Tag Archives: matt damon

A DINOSAUR AND HIS PET BOY

30 Nov

michael_b_jordan_main 1. The Hunger Games Mockingjay 2      Wknd/$ 51.6     Total/$ 198.3
2. The Good Dinosaur/Disney                Wknd/$ 39.2     Total/$ 55.6
3. Creed/WB                                               Wknd/$ 30.1     Total/$ 42.6
4. Spectre/Sony                                          Wknd/$ 12.8     Total/$ 176.1
5. The Peanuts Movie/Fox                       Wknd/$ 9.2       Total/$ 116.8
6. The Night Before/Sony                         Wknd/$ 8.2      Total/$ 24.1
7. The Secret in Their Eyes/STX            Wknd/$ 4.5        Total/$ 14.0
8. Spotlight/ORF                                       Wknd/$ 4.5        Total/$ 12.3
9. Brooklyn/FoxSearchlight                    Wknd/$ 3.8        Total/$ 7.3
10. The Martian/Fox                                 Wknd/$ 3.3        Total/$ 218.6

TO WHICH HARRISON FORD RESPONDS, “IT’LL NEVER END.”
The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part II: The Cash Grab Everyone Learned From Harry Potter About Splitting Books holds at number one and you think Jennifer Lawrence just joined the club that Daniel Radcliff and Kristen Stewart started called “Not That I’m Ungrateful, But Thank God It’s Over?” And somewhere Rooney Mara is part of a much, much, much larger club called “It Never Even Got Started.”

IT’S ACTUALLY A JURASSIC WORLD…BUT MUCH, MUCH BETTER
The Good Dinosaur opens at number two and two original Pixar movies in a row!?! In the same year!?! And both of them good!?! Hell, Christmas may have just been taken care of. This is the story of a boy and his dinosaur. Wait. Scratch that. It’s a dinosaur and his boy who is basically a dog. And in case you didn’t get it from the sniffing, the howling and the life on all fours, his name is “Spot.” Set on a world where the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs misses so prehistoric man actually shares the planet with dinosaurs, but in a decided non-Jurassic Park way. Mankind is not only not the top of the food chain, but are so low they aren’t even considered a primary food source by the T-Rexes that later show up. They’re considered “critters” little more than squirrels and annoying in the way they eat the crop the Apatosaurus clan is trying to grow and store for the winter. Because he’s the smallest and can’t farm like his brother and sister, Arlo has the responsibility of a) feeding the scary prehistoric turkeys (why they’re keeping them if they’re vegetarians is unexplained) and b) trapping and killing the “critter” who’s been eating their stored crops. When Arlo instead frees the small boy, his father insists they track him and finish him which leads to the required Disney “Death of a Parent” in a storm that causes the river to flood. It’s hardly a spoiler as I don’t think you’re allowed to make a film associated with Disney without it. It’s probably half the reason they bought Marvel to begin with. From Spider-Man to Captain America to Iron Man to Thor to…shit all of them have at least one dead parent if not both (and in Spider-Man’s case two dead parents and the death of a father figure). Blaming the little human they were tracking instead of his father’s own stubborn nature, Arlo chases him and gets caught in a storm similar to the one that killed his father and both are washed away miles from Arlo’s home. This is when Arlo finds out Spot—as he names him—has bonded with him because Arlo spared his life and they begin a Journey of Natty Gann type of return to his home, where Arlo of course learns to overcome the fears that have plagued him his entire life. It’s not A+ perfect Pixar like a Finding Nemo or The Incredibles or Up, but it’s a solid A and thankfully not a freaking sequel.

AKA ROCKY 7. YEAH, 7
Creed opens at number three and making a seventh film in the Rocky saga sounds like a horrible money-grubbing idea…until you hand it over to an acclaimed indie film director and cut Sylvester Stallone completely out of the creative process. While I thought the last film, Rocky Balboa, was actually a nice little movie with probably the best Stallone performance since the first film (only surpassed by this one), the rest all suffered from Stallone’s total control but limited talents, much in the same way the inspired idea of The Expendables has died so quickly. Stallone’s reach (aka, his ego) continually exceeds his grasp. Ryan Coogler, however, who made the much-acclaimed Fruitvale Station a few years back, is only interested in making a good movie, not feeding his ego and reteamed with his leading man, Michael B. Jordan, that’s exactly what he does. Nothing is new here, but there are no new stories, only how you retell the old ones and the old ones are all retold here very well. Seriously, the main plot is one of a son living in the shadow of his father, topped off with him being a bastard was born after his father died. It doesn’t get more cliché than that…at least until the older mentor develops cancer. Like I said, very few clichés are left unturned. But again, it’s about the execution. The film is over two hours, but it never seems to drag and even the old Rocky theme is dragged out and updated to maximum effect.

STRIKE TWO
Spectre is down to number four and if you need any greater clue to how incompetent this film is, know they wasted Christoph Waltz, which I thought was impossible. First they waste Monica Bellucci in what is little more than a glorified cameo—seriously, Teri Hatcher had a more important role in Tomorrow Never Dies and she gets killed—and then Christoph Waltz as the villain is pissed away which is a horrible mistake as most action films tend to only be as good as their villains.

IT’S NOT ENOUGH THAT I LOSE WEIGHT, BUT THAT OTHERS GET FATTER
The Peanuts Movie is down to number five, followed by The Night Before at number six and yes, Thanksgiving does officially open the doors for the Christmas Season, but this still feels too soon. That said, Seth Rogen’s participation basically means an automatic pass for me and there’s precious little to change that opinion. Yeah, I like Lizzy Caplan, but not that much. In fact, the best thing about this for me was seeing the three leads on Lip Sync Battle, where we got to see how flabby Anthony Mackie is currently. Yes, schadenfruede is how I roll. Now and always.

AIN’T NO PRETTY WOMAN TO ME
Speaking of movies I give an automatic pass to, The Secret in Their Eyes is down to number seven and this stars Julia Roberts and I’ve been an anti-fan since Pretty Woman. I’ve never understood her popularity much less her success or any indication of talent. She’s a movie star like Tom Cruise is movie star. Neither is an actor. It’s a shame because there are two good actors in this: Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor. They’re actually capable of being other people in films. Roberts, not so much.

