Saturday, March 30, 2013

Battleship (2012) review

You don't typically see me write reviews of movies that have been out for a while. It's either I see it in theaters or I don't see it at all. But thanks to a free preview of HBO and Cinemax this weekend, I'll be reviewing some movies that came out in 2011 and 2012 that I missed in theaters. Starting with Battleship. Michael Bay really did start something didn't he. The only difference between Battleship and Transformers is quality and box office grosses: Battleship was a flop, Transformers was a hit, and any film in the Transformers series is much better than Battleship. I know that the Transformers has its haters but I still think that they're great mindless fun which is more than I can say about Battleship. The first hour and a half of this movie is so dreadful that you likely won't get to the good part. It's plotless, mindless and stupid and despite rare bits of fun, not worth your time.

Battleship tells the story of Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), a bum who has nothing to do with his life. One night he meets Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) and after an incident with the cops, is forced by his brother (Alexander Sarsgaard) to turn his life around. He joins the Navy and moves up the ranks but isn't well liked by his commander (Liam Neeson). Then, there's also scientists trying to make contact with aliens and when they do, the aliens come and destroy Earth. It's up to Alex and his multi-racial gang of combatants including Rihanna to stop the invasion and save the world.

Let's start with the good. The last thirty minutes is ridiculously stupid fun. It's got big explosions and old guys with guns and really doesn't take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, the final thirty minutes can't save a movie and the rest of Battleship is so awful that nothing could redeem it.

First off, it's one of the worst plots in recent history. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason for it. The aliens just come to Earth one day and decide that they're going to take over. Just decide that they're going to. They have nothing that they want. There is no explanation of why they're here, nothing. And if there is some hint of it, I didn't get it. Even in the prime examples of alien and terrorist overthrow movies, there's at least a reason as to why they're here and destroying the Earth. The Transformers want the Allspark and world domination and their goal is to exterminate the humans. Cobra wants to take over the world. The aliens don't speak, they just blow stuff up.

The dialogue is paper-thin. "I have a bad feeling about this." "We're going to die!" "Oh, s***, we're going to die!" Every single cliched line in action movie history is in this horrible script. Sometimes, characters will just state the obvious and do really stupid things. It's just mind-boggling that nobody could come up with anything better than this.

The acting is just plain awful as well. I mean, the actors weren't helped by the script but nobody was any good in this movie. There's a reason why John Carter and Battleship flopped and it just might be Taylor Kitsch. He sounds like he's on drugs the whole movie and its just awful to watch his performance. I liked John Carter but this was unacceptable.

In the end, I don't have much to say about Battleship besides that it's really, really dumb. There's no rhyme or reason to a single thing that is said or done in the plot and it's poorly acted, poorly scripted and just all around bad. And you don't care about the characters either. In Transformers, I cared a little bit and there was a plot. Battleship is just a bad effort at a Transformers knock off. Battleship sunk.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D                                             (3.5/10)

Friday, March 29, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation review

Well, it finally got to theaters. G.I. Joe: Retaliation was originally slated to hit theaters last summer on June 29 before being pushed back exactly nine months to March 29, 2013. The move was baffling. This was a film that was scheduled to hit theaters in less than a month when it was delayed and was highly anticipated by fans. Paramount cited a 3D conversion but some say the real reason was to put more Channing Tatum in the film. After seeing the film, I honestly have no idea what the real reason was. It certainly wasn't to put more Channing Tatum in the movie. But although the film's 30% approval rating by critics on Rotten Tomatoes says the film didn't get any better over nine months, I'm not sure that's the case. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is still an entertaining action flick. It certainly has its problems, but unlike other explosion-filled epics, it has an intriguing and cohesive plot. Too bad none of the characters have a story.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation starts fresh from the much-hated original, The Rise of Cobra. This story follows Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Flint (DJ Catrona), primarily. The film begins with a siege on a nuclear facility. The President's (Johnathan Pryce) new plan is to disarm the world's nuclear warheads. But the President really isn't the President. Zartan is the real President and he has a dastardly scheme behind his sleeve. His first initiative: killing the G.I. Joes. He succeeds in his mission, but the three Joes listed above survive. Eventually, the trio team up with former General Joe Colton (Bruce Willis), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and another important foe to take down Cobra and save the world.

First off, before I list off my criticisms, I will say that I really did enjoy Retaliation. It was a fun summer popcorn movie with a ton of good action setpieces and a really interesting plot. But it has its share of big problems. The first is the long lag in the middle of the film. It deals with building the plot up, but it switches between stories way too often and is definitely the least interesting aspect of the film. The good thing is that the dual stories of Roadblock and his gang and the pursuit of Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) by Snake Eyes, come together in the last thirty minutes and make a really nice finale that is exciting and filled with tension.

There are bigger problems than a slow middle act. Most films have that. Even Argo, one of my favorite movies, is slow in the middle. But most films don't have a character that just pops in and out and honestly serves absolutely nothing to the plot that I can remember. Seriously, maybe I'm forgetting something, but the screenplay of this film gave Bruce Willis not a thing to do. He just shows up and shoots a few people occasionally. It was one of the most mind-boggling things I've seen in a movie in a long time. That's the only problem in an otherwise clever and cohesive story.

