Sunday, April 28, 2013

Killer Shows on TV

I'm behind on all of these but I have been watching them.

THE FOLLOWING (FOX) - This show succeeded for me when we got to see Kevin Bacon's character taken hostage. The way he took control of the room was great stuff, and it signaled that this isn't just going to be a show where his forlorn detective gets outsmarted week after week.  At worst, it's a cross between The
Mentalist and Prison Break, if Red John outsmarted Patrick every single week with his small army of Teabags.  It's one where I probably won't watch the last three or four episodes until the summer.

BATES MOTEL (A&E) - This is an odd one. It's a prequel to Psycho, showing teenager Norman Bates and his mother first move into the motel, but it's set in modern times. And yet it has an old-fashioned look to most of the costumes and set design.  Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) and Freddy Highmore (Finding Neverland) are both great in their roles, and I like the "dark underbelly of a tranquil town" feel to it.  We see the beginnings of Norman's psychosis, but he's a sympathetic person.  He's just a couple tragic events away from being tipped over the edge.

HANNIBAL (NBC) - I've listed these in the order I like them, and this is the best of the three.  Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) is very good as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and he hasn't revealed himself yet. This is a prequel where we first see Hannibal meet Will Graham (Tom Hardy), an investigator so good at getting into criminal minds, it's a fight for him to retain his own sanity.

Pain & Gain wins Weekend Box Office

1.  Pain & Gain - $20 million - 1 wk (Par)
 . . . 3277 screens / $6103 per screen
2.  Oblivion - $17.44 ($64.73) - 2 wks (U) -52.9%
 . . . 3792 / $4600
3.  42 - $10.73 ($69.08) - 3 wks (WB) -39.5%
 . . . 3405 / $3150
4.  The Big Wedding - $7.5 - 1 wk (LG)
 . . . 2633 / $2848
5.  The Croods - $6.6 ($163.03) - 6 wks (Fox) -28.5%
 . . . 3283 / $2010
6.  GI Joe: Retaliation - $3.62 ($116.4) - 5 wks (Par) -37.2%
 . . . 2707 / $1337
7.  Scary Movie 5 - $3.46 ($27.49) - 3 wks (Dim) -43.8%
 . . . 2733 / $1265
8.  Olympus Has Fallen - $2.77 ($93.08) - 6 wks (FD) -38.2%
 . . . 2334 / $1186
9.  The Place Beyond the Pines - $2.7 ($16.21) - 5 wks (Foc) -45.1%
 . . . 1584 / $1704
10. Jurassic Park 3D - $2.31 ($42) - 4 wks (U) -43%
 . . . 1848 / $1250
11. Mud - $2.19 - 1 wk (RA)
 . . . 363 / $6022
12. Evil Dead - $2 ($51.87) - 4 wks (TS) -51.4%
 . . . 2186 / $915

Michael Bay's Pain and Gain managed to get to $20 million in a weekend sandwiched between a Tom Cruise sci-fi movie and the sure-to-be-monstrous Iron Man 3.  The Big Wedding, originally intended to be released at Christmas, is getting lousy reviews and was dumped here so the studio could get it out there and be done with it.

Evil Dead - Movie Review

Starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore. Directed by Fede Alvarez.


This remake of the 1981 cult classic comes along at an unfortunate time. It comes after Cabin in the Woods has been made, and so what might have seemed original 32 years ago has no chance of being fresh now.

Five young people come together in a cabin in the woods to help one of their friends (Suburgatory's Jane Levy) quit drugs cold turkey. Unfortunately for them, another friend finds a book of evil and reads from it, summoning a demon to torment them all.

This movie takes itself a little more seriously than the original, trying for genuine creepiness.  For example, the scene where a girl gets raped by a tree is still there, but it's more violating this time around, whereas in the original, it was played as dark humor.

Levy acquits herself nicely. This movie seems to be more for fans of horror make-up and effects.

Monday, April 22, 2013

John Dies at the End - DVD Review

Starring Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones, Allison Weissman and Daniel Roebuck.
Directed by Don Coscarelli.


The story of my life.  As far as I know.

I felt like I walked halfway through a lighter episode of Supernatural when watching this.  There's a lot of narrating in the main character's head, and since he's on drugs most of the movie, we get a twisted, distorted presentation of the story. He's not sure if what he's seeing is real, and therefore we never know what we're supposed to accept at face value.  Early on, a girl bursts into a pile of writhing snakes.

