Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Epic - Movie Review

Starring the voices of Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Beyonce, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd, Pitbull, Steven Tyler and Jason Sudeikis.
Directed by Chris Wedge.


You can still catch this at $2 theaters, which is how I saw it.

What I took away most was the visuals.  The animation is really lovely, the weaving of this fairy world in with the trees and bushes and so forth.

The story is your fish-out-of-water variety, where a teen girl finds herself shrunk to the size of the leaf-men, who've somehow stayed hidden from mankind all this time. And when you're small, suddenly you can have conversations with slugs and snails.  Meanwhile they're an evil race that wants to turn the forest rotten. Very FernGully.

The humor isn't as crossover as your usual Pixar effort, but it's not too obnoxious either.  I'd rank it just above Arthur & the Invisibles.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer - DVD Review

Starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Eddie Marsan and Ewan Bremner.
Directed by Bryan Singer.


This movie is a prime example of an over-reliance on CGI to cover up problems with the actual story. The giants are fake, they look fake, and so there's no weight to them, cool as it may be to watch the humans run around on giant sets.

Hoult (Warm Bodies) plays Jack, the young man who eventually gets magic beans. A twist this time around is that the princess likes to travel in disguise among her people to get a taste of the real world (think Aladdin and Jasmine), but she is at Jack's when one of the beans accidentally gets wet and shoots into the sky.

There is some wonder building up to the meeting of the giants, but then when we do meet them, it's underwhelming.  They look like a cross between LOTR's cave trolls and ... the people of Polar Express.  If they're this humanoid, why not go for make-up and prosthetics and get some real-looking creatures to fight?  The 100% CGI-ness of the giants sucks out the wonder, and it sucked me out of the movie.

It's clearly made for children when it comes to the acting styles, but there's also enough heads getting bit off by giants that it earns its PG-13 rating.

Wolverine wins weekend

1. The Wolverine - $55 million - 1 wk (Fox)
 . . . 3924 screens / $14,016 per screen
2. The Conjuring - $22.13 ($83.87) - 2 wks (WB) -47.1%
 . . . 3022 / $7323
3. Despicable Me 2 - $16.02 ($306.41) - 4 wks (U) -35.7%
 . . . 3476 / $4610
4. Turbo - $13.33 ($55.77) - 2 wks (Fox) -37.5%
 . . . 3809 / $3498
5. Grown Ups 2 - $11.5 ($101.66) - 3 wks (Sony) -42.1%
 . . . 3258 / $3530
6. Red 2 - $9.4 ($35.07) - 2 wks (LG) -47.9%
 . . . 3016 / $3117
7. Pacific Rim - $7.54 ($84.03) - 3 wks (WB) -52.9%
 . . . 2602 / $2898
8. The Heat - $6.85 ($141.25) - 5 wks (Fox) -26.4%
 . . . 2384 / $2873
9. R.I.P.D. - $5.86 ($24.35) - 2 wks (U) -53.9%
 . . . 2850 / $2055
10. Fruitvale Station - $4.66 ($6.34) - 3 wks (Wein) +529%
 . . . 1064 / $4377
11. The Way Way Back - $3.3 ($8.93) - 4 wks (FS) +50%
 . . . 886 / $3725
12. World War Z - $2.76 ($192.62) - 6 wks (Par) -46.8%
 . . . 1440 / $1917

The Wolverine is off to a nice start, showing there's still life in those adamantium-boned legs of his.  Meanwhile some of last week's releases (Turbo, Red 2, RIPD) are sinking fast and will be hard-pressed to be profitable.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Random TV Stuff - 7/25/13

MOTIVE (ABC) - Kristin Lehman (The Killing) and Luis Ferreira (SGU: Stargate Universe) play two cops who investigate homicides.  The twist to this Law & Order-type procedural is we know who the killer is early, and we watch as the cops try to solve the crime.  But so as to not confuse it with L&O, it's filmed in this gritty yellow sheen. Reminded me of the failed Victor Garber drama called Justice.  It's not a bad watch-it-once procedural I guess, but also like L&O, the cops aren't really characters so much as stand-ins to spout the facts, and since there's no mystery whodunnit... what's the point?