But the biggest problem of the film is character development or lack there-of. There is absolutely no character development and so many actors talents are wasted. We kind of already know the back stories of Duke, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow but we don't know much about Flint, Roadblock and Lady Jaye. And honestly, I can't say that I learned a ton about them. Roadblock was a little kid who grew up in the hood. Lady Jaye's dad didn't want her to be in the military. And I know nothing about Flint. And what does Firefly (Ray Stevenson), one of the premiere baddies, have against Roadblock? They never explained that. I don't know if they (the screenwriters) just forgot or they didn't care, but it was annoying and noticeable.

I read in a review of the film that although the film features the destruction of an entire city, it still felt small. And I was watching it, I realized that the review was dead on. It's a real tense film towards the end but the buildup isn't something that feels cataclysmic like Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It's quite different from that but isn't an epic film.

Besides my criticisms, I still liked G.I. Joe: Retaliation a lot. The best thing is the story. They really did try to make a good story for the film, and you could tell in the final product. There were logical twists and turns and a tension filled final half although you know how it's going to end. I mean, I thought that it was a really interesting story. You might think that nuclear war is something that has been beaten down in films, wait until you see how Retaliation handles it. I'm telling you, you'll be surprised. There's a cohesive plot.

In addition to the fact that it has a plot, it also has some great action scenes. The two best both involve ziplines. The first is the storm on the Pakistani nuclear compound which features a ton of explosions and shooting. It's a ton of fun and a very memorable sequence. The second is the mountain scene with the ninjas. That is an expertly made action scene and really nice considering the amount of skill that had to take. It's up there with Tom Cruise on the building in Ghost Protocol (although Ghost Protocol is a much better film). Also good is the last thirty minutes of the film which features a lot of nuclear destruction and shooting.

Another thing that was an improvement on the last film was the fact that it finds the right tone. It's absurd (sometimes a little too absurd) and has a lot of dark humor and machine gun fire. It doesn't take itself too seriously. It's quite a bit of fun when a film does that. And G.I. Joe almost reaches an Avengers-like state where the film is just a lot of jokey fun. Unfortunately, Retaliation does take itself too seriously with its revenge plot and falls short of that happy medium tone.

All in all, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a perfectly fine action thriller. It's a fun movie that will entertain you for two hours. Just go in knowing what you are getting. Don't expect something with great dialogue. Don't expect anything substantial. Know that it's two hours of pure action film. The 3D was decent. You could either see it in the format or not. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is an improvement on the original but not an improvement enough to call it a really good action film.

THE FINAL GRADE: C+                                           (6.3/10)

Summer Box Office Predictions- Part 1

The summer movie season just keeps getting earlier and earlier. A couple of years ago, the studios would only release their big-budget tentpoles in the months of May-August with a few sprinkled in the holiday season. Now the season has spread to March and April thanks to Fast Five and The Hunger Games and I figured that I would start my summer box office predictions early. I'll start with G.I. Joe: Retaliation and make my way to Man of Steel.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $55 million
Total Gross Prediction- $145 million

The lack of PG-13 action movies this year will cause G.I. Joe: Retaliation to have a massive opening weekend but I'm not sure if it will have holding power. And I'm not sure how well it will play in the teen market. A lot of people I have talked to say that they aren't interested in seeing it. But the last real action blockbuster that had a PG-13 rating on it was Skyfall. And that made a lot of money. 

THE HOST- March 29

Opening Weekend Prediction- $20 million
Total Gross Prediction- $65 million

Another Twilight copycat that this time might have some relative success. Warm Bodies was a success but Beautiful Creatures wasn't so it's been a toss-up ever since Twilight ended. The Host is actually from the author of Twilight so it might get some more buzz. Plus, it looks actually tolerable unlike Beautiful Creatures. If it can draw male audiences to see it, then it will be a bigger hit. 

EVIL DEAD- April 5

Opening Weekend Prediction- $30 million
Total Gross Prediction- $85 million

Horror movies are in right now and especially ones with zombies. The thing that I think makes Evil Dead a hit is that it has been marketed as "The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience". That is something that gets butts in seats and I think that it's really going to help that film. The R-rating might limit it but real gore fans are going to show up. 


Opening Weekend Prediction- $10 million
Total Gross Prediction- $30 million

Honestly, I think that the end has already come for 3D rereleases. It's just not something that the public wants. That's why this film is going to tank with around $30 million. The interest just is not there to see this film. 

42- April 12

Opening Weekend Predictions- $17 million
Total Gross Prediction- $60 million

I'm not familiar with the gross of sports movies at the box office but I think that 42 is interesting because it's a story that's never been told on the big screen. I'm really interesting in seeing how this turns out and I think that this could be a big hit. I'm convinced that after last year's awards season, people really had the realization that there are good movies that are still entertaining and I think that 42 is going to tap right into that. 


