Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

THE CRISIS OF UNFORTUNATE TITLING

14 Nov

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1. Doctor Strange/Disney Wknd/$ 43.0 Total/$ 153.0
2. Trolls/Fox Wknd/$ 35.1 Total/$ 94.0
3. Arrival/Paramount Wknd/$ 24.0 Total/$ 24.0
4. Almost Christmas/Universal Wknd/$ 15.6 Total/$ 15.6
5. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF Wknd/$ 10.8 Total/$ 32.3
6. The Accountant/WB Wknd/$ 4.6 Total/$ 77.7
7. Shut In/EC Wknd/$ 3.7 Total/$ 3.7
8. Boo! A Madea Halloween/LGF Wknd/$ 3.6 Total/$ 70.4
9. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/ Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 54.6
10. Inferno/Sony Wknd/$ 3.3 Total/$ 31.6

WHEN YOUR WORST CHOICE IS STILL GOOD, YOUR CASTING DIRECTOR DESERVES A RAISE
Doctor Strange holds at number one making sure any doubts of Marvel’s dominance were laid squarely to rest. Yet another comic book hero 90% of the populace has never heard of has been a ridiculous success (it’s almost made budget in a week and made more than twice this overseas). It also validates the casting choice of Benedict Cumberbatch, whom they delayed this movie to get. What’s funny and a little sad is that he’s the least interesting actor in this cast. I like him well enough, but pretty much everyone else cast would have been better than him. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton would have been more entertaining as Doctor Strange. Especially the latter two. There’s nothing about the character Doctor Strange that dictates it be a white male. Only that the character be a brilliant surgeon who is humbled and becomes a sorcerer. That’s any race, any gender (unlike say, Batman whose family has been prominent in Gotham since the pilgrim days which rules out anyone of color). Even costar Rachel McAdams would have been a welcome change from the so-safe-it’s-generic path they chose. There’s controversy about the casting because while they changed the Sorcerer Supreme from being Asian (Tibetan to be specific) to being White to avoid “stereotypes” (and offending the Chinese government so they could get those Chinese moviegoers). Yeah, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and that was another quarter mile laid down because while the “mystic Asian master” may be a stereotype it’s one that gives an Asian actor who might not otherwise have found work a job. Also crucial is the world “master.” He may be a stereotype, but the one who is the baddest muthafucka in the room. Simply put: the most powerful character in the story went from being a minority to being white. Yes, you can argue the most powerful character went from being a man to a woman (which is what Marvel tried to do) but it’s still a White woman as opposed an Asian one. Faced with this, Marvel again tried to wash over their sin by changing Wong from being Doctor Strange’s manservant to being another sorcerer equal to Strange, but one step forward plus one step back means you’re just standing still. That being said, Tilda Swinton is always a joy to watch, but she’d have been better as the doctor. She’s also more age-appropriate as the character not supposed to be young either, but someone older than Cumberbatch.

MAYBE SOME SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK EPISODES WOULD HAVE HELPED
Trolls holds at number two, followed by Arrival at number three and this is “grown up” science fiction, meaning it’s not about space battles and sexy robots, but about thoughts and concepts, in this case the science of communication, language in particular. How would you teach or learn an alien language? And do it before the world destroys itself in fear? My normal complaint about this type of movie is that it could have been told in 45 minutes on an old episode of The Outer Limits, but this actually needs its time to delve into what makes a language? How to communicate with no common basis, no Rosetta Stone? Amy Adams is basically the best linguist in America who is recruited by the government when one of 12 giant spaceships on Earth lands in Montana. Every 18 hours they open the door and try to communicate us, but until Amy Adams shows up apparently it never occurred to none of the hundreds of people on Earth trying to communicate (every country with a ship has team ) to a) use written symbols or b) not show up dressed like you’re landing on the moon when it’s clear they’ve made an effort to give you a breathable atmosphere. Seriously, they bring a bird in to make sure the air is safe and given nothing happens to the bird not one single scientist of the hundreds around the world thinks they can take that damn hazmat suit off!?! There’s a bit of a twist which is old hat if you’re a science fiction fan (seriously, this is basically a combination of a Deep Space Nine episode and a Next Generation episode) so once you’ve figured it out it drags a bit and honestly I’d have given that up for more delving into how they figured out the language of the aliens, but all in all it’s some solid thinkin’ man’s science fiction.

ALMOST ROLLING IN MONEY
Almost Christmas opens at number four and whoever decided on a pre-Thanksgiving release date needs to be fired. Seriously. In one more week you’d have a four-fucking-day weekend to bring in the bucks. I mean, it only cost $17M and already made $15M, but it could have, should have been so much more. Pretty sure no one going to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was going to have to decide between the two films.

THOUGH HE DID DATE HIS LEADING LADY AND BREAK UP WITH HER…JUST LIKE TOBEY
Hacksaw Ridge is down to number five and the star of this is former Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield trying to show life beyond the tights. Yeah, Tobey Maguire should have been a cautionary tale. But Garfield is a better actor and his defacto look isn’t “creepy loner” so hopefully he’ll do better.

SHE CAN’T PITCH PERFECT FOREVER
The Accountant is still around and color me shocked. This also works for Anna Kendrick as it’s a successful film out of her wheelhouse. Granted she’s “the girl who needs to be saved” but there’s no such thing as a bad hit.

ANOTHER JOB THAT SHOULD BE OPEN
Shut In opens at number seven and just as Almost Christmas opens a week too soon, this comes over a week too late. Returning to the genre that was the source of her only starring role success (The Ring) this should have been an easy win with at $10M budget for Naomi Watts. Seriously, somebody should lose a job over this as it was money just left on the table. Especially if that idiot used the term “counter-programming.”

WE ONLY HAVE OURSELVES TO BLAME
Boo! A Madea Halloween has made $70M off a $20M budget. See, this is why we can’t have nice things.

