Archives for Film
Star Trek Into Darkness hit theaters over the weekend and didn’t hit the estimated $100 million analysts were looking for, not even close. Instead the film bowed at around $70 million which gave it an overall total of around $84 million when early screenings were added in. These numbers actually fall slightly below those of the first film. The film is still strong and will still make a killing no doubt, but it doesn’t push the franchise forward in ways the studio might have hoped for. Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby still both made reasonable money in second and third place and most certainty played a role in the smaller take for Trek. Scroll on down to see the game scores so far and the total weekend box office for the top 3 films.
Here are the actual numbers:
|Iron Man 3||$337,661,977|
|The Great Gatsby||$90,682,832|
|Star Trek 2||$83,701,981|
Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Gina Carano
The Fast and the Furious is easily one of the shallowest film franchises ever created in action, story, gratuitous car porn, and skin. It’s a franchise that never should have really existed beyond the first film but definitely not beyond the abysmal Tokyo Drift. The fact is the franchise did continue and in fact the fifth film in the franchise became the most successful in box office and in story. That film introduced The Rock into the franchise which was probably the most brilliant move the filmmakers could have made. The action was amped up as was the drama. Fast Five was dumb fun and sometimes that’s ok. With the success of that film there was no question there would be another one, so here we have Furious 6 as the opening title reads. How many more times can they play with that title?
The first thing that must be noted about this film is just how strongly it sticks to the canon set up within the franchise. It’s funny that characters and story that are built on such a shaky foundation have actually found merit and have even become critically important. Justin Lin completes some character story arcs in this film and sets up more for an inevitable next film. Lin even bravely drops a mid-credits stinger at the end of the film making the entire thing a cliffhanger. I have to admit that the stinger and the new character it introduces have me ridiculously excited to see Fast 7. Wait, did I just type that?
IN Furious 6 the entire team has retired and the opening of the film sets the characters up in their new lives with some behaving a little better than others. At the same time a new villain is introduced and a new type of story is brought into the franchise. This villain and his team are out to execute the greatest heist ever, even at the potential cost of millions of lives. Luke Hobbs (The Rock) and his partner Riley (Gina Carano) are on the case. In the most abbreviated narrative writing ever Hobbs decides that it basically takes a criminal to catch a criminal. He makes this decision having not even attempted to catch the bad guys once himself. He has a trump card to force Dom’s (Vin Diesel) team into action too: he has proof that Dom’s presumed dead girlfriend and member of the team Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is alive and a part of this new group of international criminals. Again in excessively, near laughable fashion, Dom and Brian’s (Paul Walker) significant others give them the go ahead and jump back into action, regardless of the danger. These women don’t even show a minimal amount of concern for their men. The first few minutes of the movie flies by at this breakneck pace barreling on to get to the good parts. It’s as if Lin wanted to just hit all of the required character marks with as little effort as possible in order to get right into the action. This would normally bother me but based on this film’s pedigree we’re lucky to even get those basic character arc moments no matter how clichéd their execution is.
This franchise started out as a remake of Point Break for the most part. You had a group of thieves that were all a part of some extreme sport. The franchise has “evolved” into an almost Mission Impossible sort of thing now. You’ve still got the expert drivers but now there’s a tech expert and some bad assed fighters too. Yes it all sounds dumb and honestly it is dumb, really dumb. The thing is that the characters are all extremely charismatic, the action is flawless and exciting, and for the most part the humor works. What you end up with is a roller coaster and cotton candy. It’s not smart, it’s not long lasting, but while you’re at the theme park it’s a crap ton of fun. Furious 6 never hits the highs that made Fast 5 such a surprise and such a good time but it does give fans of the franchise, and those just looking for summer escapism what they’re looking for. The addition of Gina Carano doesn’t exactly up the acting game in this movie but she does up the fighting. This lady is a bad ass in these scenes; they just feel natural to her and extremely painful.
