Wednesday, August 16, 2017

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power Just Isn't All That Compelling

We've had a lot of sequels this summer, many of them to films that haven't had a sequel in a little while. It's been six years since the last Pirates Of The Caribbean movie for instance while nine years have passed since our last Mummy movie and it's been a whole two decades since the last proper Alien movie. All that considered, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power, while being a small-in-scale documentary, feels right at home with these bigger blockbuster follow-up titles since it too is also a successor to a movie from quite a few years ago (the original Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006). Also something it shares with many other blockbuster sequels from this past summer; it ain't as good as its predecessor.


The First Episodes For The New Ducktales Show Feel Rushed But Also Have A Sense Of Fun To Them

We're only a few years into this recent trend of bringing back popular TV shows from years past (Full House, Mystery Science Theater 3000, the upcoming Will & Grace continuation) and yet I'm still shocked it took Disney this long to get a reboot of Ducktales going. The companies so focused on enhancing and continuing their brand names, you'd think something with an ardent fan base that stars some of the companies most popular characters would have gotten a rejiggering eons ago. Well, here we are anyway, with a new version of Ducktales that looks to captivate new generations of kiddos just as the original Ducktales became a perennial staple of my generation's childhood.


The Slipshod Boss Baby Only Show Flashes Of Creativity In Some Of Its Visuals

DreamWorks Animation used to have some real ambition as a studio, or, at least, the promise of ambition. If the radically different tones and aesthetics of their first two films (Antz and The Prince Of Egypt) suggested a studio that could create a wide variety of animated motion pictures, well, they've been inconsistent in fulfilling that promise over the course of the next two decades. For every Shrek (only the first two!), How To Train Your Dragon or Kung Fu Panda that showed real imagination and artistic promise, you also had stuff like The Road To El Dorado, Bee Movie and Trolls that had them chasing other popular animated family movies for quick and easy profits. When it comes to creating worthwhile cinema, ya win some, ya lose some in the world of DreamWorks Animation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Collide Isn't All That Special But It's Got Moments Of Entertainment In It

Some movies set the right kind of box office records, others...don't. The latter case befell Collide, an action movie that had suffered numerous setbacks in its domestic release due to its original distributor, Relativity Media, going bankrupt. An original planned October 2015 release date faded away though Open Road Films picked up U.S. rights to the film shortly thereafter only for further release date delays (it was originally set for an August 2016 date before its eventual final February 2017 release date) to occur. Once it finally got released, it had the sixth worst opening weekend in history for a movie debuting in over 2,000 theaters and had the biggest second-weekend decline of any movie opening in wide release in North America.


Monday, August 14, 2017

I Have More Than A Suspicion About What Went Wrong With Suspect

The elders of this world speak of a bygone era, one in which video game arcades were the hottest places to go, Donald Trump was a rich white nationalist instead of a white nationalist with nukes by his side and Creed had yet to become a band. This era was called the 1980's and it was here that a singer by the name of Cher made a run at being a movie star in a number of high-profile films including Mask, Silkwood and Moonstruck. Since then, her presence as an actor in the world of cinema has been limited to just a lead role in Burlesque and voice-over work in Zookeeper but there was a time in the 1980s where she a regular fixture of the silver screen, starring in films like the 1987 courtroom thriller Suspect.


Annabelle: Creation Is A Better Than Expected Fright-Fest

Though I've seen the two Conjuring movies, the original Annabelle from October 2014 is something my eyeballs have not witnessed, mostly because I heard only bad things about it and I wasn't as open to seeing horror fare on a regular basis theatrically as I am just three years later. As for the former detail, both film critics and audiences alike seemed to just not give much of a hoot about the movie once they saw it and if the director of Annabelle's follow-up feature Wish Upon is any indication of the quality seen there, well, I can understand the disdain. For the prequel Annabelle: Creation, director David F. Sandberg (director of Lights Out) is now at the helm and hey! Whaddya know, the movies actually some solid scary stuff!


It's Hard Not To Get Heated Up Over Environmental Dangers Thanks To An Inconvenient Truth

It's always fascinating to go back and watch movies made in a specific political climate and see if they both hold up as movies and examine them as artifacts of the era in which they were made. When I watched Sidney Lumet's Network for the first time last month, that was the exact experience I went through as the film very much served as an encapsulation of 1970's politics while also resonating on its own timeless merits. In the first decade of the 21st century, plenty of pieces of pop culture emerged critical of the George W. Bush administration, one of which was Al Gore's 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a film that does make reference to real world political events occurring in the W. Bush era, but is mostly concentrated on the timeless horrors of global warming.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

The First Season Of Ozark Is A Plodding Disaster

What a strange creature Ozark is. I spent a little over ten whole hours watching the entire first season of this tv show and looking over the entire show, one thing becomes clear above all else; this program is a mess. Not the kind of mess that results from being too ambitious and flying too close to the sun, no, this is the lazy kind of mess where it's obvious the producers and writers behind this show were just looking at all the various trends cropping up in American television dramas (namely, following the white male anti-hero protagonist model Breaking Bad and Mad Men popularized) and smushed them into one program. The result is something as derivative as it is muddled since it seems to miss any chance to acquire the sort of depth that made the far better shows it's clearly influenced by so, well, great.

