Tag Archives: Pixar

ANOTHER BLOODY SEQUEL

10 Jan

kate-beckinsale-shape-magazine-2017-03-662x993
1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story/Disney         Wknd/$ 22.0   Total/$ 477.3
2. Hidden Figures/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 21. 8   Total/$ 24.8
3. Sing/Universal                                                   Wknd/$ 19.6   Total/$ 213.4
4. Underworld: Blood Wars/SGem                    Wknd/$ 13.1    Total/$ 13.1
5. La La Land/LG                                                   Wknd/$ 10.0   Total/$ 51.7
6. Passengers/Sony                                                Wknd/$ 8.8     Total/$ 80.9
7. Why Him/Fox                                                     Wknd/$ 6.5     Total/$ 48.6
8. Moana/Disney                                                   Wknd/$ 6.4      Total/$ 225.4
9. Fences/Paramount                                            Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 40.7
10. Assassin’s Creed/Fox                                      Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 49.5

THE SAD TRUTH IS NOSTALGIA PAYS…AND PAYS WELL
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story holds at number one and I’m sorry, but I cannot drink the Kool Aid on this one. It ain’t all that. It’s taking for granted your affection for this universe and so not bothering to build actual characters for you to know or care about. And on top of that throwing in useless fan shout-outs that briefly stop the momentum of a film desperately lacking it. As you know this is the story of how the plans to The Death Star came to be in the hands of Princess Leia. It’s through the use of a kinda of “Magnificent Seven in Space” which was honestly done better in Battle Beyond The Stars. What you don’t know is that it also feels the need to answer unasked questions like “Who was Red Five before Luke Skywalker?” And don’t get me started on the computer-reanimated corpse of Peter Cushing in the form of a total CGI Grand Moff Tarkin. Hella creepy and distracting. I’ve got no problem with the initial concept of the film, but it suffers from one of the same flaws as the horrible prequels: the need to set up everything that follows rather than simply tell its own story. How disappointing is it? Think of the two most inconsequential characters from Star Wars and know they show up here in a “funny” cameo.

FAILURE OF THE BLACK MAN PT 1
Hidden Figures is up to number two and this completes the hat trick of critically acclaimed film with Black actors as leads that I’ve failed to see while somehow finding time to see shit like Christmas Office Party. The other two are Moonlight and Loving. But I still say I’m going to see them. I am. Stop laughing.

PLUS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANY SUCKY NEW SONGS
Sing is down to number three and on one hand this looks like a lot of fun. On the other it’s almost two fucking hours long and this is simply not a two-hour concept. The songs do not need to be played to completion to get the joke and I have the funny feeling that’s exactly the mistake they’ve made here. But I’m sure on cable it will be nothing but fun.

HOT CHICK + ACCENT + GUNS = MY MONEY
Underworld: Blood Wars opens at number four and yes, this I found time for. Sorry, but it’s been a 14-year commitment for me. Well, that and the neverending delight of Kate Beckinsale in skintight rubber. When we last left her the nocturnal family (vampire, half-vampire-half-werewolf and their daughter) had been reunited despite the lack of Scott Speedman. If you think CGI Tarkin was distracting at least he looked like Peter Cushing. The budget of Underworld simply couldn’t handle recreating Speedman and did some sad shit to a poor actor thinking maybe porn would have been less humiliating. Also, Kate Beckinsale’s character been in suspended animation for 15 years and in that time had not given birth to to the afforementioned daughter but humans had learned of both vampires and werewolves and were trying to wipe them all out. As it turned out werewolves were behind all that getting their revenge on almost being wiped out by vampires in the previous films. Well, all that’s gone. No, seriously. They don’t mention anything about the change in the status quo or how werewolves infiltrated the mainstream. All that remains is Kate Beckinsale’s half-vampire-quarter werewolf daughter and the fact the vampires are now on the ropes. But that’s not the problem. The problem is big, emotional moments in the film that tie characters back to the first Underworld and threaten to provide actual character development are rushed through. Imagine if Darth Vader had reveal himself to be Luke’s father and there wasn’t even a beat of drama then he followed it up with “And Leia is your sister.” And even that was followed up by something else as if they had to get it all in before the movie ended. This movie is only 91 minutes so easily could have spared the characters another eight or nine minutes so they could react to things and at least feign giving their characters depth. Being almost two hours long didn’t hurt the first film and why it still remains the best is due to the wide variety of individual characters who are in fact given those little “beats.” There’s the potential for that here as we are introduced at least five new characters who seem interesting, but again, none are really given the time to be fleshed out. We never even learn the bad guy’s plan, which is kind of important because he actually says he’s trying to end the war between vampires and werewolves. And he’s got a vampire lover trying to help him for the same reason. That’s kind of an important plot point given Kate Beckinsale repeatedly expresses how she’s tired of the killing. Finally, at $35M you don’t have the loot for elaborate CGI, so again look to the original and see how many of the werewolf effects were practical, not computer animated. Being the 4th best out of a five movie series is not exactly impressive (in order of best to worst they are Underworld, Underworld Rise of the Lycans, Underworld Evolution, Underworld Blood Wars and Underworld Awakening).

