Saturday, August 31, 2013

We're the Millers - Movie Review

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Ed Helms, Molly Quinn and Luis Guzman.
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber.


This send-up of the heartland image of the American family can't decide on a tone. Is it just slapstick?  Farce?  Realistic?  You can't have a character go for heart-string tugs ten minutes after he winked right at the camera.

Jason Sudeikis, who announced he won't be back on Saturday Night Live this fall, plays a pot-dealer named David.  David just loves his life of living alone, dealing drugs, and being free.  Other than that, we don't get a lot of depth to him. We know he's cynical and a smart-aleck, the type of role Chevy Chase would've played 30 years ago.  After he gets robbed, he has to come up with $43,000 for his boss, who offers to forgive his debt and pay another $100,000 if he'll go down to Mexico and pick up a "smidge" of marijuana.

In one of those movie strokes of genius, he decides to hire a fake family and pretend to be dorks on vacation, another type of role Chase would've played 30 years ago.  David recruits Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper who lives in his building; Kenny (Will Poulter), a nerdy 18-year-old who also lives in his building with a mom who's gone for weeks at a time; and Casey (Emma Roberts), a homeless runaway.

It has some funny moments, but it's more miss than hit. For instance, we don't need 12 different shots of ths spider to get that it's crawled up Kenny's leg.  Why does Rose even have a strip number in the middle of the movie, if only to gratify Aniston's ego that she's still got it? And at the end, when it goes for mushiness, it just reeks of falsehood.  The movie did nothing to earn it, and yet it tries to grab it.

Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, both from Parks & Recreation, are energetic in their roles as the nerdy couple who try to befriend the Millers.

It passed $100 million this week, so if they want to make a sequel, it's set up for one.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Butler still #1

1. The Butler - $17.02 million ($52.28) - 2 wks (Wein) -30.9%
 . . . 3110 screens / $5472 per screen
2. We're the Millers - $13.5 ($91.74) - 3 wks (WB) -24.9%
 . . . 3445 / $3919
3. The Mortal Instruments - $9.3 - 1 wk (SG)
 . . . 3118 / $2983
4. The World's End - $8.94 - 1 wk (Foc)
 . . . 1549 / $5773
5. Planes - $8.57 ($59.59) - 3 wks (BV) -36%
 . . . 3378 / $2536
6. Elysium - $7.1 ($69.05) - 3 wks (TS) -48.1%
 . . . 2913 / $2437
7. You're Next - $7.05 - 1 wk (LG)
 . . . 2437 / $2893
8. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - $5.2 ($48.35) - 3 wks (Fox) -40.6%
 . . . 2730 / $1905
9. Blue Jasmine - $4.3 ($14.8) - 5 wks (SP) +87.7%
 . . . 1283 / $3352
10. Kick-Ass 2 - $4.27 ($22.42) - 2 wks (U) -68%
 . . . 2945 / $1450
11. 2 Guns - $3.39 ($65.38) - 4 wks (U) -41.7%
 . . . 1841 / $1840

Summer's winding down, which means new releases aren't doing so well, and the movies people like grow longer legs. The Butler is doing long-road business and could get to $100 million domestic.  Surprise hit We're the Millers is still going strong, and even Planes is keeping kids going.  Blue Jasmine expanded wide, and while it won't be doing Midnight in Paris numbers, it's still turning out to be more successful than any other Woody Allen movie of the past five years.  In fact, if it makes it to $24 million, it'll be the fifth Woody movie in history to do so. (Midnight in Paris is the only Woody movie to pass $50 million.)

The Mortal Instruments is another attempt to start a franchise based on a series of YA novels, but it's DOA.  For every Twilight or Hunger Games, there's a Beautiful Creatures.  The World's End and You're Next are both modestly budgeted, but it's still disappointing not a single new release hit the $10 million mark.

Next week we get the One Direction movie, as well as two throaways that should bomb (Getaway and Closed Circuit), and then fall starts, and it'll do so with Riddick, the third movie starring Vin Diesel as the guy who can see in the dark.