Honestly this may be the worst written story of the summer. There’s even a scene where the bad guy gives Brian all the answers because in his words “you’re a walking dead man so I might as well tell you”. Of course we all know that he gets outta this particular situation with all the answers. It’s just painfully stupid. If it weren’t for the success of all of the previously mentioned good stuff Furious 6 would be a direct to DVD $5 bin special. The thing is the good stuff is just really good. On an up note it seems like Diesel has recovered from the stroke I felt like he must have suffered during the making of Fast Five because there’s only one or two scenes where I couldn’t understand what he said. Here’s the thing, this isn’t a good movie but it is a fun movie. Take that as you will.
Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker
The Silver Linings Playbook was so over hyped so over loved that I had a sense of just not wanting to be sucked in by it. The film is also of a genre that just doesn’t appeal to me. I am a film fan of the most hardcore degree, the most critical, so a genre built more on formula than any other is just a genre I have little respect for. But, now that the film is off the box office top 10 and I didn’t have to pay full ticket price I thought I’d give it a chance and see if it was worth the hype.
The Silver Linings Playbook is built completely on the classic formula of a romantic comedy. You could maybe argue that other genres that I do appreciate such as action films and horror are also built on predictable formula and you’d be right. The difference is that within those genres are tons of films that push the formula, reinvent it, and experiment with it. The romantic comedy genre of film though is less brave; that formula is built on mass lowest common denominator appeal so too many stretches in story telling is just taking too much of a chance at turning off the primary audience. There are those very few films within the genre that do make an attempt at doing something new and challenging but there are so few of them you can count them on two hands. I was hoping that Silver Linings Playbook would be one of those standout films. In a nutshell the film most definitely is not. This film is completely predictable from the first five minutes of the film. BTW, there will be spoilers here so if that’s an issue for you I’d stop reading now and watch the movie then come back.
Bradley Cooper plays a mentally disturbed man pulled from a facility by his mother who wants to help him restart his life. His mother may be the one character that understands Cooper’s character the most because her husband played by Robert De Niro is the one who passed on his own mental issues. So this poor woman has dealt with these problems for two generations. Pat (Cooper) is missing his ex-wife and his old life when he meets another mentally challenged woman played by Jennifer Lawrence. The two eventually hit it off in their own odd way and she agrees to help Pat reunite with his ex-wife in exchange for helping her win a dance competition. Tiffany (Lawrence) deals with her own eccentricities with her dancing, not that she’s particularly amazing at it, it just calms her. She agrees to deliver a letter to Pat’s ex once they begin working on a dance routine. At that moment you know that Pat will eventually be writing a letter to Tiffany and you won’t be surprised. As simplistic as the story is there are even issues that previous reviews have looked over; most notably that the “playbook” part of the film is just a throw away thing and actually gets lost in the story. The “silver linings” part ends up just being a plot tool with no real merit or impact.
Every single beat of this films’ arc including the relationships, and the dance competition is painfully predictable. I’m not someone who sits in a movie and tries to work things out as the movie progresses, I just tend to soak it all in and consider it after the closing credits. When a movie is just so on the nose that I’m slapped in the face with all of the big beats before they happen I feel insulted. There are literally no surprises in this film. That’s not to say that Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t work on some level though. Jennifer Lawrence won an Academy award for her performance in this film and she absolutely deserved the award. That award isn’t about the overall quality of the film it’s about a particular actor’s work within a film. Lawrence is charismatic and a joy to watch in the film. Bradley Cooper also puts in a solid performance, add to that a good show from Robert De Niro a fun soundtrack, and the surprising humor of Chris Tucker and you have a bad story that is elevated by some of its elements. It’s predictable kind of like eating chicken. You know what chicken tastes like and if you like it then this bird is well cooked. Silver Linings Playbook isn’t nearly a groundbreaking film in its genre but as one of a million other options it’s one of the better choices. The film is directed by David O. Russell and compared to the rest of his filmography he is slumming with this film. Check out some of his previous directing work such as I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings, and Spanking the Monkey.
The Spring game is technically over but there are still numbers to report because Oblivion and Pain and Gain still brought in money over the weekend! The biggest news is that Niko has officially taken over the #1 spot of both the contributor and listener brackets! He broke $400 million leaving Bill’s $393+ million total.