BIG BROTHER (CBS) - The twist this year was that America would be able to vote for an MVP each week who would then pick a third houseguest to nominate for eviction each week.  But one of the HGs this year is Elissa, sister of previous winner Rachel Reilly.  So each week, Elissa wins the MVP vote.  To mix it up, this week "America" was MVP and texters got to vote for who they want to see nominated.  Now because Aaryn was already nominated, I'm assuming second place was America's pick and it was... Elissa.

It created some interesting drama by BB not telling the HG's the twist that America picked.  Since Elissa always confided to most of the house she was MVP each week, now the hamsters got paranoid.  Some even theorized Elissa put herself up to throw off suspicion.  Elissa won the PoV and saved herself, so GinaMarie took her spot, and now the three Mean Girls are all nominated. Kaitlyn, the Kristen Stewart doppleganger, is the nicest of the three Mean Girls so they get rid of her because she's the biggest "threat."  Aaryn's the most despised, so she may stay for a long time.


THE KILLING (AMC) - I hope the reason Peter Sarsgaard wasn't nominated for an Emmy was because this season isn't actually eligible for nominations until next year.  His work as a death-row inmate who's likely innocent has been incredible.  Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman still have their chemistry as Lindon and Holder, two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year.  The third season's been the best for this show, by far.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Random Movie Stuff - 7/24/13

- Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan are teaming with Sylvester Stallone to make Creed.  Stallone would reprise his role as Rocky Balboa as a trainer who helps Apollo Creed's grandson (Jordan) to be a professional boxer.

- David Goyer and Zack Snyder, the respective writer and director of Man of Steel, will reunite for Batman vs. Superman, coming in 2015.  The title's not for sure yet, but Goyer confirmed they're already in pre-production.

- Gil Kenan (Monster House) and Rosemary DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married, The Watch) will star in a remake of Poltergeist.

- Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby) is in talks to star in The Fury, about the UK suffrage movement.  It'll be written by Abi Morgan (Shame, which co-starred Mulligan).

- Topher Grace is the latest to join the cast of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar.  It's set for release on November 7, 2014, and stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck and John Lithgow.

- Jessica Alba has joined the cast of Stretch, starring Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) as a limo driver on his last shift who picks up a billionaire (Chris Pine) whose freaky special requests get darker as the night goes on.  Ed Helms and Brooklyn Decker co-star. Joe Carnahan (The Grey) will direct.

- Clint Eastwood will direct The Jersey Boys, based on the hit Broadway musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  Christopher Walken is the first cast member to join. He'll play mobster Angelo "Gyp" DeCarlo.

New trailers:

- Keanu Reeves leads 47 RONIN, opening on December 25.

- Rachel McAdams marries a man who can do a bit of time-traveling in ABOUT TIME, opening November 1.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Watch - DVD Review

Starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Adaoye, Rosemary DeWitt, Will Forte, Mel Rodriguez, Nicholas Braun and Billy Crudup.
Directed by Akiva Schaffer.


It was unfortunate for this movie that the George Zimmerman case became national news before its release.  The studio changed the movie's name from Neighborhood Watch to The Watch, and they played up the aliens subplot, which I think they wanted to be more secretive about leading up to the release.

Stiller & Vaughn, that comedy duo from Dodgeball, are left to their own comic devices where a lot of their lines come off as improvised, but they're never actually funny.  Stiller's the OCD guy who starts up 20 different community groups to compensate for not having any actual friends.  Vaughn is the local jock-idiot who likes the excuse "Neighborhood Watch" gives to get out of the house.  Hill, at least, has a little more of a character, but he's the vigilante-cop-wannabe, an intense guy that you do not want holding a gun or joining the force.  Can't help but think of Zimmerman with him.

The motivations of the aliens didn't make sense, and not just the ones they blast like video-game monsters.  That wouldn't matter as much if the film had laughs to hide its flaws.  Its flaws stand naked.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Lone Ranger - Movie Review

Starring Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, Barry Pepper and Helena Bonham Carter.
Directed by Gore Verbinski.