In limited release, The Grandmaster and Short Term 12 both opened strong.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

You're Next - Movie Review

Starring Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, AJ Bowen, Wendy Glenn, Joe Swanberg, Rob Moran, Amy Seimetz and Barbara Crampton.
Directed by Adam Wingard.


The trailer for this horror flick looked pretty generic, but that's because it was saving the best parts of the movie to be a surprise.  I wouldn't have guessed this movie would be as funny as it was.  It may be the funniest movie I've ever seen about a family getting slaughtered.

Mother and Father have invited their four grown children and their significant others to a fixer-upper in the woods.  It's been years since they've all been together, and soon as they are, the old bickering and sibling rivalry ramps right up.  But then some killers wearing animal masks attack their home and start killing them one by one.  Who are these guys?  Is this random, or is there something about this family that makes them the target?

What's funny is that the sibling rivalry doesn't take a pause even while they clearly need to work together to survive the night.

There's one scene where a character is about to do something stupid. And anyone who's ever seen a horror movie knows it's stupid, and the whole theater was just laughing that person was going to go through with it anyway.

I like that they used unknown actors, so we don't really know who's going to live or die or what the axing order might be.

This is a done-to-death genre, so it's wonderful to see someone inject life and new ideas into it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Random TV Stuff - 8/24/13

THE NEWSROOM (HBO) - Maybe this show will redeem itself in Season 3, after the 2012 election.  Ehh, who am I kidding?  Each episode will be about this or that "phony scandal." One week will be Will lecturing on why people are overreacting to the NSA overreach, then on one where the IRS targeting was not politically motivated...

We had one episode start with "Republican" Will McAvoy giving an Olbermann-esque rant against the GOP presidential nominees for not standing up for the gay soldier who was booed at the Orlando debate, and Jim continued to push the Romney campaign for specifics on his proposals, to the point that he and a handful of other reporters who want the "truth" get kicked off the campaign bus. Makes it look like Mitt had the worst presidential staff in history working for him.  You never see anyone on this show concerned about Democrats or Obama being specific or telling the truth, except for this fake Genoa story.

But that's just the politics of it.  We know where Sorkin stands on issues, and therefore where his "voice-of-reason" characters will stand. The journalists on here don't act like journalists so much as advocacy pundits.  Then there's the baffling subplot of Maggie's desire to go to "Africa" and report some news and stuff. "I'm going to go to Africa! There's got to be some news there, right?"

I imagine the season finale's going to have a heyday with how wrong the Romney side was with poll numbers. But you know, with that one, deservedly so.

The next episode saw the conclusion of the "Jim on the Romney beat" storyline, with Jim getting an exclusive interview with Mitt only to give it away to Meryl Streep's daughter.  The campaign manager had some world-weary wisdom for Jim on why campaigns are so maddening in their lack of information. I was just glad it was over.

We got the "Africa" reveal finished, so now we know why Maggie cut off her hair and dyed it.  We also had Will destroy an OWS representative on air with sound arguments, but then it spent the rest of the episode with everyone feeling bad about it and trying to apologize to her, partially because she had information on an unrelated story.

Next episode!  News Night with Will McAvoy.  The best episode of the season because it takes place in real time and so the usual Sorkin grandstanding doesn't have much room to worm its way in.

Next episode!  It all comes crashing back to Sorkinland when Jim and Neal find themselves at lunch with spokeswomen for Romney and Paul.  Of course Jim and Neal have giant monologue answers ready on why Romney and Paul are so inferior, and of course the Romney and Paul advocates are bad at arguing their side if they bother arguing at all.  We later get a montage of McAvoy news broadcasts that slamming conservatives here and there.  The character of McAvoy makes less and less sense the more you think about it.

Underlying all of this, though, is the pursuit of a fictitious story - possible war crimes committed by the US with saran gas in Operation Genoa.  It's the narrative hook of the whole season and it's the strongest part of the season.  It gives hope to what this series could be if it wasn't so concerned playing Captain Hindsight with how it wishes MSNBC would have reported the news the first time around.

