Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

THE FRANCHISE REFUSES TO SELF-DESTRUCT

2 Aug

600full-michelle-monaghan 1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation    Wknd/$ 56.0    Total/$ 56.0
2. Vacation/WB                                          Wknd/$ 14.9    Total/$ 21.2
3. Ant-Man/Disney                                    Wknd/$ 12.6    Total/$ 132.1
4. Minions/Universal                                Wknd/$ 12.2    Total/$ 287.4
5. Pixels/Sony                                             Wknd/$ 10.4    Total/$ 45.6
6. Trainwreck/Universal                           Wknd/$ 9.7      Total/$ 79.7
7. Southpaw/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 7.5       Total/$ 31.6
8. Paper Towns/Fox                                  Wknd/$ 4.6       Total/$ 23.8
9. Inside Out/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 4.5       Total/$ 329.6
10. Jurassic World/Universal                  Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 631.5

FIFTH VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST!
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation opens at number one and this may be the most solid entry in the franchise, even though it’s the fourth time in five movies Ethan Hunt is wanted by his own government. Seriously. In the first, he’s framed by his own boss for betraying and killing his whole team. In the third he’s framed by someone who’s kind of his boss for freeing an international arms dealer that he just caught. In the fourth, he’s framed for blowing up the Kremlin by a Russian general who thinks we need to just have a nuclear and get it over with and humanity will be the better for it. Here he’s not framed but considered a bit crazy because he believes in a super-secret terrorist organization called “The Syndicate” and is being hunted by the CIA which has also shut down the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) and absorbed its people and operations. What’s funny is the way the CIA shuts them down is by pointing out all the crazy shit they’ve done from breaking into Langley in the first film and almost getting San Francisco nuked in the most recent film. So basically CIA Director Alec Baldwin is completely right in saying it’s an agency of chaos. Every film backs it up. Three out of the five films involve either current or ex members of the IMF being behind all the trouble. It reminds me of the scenes from Under Siege where they also question the logic behind employing crazy people and the CIA responds that sane people can’t do the jobs they need to be done. This would apply to Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt who apparently can’t do anything the safe way. It’s actually joked about by the bad guy in MI2 and is briefly alluded to by a young agent at the beginning of this. But if he did things the smart and rational way, what fun would it be to watch? Yeah, he could have taken the two seconds it would taken to put on a motorcycle helmet from the downed bad guy whose bike he takes, but then wouldn’t get what is clearly Tom Cruise barreling down the highway at ridiculous speeds and crazy leaning angles. He’s basically embarrassing the shit out of every other action star working with their sane use of CGI and stunt doubles. But more than that, this is perhaps the best story since the first and I guess after having recycled it so many times the were bound to get it right simply by the law of averages. It’s not saddled with a love story like MI2 (which was basically a remake of Notorious but with guns and motorcycles), the underwhelming action scenes of MI3 (really, a fight with a drone?) or the dampening revelation in MI4 that the bad buy was a good decade senior to Cruise but had not only outfought but outrun him and almost does him in at the end (it was as bad as that wussy French dude giving Bond trouble at the climax of Quantum of Silence). It helps that they finally give him a badass female counterpart who does everything he does without mussing her hair (speaking of Bond, she’s British Secret Service). They give her the all-out action scenes that both Maggie Q and Paula Patton were denied, which is insult to injury given neither one of them was brought back (supposedly they were busy, but who are we kidding?), but all the guys but John Rhys Myers (who should have inherited the franchise had he not self-destructed) and the helicopter pilot from MI2 (whom no one remembers any) were.

IT’S NOTHING I’VE EVER WANTED (GO-GO’S REFERENCE)
Vacation opens at number two and I’ve never seen a single one of these movies and I wasn’t about to start now. I know the first has somehow gained a place of being a near semi-classic 80’s comedy, directed by Harold Ramis and written by John Hughes at near the peak of their powers, but I’m just not feeling it. Maybe it’s just Chevy Chase, but…no, it’s just Chevy Chase. I love Caddyshack and Foul Play, but his very presence is basically a giant warning sign of a bad movie. And guess what? He makes an appearance in this, given this is supposed to be the adult son from the first movie trying to recreate the trip with his own kids (Anthony Michael Hall, you dodged a bullet). I’ve no choice but to stick to my strategy as it has served me well (I ignored it to Hot Tub Time Machine and paid the price). And why would anyone want to recreate that trip anyway? It was a disaster and they should have nothing but horrible, if not traumatic memories of it.

WONDER WOMAN AND BLACK PANTHER MOVIES CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH
Ant Man is down to number three and while it’s nothing but fun there’s a slight bitter taste for me because no one in the production seemed to notice that every single person of color from The Falcon, to Ant-Man’s crew (Michael Pena and TI—yes, TI), to the cop his ex-wife is dating (Bobby Cannavale) is the butt of a joke. Yes, there are jokes about everyone (it’s an action comedy) but everyone else has something else going on. Michael Douglas’ character was a superhero and still is a super-genius and sets everything in motion. Awkward expository dialogue tells us that Paul Rudd’s character went to prison because he attacked a corporation that hurt people, has a Master’s Degree in Engineering and also becomes a super-hero. Even the villain is a genius in his own right, but the Black and Latino characters are all just there to make you laugh. Now, I’m not saying that this was planned, I’m just saying that when it was all said and done no one noticed this. That’s a sad lack of racial sensitivity. It’s the equivalent of movies where all the guys are dreamers and the women are just wet blankets. Not that they get much of a break here either. There’s only one actually involved and while it’s explained that Michael Douglas won’t give his daughter (played by Evangeline Lilly) the suit even though she’s more than capable than Paul Rudd and is already on the inside, because he doesn’t want to lose her the way he lost her mother (she joined Michael Douglas on his adventures), the movie doesn’t give her the motivation to just take the damn thing and do it. If they’re estranged, why is she being the obedient daughter now? The irony being, in the comic this is all based, that’s exactly how the character Paul Rudd is playing gets the suit! He’s not lured; he just takes it to try and save his daughter! We won’t even get in her “You know I’m a no nonsense woman” stupid haircut, because I’ve got friend going off on that somewhere else on the internet.

