Tag Archives: X-Men

BETTER LUCK ON MR. TOAD’S WILD RIDE THE MOVIE

26 May

500_3_charlize_theron_w 1. Tomorrowland/Disney                          Wknd/$ 33.0   Total/$ 33.0
2. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                     Wknd/$ 30.8   Total/$ 109.6
3. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 24.8   Total/$ 88.3
– Poltergeist/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 22.6   Total/$ 22.6
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 21.7    Total/$ 404.9
5. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 15.0   Total/$ 39.9
6. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 29.1
7. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 2.2     Total/$ 347.1
8. Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 2.2      Total/$ 5.4
9. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 1.9      Total/$ 65.7
10. Home/Fox                                              Wknd/$ 1.8     Total/$ 168.1

SOMEWHERE JOHNNY DEPP LAUGHS, “NOT SO EASY, IS IT?”
Tomorrowland opens at number one and between this and Mission Impossible 4, I’m glad Brad Bird is returning to animation with a sequel to The Incredibles, ‘cause live action is clearly not his thing. There are clearly too many compromises you have to make with people that you don’t have to with drawings. Though it’s where the writing is concerned that things go astray. Granted, the simple fact that Damon Lindelof is on as a co-writer here automatically means suckage, but you’d think as director Bird could overcome it. He cannot. This seems to be the logical (and by “logical” I mean only in the mind of someone shamelessly chasing money) extension of Pirates of the Caribbean. That is, Disney making even movies based on their theme park rides. The mistake is while Pirates of the Caribbean was/is a theme park, pirate movies are an old, established genre. You could have called it anything else and still had the same movie. This, however, had to be totally original and how exactly do you tell the story of a future that never came to pass? Well, judging by this, you don’t. Ironically we see more of “the future is now” in our first encounter with the protagonist, Casey (Britt Robertson), than for any other part of the movie when she sneaks onto the Cape Canaveral base using her iPhone to control a toy helicopter. You can use your iPhone to remote control a vast number of things and this has happened in the last decade. It’s amazing but it doesn’t seem to register. Anyway, her father is a NASA engineer and in some naïve way she’s hoping to stop the dismantling of the space program by stomping the dismantling of the launch platform. She’s not only clever, but an incurable optimist and these are the reasons she’s sought out by recruitment robot that looks like a 12-year-old girl. We see this robot earlier when the younger version of George Clooney’s character goes to the World’s Fair in Queens in the 60’s to submit his jet pack idea. The robot helps him sneak into Tomorrowland when House—I mean Nix as played by Hugh Laurie rejects him because his jet pack doesn’t quite work. In Tomorrowland one of the robots fixes it so it does and he’s allowed to stay. Later, however, when the robot drops Casey off at Clooney’s place—after avoiding other killer robots—we learned he was kicked out under pain of death if he ever talked about Tomorrowland. We also learn that Casey was selected because she might be able to fix what’s wrong with it, something Clooney helped to create. As they make the journey back, we learn that the origins of Tomorrowland started with Thomas Edison, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla…and they apparently built a rocket in the Eiffel Tower which is just cool as fuck. Of course you might wonder how no one knew there was a rocket there, not even The Nazis when they took the place, but honestly it’s so nice I give it a pass. What I cannot give a pass to is basically the whole concept. A world established over hundred years ago in another dimension for the betterment of mankind…that apparently has never done anything for the betterment of mankind and then gave up in 1984. Yeah, that’s how subtle the film is at yelling at you for letting the planet go to hell. Bear in mind they built a freaking rocket in The Eiffiel Tower which was constructed in 1889, had jet packs and robots in the 60’s (not to mention some kind of fountain of youth shake) and never shared any of it, but it’s our fault. The movie never comes close to explaining why all they seemed to was plan for a better tomorrow but never actually did anything (actually that would have been a better reason for Clooney’s exile in that he realized they never would). Also, the girl robot has been recruiting dreamers, but while Casey makes the cut, Stephen Hawking and Steve Jobs never did (no, I don’t see them asking Bill Gates)? Another problem is that Casey is flat out annoying, something both Clooney and the robot mention and they’re not wrong. When Clooney tells her to just shut up and be amazed for once, he’s speaking for all of us. Speaking of Clooney the most mystifying flaw of the film beyond him vanishing off-screen for half-an-hour, is that they give him a 12-year-old girl robot as a love interest. Yes, she’s technically as old as he is, but when it comes down to it, what you see onscreen is George Clooney and a 12-year-old looking lovingly at one another (which sounds like some kind of bizarre comedy Woody Allen would write where the protagonist keeps insisting that it’s okay because she’s a 50-year-old robot while the world wants him dead). Yeah, I’m sure it was cute on the page that he’s harboring a love from childhood but fully realized it’s just creepy. That no one saw this as a problem in the initial planning stages shows you this was doomed from the beginning.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES
Pitch Perfect 2 is down to number two and returning with a promotion for this one is Elizabeth Banks who was actually one of the producers for the original as well as co-starring. Again, this remains a double-edged sword of success in Hollywood. A female driven film is one of the biggest films of the year so far, but it’s about something “silly.” As opposed to the gritty realism of The Avengers, no doubt. But this is the excuse that will be given for no increased presence of women behind the camera despite this being one of two biggest openings of the year being alongside 50 Shades of Grey. But all props to Elizabeth Banks who was the comedic woman of the moment after The 40-Year-Old Virgin back in…’08. Holy shit! Has it really been that long!?! Unfortunately most of her subsequent roles as the female lead tanked. She had the misfortune to be in both Meet Bill and Meet Dave neither of which anyone wanted to meet. She then fell prey to the attempts to make Ryan Reynolds, Sam Worthington and Chris Pine into stars, but luckily The Hunger Games appeared to give her a new lease on life. After that came Pitch Perfect and this year alone she’ll be in the Magic Mike sequel as well as the final Hunger Games movie. So basically the more female driven her work, the more she succeeds. Now there’s a lesson.

