Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lincoln review

Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest men in history. He led a country in a time of great crisis, he got rid of its greatest poison and he was a very honest man. His great personality and things he did have been portrayed on screen a handful of times, most famously by Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln. But now we have a definitive screen portrayal of Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's new film named based on its title character. Daniel Day-Lewis is a powerhouse as Abraham Lincoln leading the ensemble cast of the year that delivers about ten fantastic performances. Spielberg's Lincoln has some flaws but if Day-Lewis does not win another Oscar, I will be shocked.

Lincoln focuses on the 16th president trying to pass the13th amendment to free the slaves. At the same time, the Civil War is winding down as the South knows that they will not win the war. Lincoln's goal is to pass the amendment before the south rejoins the union because he knows that they will vote against it. He and Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) must procure twenty democratic votes to get the amendment passed. Lincoln gets three men (John Hawkes, James Spader, and Tim Blake Nelson) to persuade democratic voters to vote yes while dealing with a tricky political situation. He also deals with Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), a strict abolitionist who wants more than just for the slaves to be free. Lincoln takes place in one month of presidency and basically follows up to the end of his life. It is not a full biopic of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln is basically two and a half hours of dialogue. There is one battle sequence at the beginning but after that, it is all talking. So it is a miracle that this film is as entertaining as it is. The acting is top notch and in a weaker year would give Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field Oscars for their performances (Day-Lewis and Jones will still win, Anne Hathaway will beat Sally Field). But it is not just the three main roles. David Strathairn is very good as Seward. Hawkes, Spader and Nelson are very good as well. There isn't a bad performance in the film (except I think that Sally Field wasn't great as Mary Todd Lincoln). That is the best part of the film.

The script is also very well done but it isn't necessarily cinematic. Most of Spielberg's films are the prime example of what cinema is but Lincoln at times feels less like a movie and more like a stage play. Maybe it is because Lincoln doesn't do the same things that typical Spielberg movies do. Lincoln is not an extremely sentimental film (SPOILER: it ends in his death) and that feels unusual for Spielberg. Most of the film takes place in smoke-filled dark rooms with people talking.

I think that for a film with all dialogue, Lincoln is extremely entertaining, thanks in no small part to Day-Lewis' charismatic performance as Lincoln. But I felt that the first section of the film wasn't nearly interesting enough. It is very slow to start with not much interesting going on. But once Tommy Lee Jones' character comes in along with Lincoln's three persuaders, the film picks up and becomes very exciting.

The actors performances help you to relate to the characters. Tommy Lee Jones is commanding as Stevens and Day-Lewis is both subtle and scene stealing as the title character. The characters are good characters that you can relate to. Lincoln just wants to do the best thing for the country while Stevens is a man highly dedicated to a cause. I think that unless someone gains significant momentum Day-Lewis will win an Oscar and unless Leonardo DiCaprio is an absolute powerhouse, Jones will win another Oscar.

This is where I have a hard time as a reviewer. Because Lincoln is a very good film. It has a fantastic script by Tony Kushner, fantastic acting, and for the most part, it is entertaining. But it is all dialogue and it can be pretty slow. I always want to score films based on their entertainment level while at the same time, how skilled they are as a film. I think that Lincoln is a very good film that has many good things and is pretty entertaining and will definitely win Oscars but I will never watch it again. It just can't quite match up to the mixture of skill and entertainment that the year's other great films like Argo, Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises have.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B                                             (7.2/10)


Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Life of Pi" is all style, no substance

An epic once deemed unfilmable, Life of Pi has now hit the big screen. It is directed by visionary director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and features some beautiful CGI. Yann Martel's novel has a long history. It was a surprise hit about a tiger and an Indian boy stranded at sea that climbed the best sellers charts and won tons of book awards. Several directors including M. Night Shyamalan and Alfonso Cuaron tried and failed to adapt the novel. Finally, Ang Lee got around to making it. The film has been acclaimed widely and is one of the leading contenders for best picture. And for me, it is a momentous disappointment.

Life of Pi tells the life story of Piscine Patel, a man who grows up in Pondicherry, a place in French India. His father owns and operates a zoo and he is around several animals his whole life. He also takes a liking to several religions, embracing Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The zoo goes bankrupt eventually and his family is forced to move to Canada. All of that takes about forty minutes in the movie but it feels like an hour. Finally, there is a shipwreck and Pi ends up on a lifeboat with a tiger, orangutan, zebra and wild dog.

Life of Pi has some of the most impressive visuals ever put on film. Everything in the film looks like a beautiful painting or an exquisite work of art. The ocean, the animals, the swimming pools all look fantastic. But it doesn't matter. Visuals cannot save a film and Life of Pi is not redeemed by its visuals.

First off, Life of Pi is slow. It has nothing of interest for the whole movie. It takes forever to get into the story and once the shipwreck happens, it goes back to doing nothing. I think that there was no way to make it interesting. You know how the film is going to end and the film is not interesting enough to justify sitting through the entire thing. Secondly, it is very, very long. Or at least it feels like it is. Life of Pi is only 2hrs, 5 mins. But I felt like I was in that theater for about 4 hours. I checked my watch more times than I can count and I cannot remember a time that I was ever that bored during a film. Actually, it has never happened before.

Life of Pi is a film full of religion and philosophical theory. And the theory is that Pi miraculously survived his ordeal because of his passionate love of God and that God helped him specifically. And I find that movies about those kinds of things are very interesting but this film just feels like it has nothing under the surface. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that I love and it is similar to Life of Pi in many ways. But the difference between Life of Pi and 2001 is that everything in Life of Pi is spelled out piece by piece. You understand everything. I have watched 2001 around four times and I still don't understand everything. And there is just something special about it that makes it standout despite the slow pacing.

