Tag Archives: Viola Davis

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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MAGNIFICENT DIVERSITY

26 Sep

m7
1. The Magnificent Seven/Sony         Wknd/$ 35.0     Total/$ 35.0
2. Storks/WB                                         Wknd/$ 21.8     Total/$ 21.8
3. Sully/WB                                            Wknd/$ 13.8     Total/$ 92.4
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary/Universal   Wknd/$ 4.5       Total/$ 16.5
5. Snowden/ORF                                  Wknd/$ 4.1        Total/$ 15.1
6. Blair Witch/LGF                               Wknd/$ 4.0       Total/$ 16.1
7. Don’t Breathe/SGems                      Wknd/$ 3.8       Total/$ 81.1
8. Suicide Squad/WB                           Wknd/$ 3.1        Total/$ 318.1
9. When The Bough Breaks/SGem    Wknd/$ 2.5       Total/$ 26.6
10. Kubo & The Two Strings/Focus   Wknd/$ 1.1        Total/$ 46.0

MAYBE THE NEXT TIME THERE’LL BE WOMEN OF COLOR
The Magnificent Seven opens at number one and do you know what every single remake of The Seven Samurai has in common? No matter how ridiculously inept they may be (I’m looking at you TV version which became a series), they’re still as entertaining as fuck. This is no exception. It’s not superlative in any way shape or form beyond making minorities the majority of the seven and making the people in need of help white rather than a bunch of Mexicans speaking accented English. In fact, it’s actually staggering in how shallow the characterization is, but if you know anything about Antoine Fuqua action movies that’s not surprising. Then again in the first western remake you really didn’t know anything beyond Yul Brynner or Steve McQueen or Robert Vaughn or James Coburn beyond some surface color (cool gunfighter, fancy dan gun for hire) and this is pretty much the same, so in fact it’s half-assing any attempt to give them depth that’s a problem. Either do it or don’t. There is no try. Honestly, what made them watchable before is the same as now and that’s the charisma that seasoned actors like Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke and Peter Skarsgaard (and movie stars like Chris Pratt and Byung-Hun Lee) bring to it. So if you want to watch good guy movie stars mow down lots of faceless stuntmen—and every action movie ever says you do—then this isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon. However, if you think an action movie in 2016 should be a bit more sophisticated than a movie made in 1960 then perhaps it’s not.

SOME BULLSHIT RIGHT HERE
Storks opens at number two and when small children in your audience keep making noise when the trailer for your animated movie comes up, then your movie is probably shit. No child anywhere ever went silent for Storks. It looks as unfunny as shit and only makes you count the days before the next Disney or Pixar movie.

SAVING US ALL
Sully is down to number three and its success returns Tom Hanks safely to his perch as “America’s Dad” after a series of misfires and keeps him away from playing Miles Teller’s dad one more day. Unfortunately its success also allows Clint Eastwood to remain safely in his position as “America’s Slightly Racist Sexist Grandfather Who Doesn’t Think He’s a Sexist Racist.”

YOU’RE LUCKY YOU HAD GRAY’S ANATOMY. SERIOUSLY.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is down to number four and while I loves me some Bridget Jones, I’ve never seen or read anything beyond the first book and movie (which are decidedly different but equally entertaining). Ironically, while there was no reason whatsoever for Hugh Grant to be in a sequel, Patrick Dempsey is such a poor replacement you wish they’d bent over backwards to find a way. There’s absolutely no way he’s competition for Colin Firth in anything, anywhere at any time. He is proof positive some people simply do not have the presence to occupy the big screen. Clooney can, Dempsey cannot. It’s just that simple. See you in your new show with a decade-younger wife in the fall of 2017.

AND SO IT BEGINS…
Snowden is down to number four and this signals the official beginning to Oscar-bait season. In other words, I’ll see it only once it’s been nominated by a body I respect (not you Hollywood Foreign Press). I have a firm rule against Oliver Stone so it has to be exceptional to make me break it.

ONCE AN INNOVATOR NOW JUST ANOTHER FACE IN THE CROWD
Blair Witch is down to number six and the movie that not only kicked off the “found footage” horror genre but “viral marketing” is back for another serving. It cost $5M to make and has so far made $15M. Of course if they were really smart they’d have waited until Halloween, but they’ve been out of the fame awhile. Needless to say I didn’t see it as I did not see the first and have only seen one “found footage” movie (Cloverfield) and regretted the shit out of it.

