Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

MAKE ‘ER TALK, TUBO

22 Aug

the_monster_squad_l
1. Suicide Squad/WB                                     Wknd/$ 20.7     Total/$ 262.3
2. Sausage Party/Sony                                   Wknd/$ 15.3     Total/$ 65.3
3. War Dogs/WB                                             Wknd/$ 14.3     Total/$ 14.3
4. Kubo & The Two Strings/Focus               Wknd/$ 12.6     Total/$ 12.6
5. Ben Hur/Paramount                                  Wknd/$ 11.4      Total/$ 11.4
6. Pete’s Dragon/Disney                                Wknd/$ 11.3      Total/$ 42.9
7. Bad Moms/STX                                           Wknd/$ 8.1       Total/$ 85.5
8. Jason Bourne/Universal                            Wknd/$ 8.0      Total/$ 140.9
9. The Secret Life of Pets/Universal            Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 346.7
10. Florence Foster Jenkins/Parmount      Wknd/$ 4.0       Total/$ 146.9

HE’S NOT EVEN MAKING SONGS FOR THEM ANYMORE AND NO ONE ASKS HIM TO
Suicide Squad holds at number one and much like Batman v. Superman: Something, Something Justice, being generally reviled by critics and audience alike has not affected its box office take all that much. It’s one of those movies where curiosity seems to drive audiences to see it because they cannot believe it’s as bad as people make it out to be and they think they’ll at least have some fun. Needless to say people are finding out the hard way that this isn’t the case but by then it’s too late. They’ve got your money and you’ve lost two hours of your life you’re not getting back. And it still may not be enough simply because Warner Brothers continues the mistake of high expectations leading to ridiculous promotional budgets. Rather than being cautious, they continue to think they’re going to make Marvel-level money by simply throwing anything up on the screen. They’re wrong and in an attempt to hedge their bet by having reshoots have doomed this barely breaking even when it might have actually turned a profit. Sadly, Will Smith will take breaking even as his days of being the King of Summer ended over a decade ago, his last summer hit being Hitch in ’05. Yeah, it’s been that long. Since then it’s been a slow decline in both big budget films and even smaller dramas, Oscar nominations not withstanding. He’s still huge overseas, where After Earth made 3x as much as it did domestically and where this is also doing better, but studios make their money at home and he ain’t doing that. The last successful summer film helmed by a Smith was The Karate Kid, starring Jaden. This is why Bad Boys 3 is coming soon to a theater near you. No, I’m not kidding. You know things are bad when you need Martin Lawrence.

JUST…NO
Sausage Party holds at number two and this has apparently taken a great deal of the audience from Suicide Squad. Why am I not surprised that anyone who’d like Suicide Squad would be into this? Me, I’m not even remotely curious. The only thing that repels me almost as much as seeing Seth Rogen onscreen is “something from the mind of Seth Rogen.”

CRY HAVOC AND LET LOOSE THE DOUCHEBAGS OF WAR!
Speaking of repellant people onscreen, War Dogs opens at number three and it’s almost brilliance to put Miles Tellar and Jonah Hill together thereby keeping the amount of douche confined to one movie. The greater irony being, while they are seemingly perfect for their based-on-a-true-story roles as two asshole, douchebag arms dealers, I can’t imagine sitting in a theater and looking at the two of them for two hours. Hell, I don’t think I could make twenty minutes!

KUBO & THE UNDEVELOPED SCREENPLAY
Kubo and The Two Strings opens at number four and I was sorely disappointed by this because the trailer looked so amazing and these guys always do good visual work, but seem to stumble when it comes to storytelling. Now, Paranorman wasn’t badly told it’s just what it wound up telling me I didn’t care for. There’s always been darkness in children’s films since Bambi, but they took it too a new level and this isn’t so different as the first time we meet Kubo we find out he’s wearing an eyepatch because his grandfather, the Moon God, took it out and wants the other. Yeah, really. Again, fairy tales have always been dark like that, so that’s not the problem here. The problem is we get no real sense of the world in which Kubo lives. His grandfather is a god and given how he feels about mortals it’s probable his daughters are full gods as well and not demi-gods, which mean that’s is what Kubo is: demi-god. This explains how his guitar has the power to create origami that moves. Only no one seems shocked or surprised by this. It’s not established if they see it merely as a trick or magic is just that common in the world. Like in all fairy tales he story begins when Kubo does what his mother tells him not to, which in this case it hide at night so The Moon God can’t find him. They are subsequently found out and his mother is apparently killed by her evil sisters, but not before spiriting Kubo on away and bringing his Monkey charm to life to guide him on his quest to find invincible armor to prepare for his eventual confrontation with his grandfather. And this is where it comes apart as the monkey tries to warn Kubo about how he uses his power but there is no learning curve and no guidance. He goes from animated origami to building an entire ship out of leaves. Even Luke had to drop the ship. Also there’s a “reveal” about the characters that join Kubo on his quest that comes far too soon (not to mention being fairly obvious) and honestly the story belongs more to one of them than Kubo and might have been better told from their point of view. Ultimately this is just very lovely to watch but not much else. And we’ll discuss a bunch of white dudes using Japanese culture to tell a story and having all of two Asians involved another time.