MOVIES I SWEAR I’LL SEE, BUT PROBABLY NEVER WILL
Spotlight holds at number eight and this is another for the “Oscar Bait” list, which is getting longer every day. So far it’s Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies, Trumbo and Room. And hell, since we’re making a list, let’s just throw the number nine entry, Brooklyn, on it. Based on the novel about an Irish immigrant girl in 1950’s Brooklyn it looks freaking gorgeous and has garnered great reviews but I’ve got cartoon and sequels to see. I’ll get to it one day (maybe never).

NEED THAT FUNNY MONEY
The Martian holds at number ten and also in this is Kristen Wiig, who needed a hit more than you know. Seriously. It’s been awhile since Bridesmaids and while it’s great she’s been putting herself out there with dramatic indie work (always remember: brave = naked when it comes to female actors) lending her name to get smaller films made, that means about as much as good intentions. She needs to be in something that makes money. Hopefully, next time she’ll be the actual star.

END OF THE LINE
Okay, there are no more new TV shows (until the mid-winter replacement season), but there are at least two more to mention…

Agent X: Seemed like a decent enough concept. The Vice President actually has a freaking job beyond going to funerals and that job is deploy a one man task force (charming and wisecracking of course) to handle threats totally off the books and beyond political affiliations and this has been in place since the founding of the country. Also, the VP is none other than Sharon Stone, rocking pantsuits and knee-high boots in modest skirts. Seemed pleasant enough for light Sunday night viewing. I rag on shit like Quantico, but I get why people like it for the same reason I like Blood & Oil, which airs right before it. Dumb fun. Unfortunately, Agent X lost me when it decided that it was going to have a serialized subplot about a conspiracy within the government. Just…no. I wanted light “one-and-done” episodes along the line of Burn Notice with maybe a reoccurring villain (which the plot set up). This conspiracy was not only a buzzkill, but doubled down it by making Sharon Stone’s late hubby on the show an adulterer and maybe the car crash that killed him wasn’t an accident. Yawn.

Into the Badlands: Now this is what I’m talking about. Set in a dystopic future where a feudal system has evolved and there are no guns so martial arts and swordfights (which is technically a martial art but a lot of people don’t get this) are how people settle their business. So basically, every Sunday I get mucho buttkicking in the best way possible. Of course our hero, Sunny, is the best fighter of them all, but is working for an evil baron who only becomes moreso once he learns a tumor is killing him. Our Sunny’s only hope is a teenaged boy from a mythical city beyond The Badlands. It seems Sunny may have been born there as well, but cannot remember. The boy can lead him to the city, but to do so they must go…INTO THE BADLANDS. Oh, did I mention the boy has some kind of power that manifests itself whenever he bleeds and another evil baron known as “The Widow” is after him for it? Unlike Agent X that addition only makes the show more interesting. It’s probably science but if it’s magic I’m down with that too. The fight scenes are so well done, you’d never know the lead actor isn’t even a martial artist. Can’t say that about every show (I’m looking at you, Arrow). And do I even have to say it? An Asian dude as the lead. Yeah, he’s doing martial arts, but sadly it still means something. Especially when they a) actually give him a love interest and b) she’s not Asian.

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WEAK MEN FEAR THE FINEST WINES

16 Nov

MBcaviar

1. Spectre/Sony                                     Wknd/$ 35.4     Total/$ 130.7
2. The Peanuts Movie/Fox                  Wknd/$ 24.2    Total/$ 82.5
3. Love the Coopers/CBS                    Wknd/$ 8.4       Total/$ 8.4
4. The Martian/Fox                              Wknd/$ 6.7       Total/$ 207.4
5. The 33/WB                                        Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 5.8
6. Goosebumps/Sony                           Wknd/$ 4.7       Total/$ 73.5
7. Bridge of Spies/Disney                    Wknd/$ 4.3       Total/$ 61.7
8. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo/FIP          Wknd/$ 2.4       Total/$ 2.8
9. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony            Wknd/$ 2.4        Total/$ 165.2
10. The Last Witch Hunter/LG          Wknd/$ 1.5        Total/$ 26.1

DRINK THE FINE WINE, MUTHAFUCKA! THE FINE WINE!
Spectre holds at number one and much has been made of Monica Bellucci appearing as a Bond girl actually Bond’s age. In fact, she’s actually older. This has only happened twice before. First, with Honor Blackman, who as Pussy Galore was also older than Sean Connery and Diana Rigg who was older than George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Know what else these two women have in common? Both were partners to John Steed on The Avengers TV show. Honor Blackman in fact was on the show before Diana Rigg. Sadly, both women played roles that were more integral to the plot than the one Monica Bellucci plays. Bond shows up, has sex with her and leaves. That’s it. It’s the 20-something blonde French girl who is the actual female lead here. Yet another of this film’s mistakes. It should have been reversed. When John McTiernan made The Thomas Crown Affair he fought to have an age appropriate female lead, insisting a middle-aged man (ironically, another Bond, Pierce Brosnan) wasn’t going to open up to a twenty-something. He was right.

BUT I GET IT. THOSE SONGS CAN BE ANNOYING.
The Peanuts Movie holds at number two and there are only two things I can think of that were missing from this movie (even the Kite Eating Tree shows up): Rerun, Linus & Lucy’s younger brother and the Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron songs by the Royal Guardsman. The latter stands out because a good portion of the movie is dedicated to Snoopy’s imaginary battles against The Red Baron.

LIKE REAL FAMILY YOU LOVE THEM WITHOUT SEEING THEM
Love the Coopers opens at number three and this is what you get opening a Christmas movie even before Thanksgiving. In fact, this is too good for it. And isn’t Diane Keaton getting tired of playing the matriarch to a family gathered for some occasion? But someone should have told her, if Olivia Wilde is in it, it’s gonna tank. Seriously, she’s basically the female Ryan Reynolds. Someone who seemingly has everything going for them, but couldn’t buy a hit. I gotta be honest: you’re both TV stars. You’re too generically attractive for the big screen, but would work on the small one. Go there and prosper.