Life of Pi has nothing of interest for me. This is just my preference. Judging by the A- cinemascore that it received, it seems like a lot of people do like it. But it is just not my type. I think that it has moments of interest (like some of the religious philosophy) but I think that this was meant to be a book and stay a book. Some people are going to moved to tears and some people are going to hate it. I fall into the second category.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D                                             (4.4/10)


"Skyfall" is an amazing blast of action filmmaking

Fifty years ago, a spy franchise based on Ian Fleming's best selling novels was started. The first film was Dr. No and it became an instant hit. The James Bond franchise spawned twenty-two films after that one and became one of the most well known and loved film series' in the world that has been played by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. The twenty-third James Bond film, Skyfall, was released this year. And I can tell you, it is one of the best Bonds yet.

Skyfall begins with an exciting chase through the streets of Istanbul. Bond (Daniel Craig) is chasing Patrice (Ola Rapace) a man who has stolen the drive containing the identity of every NATO and MI6 agent fighting terrorist organizations across the globe. Bond chases Patrice across a train but the other agent (Naomie Harris) who is helping Bond shoots Bond and he falls off the train. Bond is presumed dead but after an attack on the MI6 building in London, Bond returns to hunt down the cyberterrorist Silva (Javier Bardem), who is bent on revenge against M (Judi Dench) and MI6. It all ends in a series of exciting action and chases that make Skyfall one of the most exciting Bond films yet.


Skyfall is an immensly entertaining film. The action is entertaining, the dialogue is good and the acting is fantastic as well. In many ways, Skyfall is a classic Bond film. It has all the excitement and small touches of the original films but with a modern feel. It has all the elements like the sadistic villain, the exotic locales and the beautiful Bond girls. Both Craig and director Sam Mendes say that they wanted to make a classic Bond film that was a bit lighter than the previous installments and they definitely did that.

In many ways, Skyfall mirrors The Dark Knight. Its themes have a lot to do with terrorism and what people do to stop them but director Sam Mendes put a cool twist on it. In The Dark Knight, the Joker creates chaos with bombs and guns and weapons. Skyfall's Silva does it all with a computer. He kills with the press of a button on a keyboard and that scares both Bond and M, who feel that they have fallen behind in the world of espionage. They used to be able to stop the bad guys by sending agents with guns into the field but now its a different world. I thought that element was very interesting and that it put a nice twist on the over-used terrorism angle.

The direction and cinematography are fantastic. Unlike Marc Forster in Quantum of Solace, Sam Mendes films Skyfall with fluidity: you can always tell what is going on in the action. It has a sleek, cool look to it that has more in common with a Christopher Nolan film than any Bond or Bourne movie in the last ten years. The cinematography is stunning. If cinematographer Roger Deakins does not get an Oscar for his work on the film, I will be surprised. There is so much right about the way he films the movie. The scenes in Shanghai are breathtaking and mindblowing and I loved every minute of them. Everything in the film has a sense of beauty or excitement to it and I hope Deakins is recognized at the year's end.

The acting is fabulous, led by strong performances from Craig, Dench, and Bardem. Bond and M's emotional story is the heart of the story but the standout for me is Bardem. He gives such evil power to Silva and one of the standouts of the film is the entrance of Silva who gives a scary dialogue to Bond, who is strapped to a chair. He's like a slightly less creepy yet more homosexual Joker. He carries the second half of the film.

The film has some plot holes. One of the unque and powerful things about Skyfall is that it gives Bond a backstory, but it is a slightly under-developed. It is adressed and is handled in the simplest of terms but it is something I hope they adress more in the future Bond films.

Overall, Skyfall is a fantastic Bond film. It is the best Bond that Daniel Craig has been in so far and a very exciting action film. It has some minor holes but the film is good enough to warrant a five star rating. I think that the other exciting thing is that it lays the groundwork for future Bond films. In some ways, Skyfall is more of a reboot than Casino Royale. I have seen Skyfall twice now and I left both times excited for the next one. I hope that Mendes and Logan return and I can't wait for November 2014.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A+                                            (10/10)


Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Skyfall" grosses franchise record $87.8 million, "Lincoln" huge in 11 theaters

One of the holiday season's biggest films was released this weekend coming in the form of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film. This film was the most successful since The Dark Knight Rises in July grossing a franchise record $87.8 million along with an A Cinemascore. That gross is more than twice Casino Royale's 2006 debut and $20 million more than Quantum of Solace. Bond will have great legs as it is the only major action film in the next month (sorry Red Dawn fans) and it is seeming to attract all kinds of people. It could hit $250 million at the domestic box office if it holds well.

Another major feat occurred t[his weekend as Skyfall has now passed $500 million worldwide. That is a massive total and the $200 million film is sure to recoup its budget and possibly hit somewhere around $800 million. That is a massive total and the highest for a Bond film. The film will likely pass Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale by next weekend.

In second place, Disney's Wreck-It Ralph grossed $33 million. That is a good hold, not great but good. It was a little lower than my projection but it should hold well in the following weeks until Rise of the Guardians. It has now grossed $93 million domestically. Paramount's Flight finished 3rd with a $15 million weekend. That is a good hold for an R-rated drama but nothing compared to Argo's hold in October. The A- Cinemascore didn't help Flight as much. In fourth was Affleck's drama, which took a harder hit than in previous weeks grossing only $6.7 million. The R-rated drama has now grossed $85.7 million. In fifth place, Taken 2 took in another $4 million.