SHE USED TO BE MY GIRL
Speaking of female and driven, no matter what the title of the film Charlize Theron is the clear star of Mad Max: Fury Road, which is down to number three this week. But honestly when you think about it, Max is never really the driving force behind any of his movies beyond the first. He’s just trying to die with his pain in the wasteland when he’s caught up in someone else’s schemes to try and rebuild the world, which usually climaxes him driving a big rig that’s beset by the scavengers of the apocalypse. Seriously, that’s the plot of every movie and I don’t have a problem with that. Like Banks, the more Theron stays away from simply being “pretty girl lead” the better off she does. Her last big hits were the far from critically beloved Hancock, Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus but in none of them was she the leading man’s love interest. And she damn sure isn’t one here. Also it was her call to shave her head. Yeah, pretty people live for messing up that beauty thing whenever and wherever they can.

AND WHO WOULD HAVE A CLOWN DOLL ANYWAY!?!
Okay, apparently the remake of Poltergeist opened this weekend, but it actually doesn’t show up on some box office charts. Which would make sense as I’ve seen not one commercial, billboard or even print ad for it. It’s almost like it’s a literal ghost film. I saw the original back when I would do the scary, but honestly if I’d known this was coming out I might have given it a shot as it always felt more like science fiction (girl trapped in alternate dimension) than horror. Well, aside from that fucking clown. Whoever thought to include that (and the tree) tapped into the childhood fears of the collective planet.

TIME TO WORK FOR A LIVING
Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number four—or five—and finally making an onscreen appearance is someone who’s been part of the Marvel movies all along: Paul Bettany, who’s been the voice of Jarvis. Something he admits to forgetting in interviews. Must be nice to make money that easily. Well, not anymore as he has to be painted and suited up to be the android known as The Vision. You say you want a brief comics history of the character? Well, don’t mind if I do. Shut up. You were too thinking it. The Vision is created by Ultron to help him destroy humanity, but turns on him, becoming an Avenger and ultimately marrying The Scarlet Witch. And they have two kids! Well, kinda. They’re made of magic and…okay even that’s too much for me. But Bettany does a good job with a limited role that only pops in the last half hour of the film. But he’s lost that easy Iron May paycheck.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT PT II
The Age of Adaline actually rises to number five (or six), followed by Hot Pursuit at number six (or seven), Furious Seven at number seven (or eight) and Far From The Maddening Crowd rising to number eight (or nine). Okay let’s tally it up. Britt Robertson is the protagonist of Tomorrowland, followed by the women of Pitch Perfect 2, Charlize Theron and all the women of Mad Max: Fury Road, Blake Lively in Age of Adaline, Reese Witherspoon & Sofia Vergar in Hot Pursuit and Carey Mulligan here in Far From The Maddening Crowd. That makes six out of the top ten (or eleven) films female driven. Sadly, that’s kind of impressive and won’t be lasting very long now that the summer movie season has formally begun. So enjoy your moment, ladies!

THE END
Paul Blart is either number nine or ten depending how you count it and Home is either number ten or finally removed from our sights.

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MAD MAX: I-95, EXIT 23

18 May

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1. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                      Wknd/$ 70.3    Total/$ 70.3
2. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 44.4    Total/$ 44.4
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 38.8    Total/$ 372.0
4. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 5.8       Total/$ 23.5
5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 62.9
6. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 343.8
7. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 3.2      Total/$ 37.5
9. Ex Machina/A24                                     Wknd/$ 2.1      Total/$ 19.6
8. Home/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 165.6
10.Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 1.3      Total/$ 2.6

