Tuesday, 26 September 2017

30. Movie Money 25/09/2017

September continues to be a great time for the movies, with some new blood bringing in waves of cinemagoers to the box office, and familiar faces doing almost as well. First off, the number 1 movie this week was 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle', bringing in just under $40m, with a debut of $39m, which is just about the same amount of the first 'Kingsman'. It's not gangbusters, especially considering the sequel cost $20m more to make. Still, overseas the film has been doing pretty well and is already on track to reach its $104m budget, with a worldwide total of $100m.

Sequel brings home just about the same amount as the original

The number 2 movie is Stephen King's 'It' with a weekend take of $29.7m. You might've heard this week that 'It' is now the most successful horror movie of all time, surpassing 'The Exorcist', however, inflation still contends that to be false. While 'It' has a very impressive $266m domestic gross, and a worldwide total of $478m, surpassing this years 'War for the Planet of the Apes', it still doesn't hold a candle to the whopping $983.2m held by 'The Exorcist'. Still though, it makes for a good headline.

The king.

Number 3 went to 'Lego Ninjago' with a disappointing $20.4m. A soft start for the kid's movie with a $70m budget, especially with international numbers only bringing the worldwide total to less than half that budget at $30m. Number 4 was 'American Assassin' which brought in $6m this weekend and a worldwide total of $32m, not even reaching it's modest $33m budget. Number 5 is the most controversial movie of the year 'mother!' with a weekend total of $3.2m bringing its worldwide total to $25m, shy of its $30m budget. Sad times for numbers 3 - 5. Better luck next time!

That's the report and as always, here's the podcast episode, which, due to being recorded on Sunday, has a few outdated results.

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

29. Movie Money 19/09/2017

The box office numbers this weekend weren't nearly as disparate this week, but there was still a sizeable gap between the #1 movie, and its company in the top 5. Of course the #1 movie was 'It', with $60.1m, a 50% drop from last weeks huge opening. That's a spectacular second weekend, and the movie has made $218.8m domestically and a tremendous $372.3m worldwide. It's easily going to crack $400m within the week, and the weekend will probably see it gaining further beyond that. For context, 'It' is now more successful than the entire run of 'Cars 3', 'The Lego Batman Movie', 'Alien Covenant', in only its second week. Not bad for a $35m budget.

Not everyone could be so fortunate this season.

For the rest of the top 5, #2 on the list is 'American Assassin', with an opening of $14.8m, and a worldwide gross just shy of $21m. The action spy thriller will probably go past its moderate budget of $33m, but it's not likely to make huge amounts of money. #3 is the controversial 'mother!' which opened with $7.5m domestically, and a worldwide gross of $13.5m. The budget of $30m will likely be covered, but the arthouse film doesn't look to be translating with general audiences.

Finally, #4 is Reese Witherspoon's 'Home Again' at $5.1m bringing its domestic gross to $16.9, more than covering its $12m budget. #5 goes to 'Hitman's Bodyguard', the film that just won't go away. $3.5m was its weekend earning, bringing its domestic gross to $70.4m, and its worldwide total to $141.8m. Almost triple its $30m budget.

That's all for this weeks report. Here's the podcast:

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Friday, 15 September 2017

'American Assassin' Is As Dull As It Gets - (2017) Review

Read A Book: You're better off staying home, saving your money.
'American Assassin' is a mess. Not a great way to start a review. You can probably tell where this is going. It's the story of 'Mitch Rapp', played by 'The Maze Runner' himself, Dylan O'Brien. A tragic, superhero-esque origin story sees Rapp lose the love of his life to a mass shooting on the beach. It's told in graphic detail and is likely to evoke some intense reactions from the audience. For anyone looking to escape the all too frequent tragedies on the nightly news, perhaps skip 'American Assassin'.

As hard as it is to watch, for the first half of the film, the violence feels earned. Rapp becomes a vigilante, touring the world to stop evil, one terror cell at a time. You understand his motivations clearly, and Dylan O'Brien gives a good portrayal of a man with Punisher levels of unprocessed grief. It's also in that first half that 'American Assassin' has one of the more interesting training montages I've seen in a while, as Rapp develops his relationship with Michael Keaton's character, Stan Hurley. A man who has the training style of Mr. Miyagi, but the bloodlust of John Rambo.

For a while, it seemed like my worst fears about 'American Assassin' were gone. The film had maintained my interest, given me decent characters, and interesting action. It had defied comparisons to Jason Bourne, and other spy thrillers and become its own animal. Unfortunately, it soon devolved into one of the least interesting movies of this kind I've seen in a long time, with a tepid second half that devours the impression made by the first.