If you cross The Matrix, Buckaroo Banzai and all of Richard Kelly's movies together, you might begin to get an idea of this film's aspirations, even if it doesn't quite get there. If you play deadpan the whole time, why should I care about anyone's fate?  So what if John lives or dies.  He'll just shrug about it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oblivion wins weekend

1.  Oblivion - $38.15 million - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 3783 per screen / $10,085 per screen
2.  42 - $18.03 ($54.06) - 2 wks (WB) -34.4%
 . . . 3250 / $5546
3.  The Croods - $9.5 ($154.9) - 5 wks (Fox) -27.6%
 . . . 3435 / $2766
4.  Scary Movie 5 - $6.29 ($22.94) - 2 wks (Dim) -55.5%
 . . . 3402 / $1851
5.  G.I. Joe: Retaliation - $5.78 ($111.21) - 4 wks (Par) -47%
 . . . 3175 / $1819
6.  The Place Beyond the Pines - $4.75 ($11.45) - 4 wks (Foc) +22.8%
 . . . 1542 / $3078
7.  Olympus Has Fallen - $4.5 ($88.8) - 5 wks (FD) -37.9%
 . . . 2638 / $1706
8.  Evil Dead - $4.1 ($48.45) - 3 wks (TS) -56.8%
 . . . 2823 / $1452
9.  Jurassic Park 3D - $4.01 ($38.48) - 3 wks (U) -54.8%
 . . . 2330 / $1720
10. Oz the Great & Powerful - $3.05 ($223.77) - 7 wks (BV) -37.3%
 . . . 2045 / $1490

Brilliant decision by Universal to release their $120-million sci-fi Tom Cruise actioner in April.  it has a nice jump on the summer competition and should be buoyed overseas by a thin marketplace.  It's his best opening since Mission Impossible 4 went wide.

42 held strong in its second week.  The Place Beyond the Pines waited a week to long to open wide.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My 2013 Summer Box Office Predictions

Last year I vastly underestimated how much The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Ted and Magic Mike would bring in, and I vastly overestimated how Battleship, The Watch and That's My Boy would do.

Anyway, here's how I see this summer going.

1. MAN OF STEEL (6/14) - $380 million - It doesn't open on a traditionally strong weekend, but I think there's still a lot of built-in goodwill toward the son of Jor-El, and audiences would like to see a good Superman movie, which we haven't had for over 30 years.

2. IRON MAN 3 (5/3) - $365 million - It'll open huge and have decent legs through May while all of April's castoffs can't leave theaters quickly enough.  Seems anti-climactic to have another stand-alone Iron Man movie after The Avengers, but it's confirmed Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson will cameo.  The movie's ace in the hole is Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts, and hopefully they've given her something to do.

3. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (5/17) - $270 million - Captain Kirk and crew are established, so now that the origin story's out of the way, they're ready to have a full-fledged adventure.  Benedict Cumberbatch is the villain, and while they don't say that he's Khan, I have my suspicions.

4. DESPICABLE ME 2 (7/3) - $265 million - The surprise hit has a sequel with a funny trailer and clear hook for the plot.  No one can stop the minions!

5. FAST & FURIOUS 6 (5/24) - $225 million - This franchise grows stronger with each installment.  It will soon envelop the whole earth.  But when are they going to let Lucas Black and Bow Wow come back?  I guess they're the Coy & Vance Duke of the F&F franchise.

6. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (6/21) - $220 million - It's Pixar. They can do no wrong. (My kids love Cars 2, so there it is.)  I don't know why they chose this member of the Pixar ouevre to prequelize, but maybe the college hijinks will be entertaining.  The fake college-commercial trailer goes over young kids' heads.

7. THE HANGOVER III (5/24) - $185 million - Since it's universally agreed upon that the second one sucked, I don't think it'll score as much money, even if word of mouth is "it was sure better than Part II."  It's taking the action back to Vegas, and it isn't following the same pattern as the first two.

8. THE HEAT (6/28) - $155 million - The studio had it scheduled for spring but moved it to summer. That usually means they have faith in it.  Sandra Bullock's one of the few reliable female box-office draws, and Melissa McCarthy is red-hot after Identity Thief showed she can make her Bridesmaids karma spread to other projects. (Not to mention she's established herself as one of SNL's most reliably funny hosts.)

