Friday, October 28, 2011

Red State - DVD Review

** 3/4

Starring Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kyle Gallner, Stephen Root, Kerry Blisse, Kevin Pollak, Kevin Alejandro and Nicholas Braun. Directed by Kevin Smith.

If only Kevin Smith hadn't lost his mind a bit there after the debacle known as Cop Out. Smith was one of those seemingly break-out writer-directors of the 1990's with Clerks, but he's never really grown up and stretched himself. Until now.

Having said that, it's an imperfect double-feature of a movie. The first half feels like a horror movie, with horny teens kindapped by bloodthirsty fanatics, but the second half turns into a siege picture, with the ATF surrounding the compound. First half in House of 1000 Corpses, second half is Waco: The Untold Story.

At the center is pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), a fanatic mixed between Fred Phelps and the ghoul from Poltergeist II. He protests funerals of gays and believes the majority of Earth is going to hell, but he also believes that killing sinners is godly. Three teens answering a prostitute's ad learn this the hard way.

Parks gives an oily, serpentine performance as the mellifluous preacher. In fact, several cast members stand out. And Smith stands out. For the most part it doesn't sound like his writing or look like his directing. He's stretched himself here in new and interesting ways. It may be a flawed thriller where Smith seems to be trying to score points with certain demographics, but he has me genuinely interested in what he might try next.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ABC's Pan Am - TV Review

I watched the first two episodes, and so did many others, but like me, they bailed. Enjoyable, fizzy, not enough to crack my regular viewing rotation. Last week it had less than 6 million viewers with a 1.8 in the 18-49 demo. Considering it debuted to over 10 million viewers, that's not a good sign for its longevity. Sure its worst episode had more viewers than the best episode of AMC's Mad Men, but that's the price of network TV. It's fun to see Christina Ricci and Kelli Garner work it in period attire, and have a Sinatra tune take us out at the end of the episode. Part of me wishes the show had legs as long as some of its stewardesses, but it doesn't look like the nostalgic escapism has kept enough people.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

CBS's A Gifted Man - TV Review

CBS really does feel like the old-persons network. This might have a supernatural wist but for the most part it's a medical procedural with the sterilized template of a dozen other shows.

Now it's a nice cast assembled. Patrick Wilson (The A-Team, Insidious) stars as a brilliant, cocky surgeon who sees the ghost of his dead ex-wife. For the one episode I saw, I don't really get what it had to do with anything else in the show. The other 80% dealt with medical cases of the week. Margo Martindale (Justified) trades in her hillbilly duds for business-formal, Rachelle LaFevre (Twilight) has surrendered vampire fangs for a labcoat, Eriq LaSalle (ER) has... um, well, he's a psychiatrist this time.

Seems like a perfectly sensible weekly drama, but it seems more aimed for those folks too old to land in the 18-49 demo.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3 big #1

Friday's box-office numbers:

1. Paranormal Activity 3 - $26.24 million - 1 day
2. Footloose - $3.48 ($23.49) - 8 days
3. Real Steel - $3.11 ($59.02) - 15 days
4. The Three Musketeers - $2.9 - 1 day
5. The Ides of March - $1.53 ($25.79) - 15 days
6. Moneyball - $1.32 ($60.97) - 29 days
7. Dolphin Tale - $1.23 ($61.42) - 29 days
8. Johnny English Reborn - $1.14 - 1 day
9. The Thing - $1 ($11.98) - 8 days
10. 50/50 - $.9 ($26.89) - 22 days
11. Courageous - $.79 ($23.27) - 22 days

Paranormal Activity 3 should get at least $50 million for opening weekend, the biggest in the series. It's also a jolt to the sluggish box-office of the past couple months.

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Russell Crowe's cheating wife

- Catherine Zeta-Jones will play the philandering wife of the New York mayor (Russell Crowe) in Broken City, directed by Allen Hughes (co-director of Book of Eli). Mark Wahlberg co-stars as a private investigator hired by the mayor to confirm his suspicions.

- Tyler Perry has signed Kim Kardashian to a supporting role in his next movie The Marriage Counselor.

- Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50) is in talks to join Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, reuniting him with his Inception co-star Leonardo DiCaprio. It also stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Don Johnson, Dennis Christopher, Gerald McRaney, M.C. Gainey and Laura Cayouette.

- Bradley Cooper is the front-runner to star in Steven Soderbergh's big-screen treatment of the action-comedy The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Thing - Movie Review


Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Trond Espen Seim. Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

This is officially a prequel but in reality a remake of John Carpenter's classic 1982 horror film, which itself was a remake. I've never seen the 1950's original, but Carpenter's is in my top-ten favorite all-time horror films (future blog post idea...). So does this blaspheme and desecrate the original? No. In fact if you've never seen the original, this might be more effective for you than it was for me.

But even on its own, I liked it. It's slickly made, faithful to the source material, and gives its own spin to the story, even if it hits many of the same beats. Remember the tense scene when Kurt Russell's MacReady testing everyone's blood? We get a similar scene here. Or the chaos when Richard Dysart's Doc suddenly gets his arms bitten off? Similar scene here.

The great thing about the Thing is it's an alien that can appear human, and so none of the characters know who they can trust, and any minute now, someone could open up into the multi-tentacled monster.

A bigger budget and technological advancements allow the makers to expand a little on the origin of the Thing, but some of the events of the third act made me want to retreat. The more I thought about them, the less sense it made.

But the last few minutes illustrate that yes indeed, this is a prequel.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dolphin Tale - Movie Review


Starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson, Frances Sternhagen, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell and Ray McKinnon. Directed by Charles Martin Smith.

The first question on many a mind might be, "What is Morgan Freeman doing here?" The answer is two-fold. 1.) He doesn't show up til the 65-minute mark, so it must've been decent pay for just a few days' work, and 2.) Have you seen how it's doing at the box-office? May have been pretty shrewd on his part.

This is the kind of pleasant for-kids cute-animal movie that could have just as easily been ABC's Disney Sunday Movie in 1988. A dolphin loses her tail but due to two kids who care and some kind adults, they figure out a way to make her a prosthetic tail.

Every moment is played broadly. The main kid, Nathan Gamble, has that shy hesitancy common in boys, but is it really so common before every single choice laid in front of him? I got tired of the delayed reaction to everything for comic effect. But the adults have that style too. Kris Kristofferson is the twinkly-eyed grandpa who exists solely to dispense one-liner wisdom. Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd are individually single parents who might, might, have something blossom into a G-rated romance by the time this movie's done, and they have to have those exasperated pauses after everything.

Then there's this subplot about the kid's cousin going off to Iraq and coming back disabled. He doesn't lose his leg but we gather there's enough nerve damage there to where he'll never be able to fulfill his dream of swimming in the Olympics. And this wounded vet and the other wounded vets at the hospital are all rooting for this... dolphin... to accept her prosthetic tail. Just seemed grotesque to make a soldier's plight secondary to a dolphin's plight.

Now this is a harmless, inoffensive, heart-warming, blah-blah-blah family film. I got bored, even with Freeman there. They could have trimmed ten minutes easily by picking up the pace and needed to trim twenty overall. Its RotTom rating is 83%, so I know I'm in the minority.

When the dolphin dove right at the screen at the end, I remembered, "Oh yeah, they released this in 3-D too." Makes about as much sense as releasing Moneyball in 3-D.

Side note: This is the third time Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd have done a film together. They also starred in Kiss the Girls and High Crimes, both murder mysteries.

Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Shia's A Giant, etc.

- Anne Hathaway will play Fantine in the big-screen treatment of the musical Les Miserables. Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) will direct. Hugh Jackman will play Valjean and Russell Crowe will play Javert. According to, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter are rumored to be up for the Thenardiers. Rush played Javert in the 1998 non-musical movie.

- On the day TMZ released footage of Shia LaBeouf getting beat up outside a Vancouver bar, Universal has announced he'll play a 20-foot giant in Gil Kenan's A Giant.

- Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville has joined the cast of The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cable TV Ratings Oct 10-16

For the week of October 10-16.