BUT IT SHOULD STICK TO ADAM SANDLER LIKE FUCKING GLUE
Minions is down to number four, followed Pixels at number five and also in this wreck is Michelle Monaghan (aka Lara Flynn Boyle 2.0), who was “The Young Hot Thing” a few years back, killing it in smaller movies like Kiss, Kiss Bang, Bang with a pre-Iron Man Robert Downy Jr, before being bumped up to sharing the screen with Jake Gyllenhaal in one of his few leading man hits, The Source Code. After that she hit solid gold A-list as Tom Cruise’s kidnapped bride-to-be in Mission Impossible 3. But after that…things just seemed to slip away. The smaller films were mediocre and even movie a post-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr and post-Captain America Chris Evans went nowhere. Luckily she was in the highly acclaimed first season of True Detective. Well, lucky until this came out. Hopefully so few people will it see the stench won’t stay with her. You know, like how Zoe Kravitz was in After Earth with Will & Jaden Smith. If anyone had known she might not have had the summer she’s had with Mad Max: Fury Road and Dope.

THEY SHOULD BE FINED IT’S SUCH A WASTE
Trainwreck at number six and while I love Bill Hader and am glad he’s getting some movie success with this it’s still not enough to get me into this, mainly because why the fuck do you hire someone with Bill Hader’s talents and just make him the straight man!?! Anyone good looking meat puppet could have done this and honestly every dude playing a superhero would give a left nut to be in a hit where they aren’t in a costume. Getting Bill Hader to just play a nice, normal guy is like buying a Porsche and never taking it out of first gear. You gotta a redline or don’t bother!

I WOULDN’T SEE IT IF THAT’S ALL IT COST TO GET IN
Southpaw is down to number seven and your first clue this was going to be a mistake was the casting of 50 Cent who has never once made a successful film. Not. Once. Even though he’s made movies with everyone from Robert DeNiro to Bruce Willis. You’ve never heard of them because they went straight to home viewing. Even the movie where he plays himself in a story of his own life tanked. No wonder he’s filing for bankruptcy. Not really. He’s doing that to keep from getting sued of everything he owns because he’s a stupid, vindictive prick and finally going to pay for it.

ALSO: VOICE IN ANIMATED FILM
Paper Towns is down to number eight and starring here as the dream girl is current model-of-the-moment, Cara Delevingne and I hope this is a wonderfully sobering moment for the world at large, because the reason she can play a teenager is because like most models, she’s just a fucking kid. Yes, she’s 23, but in real world terms that would mean she graduated college just last year and high school just 5 years ago. How long have you seen her in stiletto heels and lingerie making come hither stares? Probably longer than that and it’s fucked up. Sorry, I’m still a little bitter over a story about 14-year-old model where the photo showed her in a translucent top. Yeah, she’s six-feet-tall, but that’s still a fucking 14-year-old and I should never ever have seen her nipples. Nor should the rest of the world. Okay, end of rant. I’ll say this for Carla Delevingne, her management is making sure to get her in on every hot movie trend to launch her acting career. This is an adaptation of a Young Adult novel and next year she’ll be in comic book movie: The Suicide Squad. All that’s missing is a “found footage” horror movie.

EXTINCT
Inside Out is down to number nine followed by Jurassic World closing out the top ten at number ten. Thank god. I was totally out of things to say about it.

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LET’S PICK ON JAKE GYLLENHAAL DAY!

27 Jul

jake 1. Ant-Man/Disney                     Wknd/$ 24.8   Total/$ 106.1
2. Pixels/Sony                              Wknd/$ 24.0   Total/$ 24.0
3. Minions/Universal                  Wknd/$ 22.1   Total/$ 261.6
4. Trainwreck/Universal            Wknd/$ 17.3    Total/$ 61.5
5. Southpaw/Weinstein              Wknd/$ 16.5    Total/$ 16.5
6. Paper Towns/Fox                    Wknd/$ 12.5    Total/$ 12.5
7. Inside Out/Disney                   Wknd/$ 7.4      Total/$ 320.3
8. Jurassic World/Universal      Wknd/$ 6.9     Total/$ 623.8
9. Mr. Holmes/RAtt                     Wknd/$ 2.4     Total/$ 85.7
10. Terminator: Genisys/Par      Wknd/$ 5.4     Total/$ 80.6

