Monday, November 30, 2015

The Next Mission: Impossible Movie Has A Familiar Director, Christopher McQuarrie!

If you're a fan of the Mission: Impossible movies like me, well, you're well aware of how long it takes to get one of these movies off the ground. Between the first and second installments in the franchise there was a four year long wait, while there was more than a five year wait for both the third and fourth movies. After the tremendous success of the newest Mission: Impossible movie, Rogue Nation (which grossed $195 million domestically and over $680 million worldwide), Paramount is waiting no time to get another entry in the saga going, with an August 2016 start date planned for the sixth film in this franchise.

Creed Review

Why, of all sports, does boxing seem to pop up so frequently in cinema? Baseball, football and basketball are the far more popular sports in terms of TV viewers and presence in schools across America, yet, on silver screens everywhere, the primal sight of grown-ups in stripped down attire fighting each other has a far larger presence than any other sport. I have a hunch this is due to the simpler structure of boxing; it's not a team sport, so you only have to concentrate on one individual for an entire story, and the price they pay for participating in the sport of boxing are far more visually overt than the bruises one gets from, say, bowling.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hunger Games Leads Again As Good Dinosaur Does OK And Creed And Danish Girl Turn In Knockout Box Office Performances

For the third Thanksgiving in a row, a Hunger Games movie led the box office, and though the numbers it turned in were lower than past Katniss entries, it still showed solid stamina at the box office. Gathering up another $51 million, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two dropped 50% from its opening weekend, which is slightly smaller than the 53% dips of the last two Hunger Games movies and a solid showing considering this new film was more frontloaded on its opening weekend than past Hunger Games adventures. With Star Wars on the horizon, it's unlikely Mockingjay holds quite as well as its predecessors over the Christmas holidays, though considering it's amassed $198 million domestically already, it should be good to go for a final domestic total over $260 million.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Good Dinosaur Review

One of the reoccurring storytelling templates that have cropped up in the filmography of PIXAR Animation Studios (and it's such a basic template for storytelling that its reappearance amongst the studios output feels less like repetition and more like an inevitability) is to apply human characteristics to distinctly non-human entities. This trait can even be seen in the pre-PIXAR feature The Brave Little Toaster (incidentally, that's the movie that inspired my life-long fear of clowns), which employed future PIXAR alumni John Lasseter and Joe Ranft (the latter was a screenwriter on the project) as crucial members of its crew.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Today, in the United States Of America, is Thanksgiving, or as its known to marketers "That weird holiday in-between Halloween and Christmas that we can't make toys for". This is a day where we give thanks to the things in our life that truly make our existence worthwhile, and for me, I'd easily say getting the chance to write for this website is one such item I'm most grateful for. Other things I'm grateful for? Well, in the realm of pop culture, I'm super grateful PIXAR delivered another masterpiece in Inside Out this year, Jessica Jones sure is thought-provoking and awesome, and oh boy how about that Civil War trailer, right? Plus, having some awesome family members, friends and my fellow Solute writers and readers are pretty spectacular too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Night Before Review

Gazing onto the page on Box Office Mojo dedicated to Christmas movies, one might be shocked to see how few massively financially successful films have been released that center directly on this holiday. Films that use the holiday as merely a backdrop (like Home Alone, Die Hard and Iron Man 3) typically find much greater success in the department of dollars and cents compared to its kin that tackle Christmas head on their plots. The Night Before, the newest Seth Rogen comedy, just so happens to fall into that latter type of Christmas filmmaking.

The First Captain America: Civil War Trailer Brings On The Action And The Emotions

This is another one of those trailers where we should just skip the fancy-schmancy introductions and get right to the meat and potatoes of this whole thing; you want that sweet sweet Captain America: Civil War trailer? Here ya go!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Secret In Their Eyes Review

Movies like The Secret In Their Eyes tend to drive me right up the wall, simply because such features squander a plot that one could easily see being good, even excellent, in the right hands. A different screenwriter, someone else behind the camera, just something else to deviate it from the final product playing in over 2300 theaters across the country right now. Granted, what we're left with isn't something that'll join Manos: The Hand Of Fate on the list of "Worst Movies Ever", but it's fairly obvious more could have been done with the cast and storyline.