Show (Channel) Day - Viewers in millions

1. NFL Bears-Lions (ESPN) Mon - 16.38
2. Walking Dead (AMC) Sun - 7.26
3. Jersey Shore (MTV) Thu - 6.47
4. NLCS Cardinals-Brewers 6 (TBS) Sun - 5.94
5. NLCS Brewers-Cardinals 4 (TBS) Thu - 5.65
6. NLCS Brewers-Cardinals 5 (TBS) Fri - 5.46
7. WWE Raw (USA) Mon - 5.37
8. NCAAF Michigan-Michigan St. (ESPN) Sat - 4.78
9. NFL Post-Game/Sportscenter (ESPN) Mon - 4.65
10. NLCS Brewers-Cardinals 3 (TBS) Wed - 4.28
11. NCIS (USA) Wed - 4.26
12. Make Your Mark (DIS) Fri - 4.2
13. Wizards of Waverly Place (DIS) Fri - 4.1
14. BET Hip Hop Awards (BET) Tue - 4.08
15. Keeping Up w/ Kardashians (E!) Mon - 3.98
16. Jessie (DIS) Fri - 3.92
17. Spongebob (NICK) Sun - 3.88
18. NCAAF Arizona St.-Oregon (ESPN) Sat - 3.87
19. NCAAF Florida-Auburn (EPSN) Sat - 3.57
20. Sons of Anarchy (FX) Tue - 3.56

I eliminated titles appearing more than once (Make Your Mark twice in the top 25, Spongebob four times).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Real Steel #1 again

Weekend box-office for October 14-16.

1. Real Steel - $16.3 million ($51.74) - 2 wks (BV) -40.3%
. . . 3440 screens / $4740 per screen
2. Footloose - $16.1 - 1 wk (Par)
. . . 3549 / $4536
3. The Thing - $8.7 - 1 wk (U)
. . . 2996 / $2904
4. The Ides of March - $7.5 ($22.15) - 2 wks (Sony) -28.4%
. . . 2199 / $3411
5. Dolphin Tale - $6.35 ($58.67) - 4 wks (WB) -30.5%
. . . 3286 / $1931
6. Moneyball - $5.5 ($57.71) - 4 wks (Sony) -26.2%
. . . 2840 / $1937
7. 50/50 - $4.32 ($24.33) - 3 wks (Sum) -23.7%
. . . 2391 / $1805
8. Courageous - $3.4 ($21.38) - 3 wks (TrS) -30.2%
. . . 1214 / $2801
9. The Big Year - $3.33 - 1 wk (Fox)
. . . 2150 / $1547
10. The Lion King 3D - $2.71 ($90.45) - 5 wks (BV) -41.1%
. . . 1970 / $1375
11. Dream House - $2.51 ($18.43) - 3 wks (U) -43.9%
. . . 2172 / $1155

Footloose had a respectable opening, but Real Steel, Lion King, and Dolphin Tale are all showing this is a family-film fall. The Thing had about as much luck as Fright Night in the R-rated 80's-remake department. The Big Year had a late, muddled marketing campaign, as though the studio forgot it was coming until two weeks ago.

Decent holdovers for the top ten, which bodes well for a big opening for Paranormal Activity 3 and probably a half-decent one for Three Musketeers 3D. (Remember when Orlando Bloom was the Next Big Thing? So quickly he warrants a "with" credit in a Paul WS Anderson movie.)

I'm actually surprised the marketing isn't making sure people know Christoph Waltz is in this one. I get highlighting Milla Jovovich doing stunts in her giant dress, but it's not as clear to me why they're not pointing out Waltz and Bloom are your main villains.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Last Night's TV Ratings

Title - Viewers in millions / 18-49 demo

The Big Bang Theory - 13.58 / 4.6
The Big Bang Theory (r) - 12.1 / 3.7
Person of Interest - 12.04 / 2.8
The Mentalist - 12.39 / 2.5

Charlie's Angels - 5.91 / 1.3
Grey's Anatomy - 9.97 / 3.6
Private Practice - 6.51 / 2.3

Community - 3.78 / 1.7
Parks & Recreation - 3.99 / 2.1
The Office - 6.08 / 3.3
Whitney - 4.25 / 2.0
Prime Suspect - 4.6 / 1.3

The X-Factor - 11.24 / 3.7

The CW
The Vampire Diaries - 2.89 / 1.4
The Secret Circle - 1.89 / 0.8

CBS had better luck with a Big Bang Theory rerun than How to Be a Gentleman, which is essentially cancelled. ABC has also announced the cancellation of Charlie's Angels (which further illustrates how the 18-49 demo is more important than total viewers.