Opening Weekend Prediction- $8 million
Total Gross Prediction- $18 million

Do they think that we're stupid? Scary Movie 5 looks like a cheap, direct to DVD sequel that nobody wants to go see and I think that the grosses will reflect that. If this movie becomes a hit I will be shocked and amazed. Teens aren't this stupid, I hope. 

OBLIVION- April 19

Opening Weekend Prediction- $40 million
Total Gross Prediction- $125 million

This is a weird film because I think that it's going to do good based off the action and that it stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman but I don't think that it will do great because of the fact that it's an original science fiction film. I'm thinking that somewhere around $125 million will be a good total for Oblivion. 


Opening Weekend Prediction- $21 million
Total Gross Prediction- $59 million

The common sentiment on the internet since this film received it's R rating but I'm still not convinced that the film will be a good movie. I think that because of its cast and how Robert De Niro has been back in the spotlight will help this film but I'm not really sure. 


Opening Weekend Prediction- $35 million
Total Gross Prediction- $90 million

Pain and Gain might actually be one of the macho action movies that succeeds this year. It's got a nice cast and if it's PG-13, it'll get a lot of teens in seats. I hope that it's good and I think that it will make a nice $90 million in the US. 

IRON MAN 3- May 3

Opening Weekend Prediction- $165 million
Total Gross Prediction- $450 million

Iron Man 3 is the first film in Marvel's phase two and by all accounts, I'm sure that it's going to be a smash. Iron Man is the most popular character in the Marvel canon and I think that he can drive a film to wild success unlike any other character. I think that The Avengers will help this film's gross and since there's an Avengers sequel coming, people are going to want to check this one out.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $30 million
Total Gross Prediction- $100 million

The summer blockbuster series is typically without any dramas to offset the massive amounts of superheros and explosions that are at the multiplex. But this year there is. The Great Gatsby has a great cast, a famous director, a unique look and will be a modest hit because of the adult audiences that Hollywood has seriously under-estimated for years.


Opening Weekend Prediction-$115 million
Total Gross Prediction- $400 million

One of my most anticipated movies of the year is likely to be one of the biggest movies of the year. It's got plenty of action and it's the sequel to one of the most beloved sci-fi movies of the last few years. Look at The Dark Knight and Batman Begins. That's what I see going down with Star Trek Into Darkness.

EPIC- May 24

Opening 4-Day Weekend Prediction- $50 million
Total Gross Prediction- $130 million

Animated movies are typically successful no matter what and I'm putting high marks on this film just because of that. But I have my doubts about Epic. It just doesn't seem like the type of animated film that is really successful at the box office. But hey, I could be wrong.


Opening 4-Day Weekend Prediction- $110 million
Total Gross Prediction- $250 million

Judging by the success of the last film, I don't see this installment being anything short of a hit. This franchise just keeps getting bigger and bigger and the latest film looks to be more action-packed than any other film in the series. It could be impacted by franchise fatigue but I don't see that.


Opening 4-Day Weekend Prediction- $90 million
Total Gross Prediction- $210 million

It's the conclusion of a trilogy according to the producers and I think that the promise of the end of the franchise might be a plus mark for a lot of fans. Broad comedies are also "in" right now and I think that even though the last film was a disaster, Part III will be a success.


Opening Weekend Predictions- $25 million
Total Gross Prediction- $75 million

Now You See Me looks good. Really good. But I'm not sure how well that it's going to do against really popular film franchises like Star Trek and Fast and Furious and stars like Will Smith. I do think that it will do good based on star power alone and the concept but as The Incredible Burt Wonderstone proved, magic doesn't sell.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $45 million
Total Gross Prediction- $130 million

Will Smith's one of the few stars who can still drive a movie and the team-up with his son in this one is going to be heavily publicized. But still, the trailers are vague and I don't think that it looks particularly exciting but the father-son team could get people to see the film.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $40 million
Total Gross Prediction- $120 million

I don't know what it is be we as a country have been watching a lot more comedies and dramas lately rather than super-violent thrillers. I think that the change will really benefit broad comedies like The Internship and help it get a healthy gross. Plus, people like Google.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $27 million
Total Gross Prediction- $65 million

The following week comes a different comedy that I'm assuming is going to be a whole lot more raunchy. The Internship might be rated R but This is the End is REALLY going to be R judging by the twenty seconds of the red band trailer I saw. But I think that the audience is there for these guys and people will like the concept so it will be a success.


Opening Weekend Prediction- $100 million
Total Gross Prediction- $315 million

Although Superman doesn't have a great track record at the box office, I just have a feeling that this is going to be an event movie. It's produced by Christopher Nolan and that name alone is going to get people to see it. Plus, early buzz on the film is good so I think that we're in for a hit here.