Spotlight Review

Man oh man, do I love it when a movie like Spotlight lives up to the hype, especially when it carries a cast of this caliber and a director like Tom McCarthy. This guys 2011 feature Win Win was a real treat, an emotionally gripping and surprisingly layered tale that, to me, indicated that a truly special direct had entered the land of American cinema. I may be on the minority on this, but his follow-up project, The Cobbler, did not resonate with me at all, but luckily, Spotlight seems to be as clear of a sign as any that that Adam Sandler feature was an enormous fluke.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Hunger Games Come To A Solid, Though Slightly Under Expectations, Financial Conclusion At The Box Office This Weekend

There's no denying a $101 million three day haul is a very impressive haul, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two can hold its head high by knowing it will go down as one of the most impressive sagas of all-time in terms of box office. However, there's no denying that such a lower opening is kind of surprising, especially since, typically, when books are split into these kind of two part movies, the second entry is the higher grossing one (see: the Breaking Dawn and Deathly Hallows films) of the duo. Instead, Mockingjay: Part Two made about 16% less on opening weekend than its predecessor and about 30% below the $158 million debut of Catching Fire just two years ago on this very same weekend.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Don't Be The Hero With Me": Jessica Jones Season 1 Episode 1 "AKA Ladies Night" Review

It's fairly obvious that, in translating Hal Jordan to the big screen in the 2011 motion picture/abomination Green Lantern, someone involved in the project saw how successful Tony Stark had become and decided that some of Tonys most distinctive character traits (namely that of his snark and cockiness) should be implanted into Jordan. This, of course, didn't work, for one simple reason; Stark uses his wisecracks as a defense mechanism of sorts, a way to combat the forces around him that he's all too aware he can't control. Plus, underneath all his flippant remarks is a good person, one who, in the first Iron Man movie, plainly says that protecting people with his Iron Man technology needs to be his only purpose in life.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Edward Scissorhands Review (Classic Write-Up)

In the year 2015, Edward Scissorhands serves as some kind of bizzaro gaze into another life, another world, another time and place where the pairing of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton would produce anticipation, not dread. And while it's true that Burton and Depp would collaborate for further successful projects after this 1990 feature (as recently as 2007, their Sweeney Todd effort was an excellent movie), it seems the duo have decided to cease working together for the time being after back-to-back critical duds Alice In Wonderland and Dark Shadows (the latter film being a huge box office bomb likely resulting in the split more than anything else).

What A Twist! The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two Spoiler Discussion

Spoilers for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two follow, of course.

I was quite positive about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two in my formal review of it, and for good reason. This is one well-crafted, exceptionally well-acted motion picture that tackles darker themes with surprising nuance. However, it must be said that it's taken back from achieving true greatness because of its last half hour or so, in which (in a shocking twist) the story, and, by definition of this being the last movie in this particular story, this saga, comes to its conclusion, an ending which the film feels like its in all too much of a hurry to get to.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two Review

And so, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) takes her bow, concluding her four-part Hunger Games saga that gave a massive push to both the career of Lawrence and female led action movies. The final adventure in her grand story is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two, which, as evidenced by the title, is the second part of a two film adaptation of the singular novel entitled Mockingjay. Like I said, this is where it all ends folks...until Lionsgate pushes out those inevitable Hunger Games prequels/spin-offs which will arrive no later than 2018.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Magicians, Male Models And Naked Zac Efron Pop Up In Five New Trailers

Note: The trailer for Dirty Grandpa is NSFW, so proceed with caution.

