soderbergh was too ashamed to make an actual action movie.  Hopefully this will serve to get her back on track.  No, she can’t act, but neither can Chuck Norris and she’s a helluva lot prettier. Trivia: she’s dating Henry Caville, in case you wondered what it’d look like when Superman and Wonder Woman had sex.

 

I WONDER WHAT THE KLINGON WORD FOR SCHADENFREUDE IS

The Internship is down to number seven, followed by The Purge at number eight and Star Trek Into Darkness at number nine, and at $430M from a $190M budget it has broken even so profitability will have to come from the backend of home video (dvd, on-demand etc) because it’s not going to make the $570M needed to do it theatrically. At best it will match the first one, which also didn’t profit theatrically, making only 2.5x its budget. You can’t prove I’m smiling about this.

 

STURDY AS STEEL

Finally, Iron Man 3 holds at number ten, as if to spite Man of Steel somehow.