CAN’T GET FROM UNDER THAT “BURDEN” CAN YOU?
LaLa Land is down to number five and I have zero desire to see this, but it’s an Awards favorite now so I guess I have to. Sorry, but they lost me at “White Guy Who Will Be The Savior of Jazz” character and nothing I’ve read about it is really changing my mind.

SUBMITTED FOR YOUR APPROVAL SOMETHING THAT’S BETTER IN SHORTER FORM
Passengers is down to number six and this is yet another Outer Limits/Twilight Zone episode that escaped into theaters. Chris Pratt is an engineer on a spaceship that puts passengers into suspended animation for its 120-year travel time. Unfortunately a meteor storm damages the ship and wakes him up and he cannot go back, so after a year of isolation he wakes up 20-something hottie, Jennifer Lawrence. I like Chris Pratt, but his acting skills aren’t really up to par showing a man who basically goes nuts from loneliness and dooms another person rather than be alone. Jennifer Lawrence can’t do anything with it either and she’s someone whose performance reflects the quality of her material. The biggest problem is the script won’t commit to its dark premise. They want Chris Pratt to stay a likable sane guy but a likable sane guy wouldn’t do what he does, so he has to either be an asshole or nuts and they won’t allow him either. And don’t get me started on the cop-out ending… The Twilight Zone wouldn’t have wussed out like that.

I MEAN…LOOK AT HIM!
Why Him is down to number seven and one of biggest problems in Hollywood is how long they try to hold onto a “younger” male actor. James Franco is not the young male lead any longer. He’s pushing 40 and this role is clearly supposed to be someone in their 20’s. Notice they didn’t cast his love interest older. Nope. She’s actually in her 20’s while he’s “playing” that role. And it looks like ass to boot.

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!
Moana is down to number eight and Disney needs to stop pushing the ballad for Oscar consideration. The best song is “You’re Welcome.” Not to mention, if nominated it means we’ll see Dwayne Johnson singing it at the Oscars (with help from writer Lin Manuel Miranda). Now who doesn’t want that!?!

FAILURE OF THE BLACK MAN PT 2
Fences is down to nine and my Guilt Trilogy has become a Guilt Quadrilogy because I haven’t seen this fucking thing either. Sigh. I’m failing at being Black in 2017…clearly holding over from 2016.

SAVED FROM MYSELF
Finally, Assassins Creed closes out the top ten at number ten and if I had the time I so would have saw this. I’m sad.

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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 BOURNE REDUNDANCY

1 Aug

jason-bourne-matt-damon
1. Jason Bourne/Universal                       Wknd/$ 60.0    Total/$ 60.0
2. Star Trek Beyond/Paramount             Wknd/$ 24.0    Total/$ 105.7
3. Bad Moms/STX                                      Wknd/$ 23.4    Total/$ 23.4
4. The Secret Life of Pets/Universal       Wknd/$ 18.2    Total/$ 296.2
5. Lights Out/New Line                             Wknd/$ 10.8    Total/$ 42.9
6. Ice Age: Collision Course/Fox             Wknd/$ 10.5     Total/$ 42.1
7. Ghostbusters/Sony                                Wknd/$ 9.8      Total/$ 106.2

8. Nerve/LGF                                              Wknd/$ 9.0      Total/$ 15.1
9. Finding Dory/Disney                            Wknd/$ 4.2       Total/$ 469.0
10. The Legend of Tarzan/WB                 Wknd/$ 2.4       Total/$ 121.9

