Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bottle Rocket Review (Classic Write-Up)

Recent years have been kind to American auteur filmmaker/genius Wes Anderson. Merging his unique visual aesthetic with introspective themes and emotional content has made his last three films among the best of the still young century. My adoration of the man's work meant I carried a large amount of interest in watching his very first feature film, Bottle Rocket. This 1996 feature film debut for Anderson was an expansion on an earlier short film subject of the same name that also starred the two leading men of this film, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson, two actors (most notably Owen, who, along with Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, ended up becoming the Leonardo DiCaprio to Wes Anderson's Martin Scorsese) who would become staples of Andersons future work.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Film On The Television (4/29/2016): Love Is Strange On Starz Cinema

I've written extensively in the past about how badly Sony Pictures Classics has botched the releases of numerous noteworthy dramas in recent years and few films suffered as badly at the hands of the studios incompetence as the fantastic 2014 drama Love Is Strange. Starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a couple going through financial struggles, it's a smartly written film with two incredible lead performances that should have been treated better, nay, far better, in its theatrical release.

Luckily, you have the chance to watch it tonight on Starz Cinema and I strongly urge you to do so. Perhaps the most extraordinary part of Love Is Strange is how it refuses to toss in contrived dramatic scenarios just for the sake of creating "high-stakes". No one gets an all of a sudden illness, no one is caught in an affair, Love Is Strange realizes that far more compelling drama can be found in the everyday interactions with the people around us. It's a smartly written movie and Lithgow and Molina are absolutely incredible in the lead roles. Love Is Strange may not have gotten poorly treated in its theatrical release, but I strongly urge you to check it out now.

Love Is Strange airs on Starz Cinema tonight at 8:20 PM Eastern time.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Hologram For The King Review

A Hologram For The King is the second collaboration between Tom Hanks and director Tom Tykwer, following up on their work on the 2012 masterpiece Cloud Atlas (Tykwer directed three of the segments in that feature). Seriously, that ambitious sprawling cinematic tour de force is one of the most criminally underrated films in recent years and the concept of the two reuniting is a tantalizing prospect. Unfortunately, all of the nuance and introspection that came with Cloud Atlas won't be found here. If Cloud Atlas was charged by a spirit of gusto, A Hologram For The King is instead fueled by nothing more than simply tedium.

Summer 2016 Box Office Predictions (Part Two)

Welcome to the second part of my Summer 2016 Box Office Predictions! Back on Tuesday, I examined what films I thought would be the ten biggest of Summer 2016. Now, I'll be looking at the majority of the other films opening this summer. I'll be dividing up the movies into three separate categories; the first is Potential Sleeper Hits, which refers to movies I think have a shot at surprising us all with their box office grosses. Then there are Wild Cards, films that could go either way financially. Finally, I'll also examine Potential Box Office Misfires, movies this summer that I have strong hunch won't make much of a financial dent.

Without further ado, let's get started on the second part of this series!
Potential Sleeper Hits
Out of all of this year's summer blockbusters, Ghostbusters might be the one that feels most unpredictable. Unlike new Marvel or PIXAR movies, where we have recent movies from both studios to look at for guidance on projecting box office, there hasn't been a new Ghostbusters movie in 27 years. That makes predicting this one super tricky, though the presence of legitimately beloved comedic actors like Mellissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig could really give this one a boost as well as a residual nostalgia for the original two films. Fellow comedy follow-up Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising should also fare well this summer and avoid the fate of comedy sequels like Ted 2, thanks to ads that clearly showcase new characters and comedic situations while emphasizing returning elements from the first film that were popular (like Zac Efron and those abs of his).

Opening the same weekend as Neighbors 2 is The Nice Guys, whose humorous trailers set it up as a distinctive movie (namely in its 1970's setting) quite unlike anything else coming out this summer. If this manages to take off with critics, watch out, cause this could become a big sleeper hit, especially since it's opening one week prior to the lucrative Memorial Day holiday weekend. Me Before You, based on a best-selling book, has a very popular trailer and two stars reasonably popular with younger audiences that could make it solid counter-programming against action heavy films like Ninja Turtles and Warcraft. Meanwhile, The Purge: Election Year should flourish with not only a title that ties in nicely with a certain big American event occurring in November but also has a Fourth Of July release that ties in nicely with the patriotic tinged aesthetic of the franchise.

