Tag Archives: The Book of Life

SOUNDS LIKE THE TITLE OF A TOO MODEST PORN FILM

9 Nov

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1. Big Hero 6/Disney                                      Wknd/$ 56.2     Total/$ 56.2
2. Interstellar/Paramount                             Wknd/$ 50.0    Total/$ 52.2
3. Gone Girl/Fox                                             Wknd/$ 6.1         Total/$ 145.4
4. Quija/Universal                                          Wknd/$ 6.0        Total/$ 43.5
5. St. Vincent/Weinstein                               Wknd/$ 5.7         Total/$ 27.4
6. Nightcrawler/ORF                                      Wknd/$ 5.5        Total/$ 19.8
7. Fury/Sony                                                     Wknd/$ 5.5        Total/$ 69.3
8. John Wick/LG-S                                         Wknd/$ 4.0        Total/$ 34.7
9. Alexander & The Terrible…/Disney        Wknd/$ 3.5        Total/$ 59.2
10. The Book of Life/Fox                               Wknd/$ 2.8        Total/$ 45.2

SOMEWHERE FOX LAWYERS READ THE FINE PRINT…
Big Hero 6 opens at number one and this is loosely based on a Marvel comic book (though this is not a Marvel Production, though they are owned by Disney), which I never read, believe it or not. One very ironic reason is that it was actually called “Sunfire & Big Hero Six” Sunfire being a Japanese mutant who often interacts with The X-Men. Also one of the members of Big Hero 6 was the Silver Samurai who often clashes with Wolverine. It’s ironic because these characters are among those Marvel can’t get back to the point they’re changing the comics as a result. Needless to say, he’s not here and there’s no counterpart for him, though there is for Silver Samurai. Big Hero Six was a Japanese superhero team and that’s also gone. Now the setting is a gorgeous futuristic city called San Fransokyo, clearly a mesh of San Francisco and Tokyo (with maybe some Hong Kong thrown in) where teen genius Hiro Hamada takes the robotic nurse created by his late brother to seek the man responsible for his brother’s death who has also stolen Hiro mirobot technology. His brother’s fellow students eventually join with Hiro to become Big Hero 6. The movie takes a bit to get started and honestly creates a world more interesting to me than the actual story. Not to mention they double up on the tragedy to the point where it becomes near impossible to believe that Hiro’s not going to be utterly damaged. Hiro and his brother are already orphans being raised by their aunt when Hiro sees his brother die in a fire. His desire to kill the man responsible rings true, but what doesn’t is pretty much any smile afterwards. Both the movie and the character would have been better served if his brother had more vanished than actually died to believe that hope could still exist for Hiro. I mean, even Batman only had to bury his parents. Fortunately, Hiro really isn’t the star of the film. It’s the gentle robot, Baymax, who looks like a giant marshmallow that and Disney clearly knew it given he’s got the poster to himself. You can almost believe that under his care Hiro could heal in a way that the film needs to accept his journey. Not helping matters is a fairly weak and underdeveloped villain and everyone knows your heroes are only as good as your bad guy is bad, but Baymax almost makes up for all of it.

LOST IN SPACE
Interstellar opens at number two and honestly, my hopes were not high for this when I saw the writing credits belonging to the two Nolan Brothers. With the exception of the ninety minute Memento, every film they’ve ever made could have and probably should have been cut by twenty minutes and sadly this is no exception. While I do prefer a shorter film, I’m not an enemy to a long one.. I’ve got no problem settling in and letting big film envelope me like a warm blanket so long as it uses its time to do just that and totally immerse me in the world it creates, but that doesn’t happen here. We get hints at a dystopic future where all wars are over as mankind is engaged in a struggle to survive on a fatally damaged Earth as one by one every major crop is dying off and dust storms are starting in on the humans. Farming is encouraged as an occupation and children are taught that we never went to the moon as space travel is considered a waste of resources. The latter apparently happened in McConughey’s lifetime as he was a pilot with NASA. Not sure how that’s even possible, but okay. Also, NASA is now an organization that’s been operating in secret for over a decade exploring space to find mankind a new home thanks to a wormhole that has appeared next to Saturn, openly acknowledged to be the work of an intelligent race. So, if they can create a wormhole, why the hell put it next to Saturn, which takes two years to get to? No one ever asks. Once through the wormhole they are to determine which if any the only three worlds that actually had mission survivors (out of 12 manned missions) can become a new home for mankind. Meanwhile, back on Earth, thanks to the relativity of time near a black hole, McConughey’s daughter has become a scientist in her own right, helping with Plan B, which is to build a space station to relocate humanity. Of course things go wrong on both ends to build drama and tension, but as always Nolan stretches the tension to the point where it simply snaps and you don’t much care how it resolves itself, so long as it ends. Remember seeming endless shots of people falling backwards and a falling van in Inception? Well take that and make it even longer. Not to mention if you’ve watched enough science fiction you know immediately the secret behind the first “mystery” introduced in the film and once the film finally reveals it, not only is there no new spin put on it, but it also goes on far too long. Even the much vaunted visuals failed to impress and I went out of my way to see it in 70mm…and something happened to the film in the last 10 minutes. So much for that format making a comeback.