HAVE SOME GODDAMN STANDARDS FOR YOUR SCARY
Ironically, one of Blair Witch’s low-budget horror stepchildren is showing how it’s done in Don’t Breathe, which is down to number seven, but has made a whopping $91M off a paltry $10M budget. That’s fucking ridiculous. What’s wrong with you people!?!

YET ANOTHER REASON TO HATE THIS MOVIE
Suicide Squad is down to number seven showing ridiculous legs even in a weak movie season. So far it’s out-grossed Man of Steel while costing less and is only $12M away from Batman v. Superman’s domestic gross. To repeat: a superhero concept almost no one knows has outgrossed the most famous superhero ever and is gaining on the first ever screen outing of the three most famous superheroes ever. But the greatest sin is that it’s helping to sustain the career of Jai Courtney, aka Sam Worthington 2.0. Proof positive that no matter what Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth have led you to believe, not all Australians are charismatic.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
When The Bough Breaks is down to number nine, but like the other low-budget films on this list that is not the end of the world because it only cost $10M to make and so far has made almost $27M. Sadly I estimated 2o years ago that if you wanted to make Black films keep the costs $8-10M and you’d be okay and nothing has changed. If you’re not Denzel Washington or Will Smith keep it low. Or better yet, just stick to TV where the checks come every week for years like the lead of this, Morris Chestnut, has learned and the female lead, Regina Hall is hoping to learn with that shitty looking TV adaptation of Uncle Buck. Just ask Keenan on Saturday Night Live who has become the new Tim Meadows who did not become the new Eddie Murphy.

A PRETTY PICTURE OF FAILURE
Finally, Kubo & The Two Strings closes out the top ten at number ten and maybe this will teach these guys to stop trying to write their own stuff.

THE MOST WONDERFULEST TIME OF THE YEAR

The new fall season has started and because I love, love, loves me some TV I try to give every new show a shot. I mean unless it stars someone like Kevin James or Tim Allen or that douchey-looking guy from CSI who should have stuck with a sure thing and not let his agent blow smoke up his ass that he was some kinda lead. Especially in a show inspired by fucking Dr. Phil. But it’s on CBS and people who watch CBS will watch any. fucking. thing.

Atlanta: I was never a fan of Community. A little of that show went a long way and the jokes were always a beat or two off from truly being effective in my opinion. But I am a fan of Donald Glover and his music under Childish Gambino after avoiding it for years because of that stupid name. Also, being from Atlanta I had to give it a shot…and it is some good shit. Aside from the fact it’s getting a total pass on FXX for language (yes, the F bomb drops regularly) it’s wonderfully weird for the sheer sake of being weird and indulges in mercifully needed irreverent wit in black-centric TV shows, especially comedy. In a world where Michael Epps works far too much this is needed like oxygen. And the character of Darius is everything for me. He takes the weird sidekick beyond the one-note level of the average weird sidekick.

Designated Survivor: I have to admit this sounds more like the premise of a movie starring Larry the Cable Guy or Adam Sandler than a dramatic show much less a real thing, but it is very much a real thing and while I was just giving the show a cursory look, it hooked the shit out of me. They stacked the deck hard with Keifer Sutherland’s character as the the bleeding heart Housing Secretary (who was actually being fired by the president the day of the terrorist attack) who has to man up for a nation in chaos, but you know he’s going to and you want to see it happen. Even the improbably pretty and painfully thin Maggie Q as a seasoned anti-terrorist FBI agent doesn’t take away from it.

Lethal Weapon: I can’t help but think this is a way of pushing Mel Gibson out of public consciousness once and for all. After all, the first one came out in the 80’s and unlike the superior Die Hard hasn’t really continued into the new century for the kids to know it. At the same time it’s amazing it took this long for them to do it. Back in the old days a successful movie had a TV series based on it the next year, not 30 years later. But Keenan Wayans isn’t complaining. Last time you saw him he was playing his fully adult son’s father on Happy Endings about three years ago (sigh, has it been that long). At one point in his stand up years ago he joked about how his film career vanished. The show is as silly and disconnected from reality as the movies ever were so if you liked them, you’ll probably like this. I never liked the movies and in fact like this a bit better because it doesn’t ask you to take it all that seriously. It’s Bugs Bunny as an action hero and as stupid as it is, maybe a little less stupid than the movies. Certainly less ham-fisted.