SEAN CONNERY IS ALWAYS RIGHT
Ant-Man holds at number one and also in this, obviously, is none other than Hollywood Royalty and multiple Oscar winner, Michael Douglas, who finally realized his leading man days were over and wisely hopped onto the Marvel money train. I know it seems obvious and easy, but judging by the Jason Stathams of the world who laugh at it and the Wesley Snipes who are trying to get into it despite having inadvertently launched it with Blade (they are 48 and 52, respectively) it’s not. In fact, Douglas was still trying to play the dude who could get women 18 to 80 up until ’09, in Solitary Man, where he played a guy who bangs his younger girlfriend’s daughter while escorting her to her freshman year of college. But even then he’d at least begun sowing the seeds of this because in the same year he played almost a parody of that role in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, as the player uncle who taught Matthew McConughey’s character all he knew. This what I call “The Sean Connery Rule” wherein once you reach a certain age you have to bring in a hotter, younger actor to carry the weight. And even Connery didn’t always get it right. Lawrence Fishburne in Just Cause and Christian Slater in In the Name of the Rose didn’t do much for him. Neither did Mark Harmon in The Presidio. But those were wiped clean by Nicholas Cage in The Rock, Kevin Costner in The Untouchables, Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October, Wesley Snipes in Rising Sun and even Lorraine Bracco in Medicine Man. So the commercial success of Ant-Man and the critical success of Behind the Candelabra more than wipes the slate clean of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps with Shia Lebouf. Not to mention the character he plays is part of the foundation of the Marvel Universe. In the comics he’s one of the founding members of The Avengers, playing the role of not just Ant-Man but reversing the effect and becoming, Giant Man/Goliath and also Yellowjacket (who here is the villain). He’s also the actual creator of Ultron. Yes, the antagonist of the recent Avengers sequel. There’s an opening scene here that makes him part of the SHIELD braintrust alongside Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, so he’s also tied to both Iron Man and Captain America now. Pretty sure Douglas isn’t going to hesitate signing any multi-picture deals.

THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES AND SHITS HIMSELF
Pixels opens at number two to some of the most scathing reviews you’ll ever see and given this is Adam Sandler, that’s saying something. Like how much Skyfall sucks and like Bill Cosby being a piece of shit, this is something that I felt was obvious long ago but only now are others seemingly waking up to it. Adam Sandler has been a lazy-ass comedian from day one and the more money he makes the lazier he gets. Low-hanging fruit from day one, never trying harder. Only now when it has reached a toxic level do people finally seem to recognize this. This is based on a short film where video games come to life and attack NYC, pixelating everything they touch eventually taking the entire planet. The creator of that got a cool million, which is why the only thing he can say is “They could have done it better,” and even that may cost him. Honestly, this was done to perfection in an 8 minute sequence on Futurama years ago. That’s all anyone ever need see. Certainly not Adam Sandler’s, old, unfunny, rich, bored ass.

LET ME KNOW WHEN THEY MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT OLD SINGLE GEEKS
Minions is down to number three, followed by Trainwreck at number four and I don’t care how many of my friends love it I’m not seeing this. Yes, it does say something that they are single women in NYC, but that two-hour running time remains bullshit.

OR IS IT ROCKY 6 THIS IS REMAKING?
SouthPaw opens at number four and I loves me some Rachel McAdams, but I’m not going to watch a movie where she dies in the first 15 minutes so I can watch Jake Gyllenhaal struggle with it. It looks like cliché central in this thing and honestly, if I want to watch a white fantasy about boxing, I’ll watch Rocky. I mean, there’s a wizened, older black man there to guide him. What’s sad about this is that if Rachel McAdams had lived I’d probably have seen this remake of Rocky III to watch her do her Talia Shire impression. Jake Gyllenhaal is about to run out of both youth and chances soon. He simply has the worst taste in big mainstream films. Prince of Persia, Love & Other Drugs, Prisoners…all mainstream studio films and all crap. His indie work, however, End of Watch and Nightcrawler seems to be stellar (I burned out on indie long ago so I can only relay what I’ve heard), so it seems like he’s taking the big paychecks to pay for those. Well, those movies have to succeed, chief, and this seems like yet another disappointment headed your way. Time to get on that Marvel gravy train if you want to continue with your small work. But if you’re gonna do it, do it. Don’t pretend you want a big A-list movie with integrity then do Prisoners or Love & Other Drugs. Be honest and just do Transformers 5. No one will blame you.

NOT THAT I’M BITTER AND FILLED WITH SELF-LOATHING OR ANYTHING
Paper Towns opens at number six and it’s finally happened: I’m just too old for another brainy-geek-teen-in-love-with-exceptionally-pretty-girl story. Yes, this one is a tad different because the basic story is that she’s not some happy cheerleader, but a tad troubled and when she vanishes he goes looking for her. But still, he’s only looking for her because she’s pretty. That she’s portrayed by model-of-the-moment Carla Delevingne does not help. The only thing that could put me off more would be one of the Jenner sisters. Shame too, because you know they thought getting her would bring people in.

MAYBE IT’S A PLOT BY SPIELBERG TO MAKE SURE HIS IS ALWAYS THE BEST ONE
Inside Out is down to number seven followed by Jurassic World at number eight and this has made over a billion worldwide. Over $600M in the US and $900M overseas. This is great for Chris Pratt and Spielberg and Universal, but sad for anyone who wants good movies because this was an entertaining piece of crap. The kind of crap Jake Gyllenhaal needs to be a part of. Every legitimate piece of criticism now falls on deaf ears so you can expect the next one, already scheduled for 2018, to suck equally.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT
Mr. Holmes actually rises to number nine and this is how you do it, Jake. Not one, but two big franchises (Lord of the Rings and X-Men) which allows Ian McKellan to get funding for movies like these, which turn around and are unexpectedly more successful than anticipated. Probably a few award noms for McKellan coming down the pike as well. And apparently this is a universe where Sherlock Holmes is world famous and appears in movies. Yes, they include the Basil Rathbone series in the film. That alone makes it a guarantee that I will see it…eventually.