MAD MAX: ROUTE 12, EXIT 15!
Pitch Perfect 2 opens at number one with Mad Max: Fury Road opening at number two and this is bittersweet triumph for female-driven films. The sweet is obvious. The number one film in the country was written, directed, starring and co-produced by women and nothing about it suggests they gave flying fuck if anyone with a “Y” chromosome saw it They were rewarded for this with a $70M opening off estimated $30M budget. This means whomever approved the third film even before this was released looks like a genius. The bitter is the hit taken by any who hoped for more action movies driven by women as the wonderful hi-octane (literally) Mad Max: Fury Road is beaten out for the number one spot. It’s also female driven from its plotline to its actual hero, Charlize Theron. Yeah, it’s called Mad Max, but everything in it is about her and her plan to save five of her fellow models from The Humungous, er, I mean Immortan Joe, who uses them as his personal breeding stock. And if you think I’m kidding about the models part, the film is very self-aware about it. There’s not one, but two scenes where people stop and gape at them because they’re so different from everyone else. When Max first sees them, he stops dead in his tracks because the women are literally soaking wet in off-white gossamer fabric. It looks like he wandered onto the set of a music video (at any moment you expect the camera to pan over and show INXS singing). The other is such a great scene I’d rather not spoil it. Max is also a prisoner of Immortan Joe’s empire: providing healthy blood for the tumor-ridden mutant “half-life” boys. In fact, Max only gets free because of Theron’s efforts to free the girls and goes from reluctantly helping them to be willing to die for them. Yes, he does help to save the day in the end (his name is in the title after all), but it’s Theron’s show all the way, which is why her name comes up first in the opening credits and she’s the most prominent in the posters. She also has a great name: Imperator Furiosa. But you know someone somewhere is going to fault all these things as to why the latest sequel in an action franchise came in second to a movie about chicks singing. Which I’ll never see because I hated the first Pitch Perfect. I find Mad Max more grounded in reality than anyone anywhere liking Anna Kendrick singing “No Diggity.”

AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU ASKED ME? SHUT UP. YOU WERE THINKING IT.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number three and if you thought it was getting beaten up before on account of how it treated The Black Widow, just wait now that they’ve got the giant hammer that is Mad Max: Fury Road. The other prominent female superhero in this film is The Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen. Yes, sister to the Olsen Twins, who’s been carving out a critically acclaimed acting career these last few years and now has stepped up her game to big, mainstream action movies. That’s gonna get a lot of indie films no one will ever see financed. In the comics she and her brother Pietro, aka, Quicksilver are the children of Magneto and were part of his original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants alongside Toad (who was in the first X-Men movie) and The Blob (seen in the first Wolverine movie). In the most recent X-Men film, Days of Future Past where Quicksilver also appears there’s a passing reference made to Magneto being his father and a cut scene where his sister (who would be The Scarlet Witch) is referenced.

MAYBE SHE CAN MEET UP WITH BRIDGET JONES!
Also female driven, but hardly a success story is Hot Pursuit, down to number four. Besides being directed by a woman and starring women, both Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vegara are onboard for this as producers, so they truly have to take some of heat for its failures as they were making some of the decisions. I’m thinking it’s to put on the pink one more time and bring back Elle Woods. Get it right this time and put her where she’s looked down upon and is the underdog, something a pretty blonde coming from money is not in Washington DC. Now, England on the other hand…

AND IT LOOKS LIKE BALLS TOO
Paul Blart holds at number five and women should be proud they had nothing to do with this. Writers, director and producers…all men. This is an all-ball production. Pure scrotum, if you will.

TOO PRETTY TO DRIVE FAST, MUCH LESS FURIOUS
Furious Seven is down to number six and while Jordana Brewster is back it’s in a role so slight it’s almost a cameo. She never got to develop into a butt-kicking action star like almost all the other women in the series. She went from love interest to wife and mother. It may have something to do with being the prettiest cast member (behind Paul Walker, of course). There’s a montage of all the stars from the beginning of the franchise until now and it’s amazing how she’s gone from looking like Demi Moore’s daughter to her sister. I’ll let you discuss why amongst yourselves.

CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. SERENA VAN DER WOODSEN!
The Age of Adeline is down to number seven and I’m still disappointed no one has combined the trailers and produced an “Avengers: Age of Adeline” mash up yet. Me? I’m busy.

CLEARLY MY TUTION WAS FOR THAT PRIME GREENWICH VILLAGE ADDRESS—AND I’M OKAY WITH THAT
Home is down to number eight, followed by Ex Machina at number nine and Far From The Maddening Crowd opening at number ten. This is based on the famous novel by Thomas Hardy and NYU should be ashamed of the fact that I graduated with a degree in English Literature and never read it. Ashamed I say! No, I won’t see it. That would be cheating.