NOT FUNNY BECAUSE IT’S TRUE
Jason Bourne opens at number one and Matt Damon once joked that the next sequel would be called “The Bourne Redundancy” because there was only so much of a story to tell. Well, the joke has become reality because there really is nothing left to tell. Every single Bourne film has been about him trying to find out about his past and honestly that pretty much ended in the second one when he learned his real name. The third one was already running on fumes, but at least it left him home in the US, which felt like an even more definitive ending. Even the poster was about him “coming home.” Apparently not to stay, given we open with him participating in illegal bare-knuckle boxing matches in Greece, where apparently no one records them with cell phones ever. Julia Stiles, who only now, 14 years later looks old enough to be working at the CIA, draws him back in because she’s learned even more secrets about his past. This time we learn his father was a) a CIA analyst (yes like Jack Ryan), b) may have created the Super Soldier Program—er, sorry—I mean the Treadstone Program that made him into an undefeatable assassin and c) wanted to tell him something right before he was killed by terrorists. Now, she’s also been living off the grid (working with hackers to expose government secrets) since we last saw her almost ten years ago, which means she’s also got some CIA skills, right? Then why is it when she need needs to disappear into a crowd she doesn’t cover that fucking head of blonde hair!?! Seriously. It sticks out so much it’s like her fucking head was on fire. It’s literally part of the way they track her down! The very first thing that Bourne does to Franke Potente in the first Bourne film is change her fucking hair! Here, Julia Stiles doesn’t have the common sense to put a fucking hat on. That’s basically when I checked out of this. It’s little more than a paycheck for Damon and Greengrass and it feels that way. There’s a “modern” plot about the threat of government surveillance using social media, which means it’s actually about ten years old. Speaking of old, Matt Damon is just that now and part of the appeal of Bourne was that he was young. The group of 20-something girls I saw in the audience at The Bourne Identity was pretty much proof of that. Now he’s a 40-something man and looks every year of it. I’m not saying he didn’t get in shape for this, but I know from experience what 40-something man sucking in his gut looks like and the one scene (and I mean one) where his shirt is off, he’s sucking in his gut. Flashbacks to the slim jawline don’t help. And you know all those badass hand-t0-hand fight scenes from the original trilogy? Well, there’s exactly one in this one and it comes at the very end after a dull car chase through Las Vegas. That’s especially disappointing given the car chase in The Bourne Supremacy is literally one of the best ever put on film. Honestly, The Bourne Legacy was better than this movie and it was as dumb as shit.

SOME…DRAMATIC…PAUSES…COULD…ONLY…HELP
Star Trek Beyond is down to number two and speaking of The Bourne Supremacy the bad guy Bourne faces off with in that is none other than Karl Urban, who plays Dr. McCoy in this reboot. He does a good job in his Deforest Kelly impression even if he does lean into it a little hard at times. I guess he has to, given how charisma free Chris Pine is. Granted, no one wants a bad Shatner impression (or do we?) and Serious Kirk is better than Dumbass Frat Boy Who Fails Upward Kirk, but there was at least some energy in Dumbass Frat Boy Who Fails Upward Kirk. Slightly Depressed Because of Work Kirk whose birthday corresponds to the day his father died is dull and I can’t really blame Pine too much because they don’t give him much to work with. And if you think the basic bad guy plot from Wrath of Khan is borrowed, remember it also started with a Slightly Depressed Kirk drinking with Dr. McCoy discussing his birthday. The difference being Kirk here is thinking of leaving space for a desk job while that Kirk was depressed from having a desk job. The movie is supposed to do the same. Show how a crisis jars him out of his depression with a renewed purpose but that’s sacrificed for generic action. There’s no real character progression from A to B. Again the lackluster bad guy is a failure because he should be Kirk’s opposite number, showing him why Kirk is still needed in space and why it matters and none of that really happens. And goddamnit, where are the English literature references!?! Star Trek is rather infamous for using them, but in three films I cannot recall a single one. One of the few times my degree means something and it’s gone…

I GUESS NEXT TIME IT’LL BE THREE TEENAGE GIRLS
Bad Moms opens at number three and this is from the writers of The Hangover and you can tell. Once again we’ve got three people: The Pretty One, The Crazy One and The Straightlaced One. They used it for Horrible Bosses and the director of The Hangover used it also Project X (though he went old school and had classic movie trinity of Nice Wasp, Obnoxious Ethnic and Fat One). Hey, if it ain’t broke and still makes some cheddar, don’t fix it, amirite? Except it is broken. Horrible Bosses had talented casts in both films, which help to carry it for the first and allowed the second to be at least not awful (it’s the best I can give it). This on the other hand looks bad in that “pathetically desperate for laughs” way. It has an awful trailer where they try sooooo hard to be raunchy funny and fail sooooo miserably. Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis are learning the hard way that life outside the Judd Apatow umbrella isn’t as easy as you might think. Granted, I’m sure they were both tired of pretending to be attracted to Jason Segel and supporting some dude (especially when that dude is Jason Segel), but they just don’t have the comic chops to elevate bad material. I despise Seth Rogen, but as bad as the trailer for The Sitter looked, some of it still made me laugh. Kunis peaked at Jackie on That 70’s Show (along with her husband, Ashton Kutcher) and that was the benefit of good writing and honestly, playing a shallow character. Ask Tom Cruise how beneficial it is for limited actors to play characters who are supposed to be shallow.

NOT EVERYONE BECAME BILL MURRAY YOU KNOW
The Secret Life of Pets is down to number four and lets see who signed up for an easy paycheck and/or to be in a film their kids could see. Louis CK (for the kids), Eric Stonestreet (paycheck), Kevin Hart (both), Jenny Slate (paycheck), Lake Bell (both), Albert Brooks (both, but grandkids), Dana Carvey (sooo needed this paycheck), Hannibal Buress (paycheck) and Bobby Moynihan (paycheck). Wait. Larraine Newman!?! WTF!?! I’d be less surprised to see Charles Rocket and he’s dead.

