Sunday, July 20, 2014

Amazing teaser for Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Nightcrawler' debuts

Nightcrawler is one of my most anticipated films of this year and I just can't wait to see it. Jake Gyllenhaal has been on fire lately (his finest performance to date was in last year's Prisoners) and the story of a man who gets caught up in the world of freelance crime journalism in Los Angeles is endlessly appealing. The supporting cast, led by Bill Paxton, Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed isn't too shabby either. And although Dan Gilroy is a first-time director, I have confidence that his experience as a screenwriter will help him. This just looks like a very intriguing film and one that could definitely pick up some awards buzz. A viral teaser for the film appeared on the web recently. Check it out below:

This is an electric and weird teaser and it only takes my excitement to another level. Gyllenhaal looks perfect for the role and I love the tone and pace of the teaser. While I originally imagined a noir-esque film, this looks like it might be a dark comedy of sorts, which is very exciting. I can't wait to see how this film ends up. Nightcrawler hits theaters on October 17, 2014.

Source: Rope of Silicon

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' tops weak newcomers with $36 million at weekend box office

The summer box office has been quite disastrous so far this year. No film has crossed $300 million and there has only been film to gross over $100 million on its opening weekend (Transformers 4). July is typically the hottest movie-going month of the summer, yet there haven't been too many hits. The lack of big films allowed for Fox's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to take the top spot again this weekend at the box office with $36 million. That's a relatively light 50% drop from last weekend. The film has grossed a stellar $138.9 million so far and it will likely end up as one of the summer's biggest hits. A final tally around $200 million is probable at this point.

Universal's The Purge: Anarchy finished in second place this weekend with $28.3 million. The action horror flick grossed less than its poorly received predecessor (The Purge debuted with $34 million- and a "C" Cinemascore), but managed to get a solid "B" Cinemascore, which indicates that audiences liked this one more than the first. I never saw The Purge, but I hated Anarchy and discourage you from seeing it. That being said, it will probably finish with around $80 million. Not bad for a film that cost only $9 million.

Third place belonged to Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue, which debuted with a weak $18 million. That's less than Planes opened to last year ($22.2 million) and is quite the disappointing result for Disney. However, summer is far from over and with an "A" Cinemascore, word of mouth will be stellar. Still, I'm not sure if it's good enough to warrant a third film. Fire and Rescue cost $50 million, which isn't cheap. It did gross an additional $9 million overseas this weekend, but I'm not sure it'll be enough. We shall see.

Sony's Sex Tape was the big bomb this weekend, grossing only $15 million. For an R-rated comedy with a seemingly ubiquitous marketing campaign, that's an incredibly disappointing result. The film also received a disastrous "C+" Cinemascore, which means that Sex Tape is toast. The film cost around $40 million, which means that a worldwide total of $100 million is needed. I doubt that they'll be able to pull it out. Terrible reviews (20% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a surplus of R-rated comedies this summer (22 Jump Street and Neighbors are two of the biggest R-rated hits ever) probably contributed to the failure of Sex Tape. A final total around $40 million is likely.

Transformers: Age of Extinction finished in fifth place this weekend with $10 million. The action extravaganza has now grossed $227.1 million in the US, meaning that its final total will probably be around $250 million, which would make it the lowest grossing Transformers movie yet. However, its current worldwide total stands at $886.2 million, which is quite stellar. Age of Extinction will likely cross the $1 billion mark in a few weeks time. Tammy ended up in sixth place this weekend and took in $7.6 million. The poorly received comedy has now made $71.2 million and will likely push $90 million.

In seventh place was Sony's 22 Jump Street, which finished with $4.7 million. The hilarious R-rated comedy has now grossed $180.5 million. How To Train Your Dragon 2 finished in eighth place with $3.8 million, which was enough to raise the film's total to $160.6 million. Still a shockingly disappointing result. And the overseas box office hasn't been great either- the film has only made $384.5 million worldwide.

Maleficent ended up in ninth place this weekend with $3.3 million. The epic fantasy has now grossed $228.3 million and is definitely one of the surprise hits of the summer. And finally, Earth to Echo rounded out the top ten with $3.2 million. The film has now grossed $31.9 million. Not bad for a film that only cost $13 million to make.

Also, The Weinstein Company's Begin Again finished in eleventh place with $2.7 million, which is only a 2.1% drop from last weekend. The film has grossed $9.4 million so far. And Richard Linklater's Boyhood grossed $1.1 million in only 33 theaters. That's simply extraordinary. Zach Braff's Kickstarter project Wish I Was Here debuted this weekend with a lackluster $495,000. The film expands next weekend.

