Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

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

12 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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LIKE MOESHA, BUT WITH “ANA”

27 Nov

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1. Moana/Disney                                                             Wknd/$ 55.5   Total/$ 81.1
2. Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them/WB     Wknd/$ 45.1   Total/$ 156.2
3. Doctor Strange/Disney                                              Wknd/$ 13.4   Total/$ 205.1
4. Allied/Paramount                                                      Wknd/$ 13.0   Total/$ 18.0
6. Trolls/Fox                                                                     Wknd/$ 10.3  Total/$ 135.1
5. Arrival/Paramount                                                     Wknd/$ 11.3   Total/$ 62.4
7. Almost Christmas/Universal                                    Wknd/$ 7.6     Total/$ 36.7
8. Bad Santa 2/BG                                                          Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 6.1
9. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF                                                  Wknd/$ 5.5     Total/$ 52.2
10. The Edge of Seventeen/STX                                   Wknd/$ 3.0     Total/$ 10.3

LIKE MOESHA, BUT “ANA”
Moana opens at number one to the surprise of no one and at the end of the previous decade Pixar took over running the Disney animated department, which had fallen on hard times. How hard? Let’s run down this list from that 10 years: Bolt, The Princess & The Frog, Meet the Robinsons, Chicken Little, Lilo & Stitch, A Christmas Carol, Dinosaur and Brother Bear. Yeah, exactly. Now, this is what Pixar did in that same time: Wall-E, Up, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Cars. Basically the inverse of one another. One produced mostly classics (Cars and the cooking rat movie are the rare Pixar misses) and the other produced mostly duds (and I loves me some Lilo & Stitch). Since Pixar took over it’s been Tangled (which they almost totally revamped), Wreck It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and of course Frozen. And now with Moana they’ve raised Disney’s animated department to their level. This is as good as a Pixar film. I am not kidding. It’s a fucking musical—which I despise—and it’s still amazing. I will be buying this fucker the second it’s available. This is not to say it’s reached the emotional depths of movies like Up or Inside Out but it’s as much fun as the first Toy Story or A Bug’s Life (the underrated gem) and damn sure better than Cars (everything is better than Cars). Basically, it’s the movie Brave should have been. It’s even aware of itself enough to make jokes about the other Disney movies. Again, so good I didn’t mind the musical numbers (I know what the goddamn story is and don’t need it sung to me).

THE QUEEN BASICALLY ORDERS YOU
Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them is down to number two, still printing money for the JK Rowling factory. I never read a single Harry Potter book and was forced to see but one film so this is meaningless to me. Meaning. Less. I’m just happy to see an indie boy like Eddie Redmayne get a way to pay the bills. It’s the traditional route. Nicholas Cage didn’t become a ginormous whore until after he got his Oscar, Halle Berry did Catwoman right after her Oscar and Charlize Theron did Aeon Flux after hers. Gotta get that paper. I think being English, being in a Harry Potter movie is like an obligation. Like a period piece about the monarchy, they all have to do it at least once.

HIS BLAND AMERICAN ACCENT DIDN’T HELP
Doctor Strange is down to number three and also in this in the grand Marvel tradition of wasting good to great actors as dull, one-note villains is Mads Mikkelsen who, like all the other actors in this film would have been a better Doctor Strange than Benedict Cumberbatch. In their scenes together he just basically wipes the bland Brit off the screen….like Chiwetel Ejiofor or Bendict Wong or Tilda Swinton… But he does this a lot in his movies and even on TV. If you’ve had the misfortune of seeing the remake of Clash of the Titans, he’s the best thing about it. Walking sheet of blank paper Sam Worthington didn’t stand a chance against him. That he ruled Hannibal as the titular character over Hugh Dancy goes without saying.

ANGELINA JOLIE SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING THEN
Allied opens at number four in yet another attempt at “counter programming” against the other escapist fare, apparently not realizing adults have to take their kids to all the above movies. I honestly want to see this. It looks like Mr. & Mrs. Smith: 1942 and I don’t have a problem with that at all.

OTHER ALIENS I MEAN
Arrival is down to number five and given that everyone is in a comic book movie these days, this will now be known as “That Time Hawkeye Teamed Up With Lois Lane to Speak To Aliens.”

SHUT UP AND RELEASE ANOTHER ALBUM
Trolls is down to number six and add it to the list of Justin Timberlake failures. Seriously. $135M from $125M budget is not a raging success and now that something worthwhile has been released with actual memorable music, kiss it goodbye.

THIS TIME THE AUDIENCE FUCKED SANTA BY NOT GOING
Almost Christmas is down to number seven, followed by Bad Santa 2 opening at number eight and who the hell asked for this? Seriously. The highlight of the first was Gilmore mom (oh, you go look up her fucking name if you care so much) humping Billy Bob while repeating “Fuck me, Santa. Fuck me, Santa.” Similarly, the highlight of this one seems to be the big-titty redhead from Mad Men (oh, you go look up her fucking name if you care so much) wanting to be done doggystyle behind a dumpster and thanks to the Red Band trailer I’ve seen it. Billy says doing the Fargo series convinced him good work could be done on TV. I’d say it was more the shit he was being offered for theatrical releases that did it.

ONLY THROUGH BART SIMPSON CAN WE EVEN THE SCORE
Hacksaw Ridge is down to number nine and also in this is Theresa Palmer and I don’t know why, but I’m always glad to see her working. I just feel she got a raw deal as the “New Pretty Blonde.” What’s funny is she’s one of three Australians in this movie. Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths are also here trotting out their regional American accents. I see them all sharing a giant Foster’s after work and laughing their asses off about how they do it better than actual Americans.

IF THE SONG ISN’T IN THIS I’M NOT WATCHING IT
Finally, The Edge of Seventeen is down to number ten and I actually wanted to see this, but didn’t know it was out. Oh, well. Thankfully, Netflix is fulfilling my indie film needs in my old age. The title obviously comes from the Stevie Nicks song which comes from her meeting Tom Petty’s first wife who in her regional accent told Nicks that she and Petty had met at the “age” of seventeen, but sounded like “edge.” And no, it’s not about an older woman boning a younger man. Sorry to kill that for you.