STARS OF THE LATE 20TH CENTURY FINALLY BEGIN TO FADE…
Finally the Toms close out the top ten with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back at number nine and Inferno at number ten.

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WHOA, HO, HO IT’S MAGIC!

7 Nov

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1. Doctor Strange/Disney Wknd/$ 85.0 Total/$ 85.0
2. Trolls/Fox Wknd/$ 45.6 Total/$ 45.6
3. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF Wknd/$ 14.8 Total/$ 14.8
4. Boo! A Madea Halloween/LGF Wknd/$ 7.8 Total/$ 65.0
5. Inferno/Sony Wknd/$ 6.3 Total/$ 26.0
6. The Accountant/WB Wknd/$ 6.0 Total/$ 70.9
7. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/ Wknd/$ 5.6 Total/$ 49.2
8. Ouija: Origin of Evil/Universal Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 31.4
9. The Girl on the Train/Universal Wknd/$ 2.8 Total/$ 70.7
10. Miss Peregrine’s Home…/Fox Wknd/$ 2.1 Total/$ 83.3

TRY TO UNDERSTAND HE’S A MAGIC MAN
Doctor Strange opens unsurprisingly at number one as the latest installment of the Marvel films. And while it’s enjoyable I find myself oddly disappointed in just how hard Marvel is sticking to this formula. Granted, they’ve got literally a billion rea$on$ as to why, but I find myself saddened just how much like all the others this is because Doctor Strange has always been a character that I’ve liked and he’s not like other comic book heroes. Yes, the plot device is one of the oldest in the history of creation—the humbled prince who becomes a better person as a result and we’ve seen it twice here alone with Thor and Iron Man—but they do absolutely nothing to put a new spin on it. In fact they watered it down. In the comics Stephen Strange starts as a flat out callous asshole of a surgeon who just might let you die if you can’t meet his fees, but here he’s just a bit of an arrogant prick and doing what is basically a Robert Downey Jr-lite take on the character as he was also not a joke cracking wiseass like he is here. In fact, you really only know he’s an arrogant jerk because people keep telling you he is, not really because of any arrogant jerk things that he does. When it happens it’s a big moment, not like the genuine arrogance of Tony Stark in the first half hour of Iron Man as he casually rumbles over everyone, friend and stranger alike because he only cares about himself. Also missing is Strange’s growth from this minor asshole to almost painfully benevolent. It’s a near two-hour movie. You should have the time to show the passage of time but apparently it wasn’t worth sacrificing a gigantic psychedelic action sequence. You don’t go from callous asshole to caring for an entire plane of existence in a few days or weeks, but it feels like it’s barely a month of so for the character here when it should have been years. There’s no definitive “humbling moment” where enlightenment occurs. This goes hand-in-hand with his “instant magic skills” something a depiction of an extended period of time would have helped with immensely. There’s an 80 minute animated version from a few years ago that actually does better at showing this, which should embarrass everyone here. The quality of the acting goes without saying, but literally every major actor present would have made a better Doctor Strange than Benedict Cumberbatch. Every. Single. One.

IT’S A BAD MOVIE HOUSEHOLD
Trolls opens at number two and you can garner the quality of a children’s movie by whether or not kids shut up when the trailer comes up. Over the last few months, this trailer didn’t shut up any kids. ‘Nuff said. Besides, has Justin Timberlake ever starred in a good movie? He’s been a supporting actor in exactly one. Again, ‘nuff said.

I GUESS YOU COULD SAY HE HAD A BRAVE HEART
Hacksaw Ridge opens at number two and Mel Gibson finally realized no one was going to see a movie of his if they had to see his face so here he’s just directing. This feels like the kind of war movie they would have made in the 40’s when they weren’t borderline propaganda: they were flat-out propaganda. Except Gibson takes great pains to show war as horrifically bloody as humanly possible which isn’t really going to inspire anyone to take up arms. I know this is based on a true story about a pacifist soldier who refused to take lives and would only save them, but honestly that doesn’t make it any more interesting to me. It takes something truly exceptional to make me want to sit through a war movie and this ain’t it.

TAKING A STAND
Boo! A Madea Halloween is down to number for and the answer is still “No.”

NETFLIX. THE NEXT ONE WILL BE ON NETFLIX. STARRING HIS SON.
Inferno is down to number five and so much for this franchise. At least as big budget superstar movies. They could very well make a nice living doing them as TV movies like Tom Selleck did for that one character, but this is clearly going to tie up in a nice little trilogy for you to buy for your parents at future Christmases because they read the books.

SEX AND THE SINGLE SUPER SOLDIER
The Accountant is down to number six, followed by Jack Reacher: Never Go Back at number seven and while one franchise may have just been born, another may be seeing its premature end. Yes, this means that Ben Affleck just had more success as an action hero this year (remember Batman v Superman: Mad Stupid Cash Grab) than Tom Cruise. You can bet pre-production on the next Mission Impossible just kicked into high gear. What’s funny is that neither character gets to have sex with their female lead, which are Anna Kendrick and Cobie Smulders respectively. Not that we wanted to see it (ew!), but Ben Affleck’s character basically cannot with Kendrick because his autism leaves him socially impaired. And we don’t necessarily want to see it with Tom Cruise either (serious ew!), but there’s an odd kind of sexual tension that is present because Cobie Smulders and Cruise spend time half-undressed together in a very casual way that is oddly appealing. Honestly, it’s very adult that two people on the run from killers would have other things to worry about than whether or not someone sees them naked. And at the same time, knowing this night could be your last night on earth why the hell wouldn’t you hook up? Especially in the case of Jack Reacher, given his character has come to DC for the specific purpose of possibly sleeping with Cobie Smulders. I’m not kidding. They even discuss it in one of the oddly appealing scenes. It’s actually odd that they do not. Odd for the characters. For Tom Cruise, not so much.