9. EPIC (5/24) - $150 million - It's the first animated movie to hit theaters since The Croods so I expect a strong "kids and families" turnout.  Title's vague though, and the "all-star cast" isn't exactly must-see.  Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Jason Sudeikis, etc., lend their pipes.

10. SMURFS 2 (8/2) - $125 million - Alvin & the Chipmunks 2 was a hit.  Therefore, it would be an impressive disaster if this didn't make the top ten.

11. AFTER EARTH (5/31) - $120 million - It wouldn't make my "top ten most anticipated summer flicks" list, but it has the weekend to itself, and Will Smith is still the biggest star working, and Jaden Smith has his own resume with The Karate Kid. I hope it's more than just CG creatures chasing Jaden through the woods for 90 minutes.  Can director M. Night Shyamalan redeem himself for The Last Airbender (and The Happening, and Lady in the Water...)?

12. ELYSIUM (8/9) - $110 million - It is from the director of District 9, with a strong cast and decent weekend to open.  The trailer shows it will be original, although the poor parts of Earth looks remarkably like the shantytowns of South Africa seen in District 9.

13. PACIFIC RIM (7/12) - $105 million - We had Monsters vs. Aliens a few years ago, now we get a live-action Monsters vs. Robots. It's from Guillermo Del Toro, who tends to be more creative with his critters, so if there's a good story under all that CGI, it should do well.  What glimpses we've had of the monsters look like a cross between the ones from The Mist, and the arena monsters from Attack of the Clones.

14. TURBO (7/19) - $100 million - It's animated, and we've seen in previous summers how there's enough room for plenty of animated summer movies to do well.  It will suffer from being the third animated movie in five weeks.  The thought of a super-fast snail is a good hook.

15. THE WOLVERINE (7/26) - $92 million - Hugh Jackman was the only person who wanted this sequel, and I can't say I like the marketing so far, but there's time for them to correct it.  It has a weekend to itself, so as long as it's good, it should do okay.  If the RotTom meter comes out around 33%, I can see it disappearing quickly.  Some movies will be huge hits no matter what critics say, but this one does not have that luxury.

16. 2 GUNS (8/2) - $88 million - Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are two guys who are funny when they talk fast, so this buddy-action comedy looks like it hits a lot of right notes. It's one of those pairings where the trailer made me think "Why haven't they teamed up sooner?"

17. THE LONE RANGER (7/3) - $80 million - Disney is going to will this to be a hit, and I just don't see it.  Johnny Depp is still a big name, but Dark Shadows showed there's a limit to what audiences will consume with him, and Armie Hammer (Mirror Mirror) isn't a known name yet.  It's from Gore Verbinski, director of Rango, so we know he can get the flavor of a western down, but will it all blend together well?  I mean, the first draft had the Indians turn into werewolves.

18. WORLD WAR Z (6/21) - $78 million - This project's been a production nightmare, and even though zombies are a hot commodity, this trailer didn't do it for me.  In fact, it's hard to tell they're zombies.  Seemed more like the vampire-things from I Am Legend.

19. R.I.P.D. (7/19) - $72 million - It's the Rest In Peace Department, a Men in Black clone starring Ryan Reynolds as a recently deceased police officer who helps track down dead bad guys trying to avoid hell.  Jeff Bridges is his mentor, a Wild West lawman.  Looks like it has tons of CG effects.

20. GROWN UPS 2 (7/12) - $70 million - Hated the first one, but here comes the sequel, and it might be a hit again for that scene in the trailer where Adam Sandler and friends are forced to jump naked off a cliff.  But I also look at the giant flop that was That's My Boy and wonder if the general public has finally hit its Sandler threshold.

Could Break the Top 20:

THE GREAT GATSBY (5/10) - This was pushed to summer to get out of a crowded December, so it could be because it's a mess. It's from Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) and the trailer definitely makes that clear. (I feel like I should really read the book one of these days.)  It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, a pretty reliable box-office draw.

NOW YOU SEE ME (5/31) - I like the preview, and I'm also intrigued by the studio moving it from spring to summer.  Usually a good sign.  Good ensemble cast too.  Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson lead a magic act that also robs banks.  Mark Ruffalo is the cop trying to figure out how they're doing it.  Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds) co-star.

WHITE HOUSE DOWN (6/28) - I'm betting the second "White House under siege" movie of the year is better than the first, but it'll hurt its opening weekend that the first one exists at all.