Here are the numbers so far:
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring Robert Downey Jr.
This review comes after the film has already released so some assumptions will be made; the most important of those is that you’ve already seen the movie. If for some reason you’ve been hiding under a giant lump of kryptonite waiting for Superman instead of forking over the bucks for the man of iron then I’d recommend skipping to the last paragraph because spoilers will abound.
As many issues as Iron Man 2 had the film still managed to bring the heart to it that director Jon Favreau instilled into the first film. While up to that point the director wasn’t known as a hardcore comic book fan he is in fact enough of a fan of the Marvel Universe to really bring passion to the story he told in the first film and again in the second film even though it was kind of a mess. So, when he stepped back from the directing chair many fans were concerned. Shane Black was quickly ushered in to fill the daunting role of continuing the film franchise. Not much was made of this new director moving in and it was done really quickly, probably to try and slow down too much fan boy distress over the change. Prior to Iron Man 3, Black has only directed one other film; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. That film also starred Robert Downey Jr. Apparently the two had a good working relationship and with the success of the previous two Iron Man films Downey Jr. has much more pull in the direction of storytelling and obviously in helping pick those that get behind the camera. Black does have a phenomenal writing pedigree being the scribe of some of the best action films of the 80’s including Lethal weapon 1 and 2, The Last Boy Scout, and the highly under appreciated The Long Kiss Goodnight.
Iron Man 3 completes a story arc for both Iron Man and Tony Stark. One can’t help but wonder how many of the pieces have been in place from the beginning, especially since we got our first look at Iron Man’s greatest enemy, The Mandarin in the first film. Obviously the villain ends up being a lot different in this film than was previously hinted, mainly because of Black’s sort of comedic approach to the action. Black and his co-writers did use current versions of Stark, Iron Man, and the Mandarin from the comics in the storytelling though. Fans who are crying foul now at the twist in the film regarding the super villain aren’t obviously real fans of the comics as they might have you believe. They are fans of the old school somewhat racist version of the villain that just doesn’t fit in modern storytelling. What happens in the film isn’t too much of a stretch from the way the villain is portrayed in the modern comics and this portrayal just fits better with the Tony stark story along with the action of Iron Man. That really gets to the meat of this film, this third act in the Iron Man story is really a Tony Stark Story.
Tony struggles with what happened in New York in a truly interesting way. In the suit he’s nearly invincible but is that really where he’s the hero, is that truly where his super powers exist? This movie says no. He’s a super hero because he’s both a heroic person in heart and in mind and he’s brilliant, always one step ahead of everyone around him villain or not. So when the events of New York continue to haunt him as Tony Stark and not as Iron Man his true weakness may be finally revealed. In Iron Man 3 Stark spends a huge chunk of time being Tony stark, the new Tony Stark, the man who has become a hero, has settled down with one woman, and the man who is facing his most devious villain. Black managed to bring in notes of buddy cop, which plays into his wheelhouse (Lethal Weapon) and espionage, both very human elements of the story that are often not a part of super hero comics. Some of this more human type of story was previously best represented in Captain America: The First Avenger.
So, to the point, Black does a ton of things right with this film. Black crafts a human end to the trilogy, he still manages some of the best action scenes we’re likely to see on the big screen this year, he brings on a twist in the super villain that also humanizes someone that just wouldn’t have worked in the atmosphere previously crafted in the first two films, and he continues to let Downey Jr. shine in the role. Iron Man 3 isn’t a perfect film though. As great as Iron Man 3 is the film is missing that heart, that underlying passion for the subject that Favreau brought to the franchise. That feeling is a little crushed by all of the Black tropes that he manages to wedge into this film as good as they may be. Also, Iron Man 3 is a bit too comedic. The first two films managed comedy relief, even some goofy comedy relief, without making the film feel like an action/comedy. Those films worked because Stark was the only funny one in them and usually he was funny because he was being a smartass or just being smart, outside of the goofy robots. In this third film there are other characters that are just over the top funny which feels like too much when added to the inherent humor that Downey Jr. has infused into Tony Stark. There are some real hiccups in storytelling in the film too in a couple of places. There’s one scene in a bar where Tony and a new buddy are trying to get answers about the Mandarin where everyone either knows way too much or they literally know nothing for the first few minutes. The wrinkle does eventually get straightened out but what we get is a pretty awkward start. Also, we get explanation about how Tony’s armor can be at the right place at the right time but there’s another scene where he jumps into a car and you’ll wonder if he’s planning to hotwire it but when the car is driving itself you are just left to assume otherwise.