Here's another comedy I'm predicting takes off at the box office; Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates. Something just tells me that the combo of proven box office draws Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick, as well as up-and-comers like Adam DeVine and Aubrey Plaza, as well as being the first out-and-out comedy in three weeks, will lead it to box office glory. Another comedy likely to fare well is the newest Seth Rogen vehicle, Sausage Party. Being the first R-rated animated movies in ages gives this one a touch of uniqueness that other comedies won't have this summer, allowing it to stand out from the pack. Opening the same weekend as those raunchy food items is Florence Foster Jenkins, the newest Meryl Streep film. Streep has had a lot of success with dramas that work as summertime counter-programming (see: The Devil Wears Prada, Julia & Julia and Hope Springs) and this has a good shot at contiuing that streak.

Later on in August one can find the weekend before Labor Day, which delivers two films that seem likely to thrive based on how they're aiming to satiate audiences that are underserved in the summertime. Don't Breathe, which already generated plenty of buzz out of SXSW, will be the first new horror film in a month while boxing drama Hands Of Stone should provide the sort of inspirational sports film that Creed and Southpaw proved last year still bring in the crowds, Finally, Pete's Dragon is the newest live-action adaptation of a beloved Disney film, and while Pete and Elliot The Dragon don't carry anywhere near the brand name recognition as, say, The Jungle Book or Alice In Wonderland, the concept of "a boy and his dragon" should work well on its own merits in terms of marketing to likely generate plenty of profits.
Wild Cards
There are some movies that one can tell from the get-go are either box office duds or hits...and then there are films like these, which, for a number of reasons, really could go either way. One such film is The BFG, which will debut in between the two most high-profile family movies of the summer (it opens two weeks after Finding Dory and a week prior to The Secret Life Of Pets) and it's hard to tell if it can stand-out, though it should be noted that it's never wise to underestimate Steven Spielberg. It's also hard to tell if The Conjuring 2 can replicate the success of its predecessor despite its solid marketing effort thus far, especially since the goodwill of the first Conjuring may have been used up on the more poorly received spin-off Annabelle.

Matthew McConaughey returns to American movie theaters for the first time since November 2014 with Free State Of Jones, a Civil War-set drama that does have McConaughey in the mode audiences seem to like him best in (battle-worn but inspirational), but it's hard to tell if it can stand out in the crowded 4th of July marketplace. Meanwhile, The Angry Birds Movie gets to be the first family movie of the summer, though the marketing for it so far has come across as more derivative than anything else and even kids might find this to be too much of a blatant piece of marketing. George Clooney, looking to rebound after box office dud Tomorrowland, stars in the early May drama Money Monster, which has an attention-grabbing trailer and could work as solid counter-programming to the likes of Captain America: Civil War. Being an adult-skewing drama though, this one's gonna live or die on reviews, and if those fail to be really good, it could struggle at the box office.

While Warner Bros./New Line Cinema struck it out of the ballpark with releasing an original horror movie in July back in 2013 with The Conjuring, they had far far less success with The Gallows last summer, though the tiny budget on the film meant it still turned a decent profit. Whether Lights Out will be more on the order of The Conjuring or The Gallows at the domestic box office at this point is anyone's guess. Bad Moms is also tricky to predict at this point simply because there's no marketing (sans a couple of still photos from it) out yet, though it is worth noting footage from it did go over well at the annual movie theater owner convention CinemaCon a few weeks back. Michael Keatons recent resurgence, as well as revolving around one of the biggest fast food chains on the planet may give The Founder a late summer boost, but there's a surprisingly large amount of dramas opening up in August that may limit its box office potential. Finally, the newest film from animation studio LAIKA, entitled Kubo And The Two Strings, arrives in mid-August. It's got a more distinctive visual look and bigger names in its cast than the previous LAIKA feature, The Boxtrolls, though opening just a week after Pete's Dragon could make it an also-ran at the box office.
Potential Box Office Misfires
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows is likely to follow the box office path of fellow sequels to live-action adaptations of beloved cartoons like The Smurfs 2 and Garfield 2. These movies fall off once the sequels roll around because the one gimmick of the original (Look! Characters you have nostalgia for romping around in the real world!) has been used up. TMNT 2 is trying to counter this by incorporating fan favorite characters like Casey Jones, Krang and Bebop & Rocksteady, but it's doubtful that's enough to stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, Warcraft has been on shaky ground for awhile, with its Comic-Con presentation last summer getting a lukewarm response and the viability of World Of Warcraft being questionable. But thanks to a bizzarely inept final trailer, it looks like the marketing for Warcraft isn't going to be where it needs to be to make it stand out in the crowded field of summer 2016 blockbusters.