THE CONJURING (7/19) - James Wan (Insidious) intended to make this a PG-13 horror movie, but the MPAA gave him an R simply because it's just too scary to release as a PG-13.  Well, that marketing writes itself, doesn't it?

RED 2 (7/19) - Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich return as aging assassins, and there might be enough goodwill from the first movie to get people to go again.  Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones join the fun this time.  Interesting note: this will be the fourth sequel to feature Willis within a 365-day span (Expendables 2, Die Hard 5, GI Joe 2).  Thank goodness no one tried to greenlight The Whole Eleven Yards.

PERCY JACKSON 2: SEA OF MONSTERS (8/7) - The trailer makes it look like the actors are comfortable in their roles and ready for their next adventure. Special geek points for getting Nathan Fillion as Hermes.

Predicted Bombs:

THIS IS THE END (6/14) and THE WORLD'S END (8/24), also known as the dueling doomsday comedies, are way too similar for either to break out.  The June film stars Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel playing themselves barricaded in a house and hoping they can survive the apocalypse going on outside.  The August film is a Simon Pegg-Nick Frost collaboration about how people are dealing with the end of the world.

THE INTERNSHIP (6/7) - Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn had a hit with Wedding Crashers, so they reunite for... a 90-minute Google commercial?  Reminds me of how the cast of A Fish Called Wanda reunited for... a zoo movie.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (8/2) - This is a prequel that should have come out three years ago. I can't see much anticipation for it now, and even then, Gerard Butler won't be back. What's the point?

KICK-ASS 2 (8/16) - Jim Carrey's role looks interesting, but the loss of Nicolas Cage hurts. I don't see it doing better than the first one. And how come Aaron Johnson changed to Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and why does Chloe Moretz insist on keeping his middle name "Grace" in all of her billing?

Other Wide Releases:

PEEPLES (5/10) - $47
PARANOIA (8/16) - $46
PLANES (8/9) - $43
ONE D1RECTION: THIS IS US. (8/30) - $40
THE PURGE (5/31) - $38
CLOSED CIRCUIT (8/30) - $35
WE'RE THE MILLERS (8/9) - $30
YOU'RE NEXT (8/23) - $25
THE TO-DO LIST (8/16) - $22
SATANIC (8/30) - $20
GETAWAY (8/30) - $16

Box Office Summer 2012
1. The Avengers - $623.35 million
2. The Dark Knight Rises - $448.14
3. The Amazing Spider-Man - $262.03
4. Brave - $237.28
5. Ted - $218.81
6. Madagascar 3 - $216.39
7. Men in Black III - $179.02
8. Ice Age: Continental Drift - $161.32
9. Snow White & the Huntsman - $155.33
10. Prometheus - $126.47
11. Magic Mike - $113.72
12. The Bourne Legacy - $113.2
13. The Campaign - $86.91
14. The Expendables 2 - $85.03
15. Dark Shadows - $79.72
16. Madea's Witness Protection - $65.65
17. Battleship - $65.42
18. Hope Springs - $63.54
19. The Dictator - $59.65
20. Total Recall - $58.88

Friday, April 19, 2013

42 - Movie Review

Starring Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Lucas Black, Christopher Meloni, Alan Tudyk, Ryan Merrimen and John C. McGinley.  Directed by Brian Helgeland.


This is a rousing sentimental take on Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in the major league baseball.

It starts with bona-fide movie-star Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.  Ford embraces every one of his 70 years to play him, probably the first time in his career he's played his own age.  (He has good genes).  Rickey wants to be the first owner to have the first black player in the Major Leagues, and he finds the man he wants in Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman).

The tone of the movie is old-fashioned without being corny.  Shades of The Natural and The Blind Side.  The only time it really faltered for me was whenever there was a kid on screen.  Then it was gosh-gee-willikers cloying. I don't know if it was the casting or just the Little Rascals-ish on-the-nose dialogue they had.

I'm not a big baseball fan, but when it comes to sports movies, baseball tends to produce some of the best.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Sessions, Sinister, The Man with the Iron Fists - DVD Reviews

THE SESSIONS (★★★) - Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, W. Earl Brown, Rhea Perlman, Robin Weigart and Adam Arkin. Directed by Ben Lewin.

Very well-made dramedy based on the true story of a man rendered virtually quadriplegic by polio who sets out to lose his virginity at age 38.  John Hawkes (Winter's Bone) has to do all of his acting with his face and voice, and he's great.  Helen Hunt gives her best performance in years as his "surrogate" who works with him for six sessions to get him to the point where he can achieve sex. Tons of casual nudity in this movie though.  There were times it might have been more polite for the movie to just film the bedroom door and give them their privacy.