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THE CRISIS OF UNFORTUNATE TITLING

14 Nov

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1. Doctor Strange/Disney Wknd/$ 43.0 Total/$ 153.0
2. Trolls/Fox Wknd/$ 35.1 Total/$ 94.0
3. Arrival/Paramount Wknd/$ 24.0 Total/$ 24.0
4. Almost Christmas/Universal Wknd/$ 15.6 Total/$ 15.6
5. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF Wknd/$ 10.8 Total/$ 32.3
6. The Accountant/WB Wknd/$ 4.6 Total/$ 77.7
7. Shut In/EC Wknd/$ 3.7 Total/$ 3.7
8. Boo! A Madea Halloween/LGF Wknd/$ 3.6 Total/$ 70.4
9. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/ Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 54.6
10. Inferno/Sony Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 31.6

WHEN YOUR WORST CHOICE IS STILL GOOD, YOUR CASTING DIRECTOR DESERVES A RAISE
Doctor Strange holds at number one making sure any doubts of Marvel’s dominance were laid squarely to rest. Yet another comic book hero 90% of the populace has never heard of has been a ridiculous success (it’s almost made budget in a week and made more than twice this overseas). It also validates the casting choice of Benedict Cumberbatch, whom they delayed this movie to get. What’s funny and a little sad is that he’s the least interesting actor in this cast. I like him well enough, but pretty much everyone else cast would have been better than him. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton would have been more entertaining as Doctor Strange. Especially the latter two. There’s nothing about the character Doctor Strange that dictates it be a white male. Only that the character be a brilliant surgeon who is humbled and becomes a sorcerer. That’s any race, any gender (unlike say, Batman whose family has been prominent in Gotham since the pilgrim days which rules out anyone of color). Even costar Rachel McAdams would have been a welcome change from the so-safe-it’s-generic path they chose. There’s controversy about the casting because while they changed the Sorcerer Supreme from being Asian (Tibetan to be specific) to being White to avoid “stereotypes” (and offending the Chinese government so they could get those Chinese moviegoers). Yeah, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and that was another quarter mile laid down because while the “mystic Asian master” may be a stereotype it’s one that gives an Asian actor who might not otherwise have found work a job. Also crucial is the world “master.” He may be a stereotype, but the one who is the baddest muthafucka in the room. Simply put: the most powerful character in the story went from being a minority to being white. Yes, you can argue the most powerful character went from being a man to a woman (which is what Marvel tried to do) but it’s still a White woman as opposed an Asian one. Faced with this, Marvel again tried to wash over their sin by changing Wong from being Doctor Strange’s manservant to being another sorcerer equal to Strange, but one step forward plus one step back means you’re just standing still. That being said, Tilda Swinton is always a joy to watch, but she’d have been better as the doctor. She’s also more age-appropriate as the character not supposed to be young either, but someone older than Cumberbatch.

MAYBE SOME SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK EPISODES WOULD HAVE HELPED
Trolls holds at number two, followed by Arrival at number three and this is “grown up” science fiction, meaning it’s not about space battles and sexy robots, but about thoughts and concepts, in this case the science of communication, language in particular. How would you teach or learn an alien language? And do it before the world destroys itself in fear? My normal complaint about this type of movie is that it could have been told in 45 minutes on an old episode of The Outer Limits, but this actually needs its time to delve into what makes a language? How to communicate with no common basis, no Rosetta Stone? Amy Adams is basically the best linguist in America who is recruited by the government when one of 12 giant spaceships on Earth lands in Montana. Every 18 hours they open the door and try to communicate us, but until Amy Adams shows up apparently it never occurred to none of the hundreds of people on Earth trying to communicate (every country with a ship has team ) to a) use written symbols or b) not show up dressed like you’re landing on the moon when it’s clear they’ve made an effort to give you a breathable atmosphere. Seriously, they bring a bird in to make sure the air is safe and given nothing happens to the bird not one single scientist of the hundreds around the world thinks they can take that damn hazmat suit off!?! There’s a bit of a twist which is old hat if you’re a science fiction fan (seriously, this is basically a combination of a Deep Space Nine episode and a Next Generation episode) so once you’ve figured it out it drags a bit and honestly I’d have given that up for more delving into how they figured out the language of the aliens, but all in all it’s some solid thinkin’ man’s science fiction.

ALMOST ROLLING IN MONEY
Almost Christmas opens at number four and whoever decided on a pre-Thanksgiving release date needs to be fired. Seriously. In one more week you’d have a four-fucking-day weekend to bring in the bucks. I mean, it only cost $17M and already made $15M, but it could have, should have been so much more. Pretty sure no one going to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was going to have to decide between the two films.

THOUGH HE DID DATE HIS LEADING LADY AND BREAK UP WITH HER…JUST LIKE TOBEY
Hacksaw Ridge is down to number five and the star of this is former Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield trying to show life beyond the tights. Yeah, Tobey Maguire should have been a cautionary tale. But Garfield is a better actor and his defacto look isn’t “creepy loner” so hopefully he’ll do better.

SHE CAN’T PITCH PERFECT FOREVER
The Accountant is still around and color me shocked. This also works for Anna Kendrick as it’s a successful film out of her wheelhouse. Granted she’s “the girl who needs to be saved” but there’s no such thing as a bad hit.

ANOTHER JOB THAT SHOULD BE OPEN
Shut In opens at number seven and just as Almost Christmas opens a week too soon, this comes over a week too late. Returning to the genre that was the source of her only starring role success (The Ring) this should have been an easy win with at $10M budget for Naomi Watts. Seriously, somebody should lose a job over this as it was money just left on the table. Especially if that idiot used the term “counter-programming.”

WE ONLY HAVE OURSELVES TO BLAME
Boo! A Madea Halloween has made $70M off a $20M budget. See, this is why we can’t have nice things.

STARS OF THE LATE 20TH CENTURY FINALLY BEGIN TO FADE…
Finally the Toms close out the top ten with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back at number nine and Inferno at number ten.

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WHOA, HO, HO IT’S MAGIC!