CONAN MAY BE YOUR LAST CHANCE
Finally, Terminator Genisys closes out the top ten at number ten and Arnold’s comeback has proven to be anything but. And this was the go-t0-no-way-it-could-fail-endorsed-by-James-Cameron-vehicle. Why did the equally bad Jurassic World succeed while this failed? Well, for one it has a simpler concept: monsters on the loose. Terminator movies have a simple one as well but they forgot it. It’s supposed to be unstoppable killing machine after someone, but they tried to get cute by merging John Connor with the machine and he’s honestly not trying to kill them. There’s another Terminator in the movie that is initially chasing them, but honestly I can’t tell you what happens to him. There’s even a third one and I can’t tell you what happens to her either (she’s played by Sandrine Holt…and not that I think about it, both the forgotten Terminators are Asian). It’s that bad. And Arnold once touched on the appeal of The Terminator himself: the machine does whatever it wants anywhere it wants. That never occurs here. He’s trying to blend in, so if you’re looking for him to kick the shit out of people much less a bunch of cops like he did in the three successful films look elsewhere. So clearly there’s an anti-establishment aspect to the character that they’ve overlooked…in addition to logic and proper casting.

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SO WONDERFULLY ADEQUATE!

20 Jul

Flash-Gordon-flash-gordon-poster 1. Ant-Man/Disney                    Wknd/$ 58.0    Total/$ 58.0
2. Minions/Universal                Wknd/$ 50.2    Total/$ 216.7
3. Trainwreck/Universal           Wknd/$ 30.2    Total/$ 30.2
5. Jurassic World/Universal    Wknd/$ 11.4     Total/$ 611.2
4. Inside Out/Disney                  Wknd/$ 11.7    Total/$ 306.4
6. Terminator: Genisys/Par      Wknd/$ 5.4      Total/$ 80.6
8. The Gallows/WB                     Wknd/$ 4.0     Total/$ 18.0
7. Magic Mike XXL/WB             Wknd/$ 4.5      Total/$ 58.6
9. Ted 2/Universal                      Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 77.5
10. Mr. Holmes/RAtt                  Wknd/$ 2.5     Total/$ 2.5

DECENT THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Ant-Man opens at number one and Marvel clearly has formula to make a superhero hit movie. The problem is the formula is getting a little stale and it’s not simply because it’s a matter of having seen it all before so much as their need now to control everything. The original writer/director of this was Edgar Wright and he started even before Iron Man was made, but in taking so long, an industry crept up around him and he was asked to conform to it and could not or would not. Can’t say as I fault him much. Having to use chunks of my movies to promote other movies would have annoyed me too. Both of the Thor movies sit at the bottom of my list of the Marvel work, because basically they seem to exist only to set up a later Marvel movie and are not films unto themselves (Iron Man 2 is the very bottom because it does that and it sucks). Captain America and Avengers Age of Ultron also suffer from this. But what’s oddly ironic is that, while clearly part of the Marvel movie universe, Ant-Man isn’t sacrificed for it, so Wright may have walked for no reason in the end beyond less creative control, which is still an issue because this needed a little more creativity. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still a fun movie. Entertaining from start to finish. It’s just lacking that extra element to make it above merely competent. In a weird way, it’s almost a superhero remake of The Mark of Zorro with Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas with its wise mentor, estranged fiery daughter, and ex-con hero seeking redemption. Michael Douglas as we learn throughout the course of the film was the original Ant-Man, out being a superhero for SHIELD back in the day (where we see Iron Man’s dad and Captain America’s girlfriend, Peggy Carter) when personal tragedy forced him to quit and take his super-shrinking technology with him. Now his former assistant has figured it out on his own and wants to sell tiny superpowered soldiers to the world and is willing to kill anyone who stands in his way. To stop him, Douglas tricks the fresh-out-of-prison cat burglar Paul Rudd into stealing the Ant-Man suit to test him, much to the annoyance of Douglas’ estranged daughter, Evangeline Lilly, who is pretending to be loyal to the former assistant, but wants to put it on herself and do the job. Aside from the by-the-numbers filmmaking a big problem her is the villain. Your hero can only be as good as he is and Corey Stoll lacks the weight of a Jeff Bridges (Iron Man) or a Hugo Weaving (Captain America) or even the voice of James Spader (Avengers: Age of Ultron). There’s supposed to be a type of father-son dynamic between Stoll and Douglas, but we only know because they tell us. They don’t give it any real depth. Similarly the estrangement between Douglas and his daughter is saucer deep and the revelation of the reasons behind it handled about as well as an episode of Gray’s Anatomy. There’s no reason he’s only telling her now with Paul Rudd around how her mother died a superhero in her own right and not previously in the 25 years beforehand. Especially when it relates to why they have to stop the bad guy. He could still refuse to let her wear the suit, which would more than justify the animosity. They were simply lazy about it. And that’s basically what this film is: fun but lazy in its execution. Rudd is the most charismatic lead they’ve had since Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man and if they’d risen to meet him they would have had the best Marvel film since Iron Man, which I still regard as the best.

NOW YOU’RE LUCKY JUST TO HAVE HIM
Minions is down to number two and lending her voice to this is Sandra Bullock and like most A-listers who do animated films this is just for the fun of it. She doesn’t need it and can show it to her kid. As a matter of fact, most of the “name” voices are clearly just here for the fun of it, not needing any kind of cheap career boost. Okay, maybe when they were making it two years ago Michael Keaton might have needed it, but now he’s another legitimate star alongside Allison Janney, Steve Carell and Jon Hamm.

SOMEWHERE WHITNEY CUMMINGS IS WONDERING WHAT HAPPENED?
Trainwreck opens at number three and if you’ve doubted this is the “Summer of Women” at the movies, this should shut that door soundly. Not only does it put Amy Schumer firmly in the top echelon of comedy stars (she also wrote it), but it exceeded expectations. And don’t think there weren’t many hoping she’d fail as she has reached a saturation point. I can take or leave Amy Schumer. I think her stand up is good, marred only by her ventures into race (her bullshit non-apology “I’m a comedian so it’s okay” doesn’t help) and the show borders on brilliance at times, so I might have seen this…until I saw the 2-hour running time. What. The. Fuck? This is not a 2-hour concept. Party girl meets boy, party girl loses boy and party girl gets boy back is a 90-minute concept at best and a cast filled with pretty much everyone with a day off still doesn’t give me faith that they fill it the way they managed to do with 40-Year-Old Virgin. Unfortunately Judd Apatow is the director and he’s got a problem cutting himself. All his movies are too long but he’s now too powerful for anyone to make him do it. I suspect some needless maudlin melodrama that has no place in a movie about a guy with a giant dick.