The Good Place: Another show that seems more like a movie concept than a sustaining series turned out to have more to it that meets the eye. Kristen Bell is a pretty awful person who mistakenly gets into a neighborhood in heaven, but we learn heaven is far from perfect which is what saves it from being a dull show about her learning a lesson in sharing & caring each week. Not only is its designer, Ted Danson, enormously flawed, but even the other people there are a tad questionable. Best part: the sins and virtues that got people in and kept them out are hysterical as they’re on a point scale. Commissioner of any Sports Organization is a negative but being a devoted Cleveland Browns Fan is a positive. Being a vegan is a positive, but being a vegan who never reveals this unless prompted is even more points.

Better Things: I like all the tiny brunettes in Hollywood and Pamela Aldon is no exception and that she opens the show with her and another tiny brunette, Constance Zimmer, audition for the same role endeared this show to me instantly. The only way it could have been better would be to have Janeane Garafolo also show up. Granted, the world didn’t need yet another behind-the-scenes of the lives of show business people because they aren’t nearly as interesting to us as they think they are, there’s enough here worth watching as it’s just as much about her raising her three daughters and dealing with an English mother who lives across the street. That it’s yet another show that allows celebrities to play obnoxious versions of themselves is another plus. David Duchovny repays his Californication co-star in the third episode.

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MAKE ‘ER TALK, TUBO

22 Aug

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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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YOUR JOKE ABOUT CAREER SUICIDE HERE

8 Aug

15846
1. Suicide Squad/WB                                 Wknd/$ 135.1    Total/$ 135.1
2. Jason Bourne/Universal                       Wknd/$ 22.7     Total/$ 103.4
3. Bad Moms/STX                                      Wknd/$ 14.2      Total/$ 51.1
4. The Secret Life of Pets/Universal       Wknd/$ 11.6       Total/$ 319.6
5. Star Trek Beyond/Paramount             Wknd/$ 10.2      Total/$ 127.9
6. Nine Lives/EC                                         Wknd/$ 6.5       Total/$ 6.5
7. Lights Out/New Line                             Wknd/$ 6.0       Total/$ 54.7
8. Nerve/LGF                                               Wknd/$ 4.9       Total/$ 26.9
9. Ghostbusters/Sony                                Wknd/$ 4.8        Total/$ 116.7
10. Ice Age: Collision Course/Fox           Wknd/$ 4.3        Total/$ 53.5

SUPER DIRTY
Suicide Squad opens at number one and the DC Comics Universe has become to Warner Brothers what the Transformers Universe is for Universal: a critically and consumer reviled cash cow. The difference being there’s not another series of critically and consumer praised giant robot movies out there to compare it to. DC/WB unfortunately has Marvel/Disney to be compared to and they cannot stand being the ugly sister/brother everyone hooks up with on the downlow but disparages in public. Rumor has it the reason this film is such a disjointed mess is because Warner Brothers panicked over the reaction to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and ordered reshoots to make the actual movie look more like the brilliant trailer that came out earlier in the year. Even if that’s the case the real problem with this movie is nonetheless the basic story itself. Trying to make it funnier just made a bad problem worse (or made it less awful). The Suicide Squad is basically The Dirty Dozen of superhero comics. A bunch of supervillains are used by the US Government to run “suicide missions” in exchange for time off their sentences, which are pretty lengthy if you’re a supervillain as you’re usually trying to take over the world. If they try to run away on a mission a small explosive in their skull detonates. It’s been a popular comic and the characters have shown up on Smallville and recently Arrow so it was only a matter of time before they got a film and the success of Guardians of the Galaxy (similarly about a band of outlaws doing good) basically cemented it. Even the trailer that changed the course of the film was clearly based on the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. The film follows the basic concept of the comic, but stumbles almost immediately as Viola Davis (as Amanda Waller, the ruthless head of the agency you can see tell off Obama in this month’s issue of The Suicide Squad) explains her plan to other government officials in a scene that goes on far too long and most crucially stumbles by introducing The Flash. The problem with that is, if The Flash exists and is saving people, exactly why isn’t he there fighting something that’s destroying a city!?! Also, Batman is shown having caught most of the Suicide Squad, but no one mentions the idea of possibly recruiting him. Obviously he wouldn’t do it but it seems stupid it never occurs to anyone. And it just piles on from there. The group is assembled to deal with extra-normal problems, but in fact one of their team members causes the very problem itself, which undercuts the very concept. It’s like if creating The Dirty Dozen caused the Nazi party to gain power. Also, one of the team members is Harley Quinn, girlfriend of The Joker, which results in The Joker showing up in the film trying to get her back. At worst this slows the film down and at best makes you wish he were the main bad guy. As it is he contributes nothing to the film. Let me put it this way: if his entire role were cut the film wouldn’t change in the slightest. That’s the definition of extraneous. The character development is also fumbled. You expect the loose collection of psychopaths to bond and become an actual team that cares for one another, but it only happens here because the film says it happens. There’s no instance that occurs where a bond is actually formed due to self-sacrifice or defense of another. The only thing that even approaches it the relationship between Will Smith’s Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and that’s probably because they’ve worked together before and honestly as the biggest names on this got preferential treatment by the script. I’d say this means Zack Snyder didn’t make the worst comic book based movie of the year, but he directed The Flash scene. So when is Warner Brother going to get a clue what the problems are with their films? Hint: they rhyme with “sad biting” and “Jack Rider.”