SINISTER (★★★) - Starring Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson and Vincent D'Onofrio.  Directed by Scott Derrickson.

Here comes a movie with some genuine spooky moments.  It stars Ethan Hawke and his sweater as two beings hearing things go bump in the night.  Okay, the sweater has no sentience, but it became about as much of a character as Johnny Depp's ratty robe from Secret Window.

Hawke's a true-crime author studying some horrific murders that happened in the backyard of his new house.  Of course, he doesn't tell his wife and kids that they're living in the very house where people were killed.  That might alarm them.  One day he investigates in the attic and finds some Super 8 film reels and a camera, and lo and behold he finds a recording of that very murder, as well as some others.

A malevolent, supernatural force is behind the murders, and for some reason every time Hawke hears something go bump in the night, he doesn't turn the lights on.  He might grab a flashlight occasionally, but is it so hard to just flip the switch right next to the door...?

This built nicely, like The Ring where you just know there's something big and scary waiting for you at the end of this movie.  It didn't quite have that final punch I was hoping for, and maybe that's because I had the ending guessed too early.  But it's a good script from C. Robert Margill (aka Massawyrm) and if they greenlight a sequel (and the door's left wide open for one), I'd be interested in seeing where it goes.


THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (★★) - Starring Russell Crowe, RZA, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Jamie Chung, Daniel Wu, Dave Bautista, Byron Mann, Cung Le and Pam Grier.  Directed by RZA.

"Quentin Tarantino Presents" is the first credit in this movie, and you know, I like the stuff he directs, but the stuff he "presents" can be quite questionable.

This is a martial-arts mish-mash that plays like a cross between Iron Monkey and Mortal Kombat 4: The Sequel You Never Asked For.  Having Lucy Liu show up as one of the main fighters just reminded me that oh yeah, she was in Kill Bill, and oh yeah, that was a much better movie.

You have WWE/MMA physican specimen Dave Bautista show up as a guy who can turn his skin gold and therefore be impervious to pain or damage.  Pretty neat power-up if you can get it. It's like Colossus never found the X-Men and decided to try a life of Chaotic Evil for a while.

You have RZA as the man who eventually gets Iron Fists.  You have Russell Crowe wander in from another movie as a British scallywag who's pretty bloody deadly in his own right.  These two are the good guys and they team up with Rick Yune, who's pretty much playing Ryu from Street Fighter, to fight the baddies.  Hi-YAA!

The action's not that well choreographed and I couldn't get into the silliness of the story.  It's junk food action with different moving parts that have all been executed better in other movies.  But at least kudos to Crowe for energizing any scene he's in.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekend Box Office - 42 is #1

For the weekend of April 12-14.

1.  42 - $27.25 million - 1 wk (WB)
 . . . 3003 screens / $9074 per screen
2.  Scary Movie 5 - $15.15 - 1 wk (Dim)
 . . . 3402 / $4454
3.  The Croods - $13.2 ($142.52) - 4 wks (Fox) -36.1%
 . . . 3689 / $3578
4.  GI Joe: Retaliation - $10.8 ($102.43) - 3 wks (Par) -48.3%
 . . . 3535 / $3055
5.  Evil Dead - $9.5 ($41.5) - 2 wks (TS) -63.1%
 . . . 3025 / $3140
6.  Jurassic Park 3D - $8.82 ($31.93) - 2 wks (U) -52.6%
 . . . 2778 / $3175
7.  Olympus Has Fallen - $7.28 ($81.89) - 4 wks (FD) -28.3%
 . . . 2935 / $2481
8.  Oz the Great & Powerful - $4.92 ($219.44) - 6 wks (BV) -38.5%
 . . . 2504 / $1966
9.  Tyler Perry's Temptation - $4.5 ($45.42) - 3 wks (LG) -55.4%
 . . . 1805 / $2493
10. The Place Beyond the Pines - $4.08 ($5.46) - 3 wks (Foc) +480%
 . . . 514 / $7983

Brian Helgeland's feel biopic "42", about Jackie Robinson, is a hit, buoyed by a weak field, Harrison Ford's loaned star power, and just a good story.  Scary Movie 5 may have attacked Evil Dead's second weekend numbers, but it's also the lowest opening ever for the Scary franchise. (Scary Movie 4 opened to $40 million in 2006).