NO CRAP MOVIE BUT WHAT YOU MAKE
Inside Out is down to number four, followed by Jurassic World at number five and Terminator Genisys at number six and rounding out the bad performances in this is Jason Clarke giving the worst John Connor portrayal ever. Granted the crappy script gave him nothing to work with, but if you’d been burdened from birth with the knowledge you’d save all humanity, you might at least show a little wear and tear on your soul. As the trailers give away, John Connor is possessed by Skynet, making him into a “terminator” in his own right. Yeah, it’s as dumb as it sounds and you just know they thought they were being clever, but if Skynet could do this, why wasn’t it doing it all along to all the humans? Why build detectable machines, when you can possess undetectable humans? Also the script ignores that John Connor doesn’t want to kill his parents, but wants them to join him, which means he’s in there somewhere and isn’t just a machine. A better movie would have explored the idea that Skynet may have him, but he also has Skynet. But this is not a better movie.

THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR SELF HATRED
Magic Mike XXL is down to number seven and adding the aforementioned minority quotient to the movie are Jada Pinkett, Donald Glover, Michael Strahan and Stephen “Twitch” Boss who, like Channing Tatum has a “Step Up” movie or two under his belt. Jada Pinkett plays the ex-girlfriend and ex-boss of Channing Tatum who runs her own strip club, though it’s more of a house women come to. Boss, Strahan and Donald Glover all work there. Granted Strahan has the body, but seriously? We couldn’t find anyone better looking? I know for a fact Shemar Moore ain’t that busy and Will Smith could a have used a hit, so maybe Jada should have brought him along. And I’m sorry but, Donald Glover? He looks like Stripper Smurf next to all the others and no woman is paying for that. You pay for the fantasy you can’t have, not the geek you can have anytime he comes up from IT to fix your computer. No, I’m not projecting my own self-loathing! Why do you ask!?!

THE DEFINITION OF TRIVIA(L)
The Gallows is down to number eight and also in this is the daughter of Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford….Yeah, I still don’t care.

FLASH! NO-OOOOOO!
Ted 2 is down to number nine and once again Sam Jones returns because of Seth McFarland’s love of the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. Okay, now we have to put an end once and for all that this was a good movie that was simply misunderstood for being campy when Star Wars and Star Trek were being serious. It’s. Just. Bad. Even as a camp film it fails. Just because you’re campy doesn’t mean you still don’t have a responsibility to tell the story as if it were straight. It was directed by Lorenzo Semple Jr who to no surprise directed the 1966 Batman TV show. Like many directors, the limitations of television worked for him in a way the freedom of film did not. Not to mention he had Dino DeLaurentis to deal with and it’s typical of Europeans to insist that fantastic concepts cannot be taken seriously (the producers of Superman tried to make that campy all the way down to having Superman grab Telly Savalas because he mistakes him for Lex Luthor). So that’s two strikes with the third being a flat out untalented lead actor in Sam Jones. The best things about it were Max Van Sydow as Ming, Ornella Muti as Princess Aura and of course that amazing Queen soundtrack. Otherwise it’s crap and we need to stop seeing it through the easily impressed eyes of an 8-year-old who knows no better. There’s a six minute edited version of the movie on YouTube whose brevity not improves the movie immeasurably, it also shows how much it sucks by how much can be cut without being missed.

ELEMENTARY MY DEAR…UH, WHAT WAS YOUR NAME AGAIN?
Mr. Holmes closes out the top ten and yes, this is about Sherlock Holmes in the twilight of his years, Watson long dead, trying to solve a case as his mental facilities deteriorate. Ian McKellan plays Holmes and while I’d love to see it, honestly I’m two seasons behind on both Sherlock Holmes series (Elementary and Sherlock) that I was watching, so this will have to get in line.

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THOU SHALT NOT TOP CHARLTON HESTON!

14 Dec

ND

1. Exodus: Gods and Kings/Fox                        Wknd/$ 24.5   Total/$ 24.5
2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1          Wknd/$ 13.2   Total/$ 277.4
3. Penguins of Madagascar/Fox                        Wknd/$ 7.3     Total/$ 58.8
4. Top Five/Paramount                                       Wknd/$ 7.2     Total/$ 7.2
5. Big Hero 6/Disney                                           Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 185.3
6. Interstellar/Paramount                                   Wknd/$ 5.5     Total/$ 166.8
7. Horrible Bosses 2/WB                                     Wknd/$ 4.6     Total/$ 43.6
8. Dumb and Dumber To/Universal                 Wknd/$ 2.8     Total/$ 82.1
9. The Theory of Everything/Focus                   Wknd/$ 2.5     Total/$ 17.1
10. Wild/FoxSearchlight                                      Wknd/$ 1.6     Total/$ 2.4

LET IT BE WRITTEN. LET IT BE DONE.
Exodus: Gods and Kings opens at number one and why remake The Ten Commandments? You’re not gonna top Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner so why bother? Not to mention you’re living in a modern area where a lily-white cast playing non-whites is going to be examined, questioned and criticized, which this was. The animated version, Prince of Egypt made sure their leads were all nice and brown. I didn’t see it because I so love the Cecile B. DeMille version and look forward to it on TV every Easter. Yeah, I know I could just buy it, but it’s more fun to watch on TV. This, however, does not look enjoyable to watch much less fun. Add to this my dislike of Ridley Scott in general and you’ve got one less movie fare and apparently I was not alone because even though this opened at number one it was well below expectations. Good. Suck it, Scott.