In limited release, Steven Spielberg's Oscar-buzzed drama Lincoln grossed $900,000 in 11 theaters. That adds up to a marvelous $81, 818 per theater. Lincoln goes wide next week so we'll see how it goes.

Next weekend is bound to be a big one. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 2 opens and so does Lincoln for non-Twilight fans. This weekend's total gross was around $160 million.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Christoph Waltz now a major best actor candidate, Django Unchained moves up in Oscar race

Apparently, there was a screening of Django Unchained on the Sony lot and it has shaken up the Oscar race. In addition to Christoph Waltz now being in the Best Actor race, Gold Derby's Tom O'Neill says that an insider has told the site that Waltz: "Towers over the whole film" and that the day this screens for major critics it will shake up the Oscar race. The cut of the film is additionally reported to be three hours long and Tarantino is cutting the film down right now. This is big news.

Django Unchained has fallen off the radar of many people who predict the Oscars and I think that now everybody has it back on. Waltz is definitely now a top 5 for the best actor race. On Sunday's Oscar update I think that I will be implementing so big changes. For now here is the updates for the leaders in each of the major categories:

BEST PICTURE- ARGO


BEST ACTRESS- JENNIFER LAWRENCE, Silver Linings Playbook


BEST ACTOR- DANIEL-DAY LEWIS, Lincoln


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS- ANNE HATHAWAY, Les Miserables


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR- PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, The Master



"Les Miserables" looks great, Oscar contender is here- Trailer Scorecard

The latest trailer for director Tom Hooper's Les Miserables has been released. The film stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean a former prisoner who takes possession of Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) the daughter of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) while being chased by Javert (Russell Crowe) all while the French Revolution is going on. Here is the latest trailer for Les Miserables:

Wow. The Oscar season really is here. Les Miserables looks like a perfect mixture of fantastic visuals, amazing musical pieces and great action. The first time I watched this trailer I felt it was too sentimental but now I see what they're going for. Les Miserables is going to be one of the major Oscar candidates. There is all the ingredients. Plus, it looks really good. I think that Les Miserables is going to be a major player. I am looking forward to the film and I am hoping it is good.





"Warm Bodies" trailer is funny, heartfelt- Trailer Scorecard

The trailer for Summit Entertainment's Warm Bodies has been released. The film stars Nicholas Hoult as a zombie named R who falls in love with a girl (Teresa Palmer) who is a leader in the fight against zombies. R then protects her and their star crossed romance can only end with a battle between the zombies and the humans. Also starring Dave Franco and John Malkovich. Here is the trailer link for Warm Bodies.

The trailer was not available on youtube yet so I had to link you to another site. Wow, Warm Bodies looks fantastic. Like I am genuinely shocked that this is not another sappy Twilight melodrama. This looks hilarious, action-packed and something that I think is going to be a big hit. The trailer features a lot of zombie violence which is good, I like action. But then I'm just shocked that it actually looks funny and that it looks good. It does look a little campy and stupid but who cares? I think that Summit may have struck gold with this one, a very broad zombie romance comedy.

TRAILER SCORE: 9/10






"Skyfall" to be the biggest Bond ever and win the weekend

This weekend will showcase the opening of Skyfall, the 23rd film in the James Bond saga. It will surely win the weekend by a huge margin. Skyfall actually opened today in select IMAX theaters but its official opening is today. Daniel Craig's third outing as James Bond is sure to be the biggest yet thanks to great reviews (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and pent-up demand (there has not been a Bond film in four years). The great international numbers are highly encouraging and Skyfall seems poised to open higher than both Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale. Also, skeptics of Quantum of Solace are already behind Skyfall which means that its gross will be even bigger. Expect an $80 million + debut this weekend. On a side note, I cannot see the film this weekend so don't expect a review (I should have one by the17th). In second place, Wreck-It Ralph will maintain good momentum thanks to word of mouth and little competition. Expect a drop similar to the one Puss in Boots had last year and a $35 million second weekend gross. The Denzel Washington vehicle Flight should drop slightly and make about $17 million this weekend. The film has good word of mouth and it will drop more next weekend. Argo will have another short drop and make another $8 million. To round out the top 5, The Man with the Iron Fists will make about $4 million for a 50% drop.

1. Skyfall- $84 million
2. Wreck-It Ralph- $35 million
3. Flight- $17 million
4. Argo- $8.2 million
5. The Man with the Iron Fists- $4 million


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Holiday Box Office Projections (Final)

The holiday box office is one of the most lucrative of the year. It is a time when Hollywood is gearing up for the Oscars but at the same time releasing some of the biggest blockbusters of the year. The holiday box office truly began last week with Disney's very good animated comedy Wreck-It Ralph but I couldn't do it in time, so I'll start with the week of November 9. Here is my box office projections through December 25.

NOVEMBER 9

1. Skyfall- $84 million opening- $235 million total- Skyfall is the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise. It is riding a huge wave of buzz for being one of the best Bond films ever and that should certainly give the film an advantage. Skyfall will also benefit from pent-up demand: it has been four years since Quantum of Solace. The second chapter in the Daniel Craig Bond franchise was not well reviewed or enjoyed by the general public but enough people will just remember the first chapter, 2006's Casino Royale. The film is also the first major action blockbuster in several months. The last one was really The Expendables 2. People are ready for Skyfall and this film is going to be the biggest Bond ever.