STUDIO ACCOUNTANTS SAYS “OUCH! THAT’S SOME SHARP CHEDDAR!”
Ouija: Origin of Evil is down to number nine and you know who’s in this!?! Eliot himself, Henry Thomas. Good for him. Get that work, son! Yeah, it’s a low-budget horror movie, but it’s made 3x its cost, unlike the movie of the Toms (Hanks and Cruise) in this top ten. It also means you’ve had one more hit this year than Spielberg. Yeah, I said it!

BET YOU THOUGHT BEING PRETTY WAS GONNA CARRY YOU…MORE THAN IT ALREADY HAS I MEAN
The Girl on the Train is down to number nine at $70M off a $45M budget ($140M total worldwide) this is a minor success. Good for you, Glenn Cocco! I want Emily Blunt to do well (she had Sicario last year). I like The Devil Wears Prada that much. I want almost everyone who was in it or associated with it to do well. Yeah, that stops at you, Adrian Grenier. Entourage has tainted you forever. Being a pretty muthafucka don’t help.

A LONG OVERDUE DEATH
Finally, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children aka, Tim Burton’s X-Men closes out the top ten at number ten and mercifully I think we’re nearing the twilight of studios giving Burton millions of dollars for these CGI fests. It didn’t even make budget domestically and while it doubled its domestic take overseas that’s not the money that matters most. You can tell stories of eccentric characters without a lot of CGI, Timmy, but the operative word there is “stories” and you aren’t big on those, much less characters.

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EVERYBODY GETS A BUTT-KICKING FRANCHISE

24 Oct

jon

 

1. Boo! A Madea Halloween/LGF          Wknd/$ 27.6     Total/$ 27.6

2. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back/          Wknd/$ 23.0    Total/$ 23.0

3. Ouija: Origin of Evil/Universal           Wknd/$ 14.1    Total/$ 14.1

4. The Accountant/WB                             Wknd/$ 14.0    Total/$ 47.9

5. The Girl on the Train/Universal        Wknd/$ 6.0       Total/$ 58.9

6. Miss Peregrine’s Home…/Fox            Wknd/$ 6.0      Total/$ 74.4

7. Keeping Up With The Joneses/Fox   Wknd/$ 5.6      Total/$ 5.6

8. Kevin Hart: What Now?                      Wknd/$ 4.1       Total/$ 18.9

9. Storks/WB                                              Wknd/$ 4.1       Total/$ 64.7

10. Deepwater Horizon/Lions Gate       Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 55.3

YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS SHIT

Boo! A Madea Halloween opens at number one and…no. Just…no.

NEVER GO BACK…UNLESS IT’S FOR MORE MONEY

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opens at number two and I actually enjoyed the first film. Granted, I’m not one of the fans of the books where Jack Reacher is 6’3” so I don’t have a problem with Tom Cruise intimidating people and whooping ass all over the place like a man twice his size. I accept it for the cheap thrills sheer vanity production it is (one of the first things you see onscreen is “A Tom Cruise Production”). It exists to show you that the star is just the bestest thing ever! And while Cruise was never a great actor he is however a great movie star so this works. It’d work better for a young Clint Eastwood, but it works for Cruise too. This is a bit of an improvement on the the first because that one was centered around a horrific loss of innocent life along with horrible moments of the sheer “crap we do to our fellow human beings” variety. The only way it was better was that it had one of funniest fight scenes ever and we got to watch Jai Courtney get beaten to death. Hell, the latter alone is worth the entire film’s production. This one is a simple “wrongly accused heroes fight to clear their names” and we get to watch Tom Cruise get his Jason Bourne on. And don’t kid yourself: this was his attempt to have a Jason Bourne franchise the way every actor from Liam Neeson to Kevin Costner to Sean Penn has seemingly tried to get his own with varying degrees of success over the last 14 years (Cruise was originally supposed to be Salt which was obviously gender swapped to Angelina). Yeah, he’s got Mission Impossible, but a) you can never have too many franchises, especially when you’re officially an aging actor and b) that was actually famous before he was and has expanded to include other known actors. This is about him and him alone beating the shit out of people in that military martial arts style that even James Bond had to adapt as the result of Bourne’s success. It’s not an intellectual exercise by any stretch of the imagination, but for so cheap and easy fun (these movies cost about $60M each and literally a third of that probably went to Cruise alone) they are not a bad way to spend two hours and will be great on cable in the coming years where you can just tune out the improbable plot and just look up from what you’re doing to watch Cruise beat the shit out of people. Hey, I think Jai Courtney is about to die right now. Be back in a minute…

IT’S A SUCCESSFUL PLAN, STAN

Quija: Origin of Evil opens at number three and this is how you make money. Take a low budget horror movie and open it close to Halloween, the second most profitable holiday in America. The first Ouija came out on October 24th last year and made $50M from a $5M budget so they knew what they’d be doing the following year. This is basically the new “Saw” which milked this same marketing plan for years. The producers put a little more money into this one (it’s a whopping $9M this time), but have probably already started pre-production on the third given it’s already made that back and then some in one weekend. I think it goes without saying that I have not, nor will I ever see any of these.

DAMSEL IN DISTRESS

The Accountant is down to number four and also in this is Anna Kendrick, expanding her audience to dudebros who’d never see Pitch Perfect but bringing her trademark humor along with her which honestly is one of the reasons this succeeds: it knows when to be funny. After all, you can’t have a killing machine accountant and expect people to keep a straight face. You cannot. Granted, Kendrick is basically “the girl” who needs to be saved and doesn’t even have a moment where she contributes to beating the bad guys, but small steps. At least when they come for her she manages to put a hurt on them and doesn’t just scream and run.