WHEN TOM CRUISE CALLS, THEN YOU’LL KNOW YOU’VE MADE IT
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 finally dips to number two and also in this is Natalie Dormer a woman who knows something about giant franchises and getting in on the pulse of something. She was the blonde who makes out with Captain America in the first film (she also bagged Thor in the film Rush), caught the Sherlock revival wave as Moriarty on the Elementary TV show and is also on Game of Thrones.  Her agents and/or manager truly deserve their cut, as this career is incredibly well-managed. But she hasn’t “made it” yet because a) she hasn’t grabbed a leading role yet and b) it not with a star more than a decade her senior. Oh, shut up. You know it’s true.

NO, THEY DIDN’T CHANGE IT IN ENGLAND
Penguins of Madagascar is down to number three and here’s a little trivia for you: when animated films go overseas they often get the biggest stars of that country to do the voices. So if you wonder why this is doing better overseas than here that may have a little something to do with it.

BE YOURSELF ISN’T ALWAYS GOOD ADVICE
Top Five opens at number four and often I’ve said that Chris Rock is such a bad actor he can’t even play himself (an affliction shared by Madonna and Mick Jagger). Well, he sadly proves it yet again in this film where he’s basically playing himself: a comedian who went from stand up to films (though the character’s superstar level and increasing desire to be taken seriously as an actor is more Eddie Murphy). It’s unfortunate because this is probably his best film work ever, but it’s constantly being undercut by his horrible performance in dramatic moments. He writes scenes that he can’t even come close to performing. Even a convincing eyeroll is beyond his capabilities, much less the depth needed to play a recovering alcoholic secretly terrified that the can’t be funny while sober. He’s not helped by the fact that everyone around him is more than capable of performing, many of them not just comedians who parlayed themselves into a film career but Saturday Night Live alums as well. In fact, it’s easier to name all the black SNL cast members who aren’t here than are (Eddie Murphy, Tim Meadow and Keenan Thompson most obviously). And for the last time, NOBODY WANTS TO SEE YOU KISS ANYONE! A former friend once differentiated between Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy in that Rock was simply “unfuckable.”

PURE HATRED: THE PERFECT CURE FOR THESE WINTER MONTHS
Big Hero Six is down to number five, followed by Interstellar at number six and that warm feeling washing over me is the pure schadenfreude for it gaining exactly one Golden Globe nomination. For score. It may be the first time I’ve ever respected them.

LIKE GIVING A MONKEY A DIAMOND
Horrible Bosses is down to number seven and grossly underused in this is Christoph Waltz who seems more than game as a man who is not just a horrible boss but also a horrible father on top of it, but he has the least amount of screen time. Way to make use of a two time Oscar winner, guys.

FROM THE RIDICULOUS TO THE SUBLIME
Dumb and Dumber To is down to number eight followed by The Theory of Everything beginning its Oscar run with four Golden Globe nominations including Best Actor and Actress.

YOU CAN’T STOP HER YOU CAN ONLY HOPE TO CONTAIN HER
Speaking of Oscars, Wild enters the top ten and after some disastrous career moves that climaxed in a) stupidly saying she’d never be the star of an action movie (what do you think pays the bills, honey?) and b) choosing to be in This Means War, Reese Witherspoon is trying to turn the tide Matthew Conughey style with gritty indie work. She was even in one of his rebound films, Mud. You can’t get much grittier than a film called “Mud.” It seems to be working as the sole Golden Globe nomination for this film was for Best Actress, which is honestly the only reason it exists. This is not to say she’s not covering her bets, Hollywood style as she also released another racial “feel good” movie along the lines of The Blindside called The Good Lie. Also she originally optioned Gone Girl as star vehicle for herself, but had to settle for being a producer. Guess what film also received a nomination for Best Actress?

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USE A WORD THAT DON’T MEAN NOTHIN’, LIKE LOOPDED

30 Sep

1. Hotel Transylvania/Sony                        Wknd/$  43.0            Total/$  43.0

2. Looper/TriStar                                         Wknd/$   21.2            Total/$  21.2

3. End of Watch/ORF                                  Wknd/$     8.0            Total/$  26.2

4. Trouble with the Curve/Warners          Wknd/$     7.5            Total/$  23.7

5. House at the End of the Street               Wknd/$     7.2            Total/$  22.2

6. Pitch Perfect/Universal                           Wknd/$     5.2            Total/$    5.2

7. Finding Nemo 3D/Disney                       Wknd/$     4.1            Total/$  36.5

8. Resident Evil Retribution/SG                 Wknd/$     3.0            Total/$  38.7

9. The Master/Weinstein                              Wknd/$     2.7            Total/$    9.6

10.Won’t Back Down/Fox                              Wknd/$     2.7            Total/$    2.7

MONSTERS MASHED

Hotel Transylvania opens at number one and I can’t help but think, “This could have been you ParaNorman.”  And I wish it had been because ParaNorman looked like it was made by people with actual talent and vision, while this comes from Adam Sandler (he’s the voice of Dracula as well as a co-writer and executive producer), so you know it probably blows. Chunks. And no I’m not just bitter because I also went to NYU like Sandler and he’s a multi-millionaire casting Salma Hayek as his wife and I’m doing this for free while being ignored by women online.  He’s made one funny film in his life and that was Happy Gilmore. The rest all blow.  All the jokes are the dumbest, weakest, lowest hanging fruit possible and I don’t believe that’s okay simply because a movie is for kids.  Pixar and the occasional Dreamworks film all prove you can be funny, be for kids and not be insultingly lazy about it (yes, I’m looking at you, Shrek, Ice Age, Madagascar, etc.).