Can The Legend Of Tarzan strike box office gold for the legendary man in a loincloth? This one does have the advantage of everyone on the planet knowing who Tarzan is, but early trailers haven't gotten a notewrothy response and competition from Independence Day 2 over the 4th of July holiday won't help things. Meanwhile, the first posters and trailers for Ben-Hur do not make it stand out one bit and this one seems almost destined to be a box office misstep. Ditto for Now You See Me 2, a follow-up to a 2013 sleeper hit that didn't really leave a major pop culture impression. There's not much in the way of really captivating new plot points and characters in the trailers, so it's doubtful Now You See Me 2 pulls off box office magic.

Ice Age: Collision Course will almost certainly fall way short of its predecessors domestically, thanks to steep competition from The Secret Life Of Petes and the middling reception of the last Ice Age movie, though unlike the other films in this column it'll still almost certainly make big bucks internationally. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is guaranteed to surpass (maybe even double) the domestic gross of the last Lonely Island movie, Hot Rod, but it's doubtful it's more off-brand style of humor appeals to general moviegoers. Another comedy that's likely to struggle at the domestic box office is War Dogs, which carries a number of well-known actors (specifically Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper) but is the sort of darker comedy that doesn't tend to fare well at the box office.
With so many options for family moviegoers this summer (there's ten family movies planned to be released between the first weekend of May and Labor Day), Nine Lives, with its trailer that feels more like a parody ad that would play before Tropic Thunder, will be at the back of the pack. And while Jason Statham got a major boost in his profile last year appearing in box office hits like Furious 7 and Spy, that's unlikely to translate into much interest for his newest film, The Mechanic: Ressurection, a sequel to a mostly forgotten 2011 action/thriller.

Hey Now, DreamWorks Animation Is A Rock Star, Gets The Show On With Comcast, Gets Paid (Over 3 Billion Dollars)

DreamWorks Animation has been looking for a buyer for a good couple of years now and it's not exactly a state secret why. The studio has had a rough few years financially and being under the ownership of a larger conglomerate would provide much-needed stability. Despite their recent money woes, the concept of DreamWorks getting bought isn't a crazy notion thanks to how many big franchises like Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda DreamWorks Animation owns. While their attempts to be bought by SoftBank and Hasbro went nowhere, today brought the news that Comcast has purchased DreamWorks Animation for 3.8 billion dollars.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Musclebound Chris Hemsworth Flexes His Comedy Muscles In New Footage For Ghostbusters

When many actors get the chance to transition to the status of leading man in major American motion pictures, things tend to go haywire for one notable reason; the movies they headline never give these actors the chance to utilize the idiosyncratic talents that got them popular enough to warrant leading man status in the first place. Notice how Aaron Paul went from his brilliantly nuanced turn in Breaking Bad to being blander than saltines in Need For Speed. Same for Chris Pratt in Jurassic World or Ryan Reynolds in any leading man project that isn't Deadpool.

Summer 2016 Box Office Predictions (Part One)

How is it already summertime? Doesn't it feel like just yesterday that we were celebrating the ushering in of a new year? Now, we're on the cusp of another summer moviegoing season, one full of big-budget blockbusters, potential indie sleeper hits and a movie where Kevin Spacey turns into a cat via the power of a mystical Christopher Walken. This week, I'll be predicting the Summer 2016 box office in two separate parts. Today, I'll be looking at my predictions for what will be the ten highest grossing movies of the summer and on Thursday I'll be taking a sprawling look at potential sleeper hits, box office question marks and potential box office misfires.

Today, let's look at the ten movies I think will amass the largest domestic cumes at the box office. Let's start out with....