The Lone Ranger is one of those characters who's just about extinct.  I'm 40, and I barely remember him.  I mean, I know there was him and Tonto, and I'm pretty sure I saw an episode of the TV show before. I remember the Filmation cartoon from 1980 that rotated with Tarzan and Zorro.  I remember the William Tell Overture and "Heigh-ho, Silver!"  I remembered enough to know that the guy from this movie was not the Lone Ranger.

John Reid was a character who stood for justice in the Wild West.  He also abhorred killing and tried to take 'em alive whenever possible.  Maybe it today's age that seems too square or corny, whatever the word is, but rather than embrace the earnestness like in Captain America, they turn him into a sissy-man joke.  This Reid is a naive, foppish lawyer who even stand carrying a gun in a gun fight.  He's a dweeb who must be propped up by Tonto (Depp), a Comanche who has his own weird problems.

Remember Without a Clue? It was a comedic spin on Sherlock Holmes where Holmes (Michael Caine) was the face but Dr. Watson (Ben Kingsley) was the real brains behind the operation.  I wondered if this movie realized it was going the same route here. This is like a Tarzan movie that starts with him afraid of heights. (Even the poster tries to scoot him out of the picture.)

Aside from that glaring, gaping problem, for the most part I had fun at this movie.  And looking back, it was actually faithful to the source material in many other ways.  I watched the premiere episode and was delighted to see that the set-up was the same, with the group of rangers pursuing the outlaw Butch Cavendish through a canyon when they get ambushed and killed, thanks to a traitor named Collins.  The movie was even filmed in the exact same canyon as the TV show.

Reid now travels with the mask in pursuit of Cavendish. Tonto wants Cavendish caught too, for he believes him to be a wendigo, a devil who must be killed.  Meanwhile, the railroad's being built and you just know the head of the railroad company is going to wind up being the main villain that Cavendish happens to work for.  Progress, claims the movie, is evil.

Now this movie suffers the same excess problems as the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.  It goes for 2 1/2 hours, and it could easily trimmed ten minutes here, ten minutes there.  Helena Bonham Carter's part could have been cut completely, but she is here because her soul is bound to Depp's, and it provides the opportunity for the men to visit a whorehouse.  All Westerns these days must eventually visit a whorehouse while looking for the bad guy, just like how today's detective movies always have to visit a strip-club to crack the case.

There is a moment of movie magic, when things are looking dire, when the Lone Ranger arrives to save the day and ignite our climax.  The William Tell Overture kicks in, and I got fuzzies.  We're over two hours in, and finally "The Lone Ranger" has arrived!  The final 20-minute chase scene using two trains on parallel tracks was as thrilling as any action scene in any movie the past couple summers.

Gore Verbinski, who won an Oscar for Rango, his animated Western, knows how to stage scenes and execute them.

This movie isn't as bad as some critics have been suggesting. I can't honestly call it good, but I was entertained, and I'd rather see The Lone Ranger 2 over Pirates of the Caribbean 5.

Conjuring wins weekend

1. The Conjuring - $41.53 million - 1 wk (WB)
 . . . 2903 screens / $14,306 per screen
2. Despicable Me 2 - $25.06 ($276.16) - 3 wks (U) -42.9%
 . . . 3820 / $6560
3. Turbo - $21.5 ($31.2) - 1 wk (Fox)
 . . . 3806 / $5649
4. Grown Ups 2 - $20 ($79.5) - 2 wks (Sony) -51.8%
 . . . 3491 / $5729
5. Red 2 - $18.5 - 1 wk (LG)
 . . . 3016 / $6134
6. Pacific Rim - $15.96 ($68.24) - 2 wks (WB) -57.2%
 . . . 3285 / $4857
7. RIPD - $12.76 - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 2852 / $4475
8. The Heat - $9.33 ($129.29) - 4 wks (Fox) -33.4%
 . . . 2689 / $3468
9. World War Z - $5.2 ($186.94) - 5 wks (Par) -44.2%
 . . . 2066 / $2517
10. Monsters University - $5 ($249) - 5 wks (BV) -52.9%
 . . . 2186 / $2290
11. The Lone Ranger - $4.26 ($81.17) - 3 wks (BV) -63%
 . . . 2273 / $1874
12. White House Down - $2.4 ($68.45) - 4 wks (Sony) -61.1%
 . . . 1454 / $1651
13. The Way Way Back - $2.24 ($4.63) - 3 wks (FS) +99.7%
 . . . 304 / $7368
14. Kevin Hart Let Me Explain - $2.1 ($30.01) - 3 wks (LG) -55.8%
 . . . 748 / $2807
15. Man of Steel - $1.84 ($285.02) - 6 wks (WB) -61%
 . . . 1050 / $1752
16. This Is the End - $1.23 ($94.48) - 6 wks (Sony) -57%
 . . . 622 / $1969
17. Fruitvale Station - $.74 ($1.33) - 2 wks (Wein) +92.1%
 . . . 34 / $21,824