AN ALL ALMOST-STAR CAST

The Girl on the Train is down to number five and this movie is filled with actors you know but none with enough star power to overcome Emily Blunt, which is shrewd if planned, but probably because a movie with a female lead didn’t have the budget to hire other A-list actors (you know it’s true!). You’ve got the would-be girl-of-the-moment Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux aka Mr. Jennifer Anniston, Luke Evans aka That Guy That Looks Like If Orlando Bloom Was A Man, Laura Prepon aka The Redhead From That 70’s Show, Allison Janney aka Always A Solid Supporting Actor But Never A Lead and Lisa Kudrow aka That Friends Money Means You Should Never Feel Sorry For Me.

THEY BELIEVE IN FLYING MEN AND GHOSTS…SO LONG AS THEY’RE WHITE

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is down to number six and there was some small amount of controversy about the lack of diversity in the movie, and while it would have been nice I honestly I don’t expect a lot in a movie set in Europe during WWII. But there’s something to be said that the only people of color in a Burton film before this were covered by make up as monkeys and the only one here is the freaking villain. If you doubted Burton’s geek cred this should back it up. They tend to like their fantasy worlds monochromatic.

SUCH A HANDSOME MAN

Keeping Up With the Joneses opens at number seven and Zach Galifinakis is running out of chances to prove he can sell a comedy. His last flop before this was only a few weeks ago with Masterminds. What that has in common with this movie is that they share a name with a previous movie that failed, which usually drives the people in suits crazy prompting an instant change. It’s nothing against Jon Hamm given this clearly isn’t his movie, but it’s not helping either. It’s great he doesn’t have an ego and needs to be the star, but you’re not a kid, dude and need to have something successful post-Mad Men under your belt. It’s ironic he’s here with the new Wonder Woman given he looks more like a superhero than basically everyone currently playing one. Hamm is a perfect Superman. Hamm is a perfect Batman. Hamm is a perfect Iron Man. Hamm would have been a perfect Doctor Strange as well. He’s been approached but balked at the decade long contracts they have to sign. Don’t expect to see him in a wannabe Jason Bourne movie either.

THE REST

Kevin Hart: What Now is down to number eight, followed by Storks at number nine with Deepwater Horizon closing out the top ten at number ten.

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SOMEONE MADE A BETTER VERSION OF THIS ALREADY

31 Aug

Shannyn-Sossamon-1
1. Straight Outta Compton/Universal     Wknd/$ 13.2   Total/$ 134.1
2. War Room/TriStar                                 Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 11.0
3. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation     Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 170.4
4. No Escape/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 10.4
5. Sinister 2/Focus                                      Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 18.5
6. The Man from UNCLE/Paramount    Wknd/$ 4.4      Total/$ 34.1
7. Hitman: Agent 47/Fox                           Wknd/$ 3.9      Total/$ 15.3
8. The Gift/STX                                            Wknd/$ 3.1     Total/$ 36.0
9. Jurassic World/Universal                     Wknd/$ 3.1      Total/$ 643.1
10. Ant-Man/Disney                                   Wknd/$ 3.1      Total/$ 169.2

HEY, I HEAR THIS RAP THING MAKES MONEY
Straight Outta Compton holds at number one and sound you just heard is the Tupac bio being greenlit because naked greed makes for short memories. Clearly that Biggie had a bio-pic that no one saw (which had Tupac in it) is being put down to bad marketing.

EVEN JESUS WAS OUT WATCHING NWA
War Room opens at number two and this is one of those Christian “niche” films that opens up from time-to-time. In fact it’s super-niche as its Black Christian. Sadly, I know exactly who the audience is for this. Relatively speaking it’s a success, but note that an R-rated film about a rap group from 30-years ago on its third weeks still made three times as much, so don’t break your arm having Jesus pat you on the back.

MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL CAREER MOVE
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is down to number three and Alec Baldwin is the latest in the series of “serious actors” cast as Tom Cruise’s superior to ground the series as something more than silly popcorn…which it totally is. It’s mutually beneficial. The series gets grounding and the “serious actor” gets exposure to an audience that wouldn’t have seen them otherwise and presumably a nice paycheck for a day’s work. This was pioneered in the superhero film (Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman in Superman; Jack Nicholson and Jack Palance in Batman). The first was obviously Jon Voight, followed by Anthony Hopkins, then Laurence Fishburne, then Tom Wilkinson. I expect the sixth film will go the James Bond route and hire a “serious” female actor. I’m thinking Meryl Streep. Mainly because she hasn’t done a superhero movie yet and she’s clearly in the “I’m Just Gonna Have Some Fucking Fun” stage of her career. Plus Cruise already worked with her once so he has an “in.”

HONESTLY WHO CARES ABOUT A SERIOUS OWEN WILSON?
No Escape opens at number four and honestly who thought this was a wide release film even at the end of the summer? And I can’t help but feeling I’ve seen the “Americans trapped in country of revolution” film before. Given that Pierce Brosnan is in this it feels like it should have been about him as a CIA agent there toppling a government when he feels an obligation to get a family out. That’s so much more interesting that this movie which seems to be about rightfully pissed off rebels trying to kill all the people they rightly feel are responsibility for their problems (Owen Wilson’s character brings his family there as part of a corporate job).

ANY RESEMBLANCE TO LISA BONET IS PURELY DELIGHTFUL
Sinister 2 is down to number four and in this is Shannyn Sossamon. Remember her from the turn of the century? She’s sooooo pretty. But hey, they’re a dime a dozen in Hollywood and her career is proof of it. Nonetheless, I’ve a special affection for her and am glad to see her still working, especially in a genre franchise, which puts an easy win on her resume. And I just learned she’s going to be on Sleepy Hollow this fall…, which means I have to give it another chance when I was read to write it off after the second season. Sigh.