That's it for Part 1. But look for Part 2 soon as I go from Monsters University to The Mortal Instruments. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone review

There aren't many PG-13 comedies that come out any more. Ever since The Hangover, the PG-13 comedy has been a dying breed, one niche genre that studios just didn't make anymore. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone takes a shot at making a PG-13 comedy and its not going to change a thing in the industry. It's an average film with mild entertainment value and very few laughs, which is sad despite the cast that director Don Scardino has assembled for the film. It's not funny enough to be a good comedy and not entertaining enough to get a pass as a decent movie. Once again, the studios try to incorporate a story with heart into a movie that should just be madcap ridiculousness. Sometimes it works, but this time it doesn't. I honestly judge comedies on how much they make me laugh, and Wonderstone didn't. I laughed more in Argo than I did in Burt Wonderstone.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone tells the tale of the title character, who as a child is bullied and shunned by his peers. For his birthday, he gets a Rance Holloway magic kit and his life changes. He becomes a magician with his partner Anton and the duo become the kings of the Las Vegas strip. Thirty years later, Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) are bickering constantly and are sick and tired of their show. Meanwhile, Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) is becoming a Johnny Knoxville-esque force in the magic world and Burt's showrunner Doug (James Gandolfini) is looking for a new act. Burt ends up fired and must find himself and become a better person through Jane (Olivia Wilde) and discover the magic inside him with Rance Holloway himself (Alan Arkin).

Despite the cliched plot, there are some good things about this film. First off, there are actually three decent performances in this film. Jim Carrey has some good moments as Gray but his character is a complete idiot who verges on the total stupidity that this film maybe needed but really didn't. Alan Arkin delivers his lines well and is one of the few characters you don't want to kill. The standout for me was Buscemi who was funny and not a completely annoying and despicable character. On the other hand, Olivia Wilde is once again a contrived plot device and Steve Carell is probably one of the worst things about the film. But I'll get to that later.

There are some mildly funny moments as well. I can say that in the first scene where Steve Grey is on the scene, I was laughing out loud and I also though that James Gandolfini and Steve Carell had some funny moments. But the thing is, I can quote about one or two funny lines. I can count at least six from The Avengers. Not good considering that The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a comedy. Other than a few funny gags, the film verges too much on gross out humor. Carrey's character has more cringe-worthy moments than a Family Guy episode and that is not a compliment.

The worst thing about this film is that it's boring. There's nothing substantial or even particularly interesting at all in the film. It wants to be like the eccentric Ben Stiller films like Zoolander and Dodgeball mixed with the comedy of Will Ferrell in films like Anchorman and Blades of Glory but in the end it's not. It's just not a funny movie. And it's not an entertaining one either. Dodgeball isn't always downright hilarious but I'll be darned if it's not one of the most entertaining movies around. Add to that, the story isn't fresh enough or interesting enough to make the film worthwhile. It's just nothing new and you can predict it right off the bat.

In addition, Steve Carell isn't funny in this movie. I really do like him as an actor and I do find him quite funny. His work in Anchorman is one of the best comedic performances ever. But in this film, he's just not good. He has a few funny gags but he's practically in every scene of the movie. And that's not okay. I'd much rather see an Anton Marvelton movie where Carell is the annoying sidekick. He's just not a lead actor. Him and Carrey make up a pair of really annoying characters.

In the end, comedy is in the eye of the beholder so you might like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. But I didn't even think it was that entertaining which is not a good sign. The performances might make you like it and if you're a Carrey fan, you'll really want to check this out. But don't go hoping for a really great comedy because you're just setting yourself up for disappointment.

THE FINAL GRADE: C-                                            (4.9/10)

Updated March Review Schedule

Due to some inconveniences, it looks like I won't be able to see Jack the Giant Slayer and review it. However, I will have a few other reviews coming throughout the month.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone- Today

The Croods- March 22

G.I. Joe: Retaliation- March 29

The Host- March 29

Room 237- March 30


Jack the Giant Slayer


Olympus Has Fallen

Friday, March 8, 2013

Oz, The Great and Powerful review

There's no place like home. That's one of the more famous lines in the 1939 musical masterwork, The Wizard of Oz. The line isn't present at all in the film, likely due to copyright issues between Disney and Warner Bros, but somehow Oz, The Great and Powerful feels a bit like returning home. Oz is such a beloved place among fans of cinema along with people who aren't movie geeks and the new Disney film does homage to that place quite well. I wasn't sure how this film was going to end up. And I'm still not sure how to describe it. But it's a fun, visually spectacular return to the world that we all know and love and despite several significant problems, it ends up being entertaining.

Oz, The Great and Powerful mirrors the story of The Wizard of Oz despite with a different character. This time, it's the Wizard, Oscar Diggs (James Franco). He is a greedy, selfish, womanizing circus magician who ends up going to the land of Oz when (what else) a tornado hits. There he meets three witches; Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and another who's name is a spoiler (Michelle Williams). One of them is the wicked witch and the Wizard must defeat them to get the Royal Treasure of Oz. Along the way, he meets a monkey named Finley (Zach Braff), a girl made of China (Joey King) and the Munchkins. In the end, Oscar must become the leader of Oz and wage a war against its oppressors. 