Nearly every Marvel character has a weakness that can end them if they don’t guard it properly. Tony Stark’s weakness has always been the piece of shrapnel being held in place by the power source for the Iron Man suit. So there has always been this fantastic story element that the device that makes him a hero is also the device that keeps him alive. One good comic book story arc adds to the story by making something happen to the device causing it to slowly kill him too. At the end of this film that weaknesses is just nonchalantly removed as if no big deal at all. Now Stark’s reasons for having not removed it before are interesting character-wise but removing that little piece of metal completely changes the character too.
Iron Man 3 is a fantastic movie and a true adventure ending film for this first trilogy. All of my complaints aside the film is still just fantastic. With that said though, there are some decisions that don’t work and hamper what could have been a perfect film. I have to say also, while the check your brain at the door requirement is fully in place, there’s a midair rescue done by Iron Man of several people falling from a plane that must be seen on a big screen. The scene was actually performed PRACTICALLY too! By the way, don’t see Iron Man 3 in 3-D, it’s not worth the bucks.
The world premiere of the first teaser trailer for ENDER’S GAME will debut during a Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, May 7 @ 1:00 PM PT / 4:00 PM ET. The event will also feature a live conversation with director Gavin Hood (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE), producer Bob Orci (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) and star Asa Butterfield (HUGO).
Stars Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield want to say hello and show you a sneak peek of the first footage ever released of the highly anticipated epic adventure:
You can tune in to the live Google+ Hangout at YouTube.com/EndersGameMovie and Google.com/+EndersGame. Fans are invited to submit their questions for a chance to have them answered in the Hangout. Join in the conversation online using #EndersGame.
Join the event here: https://plus.google.com/events/cuito512urg0a64r6bc2ocuakuc
Latino Review, a website that has a strong track record for getting the goods on Hollywood before official announcements are made says that the deal has been sealed for Harrison Ford to reprise his role as Han Solo in at least the next Star Wars films but most likely the next three films. Ford commented months ago that he’d be interested in returning to the universe that Lucas built but up to now nothing has been set in stone. Ford has in the past demanded a certain amount of involvement in the storytelling side of films in which he is featured, including the Indiana Jones franchise so one wonders how much he already knows about the upcoming films and how much influence he may have on those stories. It’s worth mentioning that Ford is now 70years old. He’s in great shape for his age but surely being 70has some level of import in the making of these upcoming films.
Speaking of elder statesmen JJ Abrams was surprisingly candid about one member of the Star Wars family in a recent interview actually meant to promote Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams was asked about John Williams the iconic composer responsible for the music for all of the previous Star Wars films along with a majority of Steven Spielberg’s films and George Lucas’ other projects. Williams’ epic score is as important to the Star Wars universe as the design of the light saber and the Tie fighter, it’s a true must. The news that Williams will be composing the score for the upcoming films is exciting but again here it’s important to note that Williams is 81 years old. Surely he is considering a retirement soon so the filmmakers better get a move on!
We have been working on some ways to get more folks playing fantasy film ball with us each block! Now if you’d like to join us there is a way! The lists posted to the right of this page, which we highly encourage you to like and follow as part of List.ly are now posted on our Facebook page. You can go to the page and do two things: first Like the list that you think will win the block, second make a comment on said list. After the game is over we will do a random drawing of the people that liked and commented on the winning list. The winner of the drawing will get prizes from CineGeek and be offered the opportunity to play in the special listener’s bracket of the game alongside a group of podcast listeners. If you win that bracket then you’re playing with the contributors to the site! So come join in what do you have to lose!