EXCEPT FOR THAT
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is down to number five and Arnie Hammer simply cannot catch a break. He started so high up with great performance in The Social Network, but has had the worst luck in projects sense then, but it’s totally understandable. How do you say “No” to a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio directed by Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar)? How do you turn down a movie with Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)? How do you turn down a potential franchise with Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger)? And finally, how do you turn down a second potential franchise directed by Guy Ritchie? All his mistakes are understandable from a conventional career viewpoint. They all looked like smart choices. Unless you’re familiar with the hit-and-miss nature of Eastwood’s work, that almost every movie Julia Roberts has made sucks and that Johnny Depp is a soulless, pretentious whore.

IT’S A PREJUDICE!
Hitman: Agent 47 is down to number six and Zachary Quinto is in this, clearly realizing his options after playing Spock are more limited to genre films than he realized. Seriously, being openly gay is nothing compared to getting famous through science fiction. Just ask Mark Hamill. Oh, you say Harrison Ford? What the fuck do you call Indiana Jones? What Lies Beneath? Even Jack Ryan. He was just in big, successful genre films. His Working Girls and Fugitives are not what made him a superstar. His resume is more populated with Regarding Henry, The Mosquito Coast, Sabrina, Six Days Seven Nights, Random Hearts, Hollywood Homicide…etc.

THE END
The Gift is down to number eight, followed by Jurassic World returning for one last time at the end of summer and Ant-Man closing out the top ten at number ten.

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TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE MUNCHIES

24 Aug

eisencera
1. Straight Outta Compton/Universal            Wknd/$ 26.8   Total/$ 111.5
2. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation            Wknd/$ 11.7    Total/$ 157.8
3. Sinister 2/Focus                                             Wknd/$ 10.6   Total/$ 10.6
4. Hitman: Agent 47/Fox                                  Wknd/$ 8.2     Total/$ 26.6
5. The Man from UNCLE/Paramount            Wknd/$ 7.4     Total/$ 26.6
6. American Ultra/LGF                                     Wknd/$ 5.5     Total/$ 5.5
7. The Gift/STX                                                   Wknd/$ 4.3     Total/$ 31.1
8. Ant-Man/Disney                                             Wknd/$ 4.1     Total/$ 164.5
9. Minions/Universal                                        Wknd/$ 3.7      Total/$ 320.0
10. Fantastic Four/Fox                                      Wknd/$ 3.7      Total/$ 49.6

ALSO I’VE NEVER SEEN FRIDAY AND NEVER WILL
Straight Out of Compton holds at number one and now that I know that director F. Gary Gray was the cameraman who watched Dr. Dre beat Dee Barnes chances of me seeing this went from slim to nil. I’ve always said you should be careful in looking into the private life of anyone creative because you probably won’t like what you find. History is filled with examples of the most talented people you can imagine being utterly fucking despicable. From Wagner’s anti-Semitism to Lewis Carroll’s unnatural obsession with the girl who inspired Alice to John Lennon and Stevie Wonder slapping around their wives to Michael Jackson molesting young boys (shut up. you know he did it) to a fucking laundry list of crappy parenting, exceptional talent seems to go hand-in-hand with being a total asshole. But where do you separate the dancer from the dance? The journalist who exposed the more than two-dozen statutory charges against R. Kelly (not that I’d ever call that fucker exceptionally talented) that Kelly bought off put it best: R. Kelly is basically singing about what he does, while Michael Jackson never sung about molesting children. There’s also an element of culpability. John Lennon admitted to what he did as a bad husband and bad father and presumably strove to be better without any public pressure. Dr. Dre didn’t admit to jackshit until Apple clearly made him issue an apology last week due to their investment in his billion-dollar Beats (horribly ironic name it seems) sound system. And even then he doesn’t own it, instead citing being a drinker. Yeah, that’s right up there with blaming racist statements on drinking. Booze doesn’t make you anything; it only reveals what you are. It’s like money in that. The problem with N.W.A. is that they did talk about beating women, which is clearly what at least one of them was doing (ironically, not the actual drug dealing gang member). So, while I can still enjoy The Italian Job remake or “Keep Their Heads Ringing (which was written by Jay Z anyway), this shit will not take up one second of my life. Ever.

‘CAUSE THAT SCORSESE THING REALLY DIDN’T TAKE NOW DID IT?
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation holds at number two and Tom Cruise seems to have finally found the right writer/director for him in Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote not only wrote Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow and Jack Reacher but directed Jack Reacher as well. He also handled writer/director duties here. They may not be perfect movies, but they are satisfying for the most part and most of all they were all successes for Cruise and having someone who maintains A-list status for over 30 years looking to you is great trump card for a writer/director. He’ll be given a free pass to work between Cruise films and there’s no way he’s going to turn that down.

AT LEAST IN THE OLD DAYS THE MONSTER SEEMED TO DIE IN THE END
Sinister 2 opens at number three and given I didn’t see the first it was pretty much guaranteed I wouldn’t be seeing this. Say it with me, kids: I don’t do the scary. Plus a sequel means the bad guy clearly won in the first film and I hate that shit.

‘CAUSE THERE’S MORE BLOOD ON NETFLIX
Hitman: Agent 47 opens at number four, one of two “super-soldier” movies opening this weekend and while I did see the first one and was a little intrigued by a second once they showed there was going to be a badass woman, I ultimately decided to give it a pass. I’ll catch it on Netflix in a year because it does look like fun at the very least. Yes, that’s the new “I’ll catch it on cable.”