THE ONLY TIME IT’S OKAY TO SAY THEY DO ALL LOOK ALIKE
The Martian is down to number four and also in this is Jessica Chastain, who also needed this to wash away her involvement with Interstellar. Not to mention a hit to balance out the flop that was Crimson Peak. No, that wasn’t her in Jurassic World, but you’re within your rights for thinking so. Even Bryce Dallas Howard has joined the joke of the two of them being mistaken for one another. Kate Mara is also in this, which I think violates the One Carrot Top Per Film Rule. Seriously. You will not see two redheads in a film unless they’re related somehow.

NOT TO MENTION THE TITLE SOUNDS LIKE A HORROR MOVIE
The 33 opens at number five and this is a-bit-too-late movie about those trapped Chilean miners from a few years ago. Honestly, this should have been a TV movie, because it’s something that’s interesting if done right, but not so much if people have to pay for it. Not to mention more people would have seen it.

VANITY THY NAME IS DUDE
Goosebumps is down to number six, followed by Bridge of Spies at number seven and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo at number eight. What is that you ask? Yet another Bollywood film crashing the top ten. Apparently this is based on The Prince & The Pauper. That’s all I know. Well, that and the fact film businesses all over the world are the same, as the female lead in this film is two decades younger than the male lead. Sigh.

THE KEY TO LONG-LASTING CAREER…AND MULTIPLE HOMES
Hotel Transylvania 2 is down to number nine and The Last Witch Hunter closes out the top ten at ten and with only $26M domestic and $84M worldwide, it’s safe to say that this $90M film is not giving birth to a franchise. Good. I want another Riddick movie anyway. Also in this is Michael Caine who is continuing his long-established policy of not choosing movies based on the quality, but on the paycheck and whether or not his character is alive at the end of the movie.

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LIKE, LATTER DAY ROGER MOORE BAD

9 Nov

Heineken-James-Bond-2-GQ-21Aug15-pr_b_720x1080

1. Spectre/Sony                                          Wknd/$ 73.0   Total/$ 73.0
2. The Peanuts Movie/Fox                       Wknd/$ 45.0   Total/$ 45.0
3. The Martian/Fox                                   Wknd/$ 9.3      Total/$ 197.1
4. Goosebumps/Sony                                Wknd/$ 7.0     Total/$ 66.4
5. Bridge of Spies/Disney                         Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 55.0
6. Hotel Transylvania 2/Sony                  Wknd/$ 3.6     Total/$ 161.3
7. Burnt/Weinstein                                    Wknd/$ 3.0     Total/$ 10.2
8. The Last Witch Hunter/LG                  Wknd/$ 2.7     Total/$ 23.6
9. The Intern/WB                                        Wknd/$ 1.8    Total/$ 71.4
10. Paranormal Activity/Paramount       Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 16.3

STUPID. VERY STUPID.
Spectre opens at number one and it’s no secret how much I hated Skyfall. I hated Skyfall so, I went back to look at Quantum of Solace to give it another chance and realized it wasn’t so bad (it’s a good Bond movie until they bring back Matthias from Casino Royale). Bond and stupid stories go together like peanut butter and jelly, but Bond, stupid stories and a painful amount of ennui got together like peanut better, jelly and sardines. Spectre is not as bad as Skyfall though it possibly may even more stupid ironically because it’s trying to patch up some of Skyfall’s stupidity (though not why Bond took M out to the middle of nowhere which got her killed and how he still has a job afterwards). Also it’s needlessly fucking long. Where other Bond movies wisely ended with the destruction of the villain’s base, the apparent death of the villain and the saving of the girl, this goes on for another half hour. Hell, for all I know it kept going on after I left. Also in its attempt to patch up a little of Skyfall stupidity it makes the whole of the Daniel Craig run dumber because it tries to tie them all together. Now, SPECTRE was a Bond nemesis back in the day and yes, they were behind the events of Thunderball, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but now imagine if suddenly they claimed they were behind Dr. No and Goldfinger when they clearly were not (ironically they weren’t in the book of From Russia with Love, but were in the book Dr. No). It would make no sense just as all this now makes no sense. Now suddenly this reboot has become a quad-logy, all being forced into being one giant story when they clearly were not meant to be one. Which is stupid. Even when Bond was fighting SPECTRE (it means Special Executive for Counter Intelligence Terrorism Revenge and Extortion) in every film they didn’t act like every film was a sequel to the previous one. Bond did other things totally unrelated to pursuing the organization, which makes me realize that Daniel Craig is the most worst Bond ever. No, not as actor. He’s great in fact. No, as a secret agent. The Craig Bond is the only Bond who isn’t shown regularly as being a competent agent completing missions without massive exposure (he apparently missed the “secret” class in secret agent school) civilian damage like a superhero or Godzilla movie. In the pre-title sequence every Bond is shown completing a mission more or less cleanly, then starting the main story. Craig only does that his first film. Since then, because they have tried to make this one long damn story, he’s never really shown operating with any kind proficiency, again begging the question: how does this muthafucka keep his job?