OLD AGE AND DECEIT APPARENTLY DOESN’T BEAT YOUTH AND EXUBERANCE
Jason Bourne is down to number two and if you’re a well-regarded character actor—especially if you’re an older one—then your presence in a Jason Bourne movie means you’re evil. The Bourne Identity? Chris Cooper. The Bourne Supremacy? Brian Cox (who was actually a good guy in the first). The Bourne Ultimatum? A twofer of David Strathairn and Scott Glenn (Bonus: Ed Norton plays this role in The Bourne Legacy.) So, when you see Tommy Lee Jones’s name in the credits you know what’s going to happen in this one. And it’s always the same motivation: kill Bourne to keep a lid on everything, even though every attempt just makes discovery more likely and actually brings him to your door when he actually had no interest in you to begin with. The only actor not to suffer this fate is Joan Allen, who oddly is not in this one, but she wasn’t evil either.

I SEE MEGAN FOX IN THE MILA KUNIS ROLE
Bad Moms holds at number three and prepare yourself: this might get a sequel. Maybe not a theatrical one, but one of those direct-to-home sequels like Legally Blonde 3 or Kindergarten Cop 2 starring Dolph Lundgren. You only wish I were joking about their existence. It had a $20M budget and has made $50M so far. Not gangbusters, but not the miserable fate it so clearly deserved.

AN EVEN MORE SECRET LIFE
Down to number five this is week is The Secret Life of Pets (which should actually be “The Secret Lives of Pets” as the noun is plural) which will undoubtedly get a sequel and apparently they’re insisting that there will be another entry into the Star Trek reboot which is down to number five. This is highly unlikely given it cost $185M and has only made $127M domestically and another $67M overseas. That doesn’t scream “sequel” to anyone not looking to save face over wrecking a multi-billion dollar franchise…again. The irony being it’s the best of the three…which is only to say it doesn’t suck. They still haven’t quite grasped that whole “work on more than on level” concept.

GET THEM BAT-DOLLARS, GIRL!
Nine Lives opens at number six and you gotta pity Jennifer Garner. First, publicly humiliated by husband Ben Affleck for banging the nanny and now her career has reached that stage where she’s propping up older actors at least a decade her senior. First she was 60-something Kevin Costner’s love interest in Draft Day and now she’s 60-something Kevin Spacey’s wife in this (for the record Garner is 44). For him this is just a lark to get an easy check with two days in the front of the camera, tops. The rest was all voice work. But Jennifer Garner had to show up every day and react to either a cat or tennis ball standing in for a CGI cat. Oh, I hope she has a good lawyer so she can choose to work and choose better shit than this.

IT’S CALLED MORAL SUPPORT
Lights out is down to number seven and Nerve is oddly hanging around at number eight. It’s made $26M on a $20M budget, which isn’t great, but not quite the disaster I thought it was. I’m pulling for you, Emma. Even if I won’t spend a dime to support you.

I HATE GIVING LADIES BAD NEWS
You know what else isn’t getting a sequel? Ghostbusters. Sorry, but it ain’t. It’s done about as well as Star Trek Beyond but had ten times the hype. Yeah, a lot of it was bitching by ugly, pencil-dicked virgins, but it nonetheless kept this movie alive in the public knowledge and still it didn’t do better. Fingers crossed for a second life for tween girl slumber parties.

OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS FINALLY OVER
Finally Ice Age: Collision Course closes out the top ten at number ten and this will hopefully end this goddamn series once and for all. $105M budget and a $54M return. Bwahahahahaha! Get the fuck outta here!

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