OZ (HBO) - I only had seen one episode of this show, and it was the musical episode that ended with one of the inmates getting raped by head Nazi Vern Schillinger (JK Simmons).  But just recently I decided to watch the very first episode and very last episode.  For one thing, for all the guys who got killed during that series' six-year run, it was interesting to see how many were there from beginning to end.  Lee Tergeson, JK Simmons, Terry Kinney, Rita Moreno, Dean Winters, Kirk Acevedo, Lauren Velez among them, and then the only recently killed Ernie Hudson and Eamonn Walker. Also there the whole time was Harold Perrineau, narrator. Did he ever get to be part of the show, or did he really spend the whole series only addressing the camera?

I did it as a reference point because I'm also watching...

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (Netflix) - It's like Oz, but in a women's prison, and it's a comedy. Heh heh.  It's actually very much so obviously from the creator of Weeds.

Taylor Schilling (Atlas Shrugged Part I) has found her breakout role as Chapman, a young woman sentenced to 15 months in prison for a drug crime she committed ten years ago. Once inside she finds out her former lesbian lover (That 70's Show's Laura Prepon), the one who named her, is in prison too. Chapman's terrified her fiance (Jason Biggs) might find out, and so the show is her trying to learn the ropes and survive her 15 months.

Each week we get a back story on another inmate.  Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek Voyager) plays Red, a Russian cook we later see got entangled with the mob.  The next week we see the back story on a trannie who was arrested for credit card theft shortly after his/her surgery.  And so on.

The show could do five seasons and stay within the 15 months, but I have a fear it's going to have something terrible happen in the season finale that extends her sentence. I guess I'll find out when I get there. I'm six episodes in.

In TV news:

- Brian Baumgartner (The Office) will be guest-starring on CBS's Mike & Molly this fall.

- Keith Carradine (Dexter) will be joining the cast of Fox's The Following for its second season.

- Randy Jackson announced he would no longer be a judge on American Idol, but he will be staying with the show in the capacity of mentor for the performers.  Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj won't be returning, leaving Keith Urban the only returning judge from last season.  It's possible former judge Jennifer Lopez will return.

- This coming season of Survivor: Blood & Water features previous players competing with their loved ones.  For example, this will be the fourth time that Rupert Boneham is playing, this time with his wife.  Previous winner Tina Wesson (Australia) is playing with her daughter, and previous winner Aras Baskauskas (Panama Exile Island) is playing with his brother.

Ben Affleck as Batman


That happened.

Warner Bros. has announced that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the untitled Superman vs. Batman movie scheduled to open July 15.  Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) will direct, and Henry Cavill (Supes), Amy Adams (Lois), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), and Diane Lane (Ma Kent) will all return.

But why did WB ask him? And why did he say yes?

Let's start with why Affleck would say yes.

He's famously declared he's trying to be pickier about his projects.  He did a ton of paycheck movies, including one called Paycheck, but somewhere around the time Man About Town went straight to DVD, the Academy-Award winning writer decided to make his directorial debut with Gone Baby Gone. It was a critical success and garnered Amy Ryan a slew of nominations for her performance as the imperfect mother whose daughter gets kidnapped.  The box-office wasn't great.

His next few acting gigs were decent.  A harmless part of the the ensemble in He's Just Not That Into You, teaming with Russell Crowe in State of Play after Edward Norton dropped out, co-starring with Tommy Lee Jones in The Company Men.  He directed and starred in The Town, and that brought financial as well as critical success (and a slew of nominations for co-star Jeremy Renner).

He then directed and starred in Argo, where he got critical and financial success, and multiple awards for himself as director and producer.  He didn't win the Oscar for Directing for Argo, but he did as one of Argo's producers.

As for his own acting, he did Terrence Malick's To the Wonder and the upcoming Runner Runner for director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer).  He's also going to direct and star in Live the Night (based on the book by Dennis "Gone Baby Gone" Lehane), and he'll star in David Fincher's Gone Girl.

So why did Affleck say yes to Batman?