The release of a huge new blockbuster like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part Two (which, by the by I'll have a review and a spoiler discussion written up for that particular movie by tomorrow morning) will of course spur a deluge of new trailers. But the amount of new promotional trailers released over the past few days has reached critical levels considering the first high-profile comedy (The Night Before) since Vacation nearly four months ago is also opening this weekend and a whole bunch of 2016 comedies wanna get promoted on that new Seth Rogen vehicle.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chill Out (I'm So Sorry For That Pun) With The First Trailer For The Huntsman: Winter's War

I didn't really care all that much for Snow White And The Huntsman, a forgettable feature that I freely admit wasn't a torturous experience, but was certainly a cookie-cutter experience that wasted the talents of its two lead actors (Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth), with only Charlize Theron getting to go hog-wild as a scenery chewing bad guy. Normally, a sequel wouldn't be anywhere near my radar, but this follow-up, entitled The Huntsman: Winter's War, has made a number of smart decisions to get my interest.

"But Don't You Go Anywhere": The All Too Real Fantasy World Of Calvin And Hobbes

Good stories endure. There's a reason the plays of William Shakespeare still get performed to rapturous reception, and it's the same reason why Mark Twain still has countless copies of his books sold across the country every year. Characters that one can relate to, humor that strikes ones funny bone just right, pathos that hit home for all of us, those are the ingredients that can make a piece of pop culture stick around through the ages. In this case, those are the exact elements that have helped an eight year old boy and his tiger be discovered by new readers even after its stopped creating new
content twenty years earlier.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Trailer For The Uber White Movie Gods Of Egypt Is The Best Unintentional Parody Trailer Ever

If RedLetterMedia, FunnyorDie or someone along those lines were responsible for this trailer for Gods of Egypt, I might declare it awesome, as those entities would obviously had created this trailer as a parody of the kind of whitewashed blockbusters chock full of too much CGI that clog up movie theater screens each year. But no folks, this is real. Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate will release this on February 26, and I'll be shocked if its Rotten Tomatoes score exceeds 20% and its domestic box office cume is over $30 million. Check out this gloriously bad trailer below.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Peanuts Movie And Spectre Perfectly Demonstrate The Right And The Wrong Way, Respectively, To Do Fan Service

WARNING: Spoilers for Spectre, The Peanuts Movie, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Dark Knight Rises follow.
At this point, James Bond is no stranger to opening against animated family films. In fact, of the four Daniel Craig 007 movies, half of them have opened on the same weekend as a feature aimed at family audiences, while the other half have opened a solitary week after a major new animated film hit the market. It's no shocker that family movies tend to open against Bond and his cohorts; those 007 adventures tend to be seen by older viewers and don't have as much value for families as, say, PG-13 blockbusters like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Jurassic World.

The Peanuts Movie Review

As a lifelong aficionado of the the world of Charlie Brown (in a fit of gratuitous self-promotion, allow me to link to an essay I wrote over the comic in honors of its 50th anniversary), in theory, a 21st century theatrical feature based on these characters should be something I despise. No doubt such a film updates individuals like Lucy and Linus by giving them cell phones, Vine accounts and other necessities of modern day existence. But a remarkable amount of restraint is shown by the filmmakers responsible for The Peanuts Movie, with the feature refraining from up giving Snoopy a "Poochie" like update in favor of retaining his personality that has managed to work OK for 65 years now.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spectre And The Peanuts Movie Lead Again On a Miserable Weekend At The Box Office

There's really not a ton to talk about when it comes to this weekends box office, which had Spectre winning again. That being said, this will be a slightly abbreviated version of this column, simply because even the underwhelming new movies leave very little to talk about or analyze. So, yeah, 007 won again, with a surprisingly smaller than expected 50% dip, for a $35 million second weekend. for a ten day domestic haul of $130 million. That's way better than the 60% drop of Quantum of Solace slightly better than the 53% dip of Skyfall three years ago and about on par with the 49% drop of Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation from this summer.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Witness Me Attempt To Write Up 53 Things Miles Teller Would Rather Be Doing Than Appearing In The New Trailer For Divergent Sequel Allegiant