ALL THAT’S MISSING IS THE SNOOPY VS. RED BARON SONG
The Peanuts Movie opens ironically at number two and I say ironically because both Peanuts and James Bond were products of the 50’s and achieved nuclear mass of popularity in the 60’s. Also, both films throw out calls to their popular past in both films. There are references to actual strip, the famous Christmas special and the Halloween Special. In addition we have Snoopy fighting The Red Baron, being a novelist and the basic plot revolves around Charlie Brown trying to impress The Little Redheaded Girl. It also goes out of its way to remain in a type of bubble were time hasn’t passed, because Snoopy doesn’t use a computer to write his novel, but a typewriter and I have to wonder if the main audience even knows what those are (they must of realized it because they actually have Snoopy figuring out how it works). But here are no flatscreen TV’s, video games, cell phones or even cordless landlines in this world. The only nod to modernity is that Charlie Brown doesn’t wear short pants. He’s also given more dignity than before. Charles Schultz was adamant about the fact that Charlie Brown always had to lose. Even when he won, he had to lose (in one series of strips Charlie Brown wears a paper sack to hide a baseball stitching rash and becomes a star of summer camp as “Mr. Sack” which he loses immediately after losing the sack). It honestly bordered on sadism towards the end and thankfully his children, who are both producers and writers here are much easier on the character. Charlie Brown is allowed moments of quiet triumph even when he fails and given a solid victory in the end. They also balance out Charlie Brown’s disappointments with Snoopy’s literal flights of fancy. In fact there may be a little too much of Snoopy as the supporting cast gets a short shrift as a result. Linus seems to come in and out as Charlie Brown’s best friend and you’d never know he and Lucy are related. Still, it’s nice to have a new Peanuts cartoon and they can’t get enough points for keeping the computer animation faithful to Schultz’s style.

I FEEL YOU…NOW SHUT UP ABOUT IT
The Martian is down to number three and also in this is Donald Glover who’s playing basically the character he played on Community who comes up with a plan to help save Matt Damon…which seems pretty obvious and it’s kind of a wonder absolutely no one else thought of it, as the astrophysics he suggests are quite common. It was the only moment I didn’t feel like a mouth breathing moron. His presence is notable to me because I’ve been listening to his music as Childish Gambino lately. Like my buddy, I was put off by both his name and another actor doing music, but it’s not bad. I can live without his rapping but I won’t pretend it’s a relief to hear someone rap about something other than “money, clothes an’ hoes.” This doesn’t make it good though. I mean, I can actually relate to him talking about growing up assimilated in freaking Georgia, but still it annoys me and comes off as whining. When will these kids learn you can “diss the haters” without acknowledging that their criticisms have affected you, which is all they wanted. However, his R&B game is strong. Seriously. “Sober” is my jam. He should stick to song and singing, because that’s where he clicks. Even the raps in the songs are better (mainly because he’s not whining). Even his covers are good, as he kills Tamia’s “So Into You.”

UNLESS SOMEONE KICKS THE WOLFMAN IN THE NARDS, I DON’T CARE
Goosebumps is down to number four and I’m actually impressed someone was smart enough to release a movies geared to kids at Halloween, as it is the second most profitable holiday. I was too old for the books by the time they came out, but I wouldn’t mind watching this on cable next year. It’ll never be Monster Squad, but then again, nothing ever will.

EVENTUALLY
Bridge of Spies is down to number five and this is pure Oscar bait, so I will see it…eventually. I’m in no hurry and it’s not going anywhere until awards season is well underway.

IT’S CALLED “WHORING ONE’S SELF OUT”
Hotel Transylvania 2 is down to number six and this was a much needed win for Adam Sandler who’s taken a long overdue beating this year for being the shitty, unfunny comedian he’s always been. What’s truly shocking is that both these movies come from the man behind Samurai Jack, a truly inspired bit of animation. I guess he’s got bills to pay, ‘cause you can’t buy a house for your family on geek praise. Thankfully, he says he’s done with these characters, which, if he actually owns them means something. If not, they’ll be a million more with a different director.

LOOKS BETTER THAN IT TASTES
Burnt is down to number seven and you know you’re dealing with an unimaginative film when the great French father figure chef is named “Jean Luc.” Hell, it’s a miracle it’s not “Jean Pierre.” Thankfully, I didn’t expect much from Burnt so I was able to enjoy it. I wanted pretty people, in a pretty location and pretty shots of food and got all three. Bradley Cooper is the chef making a comeback after burning out on drugs and Sienna Miller is the upcoming sous chef he gets fired to make her work with him. Check. It’s in London and not the London of Guy Ritchie films. Check. Lots and lots of pretty food shots. All that’s missing are shots of more people in ecstasy as they eat it. That’s an essential part of any kind of porn. But take out the great location cursing and you have something that’s little more than a TV movie level of filmmaking. Hint: if part of your character’s motivation involves him having to atone to a dying old man YOU HAVE TO SHOW THAT DYING OLD MAN AT SOME POINT. I’m not kidding. Cooper gets an old friend to make him head chef to a) make it up to the old friend and b) help the old friend impress his father before his father dies and we never ever see the father, much less his response to Cooper’s return or the new restaurant. There’s also a cute kid, a rival chef who was once a friend, a threat from gangsters from the past and of course the great French father figure chef has a beautiful daughter he was once involved with. So many clichés and not a single one made much more than that. Cooper’s original bad boy chef run on the TV show Kitchen Confidential (based very loosely on Anthony Bourdain’s book) was better.

BETTER GET TO WORK ON FAST & THE FURIOUS 8
The Last Witch Hunter is down to number eight and this is Vin Diesel’s attempt to make a third franchise and if he had concentrated on simply making a solid movie than a franchise he might have succeeded. He plays a man made immortal as seeming punishment by The Witch Queen he kills after she murders most of his village with a plague including his wife and daughter. It backfired because he’s now spent 800 years hunting witches as an agent of The Church. Now there’s a treaty between them and the witches. Don’t use magic on humans and every thing is good. But of course now someone has decided to bring back the Witch Queen and Diesel has to stop them. The most interesting aspect of this movie is the idea that witches live in their own underground community among us with bars, clubs and yes, online groups where they talk about how much they hate Vin Diesel. That lets you know how much the main plot fails as “the heavy” the person trying to bring back The Witch Queen, is given no real personality or motivation beyond “just ‘cause.” If they’d made him a character and possibly shown this underground community divided about her return you might have had a better movie. Same for Diesel’s character who’s longing for his lost wife and child comes and goes when needed. There should be more melancholy from given he’s been cursed with immortality, not blessed. Even Highlander got this right.

ALSO DENIRO’S “COMEDY PHASE” WILL CONTINUE
The Intern is down to number eight and this did over $100M overseas. What. The. Fuck? I like Anne Hathaway, but seriously? So yeah, off a $35M budget, $180M total worldwide and even though the studio will get less than half that, combined with the domestic take it will insure that Nancy Meyers will continue to get money to make her pretty, lily white movies. Perfect for you people who haven’t over losing Nora Ephron.