Likes much be in by mid May to be considered! No waiting until the game is almost over to pick the winning team!
Here’s the Facebook site:
Box Office Mojo has released their predictions for the summer box office. They of course didn’t make predictions for every film but what they have posted are their top 20 films. So, we thought it would be fun if we sorted the top 20 films by which of the contributors here at CineGeek won the movies in the Fantasy Film Ball bidding last week to see if we can make a guess at who might win the summer. Now this is truly “What if?” sort of writing because there are several films that we won in bidding that weren’t in the top 20 and those could easily add up to put a particular player in the winner’s circle. So really what we have here is a demonstration of how the top 20 earners are distributed among the players. Also, the dollar estimates are based on a given film’s entire run and our game only focuses on the first four weeks. The amounts below are in millions. So this is just for fun. Lets take a look:
Monsters University $280
The Hangover III $150
Two Guns $95
Star Trek Into Darkness $250
The Great Gatsby $105
Iron Man 3 $400
DespicableMe 2 $300
Fast and Furious 6 $215
The Heat $155
The Wolverine $125
The Smurfs 2 $115
Grown Ups 2 $110
Man of Steel $290
Pacific Rim $145
White House Down $140
The Lone Ranger $135
World War Z $135
After Earth $105
It’s that time again! We’re bidding for summer blockbusters and there are a tone of them! The whole show starts with fights for Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, and Great Gatsby! There’s Wolverine, Pacific Rim, Smurfs 2, Despicable Me 2, and Monsters University and that’s just a few of the 40 films we all had to play for. Soon we’ll have each of our winning bids posted and you can pick which list you think will take summer game. This season the losing contributor goes to the listener bracket so the competition is even stronger this go around.
It’s time for the summer block of film ball bidding! With 40 films this promises to be an “epic” fight to get to the good stuff! We have two games going, a listener bracket (listeners/viewers of the weekly podcast) and of course the site’s contributors. Bill won the last listener game so he will be joining the contributors game this block with Jonathan returning to try and dominate the listeners once again. This season we will be posting everyone’s movie lists after the bidding is complete so that you can pick a player to follow and join their team! Which list will have that winning mix of movies to take the game? It all starts Wednesday night when the bidding begins live on the webcast on Ustream at 6:30 central time. To view the show live just go here (6pm central Wednesday preshow, 6:30 main show begins and bidding!)
The movie list!
- The Heat
Directed by: Allen Hughes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones
After the success of Contraband Mark Wahlberg fans were excited for another post-holiday action flick from him. When the trailers hit theaters and the web it was apparent that Broken City film wasn’t going to be that. Broken City did however taught a really strong ensemble cast with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Crowe carrying some of the load along with Wahlberg.
To do something less standard action and more of a smart thriller seems like a smart, if predictable move for star Mark Wahlberg. The guy has shown over and over again that he has acting chops and is capable of doing more, and portraying more, than just a tough guy with a gun. So Broken City sets out on a character driven journey with the goal of being a slick and smart thriller with a cast that can bring life to their roles. Allen Hughes made this film a solo directing effort for himself stepping away once again from the popular duo that was he and his brother. The Hughes Brothers are responsible for films such as From Hell (a comic book adaptation actually), Menace II Society, and Dead Presidents.
Broken City has a lot going on for itself. The characters are successfully complex and full of depth and there’s a lot of commentary throughout the running time that touches on politics, the media, and people’s interpretations of politics based on biased opinion rather than fact. The characters are meatier because they aren’t just good guys and bad guys; they’re more realistically positioned in a gray area. Even the ones that mean well are still doing the right thing because some part of what they’re doing is a benefit to them. You find yourself thinking that if there was no personal benefit that they might not be making the decisions they are making even if those decisions are the right ones.