7 Nov

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1. Doctor Strange/Disney Wknd/$ 85.0 Total/$ 85.0
2. Trolls/Fox Wknd/$ 45.6 Total/$ 45.6
3. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF Wknd/$ 14.8 Total/$ 14.8
4. Boo! A Madea Halloween/LGF Wknd/$ 7.8 Total/$ 65.0
5. Inferno/Sony Wknd/$ 6.3 Total/$ 26.0
6. The Accountant/WB Wknd/$ 6.0 Total/$ 70.9
7. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/ Wknd/$ 5.6 Total/$ 49.2
8. Ouija: Origin of Evil/Universal Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 31.4
9. The Girl on the Train/Universal Wknd/$ 2.8 Total/$ 70.7
10. Miss Peregrine’s Home…/Fox Wknd/$ 2.1 Total/$ 83.3

TRY TO UNDERSTAND HE’S A MAGIC MAN
Doctor Strange opens unsurprisingly at number one as the latest installment of the Marvel films. And while it’s enjoyable I find myself oddly disappointed in just how hard Marvel is sticking to this formula. Granted, they’ve got literally a billion rea$on$ as to why, but I find myself saddened just how much like all the others this is because Doctor Strange has always been a character that I’ve liked and he’s not like other comic book heroes. Yes, the plot device is one of the oldest in the history of creation—the humbled prince who becomes a better person as a result and we’ve seen it twice here alone with Thor and Iron Man—but they do absolutely nothing to put a new spin on it. In fact they watered it down. In the comics Stephen Strange starts as a flat out callous asshole of a surgeon who just might let you die if you can’t meet his fees, but here he’s just a bit of an arrogant prick and doing what is basically a Robert Downey Jr-lite take on the character as he was also not a joke cracking wiseass like he is here. In fact, you really only know he’s an arrogant jerk because people keep telling you he is, not really because of any arrogant jerk things that he does. When it happens it’s a big moment, not like the genuine arrogance of Tony Stark in the first half hour of Iron Man as he casually rumbles over everyone, friend and stranger alike because he only cares about himself. Also missing is Strange’s growth from this minor asshole to almost painfully benevolent. It’s a near two-hour movie. You should have the time to show the passage of time but apparently it wasn’t worth sacrificing a gigantic psychedelic action sequence. You don’t go from callous asshole to caring for an entire plane of existence in a few days or weeks, but it feels like it’s barely a month of so for the character here when it should have been years. There’s no definitive “humbling moment” where enlightenment occurs. This goes hand-in-hand with his “instant magic skills” something a depiction of an extended period of time would have helped with immensely. There’s an 80 minute animated version from a few years ago that actually does better at showing this, which should embarrass everyone here. The quality of the acting goes without saying, but literally every major actor present would have made a better Doctor Strange than Benedict Cumberbatch. Every. Single. One.

IT’S A BAD MOVIE HOUSEHOLD
Trolls opens at number two and you can garner the quality of a children’s movie by whether or not kids shut up when the trailer comes up. Over the last few months, this trailer didn’t shut up any kids. ‘Nuff said. Besides, has Justin Timberlake ever starred in a good movie? He’s been a supporting actor in exactly one. Again, ‘nuff said.

I GUESS YOU COULD SAY HE HAD A BRAVE HEART
Hacksaw Ridge opens at number two and Mel Gibson finally realized no one was going to see a movie of his if they had to see his face so here he’s just directing. This feels like the kind of war movie they would have made in the 40’s when they weren’t borderline propaganda: they were flat-out propaganda. Except Gibson takes great pains to show war as horrifically bloody as humanly possible which isn’t really going to inspire anyone to take up arms. I know this is based on a true story about a pacifist soldier who refused to take lives and would only save them, but honestly that doesn’t make it any more interesting to me. It takes something truly exceptional to make me want to sit through a war movie and this ain’t it.

TAKING A STAND
Boo! A Madea Halloween is down to number for and the answer is still “No.”

NETFLIX. THE NEXT ONE WILL BE ON NETFLIX. STARRING HIS SON.
Inferno is down to number five and so much for this franchise. At least as big budget superstar movies. They could very well make a nice living doing them as TV movies like Tom Selleck did for that one character, but this is clearly going to tie up in a nice little trilogy for you to buy for your parents at future Christmases because they read the books.

SEX AND THE SINGLE SUPER SOLDIER
The Accountant is down to number six, followed by Jack Reacher: Never Go Back at number seven and while one franchise may have just been born, another may be seeing its premature end. Yes, this means that Ben Affleck just had more success as an action hero this year (remember Batman v Superman: Mad Stupid Cash Grab) than Tom Cruise. You can bet pre-production on the next Mission Impossible just kicked into high gear. What’s funny is that neither character gets to have sex with their female lead, which are Anna Kendrick and Cobie Smulders respectively. Not that we wanted to see it (ew!), but Ben Affleck’s character basically cannot with Kendrick because his autism leaves him socially impaired. And we don’t necessarily want to see it with Tom Cruise either (serious ew!), but there’s an odd kind of sexual tension that is present because Cobie Smulders and Cruise spend time half-undressed together in a very casual way that is oddly appealing. Honestly, it’s very adult that two people on the run from killers would have other things to worry about than whether or not someone sees them naked. And at the same time, knowing this night could be your last night on earth why the hell wouldn’t you hook up? Especially in the case of Jack Reacher, given his character has come to DC for the specific purpose of possibly sleeping with Cobie Smulders. I’m not kidding. They even discuss it in one of the oddly appealing scenes. It’s actually odd that they do not. Odd for the characters. For Tom Cruise, not so much.

STUDIO ACCOUNTANTS SAYS “OUCH! THAT’S SOME SHARP CHEDDAR!”
Ouija: Origin of Evil is down to number nine and you know who’s in this!?! Eliot himself, Henry Thomas. Good for him. Get that work, son! Yeah, it’s a low-budget horror movie, but it’s made 3x its cost, unlike the movie of the Toms (Hanks and Cruise) in this top ten. It also means you’ve had one more hit this year than Spielberg. Yeah, I said it!