WHERE’S THE DIGITIAL UNDERGROUND THEME SONG?

Looper opens at number two and being a geek from way back, I enjoy a good time travel movie. They almost always use paradox and it’s always fun if they make it work, like the end of The Terminator.  On the other hand you can get overrated pieces of crap like 12 Monkeys and an abomination called Retroactive whose purpose seems to punish you for staying up late and watching B-movies on cable TV. How bad was it? Two words: Jim Belushi.  That said, while this is technically science fiction, it’s also heavily hard-boiled noir, which makes sense as the first teaming of Joseph-Gordon Leavitt and director Rian Johnson was Brick, which transferred the detective genre to high school with no small measure of success.  This is basically the story of a hitman dealing both with his past and his future, but because it’s science fiction it takes what’s metaphoric and makes it literal.  Joseph Gordon-Leavitt is a “Looper” which is a hitman who kills off mob targets sent back from the future. They’re called “loopers” because eventually that target will be you, so your “loop” gets closed by you.  Of course the time comes when Joseph Gordon-Leavitt has to kill himself and in the last 30 years he’s somehow become Bruce Willis.  Willis gets away and tries to change his past which is Gordon-Leavitt’s present and future—and while Gordon-Leavitt doesn’t love his  present he still wants his planned future to be his own and sets out to kill his future self while avoiding his bosses who have a horrible, vicious punishment for loopers who fail to kill their future selves.  They try to make Gordon Leavitt look a little like Willis but honestly it was unnecessary and ultimately distracting, because we know Joseph Gordon-Leavitt doesn’t look anything like Bruce Willis! And the occasional angle where he does is just weird.  Different actors play the same character all the time and no one cares.  They should have worried more about the gaping hole in the premise which is, if the problem in the future is that there’s no way to completely dispose of a body, why don’t they simply kill them there then just dump the body in the past? Because then you’d have no movie, that’s why. Now, if I can accept that hole to enjoy the movie, I can accept that Joseph Gordon-Leavitt grows two inches in his thirties and forties and the entire structure of his face changes.  That said it’s a fun ride as we jump through time not just literally in the story but in terms of the storytelling with a  flashback/flashforward at a key moment in the film. If there’s one flaw (aside from the pace bogging down a bit in the second act) it’s there’s a little too much science fiction with a subplot about people with mutant powers that really wasn’t necessary.  Take it out and you speed your film up and nothing really changes.

BETTER TO RULE IN HELL

End of Watch is down to number three and this is much-needed success for Jake Gyllenhaal who was the “It Boy” after Brokeback Mountain, but that was followed a lot of A-list failures in every conceivable genre from Jarhead to Prince of Persia to Love & Other Drugs.  This had a budget of $7M and so far has grossed $27M, which more than surpasses the “3x budget” rule that dictates actual profits.  Given his last hit was the Source Code, which also had a relatively small budget ($32M with a $147M worldwide gross) he might want to leave the big summer blockbuster work to others.

FORGET SEXY.  IT’S TIME TO BRING THE MUSIC BACK

The Trouble With the Curve is down to number four and will someone please point out to Justin Timberlake that the only reason he gets to make movies is because he’s a pop star?  And that nothing he’s been the star in has ever succeeded? Jesse Eisenberg was the star of The Social Network. Cameron Diaz was the star of Bad Teacher.  You were the star of In Time and Friends with Benefits, which both bombed. You wanna keep making movies, you better keep making music. Elvis understood this and his movies were actually successful.

BUT I’M SURE PAT BOONE LIKED IT

The House At The End of the Street is down to number five and “Glee Goes To College” aka Pitch Perfect opens at number six, giving Anna Kendrick two films in the top ten (she’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s wife in End of Watch) and in the latter she proves in thirty seconds all that Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, Hall & Oates, George Michael, Eminem and Justin Timberlake have spent 50 years trying to disprove: the painful stiffness of white people trying to get down.  Her trying to do Dr. Dre’s rap from BlackStreet’s “No Diggity” is one of the most excruciating musical moments on film since Michael Madsen decided to remove a man’s ear in Reservoir Dogs to Stealer’s Wheels “Stuck In The Middle With You.”  The time travel in Looper is more believable than her suddenly stirring up the crowd with her vanilla mayonnaise stylings.  Now I like Anna Kendrick.  She was great in her Oscar-nominated role in Up In The Air, but she is so painfully WASPy she has no upper lip!  I can believe she hasn’t played the uptight girlfriend of the main character who leaves her for a full-lipped, ethnic bohemian. So hearing her even use the phrase “Let’s remix this business” is like nails on a chalkboard. And all these things are from the trailer! You couldn’t have done more to keep me (and undoubtedly others) out of this film if you hired a man to kill me waiting at the door!  No wonder the bulk of the commercials stresses the comedy of Rebel Wilson because Anna Kendrick as some kind of “hip” music type is so ridiculous they may invalidate her Oscar nod.