The Conjuring had one of the highest debuts ever for an R-rated original horror flick.  It also had the smallest production budget ($20 million) of any of the new releases.  Turbo is a big disappointment for DreamWorks Animation, so between that and Blue Sky's Epic, Fox had two underperforming animated releases. (Epic, at least, managed to cross the $100 million mark and will be ultimately be profitable once it hits DVD.)

Red 2 opened a little lower than the original. Maybe it should have picked a less crowded weekend.  R.I.P.D. is D.O.A. (har-har!).  It looked like a Men in Black ripoff at first glance, and it's had terrible reviews.

Despicable Me 2 will be the second-highest grossing film of the summer.  Thanksgiving 2014 is when we'll get the Minions movie, and I'm sure DM3 will hit Summer 2016.  Grown Ups 2 justifies Adam Sandler's lack of effort in his last few movies.  Pacific Rim had a worrisome dropoff for its second week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 4 Trailer

More Daryl Dixon = Good thing

Despicable Me 2 - Movie Review

Starring the voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeung and Nasim Pedrad.
Directed by Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud.


Maybe it's because summer is perfectly programmed to the largest common denominators, focussed-grouped and refined to such a point that we're getting what we're getting.  Maybe it's because studios have faith in what they're putting in the summer to be somewhat good, so they're not jettisoning them to January.  Maybe I appreciate the air conditioning and comfy seats.  I find myself "kinda liking" everything I see in theaters lately.

I liked the first one. It was a pleasant surprise. It was the Dr. Evil movie, but if Dr. Evil suddenly had three cute orphans dropped on his doorstep.  Gru grew in the first movie, so where does he go from here?

Part 2 is about Dr. Evil becoming Austin Powers. Now that Gru has retired from his evil ways, the Anti-Villain League wants to recruit him to work for them.  The cranky Gru thinks about it, looks at his girls, and decides this would be a good thing.

The visual work here is impressive.  The opening sequence is like any great Bond movie, with the camera swooping and racing after the action (in fact I noticed more than one nod to The Incredibles). The Minions get more screen time for the childish jokes, i.e. giggling at the name of the AVL head Silas Ramsbottom.  (They also have a drinking song, which is a highlight.) There's a lot of physical humor here worthy of Chuck Jones, and I can't help but think he was part of the inspiration in the design of a few of these characters.  El Macho has a giant upper body but short and skinny legs reminiscent of Yosemite Sam or Witch Hazel, for instance.

So yes, it's worthy family fare.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pacific Rim - Movie Review

Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Rob Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr. and Burn Gorman.  Directed by Guillermo Del Toro.


It's giant robots fighting the monsters that Godzilla's not here to kill.  We're clear on this, right?

I always give a movie its premise.  An inter-dimensional rift has opened on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, allowing 150-foot-tall creatures to come through and terrorize coastlines.  I accept this.  The world came together and built 150-foot-tall robots called jaegars to fight them, operated by two pilots.  Of course they did.

I wound up enjoying this a lot more than my wife.

We're somewhere around the year 2025 for this action, where the kaiju (the monsters) have become part of everyday life.  They have fluorescent lines on them for some reason, and more than one scene, I couldn't help think that they were really thinking about the toy line in designing some of these.

Anyway, the story revolves around Raleigh Becket (Hunnam), a jaeger pilot who quit after his brother died in battle.  He's called in for duty when the diminished jaeger corps need his help.  We meet the other teams, and it's like meeting other video game characters ("the Russians!"), and we see their unique jaegers (where do they get those wonderful toys?).