Guess what's getting a sequel in March? Insurgent, one of my most least favorite movies of 2015. The new trailer for its follow-up, Allegiant, doesn't look painfully bad, but then again, neither did the trailers for Insurgent and oh God, I know how that one turned out. Everyone looks so uninterested in being in these things, from lead actor Shailene Woodley to direct Robert Schwentke (I had such high hopes for him after his super fun debut film Red, but R.I.P.D. and Insurgent have erased all my hopes).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Five Modern Day Movies I'd Love To See Mystery Science Theater 3000 Tackle

To say that the news that Mystery Science Theater 3000 was generating a Kickstarter to create new episodes brought me joy is a gross understatement. To boot, this development led me to diving into some YouTube compilations of the notably humorous moments from a number of their best episodes, and oh my God, their takedowns of Hobgoblins ("How do you read a record?") and A Touch Of Satan are some of their best.

Taken 3 Review

Even Liam Neeson seems to be over "action Liam Neeson" at this point. Oh I'm sure he's more than enjoyed the hefty paychecks and massively increased level of fame projects like the Taken trilogy and Unknown have brought, but the box office for recent forays into this subgenre have been steadily diminishing, and next year, Neeson will star in dramas like A Monster Calls and Silence instead of, say, Stolen Boat, in which he attempts to retrieve his stolen boat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Calling All Hairy No-Butts! Mystery Science Theater 3000 Could Come Back...With Your Help!

If you have an ardent fanbase, no show is really cancelled, not in this day and age. Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, Full House, Gilmore Girls are all back after years of cancellation, and even movies like Wet Hot American Summer can be revived in the form of a Netflix TV show after years off the air. And now it looks like Mystery Science Theater 3000 is trying to follow in the footsteps of those television programs and come back from the dead! I tell ya, this is the most exciting new I've heard since I got told that I won that essay contest!

À bout de souffle (Breathless) Review (Classic Write-Up)

We all have A bout de souffle (Breathless) to thank for creating the very way films demonstrate in a visual manner time passing via the method of jump cuts. Numerous other films during the French New Wave utilized this particular technique of filmmaking, as well as works from George Melies, but the renowned popularity of A bout de souffle handily has made the feature the most lauded motion picture that brought the innovation of the jump cut to conventional visual storytelling.

Just Keep On Swimming And Give The First Finding Dory Trailer A Watch!

A common criticism for PIXAR in recent years has been their over-reliance on sequels, a critique that feels simultaneously too harsh and very much appropriate. Now, perhaps we should all pause our negative judgement of these impending follow-ups considering the track record PIXAR has not just with their overall filmography, but with their sequels. The two Toy Story sequels, especially the third one, are top-notch masterpieces and Monsters University is a fun adventure with a surprisingly insightful climax.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

James Bond And Snoopy Bring Some Much Needed Life Back To The Box Office

After two weeks of dismal business, two stalwarts of pop culture returned to movie theaters for solid sums of cash that brought the box office roaring back to life. Taking the number one spot was Spectre, the latest James Bond adventure which grossed $73 million for the weekend. That's down from the previous 007 adventure, Skyfall, which grossed $88 million three years ago, although that one had far better reviews and the buzz stemming from the franchise celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. It also managed do 9% better than 2008 Daniel Craig 007 film Quantum of Solace, though Spectre lagged behind that feature in terms of attendance.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Bande à part (Band of Outsiders) Review (Classic Write-Up)

I try to pride myself as being a cinematic connoisseur, but alas, the works of famous French director Jean-Luc Godard have been a notable blind spot for me in the world of film. That changed two days ago when I viewed my first ever film from that particular filmmaker, Bande a part (Band of Outsiders). Needless to say, this 1964 feature not only whetted my appetite to check out other effort from Godard, but also proved as a superb experience in its own right separated from the rest of the filmography of the director.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Grab An Orc And Watch The First Trailer For Warcraft!