Annabelle: Creation Freaks Out The Public With Big Box Office While Few Go Nuts For The Nut Job 2

Lots of sequels have underperformed this summer but the second adventure of a killer doll (no, not that one) managed to beat out expectations with a $35 million bow. For comparison's sake, Annabelle: Creation's bow is only 6% below the bow of its predecessor and only 12% below the debut of The Conjuring from just last summer. As the fourth movie in this Conjuring cinematic universe, each of the entries in this franchise have now opened above $35 million, impressive stuff for sure. Annabelle: Creation was also up 63% from the opening weekend of director David F. Sandberg's last movie, Lights Out. On only a $15 million budget, this thing's already more than doubled its budget domestically.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Kidnap Wants To Be The Next Taken But It's More Like The Next Taken 2

Like a lot of women in Hollywood, I feel like Halle Berry hasn't gotten the roles she deserves in Hollywood. When you put her in the right movie like Cloud Atlas, she's great, but for far too much of her career, she's been stuck in either underdeveloped supporting roles (like her time as Storm in the X-Men movies or her love interest part in Robots or her appearance in a segment with Stephen Merchant in Movie 43) or terribly written leading roles (Catwoman, 'nuff said!). Halle Berry tries her best once again with Kidnap, a new thriller that, alas, turns out to be yet another example of Berry not getting the sort of high-quality or even just entertaining films she deserves to headline.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Wolf Warriors Comes Off Like The Chinese Equivalent To A Peter Berg Movie

Currently, the big Chinese box office juggernaut is Wolf Warriors 2, an action motion picture that just overtook Stephen Chow's The Mermaid to become the biggest movie of all-time in the country. It's nowhere near done with its massive box office run either and it looks like it'll likely crack $750 million at the Chinese box office, a massively impressive sum. You might be wondering if the box office performance of the first Wolf Warriors was big enough to serve as, with the power of retrospect, some kind of harbinger of the its successor huge success, but in fact, the first Wolf Warriors made a solid but not humongous $80.9 million that made it the 27th biggest movie of China.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

In Laman's Terms: What Happened To All Of The Horror Movie Icons?

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

Looking over the modern-day horror movie landscape, you'll likely notice a couple of things. For one thing, following in the footsteps of past 21st-century horror movie trends like torture porn, remakes of classic horror fare and found-footage films, a large share of American horror films are aping the style of James Wan's Insidious and The Conjuring movies by placing an emphasis on paranormal villains, antique items being cursed and deriving scares from unsettling sound work. You know what else you might notice? A couple of horror movies icons seem to be M.I.A. not just this year but for most of the 21st century despite being omnipresent for multiple decades directly prior to the 2000's.


Jessica Williams Shows Real Movie Star Potential In The Diverting Comedy The Incredible Jessica James

Under host Jon Stewart, The Daily Show has launched a number of once little-known actors into big time notoriety in a manner evocative of how Saturday Night Live turned the likes of Gilda Radner, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell into household names. For The Daily Show, the likes of John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrel all got their start on this satirical program before leaving the show and becoming much more well-known individuals. That seems to be the career trajectory Jessica Williams is aiming for after she left The Daily Show just last June and got her first starring role in a major motion picture, The Incredible Jessica James.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Steven Spielberg's Second World War II Movie Of The 1990's Was The Excellent Saving Private Ryan

I'm pretty sure this will make me sound like some sort of Steven Spielberg shill or something (who would be giving me dollars for positive reviews in that case like how Marvel apparently sends check to Marvel shills? Amblin? Am I an Amblin shill?), but it's impressive how many of his movies have been able to cement themselves as the de facto pop culture touchstones for various parts of history and/or our world as a whole. Jaws is the cornerstone of how we all perceive sharks, E.T. is thought of as the standard-bearer for friendly depictions of otherworldly visitors while his historical films very much feel like the most famous depictions of massively important historical events like the Holocaust or Abraham Lincoln's presidency.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Detroit Is An Unflinching Look At The Horrors Of The Past That Echo The Horrors Of The Present

A sentiment I heard from one fellow attendee of my screening of Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit was something along the lines of "And that (that being instances of racially motivated police brutality) still happens to this day!" Which is, tragically, all too true. We still have too many individuals who lose their lives at the hands of officers simply due to the color of their skin. No, obviously not every police officer is evil, far from it, but there are societally ingrained problems in American society that instill the idea of racism into many people occupying a large assortment of occupations, including the role of a police officer. But just because the problem isn't exclusive to the realm of law enforcement officers doesn't mean it shouldn't be recognized, especially since such officers inhabit one of the few jobs where you're given weapons to kill people.


Fun, Style And Boldness, Not To Mention Some Great Acting..Ya Get It All In Pulp Fiction

Watching Pulp Fiction for the first time was a fascinating experience on multiple levels but I was particularly astounded to watch it and discover just how many moments from assorted pieces of pop culture I'd consumed over the years were, in fact, direct references to this movie. Little jokes in Space Jam and the Simpsons episode 22 Short Films About Springfield immediately come to my mind as examples of this while it's obvious that the entire indie movie scene of the second half of the 1990's was heavily influenced by the way Pulp Fiction wedged its way into the zeitgeist. Quentin Tarantino's 1994 masterpiece became a pop culture touchstone practically overnight, but 23 years later, it's amazing to watch the movie removed from its initial hype and discover that there very much is a great movie nestled in here.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dark Tower Rules And Detroit Underperforms As The August 2017 Box Office Gets Off To A Weak Start

Well, for those hoping the summer box office blues would improve once we got into August, some of those hopes got dashed by the underperforming nature of this weekends newcomers. Considering we had a whole swatch of massive overperformers in the first three months of the year, the blah box office seems to be less of "moviegoers abandoning theaters" (as I've seen many hot takes declaring this week) but rather audiences staying far away from generic looking material like The Dark Tower, which grossed $19.5 million. That's actually not bad for a $60 million budgeted blockbuster, but it's definitely not something that'll kick off a franchise like Sony and Media Rights Capital had hoped.