Elba brings movie-star charisma to his role as the leader, and he gets his pre-battle speech that blows Bill Pullman's Independence Day monologue out of the water.  I was confused by Hunnam. His accent was all over the place so I couldn't tell if he was American, or something else.  Charlie Day was funny in the Rick Moranis role.  His sidekick (Burn Gorman) was a bit too cartoony for my taste.  He made me think of Emmerich's Godzilla, and you do not want to do that.

It's over two hours, and it has one too many obstacles thrown at our heroes in Act III.  I wanted to check my watch a couple times during some of the final fighting, a cardinal sin in an action film.  Most of the time, though, I was digging it.

2013 Emmy Nominations

Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men

Connie Britton, Nashville
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damien Lewis, Homeland
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Morena Baccarin, Homeland
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire
Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

Margo Martindale, The Americans
Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones
Carrie Preston, The Good Wife
Linda Cardellini, Mad Men
Jane Fonda, The Newsroom
Joan Cusack, Shameless

Nathan Lane, The Good Wife
Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife
Rupert Friend, Homeland
Robert Morse, Mad Men
Harry Hamlin, Mad Men
Dan Bucatinsky, Scandal

30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family

Laura Dern, Enlightened
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Louis CK, Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Jane Lynch, Glee
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Tony Hale, Veep

Molly Shannon, Enlightened
Dot-Marie Jones, Glee
Melissa Leo, Louie
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock

Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory
Nathan Lane, Modern Family
Bobby Cannavale, Nurse Jackie
Louis CK, Saturday Night Live
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live
Will Forte, 30 Rock

Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, Project Runway
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Anthony Bourdain, The Taste

The Amazing Race
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef
The Voice

The Colbert Report
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

American Horror Story: Asylum
Behind the Candelabra
The Bible
Phil Spector
Political Animals
Top of the Lake

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum
Laura Linney, The Big C: hereafter
Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals
Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake

Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
Toby Jones, The Girl
Benedict Cumberbatch, Parade’s End
Al Pacino, Phil Spector

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Asylum
Imelda Staunton, The Girl
Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals
Charlotte Rampling, Restless
Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias

James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum
Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story: Asylum
Scott Bakula, Behind The Candelabra
John Benjamin Hickey, The Big C: hereafter
Peter Mullan, Top of the Lake

Most notable omissions:
BEST DRAMA - The Good Wife, The Walking Dead, Justified
BEST ACTRESS DRAMA - Julianne Margulies (The Good Wife), Keri Russell (The Americans)
BEST ACTOR DRAMA - Timothy Olyphant (Justified), Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
BEST SUPP. ACTRESS DRAMA - Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones)
BEST SUPP. ACTOR DRAMA - Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), Walton Goggins (Justified), Nick Searcy (Justified), Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Corey Stoll (House of Cards)
BEST COMEDY - all other comedies over Girls
BEST ACTRESS COMEDY - Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Patricia Heaton (The Middle)
BEST ACTOR COMEDY - Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
BEST SUPP. ACTRESS COMEDY - Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreation), Yvette Nicole Brown (Community)
BEST SUPP. ACTOR COMEDY - Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation), Ed Helms (The Office)

Emmy people!  Two of the coolest TV characters of all time have yet to be nominated.  I mean, deep down I understand why Norman Reedus hasn't been nominated for The Walking Dead as Daryl Dixon, but how can you not nominate Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson? We're talking about Ron f'n Swanson!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Weekend Box Office - 7/14/13

For the weekend of July 12-14.