NOVEMBER 16

1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 2- $150 million opening- $325 million total- Final chapters in sagas tend to do very well and Breaking Dawn-Part 2 will be no exception. This film is going to be huge. It has all the fans and all the buzz and it is already tracking huge. The question is: how big? I think the buzz that the film is actually good should help and it has more action than the other films. Deathly Hallows Part 1 opened to $125 million. Part 2 opened to $169 million. I don't think the gap between the two will be that high but it should be higher than Part 1's $138 million.

2. Lincoln- $20 million opening- $115 million total - Lincoln is Steven Spielberg's is one of the most anticipated films for adults this year. Lincoln is getting major Oscar buzz and it's more than just awards bait (the way most people felt about last year's War Horse, even though I liked it). It's got a famed director, an all-star cast and a everything people love this time of year. However, a film like Lincoln doesn't scream "BOX OFFICE MONEY!!" but recent successes Flight and Argo have proved that there is a big adult audience that wants to see quality films and Lincoln could tap right into that.

NOVEMBER 21

1. Rise of the Guardians- $60 million 5-day opening- $180 million total- I have heard that this animated film is not all that spectacular and that could hurt word of mouth. But the fact that is the only animated film this holiday season will help it significantly. The holiday feel is also going to make it a huge success. Christmas films do well this time of year unsurprisingly and I don't think Rise of the Guardians will be any different.

2. Life of Pi- $25 million 5-day opening- $75 million total- This is a film that sounds like it's going to be too weird for the general public. Even I really don't know what the story is about beyond the fact that it is about a boy, a tiger, and other animals stuck on a boat after a shipwreck. It is rated PG which could help bring in family audiences but it is a very hard PG from the descriptions I have heard so far. The only things really going for the film are its visual effects (supposedly the best since Avatar) and the millions of people who read the book. I think that it could really take off if people like it but I'm thinking very modestly right now.

3. Silver Linings Playbook- $20 million 5-day weekend- $95 million total- I think that this is going to be a word of mouth sensation. The film is getting major Oscar buzz out of the Toronto International Film Festival and I think that it is one of those broadly appealing romantic comedies that people are going to love. The storyline follows a mentally ill man (Bradley Cooper) whose wife was cheating on him and he ends up going to a mental hospital for his bi-polar disorder. Then he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) a woman with an even worse mental illness, and they fall in love. The reviews say it is sentimental but tough and I think that it may be too emotional for people who were expecting something different. It still will be a success.

4. Red Dawn- $15 million 5-day opening- $40 million total- The film was one of the several that was put on the shelf once MGM went bankrupt. The remake of the 1980's classic is a bit less plausible and will be very unsuccessful because unlike the 1984 film, it's not timely. There is no threat of a North Korean invasion. But I think that there is no other action film that will be opening so it has an advantage. But reviews are not good and it could be a flop.

NOVEMBER 30

1. Killing Them Softly- $8 million opening- $26 million total- I've heard good things about this Brad Pitt starred action drama but the trailer was rather lackluster and I don't think that it is a broadly appealing film. On the plus side, it has Brad Pitt who is always a draw and it has a small enough budget that I would imagine it wouldn't lose any money.

DECEMBER 7

1. Playing for Keeps- $5 million opening- $14 million total- This is one of those crappy romantic comedies that studios just dump off on some random release date because they don't know what to do with it. It has Gerald Butler, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta- Jones and Uma Thurman and it is about a former sports star who gets his life together by coaching his son's soccer team. It just screams out terrible.

DECEMBER 14

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey- $120 million opening- $510 million total- This is THE film of the holiday season and it will do big business. I think that the demand is there. People want another Lord of the Rings style film and The Hobbit is part one of a series of prequels to those films. It has big budget effects and an all-star cast and I think that nothing is going to stop The Hobbit from making at least $400 million.

DECEMBER 19

1. The Guilt Trip- $15 million 5-day opening- $60 million total- It does look like a lighthearted option to the more serious holiday fare that is coming out and unlike its competition This is 40, it looks fun and not so depressing and dark. Then again, it won't bring in the typical Seth Rogen audience. Barbra Striesand hasn't been a draw in a long time. And it does look like a typical road trip movie. But I think that the audience is out there to make this film a success.

2. Monsters Inc. 3D- $12 million 5-day opening- $30 million total- I think that there is no demand for a 3-D re-release of this film. I don't think that a lot of people have a personal connection to it (except for me, it was my first film in the movie theater) and it doesn't fit the 3D medium as much as Finding Nemo or The Lion King. Expect more results similar to Beauty and the Beast 3D than the other two films.

DECEMBER 21

1. Jack Reacher- $30 million opening- $92 million total- The first trailer for this movie sucked, but I really liked the second one. It looks a little too formulaic but I think that enough people have read the books and it is a typical Tom Cruise action flick so people looking for action may flock to it. It really is the only action film this holiday season so I think that it has the possibility of being a big success.

2. This is 40- $22 million opening- $70 million total- This is 40 has a lot of the elements of a traditional comedy smash. Big stars (Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann), top-tier comedy director (Judd Apatow) and a lot of raunchy jokes. But This is 40 is about aging and the people who these raunchy comedies are typically aimed at are not gonna want to see this. So I don't know how big this will be. I think it looks a little too dark as well and I'm not sure if it is right for the holiday season. Keep an eye on this one, it could get interesting.