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GUN TOTING ROBOTS

9 Mar

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1. Chappie/Sony                                                   Wknd/$ 13.3   Total/$ 13.3
2. Focus/WB                                                         Wknd/$ 10.0  Total/$ 34.6
3. The 2nd Best Exotic Marigold Hotel           Wknd/$ 8.6    Total/$ 8.6
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service/Fox             Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 98.0
5. The SpongeBob Movie/Par                           Wknd/$ 7.0     Total/$ 149.0
6. Fifty Shades of Grey/ Universal                   Wknd/$ 5.6     Total/$ 156.4
8. The Lazarus Effect/Relativity                       Wknd/$ 5.1     Total/$ 17.4
7. McFarland, USA/Disney                                Wknd/$ 5.3     Total/$ 29.4
9. The Duff/LionsGate                                        Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 26.1
10. Unfinished Business/Fox                             Wknd/$ 4.8    Total/$ 4.8

THAT’S NOT HOW A ROBOT WITH A GUN IS SUPPOSED TO TALK
Chappie opens at number one and there was a time I’d be all over this. Robots!?! Robots with guns!?! Robots with guns fighting for the right to be sentient against bigger robots!?! Robots with guns fighting for the right to be sentient against bigger robots run by Wolverine and Ripley!?! But apparently my decades long run of being 14 has come to an end, because I really couldn’t muster up the interest to see this. Maybe it’s because I kinda think Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver are right and aren’t really the bad guys here. Artificial Intelligence is dangerous. Especially when you give it a gun and authority. Suppose it sees us for the self-destructive, planet-killing fuck ups we are? This could be the prequel to The Matrix! The other reason is because that robot sounds so fucking stupid speaking of himself in the third person I couldn’t stand it. “Chappie’s got stories!?! Chappie’s got a book?” Well I’ve got cable and that’s where I’ll be watching this in about 9-12 months.

SOMEWHERE GRETCHEN MOL STILL DOESN’T UNDERSTAND
Focus is down to number two and the female lead in this is Margot Robbie who’s a legit “Hot New Thing” (against all odds she’s young and blonde) given she has actual accomplishments as opposed to just hype with nothing really to show for it. Last year she was the female lead in Wolf 0f Wall Street. Next year she’ll be in Suicide Squad with Will Smith and Jared Leto. A-list roles in A-list movies…with 40-something A-list males stars. That’s when you really know you’re hot; you making movies with superstars old enough to be your dad because they only want to next to the Hot New Thing. And you know who was originally supposed to be the lead in this? Ben Affleck, another 40-something. She probably won’t kiss a dude her own age until she’s the star of her own film, which should be any second now.

WELCOME TO THE DAYS OF PLAYING SOMEONE’S DAD
Speaking of aging Hollywood leading men, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens at number two and joining this ensemble cast is Richard Gere, who can count on one hand the number of time he’s kissed a woman his own age on film and this barely adds to the list as his romantic interest is still younger than he is, albeit only by five years. As opposed to Winona Ryder, Julia Roberts, Diane Lane, Helen Hunt, Laura Linney, Hilary Swank…etc. Oh, sure Susan Sarandon played his wife twice, but he spent 90% of his time with JLo in one and in the other he had a 30-something mistress whom he actually touched.

NO GLEE FOR THIS (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
Kingsman: The Secret Service is down to number three and as the villain sidekick with razor sharp prosthetic legs that she actually uses to kill and cut people in half is dancer Sofia Boutella. Never heard of her? Me neither, but she was a dancer with Madonna, did one of Lindsay Lohan’s desperate “look at me” magazine spreads and was part of the Nike campaign targeting women which was pretty awesome. Also she can do that dancer thing where she can put one leg straight up in the air, which I really, really really like. But she looks a lot like Lea Michele, which the notoriously competitive Michele surely doesn’t appreciate, because it’s one less big role she could have had.

GONNA KEEP BEATING THAT DEAD HORSE
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is down to number five, followed by Fifty Shades of Grey at number six and also in this is Jennifer Ehle who looked like she was headed for bigger things at one point, but maybe that’s because she looks so damn much like Meryl Streep and that may be a liability in a world where Meryl Streep is still taking big roles and has not one, but two daughters out there acting as well. I guess that’s why she’s now playing Dakota Johnson’s mom and showing up on shows like The Blacklist. Well, it’s a huge movie and she’s getting exposure, but don’t think for one second she’ll be swapping spit onscreen with men her own age like Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith.

AS DISAPPOINTING AS ONE’S ACTUAL TEEN YEARS
McFarland USA is down to number seven, followed by The Lazarus Effect at number eight and The DUFF at number nine, and this has made $27M off a $9M budget so it’s a modest hit. I feel for these kids and these weak-ass teen flicks. It’s been a decade since Mean Girls and nothing approaching it as come up. Ironically, when you can only draw in your target audience you’re a bit of a creative failure for a teen movie. Given everyone has been to high school and would be able to relate they’d all see it, not just kids.

THANK GOD JON FAVERAU IS TOO BUSY FOR HIM
Finally, Unfinished Business opens at number ten and honestly I can say I’m sad because Vince Vaughn crossed the line from appealing to annoying as fuck a few exits back. While it’s smart they paired him up with two other people to dilute his presence, he’s still the lead and therefore will continue to be as annoying as possible. In Old School you knew Luke Wilson (pre-bloat) was the leading man and Will Ferrell his comic relief. Vaughn was the third wheel and he was perfect there. It’s also the a blight on the comeback career of Sienna Miller who was not only in the biggest film of last year, American Sniper, but in two Oscar Nominated films (American Sniper and Foxcatcher).

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SUCK IT, BRETT RATNER!