Other cancellations: CW axed H8R, and NBC nixed Free Agents.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kurt Russell, Don Johnson join Django Unchained

After some largely ignored supporting roles (Machete, Bucky Larson), Don Johnson has joined the cast of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. This pits the original Miami Vice's Crockett in a movie with the new Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) in a movie. Johnson will play an evil plantation owner. It also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and Samuel L. Jackson. Kurt Russell recently replaced Kevin Costner in the role of DiCaprio's malevolent right-hand man, and Dennis Christopher (Breaking Away, It) has also signed on.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scream 4 - DVD Review

ll 1/2

Starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Hayden Panetierre, Emma Roberts, Alison Brie, Rory Culkin, Anthony Anderson, Marley Shelton, Adam Brody, Erik Knudsen, Mary McDonnell, Marielle Jaffe, Nico Tortorella, Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell. Directed by Wes Craven.

The Scream movies are fun, but they have diminishing returns. This movie is so self-aware and so self-referential, so "meta", that you half-expect Neve Campbell to say, "And look, my name isn't Sidney, it's Neve, and see that camera over there? That's Wes Craven filming this."

It's been a while since Ghostface slaughtered the citizens of Woodsboro, but now Sidney has returned to promote her new book, all about surviving the different people who wanted to dress as Ghostface and kill everyone around her before monologuing and then somehow getting killed themselves. There's a mix of old and new generation, and a distinct feeling that the only three to survive all three movies (Courteney Cox's Gail and David Arquette's Dewey being the other two) may not be so safe this time around.

There's a breezy energy to it, but the extreme predictability, high body count, and neverending winking at the camera don't add up to a whole movie. I'd rather see Scream 5 than sequels to most other horror franchises floating around, but there's only so much of its own tail the Scream team can eat.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Friday's Box Office

1. Real Steel - $8.55 million - 1 day
2. The Ides of March - $3.45 - 1 day
3. Dolphin Tale - $2.4 ($42.31) - 15 days
4. Moneyball - $2.23 ($43.98) - 15 days
5. 50/50 - $1.78 ($13.61) - 8 days
6. Courageous - $1.4 ($12.69) - 8 days
7. Dream House - $1.36 ($11.35) - 8 days
8. The Lion King 3D - $1.2 ($82.62) - 22 days
9. What's Your Number - $1.03 ($8.28) - 8 days
10. Abduction - $.85 ($21.32) - 15 days
11. Contagion - $.84 ($66.93) - 29 days
12. Killer Elite - $.65 ($20.09) - 15 days
13. Drive - $.55 ($28.81) - 22 days

Friday, October 7, 2011

Random Movie News 10/7/11

- Robert Downey Jr. will produce and star in the big-screen adaptation of Perry Mason. The 1950's TV courtroom drama starring Raymond Burr was based on a series of books, and the movie is going back to those source materials for the characters.

- Johnny Depp will star in a biopic about Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel).

- Dominic Purcell (Prison Break) has joined the cast of Paradise Lost. Directed by Alex Proyas, it's based on John Milton's classic about the battle between Michael (Benjamin Walker) and Lucifer (Bradley Cooper). Casey Affleck, Djimon Hounsou, Camilla Belle and Callan McAuliffe co-star.

- New Regency, in its deal with Fox, has picked up distribution rights to Broken City, starring Russell Crowe as a mayor who secretly hires a P.I. (Mark Wahlberg) to see if his wife's being unfaithful, but then she turns up dead.