BET YOU THOUGHT BEING PRETTY WAS GONNA CARRY YOU…MORE THAN IT ALREADY HAS I MEAN
The Girl on the Train is down to number nine at $70M off a $45M budget ($140M total worldwide) this is a minor success. Good for you, Glenn Cocco! I want Emily Blunt to do well (she had Sicario last year). I like The Devil Wears Prada that much. I want almost everyone who was in it or associated with it to do well. Yeah, that stops at you, Adrian Grenier. Entourage has tainted you forever. Being a pretty muthafucka don’t help.

A LONG OVERDUE DEATH
Finally, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children aka, Tim Burton’s X-Men closes out the top ten at number ten and mercifully I think we’re nearing the twilight of studios giving Burton millions of dollars for these CGI fests. It didn’t even make budget domestically and while it doubled its domestic take overseas that’s not the money that matters most. You can tell stories of eccentric characters without a lot of CGI, Timmy, but the operative word there is “stories” and you aren’t big on those, much less characters.

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REAL ARTISTS ARE APPARENTLY ALL PERVS

13 Jun

psylocke
1. The Conjuring 2/WB                        Wknd/$ 40.4   Total/$ 40.4
2. Warcraft/Universal                          Wknd/$ 24.4   Total/$ 24.4
3. Now You See Me 2/LG                    Wknd/$ 23.0    Total/$ 23.0
4. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2   Wknd/$ 14.8     Total/$ 61.0
5. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                 Wknd/$ 10.0    Total/$ 136.4
6. Me Before You/Warner                   Wknd/$ 9.2      Total/$ 36.8
8. Alice Through the Looking Glass  Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 62.4
7. The Angry Birds Movie/Sony         Wknd/$ 6.7      Total/$ 98.2
9. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 4.3     Total/$ 396.9
10. The Jungle Book/Disney               Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 352.6

SCREAM KING! EQUALITY AT LAST!
The Conjuring 2 opens at number one and after years of “scream queens” have we developed a “scream king?” Patrick Wilson, a respected character actor on stage, TV and film is the male lead in not just this successful franchise, but also the Insidious films. When you think about it, it’s a wonder it never occurred to horror filmmakers to go to stage actors for their talent. You’ll get better than your average pretty face (sorry, I do hold stage actors in higher regard ‘cause that shit is real) and because they come from the stage where they get little money and less fame they’d be cheap and eternally grateful, because basically film and TV work is to subsidize what they really love. This is the real reason Claire Danes does Homeland. This is why Billy Crudup has no problem showing up in Mission Impossible 3. This visibility and profitability will serve to finance a few off-Broadway plays once Wilson commits to them. Which is good. I like knowing that people who truly care about art succeed in the world occasionally.

IN RETROSPECT I COULD HAVE USED A LONG, DUMB FILM TODAY
Warcraft opens at number two which is a huge fucking failure for them. Not only did this $160M+ movie based on a ridiculously successful video game not open at number one in the summer, but also it lost to an R-rated film that cost ¼ its budget. Yes, it’s doing huge in China, but know that studios get less than 40% of overseas money. Domestic is where the real money is made and it will have to do ridiculously well overseas in order for this not to be written off as a failure. I thought about seeing it because…well, summer. Seeing dumb movies filled with fantasy creatures and special effects is what the summer is for, but sometimes even I have to draw the line and you’re talking to a man who went to see Battleship. Obviously, bad reviews don’t slow me down so what was it? The two-hour running time. I’ve got a new rule about movies I expect to be bad and it flatly states you don’t get 2+ hours (factoring in previews and commercials) of my life anymore unless I fully expect you to be at least entertaining. Needless to say this didn’t pass muster not even with Rathnar Lothbrok in the cast. Not that it should. I haven’t watched Vikings in over two years. I’m busy!

YOU KNOW, BECAUSE BATMAN V SUPERMAN SUCKED
Now You See Me 2 opens at number three and this is oddly a success because would have thought the first would have been a hit, much less enough of one to generate a sequel. It’s gotta feel good to Jesse Esienberg to have an actual success this year that could be a franchise.

SUCKS TO BE YOU!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is down to number four followed by X-Men: Apocalypse at number five and one good thing about this is it sets back the career of Olivia Munn. I don’t know what it is, but I do not like this woman. Something about her makes her someone you love to hate. I’m not so simplistic a geek for it simply to be the title of her autobiography “Wonder Woman Can Suck It” but it didn’t help. Even better is the fact she’s so full of herself she said she had the option for Monica Baccarin role in Deadpool, but turned it down because it was “just another girlfriend.” Granted, Baccarin basically has sex with Ryan Reynolds and then gets kidnapped, so she’s not too far off, but the character eventually becomes a superhero in her own right and thanks to the highest grossing R-rated film in history (not adjusted for inflation) that will probably happen. Whereas seeing Munn return as Psyclocke is highly unlikely. Not helping matters is the fact they not only translated her stupid T&A costume straight from the comics, but also made it even more degrading by adding a boob-window. You know how pathetic you have to be to make a female superhero costume even more exploitative!?! Just glad it happened to her and not an actress that I liked.

JUST ASK JASON MOMOA ABOUT CONAN
Me Before You is down to number six, but with a $36M return on a $20M budget don’t expect the disabled romance porn to go away anytime soon. The female lead is on Game of Thrones which I do watch, but she’s a lot better off that the other woman from Game of Thrones who was the female lead Terminator: Genysis and that dude who was the lead in Pompeii who knows nothing on and off-screen. The lesson here is stop trying to hit home runs at first bat. Be happy to get on base.