27 May

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1. X-Men: Days of Future Past/Fox                    Wknd/$ 91.4        Total/$ 91.4
2. Godzilla/Warner                                                Wknd/$ 31.1         Total/$ 148.5
3. Blended/Warner                                                Wknd/$ 14.2         Total/$ 14.2
4. Neighbors/Universal                                         Wknd/$ 13.9        Total/$ 113.6
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2/Sony                  Wknd/$ 7.8          Total/$ 184.9
6. Million Dollar Arm/Disney                              Wknd/$ 7.0          Total/$ 20.5
7. The Other Woman/Fox                                     Wknd/$ 3.6          Total/$ 77.6
8. Rio 2/Fox                                                             Wknd/$ 2.5          Total/$ 121.5
9. Chef/ORF                                                             Wknd/$ 2.3          Total/$ 3.6
10. Heaven is for Real/TriStar                             Wknd/$ 2.1           Total/$ 85.2

Okay, let’s do this quickly. It’s a holiday…

SERIOUSLY, SUCK IT, BRETT RATNER
X-Men Days of Future Past opens at number one and this is based on the classic X-Men story of the same name where Kitty Pryde gets sent back through time from a horrible future to change things for the better and…wait a minute. It’s Wolverine here…and he’s got his metal claws back? How? And Professor X was a dead as he was at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand but he’s here? But you know what? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’ve got a very good X-Men movie to watch with a plethora of characters all nicely done with solid performances. Don’t bother yourself with trying to match each film to the last one (the filmmakers sure as hell didn’t), just enjoy the film laid out before you. And, yes this more than makes up for the mess that was X-Men: The Last Stand. Maybe the third Wolverine movie will make up for those two previous episodes of crap. Yeah, I don’t believe that either.

HOW NICE OF THE STUDIO TO ASSUME EVERYONE IS A RACIST
Godzilla is down to number two and basically Ken Wantanabe is to this what Raymond Burr was to the original: a token to make the people in another country watch it. Just as no Japanese person would have given a crap about Raymond Burr (he’s not even in the original version, only its American release), not too many Americans care about Ken Wantanabe, but in Japan he’s a star. Sadly, he’s no more vital to this than Raymond Burr was to the original. He just kind of stands around and looks grim. He doesn’t even get to be the hero scientist who helps save the day like Matthew Broderick in the previous Hollywood version. Hell, Bryan Cranston contributes more and he’s only in it for 15 minutes. Hopefully they’ll give him more to do in the already announced sequel.

A LEGACY OF ANNOYING
Blended opens to scathing reviews at number three and you don’t even have to see it to know they’re accurate. It’s Adam Sandler. He’s been stinking up the screen for 20 years now. Did you think he’d somehow get better with age? The irony is that Neighbors is at number four and we see the torch was basically passed from Sandler to Rogen in a film called Funny People. So basically, while I’m glad to see Sandler finally (hopefully) fading away, there’s still an ugly dude I find unfunny onscreen.

THE REAL CRIME IS HOW DULL HE IS
The Amazing Spider-Man is down to number four and did you realize Jamie Foxx is in this. Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx? You know why? Because his character is instantly and utterly forgettable. It’s basically a rehash of Jim Carey’s Riddler in Batman Forever and that’s not a good thing. Unfortunately, they’ve announced a spin off film of all Spidey’s villains, called the Sinister Six and he’s one of them.

THREE OTHER MOVIES I’LL NEVER SEE
Million Dollar Arm is down to number six, followed by The Other Woman at number seven and Rio at number eight.

COOKIN’ UP A STORM
Entering the top ten at number nine is Chef the latest from Jon Favreau since he left or was booted from the director’s chair of Iron Man, depending on which rumor you believe. It’s probably a combination of both. If this is his middle finger to them, then they’ve lost creatively if not financially (Iron Man 3 was the highest grossing Iron Man film). It’s not a new story, but there are no new stories. It’s all in how you tell the old ones. Writing, directing and starring, Favreau is a chef in a creative rut under owner Dustin Hoffman. He’s no longer happy doing what he loves and it’s taking its toll on him personally and professionally. He’s not only divorced but neglecting the son who adores him. Finally, a confrontation with an influential blogger pushes him over the edge and he leaves to restart with a food truck. What makes this more of an indie film than a mainstream film is the time it takes to get to Favreau’s breakdown and his eventual rise from the ashes. His should fall by minute 30, spend 31-60 fighting back and 61 – 90 is his triumphant return. Not so here in this near two hour film where the time is used to make all these events feel more organic. Not to say it’s perfect. His comeback is effortless, lacking any real struggle and filled with hipster cameos and Sofia Vergara is just too perfect a loving, supportive ex-wife and not much more. Her role could have used a few more layers. But it’s clearly a film about a man who loves food directed by a man who loves food and its preparation is so lovingly depicted I left starving. There is no greater praise for a movie about cooking. Normally, I’d rip on a film showing Favreau being married to and now banging Scarlett Johansson, but unlike the masturbatory fantasy of John Turturro who is a gigolo hired by Sofia Vergara and Sharon Stone for a threesome, you can believe this because Favreau shows his character being a great cook, first. His foreplay with Johansson is literally making a meal for her and you can understand why she or any other woman would bang him senseless. Hell, I’m ready to sleep with him after 2 hours of watching him cook.