The Croods is on course to pass $400 million worldwide, so I'd expect The Croods 2 to come in 2016 or 2017.

The Croods - Movie Review

Starring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke.  Directed by Chris Sanders & Kirk DeMicco.


The plot is very familiar but it's the way they execute their story that makes this fun.

The Croods are a family of cavemen who have survived by being afraid of everything and spending most of their time behind a boulder in a cave.  The oldest daughter Oop (Emma Stone) has had enough of confinement and wants to explore the "new."  Overprotective father Grug (Nicolas Cage) will have none of it, but when Oop meets another man (Ryan Reynolds), all kinds of "new" open up to her.

There are some thrilling action sequences, and it was probably a lot of fun in 3D.  The humor succeeds largely from the way the Croods deal with unknown things, like fire.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Killing Them Softly - DVD Review

Starring Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy, Richard Jenkins, Ben Mendelsohn, Ray Liotta, Vincent Curatola, Sam Shepard and Max Casella.
Directed by Andrew Dominik.


There's a really good mob movie buried in here.  Buried under all the talking.  This is a very talkie mob movie, where conversations go a couple minute longer than they should.  We watch, interested, but by the time a few scenes end, it's a conscious decision to re-engage with the movie.  And since the movie's only 90 minutes long, it's amazing how draggy the movie can be.

It centers on a high-stakes poker game, which two losers decide to rob.  The blame can be pinned on the runner of the game (Ray Liotta), but when hitman Cogan (Brad Pitt) comes to town, he's a little smarter about things.

Some of the best conversations happen between Pitt and Richard Jenkins. And I should mention that all the actors embody their roles well.  There are spurts of action here and there, and if the dialogue was QT-esque crackling, maybe I wouldn't have minded.  Pitt's final monologue is great.

Sidenote: This features three Sopranos alum but none of them are ever on-screen at the same time.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Evil Dead is #1 over weekend

1. Evil Dead - $25.78 million - 1 wk (TS)
 . . . 3025 screens / $8521 per screen
2. GI Joe: Retaliation - $20.88 ($86.44) - 2 wks (Par) -48.5%
 . . . 3734 / $5591
3. The Croods - $20.65 ($125.35) - 3 wks (Fox) -22.7%
 . . . 3879 / $5324
4. Jurassic Park 3D - $18.62 - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 2771 / $6720
5. Olympus Has Fallen - $10.16 ($71.24) - 3 wks (FD) -28.2%
 . . . 3059 / $3322
6. Tyler Perry's Temptation - $10.09 ($38.47) - 2 wks (LG) -53.4%
 . . . 2047 / $4927
7. Oz the Great & Powerful - $8.01 ($212.61) - 5 wks (BV) -31.6%
 . . . 2905 / $2757
8. The Host - $5.2 ($19.62) - 2 wks (OR) -51%
 . . . 3202 / $1624
9. The Call - $3.5 ($45.48) - 4 wks (TS) -28.9%
 . . . 2002 / $1748
10. Admission - $1.95 ($15.27) - 3 wks (Foc) -39.8%
 . . . 1407 / $1383
11. Spring Breakers - $1.17 ($12.62) - 4 wks (A24) -57.8%
 . . . 1072 / $1093

The Evil Dead remake made its money, so if TriStar wants to sequelize it, they're justified.  The 3D conversion of Jurassic Park will also be profitable.  GI Joe 2 was supposed to come out last summer, but waiting until March has paid off.  The Croods can be DreamWorks' answer to Sony's Ice Age franchise.  It's enjoying long legs.

In limited release, Trance, The Company You Keep and The Place Beyond the Pines all did well.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Random Movie Stuff - 4/5/13

- Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) is up for the role of Gamora (on the right) in the big-screen version of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. It's scheduled to open August 1, 2014.  James Gunn (Slither, Super) will direct.  Chris Pratt (Zero Dark Thirty) will play Star-Lord (guy in the middle) and Dave Bautista (The Man with the Iron Fist) will play Drax the Destroyer (the bald guy on the left).  That leaves Groot and Rocket Raccoon yet to be cast.

- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost) has joined the cast of Pompeii. It's directed by Paul WS Anderson (Alien v Predator) and focusses on an enslaved gladiator (Game of Thrones' Kit Harington) fighting back against a tyrant (Kiefer Sutherland) in the final days before the eruption of Mt.Vesuvius.