1. Despicable Me 2 - $44.75 million ($229.24) - 2 wks (U) -46.4%
 . . . 4003 screens / $11,180 per screen
2. Grown Ups 2 - $42.5 - 1 wk (Sony)
 . . . 3491 / $12,174
3. Pacific Rim - $38.3 - 1 wk (WB)
 . . . 3275 / $11,695
4. The Heat - $14 ($112.36) - 3 wks (Fox) -43.5%
 . . . 3128 / $4476
5. The Lone Ranger - $11.14 ($71.1) - 2 wks (BV) -61.9%
 . . . 3904 / $2853
6. Monsters University - $10.62 ($237.76) - 4 wks (BV) -46.1%
 . . . 3142 / $3380
7. World War Z - $9.43 ($177.09) - 4 wks (Par) -48.8%
 . . . 3003 / $3140
8. White House Down - $6.15 ($62.96) - 3 wks (Sony) -54.4%
 . . . 2566 / $2397
9. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain - $5 ($26.38) - 2 wks (LG) -50.2%
 . . . 892 / $5605
10. Man of Steel - $4.83 ($281) - 5 wks (WB) -57.7%
 . . . 2150 / $2244
11. This is the End - $2.95 ($91.7) - 5 wks (Sony) -49.7%
 . . . 1394 / $2116
12. Now You See Me - $1.31 ($113.29) - 7 wks (LG) -54.1%
 . . . 850 / $1541

Illumination made Despicable Me 2 for half of what Pixar spent on Monsters University, and it's going to be a larger success.  I expect DM2 to wind up being the second-highest grossing movie of the summer, behind Iron Man 3.  Gru is now for Steve Carell what Shrek was for Mike Myers.

Grown Ups 2 is going to be profitable, and it just justifies Adam Sandler continuing his lazy ways that have made his movies worse and worse.

Pacific Rim had a $190 million production budget, but this is also a movie made with international sensibilities in mind first.

The Heat's continuing at a steady pace, should be able to get to the $150 million mark.

The Lone Ranger is a flop. It looks doubtful to hit $100 million domestic at this point.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Random Movie Stuff - 7/13/13

- Chloe Moretz will next star in If I Stay, about a teenage girl who has an out-of-body experience after falling into a coma.  She then debates whether to stay and live a difficult life or give up.  Moretz will next be seen in Kick-Ass 2 in August and Carrie in October.

- Morgan Freeman's joined the cast of Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall as husband-and-wife scientists working on artificial intelligence.  It also stars Paul Bettany, Kate Mara and Cillian Murphy.  It's set to open April 18, 2014.  It's the directing debut for Wally Pfister, cinematographer on such films as Moneyball, Inception, and the Dark Knight trilogy.

- Lawless co-stars Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke are reuniting in Child 44, starring Hardy as a member of Stalin's Secret Force investigating a serial killer loose in the Soviet Union.  It co-stars Noomi Rapace (Prometheus), Joel Kinnaman (AMC's The Killing) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master).  It's directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House).

- Sam Mendes (Skyfall) has agreed to return to direct the next James Bond movie, now set to open November 6, 2015.

- Aubrey Plaza (The To-Do List) and Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) will star in Life After Beth, about a young couple dealing with the issues that come with her being resurrected from the dead.  Paul Reiser co-stars as her father.

Some New Trailers:

Christian Bale stars in the gritty revenge drama OUT OF THE FURNACE:

Jeff Bridges stars in the fantasy adventure SEVENTH SON:

Keri Russell stars in the light-hearted rom-com AUSTENLAND:

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Heat - Movie Review

Starring Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Damien Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Dan Bakkedahl, Taram Killam, Michael McDonald and Toby Hale.
Directed by Paul Feig.


This could have been a vehicle for Shelley Long and Bette Midler in 1987.  And I would have called this remake a little better.

All I want from this, all I can hope for, is that it be funny. Please just be funny.  And Melissa McCarthy doesn't disappoint.  Sandra Bullock gets some laughs, but she's mostly the foil for McCarthy, doing her thing.

Bullock plays an FBI agent, loathed by her co-workers, who goes to Boston to work on a case, and if she performs well there, she's a shoo-in for a promotion.  She has a run-in with a brash detective (McCarthy) and the two are "forced to work together" on the case. Personalities clash; hijinks ensue.

McCarthy was the funniest part of Bridesmaids and the least painful part of This Is 40, so she's someone who can elevate whatever material she's given.  I don't know how many of her actual laugh-lines were in the script or how much of it is just her riffing, but she has some good ones.

It's fun for what it is. Wish it'd been funnier, but it'll do.

Side Effects - DVD Review

Starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vinessa Shaw. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.


No one is as crisp a filmmaker as Soderbergh.  I love that now that he's doing these less ambitious projects, they're still every bit as professionally done as any "prestige" pic he might want to work on.