The problem is that too much focus was put into the sub commentary and the ideas of the film and not enough on the basic narrative. There’s back stabbings and story twists like you’d expect but many of the decisions defy real world logic and even worse they defy the movie logic set by the characters that are involved. Too often in the second half of the film things just don’t make sense. What you’d hope for when something like a twist or reveal happens is a call back to some earlier event in the film that defines the reasoning for the twist but it just doesn’t happen here. Honestly this script needed a couple of more passes to hammer out the narrative and to clean up the pacing of the story. It is possible to craft gray area characters that are still likeable but that also doesn’t happen here. No one character is charismatic enough to make us root for him or her. The issue isn’t with the actors because they all did a fine job: the script again just needed more attention.
Broken City should have been fantastic but it just isn’t. I say that actually being able to feel the passion behind the film during its runtime and that makes me sad. I’ll look forward to giving this one another look with what I hope are some bonus features such as commentary or documentaries that will give me some idea of the intention of the film and some explanation of how it eventually came to be. This was a VOD release of the film that came available before the blu-ray which is a new trend forming in the industry. It’s a little too early to tell if it’s a good thing or not.
I watched the film on an iPad, which honestly might have some effect on the appreciation of films the first time they’re watched, but this is at the core how movies from iTunes are intended to be watched. Overall the film is a bit dark and sometimes the detail is lost a bit in those darker scenes. The HD presentation overall is pretty solid though and it looks great on the retina display. Colors are washed out a bit as they were meant to be. It’s not the best presentation we’re likely to see of the film but for a mobile presentation it looks pretty great.
The audio is basic stereo here and it’s a little tinny overall. Now that may be due to the iPad speakers but again this is an iTunes presentation so I’m viewing it as it’s meant to be seen. With that said dialogue is clean and always front and center in the mix so following the story is pretty easy throughout the film.
Presentation and Bonus Features
There were no bonus features provided with this release and the artwork is representative of what we’ll see on the DVD packaging, basically two head shots of the movie’s stars. It’s not bad art just not particularly creative art and considering the film itself that might be perfectly appropriate. As far as bonus features go more often these days films and TV shows are getting at least a few bonus features especially on vudu so to mention whether they exist on iTunes releases is valid.
Broken City strives for a lot but just doesn’t hit the mark (nudge nudge). Sadly the film doesn’t barely miss the mark; it misses it by a long way. Zeta-Jones is gorgeous as always and Crowe does manage to bring on his signature intensity but none of it is enough this time around.
Overall (Not an average) 3/0
The Movie 3/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 6/10
The Presentation and Bonus Features 1/10
Overall (Not an average) 3/0
This week we got it all, new Man of Steel trailer, new Star Trek trailer, Star Wars news and more! We also have an extensive list of the most important television shows of all time and Doctor Who, Lost, and 24 are nowhere to be found on it! Scroll on down to download or stream the episode or better yet stream it from the Stitcher Radio app on your mobile device or from the widget on the left of this page. To see the trailers that we are talking about then just look down!
Michael Mayer and Yael Shafrir set out to tell a multi-layered tale of sexual identity, politics, and social commentary. After meeting in a Tel Aviv nightclub, psychology major, Nimr, and Jewish lawyer, Roy, feel an instant attraction and fall in love. They are challenged as outsiders in their communities and in dealing with the escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film has much to say about society and acceptance but, surprisingly, co-writer and director had a much tougher time with a completely different aspect of the filmmaking process.
“Actually, the biggest challenge for me wasn’t the political or social aspects of the story, but rather creating a love story that felt real,” said Michael Mayer. We worked with the actors, Nicholas Jacob, (Nimr) who has never acted before and Michael Aloni (Roy) who’s a big star in Israel, to create a relationship that feels true and intimate. We rehearsed a lot and gave them time set to try things and find their own voices. It was important for us to portray a relationship that was as much a friendship as it was about falling in love.”
That’s right we did one too. Editor Stephen Lackey and contributing writer Nicholas Qualls unbox Marvel’s epic Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 briefcase. The box set was delayed for 5 months due to a lawsuit involving the original design of the case. Well now it’s redesigned and finally here! Check out our first look at all the goodies inside!