1. Captain America: Civil War
Will Civil War play like a Captain America follow-up or an Avengers sequel? That is the big question, and I have a hunch it'll land somewhere in between the two, though closer to an Avengers movie. The last Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier, grossed $259.7 million, while the most recent Avengers movie, Age Of Ultron, made $459 million last summer. There's about $200 million separating the two, and thanks to extremely strong early reviews, as well as the fact that the film will be introducing high-profile superheroes like Black Panther and Spider-Man, it does feel like this one could go the distance and become the biggest movie of summer 2016.

Total Gross: $400 million

2. Finding Dory
After 13 years, Finding Nemo has solidified a place in pop culture as one of the most beloved family movies of this century. People love this motion picture and a sequel centered on scene-stealer Dory sounds like a recipe for guaranteed box office success. This one won't improve on its predecessors domestic gross as dramatically as fellow PIXAR sequel Toy Story 3 did to Toy Story 2 (there was 71% increase from TS2 to TS3), but expect this one to handily become the biggest movie of the summer and the fourth movie ever from PIXAR to hit $300 million in the US.

Total Gross: $380 million
3. Suicide Squad
Now that Batman v. Superman hasn't quite lived up to its box office expectations, what does that mean for future DC Extended Universe motion pictures? Well, the good news for Suicide Squad is that not only does it appear to be very much separate from that Zack Snyder critical dud (though Ben Affleck will be cameoing in the movie as Batman), but the super eye-catching and popular trailers for it went out prior to the more mixed reception conjured up by BvS. If the marketing continues to be as noteworthy as those first two trailers (which actually have more views on YouTube than BvS, believe it or not), look for this one to become the second-straight movie in the DCEU to gross $300 million domestically.

Total Gross: $310 million

4. Jason Bourne
It's kind of surprising, three-and-a-half months out from this movie's release, that Universal hasn't done more marketing for Jason Bourne yet (we've only gotten a Super Bowl TV spot and a solitary poster), but to be fair,  does this movie really need any marketing? Seriously, this one's basically an excuse to print money. After a nine year long absence, Jason Bourne is back on the big screen, played by Matt Damon who's fresh off his Oscar-nominated turn in the box office smash The Martian. Yeah, this one seems like a recipe for box office success.

Total Gross: $260 million

5. The Secret Life Of Pets
Illumination Entertainment should continue their hot streak with their newest animated movie, which combines a prime Summertime release date, a roster of A-list actors (namely Kevin Hart whose social media presence should go a long way to help this movie in the realm of marketing) and a simple premise (what do pets do when you're not around?) that, if my Facebook feed full of my friends sharing the various trailers for this release, is already striking a chord with audiences.

Total Gross: $245 million

6. X-Men: Apocalypse
This ninth X-Men movie lacks the big hook of X-Men: Days Of Future Past where the old and new cast members of the franchise got to meet for the first time, but luckily that 2014 major mutant motion picture got a great reception from critics and audiences alike, paving the way for demand for more X-Men titles. The film has been performing strongly on social media too, and as long as it doesn't get disastrous level of critical and audience reception on par with BvS, this should be the second big X-Men hit for 20th Century Fox in 2016.

Total Gross: $220 million
7. Independence Day: Resurgence
And here is one of the bigger question marks of the summer. Back in 1996, Independence Day was a box office phenomenon, grossing over $300 million at the domestic box office alone. Since then, the films retained a lower profile than other 90's blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Titanic and it's hard to see if the film is really eliciting a lot of nostalgia or interest with its early trailer, though it should be noted that individuals polled on high-profile movie ticket website Fandango chose the film as their second most anticipated feature of summer. It doesn't help that it lacks a big A-list actor that can invigorate interest, like how Chris Pratt, fresh off his memorable lead turn in Guardians Of The Galaxy, made Jurassic World all the more enticing. Here, the first movie's star, Will Smith, has been ditched and Liam Hemsworth is the most high-profile of the new additions to the cast. Perhaps it'll end up outdoing the original in a similar manner to how much Jurassic World improved on Jurassic Park just last summer, but for now I'll say there's a steady decrease this go-around