CHARIOTS OF FIRE! NO, THAT’S TAKEN.
Ben Hur opens at number five and who the hell thought this was a good idea!?! Yes, there’s a whole new Christian film market but they all cost about $25 to make so are guaranteed to make a profit. You don’t spend $100M and think you’re getting your money back from such a narrow audience. The broad majority of people do not want to be preached to and it’s no secret that Ben Hur is more a Christian story than the simple adventure story the way all the ads are desperately trying to convince you. Want to trick people into seeing this? How about not fucking calling it Ben-Hur!?! “Chariot Revenge” would have gotten more people into the theater than fucking “Ben Hur.” Or better yet, set it in space or in a post apocalyptic landscape. But doing the same old shit again…

THEY DO ALL LOOK ALIKE!
Pete’s Dragon is down to number six and like a bad joke I honestly I thought that it was Jessica Chastain in this rather than Bryce Dallas Howard. Not that it matters, but it’s still funny. I was down for seeing this until I realized I’d never had any fucking interest in the seeing the original. Granted, it was a musical, which was mercifully dropped from this remake, but there was a little too much “Disney” stench about it still, especially in the character who wanted to kill the dragon. As if in this day and age, keeping it alive wouldn’t be the option everyone would want either for money or science so it just rang painfully false.

MILF MONEY
Bad Moms is down to number seven and this is officially a success. $85M domestic alone from a $20M budget. It’s fucking amazing, because not only does it look like shit, every review says it’s shit, but there’s clearly an audience of moms who don’t give a fuck. I know. I know one of them who admitted even though it looked like shit, she was going to see it. I feel you, babe. I see so much shit regardless of what anyone thinks simply because it appeals to me on some level and clearly I’m not alone. Still, it’s amazing. And Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell are not complaining. Somebody’s gotta make money in their households. God knows Ashton Kutcher and Dax Shepard aren’t gonna do it.

LOOKS LIKE REBOOT TIME
Jason Bourne is down to number eight and this is looking to be the failure it deserves to be and somewhere Jeremy Renner and Joan Allen are drinking in the schadenfreude.

SHOULD’VE TAKEN THAT TWO & A HALF MEN GIG
The Secret Life of Pets is down to number nine and closing out the top ten is the attempted counter-programming of “adult” material in Florence Foster Jenkins. Every year they attempt this shit of trying to put out a movie that clearly has no appeal to anyone but adults in the summer and every year they fail. Even with just a $30M budget this is still a failure. Let. It. Fucking. Go. Nobody wants to be a grown up in the summer! And wasn’t Hugh Grant supposed to quit acting a few years back! Clearly it costs money to try and bang college students all the. Especially when you’re aging like the Englishman you are.

So, some TV…

I LIKE HAPPY COMICS AND I WON’T APOLOGIZE FOR THAT!
I finally finished off the Preacher series on AMC and it was very much what I expected from a series based on the works of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. What that means is it’s darkly funny, profane, sordid and graphically violent usually for the simple point of being profane, sordid and graphically violent. Let me put it there’s a character called “Assface” who is that way because he tried to kill himself by putting a shotgun in his mouth and upon failing was left with a face that basically looks like an asshole. All his dialogue is subtitled. Every character is has some dirty, mean, violent sordid side and Ennis & Dillon revel in it. It’s not to say the show is without interest—a small town preacher with a dark history searching for redemption finds himself imbued with a godlike power— but once the secrets were revealed, I was done. I really don’t want to spend any more time in this world. There’s a reason I read Superman and not these types of books. But if you like this sort of thing and the bulk of violent, graphic, borderline cruel shows that dominate cable basic and pay shows that you do (Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Lords of Anarchy, True Blood, American Horror Story, Real Housewives of What-The-Fuck-Ever) then you’d probably like this.

ONE OF THE FEW TIMES I DON’T MIND REVISITING THE 80’S
Stranger Things on Netflix is an homage to the science fiction, horror and adventure films of the 80’s that involved kids. In this series set in 1983 in a small Indiana town, four kids lose one of their number and in searching for him find a girl with special powers who has escaped from a mysterious nearby government facility…and a monster somehow connected to her. In this you’ll find deliberate homages to e.t.: The Extra Terrestial, Firestarter, Poltergeist, The Goonies, Stand By Me, War Games, Alien etc. Hell, even John Hughes films show up and two of the actors flat out looks like Mia Sara from Ferris Bueller’s Day and Molly Ringwald. They even add specks of dust and damage to the title sequence, which obviously wouldn’t exist in the current digital format. And did I mention that sequence has a total synth score? It’s very, very good, more than transcending the novelty of its non-stop 80’s homage. My only problem is they build a sequel into the end. Honestly in the early 80’s they didn’t do that. That didn’t come until later when Friday The 13th and Halloween took off. I personally would’ve been happy if they’d just made it like there wouldn’t be another. A lot of people keep mentioning the influence of Stephen King (who is flat out referenced in the movie) and Steven Spielberg here, but they weren’t the only people doing these types of movies and honestly they had nothing to do with the very best kids adventure/horror/sci-fi movie of the 80’s: MONSTER SQUAD!

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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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