Tag Archives: The Right Stuff

4TH BEST BATMAN MOVIE EVER!

13 Feb

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1. The LEGO Batman Movie/WB      Wknd/$ 55.6    Total/$ 55.6
2. Fifty Shades Darker/Universal     Wknd/$ 46.8    Total/$ 46.8
3. John Wick: Chapter Two/LG        Wknd/$ 30.0    Total/$ 30.0
4. Split/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 9.3     Total/$ 112.3
5. Hidden Figures/Fox                        Wknd/$ 8.0      Total/$ 131.5
6. A Dog’s Purpose/Universal            Wknd/$ 7.4      Total/$ 42.6
7. Rings/Paramount                             Wknd/$ 5.8      Total/$ 21.5
8. La La Land/LG                                 Wknd/$ 5.0      Total/$ 126.0
9. Lion/Weinstein                                 Wknd/$ 4.1      Total/$ 30.4
10.The Space Between Us/STX          Wknd/$ 1.8      Total/$ 6.6

BETTER THAN SNYDER, BUT YOU KNEW THAT
The LEGO Batman Movie opens at number one and if you remember, Will Arnett as Batman in The Lego Movie basically stole the thing so it’s no surprise that they gave him his own movie. But what’s odd about it is it’s this silly animated toy movie that has one of the best examinations of his personality and the only movie to just flat out say that Alfred is his father and Dick Grayson was his son. Not “butler” and “ward” but “father” and “son.” Not that it stops it from being funny in a very chaotic Airplane and Naked Gun sort of way. Let me put it this way: included in the villains here are Agents from The Matrix, Raptors from Jurassic Park and Sauron from Lord of the Rings. Oh, and Voldemort from Harry Potter. I’m not kidding. And the bulk of the humor is based on another prominent aspect of Batman’s personality that the movies have ignored but is a major thing in the comics: Batman is an asshole. Not the vainglorious asshole Will Arnett is playing here, but sharing the same character trait that he always thinks he’s right so it’s okay for him to do what he wants to anyone at any time. In this case when The Joker makes him obsolete by surrendering and making all the other bad guys in Gotham City surrender too, Batman realizes that it has to be some part of a greater scheme so he steals Superman’s Phantom Zone projector (easy because the Justice League is busy with their anniversary party which they’ve having for 57 years and never once inviting him…because he’s an asshole) and puts him there to safe. Unfortunately, that was The Joker’s plan exactly, so when he breaks out and brings all the villains imprisoned within to destroy Gotham it’s essentially Batman’s fault. Oh, and Batman’s been put in jail himself by Barbara Gordon for breaking in and putting The Joker in The Phantom Zone. It’s fun for normal people, but if you’re a geek, five times a much due to all the little “in” jokes that are thrown in.

SEXY? EHH, NOT SO MUCH.
50 Shades Darker opens at number two and briefly some thought it would open at number one and it’s clear those people don’t have kids. Every kid’s movie is kids admission + adult’s admission, whereas this only had adult’s admission, mostly female. Okay, maybe two adults on a date, but that’s not going to make up the difference. I saw the first as basically a joke with a friend who had a free screening passes. It was not good, though Dakota Johnson was and gave the movie a performance it didn’t deserve. Jaime Dornan gave the role the contempt he clearly has for it (and himself for taking the easy money & fame role which only gave him the former). That said, I’ve no interest in these characters whatsoever and not even bringing in Kim Basinger—who made the movie this could only hope to be in its wildest dreams, 9 ½ Weeks—is going to persuade me to give it a look. But it does make me want to watch 9 ½ Weeks again, so thanks for that.

John Wick: Chapter Two is the flipside to 50 Shades darker. It got the male money, but made less because honestly it’s not exactly a date movie. Granted, some people may get hot watching two-hours of breaking bones and headshots, but I’m willing to wager it’s not quite as many as those watching people boning (fewer to the tune of $16M). And this film is committed to headshots. A friend joked it should be called “HeadShot: The Movie.” Well, this is no different. I mean there’s actually a character that commits suicide…and he still shoots this person in the head. Like the first, Chapter Two is a borderline comedy in this concept there’s this secret underground criminal society that’s actually built on honor and respect and cops mysteriously never show up no matter how much mayhem is unleashed. This time they kick it up a notch when John Wick’s actions in the first result in someone he owed a debt to calling to collect. When Wick refuses, the guy blows up Wick’s house and the underground criminal society tells him he’s got to honor the debt, period. It’s a snake eating its tail because he incurred the debt leaving the life in the first place. Also, had he not gone on a killing spree in the first (to avenge the death of the puppy his late wife left to him) the marker would not have been called in, but fulfilling his obligation on this marker serves to create a mess that guarantees a John Wick Chapter 3 aka Even More Head Shots. And I’ll be there, ‘cause this silly ass shit is fun.