SHUFFLE OFF THIS MORTAL COIL
Finally, Heaven is Real closes out the top ten at number ten.

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SAINT HANKS

14 Oct

AmellWed_EW_Pic01

1. Gravity/Warners                                        Wknd/$  55.6            Total/$  21.5

 2. Captain Phillips/Sony                              Wknd/$  25.7            Total/$  25.7

 3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2    Wknd/$  13.8            Total/$  77.6

 4. Machete Kills/ORF                                   Wknd/$    3.8            Total/$   3.8

 5. Runner Runner/Fox                                 Wknd/$    3.8            Total/$  14.2

 6. Prisoners/Warners                                    Wknd/$    3.6            Total/$  53.6

 7. Insidious 2/FD                                           Wknd/$    2.7            Total/$  78.5

 8. Rush/Universal                                          Wknd/$    2.4            Total/$  22.2

 9. Don Jon/Relativity                                    Wknd/$    2.4            Total/$  20.2

10. Baggage Claim/Fox                                   Wknd/$    2.0            Total/$   18.2

 

IN SPACE YOUR FLESH DOESN’T SAG AS MUCH

Gravity holds at number one and I made the joke about Clooney being onscreen with a woman his own age first, SNL! Well, my was a little different because theirs was you knew it was science fiction because there’s no way Clooney would talk that long to a woman his own age. Mine was that Clooney only agreed to do a film with a woman his own age because they promised him he’d never have to touch her.  I’m not giving anything way because it’s all in space. They’re not going to stop for a make out scene (though to hear the director talk about studio suggestions they would have if they could have). In fact they give more away in the first five minutes of dialogue, with some painfully hamfisted foreshadowing. And if you didn’t get it the first time, they do it again.  Seriously, it’s the only flaw in this otherwise great movie.

 

SPOILER: HE ESCAPES THE PIRATES ON WINGS OF GOLD!

Captain Phillips opens at number two and I know I’ll probably see this in the end, but I’ve just about had it with the nobility of Tom Hanks in movies. Yes, he may be the nicest guy on earth in real life (just ask Peter Scolari who’s probably in this somewhere) but it’s starting to wear out its welcome onscreen. At least Bruce Willis does comedies that slightly mock his action hero image. Where’s the movie that plays on Hanks’ saintly onscreen image?  I don’t need him to play a puppy kicking villain, but I swear I briefly saw a halo on the head this character in the trailer for this. Kinda limits the level of suspense.

 

FROM THE MAN WHO BROUGHT YOU THREE SPY KIDS MOVIES TOO MANY

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is down to number three, followed by Machete Kills opening at number four and this is a joke that’s gone too far. It was great as a fake trailer in the Grind House movie from Tarantino and Rodriguez a few years and that they made it into an actually movie was funny too, but now sequels?  Enough. They should just stick to make trailers for movies that don’t exist, because “Introducing Carlos Estevez” (that’s Charlie Sheen’s real name) maybe the funniest thing you’ll see all year. I doubt anything in the movie can top that so why try?

 

WATER SEEKS ITS OWN LEVEL OF EGOTISM

Runner Runner is down to number four and it makes sense that Justin Timberlake is in a movie with Ben Affleck as they share a similar inability to be satisfied with enormous success in one arena and insist on it in others.  Affleck, like Woody Allen before him, casts himself as the lead in his highly praised films, but unlike Allen wants to be a movie star in his own right. Um, you tried that once. How’d it work out for you?  Pretty sure that bad decisions like this one and the upcoming Superman vs. Batman are what made you seek out creative fulfillment in directing to begin with. Hey, maybe that’s the upside to all this. The more crappy films he makes as an actor the more good films he’ll make later as a director. So this is one…

 

HER MOM INTRODUCES HER THIS WAY

Prisoners is down to number six and I just realized that Oscar Winner Melissa Leo is in this partially because Oscar Winner Melissa Leo is just. that. damn. good.  You don’t know even know it’s her until you see the credits. Hugh Jackman, however, I recognized immediately.

 

COUNTDOWN TO A SITCOM IN 3, 2, 1

Insidious Chapter 2 is down to number seven followed by Rush at number eight and also in this is Olivia Wilde whose 15 minutes of being “The Hot Girl” are just about up as none of the films she’s been in have been a success including this one. Since House make her semi-famous it’s been In Time (another Justin Timberlake failure), Tron Legacy (not a flop, but not a great success either), Cowboys & Aliens (James Bond and Indiana Jones together couldn’t save this), The Change Up (with fellow box office curse, Ryan Reynolds), People Like Us (the new Captain Kirk was in this turd), Butter (along with Jennifer Garner who knows all about failing in movies), and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (no one wants to see Steve Carrell with a younger woman). I’m thinking she can join either Halle Berry or Meg Ryan in their new sitcoms, because if they have to do TV you know she does.  She’s basically a brunette Malin Akerman at this point, who’s currently failing in Trophy Wife.