Next weekend sees the wide release of Hercules, Lucy, And So It Goes and The Fluffy Movie, the limited release of Magic in the Moonlight and A Most Wanted Man and the expansion of Wish I Was Here and Boyhood. Here are my predictions:

1. Lucy- $43.5 million
2. Hercules- $27.7 million
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes- $20 million
4. The Purge: Anarchy- $12.9 million
5. Planes: Fire and Rescue- $11 million
6. Sex Tape- $6.9 million
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction- $4.8 million
8. And So It Goes- $4.5 million
9. Tammy- $3.9 million
10. 22 Jump Street- $2.7 million

-The Fluffy Movie- $2.1 million
-Wish I Was Here- $1.4 million
-Boyhood- $2.6 million

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Marvel announces release dates for five new "mystery films"

Marvel is the hottest studio in Hollywood right now. They built up a ton of hype for The Avengers with their "Phase 1" movies and then wrecked the box office when the superhero team-up was finally released. Since The Avengers hit theaters, Marvel has had three major box office successes. Iron Man 3 grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, both Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier improved vastly over their predecessors and Guardians of the Galaxy is about to become one of the summer's biggest hits. It's been pretty good for the studio so far.

Marvel is also very good at planning far in advance. Before their most recent announcement, they had release dates set in 2015, 2016 and 2017 already and studio head Kevin Feige has stated that the company has a plan that goes all the way up to 2028. Pretty incredible. Yesterday, Marvel announced five more release dates, which led fans to obsessively speculate over what movies could fill those spots. Take a look at the upcoming calender for Marvel Studios (release dates announced yesterday are in bold print):

-Guardians of the Galaxy- August 1, 2014
-Avengers: Age of Ultron- May 1, 2015
-Ant-Man- July 17, 2015
-Captain America 3- May 6, 2016
-Untitled Marvel Film- July 8, 2016
-Untitled Marvel Film- May 5, 2017
-Untitled Marvel Film- July 27, 2017
-Untitled Marvel Film- November 3, 2017
-Untitled Marvel Film- July 6, 2018
-Untitled Marvel Film- November 2, 2018
-Untitled Marvel Film- May 3, 2019

That's quite the schedule. I'm expecting the studio to announce the name of at least three of these titles at Comic-Con, but with Marvel, anything can happen. It's almost been all but confirmed at this point that Scott Derrickson's Dr. Strange will be hitting theaters on July 8, 2016. The likelihood of Marvel announcing Dr. Strange officially (along with the actor who will be playing the lead, presumably Benedict Cumberbatch) is high.

I would also assume that Thor 3 is in the pipeline. The May 2017 date is a strong possibility, but I think that many are assuming that The Avengers 3 will be taking that date. However, I'm betting on July 2018 as the release date for Avengers 3. I think that would be a smart move. If they moved up that release date a few days to take advantage of the Fourth of July holiday, the movie would make a ton of money. At this point, I'm betting on Thor 3 hitting theaters on May 5, 2017 and Avengers 3 coming later.

After that, I think that it's safe to assume that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will take the July 2017 spot. Tracking for Guardians is good and I think that it's a franchise now for sure. I believe that the November 2017 spot will be taken by Black Panther. That's another film that Marvel really wants to get off the ground and a spot outside of the summer season seems like it would be a good fit for an original property. And finally, as I previously stated, I believe that Avengers 3 will debut in July 2018.

There are only two spots left after and I believe that both will be original properties. The November 2018 spot will likely belong to Ms. Marvel or the Black Widow spin-off. I believe that Scarlett Johannson can definitely carry her own film and I think that a spin-off starring her as Black Widow is certainly going to happen. Finally, something big is going to hit theaters on May 3, 2019. It won't be Avengers 4, but it could be Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or Inhumans, another original property that Marvel has wanted to make for a long time. It's too early to tell at this point.

So there you have it folks. That's your Marvel movie schedule for the next five years. Quite amazing. The next film is only two weeks away!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Best Films of 2014 so far

2014 has been an incredibly awesome year so far. Sure, we've had a few disappointments (How To Train Your Dragon 2, Transcendence, Muppets Most Wanted), but there have been a plethora of great films. From animated films like The LEGO Movie to comedies like Neighbors to big action blockbusters like Edge of Tomorrow, 2014 has been stellar across the board. Here are my 10 favorite films of the year so far.


On the surface, this movie is just another passable YA romance adaptation that has nothing to offer anyone who isn't a fan of the book. However, The Fault In Our Stars ends up being much more than that. It's a sweet, yet sad romance film that has two charismatic leads in Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley and a great supporting cast led by the terrific Laura Dern. It's an entertaining film from start to finish and it affects you emotionally as well. I was very surprised by The Fault In Our Stars and despite some problems I had with the ending, I really loved this film. One of the biggest surprises of the year thus far.