I liked this film for two main reasons. One is the visuals and use of 3D. Now, if you're a frequent reader of this blog or know me personally, then you'll know that I am against giving a film a good grade just because of the visuals. I think that anybody with a special effects expert can get on a computer and make a CGI tiger named Richard Parker and say that they made a great movie because they made a great tiger. That's wrong and one of the reasons that I despised Life of Pi as much as I did. But in Oz, The Great and Powerful, I can't stress how good the visuals are. They are A+ effects and help immerse you in the world of Oz.  It's not a carbon copy of Alice in Wonderland, which I was happy about.

To continue on my last point, the visuals help immerse you in the land of Oz like no other film ever has. This film makes Oz feel less like a small town and more like a full land like Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings series. I thought that that was a very positive thing about the film and helped to bring the viewer into the film. Another thing was the 3D. That was another thing that put you into the land of Oz like never before. The first scene with Franco's character in Oz was probably the highlight but there's also lots of gimmicky pop-out 3D that I love. So, if you get a chance, see it in 3D. 

As a fan of the original, I also loved all the nods to the 1939 film. It's almost constant and without the subtlety in which the lines are delivered, the references would come across as aberrant and stupid but with Raimi's direction and the script by Mitchell Kapner, it comes off as the best part about the movie. If you're an Oz fan, keep your eyes and ears peeled as there are tons of little easter eggs that you will love.

But this film is not without its major share of problems. First off, I'll get an easy one out of the way. The story is paper-thin. There's nothing substantial to uncover and the story almost mirrors every single hero's journey film ever made including The Wizard of Oz. If you're looking for something new in the story department, I'm disappointed to let you know that you are in the wrong place. The characters are also vague. You know very little about any of them including the main three. There's some sort of background between all the witches but it's not gone into in depth. I hope that whoever makes the already-greenlit sequel explores that.

The performances are mediocre. I actually liked James Franco as the Wizard. It felt like a very natural performance. The witches were kind of boring. Rachel Weisz seemed to have some fun playing Evanora, but Mila Kunis looked miserable despite being arguably the most interesting of the three witches. Honestly, their shlocky melodrama bogs down the film at times. Director Sam Raimi tries to explore their backstory but their interplay hurts the film more than it helps it.

The worst thing about this film is the tone. It has absolutely no idea what kind of film it wants to be. At times, it seems to aspire to be more like the original with its sense of wonder and kind of lighthearted childish humor. But then at the same time, it wants to be this really frightening and really intense fantasy epic with loads of action and scary flying monkeys. And those two different tones could work really well together. The original Wizard of Oz is one of the prime examples of humor and scariness blending together seamlessly. But they don't and it screws up the film at times. It's never sure what it wants to be.

I don't really know who this film is going to appeal to. I liked it because I'm a Wizard of Oz fan and found all the hidden references in the film along with the awesome visual effects. But it's way too intense for little kids who might be fans of the Wizard of Oz and it could be too childish for teens who don't think that there is enough action. I don't know. I do know that if you go see it, you will enjoy it, especially if you're a fan of the original. I can't stress that point enough. But if you haven't seen the original, you still will enjoy it, even if the pacing is a bit slow. Just take the visuals in and enjoy it.

THE FINAL GRADE: B                                                (7/10)

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar to open November 7, 2014

One of the biggest movies for film fans of the next few years has to be Interstellar. I know I'm extremely excited. And it's solely because of who is writing and directing the film. That man is Christopher Nolan. He has created one of the greatest trilogies of all time, if not the greatest, with Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. He's also created some ingenious thrillers ranging from Memento to Insomnia to The Prestige. And he's also directed what is likely to go down as one of the greatest action and sci-fi films of all time with Inception. All in all, he hasn't made a bad film yet. You have to be naturally excited for a new Nolan film if you're a fan of his stuff.

Today came the announcement that Christopher Nolan's new film, Interstellar, will hit theaters next year on November 7. Paramount and Warner Bros. jointly announced today that the science fiction film would be co-produced by the two studios. The plotline goes as followed. A scientist goes on an interstellar journey to the deepest reaches of our scientific understanding. Not much to go by, but it's something.

I'm extremely excited for the film if you couldn't tell and I hope that it is awesome. If you're a science fiction fan, you've got to be excited for the next few years. And even more if you're a Nolan fan. I think that there might be something special with Interstellar.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Early Predictions for the 2013/2014 Oscars

I know, I know. We just got done with the Oscars. And you're tired of hearing about them. I know. But next year's race is just so dang awesome and packed with so many awesome films that I just had to get a head start on the race. I'm thinking that there could actually be ten films this year and I'm really excited about this slate. There will be a lot of players and there will be snubs but when the nominees are announced in January or February, here's who I think will be left standing. My predicted winners in bold.

And the nominees are......