 

IF CLEVER IS A BLADE, THIS IS A BUTTER KNIFE

Don Jon is down to number nine followed by Baggage Claim closing out the top ten at number ten and if you wonder how painfully lacking in genuine wit this romantic comedy is, know that there’s a character named Mr. Wright played by Derek Luke. Gee, think he gets the girl in the end? Over Taye Diggs no less!

 

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR CONTINUES

Teens with superpowers? Government trying to control and eliminate them? No, you’re not watching an X-Men show. It’s just a remake of a 70’s British show (which was remade previously in the 90’s so basically they do this every 20 years) also named The Tomorrow People, but why keep the stupid name if you’re just going to have characters within the show mock it (and deservedly so)? I have no idea if the original Brit show was so much like the X-Men comics (which came first) but this new American version isn’t pretending to the point I can’t believe they haven’t been sued. And the familiarity doesn’t stop there. If those cheekbones look familiar it’s because you just saw them on Arrow. This is Stephen Amell’s brother, Robbie, in the lead also noticeably lacking a shirt throughout the show. That the female lead looks like the made her from the DNA of Kristin Kreuk from Smallville is probably coincidental though (or not). It’s also about as smart as Arrow or Smallville though both shows proved it’s possible to be entertaining without a brain. Maybe this will be as well, but I won’t know. I stopped caring about the X-men after I left my teens because I no longer needed their metaphor for teen angst to comfort me so there’s no real attraction to a less interesting version of it. But points to them for actually filming in NYC and not trying to pass Toronto off as Manhattan. They must have been given some serious tax breaks to pull this off.

NEXT TIME IT’LL BE JUST “WOLV”

28 Jul

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 1. The Wolverine/Fox                                Wknd/$  55.0            Total/$  55.0

 2. The Conjuring/WB                                Wknd/$  22.1            Total/$  83.9

 3. Despicable Me 2/Universal                   Wknd/$  16.0            Total/$ 306.4

 4. Turbo/Fox                                               Wknd/$  13.3            Total/$  55.8

 5. Grown Ups 2/Sony                                 Wknd/$  11.5             Total/$ 101.7

 6. Red 2/LG                                                 Wknd/$    9.4            Total/$  35.1

 7. Pacific Rim/Warners                              Wknd/$    7.5            Total/$  84.0

 9. R.I.P.D./Universal                                  Wknd/$    5.9            Total/$  24.4

 8. The Heat/Fox                                          Wknd/$    6.9            Total/$ 141.2

10. Fruitvale Station/Weinstein                 Wknd/$    4.7            Total/$    6.3

 

NOT EVEN REMOTELY THE BEST AT WHAT HE DOES, THOUGH WHAT HE DOES BEST ISN’T VERY NICE…AND THAT’S FAIL

Opening at number one, yet still a disappointment is The Wolverine, as if somehow shortening the name was going to make it better. Yes, it’s better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but that’s like saying it’s better when your dog leaves solid poop on your carpet rather than runny poop. It’s still poop on your carpet and this is still a bad movie in the theater. Wolverine first became a runaway success in the 80’s with the success of a four issue comic book mini-series wherein he leaves the X-Men for awhile to go to Japan to help the woman he loves who just happens to be a Yakuza (Japanese mob) princess and gets caught up in a mob war.  It was so successful not only did he get his own solo book and become one of Marvel Comics’ biggest stars, but also they never stopped writing “Wolverine in Japan” stories trying to recapture it.  At the heart of the original story was that spiritually Wolverine was very “Japanese” (a character flat out says it on page 8) in that he had the soul of a samurai warrior and found a certain amount of peace there where he didn’t elsewhere.  He spoke fluent Japanese and was immersed in its culture and customs. Well, none of that is here. It begins with Wolverine mentally tortured by having had to kill Jean Grey in the last X-Men and that you’d even acknowledge that piece of crap is your first mistake. But it does add to the basic premise that he’s tired of living and burying people that he loves—except that it’s well documented that he can’t remember his past so how does he know? Well suddenly he can remember that he was in World War II and saved the life of a Japanese solider at Nagasaki. This soldier went on to create the equivalent to Sony and is now dying of cancer (rather than say the fact he’s in his freaking 90’s). He offers to make Wolverine mortal to repay him.  So you can imagine what happens next, right? Wolverine mulls it over, accepts, and lives a life of peace for a little while before realizing that to save the lives of the people he loves he has to take back his curse. Nope. He turns him down and that’s the end of that interesting premise. Seriously. After that it’s just dumb things that never stop happening climaxing in the appearance of giant robot, which is always, always stupid. Let me put it this way: when the most sympathetic character is a guy trying to murder his own daughter, your story has gone horrible wrong.  I personally knew it was over when the first five minutes felt compelled to show a CGI bear urinating.  No, I’m not kidding.  It immediately shows you the maturity level of the storytelling and all the rest is just academic.