I’M GOING TO SPOIL IT BECAUSE I DON’T CARE
Finally, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension closes out the top ten at number ten and not even Halloween could breathe life into this franchise which single-handedly resuscitated the low-budget “found footage” genre. This is lowest grossing entry of the franchise, which seems to crank out a movie every three six months. It’s also supposed to be the last, which blows because apparently the demon that’s been terrorizing multiple families, killing them and taking their kids. He wins. Seriously. That’s the end. He kills everyone and takes the child. What the fuck!?! This isn’t the 70’s! Why would you end on such a shitty note!?!

THE END OF THE FALL
Final show watched for the fall season…

Rosewood: while I’m glad Morris Chestnut got his own show after all these years and am impressed by a show that’s not only got two minority leads (Black male, Latina female), but also an interracial lesbian couple supporting, it just didn’t grab me and honestly I found it annoying. Yes, it’s a pilot where they do every freaking thing over-the-top for stupid network executives who think it’s other people who are dumb, but him constantly being the “smartest guy in the room” wasn’t so much charming as annoying. That he’s trying to grab every moment of life because he has a heart defect that should have killed him already simply wasn’t enough. But I hope enough people watch to keep it on the air. It’s just that I won’t watch it.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Lost me the moment she started to sing. Sorry. But I am impressed that the ex-boyfriend from summer camp she wants is an Asian male and he’s just another bro. Progress, people.

Supergirl: Okay, this was the big one. CBS deliberately leaked the pilot last year due to the bad buzz that was being generated over its horrible trailer/commercial where it seemed like the SNL skit about a Black Widow movie where it had to be a romantic comedy rather than an action movie because it was about a woman. Honestly, once you get past that part, it becomes a decent TV show. The first episode was still very painfully “a pilot” meaning, again, everything is dumbed down and over the stop because stupid network executives think it’s “other” people who are dumb and not them, but it’s from the people who brought you Arrow and The Flash and they take a little while to find their feet. And yes, while there will still be moments of painful stupidity, the human element it brings (not to mention the geek elements) will hopefully make up for it. I mean, it’s utterly stupid that she doesn’t have any contact with Superman. Until she showed up, he thought he was alone, but doesn’t spend much time with the only other survivor of Krypton who is a freaking blood relative!?! And just a child who’s lost everything!?! Not to mention apparently a Kryptonian prison crashed on earth just after Supergirl releasing all of them on Earth. Pretty sure that would be priority number one for him. The cherry on top is Supergirl’s aunt (twin sister to her mother of course) was in the prison and now wants to take over Earth. So again: other Kyrptonians, some actually related to him and a threat to the world and he’s not around!?! Not even to train her (in the comics he trained her secretly for a year)? They’re seriously pushing suspension of disbelief. This is a movie about superpowered flying aliens in primary colors and they’re pushing suspension of disbelief. That said, I love, love, fucking love it’s true to what Superman is supposed to be: bright and shiny. Supergirl loves having superpowers and loves helping people. There’s no moping or whining. I’m in it for the long haul. Hell, I watched all ten years of Smallville. I can handle this.

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

5 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE JOY CONTINUES

The new Fall season continues so here we go…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FAILING LIKE A BOSS

1 Dec

hemsworths 1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1   Wknd/$ 56.9   Total/$ 225.7
2. Penguins of Madagascar/Fox                Wknd/$ 25.8   Total/$ 36.0
3. Big Hero 6/Disney                                   Wknd/$ 18.8   Total/$ 167.2
4. Interstellar/Paramount                          Wknd/$ 15.8    Total/$ 147.1
5. Horrible Bosses 2/WB                             Wknd/$ 15.7    Total/$ 23.0
6. Dumb and Dumber To/Universal         Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 72.2
7.The Theory of Everything/Focus            Wknd/$ 5.1      Total/$ 9.6
8. Gone Girl/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 2.5      Total/$ 160.8
9. Birdman/FoxS                                           Wknd/$ 1.9      Total/$ 17.2
10. St. Vincent/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 1.8      Total/$ 36.6

OWEN AND LUKE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Pt 1 holds the stop spot and also in this is the other Hemsworth, Liam. So that’s two brothers with major franchises (there’s a third brother, but he ain’t pretty so I hope he has modest goals). The difference being this one is coming to an end and there’s no separate franchise for him for this character. He’s gonna have to go out and get a job. He was in the first Expendables movie, but was killed off almost immediately, but given how that crashed an burned by actually trying to go younger he may have dodged a bullet there, not to mention enjoying the sweet taste of schadenfreude. It’s never too early in you career to take a swig.

WHADDYA KNOW? THE THIRD TIME WAS THE CHARM.
Penguins of Madagascar opens at number two and I hated Madagascar. It was typical, uninspired DreamWorks product, which means all cute surface with celebrity voices and ultimately neither heart nor soul. The best parts of it were the Penguins, who were manic and inspired in a way no other part of the film was. While I refused to put myself through the sequel just to see them again I did wind up getting trapped on a bus where Madagascar 3 was playing…and I have to admit I found it delightfully silly and irreverent in away the previous film (and probably its sequel had lacked). Wondering why, I checked the credits and found a noticeable difference. Co-writer and co-director Tom McGrath was no longer writing and instead the duties had gone to none other than indie darling, Noah Baumbach. Also added as a director was Conrad Vernon. I think that makes it clear who was the problem because Eric Darnell, who has been co-director on every film is still here, neither he nor McGrath is credited as writer, which is the other clear problem. No, it doesn’t get nearly as weird as Madagascar 3 (I’m gonna say it once: cross-dressing tiny dogs with Cockney accents), and now they are burdened with teaching a lesson about love and family which normally fell to the other characters, but it is still as frantic and as irreverent in the way that made the Penguins the best part of every movie. Let me put it his way: Warner Herzog shows up as a voice here. You can’t get more irreverent than freaking Warner Herzog voicing a kids animated film. That they even reached out to him says it all. No, it’s not Pixar but not everything can be steak. Sometimes you just want a good burger and this is a good burger.