KEATON WAS NEVER BATMAN TO BEGIN WITH, THAT’S WHY!
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is down to number five and I’m sorry this isn’t doing better. First, because it’s a decent movie and second, because I always root for guys playing superheroes to have careers outside of it. I don’t blame Henry Cavill for the shitstorm he signed up for and want him to have a good career because one of the reasons it’s actually difficult to get good actors to be play superheroes is because some of them are such icons you really can’t escape it afterwards (to this day, Lynda Carter is Wonder Woman). Christian Bale doesn’t live in the shadow of Batman because he had career defining roles before an after it, not to mention an Oscar. Kilmer and Clooney never played the role more than once and like Bale had significant work outside of it. But Christopher Reeve never “escaped the cape” like George Reeves before him. And let’s not pretend Dean Cain and Tom Welling had a chance to begin with, shall we?

NOT SCOTT PILGRIM VS. ONLY THE CIA
Speaking of super soldiers and Superman, American Ultra opens at number six and this is basically what if Captain America or Jason Bourne were a stoner. Seriously. Jesse Eisenberg is playing Lex Luthor in the next horrible Superman movie, but here he’s a three-strike stoner who gets recruited by the government for experiments into making super-soldiers. For reasons that are explained later the program is shut down and he’s dropped into a one-horse town as a convenience store clerk with a post-hypnotic suggestion that causes him anxiety attacks whenever he tries to leave. He’s clearly self-medicating with weed but has a girlfriend who seems to have no problem with him. Problems occur when Topher Grace (whose ease at playing dicks seems to confirm rumors about him) decides that Eisenberg has tried to leave town one too man times and sends assassins in to take him out. Connie Britton was the head of the program that recruited Eisenberg and to save him, activates him, so much to his own surprise, he becomes a badass killer whenever he’s attacked…but reverts to his sad stoner self between attacks. Given how often he and Michael Cera are so often and justifiably compared this is very much his own Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, where Cera kicked ass left and right, while otherwise being a whiny dweeb. Unfortunately, it’s meeting with the same lack of success. It’s also not as good, being seemingly unwilling to really cut loose with its premise until the final showdown. They get the stoner part right, but take far too long with the killing machine aspect. It’s a one-joke premise that needed to move a little more quickly before wearing out its welcome.

PUTTING THAT EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS MONEY TO GOOD USE
The Gift is down to number seven and I had no idea Joel Edgerton both wrote and directed this. Also well played to choose the weirdo role over the protagonist. He’s become the odd genuinely talented Australian import, in a world where Jai Courtneys and Sam Worthingtons are given big budget films in which to be utterly bland. Not even bad, which would be fun at least, but boring which is the worst thing an artist can be.

MONEY, HONEY
Ant-Man is down to number eight and while this is far from a flop, it’s not the hard success some might have you think. $361M worldwide from a $130M budget may seem good, but you have to remember that studios get less than half of the overseas take, so at best they’re getting $80M from that $197M overseas take. Combine that with the $165 domestic take and you haven’t even doubled the budget, which is the basic minimum to cover production and advertising costs. Expect a sequel to be much heavier on super-hero guest stars to help out.

AN AMC SERIES JUST AIN’T PAYING FOR SHIT
Minions is down to number nine while Fantastic Four closes out the top ten on its third miserable week and I can’t stop laughing at it. Thankfully, no one will blame Kate Mara (who was apparently forced onto them by the studio), Michael B. Jordan (who was in Chronicle) or Jamie Bell (who should have played Don Blake in a proper adaptation of Thor) for this mess. Especially Jamie Bell. This was clearly to give him some kind of clout to make better indie films, like how Snowpiercer was probably only made because his co-star in that film, Chris Evans, agreed to be in it. There’s no other reason he’s here.

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BASED ON THE P.A.S.T.

17 Aug

mfu
1. Straight Outta Compton/Universal     Wknd/$ 56.1   Total/$ 56.0
2. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation     Wknd/$ 17.0   Total/$ 138.1
3. The Man from UNCLE/WB                  Wknd/$ 13.5    Total/$ 13.5
4. Fantastic Four/Fox                                 Wknd/$ 8.0     Total/$ 42.0
5. The Gift/STX                                            Wknd/$ 6.5     Total/$ 23.6
6. Ant-Man/Disney                                     Wknd/$ 5.5      Total/$ 157.6
7. Vacation/WB                                            Wknd/$ 5.3     Total/$ 46.9
8. Minions/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 5.2     Total/$ 313.0
9. Ricki & The Flash/TriStar                     Wknd/$ 4.6     Total/$ 14.7
10. Trainwreck/Universal                          Wknd/$ 3.8     Total/$ 97.1

FRESH OUTTA INTEREST
Straight Outta Compton opens at number one and I’m still staggered by the fact Ice Cube has a son old enough to play him in a movie about his life. Fuck. We’re both old. The only difference being I don’t keep my hair dyed jet black the way he does. You’re not a sports announcer, Cube. Let it go, brutha. I’ll probably watch it on cable in a year because N.W.A. and gangsta rap was never my thing and honestly could give a shit (and don’t let anyone fool you: it started on the east coast. It just blew up on the west coast). I couldn’t name another song beyond the one used for the title of this movie. It might as well be a New Kids on the Block movie as far as I’m concerned. I liked Biggie more and didn’t go to see his movie either.

MOVIE FROM N.O.S.T.A.L.G.I.A.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is down to number two followed perfectly by Man From U.N.C.L.E. as both are adaptations of Cold War spy shows from the 60’s. Now I knew a little about the MI, but nothing about Man From U.N.C.L.E. Seriously. It never showed up on reruns as when I was kid so I have no idea if and when they’re being loyal to the spirit of the show…and it feels great. Seriously. Being pissed off about Star Trek, Superman, etc., uses up a lot of energy that could be better spent doing… Okay, fine. I wouldn’t be doing anything else, but the point is it’s a little exhausting. Here I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I’m just another mouth-breather in the theater looking for a good time. And I got one. It’s not an exceptional movie, but it is an entertaining one. Unlike Mission Impossible, which opted to go modern, Man From U.N.C.L.E. chooses to stay in the 60’s because director Guy Ritchie adores the look and style of the original Bond films and I ain’t mad at him (using period pop music, but staying away from any well-known hits is nice touch). The movie is as much style as substance and doesn’t pretend otherwise. There are a few too many Ritchie-isms (instant flashbacks to let you know how we got to where we are), but his style is a welcome break from the usual action film formula of quick cuts and explosions. Also, Ritchie is clearly more interested in the characters than the toys they play with and it shows with all the chemistry between Henry Cavill and Arnie Hammer. One that Hammer lacked in his last small-to-big-screen attempt, The Lone Ranger. And Cavill gets nothing but points for doing a straight up impression of original star Robert Vaughn the whole time.