My best guess - some give-and-take with Warner Bros.  He'll do Batman, and they will in turn finance his next couple projects which might be riskier than normal.  In addition, he might see it as an acting challenge. He may have been teased about his voice, but Bale did a dang good job as Batman/Bruce Wayne.  So can he step into those boots and not make everyone go "Bale was better. Keaton, too."  He's been unafraid before to take over famous roles. (The new Jack Ryan in Sum of All Fears, for example.)

So why would Warner Bros. ask Affleck?

1. They needed a "name," and Affleck is a name-above-the-title guy.
2. They needed someone old enough to have been Batman for a while, and Affleck just turned 41. Bale was 30 when he was originally cast as Bruce Wayne (making him 39 now).
3. He wasn't their first choice.

I don't think he's going to be terrible.  The slams for the Gigli/Surviving Christmas section of his career don't factor in as much when you look at his last 5-6 years of work.  I think he'll be good at the Bruce Wayne stuff. There's something serendipitous about Affleck, who once played George Reeves, now appearing in a Superman movie, even if it's as Batman.

Mud - DVD Review

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Jacob Lofland, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks and Joe Don Baker.
Directed by Jeff Nichols.


Jeff Nichols is a rural poet, a director that just captures the middle and lower-class Bible Belt with an honesty and beauty like no one else.

Shotgun Stories was his debut, a modern Hatfield & McCoy about three older siblings feuding with their father's next generation of sons, the ones that he actually loved and raised.  Next he did Take Shelter, about a man who thinks he's seeing visions of coming disaster.  Both starred Michael Shannon, lately best known for Man of Steel or HBO's Boardwalk Empire.  Shannon's usually the bad guy or creepy guy, but in Nichols' world, he's allowed to play good three-dimensional characters.

He's a supporting part here.  "Mud" is the name of Matthew McConaughey's character.  Mud is a drifter hiding on an island, discovered by two friends, Ellis (Sheridan) and Neckbone (Lofland).  Ellis and Neck like to boat up and down the river by their town, exploring.  They find Mud living in a boat stuck in a tree, dropped there from some previous tornado.

People here are so poor I couldn't tell if this was a period movie or not.  The only radio song that we hear is from The Beach Boys, and Ellis and Neck would fit right in with the kids from Stand By Me.  It could be set in the 1980's, or present day.  Some of the residents would be just as comfortable moving in by Hushpuppy from Beasts from the Southern Wild.

I'm going to be bummed if this gets forgetten come award season.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Butler wins weekend

1. The Butler - $25.01 million - 1 wk (Wein)
 . . . 2933 screens / $8527 per screen
2. We're the Millers - $17.78 ($69.51) - 2 wks (WB) -32.7%
 . . . 3325 / $5347
3. Elysium - $13.6 ($55.91) - 2 wks (TS) -54.4%
 . . . 3284 / $4141
4. Kick-Ass 2 - $13.57 - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 2940 / $4615
5. Planes - $13.14 ($45.09) - 2 wks (BV) -40.9%
 . . . 3716 / $3536
6. Percy Jackson 2 - $8.38 ($38.9) - 2 wks (Fox) -41.8%
 . . . 3080 / $2719
7. Jobs - $6.7 - 1 wk (OR)
 . . . 2381 / $2814
8. 2 Guns - $5.57 ($59.22) - 3 wks (U) -50.5%
 . . . 2471 / $2255
9. The Smurfs 2 - $4.6 ($56.91) - 3 wks (Sony) -50.7%
 . . . 2349 / $1958
10. The Wolverine - $4.43 ($120.46) - 4 wks (Fox) -44.9%
 . . . 2058 / $2150
11. The Conjuring - $3.91 ($127.86) - 5 wks (WB) -41%
 . . . 2001 / $1954
12. Despicable Me 2 - $3.78 ($345.99) - 7 wks (U) -36.1%
 . . . 1818 / $2080
13. Paranoia - $3.5 - 1 wk (Rel)
 . . . 2459 / $1423
14. Blue Jasmine - $2.36 ($9.49) - 4 wks (SP) +.6%
 . . . 229 / $10,301

I know its official title is Lee Daniels' The Butler, but that's only because Warner Bros. decided to be jerks about rights to the title.  The Butler is a showcase for Oprah Winfrey (reminding us all she was an actress first) and a parade of extended cameos portraying Presidents and First Ladies through the decades. I haven't seen it yet, but at best, this is Forest Whitaker's Remains of the Day opportunity.