The only people who might suffer more than the audience is the cast. They're flung into a movie that takes itself far too seriously and doesn't have the legitimacy to back it up. The actors are left to give it their all, for a story that ultimately amounts to nothing. It has nothing new, or even compelling to say about the war on terror, and in fact, is even outdated in certain aspects. Had 'American Assassin' come out in 2008, starred Shia LaBeouf, and a Gene Hackman, it would've been exactly the same film.

Eagle Eye 2: The Revenge
The more 'American Assassin' goes on, the worse it gets. It builds up a certain level of goodwill and feels like a spy thriller for the modern day. This generation's international man of mystery, with an axe to grind. It turns out to be quite the opposite, as by the end of the movie, 'American Assassin' revisits tropes from the early 2010s, the mid to late 2000s, and even has an ending that even the action movies of the 90s would call too extreme. For a film that’s based on a book, it’s probably best that you stay home and read one.

Rating: Read A Book.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

28. Movie Money 11/09/2017: It Wins Big

Ladies and gentlemen rejoice, for the box office has been saved! It seems Pennywise the clown used his powers of allurement on the audiences this weekend as the Stephen King adaptation took home $123.4m domestically, and a worldwide opening of $189m. That's gargantuan for a horror movie, an R rated movie, a September release, and just a fall release in general. No one could have predicted that the film would be such a monster at the box office when it was announced that a remake of a cult 1990s miniseries would be hitting theatres.

Seems like everyone wanted to float with the clown this weekend. 

'IT' will no doubt continue to dominate the box office in the weeks to come but it won't be as easy as it was this week. The competition this past weekend was practically nonexistent with its most threatening rival being Reese Witherspoon's 'Home Again' which brought in $8.5m at #2. #3 went to 'Hitman's Bodyguard with $4.8m, and just barely beat out 'Annabelle Creation' by $800k. 'Wind River' took the #5 spot and has made a comfortable $25m gross, which is more than enough for a film that cost $11m to make. 

That means that 75% of the box office went to 'It', with numbers that were more than double the combined total of last weeks top 5, at $42.8m. With a budget of $35m, 'It' is already one of the best successes of the year, and will only grow. Audience reactions and critical reception have all been good, and word of mouth, plus an absolutely stellar marketing campaign, will leave 'It' to float in the top 5 for many weeks to come. 

Here's the podcast discussion where I give my mini review of 'IT'. The full review can be seen here.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

'IT' (2017) Review: Float On

After what seemed like the dryest movie period in years, finally, there is something exciting happening at the cinemas. It may be a remake of a miniseries adapted from a novel, but still, it's something. Stephen King's 'It' tells the story of Derry, a town cursed with mysterious disappearances of children. After his brother Georgie meets such a fate, Billy recruits his friends on a mission to find out what happened. On their journey, they come to find the orchestrator of their demise, the ravenous, and infinitely creepy Pennywise, the dancing clown. 

Teaching kids everywhere that clowns, are not to be trusted.

'It' shares much with the recent offerings of horror. It focuses on children as its victims/heroes, and it relies on jump scares to give the thrills the audience demands. There's also the unfortunate instance of characters acting far too calmly in the presence of danger, that renders most horror pictures tepid. 'It' succumbs to these and other horror trappings, but has plenty going on that lets it stand out. 

Chief among those is Pennywise. I can't recall the last time a horror film has seen fit to give its narrative a true antagonist. A face to the terror. While this isn't the first time Pennywise has been given life, I dare say it's a far more chilling one than Tim Curry's best effort. What Bill SkarsgĂ„rd does is give a performance that feels developed. Pennywise is sinister, charming, jovial, and horrifying, sometimes at the turn of a dime. 
Or I suppose some other coin would do.

His counterparts, the kids in the film, are perhaps just as engaging. 'It' is more of an adventure film than a true horror movie, with the children feeling like soldiers being called off to war at times. I appreciated how distinct each of their personalities was. It made it easier to get to know them, their fears, their desires, their identities. Once that was done, you could fear for their lives, and the film achieves the tension it needs. 

But what 'It' giveth, 'It' surely taketh away. As much as you root for Bill and the rest of Mystery Inc, there are times when the movie feels downright imbalanced. Pennywise goes from being an unstoppable demon god, to a very stoppable clown. This is not a new issue. For the clown to be scary, he needs to seem like he can't be stopped. For you to root for the kids, he needs to feel like he can. 'It' doesn't seem to be able to reconcile those two necessities, and feels jarring when it flip flops between them. 