GLAD TO SEE A PRETTY BLONDE GIRL FINALLY MAKE IT IN HOLLYWOOD
Lights Out is down to number five and at over 9x its budget in two weeks, it’s safe to say this is a serious hit. I’m glad for one reason only: Teresa Palmer finally has a hit. She’s an Australian actress who’s been hopping around for a few years in mediocre genre flicks supporting some dude who has none of her natural charisma. She was “the girl” in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for Jay Baruchel whom thankfully they’ve stopped trying to make a lead. She was “the girl” in Take Me Home Tonight for Topher Grace whom thankfully they’ve stopped trying to make a lead. She was “the girl” in Warm Bodies for Nicholas Hoult whom they haven’t stopped trying to make a lead just yet. And while she wasn’t “the girl” in I Am Number Four—that was poor Diana Argon—for walking mannequin, Alex Pettyfer whom they’ve thankfully stopped trying to make a lead, but she was the only girl that mattered as the badass Number Six who shows up to kick ass and take names. Helping immensely was the fact she got to use her Australian accent and not be another generic American blonde.

NOT ONE GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL IS TOLD THEY DON’T HAVE A DICK
Ice Age: Collision Course is down to number six, followed by Ghostbusters at number seven and yeah, this ain’t gettin’ a sequel unless it does massively well on the home video (DVD, on-demand, etc) and one thing it does really gets wrong is that the first was very much a New York comedy. It had plenty of local color. Things happened there that couldn’t happen anywhere else. Every single person on a civil service level was cranky and cynical just like real life. And it looked a little dirty. None of that exists here. They might as well have set it in Boston where they filmed most of it, location mattered so little and it should have mattered.

ALREADY BETTER THAN HER AUNT
Nerve opens at number eight and do you think they cast Emma Roberts because Dave Franco (yes, James’ younger brother) is so short or they cast Dave Franco because Emma Roberts is so short? And this is a bad sign for both their careers, especially hers. A slick, youth-oriented film based on a Young Adult novel with two young stars that can’t even break the top five? In the middle of summer!?! Ouch. I like Emma Roberts because I like that she’s over trying to be nice, pretty blonde female lead (she was the star of the last Nancy Drew movie). She’s been the icy, blonde bitch since becoming legal and does it well. Lets you know she learned from dad, Eric Roberts, that the most interesting roles are always a bit darker. And while she should change it up a bit, I hope the lessons of Teresa Palmer are not lost on her. Yes, be the lead in a low-budget genre flick. Get that instant boost. Oh, and don’t support lame-ass dudes.

THE SUMMER WHERE YOU ACTUALLY LOOKED FORWARD TO WATCHING THE OLYMPICS
Finding Dory is down to number nine followed by The Legend of Tarzan at number ten and how lame has this summer been for movies? I don’t think I’ve seen this few in a forever and even the ones I’ve seen haven’t been good or bad enough to be that memorable. When the numbers come out in September I’m not going to be even remotely surprised to read this was a low-grossing summer. See, when people go to see a movie that’s good they’re more apt to try again the next week and the week after that. If they see two bad or disappointing movies in a row, they might not go again in a month even if something that was previously interesting to them was being released. Especially in summer, when it’s actually nice to be outside actually doing something. So yeah, a shocking as it sounds, good movies are good for business.

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GOING WHERE WE’VE GONE BEFORE

25 Jul

katemc
1. Star Trek Beyond/Paramount             Wknd/$ 59.6    Total/$ 59.6
2. The Secret Life of Pets/Universal       Wknd/$ 29.4   Total/$ 260.7
3. Ghostbusters/Sony                                Wknd/$ 21.6    Total/$ 86.9
4. Lights Out/New Line                             Wknd/$ 21.6    Total/$ 21.6
5. Ice Age: Collision Course/Fox             Wknd/$ 21.0    Total/$ 21.0
6. Finding Dory/Disney                             Wknd/$ 7.2      Total/$ 460.2
7. The Legend of Tarzan/WB                   Wknd/$ 6.4      Total/$ 115.8
8. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates    Wknd/$ 4.4      Total/$ 40.4
9. Hillary’s America/QF                             Wknd/$ 3.7      Total/$ 3.7
10. The Infiltrator/BG                                Wknd/$ 3.3      Total/$ 12.2