This is a summer where half the sequels are just not living up to their predecessors.  Kick-Ass 2 swapped Nicolas Cage for Jim Carrey, but Carrey decided a few months ago he's had a change of heart about violence in film and therefore wouldn't promote the movie.  Percy Jackson 2 and Smurfs 2 are also films where their business isn't justifying their greenlighting, but I suppose they rely more on families buying the DVDs or renting VOD to make their money back.  Red 2 can't leave theaters fast enough.

Jobs wound up being a trifle.  Paranoia completely squandered the talents of Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman.  These movies might have fared better opening in September.

In holdovers, We're the Millers is the surprise hit of the summer and could make its way to $100 million.  A 32.7% drop in week 2 is a sign that audiences are disagreeing with critics.  It occurs to me that it reunites two of the stars from Horrible Bosses (Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis), the slightly less surprising hit from its summer.

Neill Blomkamp's Elysium isn't quite doing the business of District 9.  Its going to need to be a hit overseas if it wants to make a profit.

Planes had a mere $50 million budget, so it's proving to have been worth a theatrical run.  In fact, Planes: Fire & Rescue will be hitting theaters next summer.

In limited release, Austenland had a $10,650 per screen average on 4 screens.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Random Movie News - 8/15/13

- Warner Bros has ended its deal with Legendary Pictures, and Universal has moved in on a partnership.  This means that Universal is trying to find a new release date for the fantasy adventure Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, and it also means they'll distribution on 300: Rise of an Empire (3/7/14) and Godzilla (5/16/14).

- Foxcatcher will now open in limited release December 20 to make it Academy-Award eligible. It's directed by Bennett Miller (Moneyball) and stars Steve Carell as eccentric millionaire John du Pont, who was convicted of murdering his friend Dave Schultz, to be played by Mark Ruffalo.  Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave and Anthony Michael Hall will also star.

- Lionsgate is pushing forward with a sequel to Now You See Me. The surprise summer hit has grossed over $230 million worldwide on a $75 million production budget.  No word yet on how many original cast members will return or if director Louis Letterier will return.

- Ethan Hawke is reuniting with his Hamlet director Michael Almereyda for Cymbeline, based on the Shakespeare play but will be set in 21st century.  Ed Harris and Milla Jovovich will co-star.

- Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) will write, direct and star in We'll Never Have Paris, about a man who screws up on a transcontinental level trying to win back "the one."  Maggie Grace (Lost, Taken) and Jason Ritter (The Event) co-star, and Helberg's wife Jocelyn Towne will co-direct.

- Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, The Call) will star in the zombie thriller Maggie, about a father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) dealing with his daughter who's been infected with a walking-dead virus.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Weekend Box Office - 8/11/13

1. Elysium - $30.4 million - 1 wk (TS)
 . . . 3284 screens / $9257 per screen
2. We're the Millers - $26.56 ($38.04) - 1 wk (WB)
 . . . 3260 / $8146
3. Planes - $22.53 - 1 wk (BV)
 . . . 3702 / $6085
4. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - $14.6 ($23.46) - 1 wk (Fox)
 . . . 3031 / $4817
5. 2 Guns - $11.13 ($48.52) - 2 wks (U) -58.9%
 . . . 3028 / $3675
6. The Smurfs 2 - $9.5 ($46.6) - 2 wks (Sony) -45.9%
 . . . 3867 / $2457
7. The Wolverine - $8 ($111.99) - 3 wks (Fox) -62.5%
 . . . 2867 / $2790
8. The Conjuring - $6.7 ($120.75) - 4 wks (WB) -48.6%
 . . . 2650 / $2528
9. Despicable Me 2 - $5.75 ($338.31) - 6 wks (U) -43.3%
 . . . 2395 / $2400
10. Grown Ups 2 - $3.7 ($123.8) - 5 wks (Sony) -53.4%
 . . . 2102 / $1760
11. Blue Jasmine - $2.52 ($6.22) - 3 wks (SPC) +35.7%
 . . . 116 / $21,750
12. Turbo - $2.25 ($75.02) - 4 wks (Fox) -63.9%
 . . . 1771 / $1270

Four new releases this week, and the only real disappointment was Percy Jackson.  Maybe the studio hoped interest would be there for a second installment.