BASICALLY HE’S RAINMAN IN THE MOVIE BIZ
The Angry Birds movie is down to number seven and this is another which needs overseas loot to save it. $98M off a $73M budget isn’t awful, but the $213M from overseas (which is at most $85M and probably less) will be needed to save this from being a disappointment. This is from David Maisel who is apparently as responsible for the Marvel Universe as anyone, but since he’s clearly not with them, they no longer like to talk about it. Apparently he not only came up with the sale to Disney, but the sequel strategy and its original plan to self-finance which meant no more licensing characters out to other companies like they’d done with Spider-Man, The X-Men, Blade, The Punisher and The Fantastic Four And to top it off it he also came up with the idea they could use The Hulk without paying Universal to get him back so long as he wasn’t the lead character. Given how fucking major all this is, you can see why they don’t like to talk about him. But of course he’s a nutcase. He apparently pocketed millions from the Disney sale, but still lives with his mom in a 2-bedroom apartment. So yeah, ladies beware, but if you need financial advice, he’s clearly your dude.

JUST ASK MARY LOUISE PARKER IF ONE CLAIRE DANES IS ENOUGH
Alice Through The Looking Glass is down to number eight and is there any more painful irony that the billion dollar grossing first film did jack shit for the career of Mia Wasikowska who is only the title character in both films!?! Needless to say this won’t be changing that a bit. Not helping is the fact she looks like Claire Danes in a world that thinks one Claire Danes is plenty.

GEEK ANGER LIVES FOREVER
Captain America: Civil War is down to number nine, followed by Jungle Book at number ten. As most people know, The Black Panther finally appeared in the Marvel movies and honestly is one of the best parts about this. It sure as shit isn’t Captain America acting like an asshole or the stupid contrivances created to make him and Iron Man fight. Yes, I’m still annoyed.

CAMERA, GUITAR, GUN = DICK
I finally watched the documentary on famed photographer, Bert Stern: The Original Mad Man, even though I’ve had it on my hard drive forever. Only taking the actual DVD out from the liberry finally got me to see it. It didn’t get great reviews but I thought it was a pretty decent summation of the man’s career and life. Directed by the woman who was thought to be his decades younger girlfriend (they first met when she was 13 and it’s as icky as it sounds) it turns out she was secretly his wife, but we’ll get to that. You know Bert Stern even if you don’t think you know him. The famous “Last Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe, her final photo session before she died which stupid starlets and half-assed photographers keep trying to emulate? He did that. The Lolita poster? He did that. He did those and a dozen more iconic shots of celebrities as well as from the history of advertising. It’s subtitled “The Original Mad Man” in a sorry and failed attempt to cash in on the show as Stern was a major player in advertising in the late 50’s and early 60’s, coming up with innovative ideas for campaigns and shooting them himself. Unlike most, he was so good at his job, he basically had a free hand to do what he wanted. Unfortunately, the documentary is short on exploration in areas that seem obvious. We’re told his father attempted suicide and his mother was beautiful but they’re literally never mentioned again after he turns 13. Given he’s famous for taking beautiful shots of women especially, you’d think his relationship with his mother would play into that and be discussed, but it is not. Even the court fight for shots of Marilyn Monroe he took that were stolen in the early 60’s and were rediscovered in the ‘00’s by people who claimed ownership is given the short shrift. What we do get is far too many of shots of the director/girlfriend/wife naked. Even worst is the realization that some of the nudes were taken recently and by a seemingly nude Stern (his reflection is seen in one of the shots). Ewww. Still, there are enough legitimate examinations of the man and his work to make me actually take an interest in his famous “Last Session” as I am not part of the cult that romanticizes Marilyn Monroe. She lived a sad life (sexually abused when young and had to trade on her sex appeal far too much to make it) and died a sad death (accidental drug overdose alone). Her life is cautionary tale, people. Stop romanticizing it. It also caused the “Well, duh” realization that the best photographers of women in fashion (Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, David Bailey, etc) were straight men, which is only unique because the industry is well regarded as being both gay and female driven. Stern flat out states that when he took a picture it was because in that way he could possess the woman in question. He laughs, but you know it’s true. He made me think that the others were probably no different as they all dated and occasionally married the women they shot (Avedon was famously with Dovema, Bailey with Jean Shrimpton and Penn married the impeccable Lisa Fonssagrives). Stern just admits it. It makes me wonder if you have to use your camera as your surrogate dick to truly take beautiful photos of people, as it’s pointed out in the documentary that knowing that Stern worshipped them may have actually served to bring out the best in the women he was shooting. It would similarly be the case with others. The safety of being adored and complimented by someone who would do no more than document said adoration would undoubtedly produce better results than say a worthless fucking creep rapist like Terry Richardson (who’s a shitty photographer on top of being a rapist). Then again, you have Herb Ritts, who was open gay and also took beautiful photographs of women. Must think on this… Not including in the film which came out before Stern’s death in 2013 is the fact the heretofore unknown wife became the sole beneficiary of Stern’s will and the children (two of whom are interviewed along with the ex-wife and a still living girlfriend) are currently suing her over it. Oh, and I bought the book of Stern’s last session with Monroe. Some of the details are seriously fascinating. I mean, if I drank champagne with a shot of vodka like she did, I’d probably be taking my clothes off at every opportunity too.

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TODAY’S TOPIC IS AGING OUT…AGAIN

6 Jun

neighbors

 

  1. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2    Wknd/$   35.4     Total/$   35.3
  2. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                  Wknd/$   22.3     Total/$ 116.5
  3. Me Before You/Warner                     Wknd/$   18.3     Total/$   18.3
  4. Alice Through the Looking Glass  Wknd/$   10.7     Total/$   50.8
  5. The Angry Birds Movie/Sony          Wknd/$     9.8      Total/$     9.8
  6. Captain America: Civil War/BV      Wknd/$     7.6      Total/$ 388.9
  7. Neighbors 2/Universal                      Wknd/$     4.7      Total/$   48.6
  8. Popstar/Universal                               Wknd/$     4.6     Total/$    4.6
  9. The Jungle Book/Disney                    Wknd/$     4.2     Total/$ 347.5
  10. The Nice Guys/WB                              Wknd/$     3.5      Total/$   29.1

 

MONEY BETTER SPENT ON PIZZA. GET IT!?!

Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles: Out of the Shadows opens at number one and while this has gotten better reviews than its predecessor it’s still not going to get me in there. Life is short and the 93 minutes the first one took out of my life back in 1990 is still a personal regret to someone who has almost the second season of Jane the Virgin sitting unwatched on his DVR. But even then it was a stretch for me as I had “aged out” of the demographic for the TNMT. I never watched the cartoon and at best I liked the arcade game because at that time I was learning the bo staff at the time and one of them used it in the game. I am happy that Stephen Amell is getting his toe into the theatrical game though. Based on this disappointing 4th season, Arrow needs to think about its end game soon and he needs to be working on his next step.

 

X AIN’T GIVING IT TO YA

X-Men: Apocalypse is down to number two and speaking of disappointing superhero translations that I’d aged out of, the Apocalypse character and storyline happened after I’d left the X-Men comics as a kid because frankly it had gotten too damn depressing (Chris Claremont, the writer would later admit he was going through a bad patch so in turn inflicted it on the characters. Thanks, asshole.). This is especially disappointing given it’s Bryan Singer at the helm. He not only help set the standards of the modern day superhero film as something to be taken seriously, but directed the best X-Men film (X2) and undid the damage of X3 with X-Men: Days of Future Past (it literally wiped it out). So it’s surprising that this bland trainwreck came from him. The biggest problem is that it forgets what the X-Men are at their heart: a metaphor for discrimination. The X-Men are whatever minority or discriminated group you choose, but you will only find the barest remnants of that here. It’s a dull, thudding superhero film with lots of special effects and no heart or characters to care about. The very first X-Men movie still works because at its heart it’s about two diametrically opposed outsiders (Wolverine and Rogue) finding a home with others and each other. Nothing even approaching that exists here. It should have been Cyclops or Storm (who in this new history are being introduced to the X-Men for the first time) but the actors playing them are not stars and Jennifer Lawrence is, but they don’t know what to do with her character. Gone is the revolutionary who doesn’t think she should be obligated to look human and in her place is a superstar who doesn’t want to be painted blue every day supported by studio execs that don’t want their most famous star covered in blue. With Hugh Jackman leaving (speaking of aging out) she’s now the face of the franchise so simultaneously its biggest asset and its biggest problem. This makes four superhero films I’ve seen this year and still only one I really liked and it’s the character I know and care the least about: Deadpool.

 

YOU DON’T GET A MEDAL FOR LOVING SOMEONE LESS THAN PERFECT

Me Before You is that a subset of romantic drama the disabled/dying romantic drama wherein one partner is either disabled or dying and they other deals with or overcomes that in the name of love. Though when I think about it, it’s actually a subset of the oldest love story variation of all: the tragedy. Obviously there’s not going to be a cure for one and the person dies in the other. That’s the reason for “the drama.” Honestly, because I’m shallow it’s not one I care for. Give me warring families or disparate origins/classes, but someone permanently disabled or dying is just too depressing. I want a full-on happy goddamn ending, or at the very least one where both parties walk off their separate ways. And I mean “walk” literally. Yeah, I said it. What part of “shallow” didn’t you get? This is actually being trashed by some as some kind of “disabled romantic porn” because the person not disabled has to be so, so, so good to love that person who isn’t perfect. This was a criticism placed even on the novel. I would add to that the disabled person in question is, of course, rich so I’m gonna guess that when they die this person is rewarded for being able to love a disabled person with a ridiculous fortune. Yeah, there’s no reason to see this at all.

 

21 CHUMP STREET

Alice Through the Looking Glass is down to number four and this is seen as a flop simply because it opened at number two last week. I think that has more to do with the current tide of public opinion turning against Johnny Depp. Allow me to remind you I’ve been telling you for years he’s utterly full of shit. I didn’t need a domestic abuse charge like the rest of you fuckers. You should have hated him for doing the first one, much less a shitty sequel. But guess what? This has made $125m overseas and the fact that the first made a billion worldwide is the reason this exists to begin with so don’t be surprised if an overwhelming international success leads to a third chapter. I mean that fourth Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t exactly huge domestically either, but was ridiculously huge overseas so they’re making a fifth. Which makes Amber Heard’s lawyers very, very happy. I have no sympathy for middle-aged men in the midst of a mid-life crisis who hook up with obvious golddiggers. Take everything, girl.

 

HELL, I’M PLAYING IT RIGHT NOW

The Angry Birds Movie is down to number five and I was oddly interested in this because I love the game and obviously any movie that has a character that hates everything and everyone appeals to me. But that doesn’t mean I’d spend a dime to see it. No, I’ll catch it on cable in a year or so. What’s surprising is the ridiculous amount of comedic talent on-hand. Jason Sudekis (who should never be a leading man, but a funny supporting actor, so please stop trying), Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Mya Rudolph, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale, Hannibal Buress and Keegan Michael Key. Hell, even Sean Penn is here and that simple fact may be the funniest thing about it as he has no sense of humor, which means he did his lines straight, probably making them funny as fuck. Yeah, I’m soooo watching this on cable on a Sunday afternoon.

 

AMERICA IS NEVER WRONG!

Captain America: Civil War is down to number six and I remain unchanged in disliking this. Captain America is wrong and unreasonable in this movie and Captain America should never be wrong or unreasonable.

 

PRETTY DIRTY

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is down to number seven and I have to say I totally respect how Zac Efron has decided to stop playing to his “look” of the clean cut pretty boy and go directly against and basically be the new king of R-rated slob comedies. Also joining him on his ascent to comedic royalty is Rose Byrne who is showing up in everything and stealing the show. I mean, or so I’ve heard. I hate Seth Rogen so much nothing anyone says can get me into a movie where he’s the star. Again, what part of “shallow” are you not getting? Which brings us back to the fact that pretty boy Efron is basically playing the roles that probably would go to Rogen.

 

SHOULD HAVE STOPPED AFTER 3 MINUTES

Popstar: Never Stop Stopping is the first Lonely Island movie and apparently the last as it opened at number eight. See, this is a great idea for a digital short on SNL or a supporting character in a movie, but it’s difficult to watch an entire movie about a complete asshole even when you’re supposed to be laughing at him. The guys in Spinal Tap weren’t brilliant, but they weren’t irredeemable assholes either.   I was tired of this whole concept before the trailer had finished.