A TORCH VERY HAPPILY PASSED
Gone Girl actually rises to number three and this is what we call “having legs” as we not only enter its sixth week, but a jump back up. Why? Well, let’s face it: it’s an adult movie about adults, while Big Hero 6 is aimed squarely at kids and there are adults who flatly regard all science fiction as silly and won’t watch. This is where they were while kids were in Big Hero 6 and teenagers were in Interstellar. And did we discuss that also in this was the “Blurred Lines” girl, Emily Ratajkowski? She’s the new Megan Fox. That is, someone whose natural features are so exaggerated she looks like the drawing of a girl come to life. And while these people look great “playing their roles” (usually in print) they look almost freakish playing “normal” as she does in the film. There’s a similar problem with one of the male leads on Jane the Virgin. He’s clearly good looking, but looks oddly freakish as well walking around and talking.

ONE DAY YOU COULD BE A FULL OF SHIT SUPERSTAR
Quija is down to number four and this cast is filled with unknowns so there’s not much to talk about, but remember the original Nightmare on Elm Street also had a cast filled with unknowns, one of whom was Johnny Depp, so hang in there kids! Paying your dues in crappy, low budget horror films is a time-honored tradition. Shhh! I’m trying to give these kids hope!

ACTORS PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKE ARE IN THIS?
St. Vincent is down to number five, followed by Nightcrawler at number six and did you know that Rene Russo was in this or that her character is helping the career of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character? Of course not. Seriously, the ad campaign for this needs a do-over.

AND YOU WILL KNOW THEM BY THE TRAIL OF MEDIOCRE TO AWFUL WORK
Fury is down to number seven and this comes from David Ayer the writer and director of wannabe gritty LA crime dramas like End of Watch and Harsh times and the writer of Training Day, Dark Blue, SWAT and Fast & The Furious. He also wrote and directed the god-awful Sabotage, which did just that to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback attempt. This resume makes me more than glad I gave this a pass.

THE A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY SQUAD
John Wick is down to number eight and as I mentioned what helps this film are the many character actors in small supporting roles such as Lance Reddick, Ian McShane (who improves anything), John Leguizamo (who can ruin anything if you let him, but they don’t let him) Dean Winters and Willem Dafoe as a hitman buddy and David Patrick Kelly as the undertaker of the underworld who seems to enjoy his work a bit too much. You know him from his immortal line from The Warriors, “War-ri-ors, come out to pla-ay…” Yeah, that guy.

GEEKS, ALWAYS LIKING WEIRD STUFF
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is down to number nine and The Book of Life closes out the top ten at number ten. After this week it it will undoubtedly go on to a live a cult classic by geeks who insist it was great and the rest of us simply didn’t give it a chance. They’ll be half right.

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JUST TED’S BLOODY ADVENTURE

27 Oct

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1. Quija/Universal                                        Wknd/$ 20.0    Total/$ 20.0
2. John Wick/LG-S                                      Wknd/$ 14.1     Total/$ 14.1
3. Fury/Sony                                                  Wknd/$ 13.0    Total/$ 46.1
4. Gone Girl/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 11.1     Total/$ 124.1
5. The Book of Life/Fox                               Wknd/$ 9.8     Total/$ 29.9
6. St. Vincent/Weinstein                             Wknd/$ 8.1      Total/$ 9.2
7. Alexander & The Terrible…/Disney     Wknd/$ 7. 0     Total/$ 45.5
8. The Best of Me/Relativity                      Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 17.7
9. The Judge/WB                                         Wknd/$ 4.3      Total/$ 34.4
10. Dracula Untold/Universal                   Wknd/$ 9.9      Total/$ 40.7

I CAN’T SEE A TOMORROW ANY LONGER
Quija opens at number one and we should all be ashamed of this. A movie based unapologetically on a board game? With Michael Bay as a producer? For a moment I thought there was hope when we banded together as a people and rejected Battleship, but now…I just don’t know.