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS! READ ON AT YE PERIL!
Split is down to number four and this is considered part of M. Night Shymaylan’s comeback and it’s a comeback in the only way that matters: money. From a $9M budget it’s made over a $100M domestic alone making it the highest grossing horror movie in four years. His previous hit was The Visit, which made $65M domestic from a $5M budget. This gets him a little bit of his mojo back, but it’s still doubtful any studio’s going to drop $100M blockbuster in his lap again anytime soon and that’s probably for the best. Some people only shine with limitations. I’ll never know because honestly I was never a big fan. He just makes Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episodes as full-blown movies and makes up that time difference by dragging things out needlessly. There’s deliberately pacing and there’s just dragging shit out. He just drags shit out. Of course by now you may be aware this isn’t a mere stand-alone movie. It’s actually connected to Unbreakable. The character James McAvoy plays eventually metamorphoses into a super-strong bulletproof super-villain that Bruce Willis as his Unbreakable character reads about in the paper at the end setting up a new movie where they fight. According to Shyamalan, this character was actually supposed to be in Unbreakable, but he felt it was overstuffed. God forbid we use all that time where he dragged shit out to tell another story. I wasn’t the greatest fan of Unbreakable so connecting this to it doesn’t make me suddenly want to see it. I left horror behind long ago and this is still technically a horror movie about a loon kidnapping three terrified girls. He kills and eats two of them and I am not paying to see that shit. How does the third one survive? Well, she was sexually abused by her uncle and James McAvoy’s character who was also horrifically abused feels a kinship with her for it. No, she doesn’t even get to be the girl at the end of a horror movie that beats or outwits the villain.

A DISAPPOINTMENT TO MY PEOPLE
Hidden Figures is down to number five and I still have embarrassingly not seen it. I’ve no excuse. None.

WHO’S THE BEST PILOT YOU EVER SEEN?
A Dog’s Purpose is down to number five and I’m actually glad Dennis Quaid has this little hit. He was always a guy who was supposed to be a big A-list star, but his big A-list films didn’t quite work out. It’s hit and miss with mostly miss. After The Right Stuff and The Big Easy it’s disappointment after disappointment even when the movies were good like Innerspace. Probably the biggest disappointment was Great Balls of Fire, the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic that co-starred Alec Baldwin who had a similar career. They were briefly “hot” then longtime “not” around the same time, but while Baldwin was reborn on TV, Quaid has stuck with feature films, apparently not realizing he’s one white-hot TV show away from reclaiming some of his promised glory. I mean, did we ever think Cuba Gooding Jr. would be in something worth discussing again until The People vs OJ? Take it, Hot Dog!

NO BLOOD FROM THIS STONE
Rings is down to number seven and this may be the end of this franchise unless they dial down the cost. Horror franchises now cost under $10M and this cost $25 and hasn’t even made that yet.

AT LEAST I’M NOT DISAPPOINTING MY PEOPLE
La La Land is down to number eight and also on my Oscar Must See list with Moonlight, Hidden Figures and the number nine film Lion. Remember: I’ve seen XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and Underworld: Blood Wars but not a single one of these.

BETTER TO RULE IN HELL
Closing out the top ten is The Space Between us and I feel sorry for Britt Robertson. She’s making all the right moves, doing all the “right” films but it’s not working out for her. I guess it’s because I was a fan of The Secret Circle, which was a CW show about gorgeous teen witches in a small town. Hey to a geek, superpowered teens are superpowered teens. Since then she’s been in A-list films (Tomorrowland, Mother’s Day, Mr. Church, Delivery Man with A-list stars (George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Anniston, Eddie Murphy, Vince Vaughn) and even did a damn Nicholas Spark novel adaptation with rising star Scott Eastwood, but it’s not working. This little science fiction teen romance is sadly another one for the failure pile. Maybe her TV adaptation of Girl Boss will work out for her. Just ask Alec Baldwin. Everyone wasn’t meant to be a movie star.

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FORMER BOY WONDER PHOTOGRAPHY

ANOTHER BLOODY SEQUEL

10 Jan

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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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FORMER BOY WONDER PHOTOGRAPHY