AND NO GODDAMN LENS FLARES!
Opening at number one is Star Trek Beyond and honestly until the Rhianna song was used effectively in the trailer to give it gravitas I’d planning on giving this the same pass I gave Star Trek Insurrection, so kudos to whomever cut that thing. They deserve a serious fucking raise. Hell, I even bought the song so they got me all around. This is the first of the “nu Trek” to come even close to the original series and I don’t think it’s any coincidence it’s the first without cut-rate Spielberg, JJ Abrams. It’s akin to one of the more action oriented episodes, meaning there’s punching and shooting and things blowing up just fine, but once again there’s zero depth and no examination of anything relevant. The trailers suggest something about “the Frontier” pushing back against the Federation and I thought they’d take a look at some civilizations resenting the idea they’re being “discovered” or rejecting being part of some galactic organization. Nope. Once again the “nu Trek’s” bad guy is just some dick with a grudge, so basically they keep remaking Wrath of Khan. And they really, really, really need to stop with the callbacks to the original series. It just pulls me out of this film and reminds me how inferior it is to the source material. I know people usually love easter eggs, but not three goddamn films in. Enough already. The problem has always been the writing, never the casting so Chris Pine is finally allowed to play Kirk as a captain and not a frat boy failing upwards, but goddamn he’s aging fast. They’re going to be recasting this thing any day now. Zachary Quinto has always been good as Spock and how they address the death of Leonard Nimoy in the film makes an old geek a little misty. All the other cast members do as much with their roles as they can in what is a pretend ensemble piece (it’s always about Kirk & Spock and everybody knows it).

THIS YEAR’S FUNNY BLONDE
The Secret Life of Pets is down to number two, followed by Ghostbusters at number three and Kate McKinnon is awesome. Sadly there probably won’t be a sequel to this where they can give her direction and character beyond, “Be as weird as possible for no reason.” Basically she’s the Harold Ramis character in this film but replace small bits of wit (“Print is dead.” “I collect spores, molds and fungus.” “It would be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing approximately 600 lbs.”) with excessive mugging. But her wink makes boys and girls alike melt. She’s a comedic superstar just waiting to happen.

SERIOUSLY, IT’S FUCKED UP
Lights Out opens at number three and as we all know I don’t do the scary and this looks scary to the point of being utterly. fucked. up. Being haunted by a creature that appears when the lights go out!?! Could you channel primal fucking fears any better? I will never fucking see this more than I’ll never see all the other horror movies released. If you’re just basically competent this should work. Hell, there was another, less creepy version of this 13 years ago called Darkness Falls that also made money. In fact, the only odd thing about it was the lack of a sequel. This, however will probably get one, having cost $5M and making FOUR TIMES that much the opening weekend. And I’m not going to point out the irony of a female led ghost movie outdoing the female led Ghostbusters movie. Nope. Not me.

DID I MENTION IT WAS SHITTY AND LAME?
Ice Age: Collision Course opens at number five and if I weren’t an atheist I’d pray that this poor opening would mean an end to this shitty, shitty, fucking lame animated franchise. I only saw the shitty, shitty fucking lame first installment, but I sincerely doubt it got any less shitty or fucking lame.

THIS YEAR’S SEXY BLONDE
Finding Dory is down to number six, followed by The Legend of Tarzan at number seven and while this is a blow to the leading man career of Alexander Skarsgard, it’s not doing anything to Margot Robbie other than keeping her in the public eye until she truly blows up which seems to be the case in the upcoming Suicide Squad. Fortunately for her, the male leads are getting the blame for the failure of these. Last time it was Will Smith in Focus. Makes sense as they undoubtedly got paid much more.

BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU FOR FUN AND PROFIT
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is down to number eight with Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party opening at number nine and there seems to be a growing sub-category of right-wing-conspiracy nut films. I’d love to see the money trail of who really paid for this. This is the second one from self-hating brown person Dinesh D’Souza (writer, director and star of course) who last went after Obama in—you guessed it—Obama’s America. I wonder if he’s aware of the irony that actually succeeding with these films in tarnishing or bringing down his targets would put him out of a job? I think he does and he’s voting Hilary in November so he can bank on a sequel and a second home in the mountains.

IT AIN’T SHOW ART, IT’S SHOW BUSINESS. NO BUSINESS, NO SHOW.
Finally, The Infiltrator closes out the top ten at number ten and Bryan Cranston needs to generate some green to go along with his accolades because prestige only goes so far. But I think he knows that already which is why he was in Godzilla two years ago, Kung Fu Panda this year and Power Rangers next year. He’s been in this business too long not to know its realities.

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BOO! VAGINAS!

18 Jul

Alexander-Skarsgard-The-Legend-Of-Tarzan-New
1. The Secret Life of Pets/Universal        Wknd/$ 50.6     Total/$ 203.1
2. Ghostbusters/Sony                                Wknd/$ 46.0     Total/$ 46.0
3. The Legend of Tarzan/WB                   Wknd/$ 11.1       Total/$ 103.1
4. Finding Dory/Disney                             Wknd/$ 11.0      Total/$ 445.5
5. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates     Wknd/$ 7.5        Total/$ 31.3
6. The Purge: Election Year/Universal   Wknd/$ 6.1        Total/$ 71.0
7. Central Intelligence/WB                        Wknd/$ 5.3       Total/$ 117.5
8. The Infiltrator/BG                                  Wknd/$ 5.3       Total/$ 6.7
9. BFG/Disney                                             Wknd/$ 3.7        Total/$ 47.3
10. Independence Day 2/Fox                    Wknd/$ 3.5       Total/$ 98.5