1. David O. Russell's Untitled Abscam Film
2. The Monuments Men
3. Captain Phillips
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
5. August: Osage County
6. Nebraska
7. Inside Llewyn Davis
8. Foxcatcher
9. The Spectacular Now
10. Labor Day

It doesn't even have a title yet, but somehow, I just think that it's going to win. Partly because of the all-star cast that Russell has assembled. The film stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Louis CK and Jennifer Lawrence, which is quite the cast. It also seems like the kind of thing that the academy has been going for lately. This film seems to have the same kind of 70's thriller vibe that Argo did and that won best Picture. I also think that the academy feels like it owes something to Russell. He's had quite a career so far and after falling short with Silver Linings Playbook, a film that would have won any other year, he might have earned his Oscar. It isn't a sure thing however and a lot of other films are in contention. The Monuments Men probably has the best chance of winning out of all of the other contenders. Captain Phillips also has a good chance of winning.


Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks
Michael Fassbender, The Counselor
Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

This is another strong category as Hanks and DiCaprio are both really big actors. If Hanks hadn't won twice before, I would say that he takes it. But DiCaprio is a major Hollywood player and has NEVER won an Oscar. I think that the academy will reward him for what he is saying is his strongest work yet. I think that in addition to two noms for Hanks, Idris Elba and Steve Carell will find their way in as well. I actually believe that Carell is a real contender for his role as a psychopath.


Naomi Watts, Diana
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Jennifer Lawrence, Serena
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now
Kate Winslet, Labor Day

This is an extremely tough category to predict. On the one hand, I should just give it to Streep who has a role in the biggest Oscar bait of the season. But after winning for The Iron Lady two years ago, I'm not sure that she will win. Same with Lawrence, who just won for Silver Linings Playbook and Kate Winslet who won for The Reader a few years ago. I'm going with Watts. I think that it is going to be one of those movies where the performances are better than the movie. I think that Lawrence does have a chance of going back to back though and Woodley might win for the Sundance darling.


Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Matthew McConaughey, The Wolf Of Wall Street
Bradley Cooper, The Place Beyond The Pines
Benedict Cumberwatch, Star Trek Into Darkness
John Goodman, Inside Llewyn Davis

I'm thinking that the flashy roles win the supporting actor Oscars most of the time, so I'm going with Mark Ruffalo. This seems like a role that will win supporting actor and I'm hoping that Foxcatcher holds up to expectations. I'm thinking that Goodman will get his first nomination in a while, while Cooper will get another this year. I think that Cumberwatch might get nominated based on the frightening nature of that role which seems to be the standout of that picture.


Amy Adams, David O. Russell's Untitled Abscam Film
Jennifer Lawrence, David O. Russell's Untitled Abscam Film
Cate Blanchett, The Monuments Men
Scarlett Johannson, Don Jon's Addiction
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Adams has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress four times (Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter and The Master) and I think that it's time that she got her Oscar. David O. Russell films always get great performances out of the actors and I think that his latest project will be no different. Look for Lawrence and Roberts to be strong contenders as well.


David O. Russell, David O. Russell's Untitled Abscam Film
George Clooney, The Monuments Men
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Alexander Payne, Nebraska

Argo's not going to start a pattern. The film that wins Best Picture is going to win Best Director next year and that film is going to be David O. Russell's Abscam film. I think that he will finally get the Oscar he deserves after two nominations. But don't count out Clooney or Scorsese as those films both have a really good shot at winning both director and picture.


The Monuments Men
August: Osage County
The Wolf of Wall Street
David O. Russell's Untitled Abscam Film
Captain Phillips

Honestly, I don't know what's based on something and what's not anymore. But no matter what, I'm going with The Monuments Men, which is going to be a taut-Argo style thriller and will appeal directly to the audience that voted for Argo for screenplay last year. August: Osage County will be a contender as well but I'm thinking that it won't win.


Inside Llewyn Davis
Labor Day
The Counselor
The Spectacular Now

This is a close category as usual but the Academy loves Payne's screenplays and I think that Nebraska will be no different. However, the academy has honored all but one of these screenwriters in some way, whether it was a win or nomination and I think that it is a very real possibility that Inside Llewyn Davis or The Counselor end up taking the top prize.

That's it for now. As the season progresses, I will have more. I do have the claim to fame that I predicted Argo as the best picture of 2012 back in September so listen to my picks! But it is going to be a good season based on the number of awesome movies being released.

"Jack the Giant Slayer" flops with $28.0 million on weak weekend

The box office has been an absolute disaster this year and this past weekend was no different. Although Jack the Giant Slayer had the third biggest opening weekend of the year with $28 million, it was still a titanic flop against its $200 million budget that possibly skyrocketed to $300 million with marketing costs. The film seemed to have a decent family showing but its holding power will be hurt by the opening of the first blockbuster of the year in Oz, The Great and Powerful, which opens next week. Jack the Giant Slayer opened higher than last year's massive flops Total Recall and Battleship (both opened with $25 million) but ended up with less than the mega-flop of 2012, John Carter ($30 million). Anyways, it's not looking good for Jack the Giant Slayer and I think that this may mark the end of the original, big-budget film. For now. Jack the Giant Slayer needs about $500 million worldwide to break even and that number is virtually impossible. In second place this weekend was Identity Thief which dropped 31% to $9.7 million. Identity Thief has become the first film of 2013 to make $100 million and has been dropped slowly which means that this film could reach a number of around $130 million. The film's total currently stands at $107 million. 21 and Over held the third spot this weekend with a gross of $9 million. The party comedy flopped, making about half of what most box office prognosticators expected. The film received a B cinemascore as well which means it will end up finished around $25 million. The Last Exorcism Part II also had a paltry debut but I'm not really sure who expected that movie to do good. It grossed $8 million which seems really bad but it has already made back its budget, which is good for CBS Films. Snitch dropped around 42% for a $7.7 million weekend. That's a decent drop for an action flick and means that Snitch could reach $40 million. It's current total is $24.4 million. Escape from Planet Earth has also gone from box office flop to having a decent run with another $6.7 million weekend. The animated flick will now finish with around $55 million. The flick finished in sixth this weekend. Safe Haven also grossed another $6.3 million this weekend. The romantic flick will likely reach $70 million.