 

THE JAMIE LEE CURTIS OF THE 21ST CENTURY IS A DUDE!

The Conjuring is down to number two and from a $20M budget has made $96M worldwide. Everybody’s getting cheese on their whoppers!  Also in this is Patrick Wilson who is starting to make a career out of these low-risk, high return horror films as he was also in last year’s Insidious, which has a sequel coming later this year.  Given he comes from Broadway he brings a nice gravity to whatever he does, serving to legitimize it despite the many obstacles of bad writing and poor direction. He proved that by being the highlight of The A-Team movie a few years ago as the obnoxious CIA Agent that sets the plot in motion.  It helped that he seemed to realize it was a comedy and played it just that way.

 

THE SCHADENFREUDE IS STRONG IN ME

Despicable Me 2 is down to number three followed by Turbo at number four and the irony of this one-two punch of success and failure from Dreamworks is staggering.  Well, not for you or me, but for Netflix, which is locked into a deal with Dreamworks to make a Turbo cartoon.  Oops.  Note that there’s no Despicable Me cartoon. Or even one about The Minions which is actually the only thing worth watching in a Despicable Me movie.  Someone’s lawyers are going to be burning the midnight oil (of billable hours) looking for a way out of this.  Heh-heh-heh.

 

YOU KNOW HIGH SCHOOL WAS ANNOYING FOR HIM WITH THAT NAME

Grown Ups 2 is down to number five followed by Red 2 at number six and part of the reason I was looking forward to this was that a) Brian Cox who was the best part of the first was returning and b) Anthony Hopkins was in it. For those of you who don’t know, Brian Cox first brought Hannibal Lecter to life onscreen in Manhunter, which was based on the novel Red Dragon. After the success of Silence of the Lambs where Hopkins won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter he went on to do it twice more in Hannibal and yes, Red Dragon. Both Hannibal Lecters in one movie. Awesome.  Or not. They don’t even exchange words in this film. Now I wasn’t looking for some horrible joke about eating liver with fava beans and Chianti, but what’s the point in having great actors together in a movie if you’re not going to put them together? It would be like if Robert DeNiro was in that dumb heist movie with Marlon Brando and they never met.  I haven’t been this disappointed since Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Spud (Ewen Bremer) were in Jack The Giant Killer and didn’t share a scene.

 

GOTTA BE IN IT TO WIN IT, DUDE

Pacific Rim is down to number seven and also in this is Idris Elba the man who should be pushing Denzel Washington into retirement (remember: Hollywood can only handle one minority lead at a time), but he keeps making less-than-wise screen choices like this one…and whatever the hell that movie was he did with Beyonce where he shaved.  Not that it isn’t enjoyable, but he’s not really the star of it, good or bad and to be a star you need starring roles.  Yeah, Luther is in its third season on the BBC and he’s the star of that, but being the star of a BBC series isn’t even like being a big fish in small pond. It’s like being a special fish in a specialty aquarium store, while guys like Denzel Washington are blue whales.

 

IT’S ONLY FEMINIST TO WANT MORE MONEY

The Heat is down to number eight and Sandra Bullock says she can’t imagine making a sequel to this…even though she made two awful Miss Congeniality movies.  Clearly the check Paramount sent to her home wasn’t big enough.  But you know what? I’m down with her thinly veiled suggestion that it’s going to take a buttload of money for a sequel.  It the mint has to work overtime to provide Disney with enough money pay Robert Downey Jr. to come back as Iron Man, she deserves her payday too.

 

SOMEWHERE COLIN FARRELL NODS WITH UNDERSTANDING

R.I.P.D. is down to number nine and yes, I’m still laughing at yet another Ryan Reynolds flop.  He couldn’t be having more career disappointment if he’d been on the cover of Vanity Fair as the next big thing. What’s funny is that when he was on the cover it was with Jake Gyllenhaal, another “It Boy” whose career hasn’t quite taken off either. Next to them is James Franco who has big mainstream hits he could clearly give a crap about and smaller hits he loves. Wait. Am I laughing again?

 

OH, BY THE WAY: SUPERMAN’S NOT EVEN HUMAN

Finally, entering the top ten is Fruitvale Station and there’s been buzz about this since it was on the film festival circuit and apparently it lives up to the hype.  It’s gonna take some effort for me to see because a) it’s summer and I like to keep it light and b) I’m really not looking forward to being reminded that the difference between life and death for can be whether or not someone is afraid of me.  Whoa. That’s kind of a bummer note to end on. Okay, let’s lighten it up. The star of this is Michael B. Jordan who clearly had to be forced by SAG to use his middle initial because like poor Vanessa L. Williams who had her SAG card first!  He’s been mentioned as being Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot and that has geeks in a tizzy, not that they’re racist or anything.  They’re just concerned about accuracy…in the character of a flying man on fire. Note how they didn’t care when Jessica Alba was squeezing her Latina curves into a tight blue outfit. So I guess it’s just their genitals which are color blind.  Figures, only having one eye and all.  Yeah, I went there.