Wes Anderson never fails to deliver candy-colored spectacles and The Grand Budapest Hotel just might be his best one yet. Led by an Oscar-worthy performance by Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a beautiful and hilarious dark comedy. The performances are great and everything just flows from Anderson's style. The set design, the music, the action scenes, everything is simply his. It's a fantastic film from a visionary director at the top of his game.


It's always a good thing when a movie lives up to your expectations and X-Men: Days of Future Past certainly lived up to mine. The sequel to the brilliant X-Men: First Class might not quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but it comes awfully close thanks to the breathtaking action scenes and the surprisingly emotional story. Hugh Jackman and Michael Fassbender are great as usual, but it's James McAvoy who steals the movie. He gives the best performance ever in a Marvel superhero movie and moves you almost to the point of tears. It's a brilliant performance in a brilliant film that delivers on every level.


Roger Ebert is a figure that made a profound impact on my life, so I was bound to love the documentary on his life. However, I was not truly prepared for Life Itself. This is a film of immense power, a film that will make you laugh and cry and will certainly touch your heart. Ebert had such a love for life and a desire to show his life, warts and all. It's absolutely beautiful and astonishing. It's a hard watch at times, but it's such a life affirming film. A movie that can't be missed.


2014 has been an extraordinary year for comedies and 22 Jump Street is one of the best examples. I enjoyed 2012's 21 Jump Street. It was a funny, well-acted comedy that was much better than it had any right to be. However, I loved 22 Jump Street. If not for Seth Rogen's Neighbors, this would be the funniest comedy of the year. There are so many laugh-out-loud scenes during this movie and it's done so well that you just can't help but love it. The chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum is brilliant and the action beats are terrific as well. Ice Cube is great in his supporting role and the meta humor is simply fantastic. One of the rare sequels that is better than the original.


Marvel ended up in a slump last year after The Avengers rocked cinemas the year before. Iron Man 3 was an entertaining film with some great moments, but I could barely get through it on a repeat viewing and it is relatively inconsequential to the cinematic universe. I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World for what it was, but it also is a film that I don't have any interest in rewatching. With all that being said, Marvel roared back to life this year with the terrific Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which just might be the best Marvel movie yet. It's a serious film, it's a suspenseful film and it has an impact on the rest of the universe. The Winter Soldier is a textbook example of how to make a sequel- make it darker, make it more complex and continue to develop the characters. The Winter Soldier accomplishes all of that while still incorporating some light humor. It's simply one of the best superhero films I've ever seen.


Seth Rogen is on a roll right now and Neighbors might just be his best film to date. The frat-boy comedy is essentially a modern update on Animal House, but it's the rare film that deserves to be placed in the same category as that beloved film. It's a raucous, filthy comedy with plenty of laugh-out-loud scenes and moments that will have you saying "Did they just do that?" It's the rare comedy that just goes for it. There's no holding back. Not to mention that the soundtrack and the party scenes are brilliant and the acting is top-notch. Zac Efron steals every scene he's in and Rose Byrne is also electric. Neighbors could have been another stupid frat comedy, but it ends up being one of the best movies of the year. It perfectly imitates the Animal House style of anarchic comedy while giving it a modern, pot-fueled update. Simply hysterical.


Very rarely do we got a sci-fi film as fantastic as Snowpiercer. The bold and brilliant film from director Boon Jong-ho is a mesmerizing, frightening vision of the future that only gets more dark and disturbing as it goes along. Chris Evans leads the stellar cast and is absolutely breathtaking as Curtis, the world-weary revolutionary who is tasked with leading the passengers to the front of the train. The supporting cast is strong as well, but it's Evans who steals the film, especially with his amazing monologue at the end of the film. The action scenes are beautiful and the social commentary is quite interesting. I really hope more people get to see this one because it is so, so good.


In a year where the blockbusters have actually been quite stellar, Edge of Tomorrow came as the summer's greatest surprise. Tom Cruise was coming off a string of bad movies (Rock of Ages and Oblivion were both intolerable), nobody knew if Emily Blunt could carry an action pic and director Doug Liman wasn't exactly a superstar. But somehow they did it. Somehow the people behind Edge of Tomorrow made one of the year's best blockbusters, a visually beautiful, action-packed and hilarious sci-fi extravaganza that is absolutely terrific. The script is witty and the pace never lets up. It's just a brilliant film and one that I will definitely not forget.