Silver Linings Playbook continued its impressive post-Oscars run this weekend with $5.9 million. The unlikeliest hit of the year has now grossed a stunning $115 million. A Good Day To Die Hard also continued it's terrible run this weekend with a 56% drop for $4.5 million. The film has now grossed $59 million. Dark Skies also tanked in its second weekend with $3.5 million.

The total box office this weekend was $108 million which is a huge drop from last year's $168 million when The Lorax and Project X opened strong. The box office has been singing the blues this year with no huge hit to carry it and very few little hits. Hopefully, Oz, The Great and Powerful can change that next weekend.

"The Wolf of Wall Street" moves to prime Oscar date, The Weinstein Company sets up Oscar slate

I know that we just got done with the Oscars and you're probably tired of hearing about them from me but I am already looking forward to next year's ceremony. There have been a lot of date changes for films that are contenders and several of them received release dates this week. And a lot of them are big contenders for not only the top prize but also Best Actor and Best Actress. Here are some of the moves from the last week.


This is the big one in my opinion as The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the big three contenders for next year. Just look at the talent behind the film. It's directed by Martin Scorsese, who hasn't won since The Departed in 2006, and stars Leonardo DiCapri, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Kyle Chandler, and Matthew McConaughey. It just seems like something that the academy would most certainly go for. Scorsese has directed five films since 2000 and only one has not been nominated for Best Picture (Shutter Island). That's a pretty good track record. The film has now received a November 15, 2013 release date which is a smart move considering that most films that win Best Picture open in October or November nowadays. Look for this to be a very good film and a major Oscar contender (it might even bring DiCaprio his first Oscar).


For a lot of people, this is the front-runner for next year's Oscars. I think that while it has a very impressive cast, it won't win. It just doesn't feel like a Best Picture winner. However, I think that it is an extremely impressive cast that includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberwatch, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abagail Breslin, and Juliette Lewis. And it is based off a well-liked stage play so that gives it an advantage. It is also directed by John Wells, who's only feature film is The Company Men. It is now set for a November 8, 2013 date which is a prime Oscar slot. The biggest advantage of this film is the fact that it is produced by the Weinstein Company and Harvey almost always finds a way for his films to win.


I have to say that Mandela is an extremely interesting film. It truly hearkens back to the days when studios did full biopics of important figures like Gandhi or Woodrow Wilson. Now it seems that the thing in Hollywodo is to do biopics that focuse on a specific part of a person's life. Some examples of that are Lincoln and Hitchcock and the upcoming Emperor. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom hopes to change that. It's a sweeping biopic that reportedly tells the life story of South African leader Nelson Mandela and his quest to end apartheid. The film stars Idris Elba as Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela and is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl). Mandela has been given a November 29, 2013 release date which will play directly into the Oscar season.


I'm thinking that Grace of Monaco could end up being this year's Iron Lady. The biopic about how starlet Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman) became the princess of Monaco is set for a December 27, 2013 release date and is likely to play into that nostalgic Hollywood sensibility that has ruled the Oscars for the past two years. But it might not end up being a great film and will only be rewarded for the performances. That's the kind of film I see Grace of Monaco being. However, I believe that Nicole Kidman is a leading candidate for her role as Kelly and she might end up taking home the big prize. The film also stars Tim Roth and Paz Vega and is directed by relative newcomer Oliver Dahan.


I know that I'm comparing this year's race a lot to previous races but Fruitvale could end up being this years Beasts of the Southern Wild. It's a Sundance darling that will likely get a small theater count and not be seen by many people, but it will end up being a film that all the critics love and it will get a major push from Harvey Weinstein and company. The film is now set for an October 18, 2013 release date which fits right in with the rest of Weinstein's schedule. I think that Fruitvale will end up being a dark horse contender but never a major player. I'm looking forward to the film and I hope that it is as good as the Sundance buzz suggests.

Look for a major dissertation of the major contenders later today along with some early predictions.