YOU NEED TO LAUGH A LITTLE AS BODIES HIT THE FLOOR
John Wick opens at number two and if the plot of this seems familiar it’s because it’s pretty much the same plot as The Equalizer which came out a month ago: a retired assassin goes on a killing spree when the Russian mob crosses him. Both end with showdowns in the rain (though an artificial in the case of The Equalizer) and both star an aging leading man, in this case Keanu Reeves now in his 50’s. Yeah, you a old muthafucka. The difference being this is much better, starting with the utter lack of pretense of saving someone or righting some wrong. Nope. John Wick is out for revenge, pure and simple and will kill anyone who gets in his way. It just so happens everyone he kills is a bad guy. If a cop had killed the puppy left to him by his late wife the way the son of the Russian Mob boss does you get the feeling he’d have wiped out the New York Police Department with the same lack of hesitation. Not that NYPD is anywhere to be seen as every action scene leaves more bodies on the ground than the last act of Hamlet (one cop is seen in New Jersey and knows better than to get involved…which is authentic Jersey). No, this is one of those films with a romantic fantasy depiction of organized crime, where they have their own hotels and clubs and everyone knows and respects everyone and there’s discipline and honor. Hell, there even seems to be a dress code. Pretty sure the inability to exist in a world of rules is what makes people into criminals, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s fantasy and it’s fun and the latter is what helps to elevate it over The Equalizer. There’s a dry sense of humor about all the carnage and nowhere more than in the primary antagonist. The first rule of action films is that your hero is only as good as your villain and there’s a good one here in the Russian Mob Boss. Now, in every action movie someone delivers the perfunctory expository monologue about how dangerous and deadly the hero is. Richard Crenna’s speech about Rambo in First Blood is the benchmark of this. Here the mob boss gives it to his son and when his son says he can handle Wick, there’s almost a metatextual response of frustration from the mob boss who says “Did he not hear what I just said!?!” At that moment he became the audience who has seen dozens of henchmen ignore these speeches and wanted to yell at the screen the exact same thing. And it’s not just him. This humor comes from a variety of characters throughout the film, all nicely portrayed by character actors who lend the film texture generic actioners often lack. It’s also good to have them when your leading man is Keanu Reeves, whom I like, but is far from the most magnetic personality to hit the screen. In that respect, The Equalizer does come out on top.

FACTS IS FACTS
Fury is down to number three and my friends confirmed what I suspected: any movie with Shia Lebouf in it blows. No exceptions.

YOU KNOW WHO DID ASCEND? MIRA SORVINO. EXACTLY.
Gone Girl is down to number four and also in this is Kim Dickens who seemed positioned to be the next indie film “It Girl” as I seemed to see her in every other art film at the end of the 20th century and one of Showtime’s first attempts at a series (with none other than indie king Eric Stoltz and Justine Bateman’s huge nipples). Alas, she never ascended, but I’m still glad to see her around, especially in a major, A-list film like this providing solid support as the detective investigating the disappearance of Rosamund Pike.

SOMETHING’S GONNA STICK
The Book of Life is down to number five and providing the voice to one of the characters is none other than Channing Tatum, clearly the hardest working man in show business. I have to respect someone who doesn’t just strike the iron while it’s hot, but wisely. He’s made a wide variety of choices from silly comedy (21 Jump Street) to action (White House Down) to romantic drama (The Vow) big budget sci-fi (Jupiter Ascending which was supposed to come out over the summer) to Oscar-bait drama (Foxcatcher opening this fall) to this, which isn’t some Dreamworks or Pixar guaranteed moneymaker, but a little off the beaten path. It suggests he’s actually looking for things that are interesting.

BUT HE WON’T DO A GHOSTBUSTERS SEQUEL
St. Vincent enters the top ten and this may be the third of an unofficial trilogy of Bill Murray that started with Meatballs and continued in Rushmore of the jaded older man who bonds with a boy. This might explain my lack of desire to see it. I’ve seen it done before and so well I don’t see how this could be better.

WRITING FULLY REALIZED CHARACTERS IZ HARD
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is down to number seven, followed by The Best of Me at number eight and The Judge at number nine and also in this is…Leighton Meester!?! Blair Waldorf? Yeah, I don’t get it either. She’s Vera Farmiga’s daughter that Robert Downey Jr. makes out with not knowing who she is. This is an example the some of the weaker writing in the film. They want this little surprise twist without thinking of what it takes to exist, which is sadly common in any movie or TV show about a guy who leaves home and is gone for years. Now it would be one thing if Vera Farmiga had also left town, but as it stands we’re supposed to believe that for twenty years he hasn’t heard a single thing about his high school love from anyone in his family who all still live in the same town. We’re also told his mother was close to her, but somehow never mentioned that his ex had a child twenty years ago. And even though he loved his mother, apparently he also has never been home once in twenty years to visit her. We know he has never taken his daughter to his home, but apparently no one travelled to see her either. There’s a repeated line from Very Famiga about him going to a Metallica concert and never being seen again that’s never elaborated upon. Probably because they never thought beyond that line.

LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES OF LEONARD NIMOY
Finally, Dracula Untold closes out the top ten at number ten and also in this is Dominic Cooper, better known to you as Iron Man’s dad, Howard Stark. And how happy is he that Agent Carter got her own series that he can appear on and continue to draw from the Mighty Marvel Money Machine? Very happy indeed.

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