I’VE A YEN TO SEE HOW IT DOES? GET IT?
Big Hero 6 is down to number three and much in the way the Asian returns saved Pacific Rim, I’m dying to see how this does in China and Japan given its primary characters and overall subject matter. We may like robots here, but they love them over there. Not to mention Kung Fu Panda did well in China to the point they were complaining why the idea hadn’t come to them first. And the only place Kung Fu Panda 2 did better than the US was China. Not that it’s doing badly here. It’s actually doing better than Wreck-It Ralph did two years ago and has already made budget in the US.

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!
Speaking of international returns, Interstellar is up to almost $400M overseas. Now, this used to be impressive until I learned that studios never receive more than 40% of overseas profits and sometimes as low as 14% so what still matters most is its domestic take…where it has yet to make its $165M budget (not counting prints and advertising) and every week there’s a new article slamming it. The latest is when to take your bathroom breaks. Here’s my advice: don’t go at all and watch it at home where you can stop it anytime you like. But now that it’s been out a month I think we can talk about the third act where it gets really, really stupid, as opposed to the first two acts which were just stupid. Now, Nolan’s been open about how 2001: A Space Odyssey was the biggest influence on this and nowhere is it more obvious (aside from being overlong) than when a character freaks out and starts killing people. In 2001 it was the computer, HAL, who reacted to being given conflicting orders with homicide (or so it was explained in 2010, which I won’t apologize for enjoying). Here it’s secret guest star, Matt Damon as one of the earlier scientists, who reacts to being sent to a dead world by basically trying to kill everyone who rescues him. His plan to kill everyone then take the ship back home makes no sense but I’m going to let it go because he’s clearly been driven insane by his ordeal. Besides, the real point of it is to prove that “love” is what makes the universe work. All the B.S. about hard science being used is just that, because the planet where Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend has landed, the one Matthew McConughey chooses not go to is the inhabitable one. If they’d followed her heart rather than logic, then they could have avoided Good Will Hunting Humans. Man, I dislike this movie more every time I have to think about it.

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING
Speaking of wasting my time, Horrible Bosses 2 opens at number five and this is actually too good for it. Committing the age-old sequel sin of missing just what made the first film work (beyond it being shamelessly derivative of The Hangover characters by the same writers) which the Horrible Bosses of the title. Here the previously tormented characters are the bosses so the basic concept has been thrown out the window and all you have left is the riffing between Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis and Charlie Day, which was fine as a part of the film, but here as the meat it gets really annoying really fast. It’s telling that the best parts about the film are the only two horrible bosses back for the sequel, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Anniston (obviously Colin Farrell couldn’t make it because Kevin Spacey killed him in the first one). Maybe if they’d been allowed to actually be under the thumb of Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine (who clearly relish being horrible as much as the previous bosses did) for awhile there might have been something, but as Kevin Spacey points out, by stupidly getting screwed over by Waltz, they are actually the horrible bosses now. And honestly why are they bosses? With Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell gone, two of the three characters should now have good jobs. I guarantee you I just thought about this more than anyone involved in this film did.

THE OTHERS
Dumb and Dumber To is down to number six, followed by The Theory of Everything rising to number seven and Gone Girl Down to number eight.

MY SHAME
Holding at number nine is Birdman and I’m now embarrassed not to have seen it when I’m clearly making time to see crap like Horrible Bosses 2…and Interstellar.

HELPING A BRUTHA OUT
Finally, St. Vincent is down to number ten and also in this is Terrence Howard and one of the producers of this is Don Cheadle. This may seem like nothing, but I’m smelling a little guilt from Cheadle over taking over the role of War Machine in Iron Man 2 which has not only lead to Iron Man 3, but he’s also going to be in Avengers: Age of Ultron and since Iron Man will be in the third Captain America film he might show up there too. All this could have and should have been Terrence Howard who is still the better Rhodey to me. Howard has said he’s not angry with Cheadle because Cheadle also got him into Crash. Hell, I’d say that means Cheadle owes him twice as much. I think Don agrees.

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THAT MEGA BLOCKS MOVIE IS STRAIGHT TO VIDEO

9 Feb

watersbros

 1. The LEGO Movie/WB                         Wknd/$  69.1            Total/$   69.1

 2. The Monuments Men/Sony               Wknd/$  22.7            Total/$   22.7

 3. Ride Along/Universal                          Wknd/$   9.4             Total/$  105.2

 4. Frozen/Disney                                       Wknd/$   6.9             Total/$ 368.7

 5. That Awkward Moment                       Wknd/$   5.5             Total/$   16.8

 6. Lone Survivor/Universal                     Wknd/$   5.3             Total/$  112.6

 7. Vampire Academy/Weinstein             Wknd/$   4.1             Total/$     4.1

 8. The Nut Job/ORF                                  Wknd/$   3.8            Total/$   55.1

 9. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par         Wknd/$   3.6            Total/$   44.5

10. Labor Day/Paramount                         Wknd/$   3.2            Total/$   10.2

 

STILL WAITING ON THAT PLAY DOH MOVIE

Opening at number one is The LEGO Movie and I’m pretty sure this is the greatest movie ever made. Okay, maybe not “ever” but certainly in my lifetime. Okay, maybe not my lifetime, but definitely this year…so far.  What could a have been a two hour commercial for Lego toys (and I’m not saying it still isn’t) is a near brilliant satire of everything from action movies to other children’s films which are essentially toy commercials to the adults who still buy toys with a fanatical devotion. Wait. What are you looking at me for!?!  The LEGO Movie joins Toy Story in that rarified air of being more than just the wet dream of the marketing department but an actual film in its own right. The main target of its satire is the heroic concept of the average man being “the chosen one” on when everyone around him devotedly helping him is clearly more qualified for the job ,starting with the acolyte who finds “the chosen one.”  In The Matrix it was Morpheus. In Star Wars it was Obi Wan Kenobi. Here it’s the woman known as “Wild Style” who must continually face the question as to whether or not she’s a DJ.  The hero is Emmett who is such a blank slate he spends most of the movie having everyone from Wild Style to Batman (who practically steals the movie) telling him he’s the dumbest man alive.  Try and watch Trinity and Neo now. The jokes come fast and furious, not slowing down for adults, much less the kids who were presumably its main audience but it’s obvious from the beginning with jokes about $32 coffee and conformity that a great deal of this is aimed at their parents who are undoubtedly grateful having sat through a million family films a year without a brain in any of their CGI heads.