Total Gross: $210 million

8. Central Intelligence
Yep, this is my one "bold" box office prediction, the one that is 95% likely to get some egg on my face come Labor Day. But something tells me I might avoid having my face decked out in yolk this go-around, since Central Intelligence does seem to have all the makings of a sleeper box office hit. Kevin Hart and Dwyane Johnson are two big names in their own right, combining them is bound to garner some attention regardless of the project. Early trailers have been filled with noteworthy jokes that have gone insanely well whenever they play at my movie screenings (some people were gasping for air after the flashback to a portly teenage Dwayne Johnson belting out a tune in the shower). Perhaps this one does end up under-performing like recent Kevin Hart titles such as Ride Along 2 and The Wedding Ringer, but considering the thus far uber-successful marketing and the fact that its got no other comedies to compete with for three weeks (meaning it'll be the only comedy in the marketplace over the lucrative 4th of July holiday), this one may just go the distance at the box office.

Total Gross: $175 million

9. Alice Through The Looking Glass
In the six years since Alice In Wonderland, it doesn't feel like there's been much clamor for another installment, though this is one of those American blockbusters that's looking to make most of its cash overseas (the first one made $690 million internationally and that was without being released in China). This one is being released into a crowded marketplace for family movies that'll include The Angry Birds Movie and the newest Ninja Turtles film, which means it won't stick around for long at the box office. Still, that first one made over $330 million domestically, so unless Johnny Depp has really burned every single bridge in the possible in the last six years, I can't see this sequel losing much more than 50% from the first movie. Fun fact; this would make Alice Through The Looking Glass the first Johnny Depp movie to hit $100 million domestically in five years (his cameo in Into The Woods in 2014 excepted).

Total Gross: $170 million
10. Star Trek Beyond
If there's any summer blockbuster that could really benefit from a release date change, it's Star Trek Beyond. Coming off the more lukewarm reception of Star Trek Into Darkness, the goodwill generated by the 2009 reboot of Star Trek has been mightily depleted. Smushing the newest Star Trek adventure in-between new Ghostbusters, Bourne and DC Comics films feels like a poor idea and delaying it until October (where sci-fi films The Martian and Gravity excelled at the box office) would be a better choice in my book, but whatever. Even with intense competition, this one should still narrowly become one of the ten biggest movies of the summer, though it'll suffer a mighty 25+% drop from its predecessor domestically

Total Gross: $165 million

For Part Two of this piece, click here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War Review

Despite what the television advertisements and trailers have told you (to the point that the majority of the marketing materials have a voice-over declaring that this is "The story before Snow White"), The Huntsman: Winter's War is not entirely a prequel to the profitable but mostly forgotten 2012 feature Snow White & The Huntsman. Now, it's first act is indeed set prior to that original movie, but that's mostly an extended prologue to the film proper. The part of the story that is indeed "the story before Snow White" mostly concerns itself with establishing that The Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) from the first movie had a sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), who was a normal individual until her infant child was murdered by the offspring's father.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Despicable Death-Threat Dropping DC Fanboys Showcase The Sad Nature Of Nerd Culture

It's likely that, over the weekend, you've seen headlines (like the one over on Movieweb) about individuals on social media who got sent death threats for their opinions expressed on the internet. Now, one unfamiliar with this situation might be curious what opinions were dished out that could generate such responses. Get this; it was all over a movie where two spandex-clad superheroes beat each other up in order to boost up the value of Warner Bros. stock. Yep, human beings expressing public disapproval of Batman v. Superman were sent death threats for not liking a motion picture anywhere near as much as the people sending the aforementioned desires to people like Clarke Wolfe, who got this "lovely" comment on an Instagram post:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Norm Of The North Review

Once or twice a year, we are blessed with movies from small-scale animation companies who seem convinced that it's easy as pie to replicate the artistic success experienced by the likes of PIXAR. All ya need is computer graphics, lots of shouting and talking animals to churn out the next Inside Out, right? Right? Of course not, but it never seems to cross these producers minds that such an equation would be faulty. Then again, maybe there's a far darker explanation going on for why Norm Of The North exists because I honestly cannot see how any human being with a functioning brain would think this final product was fit to be released.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rashomon Review (Classic Write-Up)