 

A TALENTED GUY WHO’S AN ASSHOLE IS SADLY REDUNDANT

The Jungle Book is down to number nine with The Nice Guys closing out the top ten at number ten and this is the latest R-rated buddy movie from Shane Black. He’s like a less-depressing, funnier yet no less dismissive of women James Ellroy. Like Ellroy he tells dark stories about the seamier side of Los Angles that begin with a beautiful dead woman and the two guys determined to try and find some justice for her (this movie actually reunites Kim Basinger and Russell Crowe who were in the adaptation of Ellroy’s LA Confidential). Black is a good director and is on point with the foul-mouthed, funny dialogue, but his complete and utter hatred of women remains a problem. This is him at his least offensive (it’d be difficult to top the pure misogyny of The Last Boy Scout), but just so you know it’s him the only smart female is a child and it opens with a “joke” that involves a centerfold/porn star dying in the exact same pose as her centerfold. Get it!?! Why she’s naked in car crash is beyond me, but Black doesn’t care. He’s been opening with dead, naked women since Lethal Weapon (also a porn star) and he’s not stopping now. While this is a good movie I’m not sad it’s a bit of a flop because he’s got to be made stop that shit and so long as he doesn’t have a blockbuster hit that’s his and his alone (I could have directed Iron Man 3 and had a hit) he’ll always be under someone’s thumb which will ideally slow him down. Unfortunately, it’s Hollywood, so it’s not like that’s going to slow him down too much.

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ZACK SNYDER V COMPETENT FILMMAKING

28 Mar

Morena-Baccarin-Photoshoot-by-Robert-Ascroft-2013-morena-baccarin-35411576-748-1000

1. Batman v Superman/WB                 Wknd/$170.1   Total/$ 170.1
2. Zootopia/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 23.1    Total/$ 240.5
3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2/Uni  Wknd/$ 18.1    Total/$ 18.1
4. Miracles from Heaven/TriStar       Wknd/$ 9.5      Total/$ 34.1
5. Divergent: Allegiant/LG                    Wknd/$ 9.5     Total/$ 46.6
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane/Paramount      Wknd/$ 6.0    Total/$ 56.0
7. Deadpool/Paramount                         Wknd/$ 5.0    Total/$ 349.5
8. London Has Fallen/Focus                 Wknd/$ 2.9    Total/$ 55.6
9. Hello, My Name is Doris/RA             Wknd/$ 1.7    Total/$ 3.3
10. Eye in the Sky/BST                            Wknd/$ 1.0    Total/$ 1.7

GREED V CHARACTERS: DAWN OF A FRANCHISE
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice opens at number one to no one’s surprise. Also not surprising? It’s goddamned awful that way that only a CGI heavy muddle by a hack director like Snyder can be. The movie exists for one reason only: to make Superman and Batman fight, so they wrote it ass backwards trying to come up with reasons to make this happen and they do a horrible job of it. The movie is strongly inspired by the best-selling Batman comics ever: The Dark Knight Returns, which is set in a future where Batman is little more than a psychotic thug and Superman is a government stooge and at its climax Batman beats a weakened Superman who is honestly trying not to hurt him. I have to give the book credit for brilliantly tapping into the not-so-secret longstanding resentment of many for Superman. Simply put, he’s the status quo, the establishment. He’s everything that makes your angry teen-self feel powerless. Your parents, your teachers, the cops…etc. While Batman is literally powerless (unless you count money which makes him the most powerful superhero). Having the “powerless” character defeat the all-powerful character resonated so strongly, the status quo of DC Comics was forever changed and Superman & Batman were no longer best friends, but antagonistic. Frenemies at best. Also, the book sold millions, which never happens, so DC followed the money, which means for the better part of the last 30 years aside from continually making them fight, Batman has also been a near psychotic. Most of these stories are godawful, but all of those stories are better than this one, which involves Lex Luthor (played as “autistic evil” by Jesse Eiesenberg) hating Superman for no real reason and wanting him both disgraced and dead. Meanwhile, Superman has been doing good deeds since accidentally bringing the Kryptonian Civil War to Earth and causing the deaths of thousands. But apparently he has never once spoken to the people he’s protecting as he continues to be a miserable bastard tormented by the fact that some people still don’t like him. If only he knew someone in the media that he could convey what he was all about. Oh, right HE’S A FUCKING REPORTER! HE COULD DO IT ANYTIME HE WANTS TO! Meanwhile, in Gotham city—which in this film is located across the bay from Metropolis basically making it the Oakland to Metropolis’ San Francisco—Batman has apparently been around for 20 years and in that time Wayne Manor has been destroyed, a Robin has been killed and Batman now has no problem literally branding people when he’s not flat out shooting them down with the machine guns in his Batmobile and Batplane. If the reasons why Luthor hates Superman make no sense, neither does the seeming obsession of Clark Kent with Batman. Thousands are dead, half the world hates him, the government is holding hearings about him, but he’s concerned about the civil liberties being trampled in Gotham City. At least Batman’s resentment of Superman is somewhat legit. Some of thousands of people are dead were employees of Wayne Enterprises and in one of the few effective sequences we see the final moments from Man of Steel from the perspective of Bruce Wayne on the ground. And while his resent of Superman is valid, his psychotic need to cut his head off (which he literally tries to do in the battle that takes far too long to happen) does not. Very little of this film does. And it commits the worst sin imaginable: it’s dull. But again, most of Snyder’s films are, though supposedly action films. Man of Steel was dull. Sucker Punch was dull. Because he thinks he’s a real filmmaker he tries to have scenes were people do things besides fight, only they make no sense. And with the exception of Wonder Woman’s five-minute appearance (which is as badass as it is great) even the fights are dull and if that’s the case, this film has no reason to exist whatsoever. But again, it’s not really a movie is it? It’s just a launching platform for other movies and while Marvel/Disney is equally guilty of sacrificing a film to set up for others (both Thors, half of Captain America and even part of Avengers Age of Ultron) at least they are still capable of making a half-decent movie around it. DC/WB clearly are not.