Still, I did get swept up in the narrative of 'It'. The film had a number of unique and interesting design choices that you don't often see in horror. The type of stuff that disturbs and unsettles you while watching it. The movie does a great job of immersing you in the terror and uses the camera well to put you in the moment as a participant, rather than just an observer. Then a jump scare happens and you're taken out of the experience. 

With characters, you care for, and an antagonist you revel in watching, ‘It’ has more than most horror films these days even bother to consider. While it still has many of the failings that plague the genre today, it still manages to be a good time, with some truly impressive visuals you should see on the big screen.

Rating: Big Screen Watch.

Monday, 4 September 2017

27. Movie Money 04/09/2017

Well Labour Day weekend 2017 for the US came, and rather than give the film industry a much-needed assist, it proved to be one of the worst weekends of the year thus far. The holiday did provide something of a push to the films of the weekend, giving #1 movie 'Hitman's Bodyguard' an additional $2.8m for a four day total of $13.3m. The rest of the top 5, however, couldn't even muster $10m, with 'Annabelle Creation' coming the closest with $9.3m.

That means, cumulatively, the top 5 of the US domestic box office, over the course of the 4 day weekend, brought in $42.8m. Less than the budget of the emoji movie. Why did this happen? Well, August has never been a hotbed for film releases. It's the end of the summer, beginning of fall, and not many studios experience a lot of success with the films they put out.

The thing about that is, that's a trend that had been coming to an end as of recent. Guardians of the Galaxy cleaned house in August of 2014, and so did Suicide Squad last year. Reason being, August is typically such a dead period for film, they had nothing to compete against them. Contrast that to this year, when for the last three weeks, the biggest films were a horror movie, and an R rated action comedy, neither of which are known to draw the huge audiences that a PG-13 popcorn flick might've.

Hitman's Bodyguard certainly has made much more than it would've thanks to the dry period.

If only films like 'Alien Covenant' or 'War for the Planet of the Apes' had opened up in August, rather than in the shadow of huge Marvel movies, like 'Guardians of the Galaxy 2' for 'Alien Covenant', and 'Spider-Man Homecoming' for 'War for the Planet of the Apes'. Maybe then you'd be hearing more about the future of those franchises.

That's all for this weeks report. You can listen to the podcast below to hear that, and our breakdown of the summer so far at the box office.

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Sunday, 3 September 2017

'Unlocked' (2017) Review: Unseen, Unremembered

C.I.O.C: This week in films no one will care about or see!
There are movies that stick with you, lingering on for days, weeks, months, even years after you leave the cinema. Movies that will go so far as to influence the way people think or act. Movies that become a part of a culture. Then there are movies like 'Unlocked', which as I write this, I struggle to even recount it, much less review it. The type of movie that, much like the content covered in this spy thriller, will go unseen by most, as if it never even happened.

We hardly knew ye.

While I was watching 'Unlocked' I did find myself enjoying the events as they unfolded. The film opens with a snapshot of the diversity of London life. People from all walks of life interacting with one another. The film's plot involves CIA agent Alice Racine, as she is brought it to interrogate a suspect in a potential terrorist threat. While there seems to be the foundation of a film that could provide a meaningful look at Islamaphobia, racial bias, and other issues surrounding the subject matter, 'Unlocked' has neither the deftness nor the intelligence to provide it.

That can be best explained by its main character. Alice Racine is quite possibly one of the impossibly smartest stupid characters there is. Throughout the film, she will be referred to by others for her incredible skills, skills which she will no doubt demonstrate, only to make a mistake that wouldn't get by a twelve-year-old. The plot more or less follows this line of thinking, having moments of brilliance, but then devolving into convention and cliche at the drop of a hat embedded with classified information. It feels like it's playing dress up as a spy movie

I was almost fooled.
Action in the movie is fine, and it does a good job of moving from point a to point b, but you don't really care about the film as it goes on. Alice has some personal demons that are only dealt with on the surface level, not that I was invested enough to go much deeper than that. 'Unlocked' is not bad enough to be offensive, in fact, I almost wish it were. The worst movies aren't the ones that make your blood boil, they're the ones that leave no impression at all.

The saving grace of the film is it's impossibly stellar cast. Clearly, there seems to have been a mix up of sorts, as the film is filled with extremely heavy hitters. Toni Collette, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich, Noomi Rapace, so many accomplished and entertaining forces of acting prowess in this film. Orlando Bloom is also there. The script doesn't give them much to do besides carrying out a cartoonish and cliched depiction of international espionage, but even at his worst Michael Douglas can deliver a line. Overall, if I were to see this on television, I wouldn't hate it. It's a short film, only 98-minutes long, that is perfectly fine if you catch it on cable.

Rating: Catch It On Cable.