Similar to his endlessly remade 1954 work Seven Samurai, Akira Kurosawa's 1950 feature film Rashomon became so well-known and influential that its unique story structure (various individuals give their own retelling of a murder) was aped by countless movies and TV shows for decades to come. The first time I can recollect that I saw that specific narrative utilized was in an episode of Garfield & Friends and, of course, it wouldn't be the last time that style of storytelling would pop up again in the media I consumed. Watching Rashomon for the first time, it's easy to see why such an entertaining movie would spawn so many imitators, even if, for reasons I'll detail shortly, it doesn't quite stack up to the other Kurosawa pictures I've seen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Denzel Washington Is On Horseback, Emily Blunt Is On A Train And Brian De Palma Is On Display In This Batch Of New Movie Trailers

Just as the sun sets, the rivers flow and David DeCoteau directs eight feature films a year, another inevitability has occurred today; new movie trailers have descended from the heavens to deliver new footage of films you may or may not see in the coming months. That's less of a question for me though, I'll almost certainly see all three of these movies. I mean, I saw Fifty Shades Of Black in its theatrical run for Christs sake. At this point, I'll just wander the Earth for the remainder of my days, watching any movie that crosses my path in an attempt sear the memory of films like Sucker Punch from my brain.

Anywho, with that bout of existentialism out of the way, let's look at four new movie trailers!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Jungle Book Review

I'm a hardcore Disney fan (my first word as a human being, believe it or not, was Disney), but, to be perfectly frank, this new wave of live-action adaptations of classic Disney cartoons hasn't really done much for me. Alice In Wonderland was typical modern day Tim Burton pablum, Maleficent's few interesting ideas (namely weaving in a metaphor for rape into the backstory of its titular character) were severely overshadowed by how tedious and uninspired the rest of the film's story and characters were and Cinderella was only inoffensive at best. But finally, oh finally, one of these live-action adaptations has finally turned out to be a well-made movie in its own right.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Criminal Review

OK, so, the plot for Criminal is more than a bit dense, so allow me to parse through it with a synopsis. Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) is a criminal serving a life sentence who, thanks to being thrown out of a car as a child, basically has no frontal lobe. The movie uses this as an excuse for why he has no moral compass or any knowledge of what emotions are. That lack of a frontal lobe is also why Jericho specifically is the perfect candidate for a procedure wherein scientist Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) will inject Jericho with the memories of the recently deceased secret agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), who tragically passed away while doing the cinematography for The Jungle Book. High-ranking military official Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) hopes that, with Pope's memories in Stewart's body, he'll able to retrieve the whereabouts of a man who has control of an arsenal of nuclear weaponry.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Jungle Book Is The Box Office VIP While Barbershop 3 Serves A Solid Amount of Customers

It's pretty apparent at this point that Disney's live-action adaptations of their classic animated features are as close to guaranteed money-makers as you'll find at the domestic box office. After the likes of Alice In Wonderland, Maleficent and Cinderella made bug bucks for the Mouse House, the newest entry in this subgenre, The Jungle Book, debuted to reviews far more positive than the ones given to its kin and also garnered one of the biggest opening weekends for any movie released by Disney. Mowgli and his jungle pals claimed $103.5 million in its first domestic opening weekend, waaay bigger than the bows of Maleficent and Cinderella and the second biggest opening weekend ever for April.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Film On The Television (4/15/2016): Titan A.E. On Starz Kids And Family

Where oh where has Don Bluth gone? A man who was once the protege of Spielberg at Universal (doing such box office this An American Tale and a personal childhood favorite of mine The Land Before Time under the supervision of Spielberg) has all but vanished in the 21st century, with his only film in this new millennium being a big enough box office bomb to torpedo not only his own career but also led to Fox Animation Studios being shut down.

It's a pity that such negative events succeeded the abysmal box office showing of Titan A.E., because it's actually a pretty good movie in its own right. While the film sometimes gets too wrapped up in its own little world (to the point where certain things in the plot, like our main hero escaping from an enemy prison, just sort of happen for reasons the writers seem to know about but don't let the audience in on), it's that sort of devotion to the kooky sci-fi world that they've created that gives the motion picture an endearing quality. To boot, the various sci-fi creatures and environmentz are a treat on a visual level, while there are also some great vocal performances from the likes of Nathan Lane and John Leguizamo. It's also worth noting, for the sake of context and history, that after a decade of American family animation being dominated by fantasy musicals (most of which were subpar Disney knock-offs like Quest For Camelot), Titan A.E. ushered in a brief epoch of PG-rated animation with a bit more edge to it. Some (like Titan A.E. and the similarly undervalued box office dud Treasure Planet) were diamonds in the rough, while others (such as Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas and Atlantis: The Lost Empire) got the middling box office they deserved.