IT’S TWO HOURS OF SLEEPING AND BALL LICKING
The Secret Life of Pets holds at number one and I had zero interest in seeing this movie when the jokes in the trailer seemed so…conventional, but I am clearly alone in this. Yeah, it’s summer and seemingly damn near anything that can keep your out-of-school kids occupied for two hours can make a dollar if you’re even the least bit competent, but it’s gotten some decent reviews as well. So, maybe on cable in 18 months. Maybe. I mean that damn movie about blue parrots is on cable now too, but I still won’t watch it.

UNLIKE THEIR REAL LIVES, THIS IS FILLED WITH WOMEN
Ghostbusters: It’s Chicks Now opens at number two and the lonely, neckbeards who kicked and screamed and stomped their feet over this remake are undoubtedly cheering for it missing the number one slow. I don’t know why. It’s still a solid opening with some decent reviews so it’s not a failure creatively or financially. Well, the latter still remains to be seen, but I think it’ll be okay. Not to mention, to be perfectly the original Ghostbusters wasn’t that goddamn great. It wasn’t and you’re either lying or only saw it as a child the first time. It’s a solid “B” which unfortunately came from three guys who’d made “A” comedies around the same time. Harold Ramis and Bill Murray both had Stripes and Dan Akroyd had Trading Places and even Sigourney Weaver would have Working Girl by the end of the decade. But I have to admit this is not better than the original. It lacks the focus in both storytelling and character and fails to make the most of its reservoir of comedic talent. Not to mention the very New York attitude of the original is sorely missing. I mean, you’ve got a problem when the funniest person is Chris Hemsworth, who is not successful because of his comedic chops. He not only gets to play the rock dumb receptionist but also the villain when his body is possessed but even that is undercut by an omission of a potentially great comedic sequence and just using it to accompany the credits (seriously, don’t leave until the lights come up). It’s a B- remake of a movie that was a B+ on its best day. Not to mention if Ghostbusters was so fucking sacred to you, then Ghostbusters 2 was more fucking sacrilegious to you than this could ever be as it just flat out remade the first and poorly. The best thing about it was the Bobby Brown song…which itself was a remake of his “Don’t Be Cruel.”

WHICH SIDE YOUR BREAD IS BUTTERED, GENIUS!?!
The Legend of Tarzan is down to number three and I meant to see this but then I read Alexander Skarsgard say in an interview that he doesn’t get to wear the loincloth even though he had in fact campaigned for it. And I get it. You don’t put on twenty pounds of muscle to play an ironic hero then get told you can’t wear the iconic clothing. That the director failed that basic bit of common sense to have Tarzan in his famous garb, not to mention the obvious commercial aspect of Alexander Skarsgard in a fucking loincloth let me know that maybe, just maybe his common sense failed in a lot of other areas as well. It looks something that’s probably most enjoyable at home while clothed in one’s own loincloth like garment.

WOMEN WHO TALK DIRTY
Finding Dory is down to number four followed by Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates at five and once again, Zac Efron gives the finger to playing to his looks and goes straight for the crude “R” rated dollar. Back with him is his Bad Grandpa costar, Aubrey Plaza, but also dipping a toe into the dirty pool this time is none other than Anna Kendrick who brings along her Pitch Perfect costar, Adam Devine. Everybody’s taking a trip to the dark side it seems. I’ve never seen a single one of Zac Efron’s movies and nothing about the way this looked threatened to change that, but I am hoping one day to give an Aubrey Plaza movie my money. I do like her and she’s even more fearless as Efron in her choice of comedic roles (check out The To Do List on cable).

LIKE IT COULD BE ANYMORE RIDICULOUS THAN REALITY
The Purge: Election Year is down to number six, but do not fear. At $70M from a $10M budget, this series isn’t going anywhere any time soon, even though the plot of this film has to do with getting rid of the titular occurrence. And even though it’s made serious loot, you know the producers wish they’d had an inkling of what the political situation would be so they could incorporate it into the film itself. The best they could do was to add “Make America Great Again” into the ad campaign.

TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT, BUT CAN CARRY THE OCCASIONAL FILM
Central Intelligence is down to number seven and Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart continue their streak of neither being able to carry a film themselves but to pair up with someone who can help them. It’s like two half-stars making a single star, rather than a film with two actual stars, like the similar Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

GROWN UPS TAKE THE SUMMER OFF TOO
The Infiltrator opens at number eight and this is what we call “counter programming” kids. Every summer someone tries to release a serious drama in the middle of summer convinced that adults would be dying for release from the neverending series of big budget action, science fiction and kids movies. They are almost always wrong. Look for this to probably get a brief re-release in the fall to generate some awards notice. I mean it is Bryan Cranston in a “based on a true story.” It would have to be a total dumpster fire not to. Ooh. Only 66% on Rotten Tomatoes? Ouch. Methinks I smell smelly smoke. And poor Benjamin Bratt. To be so pretty yet still have to play the roles that Latino actors have to play. This is yet another drug dealer for him. At least go back to playing cops, dude. Or get a sitcom. ABC has a black family comedy and an Asian family comedy. Be the dad in their Latino family comedy!