Last Night's TV Ratings


The Big Bang Theory - 13.92 / 4.5
How to Be A Gentleman - 7.58 / 2.5
Person of Interest - 11.57 / 2.6
The Mentalist - 13.15 / 2.7

The X-Factor - 11.67 / 4.0

Charlie's Angels - 5.93 / 1.2
Grey's Anatomy - 8.70 / 3.1
Private Practice - 6.06 / 2.1

Community - 3.35 / 1.5
Parks & Recreation - 4.15 / 2.0
The Office - 5.82 / 3.2
Whitney - 4.89 / 2.3
Prime Suspect - 5.04 / 1.5

The CW
The Vampire Diaries - 2.63 / 1.2
The Secret Circle - 1.96 / 0.8

After losing so much of Big Bang Theory's lead, CBS announced that How to Be a Gentleman will be moved to Saturdays, and Rules of Engagement will take its place on Thursdays.

ABC has to be looking seriously at how much longer they're going to let Charlie's Angels plummet. Not sure what they'd have in the queue to replace it. Maybe they should look at debuting Once Upon A Time on Thursday instead of Sunday.

Looks like this'll be the last season of Community. Enjoy it while it lasts. NBC also must not be happy with Prime Suspect.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 - Movie Review


Starring the voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Lucy Liu, James Hong, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Haysbert. Directed by Jennifer Yuh.

Saw this at the $1 theater. Should come out on DVD pretty soon, actually.

I really enjoyed Kung Fu Panda, and I was worried the sequel might diminish the memory off the original. My fears were unfounded, although I will say this isn't as good as the first.

Jack Black voices Po, the Baby-Huey of a panda who's now really good at kung fu, to where he can stand tall with the furious five. A new threat is sweeping across China. Turns out China's emperor family are peacocks, and the evil prodigal son Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) has returned to reclaim his throne. He's raised an army of assassins and brought a secret weapon to help him conquer the country. But the subplot is that Po, adopted by a goose, wants to learn about his biological parents, where he comes from.

There's more fighting and a bit darker tone this time around. It's also left wide open for Kung Fu Panda 3.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Last Night's TV Ratings

Channel - Title - Viewers (in million) / 18-49 demo

CBS - NCIS - 19.35 / 4.2
FOX - Glee - 8.42 / 3.6
NBC - The Biggest Loser - 5.72 / 2.1
ABC - Dancing with the Stars Encore - 9.13 / 1.7
CW - 90210 - 1.29 / 0.7

FOX - New Girl - 8.65 / 4.3
- - - Raising Hope - 6.36 / 2.9
CBS - NCIS: LA - 14.78 / 3.4
ABC - Dancing with the Stars Results - 15.28 / 2.9
CW - Ringer - 1.5 / 0.6

CBS - Unforgettable - 11.58 / 2.5
ABC - Body of Proof - 9.95 / 2.0
NBC - Parenthood - 5.05 / 2.0

I list in order of the 18-49 demo because that's the number that matters more to advertisers. NCIS may be a total-viewers juggernaut, but New Girl won the night with where it counts.

Poor NBC. If it weren't for Sunday Night Football and The Office, they'd be on life support. They can always point to the complete inability of CW to expand its audience. The combining of UPN and WB into CW hasn't worked out. I can see The CW disappearing in the next few years.

I'd been following Ringer but judging by its ratings trajectory, probably best get out now before my curiosity increases.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NBC's Free Agents - TV Review

Watched the first two episodes, and it would've been a lot better if Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn whipped out machine guns and slaughtered their co-workers before hitting the road. Granted, this would improve half the shows on TV, but my point is, it's an office romance comedy where all the co-workers have walked off some hellish stock-character conveyor belt.


In other news, NBC has cancelled The Playboy Club.

Monday, October 3, 2011

ABC's Suburgatory - TV Review

Jane Levy is the new Emma Stone. She could be her twin-sister/stunt-double/All About Eve replacement. She and her single dad are New Yorkers, moved to the suburbs. Fish-out-of-water hijinks ensue, but this feels exactly like someone combined Mean Girls and Easy A for TV, and that's not a bad thing. It fits in nicely between The Middle and Modern Family. It's also nice to see Alan Tudyk (Firefly) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) land on a good show.