- We're getting another Godzilla movie coming May 16, 2014. It'll star Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass), Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House), Juliette Binoche (Chocolat), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), Bryan Cranston (Argo), Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky) and David Strathairn (Lincoln).

- Bradley Cooper will play the villain in the western Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman as a woman who turns to her ex-lover (Joel Edgerton) for help when a gang shoots her husband and they're coming to her farm to finish the job while he heals.  Cooper is replacing the recently departed Jude Law.

- Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon will play granddaughter/grandmother on a road trip in Tammy.  Dan Aykroyd, Allison Janney and Mark Duplass co-star.

- Ed Helms will play Rusty Griswold in a Vacation sequel that follows grown-up Rusty having his own rough vacation misadventures. Christina Applegate will play his wife, and Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo are in talks to cameo as Clark & Ellen, grandparents. (Personally I'd like to see past Rusty actors cameo too, including Anthony Michael Hall, Johnny Galecki, and Ethan Embry.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Host - Movie Review

Starring Saoirse Ronan, William Hurt, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Diane Kruger and Frances Fisher.
Directed by Andrew Niccol.


This harmless sci-fi diversion produces a narrative challenge for director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) and actress Saoirse Ronan (Hanna). How do you keep dramatic momentum going when most of it is about a girl arguing with the alien being possessing her body?

Based on the Stephenie Meyer best-seller, this story takes place in the not-too-distant future, where the Invasion of the Body Snatchers has happened, and almost all humans are now possessed.  Only a handful of humans still have free will, and we immediately see the capture of Melanie (Ronan), who has an alien put inside her. (Looks similar to the ones on Star Trek: DS9, with more glowing).

So for most of the movie, you have the alien - Wanderer - trying to ignore Melanie's voice in her head.  Most humans fade away and vanish after possession, but Melanie has a really strong spirit. It's a juggling act, and Ronan does a great job with it. There's a scene toward the end, all in a close-up of her face, where Wanderer and Melanie are exchanging what might be their final words, and Ronan made me believe.

The aliens can search the memories of those they possess, and Wanderer is interrogated by a Seeker (Kruger), aliens who specialize in tracking down the last few humans.  Wanderer begins to sympathize with Melanie and escapes the compound where she's questioned.  She makes her way to the hide-out where her husband, brother, uncle, aunt, and others are creating a hidden society for themselves.

At first, the survivors think they should just kill Wanderer, but Uncle Jeb (Hurt) wants to give it time, and as he does, he begins to believe "Wanda" has enough Melanie in her to keep her alive, and maybe he can make her an ally.  There's also an amusing love-triangle that develops when one survivor falls for Wanda, while her husband just wants Melanie back.  Let's just say Jake Abel and Max Irons are better actors than Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.

Most of the outside world is undercooked.  It's your usual sterile dystopian future, where most people wear all white but most things are the same, to save on budget.

We had some teen girls in our audience who wound talking and giggling through most of it. I'm sure RiffTrax will have a blast with it, but I accepted the movie on its own terms, and based on that, I thought it delivered mostly on what it wanted to do. If I had to choose between watching a Twilight 6 or a Host 2, I'd easily pick Host 2.

Oz the Great and Powerful - Movie Review

Starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zack Braff, Joey King, Bill Cobbs and Tony Cox.  Directed by Sam Raimi.


Sam Raimi does to Oz what Tim Burton essentially did to Wonderland.  He's created a magical world more concerned with special effects and set pieces than in creating a timeless tale, and so as the years pass, most will forget it ever happened.

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoyed a lot of it. I liked meeting new sidekicks, like the talking winged monkey and the Little China Girl. The 3D effects were well-done.  But...

James Franco is miscast as Oscar Zoroaster, a carnival con-man who gets swept up by a cyclone one black-and-white day in 1905.  He lands in the land of color, in a lake where the good witch Theodora (Kunis) happens to be walking by. She mistakes him for the wizard, foretold by prophecy (whose prophecy?) to free the land of Oz from the reign of the wicked witch.

This is a prequel to the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz moreso than a prequel to the books, and when it comes to Oz prequels, Wicked had a better origin story. This movie leaves itself room for a sequel that'd still fit in between this and when Dorothy arrives. Since this one ends all happy-fuzzy, maybe that movie will show the Wizard of Oz regress into the cowardly agorophobe who sends a young girl off to go kill the Wicked Witch herself.

I liked Return to Oz more.