Elysium, meanwhile, is a modest success.  Modest considering its $115 million production budget.  We're the Millers had a much smaller budget and will wind up doing about the same domestically.  Planes had been intended as a straight-to-DVD spinoff but the theatrical release paid off.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Conjuring - Movie Review

Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Joey King and Mackenzie Foy.
Directed by James Wan.


James Wan made his name with Saw, a clever, grisly indie that spawned several sequels with diminishing returns.  He then came back with Insidious, where he kept the scares within a PG-13 realm, and while it had numerous flaws, it did a great job with its primary goal - to be scary.

The Conjuring is similar to Insidious in that it goes for PG-13 scares with supernatural forces.  The MPAA rated it R simply because it was too scary.

The movie's based on a true story from Ed & Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators who were also involved in researching what came to be known as the Amityville Horror.  Here, they're helping the Perron family, who've moved into a farmhouse that's apparently haunted by some former occupants.

What holds The Conjuring back is that notion that it's "a true story."  Even if you believe in spirits, it goes places where you just know they're embellishing for the movie's sake. I even tried looking up the "true story" and it wasn't easy to find.  The oldest daughter has since written a book based on her experiences from that house; I'm sure it may have been spooky for her but didn't come close to what the house manifests here.

Is it scary?  Yes. Especially in the middle, Wan and his crew do a great job with lingering camera shots, dim lighting, and playing with audience expectations and outsmarting them for effective jump-scares.  This movie is now the answer to "What film has the scariest hand-clap in cinematic history?"

Upstream Color - DVD Review

Starring Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig and Thiago Martins.
Directed by Shane Carruth.


I never thought I'd love a movie that was told in mostly montages, but this weird, weird movie pulled it off.  It has a plot in its head, but if it was told straightforward, I don't think it would make much sense.  By telling the story in a more abstract fashion, it worked, leaving more open for interpretation.

We find a man identified as the Thief, who's found a drug that he can put in worms.  When a person ingests the worm, it puts them in a hypotized state, where the person will do or see anything someone else says.  While in this state, the Thief gets the person to empty their bank accounts and take large loans. He makes off with the money, and the victim is left with amnesia.  We see this happen to Kris (The Killing's Amy Seimetz), and there is another man identified as the Sampler.  The Sampler helps extract the worm from her system, and he then puts the worm into a pig.

Months later, she's getting her life back on track, and somewhere in there she meets Jeff (Carruth), whom we gather had the same thing happen to him. And it goes from there.

How much choice to we have in the choices we make? Why do people connect? How much of this was in her head? It's all open. I have my own theories on what it all meant, what really happened, and I've started reading the others. It's a movie that made my mind swim.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation - DVD Review

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Byung Hoo-Lee, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Park, Ray Stevenson, Adrianne Palecki, Elodie Yung, D.J. Cotrona, Walton Goggins, Luke Bracey and Arnold Vosloo.
Directed by Jon M. Chu.


The first movie was not good.  You had director Stephen Sommers' Mummy-sequel sensibilities, Marlon Wayans, those CGI suits the Joes wore, phoned-in performances from the likes of Dennis Quaid and Rachel Nichols, and a movie that felt like the entire purpose was to set up Part 2.

Chu takes over directing duties, and he kills off most of the Joes, thereby nullifying a lot of the events from Part 1.  Gone are Hawk, Baroness, Scarlet, Ripcord, Heavy Duty, etc.  Destro's left in his Minority-Report-type prison, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt has left Cobra Commander duties to an actor named Luke Bracey.  GI Joe 2 had a smaller budget, and I see where some significant cuts were made.