IT’S NOT ENOUGH THAT I SUCCEED, BUT OTHERS MUST FAIL
The Fantastic Four is down to number four appropriately and every day there’s a new story about how Fox and/or director Trank screwed the pooch from the beginning…and the schadenfreude is delicious. Seriously. I love the fact that everyone who stupidly tried to take a concept as light-hearted as The Fantastic Four is getting burned by it (their name alone should have been a clue). Not helping matter is the fact that Matthew Teller is a bit of a dick and not able to hide it in interviews where he’s ostensibly promoting the film. He talks about how a car accident changed him (his scars are visible in the film) but clearly not enough. Apparently he and Trank nearly came to blows during production and I can’t help but smile as I write that. And it’s not just me. Trank got this film because of Chronicle, which was successful dark superhero film. But he didn’t write it. Max Landis did, but was apparently not invited to continue the collaboration on a $100M+ superhero movie because when this disaster landed, Landis released the first few pages of his Fantastic Four movie, which is a thousand times better. Basically letting the world know that Trank’s decision to leave him behind was a horrible mistake. Oh, the schadenfreude…it was already delicious, but not more so when seasoned by the hatred of others.

HERE TO BRING EVERYTHING DOWN
The Gift is down to number five and while this is getting stellar reviews for being a genuine suspense thriller without descending into bunny-boiling and black-and-white good and evil I still have no interest. See, while I don’t do the scary I still have a curiosity about them and read the movie spoilers. The end result seems fairly predictable to me and more-than-given-away by the trailer. This isn’t to say it’s bad as a result—after all there are no new ideas only levels of execution of the old ones—but not the mind twister one might think it is by the praise, much less what people are calling the “twist.”

THE OTHERS
Ant Man is down to number six, followed by Vacation at number seven and minions at number eight.

TAKE OFF THE ROSE COLORED GLASSES, PEOPLE
Ricki and the Flash is down to number eight and I was going to ask what the hell happened to Jonathan Demme but then I look over his history and realize it’s always been hit and miss. And for every Something Wild, Married to The Mob, Silence of the Lambs and Rachel Getting Married, there’s a Manchurian Candidate, Beloved, the hideous mediocre and overpraised Philadelphia and the inexplicable decision to cast Mark Wahlberg in a role once played by Cary Grant in The Truth About Charlie. This is less an unusual failure and more standard operating procedure. The only good thing to come out of this mess is me realizing that they finally put Married to the Mob out on blu-ray last fall. About goddamn time…and keep giving it shitty cover art. Sigh.

SOMEWHERE JUDY GREER WONDERS WHAT THE FUCK!?!
Finally, Trainwreck closes out the top ten at number ten having made almost $100M domestically (it’ll easily reach that goal by this time next week). And this from a $35M budget. Amy Schumer is officially a comedy star and she did it as the lead without first playing the sidekick (which this character usually is), which is doubly impressive. Yes, she’s still an attractive blonde white woman, but she’s not typically so, so it’s still an accomplishment. Needless to say, the clock on her Comedy Central show has probably already started ticking. Hell, Key & Peele have already announced they’re done and without the benefit of a hit movie, so expect hers to come soon. The downside is this secures Judd Apatow’s power in all things comedy related, especially female-oriented. I guess it’s better than nothing or Adam Sandler, but still…

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IT’S STUMBLING TIME!

10 Aug

Rebecca-Ferguson1
1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation     Wknd/$ 29.4    Total/$ 108.7
2. Fantastic Four/Fox                                 Wknd/$ 26.2   Total/$ 26.2
3. The Gift/STX                                            Wknd/$ 12.0    Total/$ 12.0
4. Vacation/WB                                            Wknd/$ 9.1      Total/$ 37.3
5. Ant-Man/Disney                                     Wknd/$ 7.8       Total/$ 147.4
6. Minions/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 7.4      Total/$ 302.4
7. Ricki & The Flash/TriStar                      Wknd/$ 7.0      Total/$ 7.0
9. Pixels/Sony                                               Wknd/$ 5.4      Total/$ 57.6
8. Trainwreck/Universal                            Wknd/$ 6.3      Total/$ 91.1
10. Southpaw/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 40.7

THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL ACTION CAREER
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation holds the number one spot and as the woman who finally gets to be as badass as Tom Cruise is Rebecca Ferguson. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of her. Her two biggest claims to fame before this were The White Queen mini-series and last summer’s flop, Hercules. What’s funny, sad and little bit weird is that she looks a lot like Michelle Monaghan, who played Cruise’s fiancée in Mission Impossible III. I suppose it would have been a bit much to ask that she’d become a super-agent riding bikes and kicking ass alongside him, but it was 9 years ago. A decade’s enough time to develop some secret agent skills, right? But I guess Cruise was adamant that his leading lady always be under 35 and Monaghan has aged out. Ferguson’s character is named Ilsa in this and yes, they do go to Casablanca (Ferguson was even born in Stockholm like Ingrid Bergman). When Cruise arrives she even asks him, “What brings you to Casablanca?” And he doesn’t reply “The waters.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GO THERE WHY DID YOU CALL HER ILSA AND GO TO CASABLANCA!?! Some may respect the movie for not going for the easy reference. I am not one of those people. You go all the way or you don’t go at all!