The 50-year-old director has threatened retirement a few times, and I hope that's not the case.  He's working on a TV mini-series now starring Clive Owen as a doctor at a New York hopsital in the 1900's, but no more movies are on his plate.

This is a straightforward mystery and it plays like a novel.  A young woman (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Rooney Mara) with anxiety and depression issues is waiting for her husband (Channing Tatum) to get his release from prison.  He'd been in for insider trading, and they're ready to get their life back.

Mara goes to a doctor (Jude Law) and he prescribes a fairly new medicine on the market for her symptoms.  But the prescription has some severe side effects. And it goes from there.  It flows at a Hitchcockian pace, and there isn't a wasted scene anywhere.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Beautiful Creatures - DVD Review

Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, Margo Martindale, Eileen Atkins, Zoey Deutch and Kyle Gallner.
Directed by Richard LaGravenese.


It's Twilight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Teen fantasy romance meets Southern gothic in this latest capitalization on best-selling YA fiction.

My first problem: Very few of these actors are from the south, and it pained my ear to hear the way some of them faked it so.  It takes more than changing "oil" to "awl" to make it sound like you're a natural resident of the Carolinas.

My second problem: The story essentially entails all the other characters waiting around to see if our heroine is going to turn into a good witch or a bad witch.

The little-known Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert play the two star-crossed lovers, he a normal boy from the sticks, she the niece of the wealthiest family in town, rumored to be cultists.  They meet cute and flirt, but eventually a bad-girl cousin and a pure-evil mama show up to stir up trouble for them.  Obvious Brits like Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson get to chew their bits of scenery, but it all builds to a frenzied anti-climax that I'm sure came off better in the book.

Despicable Me 2 wins weekend

For the weekend of July 5-7.

1. Despicable Me 2 - $82.52 million ($142.07) - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 3997 screens / $20,645 per screen
2. The Lone Ranger - $29.43 ($48.94) - 1 wk (BV)
 . . . 3904 / $7539
3. The Heat - $25 ($86.4) - 2 wks (Fox) -36.1%
 . . . 3184 / $7852
4. Monsters University - $19.59 ($216.13) - 3 wks (BV) -57%
 . . . 3739 / $5239
5. World War Z - $18.2 ($158.76) - 3 wks (Par) -38.9%
 . . . 3316 / $5489
6. White House Down - $13.5 ($50.48) - 2 wks (Sony) -45.7%
 . . . 3222 / $4190
7. Man of Steel - $11.42 ($271.21) - 4 wks (WB) -45%
 . . . 2905 / $3929
8. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain - $10.1 - 1 wk (LG)
 . . . 876 / $11,530
9. This Is the End - $5.8 ($85.55) - 4 wks (Sony) -33.3%
 . . . 2104 / $2757
10. Now You See Me - $2.77 ($110.42) - 6 wks (LG) -50.6%
 . . . 1606 / $1725
11. Star Trek Into Darkness - $1.31 ($223.07) - 8 wks (Par) -38.5%
 . . . 565 / $2319
12. Fast & Furious 6 - $1.02 ($235.44) - 7 wks (U) -58.2%
 . . . 617 / $1660
13. The Way Way Back - $.58 - 1 wk (FS)
 . . . 19 / $30,263

Despicable Me 2 looks to easily outdo its surprise-hit predecessor and be the highest-grossing animated film of the summer.  Monsters U is doing well, but DM2 should pass it.

The Lone Ranger, meanwhile, had a $215 million production budget and looks like it will fall short of getting that domestically.  Johnny Depp has a track record of doing well overseas, so this will need a lot of help in that department if it wants to break even.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The ABC's of Death - DVD Review