DECEMBER 25

1. Les Miserable- $40 million Tuesday-Sunday opening- $140 million total- The story of Jean Valjean and Fantine and Inspector Javert is finally coming to the big screen as a musical. There are a lot of fans of the beloved musical and I think that they will turn out in droves to see this. The film is also getting a lot of publicity through a five minute featurette that is playing in front of almost every movie right now. It is getting a lot of buzz because of that and a lot of Oscar buzz as well. I think that this will be a big hit this holiday season.

2. Django Unchained- $35 million Tuesday to Sunday opening- $100 million total- This is going to be front-loaded. The people who see Tarantino's movies typically go out and see it as soon as they can. I think that if it gets enough Oscar buzz than it will make more, but I think that with the controversial subject matter will be too much for the Academy. Plus, this was a supposedly out of control production, so we'll have to see how this goes.

I think that I have covered most films. Hitchcock opens in limited release on November 23, The Collection opens on November 30 Zero Dark Thirty opens in NY/LA on December 19 and Billy Crystal's Parental Guidance opens on Christmas day.We'll see how it goes. The box office begins this weekend with Skyfall.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Regal Cinemas announces theaters that will show The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48 FPS

Regal Cinemas has announced their list of theaters that will be showing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48 FPS 3D. Here is the list. Keep in mind that this is only Regal Cinemas locations, not all theaters:

  • Tikahntnu Stadium 16 IMAX & RPX, Anchorage, AK
  • McCain Mall Stadium 12 & RPX, North Little Rock, AR
  • Alhambra Renaissance Stadium 14 & IMAX, Alhambra, CA
  • Aliso Viejo Stadium 20 & IMAX, Aliso Viejo, CA
  • Bakersfield Stadium 14, Bakersfield, CA
  • Brea Stadium East 12, Brea, CA
  • Hacienda Crossings Stadium 20 & IMAX, Dublin, CA
  • Parkway Plaza Stadium 18 & IMAX, El Cajon, CA
  • Fairfield Stadium 16 & IMAX, Fairfield, CA
  • Foothill Towne Center Stadium 22, Foothill Ranch, CA
  • Fresno Stadoum 22 & IMAX, Fresno, CA
  • Irvine Spectrum 21 IMAX & RPX, Irvine CA
  • Long Beach Stadium 26 & IMAX, Long Beach, CA
  • LA Live Stadium 14, Los Angles, CA
  • Ontario Palace Stadium 22 & IMAX, Ontario, CA
  • Laguna Village 12, Sacramento, CA
  • Natomas MArketplace Stadium 16, Sacramento, CA
  • San Bernardino Stadium 14 & RPX, San Bernardino, CA
  • Horton Plaza 14, San Diego, CA
  • Mira Mesa Stadium 18 & RPX, San Diego, CA
  • San Marcos Stadium 18, San MArcos, CA
  • Valencia Stadium 12 & IMAX, Santa Clarita, CA
  • Southgate Stadium 20 & IMAX, South Gate, CA
  • Temecula Stadium 15 & IMAX, Temecula, CA
  • West Covina Stadium 18, West Covina, CA
  • Colorado Center Stadium 9 & IMAX, Denver, CO
  • Continental Stadium 10 & RPX, Denver, Co
  • Gallery Place Stadium 14, Washington, DC
  • Peoples Plaza Stadium 17, Newark, DE
  • Brandywine Town Center 16, Wilmington, DE
  • Belltower Stadium 20, FT Myers, FL
  • Gainesville Cinema Stadium 14, Gainesville, FL
  • The Loop Stadium 16 & RPX, Kissimmee, FL
  • Kendall Village Stadium 16 & RPX, Miami, FL
  • South Beach Stadium 18, Miami Beach, FL
  • Waterford Lakes Stadium 20 & IMAX, Orlando, FL
  • Park Palace Stadium 16 & RPX, Pinellas Park, FL
  • Royal Palm Beach Stadium 18 & RPX, Royal Palm Beach, FL
  • Sawgrass Stadium 23 & IMAX, Sunrise, FL
  • Atlantic Station Stadium 16 & IMAX, ATlanta, GA
  • Augsta Exchange Stadium 20 & IMAX, Augsta, GA
  • Mall of Georgia Stadium 20 & IMAX, Buford, GA
  • Hollywood Stadium 24 @ North I-85, Chamblee, GA
  • Town Center Stadium 16 & RPX, Kennesaw, GA
  • Dole Cannery Stadium 18 IMAX & RPX, Honolulu, HI
  • Fenway Stadium 13 & RPX, Boston, MA
  • Independence Mall 14, Kingston, MA
  • Westview STadium 16 & IMAX, Fredrick, MD
  • Salisbury Stadium 16 & RPX, Salisbury, MD
  • Majestic Stadium 20 & IMAX, Silver Spring, MD
  • Biltmore Grande Stadium 15 & RPX, Asheville, NC
  • Stonecrest at Piper Glen Stadium 22, Charlotte, NC
  • Mayfaire Stadium 16 & IMAX, Wilmington, NC
  • Fox Run Stadium 15 & RPX, Newington, NH
  • Red Rock Stadium 16 & IMAX, Las Vegas, NV
  • Colonie Center Stadium 13, Albany, NY
  • Crossgates Stadium 18 & IMAX, Albany, NY
  • Court Street Stadium 12 & RPX, Brooklyn, NY
  • Sheepshead Bay Stadium 14 & IMAX, Brooklyn, NY
  • Clifton Park Stadium 19 & RPX, Clifton Park, NY
  • Deer Park Stadium 16 & IMAX, Deer Park, NY
  • Atlas Park Stadium 8, Glendale, NY
  • Kaufman Astoria Stadium 14, Long Island City, NY
  • New Roc Stadium 18 & IMAX, New Rochelle, NY
  • E-Walk Stadium 13 & RPX, New York, NY
  • Staten Island Stadium 16 & RPX, Staten Island, NY
  • Westbury Stadium 12 & IMAX, Westbury, NY
  • Fairfield Commons Stadium 20, Beavercreek, OH
  • Bridgeport Village Stadium 18 & IMAX, Tigard, OR
  • King of Prussia Stadium 16 & IMAX, King of Prussia, PA
  • Riverview Plaza Stadium 17, Philadelphia, PA
  • Warrington Crossing Stadium 22 & IMAX, Warrington, PA
  • Hollywood Stadium 20 & RPX, Green Ville, SC
  • Charles Towne Square Stadium 18, North Charleston, SC
  • Pinnacle Stadium 18 & IMAX, Knoxville, TN
  • Amarillo Star Stadium 14 & IMAX, Amarillo, TX
  • Gateway Stadium 16 & IMAX, Austin, TX
  • Greenway Grand Palace Stadium 24 & RPX, Houston, TX
  • Houston Marq'e Stadium 23 & IMAX, Houston, TX
  • Live Oak Stadium 18 & RPX, Live Oak, TX
  • Alamo Quarry Stadium 16, San Antonio, TX
  • Cielo Vista Stadium 18 & RPX, San Antonio, TX
  • Huebner Oaks Stadium 14 & RPX, San Antonio, TX
  • Potomac Yard Stadium 16, Alexandria, VA
  • Kingstowne Stadium 16, Alexandria, VA
  • Manassas Stadium 14 & IMAX, Manassas, VA
  • Valley View Grande Stadium 16, Roanoke, VA
  • Everett Stadium 16 & RPX, Everett, WA
  • Lakewood Stadium 15 & RPX, Lakewood, WA
  • The Landing Stadium 14 & RPX, Renton WA
Thankfully, the theater near me has bee listed as an available theater for FPS 3D. I was hoping that I would be able to see the film in the format and I am thankful that I am able too. For those who are not aware, 48 FPS means that instead of the traditional 24 FPS, there are more frames on the screen and it makes the experience clearer in 3D and is closer to what the human eye actually sees. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters December 14 but tickets go on sale this week.