THE FANTASTIC FOURTH FAILURE
The Fantastic Four reboot opens poorly at number two and let me say right out that this is not a bad movie, certainly nowhere near the level warranting the drubbing it’s getting on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s not a Transformers or Adam Sandler movie, which open insults your intelligence with the laziness of the filmmakers. It’s just not a good movie and is so clearly misguided and a waste of time, money and energy it just makes you angry. But this was a disaster from the word “go.” Even before Josh Trank had been brought on Fox made it clear they wanted to go “dark” with this because The Dark Knight made a billion dollars and for some reason they thought that was the key. Never mind that the bright and shiny Marvel movies were making money hand-over-fist, they wanted billions with a “B”, not millions with an “M.” Trank was the second mistake because he too couldn’t see how utterly ridiculous it was to try and go dark with characters named Mr. Fantastic and The Human Torch. He’d done well with Chronicle which was a similar story about people encountering something other-worldly and developing superpowers and it was on the darker side so he must have seemed like a perfect fit to them. The final mistake was basing this adaptation the 21st Century revision of the Fantastic Four known as Ultimate Fantastic Four. Marvel Comics did it with all their characters with mixed levels of success. Elements of the Ultimate universe have been used in other Marvel-based films (Nick Fury looking like Samuel L. Jackson, Captain America having super strength) but for the most part they remained loyal to the 60’s originals. Clearly that’s another lesson Fox chose to ignore, but honestly this was more an effort merely to hold onto the licensing than make a good movie. It’s the reason Sony made the two disappointing Amazing Spider-Man movies and Man of Steel was made (both also stupidly chose to go darker with lighter characters). They had a deadline to get something, anything out there and all paid a price creatively for it. This is why Fox had no problem slicing the budget later resulting in the loss of all the action films this film desperately needed, as now it’s just a boring pilot about four already sad people (Mr. Fantastic can’t related to his parents, The Thing’s household is abusive from parent to siblings, The Invisible Woman’s behavior borders on autism and The Human Torch has daddy issues) who get transformed and become even sadder superheroes. It’s dull, boring, sad and absolutely nothing anyone anywhere wants from a superhero movie (even the odious Man of Steel had action). But hey, Fox gets to keep the property for a third try, which ironically is exactly why Canon films made the first FF movie back in 1994. Let me put it this way: this is the only Marvel film of the last decade to have no Stan Lee cameo.

I MAINTAIN I WAS A LOVABLE GEEK
The Gift opens at number three and it’s good to see the Fatal Attraction formula of “relationship crosses over to crazy” is still around. In this case it’s that weird kid from high school who thinks now as adults you can finally be friends. Personally, I can’t relate as I didn’t keep up with the actual friends I did have and blew off basically everyone who tried to reconnect. Apparently Jason does the latter a little too late and pays the price. And apparently he did something to the guy in high school that somewhat warrants this. Makes sense as the persona Bateman has in movies, while generally sympathetic, could easily be that smug prick we all knew…or were. You can prove nothing.

CHEVY CHASE: BRINGING DOWN THOSE AROUND HIM SINCE THE 80’S
Vacation is down to number four and I’m happy to see Christina Applegate working but she needs to choose better than this (I still rue the day I sat through The Sweetest Thing). Her short-living series Samantha Who would have made a great movie. The story of an evil bitch who develops amnesia and a personality reversal after being deliberately run over by one of the many people she wronged on a daily basis is still a very funny idea. And it’s not just her who’s wasted. You’ve seen Charlie Day, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus and Keegan-Michael Key (of Key and Peele), Nick Kroll and Michael Pena in better things. In fact, Pena is in Ant-Man (following at number five) and is nothing but funny (despite the racism) so he at least has something to counteract this on his resume. See, unlike The Fantastic Four reboot, Ant-Man accepted that a guy who shrinks and then controls ants is a little silly, but nonetheless doesn’t hold the idea in such contempt all sense of fun has to be abandoned.

THIS IS WHY SHE CHOSE JESSIE OVER YOU
Minions is down to number six, followed by Ricki and the Flash opening at number seven and while I love Meryl Streep, love Rick Springfield, love director Jonathan Demme and have a passing affection for screenwriter Diablo Cody, this left me cold. The trailer looks like one of the old Touchstone trailers from the 80’s which you know would have just enough risqué behavior and language to get a PG13, but never crossing the line on any level to make you uncomfortable. So while this is ostensibly about a woman who abandoned her family to chase a dream and never looked back, you just know she’s never going to be depicted too harshly, nor will there be anything short of a happy ending. In short, it’s yet another Lifetime Movie that escaped into the theaters. Rick Springfield continues his inability to launch a proper acting career, even with Meryl Streep by his side (he turned down The Right Stuff while accepting Hard to Hold even though he knew it sucked). Even hopping onboard the True Detective didn’t work as the second season has been widely panned. Oh, Ricky…

SORRY, JUST CAN’T BE HAPPY FOR ANY BRUTHA DOIN’ ANYTHING
Trainwreck is down to number eight, followed by Pixels at number nine with Southpaw closing out the top ten at number ten and this was directed by Antoine Fuqua, who despite his repeated attempts is just not a gritty director. You get the feeling he wants to evoke some 70’s Sidney Lumet era filmmaking but he’s simply too slick and his films reflect it. He got lucky with Training Day, but is better at delivering glossy, slightly inept action films like The Equalizer, Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen and my personal favorite The Replacement Killers. You know, shit that’s fun to watch at 1:00 am on cable. His attempts to be “real” result flops like Tears of the Sun, Brooklyn’s Finest and now this. I don’t think I need to tell you he comes from music videos.

 

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