Starring Eva Llorach, Harold Torres, Matias Oveido, Steve Berrens, Brenden J. McVeigh, Arisa Nakamura, Martine Arnes, Adriana Paz, Octavio Michel, Daisuke Sasaki, Kelly Tandiono, Tipper Newton, Wiwatt Krongrasri, Manon Beuchot, Yvanna Hilton, Valentino Sabajo, Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Slobodan Bestic, Lucy Clements, Neil Maskell, Kyra Zagorsky, Elizabeth Rosen, Dink O'Neal, SIssi Duparc, Tim Dunn and Hiroko Yashiki.
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, Marcel Sarmiento, Angela Bettis, Noboru Iguchi, Andrew Traucki, Thomas Cappelen Malling, Jorge Michel Grau, Yudai Yamaguchi, Anders Morgenthaler, Timo Tjahjanto, Ti West, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Simon Runley, Adam Wingard, Srdjan Spasojevic, Jake West, Lee Hardcastle, Ben Wheatley, Kaare Andrews, Jon Schnepp, Xavier Gens, Jason Eisener and Yoshihiro Nishimura.

This was 26 short films by 26 directors about death, each given a letter.  I think they made a deal with those directors that no matter what they made, it was going in the movie.

A is for Apocalypse - ★★
B is for Bigfoot - ★★
C is for Cycle - ★★
D is for Dogfight - ★½
E is for Exterminate - ★★
F is for Fart - ★
G is for Gravity - ★★½
H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion - ★
I is for Ingrown - ★½
J is for Jidai-Geki - ★
K is for Klutz - ★½
L is for Libido - ★
M is for Miscarriage - ★½
N is for Nuptials - ★★½
O is for Orgasm - ★½
P is for Pressure - ★★★
Q is for Quack - ★★★
R is for Removed - ★½
S is for Speed - ★½
T is for Toilet - ★½
U is for Unearthed - ★½
V is for Vagitus - ★½
W is for WTF! - ★
X is for XXL - ★
Y is for Youngbuck - ★
Z is for Zetsumetu - ★

So what is worth it? NO! Two that were good, two that weren't bad, and the rest ranged from mediocre to crimes against humanity.

Overall: ★½

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Random Movie Stuff - 7/2/13

- Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher have been asked to get in shape for their extended cameos in Star Wars Episode VII.

- Django Unchained alum Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx will reteam in Mean Business on North Ganson Street, about two detectives investigating the murders of some local police officers.

- Helena Bonham Carter is in talks to play the Fairy Godmother in Disney's live-action Cinderella movie, starring Lily James (Downton Abbey), Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and Cate Blanchett (Hanna) as the Wicked Stepmother.  Sir Kenneth Branagh is directing.

- Daniel Huttlestone, who played Gavroche in Les Miserables, is in talks to play Jack in the big-screen Into the Woods movie, starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal.

- Helen Mirren and newcomer Manish Dayal will star in The Hundred-Foot Journey, about a woman who opens an Indian restaurant in southern France, causing competition with neighboring restaurants.

- Timothy Simons (HBO's Veep) has joined the cast of Inherent Vice, the next film from director Paul Thomas Anderson. It stars Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Josh Brolin and Martin Short.

Some leftover movies from 2012:

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (★★★) - Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Kristen Bell and Mary Lynn Rajskub.  Directed by Colin Trevorrow.

Well-done indie about a reporter who sees an ad for someone wanting a time-traveling companion, serious inquiries only, safety not guaranteed.  She and two co-workers head to the small town where he lives to find him and see if he really believes what he's saying.  Audrey Plaza takes a break from rolling her eyes on Parks & Recreation to play a girl with a soul, and Mark Duplass has the right amount of off-putting quirk to make the relationship feel more organically developed.


SEEKING A FRIEND AT THE END OF THE WORLD (★★★) - Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Martin Sheen, Adam Brody, Melanie Lynskey, Patton Oswalt, William Peterson, Derek Luke and Gillian Jacobs.  Directed by Lorene Scafaria.

This movie had more melancholy attached to it than the trailer suggested, which is a good thing. It was an indie film pretending to be mainstream fare.

Carell plays a sad-sack named Dodge who learns along with everyone else on Earth that a deadly meteor is heading right toward them, and it will wipe out the human race.  By chance he meets his bohemian British neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) and the two of them set out on a quest, he to get her to an acquaintance with a plane so she can fly across the Atlantic to be with her family in the final days.

These two hold to their purpose while the world falls around them in morbidly comical ways. While most people are using their little time left to try orgies and heroin, these two develop an odd, affecting friendship in their quest.  I liked it.