The Muppets 2 to begin filming in January, release date set

The Muppets is one of my favorite films of 2011 and a favorite of many other people as well. Luckily, Disney realized that and they are getting a sequel off the ground quickly. The Muppets 2 is going to be without Jason Segel but will be written again by Nicholas Stoller and directed by James Bobin again as well. The film is described as being a comedy caper throughout Europe. Recently, Christoph Waltz was cast in the film as an Interpol agent. Producer Todd Lieberman stated that the film will begin filming in early January in London and wrap in April in time for a December 20, 2013 release date. He also teased that more casting announcements are coming soon. I am very excited for a Muppets sequel and I think that it is a good idea to get it going soon as long as it is a quality script. The Muppets 2 will hit theaters on December 20, 2013.



Another Sign of the Apocalypse: WB considering Casablanca sequel

The perfect example of what is wrong with Hollywood, today the news broke that Hollywood is considering a sequel to one of the absolute greatest films of all time, 1942's Casablanca. A sequel to the 70 year old classic would find Rick Blaine's son traveling to Morocco to learn more about his father. The screenplay was written in the 1980's by the original Casablanca screenwriter Howard Koch. Apparently, Rick's actions have become legendary and his son wants to learn more about him. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is rumored to be a candidate.

Most people are shocked at the possibility of a Casablanca sequel. Even Humphrey Bogart's son is against the idea. I think that this is quite possibly the dumbest idea ever. Even worse than a remake of Casablanca. Now that's saying something. Hollywood is a weird place sometimes. They are always nostalgic and want to remember their heritage but with unnecessary remakes and sequels (1998's Psycho, anybody) they ruin the original films and seem to discourage people from seeing the originals. That is one of the greatest films ever, an example of Hollywood filmmaking at its peak.There are some films that you just do not touch. Sequels to any film such as Citizen Kane, Inception, Singin in the Rain, Lawrence of Arabia, Raging Bull, Gone With the Wind, etc. would all be bad ideas. Hopefully this never gets off the ground because this is one idea I am fully against.





Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Wreck-It Ralph" leads weekend, "Flight" surprises with $25 million

Disney's Wreck-It Ralph opened the holiday season with a bang this weekend. The animated video game comedy opened with a strong $49.1 million, along with an A Cinemascore. The film represents a new high for Disney Animation Studios, whose largest previous hit was 2010's Tangled which opened with $48.7 million (Tangled went on to make $200 million). This film will have much longer legs than any other animated film this year. The candy colored atmosphere and jokes are broadly appealing and the only other family animated film this holiday season is Dreamworks' Rise of the Guardians. I did enjoy Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and although it is not flawless, I would recommend it, especially to people with kids. It's a pleasure to watch and it is very clever and funny.

In second place was Paramount's Flight, the Denzel Washington starred drama. The film surprised with a $25 million opening, which is very high for an R-rated alcoholism drama. The film opened even higher than Ben Affleck's Argo, which opened to around $19 million. Flight also grabbed an A- Cinemascore and a budget of $31 million. It will be interesting to see if Flight can hold as well as Argo has. Speaking of Argo, the political thriller made around $10.2 million this weekend for a cumulative total of $75.8 million. Argo should have no trouble passing $100 million and if it gets an awards-season re-release, then it will get even higher. Bet Warner Bros. didn't see this one coming.