Typically, the months of January and February are cinematic dumping grounds. And for the most part, all of the films this year fit that cliche. The only film that didn't fit that mold was The LEGO Movie, a cinematic masterpiece. That might seem like high praise, but I'm telling you, it fits. The LEGO Movie is one of the best animated films of all time, a film filled with imagination, heart and boundless energy. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are some of the most talented filmmakers in Hollywood. They're able to apply a certain style to every film they make and it just works. The LEGO Movie is the rare movie that deserves to be called an instant classic. It's that good.

The honorable mentions for me were Chef, which was a fun film with a stellar second half, A Million Ways to Die in the West, a hilarious comedy that paid homage to the western genre well, Non-Stop, an edge of your seat thriller that is one of Liam Neeson's best yet and Million Dollar Arm, an energetic and engaging baseball drama.

The worst films that I've seen this year are:

-The Purge: Anarchy
-Ride Along
-Muppets Most Wanted
-The Monuments Men

Well, the first half of 2014 was absolutely terrific. Here's to hoping that the second half is just as good.

'Gone Girl' to open New York Film Festival, 'Inherent Vice' also set to premiere at the festival

Believe it or not, the Fall Festival season is just around the corner. Toronto will be announcing their slate of films on Tuesday and Telluride can't be far behind. However, there are a few things that we already know. We learned earlier that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman will open the Venice Film Festival and now we know two films that will be hitting New York in late September/early October.

According to Variety, David Fincher's much-anticipated adaptation of Gone Girl will be opening the New York Film Festival on September 26. The Ben Affleck-starred drama is based on a best-selling novel and will open in theaters on October 3. The cast also includes Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Casey Wilson, and Neil Patrick Harris. I'm really excited to see the film and I think that New York is the right place to premiere it. Fincher also debuted The Social Network there and that turned out great. The trailers for this have been complex and interesting, so I'm very excited. 

Deadline is also reporting that director Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice will premiere at the New York Film Festival. The 1960's set psychedelic ensemble pic is set to be the centerpiece of the festival and will probably be one of the hottest tickets. The film is based off of the critically acclaimed Thomas Pynchon novel and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Jena Malone, Benicio Del Toro, Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell and Martin Short and is currently slated to hit theaters in limited release on December 12 before a nationwide expansion in January. It's one of my most anticipated of the year and I hope that it delivers. 

'Overlook Hotel' moving forward at Warner Bros., Mark Romanek in talks to direct

The Shining is one of my favorite films and undoubtedly one of the greatest horror films of all time. Stanley Kubrick's masterful direction is mesmerizing from start to finish and Jack Nicholson's performance is terrifyingly unhinged. Warner Bros. has been developing a prequel to the film for some time now and it looks like it's finally moving forward with director Mark Romanek (more on that in a minute). For me, the news of a prequel to The Shining is actually quite exciting. I've been interested in the concept forever and the idea of exploring some of the things that are hinted at in the 1980 classic is very intriguing.

According to Variety, Mark Romanek is in talks to direct Overlook Hotel, a film that would take place before the events of The Shining and tell the story of Bob Watson, the hotel's first owner. Variety also reports that Glen Mazzara (former Walking Dead showrunner) has turned in a draft of the story. James Vanderbilt, Brad Fischer and Laeta Kalogridis will be producing the film. There's no word of a release date, but I would bet on a release date in late 2016. That's just my guess.

As I stated previously, Overlook Hotel is a film that I'm very pumped for and I truly hope that the screenwriters can create a terrifying horror film. I'm not familiar with the work of Mark Romanek (his previous films are Never Let Me Go and One Hour Photo), but from what I can tell, people seem happy with the choice. Let's hope he does a good job. In other related Shining news, Variety and other news outlets are also reporting that Doctor Sleep is in development, which I can't say that I support. I've read a bit of the book (which was recently released by Stephen King, one of my favorite authors) and it's extremely dark and kind of depressing. However, I plan on giving it another shot, especially if the movie is given the green light. For now though, we just have Overlook Hotel to look forward to and that's fine by me. I'm hoping that the film is terrific. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What If review

After the conclusion of the Harry Potter series, many asked what the young stars of the series would do next. Their lives had been almost consumed by the franchise for ten years and their roles were so defining and iconic at this point, that nobody really knew what they could do to separate themselves from the characters. Three years later, we have a much better idea. Emma Watson has become a bona fide superstar with roles in films like Noah, This is the End and The Perks of Being A Wallflower. She's on the A-list now and I think that she'll be there for a long time. Rupert Grint has pretty much disappeared off the planet. His only notable roles have been in films like Charlie Countryman and CBGB. The series' main star, Daniel Radcliffe, falls somewhere in the middle. He starred in The Woman in Black in 2012 and appeared in the critically acclaimed Kill Your Darlings, but he hasn't had any other big mainstream roles. All of this brings us to What If, a new romantic comedy starring Radcliffe in one of his first major post-Potter roles. What If is a pleasantly entertaining comedy with whip-smart dialogue and great performances from its young leads. It's quite predictable at times, but in the end, What If is a really enjoyable film.