THE ONLY SURVIVOR

Finding Nemo 3D is down to number seven, followed by Resident Evil: Retribution at number eight and The Master at number nine and also in this is Amy Adams who is also in The Trouble With The Curve and despite the fact that she’s clearly ascended to the A-list with two Oscar nominations for The Fighter and Junebug, to me she’ll always be the girl who played the Sarah Michelle Gellar role in the Cruel Intentions prequel ironically called Cruel Intentions 2.  Yes, they made a prequel, but it was originally supposed to an entire series that was a prequel to the movie, but was cancelled before it even aired because Aaron Spelling found it so offensive.  It’s so bad and so over-the-top with its attempt to show how decadent rich kids are it’s hysterical (they make the Gossip Girl cast look like 3rd graders).  They also break the fourth wall with direct looks at the camera and at one point they comment on how their conversation “sounds like dialogue from a cancelled TV series.” She was also on Smallville, which brings her full circle as she’s Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman movie, Man of Steel.

TO SCABS WITH LOVE

Finally, Won’t Back Down enters the top ten at number ten and has apparently pissed off every teacher in the nation as it’s basically an anti-teacher’s union, pro-charter school movie.  Makes no difference to me. I wasn’t gong to see it when I thought it was just another “spunky single mom and dedicated teacher fight the system” movie with no political leanings.  But it not only gives us two Gyllenhaals in the top ten, but a reunion of Radio Raheem and Tina from Do The Right Thing as also starring in this are Bill Nunn and Rosie Perez. Think she dances in the credits to this?  Too bad.  That might be worth seeing.

ANYBODY CAN HAVE FRIENDS OR READ BOOKS

The most wonderful time of the year continues as the Fall TV Season rollout continues.  I try to give everything a even shake, but couldn’t make through a full episode of Partners, which is about—get this—a gay guy and straight guy who are lifelong friend. OH. MY GOD!  This is barrier breaking…if this were 1982.  It’s from the guys who gave us Will & Grace and is based on their relationship, just as Will & Grace was also based on the relationship of one of the team with his unknowing girlfriend.  Honestly, that was clearly the more interesting relationship because this just recycles most of that.  It’s more like “Straight Will & Jack” which is a show no one asked for.  There’s even a Rosario character continuing the disturbing habit of gay men who feel their own disenfranchised state frees them to stereotype others (see the “Sassy Black Female” currently used on The New Normal and the horrible Asian stereotype continuing on Two Broke Girls).  I like Brandon Routh and Sophia Bush and hope they both find better work soon…Vegas comes from none other than Nicholas Pileggi who wrote both the Goodfellas screenplay and the book it was based upon.  He’s also the executive producer here .  No wonder this was one of the more entertaining things I’ve seen so far this year.  It’s set in the early 60’s when Vegas was just beginning to grow and how that new world of money & the mob runs into the old world already there; specifically rancher turned sheriff Dennis Quaid. He’s based on a real sheriff who’s also a consultant on the show so hopefully the abundance people concerned with actual facts will give this show a nice edge that all the other shows borne out of an attempt to cash in on Mad Men have lacked (yes, I’m looking at you Playboy Club and Pan Am).  One thing I like that is that Dennis Quaid is only doing the job because he wants the mayor to keep planes from flying over his property.  So it starts off as quid pro quo more than any need or concern for justice.  It’s also has a nice cast of character actors, including James Russo who’s always nice to see.  The only problem is he can’t really “win” because we know the mob ran Vegas during that time period and no one pretended they didn’t so it’ll be interesting to see how they balance out reality with a TV need to see good guys win on a weekly basis.  But you know what I would really love?  If they had an appearance by a young boy named Dan Tanna.  That’s a joke for the old people…CBS clearly has room for only one show by smart people, which is unfortunate when your show about a smart character isn’t that show.  Elementary is the attempt to cash in on the Sherlock Holmes resurgence going on with hit movies and the hit BBC modern interpretation. The difference being those are run by the English and they aren’t going to dumb down others to make Sherlock look smart. They’re just going to make him smart. Elementary is American so everyone else has to be dumb for him to be smarter (the smartest thing they do is the use of Elvis Costello’s “Watching The Detectives”).  They also wuss out on the acerbic personality of Holmes, which makes no sense. If an unapologetic rude Sherlock Holmes is something people are clearly willing to pay to see in the theater, what makes you think they want your “Oh, I’m sorry” Holmes for free?  Unfortunately, I have a weakness for shows shot in NYC and Lucy Liu, so I’ll probably give this another shot….now truly stupid is the basic premise of Made in Jersey, because if there’s anything that’s not even remotely unique or unusual it’s a girl from New Jersey working in Manhattan, but whomever ever created this show seems not only to lack a basic knowledge of the city but of basic geography.  This would make sense if the show was set in the south where a Jersey girl (the working-class aspect is given in shows like these) would stand out. In New York City there are literally millions of people from New Jersey who come into work every. single. day.  She wouldn’t stand out, she wouldn’t be special and she’d be far from the toughest person walking the streets as we’re supposed to gather from the way she confronts a bike messenger in the first five minutes. They’ve clearly confused the Upper East Side of Manhattan for all of New York, because everyone in the law firm where she works is clearly some kind of uber-WASP while she’s earthy and ethnic (with a last name that ends in a vowel). And of course, she just can’t be really smart; everyone else has to be a little dumb to make her look smart. In the first 5 minutes she’s the only person who realizes you can’t kill someone by hitting them with just a pair of pliers because apparently no else has ever touched a pair in their lives. At first glance this seems like they’re trying to cash in on The Jersey Shore, but while that clearly has something to do with it, it’s actually a junior sized (translation “younger female lead”) version of The Good Wife (they even give her a kickass ethnic investigator to work with), meaning it’s a police procedural masquerading as a legal drama, only lacking in all the nuances that make The Good Wife interesting. Not to mention her accent is wrong (she’s doing Brooklyn) and she’s too damn skinny as evidenced by the fact none of her casual shirts seem to fit and always “just happen” to reveal her flat, toned stomach…I don’t do the scary at the movies and I don’t do it on TV either, so 666 Park Avenue will not happen for me.