RZA's directorial debut The Man With The Iron Fists opened to $8.2 million this weekend, but a weak C+ Cinemascore. The film looks to have no staying power, as Skyfall opens next weekend which will take away most of the action crowd. Good thing is that the film only had a $15 million budget.

In addition, Taken 2 finished 5th with $6 million, Cloud Atlas was 6th with $5.2 million, and the other films dropped considerably. Overall moviegoing was at $138.3 which is up 21% from last year. Next week sees the release of Skyfall and a limited release of 11 theaters for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. Skyfall is already tearing it up overseas and look for an $80+ million debut for next weekend.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Wreck-It Ralph" is a colorful and immensely clever animated film

The last two years have not been great for animated movies. Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Madagascar 3 and Brave were decent films, but there hasn't been anything new or imaginative. So I was happy to have an animated movie that finally has some imagination to it. Wreck-It Ralph is not exactly new. I was telling my dad about the film in the car and he went through the entire film's ending. It is predictable; you can watch the trailers and know the ending. But it's the characters, the humor, and the endless action and fun that make Wreck-It Ralph a good animated movie worth seeing.

Wreck-It Ralph follows the title character (John C. Reilly) who is a video-game bad guy that is sick of being bad. He has done the same thing over and over (wreck the building and then fall off the building) in an old-school 8-bit arcade game called Fix-It Felix Jr. for the last 30 years. The townspeople of the game all look down on him and look up to Felix (Jack McBrayer). Eventually Ralph decides that he's sick of it and he leaves to get a medal from Hero's Duty (a first person-shooter/parody of today's games) to prove to the townspeople that he is just as good as Felix. Ralph fights with Sargent Calhoun (Jane Lynch) and then ends up in Sugar Rush, where he helps Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) build a car and become more than a glitch in the game.

The film has a lot going on. It is pure magic that it is able to juggle all these stories into a comprehensive narrative. The craziness is an advantage to the film as well. Wreck-It Ralph really does mirror a video game: it's crazy and in the scenes in Hero's Duty and Sugar Rush, there is flashes of hyper-kinetic action and extreme blast of gunfire (actually there's quite a bit of action). But Wreck-It Ralph is also very smart and very funny. The last time I saw a non-Pixar animated film as smart as this was 2010's Despicable Me.

Much of the humor is derived from video game references and in the Sugar Rush scenes, candy. The humor is so clever and a lot of it had me laughing very hard. There are references to the Wizard of Oz, Pacman, subtle Alien references, and just overall video game craziness. The film often is not as funny as it is clever. Not since Toy Story has there been a world so fully developed and thought out. The video game world has rules and they are very clever. The film is great in that respect but it is not without flaws.

The film clocks in at around 1hr, 41 minutes, which seems reasonable. It's just that they spend ten minutes too many in Sugar Rush. I felt that there was a ten minute burst where there wasn't much going on and there was a twist that I'm not sure needed to be there. I was checking my watch a couple times during that time period (my showing started about ten minutes too late) but the issues I had were quickly resolved and I was back to enjoying the film.

Another problem I had was the constant candy references in the script during sugar rush. It was pounded over and over to the point where the script was nothing but candy references. Sugar Rush was probably my least favorite part of the movie. It's designed beautifully and it is where that the characters are developed, but it runs pretty long during the duration of the film and I think that the screenwriters ran out of stuff to do. Too much of anything is a bad thing.

The cleverness of the film and the imagination is why I would recommend it. The film is a lot of fun. But director Rich Moore also creates a cast of dark and cynical characters that you root for. Vanellope and Ralph are both outcasts and you feel for them and while Felix has no dark past, Calhoun's husband was killed on their wedding day. So during the final montage of the film, I felt satisfied for all the characters and their (SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY) happy endings.

Wreck-It Ralph is the best animated movie of the year. It takes all the things that we can do with computer animation and makes a colorful film that is technologically a fantastic feat. The way the video games characters move is authentic and real. The film is immensely clever and fun to watch, and the references, while not all memorable will have you either chuckling or laughing out loud. Kids will like it, adults will like it and it is a great film for the whole family that can stand up with and beat this year's best in animated films. This is the kind of film Pixar should be making.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B+                                             (8/10)

               

Friday, November 2, 2012

Is 2015 going to be the biggest box office year ever?

Most years, there is one huge film in each season. This year, the big movie in Spring was The Hunger Games, the summer movie(s) were The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises and then there is The Hobbit during the Holiday season. But in 2015, there is three films set to premiere that blow away all four of those films. There is the final part of The Hunger Games with Mockingjay: Part 2 on November 20. Then there is The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015. Those are two huge films in their own right but earlier this year, Warner Bros. put Justice League on their 2015 calender. And now, Disney's Star Wars: Episode VII will debut in summer 2015. Not to mention, Ant-Man, The Penguins of Madagascar, a new Peanuts film and a Pixar film that goes inside the mind. That sounds like a pretty good line-up for a huge year. And if James Cameron's Avatar sequel falls into the 2015 calender, which is likely, 2015 will be without a doubt the biggest year ever. Let's examine each of the three big films (Avatar 2 not included).

THE AVENGERS 2

Sequels to the biggest films ever usually do pretty good. They don't always do quite as good as the original, mostly because they are not as good, but they always make money. The Avengers 2 will likely make $2 billion dollars. The original made $1.5 billion but sequels do better overseas. Plus, I think that goodwill from the other upcoming Marvel sequels will help this film (Iron Man 3, and Thor: The Dark World will both be good indicators of how big The Avengers 2 will be). And I think that Joss Whedon will deliver a good movie. The film will be huge domestically, but even bigger internationally. Expect a big one here.