"2 Guns" and "Turkeys" move forward, "Kick-A$$ 2" moves back

Another segment in the current pile of release date changes is the ones that affect us in the immediate future. Those would be the ones that are 2013 releases and there are a few that I have to report right now. The others will be dealt with in a later post that is about Oscar contenders. Here are a few moves that will be happening this year:


A drug film that stars Denzel Washington and Mark Walhberg will probably bring some people to the theater and this one also has elements of a mob film. 2 Guns was formerly a end of summer throwaway but now Universal has moved the film to a better release date of August 2, 2013. That is a sign of confidence in the film especially because that date is currently shared by Red 2 and 300: Rise of an Empire (that film may move however). My one worry is that 2 Guns will flop just because of how many action flops there have been this year. No action film has succeeded since Django Unchained and I think that it might have to do with the gun debate going on right now. I'm sorry but I don't think that a film titled 2 Guns will do too good in this current movie-going climate.


An odd little animated film from Relativity moved up a whole year from November 14, 2014 to November 1, 2014. And I think that it is a super-smart move. This film is going to be a smash hit. I just read the synopsis for the first time and it is complete genius. It's a buddy comedy starring Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson about two turkeys who travel through time to stop people from eating turkeys as a tradition on Thanksgiving and other holidays. I love these kind of high concept animated films that aren't and I think that this film will succeed at the box office. It doesn't look like it is going to focus on visuals like the Croods. It will also help that Turkeys is the only animated film for most of November and the first since Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I'm looking forward to this one.

KICK-A$$ 2

The most concerning news on this list is the fact that Kick-A$$ 2 moved from a prime summer release date on June 28 to a end of summer throwaway date of August 16. I personally don't care because it isn't a film that I am interested in but if you are a fan of this series, this cannot be good news. The film stars Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Jim Carrey and is directed by Jeff Wadlow, who has never directed any big films. Let's just say my minuscule anticipation for this film has dropped to zero. It will now face off against Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters.

"The Hobbit: There and Back Again" pushed to December 2014, "Annie" to open Christmas 2014 and "Hercules" moved to July

This week brought a ton of schedule changes and this is just part of the several films that have been shifted around to different dates in the last few weeks. I will have several posts coming later about movies that have shifted release dates for 2013 but first let's look ahead a little bit. Here are some 2014 films that have changed their release dates recently.


One of the most debated properties in Hollywood at the moment, just got a new release date. Jonathan Liebesman's Ninja Turtles will premiere on June 6, 2014 which is a prime summer date. I was excited for the project but I think that it might be a mess and my excitement has faded. It is currently in a very tough month however, with The Good Dinosaur the week before and Jurassic Park IV the week after along with new installments in the How to Train Your Dragon and Transformers franchise. Paramount and Nick are producing Ninja Turtles and I think that this could end up being a big flop in 2014.


The biggest release date change for the last week was that of the third film in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy. The film was originally set to premiere in a packed July 2014 where it would be going face to face with X-Men: Days of Future Past in addition to Hercules: The Thracian Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy in the following weeks. Warner Bros. has now pushed back the film to a December 17, 2014 date. The competition for that time period is softer with only Tommorrowland and Night at the Museum 3 playing as direct competition. The next installment in The Hobbit trilogy opens December 13, 2013.


Another big move this week was that of Brett Ratner's Hercules feature. The film stars Dwayne Johnson and was originally set for an August 1 release date, where it would have gone up against Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead, Paramount moved the film forward to a July 25, 2014 release date. That is exciting news in my opinion, as it shows that Paramount has a lot of faith in the mythological epic. The film is sandwiched between X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is slowly becoming one of the most anticipated properties in Hollywood and Guardians of the Galaxy currently, which will be tough to overcome. But I think that Paramount is excited about it and it shows from their release date choice.


The film on this list that I am most excited for is Wally Pfister's Transcendence. If you are unfamiliar with Pfister's work, let me just say that he did the cinematography for The Dark Knight and Inception. Now you know. The plot is being kept heavily under wraps but it is a sci-fi piece and involves a lot of Nolan-esque elements according to people who have read the script. Johnny Depp and Paul Bettany are starring. I am a huge Nolan fan, so this is something that I am really excited about. Transcendence is being produced by Warner Bros. and will be released on April 25, 2014. That date was formerly held by Steven Spielberg's Robopocalypse. I think that this is a good spot for Transcendence, as it isn't around a ton of blockbusters.


Now for a film that I think is a very weird idea. The remake of the famed musical Annie will hit theaters on Christmas Day 2014 and will star Quvenshane Wallis. After watching Beasts of the Southern Wild and seeing her performance, I'm a bit more excited for the film than I was when Willow Smith was starring. The film will be produced by Sony and be directed by Will Gluck (Easy A). I really don't have much to say about the film. You've probably seen the original and know the plot, so I can't really describe that. I hope it's good though. The film opens the same day as Night at the Museum 3 and a week after Despicable Me Minions and Tomorrowland.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March Review Schedule

A brand new feature on The Movie Guru's Blog is the review schedule. I figured that it would be nice to know when reviews will be posted so I started this new feature. TBA reviews mean that the movie listed may or may not be reviewed. This will be a monthly feature. Here is the schedule for March.





ROOM 237- March 30



The Croods