IT’S CALLED STICKING WITH A BIT
Zootopia is down to number two and outside of the race & gender allegory it’s creating, there are still honest and funny jokes in the film and none so much as the now famous sloth one. That sloths run the DMV is near brilliant in its obvious simplicity, but what makes the joke work it is that they stick with it. At no point do they create some excuse that can make the sloths go faster. No, the audience has to wait alongside the characters and it is hysterical. And while he’s great as the straight man usually, Jason Bateman has a smarm to him as well that works perfectly as the voice of the fox and he clearly enjoys playing the other side of the fence for once.

MY BIG FAT GREEK DESPERATION
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 opens at number three and clearly God hates everyone to have both this and Batman v Superman opening in the same week. No matter what movie you choose, it’s going to be crap made by the incompetent. The first Big Fat Greek Wedding was like Batman v Superman: godawful, stupid and incredibly successful (I’m stunned to realize it got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay when it was only one of those things). Based on what I’ve seen in the commercials and trailers, this is going to get at least two of those down solid. Nia Vardalos has been trying for years to follow that up with a failed TV series (My Big Fat Greek Life) a reteaming with John Corbett (I Hate Valentine’s Day) and revisiting the Greek thing (My Life in Ruins). I hate to knock anyone’s hustle, but girlfriend, it’s time to move the fuck on. I’m sorry Tom Hanks and his wife got all the money the first time around, but you had your moment, you took your shot and you failed. Accept you’re someone’s sidekick and Move. On.

SHE NEEDED SOME JESUS
Miracles from Heaven is down to number four and if you’re wondering why these Christian movies are getting more mainstream Hollywood people in them you need to look at who they’re getting. They’re not getting Ben Affleck who’s winning Oscars and starring in attempted billion dollar franchises. They’re getting his soon-t0-be ex-wife who does credit card commercials and needed the comfort of the lord something fierce this past year. She said she started taking the kids to church after making this movie but let’s not kid ourselves. We know what make you look for meaning in all this and it wasn’t some dumb Christian propaganda movie. It was your husband banging the honestly less-attractive nanny. And the whole world knowing it.

SAY IT WITH ME: THE WORLD IS MADE FOR PEOPLE WHO LACK SELF-AWARENESS
The Divergent Series: Allegiant is down to number five and I’m as surprised to see this still going on as you are because I confused it with The Hunger Games like everyone else. What’s funny is that star Shailene Woodley tries to act like we’re being strange to connect her to Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, and you’re not a tall, attractive 20-something blonde who has drawn raves in small indie films while headlining a Young Adult franchise based on a dystopian future where you’re the chosen on who leads a rebellion? No, honey. The difference is Jennifer Lawrence has four Oscar nominations and one win. You have a one Golden Globe nomination…that you didn’t win.

SERIOUSLY, I HATE YOU ALL
10 Cloverfield Lane is down to number six and this has been successful so I guess we’re going to get more of this Cloverfield shit. I hate you all for making it possible.

TALENT, SCHMALENT. SHE’S SO PURTY.
Deadpool is down to number seven and also in this is Morena Baccarin who is like Ryan Reynolds in that she’s a really pretty person that everyone seems to know whose success in Hollywood should be a foregone conclusion, but like him this is actually her biggest success happening a decade after you thought it would. That she should have been Maria Hill in The Avengers movies must be a little easier to bear now.

MADRID HAS FALLEN…OH, IT’S JUST SIESTA. NEVER MIND.
London Has Fallen is down to number eight and all you need to know about this movie is that at one point it turns into a video game. Seriously. It turns into a first person shooter as you are Gerard Butler and follow his POV into the action and like a video game, no bullets or shrapnel ever seem to hit him. Thankfully, it hasn’t even made budget yet so no other capitals will fall in the future. What? Were you really looking forward to Paris Has Fallen? Rome Has Fallen? Tokyo Has Fallen? Actually they could do it, just with different characters in each location. Come to think of it, this film would have been infinitely better with no connection with Olympus Has Fallen and just been about a James Bond-like agent dealing with similar circumstances in London. Butler almost does it as his Scottish accent becomes more and more apparent as the film drags on.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE PATRIARCHY IS REAL, YO
Hello My Name Is Doris actually rises to number nine and I’m happy for Sally Field getting this at this stage of the game. But we know that if the genders were reversed and it was a 60-something dude longing for a 30-something female he’d actually get to bang her and he’d rock her world. Or am I the only person who remembers how charming so many critics found Burt Lancaster lusting after Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City? Or most of Michael Douglas’ casting decisions, period?

I MEAN IT, FUCK THAT MOVIE
Finally, Eye In The Sky rises to number ten to remind you that every day we kill innocent people every time we try to kill a terrorist with a drone strike, which reminds me again of the end of London Has Fallen where such a strike is the cause of all the trouble and also the climax you’re supposed to cheer. Seriously, fuck that movie.

PA KENT: THE MOVIE
Midnight Special isn’t in the top ten but it’s basically Superman from the point of view of The Kents. It’s about 10-year-old boy in Texas who has special powers and his father trying to protect him from the government who wants him badly. Okay, it’s not as nice as The Kents in the comics as the father here (played by Michael Shannon who was ironically Zod in Man of Steel) actually is willing to shoot a state trooper simply because he’s in their way because his on is “More important.” In that way he’s closer the horrible Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel who is willing to let a bus filled with children die, but when it comes down to it, he can’t kill someone who might (and actually does) give them away. Also, the mother and father here (mom is Kirsten Dunst) were part of some kind of religious cult run by Sam Shepard that became centered around the boy when his powers began to manifest (Shepard actually took the boy to raise for two years as his own), so they’re a little darker than The Kents. What they do share is a clear an unconditional love for their “special” son with absolutely no fear of him and will do whatever they need to do in order to protect him, even though he clearly possesses amazing powers (at one point the boy downs a military satellite). And if you don’t think it’s not intentional, know that at one point the boy is reading a Superman comic. It could be a little tighter given it’s essentially a chase film (thy aren’t just running from the authorities but the armed cultists who what the boy back as they think Judgment Day is coming) in the era of drones and satellites and amber alerts where running unnoticed is seriously difficult but a satisfying little film nonetheless.

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