YOU SHOULD HAVE DIRECTED THE STAR WARS MOVIE AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT
The BFG is down to number nine and I can’t help but enjoy this failure because not only is it Steven Spielberg, not only is it his first film with Disney, but it’s in the middle of summer on top of it! Once upon a time that would have been a license to print money, but here it’s one. big. flop. And did I mention it’s also based on a well-known children’s book? That means it had a built-in audience and still couldn’t get it done. Their first mistake was to keep that acronym title instead of going with Big Friendly Giant, as for the last 20 years BFG means one thing in popular culture: Big Fucking Gun from the Doom video game. Not really conducive with a children’s film. I can’t wait to see who Spielberg will blame for this and he will blame everyone but himself.

FUCK THIS GUY
My other piece of extraordinary schadenfreude is the tanking of Independence Day Resurgence. Fuck Roland Emmerich and the horse he rode in on. This asshole took women and minorities out of Stonewall (which also flopped) and later claimed it was a white male movement, then for this he brought back everyone who’d come back—including a character who fucking died in the first one—but neglected to bring back the president’s daughter, played by Mae Whitman and instead replaced her with someone more traditionally pretty (i.e., thin and blonde). His excuse was that she wouldn’t come in and read for the role. I’m not kidding. He wanted her to come in and read for her own damn role, when the real reason it most likely he didn’t think she was pretty enough to be the love interest for Liam Hemsworth. You think he asked Bill Pullman or Jeff Goldblum to read for their roles? Of course not. Bear in mind, of all the returning cast members not a single one of them was the lead in a successful theatrical film in the last decade (even Liam Hemsworth has only been a supporting player in successful films, never the lead). You know who has been? Mae Whitman, who was the star of The Duff. Not a $100M blockbuster, but it made 4x its freaking budget and she was the sole and unquestioned star. Not to mention she’s been on Parenthood for the last couple of years. To sum up, he’s an asshole and this bombed domestically and critically. Yeah, it’s making money overseas, but it won’t be enough as Warcraft just proved which made even more, but still is a failure and won’t have sequels like Emmerich hoped for this. The weird thing is the third idea actually sounded interesting: the earth invades the alien world. But again, fuck this guy.

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FINDING MONEY

20 Jun

icy
1. Finding Dory/Disney                          Wknd/$ 136.2   Total/$ 136.2
2. Central Intelligence/WB                    Wknd/$ 34.5     Total/$ 34.5
3. The Conjuring 2/WB                          Wknd/$ 15.6      Total/$ 71.7
4. Now You See Me/LG                           Wknd/$ 9.7       Total/$ 41.4
5. Warcraft/Universal                             Wknd/$ 6.5       Total/$ 37.7
6. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                    Wknd/$ 5.2       Total/$ 146.1
7. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2      Wknd/$ 5.2        Total/$ 71.9
8. Me Before You/Warner                      Wknd/$ 4.2       Total/$ 46.1
9. Alice Through the Looking Glass     Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 69.3
10. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 2.3       Total/$ 401.2

FINDING INSPIRATION
To the surprise of absolutely no one Finding Dory opens at number one. Now, I’m against Pixar sequels on principle but Pixar gets a better response than most because a) they don’t always do them, b) when they do them it’s so far down the line it’s not an obvious money grab and c) they get it right as Toy Story has defied all odds and just gotten better every time. Even Monsters University was better than it had any right to be (no comment on Cars 2 because Cars sucked). So, Finding Dory comes more than a decade after Finding Nemo because they genuinely felt there was no story to tell until now which is stunning in the entertainment business. As if that had anything to do with it. Hell, the Disney board would have been satisfied if Nemo had just gotten lost again and they’d just repeated the first. Luckily for us the Pixar creative leads wanted more and more in this case was about Dory slowly remembering her own family and going off in search of them and while it’s definitely good, there’s no singular brilliant moment like the chant of a seagull being “Mine” or the wonderful irreverence of the sharks who no longer want to eat fellow fish. Despite their good intentions to tell an original story it does feel a bit too familiar, the brightest spark being provided by an octopus who doesn’t want to return to the ocean, but instead wants a nice tank in Cleveland where no one will bother him (voiced by Ed O’Neil). One of the keys to Finding Nemo’s creative success was the wonderful supporting cast, from the adult and child populace of Nemo’s home reef to the laid back turtles to denizens of the dentist office tank to half a dozen others in between. They just don’t match that here and while we see the kids of the reef and the turtles again, they don’t have the same spark. Nonetheless it’s still better than 90% of what else is out there as the sad trailers for Storks and Ice Age: This Goddamn Franchise Has Lasted Longer Than The Actual Ice Age proved. If Finding Nemo was an A+ (and it was) then this is a solid B+. Oh, and make sure you stay through the end credits. There’s always something there…as I found out this weekend with Brave.