Master-of-disguise Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) has assumed the disguise of the President (Jonathan Pryce), which means this time around, Pryce gets to be the villain.  (I don't think Vosloo himself worked more than a day on this film.)  Storm Shadow (Byung Hoo-Lee), whom I swore died in the first one, is back, but his allegiances aren't as obvious.

New Joes include Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (the bland Adrianne Palecki) and Flint, played by D.J. Cotrona, who makes Palecki look like an Academy Award winning actress. Maybe his part was underwritten, or maybe they cut a lot of his stuff out after they saw what a dead weight he was, but he was sore-thumb bad for me.

For those who grew up on the 1980's cartoon and toy line, I can't say it's any better than the first one. But if you liked the first one, you'll probably like the second one. I didn't care for the first one, and I was hoping the significant changes might result in a better movie.  Didn't happen.

Bright spot of the movie: Walton Goggins (Justified) as the supermax prison warden who loves his job.

Since GI Joe 3 is happening, and Chu will again direct, I hope they kill Flint quickly and bring back Destro. I can't imagine Christopher Eccleston couldn't use the money.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

2 Guns is #1, Smurfs is #3

1. 2 Guns - $27.36 million - 1 wk (U)
 . . . 3025 screens / $9045 per screen
2. The Wolverine - $21.73 ($95.04) - 2 wks (Fox) -59.1%
 . . . 3924 / $5536
3. The Smurfs 2 - $18.2 ($27.76) - 1 wk (Sony)
 . . . 3866 / $4708
4. The Conjuring - $13.66 ($108.59) - 3 wks (WB) -38.5%
 . . . 3115 / $4385
5. Despicable Me 2 - $10.39 ($326.67) - 5 wks (U) -36.7%
 . . . 3207 / $3240
6. Grown Ups 2 - $8.1 ($116.4) - 4 wks (Sony) -30.2%
 . . . 3075 / $2634
7. Turbo - $6.4 ($69.48) - 3 wks (Fox) -53.4%
 . . . 2985 / $2144
8. Red 2 - $5.65 ($45.15) - 3 wks (LG) -39.5%
 . . . 2755 / $2051
9. The Heat - $4.73 ($149.57) - 6 wks (Fox) -31.7%
 . . . 2074 / $2278
10. Pacific Rim - $4.57 ($92.96) - 4 wks (WB) -40.7%
 . . . 1803 / $2535
11. The Way Way Back - $2.85 ($13.67) - 5 wks (FS) -17.3%
 . . . 1001 / $2847

2 Guns is the new #1, and while it didn't quite cross the $30 million opening Universal was hoping for, it was good enough to make the headlines this weekend.  The Smurfs 2 has to be considered a fizzle.

This Is the End - Movie Review

Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna and David Krumholtz.
Directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg.


This meta-movie where these actors play versions of themselves actually works quite nicely.  Many of them tend to play themselves over and over, so why not just have them be themselves instead of with "character" names? I wonder if Adam Sandler's upset he didn't think of this first.

Jay Baruchel is visiting L.A., a town he doesn't really like.  He and Seth Rogen hang out and get high (what's a Seth Rogen movie without everyone doing pot?) and then head to a party at James Franco's house.  Jay doesn't really want to hang out, but that's when the apocalypse hits.

After the rapture and fire and brimstone and chaos, the cast gets whittled down to Seth, Jay, Franco, Jonah, Craig and Danny, and the six of them are holed up in Franco's house until they can figure out what their next move is.

Each guy is willing to make fun of himself. Jonah Hill has a new air of superiority about himself now that he's forever an "Academy-Award nominee."  Even when he prays he introduces himself to God as "Jonah Hill, from Moneyball."  Franco has a man-crush for Seth but wishes Danny would just die already.  The six have to look at their shallow actorly lives to figure out why they've been left behind.

There is a lot of crudeness and pot humor, but it has a lot of funny moments as well.