And so, almost two years after it first started filming, the first trailer for Warcraft has debuted today as part of BlizzCon, a convention held by Blizzard Entertainment, the company in charge of the World of Warcraft video games that Warcraft is based on. Unlike other video games that get directed by the likes of Paul W.S. Anderson and John Moore, this one has Duncan Jones helming the project, which is an immensely promising proposition given how great the last film from Jones, Source Code, was. 

What A Twist!: Spectre Spoiler Discussion

Welcome to a new recurring feature entitled What A Twist! Here, I'll briefly discuss spoilery aspects of certain movies as well as provide a place for our awesome Solute readers to discuss spoilers in the comments section.

Spectre Review

There's less of a plot going on during the 140+ minute running time of Spectre than there is just a stream of ideas concocted by various individuals once they realized that MGM had gotten the film rights back to the SPECTRE organization that had fought 007 in earlier films and novels. Yes, it's cool to see the dastardly corporation of Ian Fleming's novels return to the silver screen for the first time in 44 years, but it feels like the urge to put the well-known agency into the Daniel Craig Bond films was the only thing driving the storytelling on the 24th James Bond film, fittingly titled Spectre. Looking at the entire enterprise as a whole, it's remarkable how little there actually is to chew on in terms of both substance and spectacle.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

God's Not Dead 2 Trailer Sticks Up For The Little Guy...The Little Guy Being White Christians

I thought it was over.

God's Not Dead tested me in ways that you can't imagine, it's spiteful, hateful soul repelling me like few films ever have. Once the credits rolled, I hoped that'd be the end of it all...but in the pit of my heart, I knew the tremendous box office meant there would likely be a sequel. Well, here it is folks. Before Hellboy 3 graces movie theaters, we get the continuing adventures of Bigots 'R' Us, AKA God's Not Dead 2. The first trailer is below, and if you wanna watch it and read my rant on it, just march onward into the abyss.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Removal Of Slave Leia From Future Star Wars Merchandise Is News So Good It's Worthy Of A Celebratory Ewok Dance Party

Ugh, can't the PC police leave anything untainted? First, these Social Justice nitwits come around remarking about how minorities/women are treated in video games, then they use their Feminazi mind control powers to convince Disney/Lucasfilm to not utilize imagery of Leia Organa in her golden slave bikini in future merchandise. Why can't they just leave my pop culture alone??? Don't they know my complaints about this totally don't stem from my subconcious problems with women but rather about ethics in Star Wars journalism! Save me Trey Stone & Matt Parker/Adam Baldwin!

Our Brand Is Crisis Review

Man, Our Brand Is Crisis could have been something truly special. How do I know this? Because the elements in here that work are legitimately exceptional. But there just aren't enough aspects in this feature that excel, especially considering the meandering pace that consumes the story and stretches the movies 107 minute running time into what feels like eternity. Under a script by Peter Straughan and direction from David Gordon Green, Our Brand Is Crisis tells the tale of Jane (Sandra Bullock), a political strategist trying to get a successful presidential election campaign going for Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida).

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween And Career Low Opening Weekends For Sandra Bullock And Bradley Cooper Send The Box Office Spiraling Out Of Control

Bradley Cooper upon seeing the box office results for Burnt
October 2015 has come to a close, and while the month was the second biggest October of all-time (only behind October 2014), I'm sure all of the movie studios would have loved to end the month on a far better note than this.. On top of the heap was The Martian, its fourth weekend at the top of the box office with a strong $11.4 million, a minuscule 28% dip from last weekend. This Ridley Scott movie got a solid boost this frame since it played IMAX 3D for the first time this weekend and has now grossed an incredible $182.8 million domestically after about a month.