WHAT? COULDN’T GET PERMISSION FOR MARIAH?
Central Intelligence opens at number two and it seems logical that two of the hardest working men in show business would finally end up in a movie together. Not since Michael Caine in the 80’s have actors seeming been so omnipresent onscreen. It’s also a great creative move on both their parts for Kevin Hart to actually play the straight man to Dwayne Johnson playing the funny guy. Kevin Hart is Dean Martin while Dwayne Johnson is Jerry Lewis (ask your parents what that means). While I bear it no ill will, I have zero interest in either of them as anything beyond being supporting characters to actual leads. They simply lack that for me. The trailer shows a film, while not aimed at the lowest common denominator of comedy, is severely broad reaching. Oh, look. When Dwayne Johnson was in high school he was fat and sang En Vogue in the shower ‘cause fat guys and guys who sing girl songs are funny. In terms of wit that’s a butter knife level of sharpness. Even on cable this is a hard pass.

AND JAWLINES. DON’T FORGET THE JAWLINES
The Conjuring is down to number three and I’m also glad to see Vera Farminga here on the money train. I’ve loved her as an actress since the short-lived Finding Evil TV show and she improves pretty much everything she’s in. In my movie fantasy she and Gillian Anderson play sisters onscreen as they are seemingly cut from the same cloth (coincidentally they were both on the small screen alongside famous serial killers). In my other fantasy I’ve been very bad and they’ve come to discipline me. Soooo many icy stern looks of disappointment and contempt. Delicious

YUAN BETTER RECOGNIZE
Now You See Me 2 is down to number four followed by the Warcraft at number five and you might be seeing film history being made as China saves an entire franchise single-handedly, which is funny given how movies like Iron Man 3 and Transformers: Whichever The Fuck It Was have bent over backwards trying to win them and been met with contempt. It hasn’t even broken $40M here, but has made ten times that in overseas. Depend on how much studios get (it ranges from 15-14%) this may actually get a sequel…which America will ignore again.

ALSO HE’S A SCUMBAG
Speaking of sequels America has ignored, X-Men: Apocalypse is down to number six and hasn’t even made it’s $178M budget domestically, but like Warcraft has pulled almost $400M from overseas markets, so rest assured there will be another and this time mercifully without Bryan Singer. While he started the franchise and did good things with it, using the metaphor for oppression appropriately, he seems to have forgotten that and they need a director who remembers the core of the X-Men is also appealing to that self-important teenager drama where you think you’re special the entire world is against you for no reason at all. Yes, that’s the dark truth about the real reason so many like it. Not because you’re a person of color or your religion or your sexuality suffering genuine oppression, but because you think you’re special and the world is actively trying to hold you down. You’re wrong.

JUST KIDDING. EVERY ROLE WILL SOMEHOW PUT HER IN A FETISH COSTUME.
I thought this would be the hat trick of franchises supported by overseas money, but it turns out they care even less than we do about Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles: Out of the Shadows, down to number seven. There probably won’t be a third, which must be bittersweet news to Megan Fox who has another child on the way, but at the same time doesn’t have to worry about a contrived reason to put her into a fetish costume in the near future.

LESS IS MORE…IF YOU’RE AN IDIOT AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR PROPERTIES
Me Before You is down to number eight, followed by Alice Through the Looking Glass at number nine and Captain America: Civil War closes out the top ten at number ten and this is why the Warner Brother/DC Comics hierarchy was recently shaken up as two movies about fighting superheroes came out this summer (well, 3 if you count X-Men, but no one cares enough to do that) with had approximately the same budgets but the one what that the 3 most famous superheroes of all time in them did significantly worse than the film that had a bunch of heroes 90% of the population had never heard of ten years ago. And by “significantly” I mean almost $900M vs over $1B. While this may not seem like too much of a difference to you and I, remember that Batman’s last two solo films both made $1B but teaming him up with Superman and Wonder Woman somehow resulted in less!?! Not good when your very next film will add even more superheroes to the roster that you also hope to spin-off into individual films. Warner Brothers is being force to reconsider their dumb-ass strategy of if your competitor has cornered the market on chocolate and you reconfigure your chocolate machines to make vanilla, rather than simply understand there’s no such thing as too much good chocolate. Instead they’ve made mediocre (Man of Steel) and bad (Batman v Superman) vanilla and surprise! People preferred the better made chocolate. Damn it. Now I want some chocolate!

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