 

OCEAN’S 14…MINUS 7

Opening at number two is The Monuments Men, which is based on a the true story of a group of soldiers in WWII assigned to protect the art treasures that Hitler not only looted from Europe but wanted destroyed if he lost.  Talk about the ultimate sore loser. It’s one thing to take your toys and go home, but to take someone else’s? This one of those well-intentioned films that gets an “A” for effort, but not for what it actually manages to accomplish.  A story like this, which is so easily “good vs. evil” would seem to be an easy home run, but maybe it’s too easy, so easy Clooney thought he could do it all (he writes and directs along with being the star).  Ben Affleck accomplished something similar but his virtue is that even as an Oscar winning screenwriter, never thought he could write it himself (if I didn’t know better, I’d say Clooney was competing just a little bit).  A little modesty might have done Clooney some good and ceded the writing to one person and the direction to another as the story just seems to wander from Point A to Point B with little suspense or momentum, which is odd given it’s about the fall of the Nazi empire and the race to save irreplaceable treasures.  Only when a competing faction of Soviet soldiers who plan on keeping the works for themselves do we even get a hint of tension, but it’s not enough. The movie is placed fully on the backs of its amenable stars and luckily for Clooney you’d be hard pressed to find a more likable group of actors than Matt Damon, Billy Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Clooney himself. Watching them be charming and save western culture actually was enough for me but I understand if some need a bit more dramatic heft. I’ve no doubt the History Channel is preparing a special that will be twice as interesting in half the time. If you’ve seen the special about the 300 Spartans you know what I’m talking about.

 

YOUR MOST ROMANTIC MOMENTS ARE USUALLY SPENT NAKED ANYWAY

Ride Along is down to number three, followed by Frozen at number four (a victim of a children’s film actually worth seeing) and That Awkward Moment down to number five and I didn’t realize this was Rated R which is odd for romantic comedies, but something I actually support. I’m still not going to see this, but I support the idea that not every romcom needs to be rated PG. Four Weddings & A Funeral remains one of my favorites and opens with a nonstop you use of f**k and one of the funniest scenes has Hugh Grant trapped by newlyweds who can’t stop boning.

 

AS OF THIS MOMENTS JOKES ABOUT BAD VAMPIRE MOVIES SUCKING ARE FORBIDDEN

Lone Survivor is down to number six followed by Vampire Academy opening at number seven and this was an unfortunately full weekend so I didn’t get to see the film that was actually at the top of my list, having been written and directed by the brothers who brought the world Heathers and its nicer sister, Mean Girls. You’d think with that pedigree and vampires on top of it all this would have been given a larger push, but it was clear from the beginning that they didn’t know what to do with this latest attempt to turn a supernatural young adult book series into a movie franchise. The original trailer was straight up comedy while all the new ones have been seriously action oriented, which was clearly a mistake given the talent behind it and now the box office return.  Personally, I was much more interested in a teen vampire comedy than I was a another serious teen vampire film, but Twilight was more successful than Buffy no matter what your geek friend tells you.

 

NOT FAR FROM THE TREE

The Nut Job is down to number eight the deserved victim of the success of The LEGO Movie, followed by Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at number nine and last and least Labor Day closing out the top ten at number ten. This was directed and co-written by Jason Reitman the son of Ivan Reitman, who brought the world Stripes, Ghostbusters and Meatballs (aka the Bill Murray Trilogy). Jason is no slouch himself having directed Up in the Air and Juno so he’s allowed the occasional miss (and boy did he ever).  But then again, so did dad who has actually made more sow’s ears than silk purses. My Super Ex-Girlfriend anyone? Father’s Day? Evolution? Legal Eagles?

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SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN SPACE

11 Aug

Image

1. Elysium/TriStar                                       Wknd/$  30.5            Total/$  30.4

 2. We’re The Millers/Warners                   Wknd/$  26.6            Total/$  38.0

 3. Planes/Disney                                         Wknd/$  22.5            Total/$  22.5

 4. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters            Wknd/$  14.6            Total/$  23.5

 5. 2 Guns/Universal                                    Wknd/$  11.1            Total/$  48.5

 6. The Smurfs 2/Sony                                 Wknd?$    9.5            Total/$  46.6

 7. The Wolverine/Fox                                 Wknd/$    8.0            Total/$ 112.0

 8. The Conjuring/WB                                 Wknd/$    6.7            Total/$ 120.7

 9. Despicable Me 2/Universal                    Wknd/$    5.7            Total/$ 338.3

10. Grown Ups 2/Sony                                 Wknd/$    3.7            Total/$ 123.8

 

SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE OUTER SPACE

Opening at number one is Elysium and honestly, until Star Wars came along pretty much every science fiction film in the 70’s that wasn’t a drive in creature flick had some political message.  And even there you weren’t entirely safe (Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster anyone?).  So this is actually bit of a throwback to that time, all the way down to the design of the Elysium city in space being a giant wheel in space.  And they were about as subtle as this film where the security forces on the space station of the rich and powerful is called “homeland security” and anyone who isn’t supposed to be there is an illegal immigrant.  Matt Damon is Max Santos…no I’m not kidding. You think someone actually Latino was going to star in this? They wouldn’t have gotten $15 for it much less $115M for a budget.  As I was saying, Max Santos is an ex-car thief—like the actually Spanish Antonio Banderas was in Miami Rhapsody.  Okay, I’ll stop.  Max grew up in an orphanage dreaming of living on Elysium where the rich and power have fled 150 years from now because the Earth is overpopulated and polluted.  Now you’d think if they had the technology to create a giant space station, they’d have the same technology to clean terra firma up, but this a parable about class so save that noise.  They have everything there including medical devices that can cure anything including cancer, but they aren’t sharing.  Max is trying to turn his life around by working in a robot factory when doing so gets him a fatal dose of radiation poisoning.  He’s got 5 days to live so he decides to break into Elysium and cure himself. He’s aided in this by a local crime boss with a social conscience who spends most of his time trying to get people up there and outfits Damon with an exoskeleton to keep him going. Standing in their way is none other than Jodie freaking Foster who is the Defense Secretary of Elysium who thinks of nothing of blowing illegal alien ships out of the sky, much to the chagrin of the space station government, who don’t so much care for the illegals but still draw the line at just killing them outright, which is why they hate the psychopathic agent she has doing the killing that benefits them. Like I said, none of this is subtle and while enjoyable if you think too much on it tends to deflate at bit. Aside from the technology question (you’ve got robots but they aren’t doing the human work?) there’s the question of why is only one guy in LA the only person trying to break in? Shouldn’t everyone all over the world be trying or is Elysium the space station of the rich of California and there are few dozen others, which would have made much more sense?  And if Elysium has its own government, what is the government on Earth and its relationship to it? Does 1600 Pennsylvania Ave matter or does becoming president get you a free ticket up there?  But these are questions you don’t ask yourself when you just want to preach at people through popular entertainment.  Space is America and Earth is Mexico and that’s about as much as you think it through.  It’s clearly all they did here.

 

WE’RE THE MEDIOCRE

We’re The Millers opens at number two and nothing indicates the poor state of big screen comedy than the fact that Jason Sudekis is a leading man.  Yeah, I know Will Ferrell is getting older, but he was a star on TV and Sudekis is just a talented supporting guy.  He’s the new Kevin Nealon…if Kevin Nealon were actually talented.  And Jennifer Anniston should send half her paycheck to Brad Pitt because dumping her for Angelina Jolie made her a star. It’s certainly not her body of work. It’s decidedly mediocre and has more misses than hits. She’s a TV star who somehow escaped to the big screen when she should be in a sitcom that follows Cougar Town (which is actually very funny, by the way). She seems restrained in anything she does, unwilling to commit, like this movie seems. It’s rated “R” but looks PG13, which is why Ferrell is such a clean cut pot dealer, she’s a very wholesome looking stripper and Emma Roberts as a street kid? Are you kidding me?  They clearly were unwilling to go where a movie like this needed to go to be effective. If this were a true R-rated comedy they’d all be much sleazier characters and she’d get butt-ass nekkid for her stripping scene—and I would have been first in line to see that and it would have opened at number one. You gotta be in it to win it, Jen!

 

AT LEAST THERE WON’T BE A TRAINS MOVIE NOW

Speaking me not seeing films, Planes opens at number three and it’s good to see America could tell full well this was not a Pixar film even though Disney did all they could to tie it to one. It didn’t help that they tied it to the weakest Pixar film ever, Cars.  Honestly, I might have given this a shot until I learned that they replaced the voice of Jon Cryer with Dane Cook. Are you kidding me? If you want people to see something why on earth would you put Dane Cook in it, even unseen? Jon Cryer isn’t some great talent, but he was appealing at least once in his life and you’d buy him as the voice of the underdog.  Dane Cook is the voice of the douchebag and always has been.  It died there for me and clearly America was in agreement.

 

DEMI-GOOD

Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters opens at number four and you’d think that being the fan of Greek mythology that I was as a kid I’d have loved a movie about a kid who learns he’s the son of a Greek god and then goes on adventures with other demi-gods.  Well, the problem with that is the god they chose.  Poseidon?  Really? Know any great stories about the children of Poseidon?  Exactly. Hercules is the son of Zeus. Perseus is the son of Zeus. You know who can call Poseidon dad?  Theseus and yes, Pegasus (via Medusa, so clearly Poseidon had no standards).  The movie The Immortals was about Theseus and even there they make him mortal, so little does Poseidon matter.  I would have even settled for Apollo, but Poseidon?  No. Also, all your friends are demi-gods too?  Then how are you special?  Oh, and your name is Percy.  Needless to say, I didn’t see the first and have no interest in the second and clearly I’m not alone.

 

WE DON’T LIKE ACTORS BECAUSE THEY’RE SMART

2 Guns is down to number five and also in this is Paula Patton, whom you call because Halle Berry is too expensive and too big a star.  She and Denzel last teamed in the underrated Déjà Vu which was like an overlong episode of The Outer Limits.  She’s proudly telling people she insisted on her topless scene because it wasn’t authentic that you’d be lounging around after having sex with a bra on.  Even though she’s right, that doesn’t make her any less stupid for thinking she accomplished something by being naked onscreen or that it was some kind of battle to begin with. A bunch of dudes are not going to stop a beautiful woman from taking off her top in their R-rated action movie. In fact that she’s the only naked woman in this 80’s throwback is the odd thing. Besides, her hair is so long you can barely see anything anyway, so what was the point?  At least when Halle did it in Swordfish, she made sure you got the goods.  And it was good.

 

ALL THE STUPIDITY OF PLASTIC SURGERY WITH NONE OF THE BLOOD

The Smurfs is down to number six followed by The Wolverine at number seven and also in this is Famke Janssen as Jean Grey who died in both X2 and X3, but that’s in-keeping with the comics where Jean Grey has also died a number of times.  She’s not really here, just a series of guilty dreams Wolverine has and apparently his dreams require massive amounts of CGI done to her face to eliminate any aging between now and 2006.  Seriously, it’s ridiculous they felt the need to have done that to her but not to Hugh Jackman, who is supposed to be ageless but is clearly doing it quite well. The needless and unsubtle special effects (she started off as a model, people) make her looks freakishly inhuman next to his lined face.

 

THE END

The Conjuring is down to number eight, followed by Despicable Me 2 at number nine and Grown Ups 2 finally puts us all out of our misery at number ten.