Wallace (Radcliffe) is at a point in his life where he really doesn't know what to do. He dropped out of med school after he caught his girlfriend cheating on him and then spent a year trying to figure out what to do. At a party thrown by his best friend and roommate Allan (Adam Driver), Wallace meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a girl who he forms an instant connection with. The only problem is that Chantry has a boyfriend (Rafe Spall) and they've been dating for five years. Wallace and Chantry decide to be "just friends" but Wallace always wants more than that. However, he doesn't want to ruin the relationship and it all just ends up being quite messy.

What If is a film that benefits from its strong dialogue and the wonderfully charismatic leads. In many ways, this is an incredibly generic rom-com on paper, but the actors and screenwriters manage to elevate the material to another level. Radcliffe, Kazan, Driver, Spall and Mackenzie Davis (who plays Allan's girlfriend) are incredibly talented and funny leads and some of them would fit in well in a Woody Allen comedy. And at times, this feels like a Woody Allen film. It's smart and cynical and romantic and quite terrific. However, the cliches and genre trappings become quite obvious at the end and it all wraps up quite tidily. It's a film that is quite unique in many aspects, so I was hoping for a less predictable story at times. Nonetheless, What If is one of the better romantic comedies in recent memory and a great showcase for some of the most talented young actors in Hollywood.

The script is quite wonderful and the film moves at a strong pace that keeps the audience constantly interested. This is a film that starts and never truly stops. It's always moving and that's slightly odd for a romantic comedy. However, it truly works and it's one of the best things about this film. The fact that What If moves at a faster pace than most action blockbusters is astounding and frankly, kind of awesome. The pace gives the film a spark of life and a personality that separates it from every other derivative rom-com from the last twenty years.

The dialogue is also incredibly smart and the actors consistently deliver it well. What If is a PG-13 film, so the dialogue isn't terribly filthy, but the discussions about sex and love are quite frank at times. Still, the dialogue is fast and witty and actually quite intelligent. What If is a film that looks at love from the perspective of both men and women and it's fascinating. It's also very funny. This is not just a romantic film- it's also a non-stop laugh fest. It's a hilarious film from start to finish.

I love the actors in this film and all of them do a terrific job. Radcliffe does a great job as Wallace and he proves that he can be a real movie star someday. People wondered if he truly had a future in acting after Potter and I believe that What If is confirmation that he does. Zoe Kazan is also pretty good as Chantry, Wallace's love interest. Kazan and Radcliffe's characters are very similar and the two actors have great chemistry. Adam Driver is one of the best young actors in Hollywood and he consistently delivers as Allan. Driver is hilarious and I can't wait to see him get some bigger roles (he is one of the main stars of Star Wars: Episode VII). And finally, Mackenzie Davis is good as Nicole, Allan's wild girlfriend. This is definitely a different role for her (she plays a very serious character on AMC's Halt and Catch Fire) and I was glad to see that. In general, the acting in this movie is quite brilliant. They all elevate the film to another level.

This film will inevitably be compared to other famous romantic comedies, simply because it's actually a good film. I've already read one review that compared it to When Harry Met Sally and the poster compares it to (500) Days of Summer. Even I compared it to a Woody Allen movie earlier in the review. Most of the time, that's just studio created hype, but in this instance, I would encourage you to believe it. While the film has a few problems, this is definitely a stellar addition to the romantic comedy genre.

Like I said previously, my only problem with this film is that it ends up falling into the usual romantic comedy trappings at the end. It's a quirky and offbeat film for about 75% of its runtime, but it ends up being sort of conventional and predictable towards the end. However, even the cliched stuff is tweaked just a little bit so it feels somewhat fresh and new. I wish that the filmmakers had stuck the landing with a more unique and interesting ending, but everything ends up coming together just a little too neatly.

Nonetheless, What If is a terrific romantic comedy and a good bit of summer counter-programming. The lead actors are terrific and the dialogue is often intelligent and hilarious. If this movie is a hit (and I think that it will be), I'm betting that we see a lot more from director Michael Dowse and the appealing lead stars. If you're looking for a good date movie or something that's just a little bit different this summer, you really can't go wrong with What If, one of the better romantic films of the year.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B+                                             (7.5/10)