DOMESTICALLY: $550 million
INTERNATIONALLY: $1.55 billion
WORLDWIDE: $2.1 BILLION


STAR WARS: EPISODE VII

Star Wars movies are always big. The original made around $500 million in the states and Episode I made more than that. There is a strong demand for a Star Wars movie (the last one was in 2005) and I think that it will surely make more than a billion. But I think that there will be more skeptics this time than there were when The Phantom Menace came out. Look for Episode VII to be the film event of the year but it won't make as much as The Avengers 2.

DOMESTICALLY: $490 million
INTERNATIONALLY: $700 million
WORLDWIDE: $1.190 BILLION


JUSTICE LEAGUE

The Justice League will be nowhere near as big as the other two films in 2015. That is because there is no build up. It is the opposite of the Marvel formula and it won't work as well. People will see it because it's Justice League but it won't come close to the grosses of the other recent superhero movies. That is unless the Man of Steel film works out.

DOMESTICALLY: $310 million
INTERNATIONALLY: $450 million
WORLDWIDE: $760 million

The other films that year I chose not to examine but I know that they will all be big in some way.

Jon Favreau's Jersey Boys put in turnaround by Warner Bros.

If you had asked me the other day what I thought the two major 2013 Oscar Contenders were, I would have said Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street and Jon Favreau's Jersey Boys. Both have major fall release dates and have a lot of appeal. But now it appears that Warner Bros. is looking to put the film in flux. The film doesn't have broad international appeal and that seems to be scaring Warner Bros. The film is now being shopped around to other studios like 20th Century Fox and Paramount. Favreau is actually meeting with Paramount to discuss producing the film there. It seems that Warner will now no longer have Jersey Boys and hopefully the film can still maintain its Christmas 2013 release date.

In addition, Collider reports that five actors are being eyed for major roles. Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3), Dominic Cooper (Captain America), John Magaro (Not Fade Away) and Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire). The film seems like it would be a good fit for the screen and the cast sounds good. I like Favreau as well and I hope they can get the film where it needs to be to get made.




Christoph Waltz in talks to join "The Muppets 2"

The Muppets 2 looks like it is rushing head on into production as the main roles that need to be cast are being filled. Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained star Christoph Waltz is in talks to join the sequel which will be set in Europe. Waltz would play an Interpol agent. Other major roles are apparently being filled.  Jason Segel will not return but James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller will return to direct and write, respectively. The Muppets 2 (tentative title) will be released in 2013 or 2014.




Thursday, November 1, 2012

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" director Francis Lawrence to finish out saga, direct both parts of "Mockingjay"

After director Gary Ross departed the second chapter of The Hunger Games, Lionsgate quickly hired Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) to direct the sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Word has now come out that Lawrence will now direct the two sequels, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2". Even though I am not excited about the two part split, I am excited that Lionsgate has hired Lawrence on for the two sequels. To me, this means that they are happy with what they see and what to keep him on to finish off the saga. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Clafin, Jeffrey Wright and Woody Harrelson are all expected to return. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be released on November 22, 2013. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 will be released on November 21, 2014 and Part 2 will be released on November 20, 2015.


Jamie Foxx in talks to play Electro in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

After a solid franchise starter in this summer's The Amazing Spider-Man, I would say that I'm hoping for somthing extraordinary in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After telling the origin story, I think that there is enough there to get a great film out of the sequel. The news that Electro is going to be the villain is exciting. I think that having Electro will give the film somthing new and fresh and will help the film enourmously. The news that Jamie Foxx is in talks for the role doesn't excite me as much.

I think that if done right, Foxx's portrayal of Electro would be great. But I think that there are many ways it could go wrong. It has nothing to do with Foxx being African-American, I actually find that sort of exciting. But the Electro that I know from the comics is way different than the Electro I think that Foxx would portray. Jamie Foxx could end up surprising me though. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits theaters May 2, 2014.



"Wreck-It Ralph" to top "Flight" this weekend

Disney's animated comedy Wreck-It Ralph is expected to win the box office this weekend. The $150 million dollar comedy will open modestly, with a likely total around $40-$50 million. That will be more than enough to top Robert Zemeckis' addiction drama Flight, which will open with around $10- $20 million. Wreck-It Ralph's projected opening is solid, but not spectacular. The advantage is that word of mouth is bound to be good, the film is broadly appealing and beyond Rise of the Guardians, there is little to no family animated films this Holiday season. So look for Wreck-It Ralph to hold well in the following weeks. In addition to Wreck-It Ralph, the adult drama Flight should also hold well. The drama is dark and won't open huge but just like Ben Affleck's Argo, this is a film that will make money over time and not all at once. However, the film is much darker than Affleck's thriller and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, audiences may be looking for something much more light and fun. In addition to those two films, Argo will hold well for about $9 million and RZA's The Man with the Iron Fists will open to about $6 million.

1. Wreck-It Ralph- $45 million
2. Flight- $15 million
3. Argo- $9 million
4. The Man in the Iron Fists- $6 million
5. Hotel Transylvania- $5 million

On a sidenote, Hurricane Sandy will surely affect grosses, but only on the East Coast. I still think it will be a good weekend, but definitely not as high. We shouldn't really care anyways, it's box office grosses vs. a national tragedy. Thought and prayers go out to the victims.