Of course, Shrek came along in May 2001 to radically change the face of American family animation, transitioning the default status of those films to computer-animated comedies, a format of storytelling that's still going strong 15 years later. Both as an examination of a peculiar time of transition in American family animation, as well as a strong film with a clear confidence in its own crazy story and mythology, Titan A.E. most certainly fits the bill.

Titan A.E. starts on Starz Kids And Family at 6:23 PM Eastern time.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

There Are Four Avatar Sequels Coming, You Cannot Escape Them

Y'know what movie I like? Avatar. It's nowhere near a perfect movie (then again, what is?), but James Cameron certainly knows how to weave a visually pleasing world. There's also an earnest spirit to the film (it's less obsessed with being "dark" or "gritty" than it is embracing all the fun that comes with having your own space dragon to fly around) and Stephen Lang's General Quaritch is the perfect kind of over-the-top bad guy that this kind of movie needs. Yeah, all in all, a super enjoyable movie, totally easy to see why audiences got so enamored with it, especially since it was one of the first films to take full advantage of the positive aspects of Digital 3D and especially IMAX 3D.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Marvel Movie News Galore! A Trailer For Doctor Strange, A Title For Spider-Man And A Co-Star For Thor!

The press tour for Captain America: Civil War is well on its way, and whenever an entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has its stars, director and producers on the road promoting a feature, there's bound to be juicy tidbits about future Marvel Cinematic Universe features unveiled, particularly when one is talking to the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige. Don't expect this to be the last time we get a bunch of Marvel news (Civil War is still three weeks away from its domestic release), but for now, I thought I'd compile three particularly noteworthy MCU related news items into one article.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Steven Spielberg Adds Another Movie (Starring Mark Rylance And Revolving Around Catholicism And Kidnapping) to His Bustling Slate

Steven Spielberg is not a man known for having a light workload. Remember how, back in 1997 and 1998, he had three directorial efforts (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan) released in the span of 13 months?  Oh he'll take prolonged breaks occasionally but whenever he comes back he's always got multiple films up his sleeve. It looks like he's on one helluva roll right now, as, hot off the heels after releasing Bridge Of Spies last Fall (which you should see ASAP if you haven't yet, it's great), he's got The BFG lined up for this summer, Ready Player One set for March 2018 and he'll also be handling a fifth Indiana Jones feature in July 2019.

Hardcore Henry Review

If you've even had only the briefest exposure to the advertising campaign of Hardcore Henry, you likely are all too aware that the films big claim-to-fame is that it was shot in a first-person style of filming, putting the viewer at the center of the story of Henry, a man whose awoken with no memory but has been given various technological enhancements in his body that make him an unstoppable killing machine. Those upgrades are a positive, but less uplifting is that a very bad man by the name of Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) has kidnapped Henry's wife, Estelle (Haley Bennett).

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Batman And Superman Are No Match For The Boss While Hardcore Henry Gets Slaughtered

Twas not Doomsday nor Lex Luthor nor Darkseid that took down Batman v. Superman at the box office. No, Melissa McCarthy was the one to end the box office reign of those two superheroes, with her newest movie taking the number one spot at the box office with $24.5 million. That's a 15% increase from the opening weekend of Tammy, though that one burned off demand by opening on a Wednesday. It is noticeably lower than the bows of Spy, Identity Thief and The Heat, though the smaller $29 million budget of The Boss means Universal probably aren't sweating bullets over this box office performance.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Midnight Special Review

Midnight Special is the sort of movie that hits the ground running and never looks back. The story begins in media res and from there backstory is doled out in small doses throughout numerous points. Jeff Nichols shows some obvious ingenuity when it comes to concocting a cohesive narrative with this approach; he's well aware that numerous elements of the plot will be foreign to all viewers and require proper explanation. But he's also not willing to sacrifice the thrust of the narrative so he can have an entire shoehorned in scene that overwhelms the audience with answers. Instead, he lets the tale live and breathe, with clarification coming to light when needed while other aspects of the movie remain satisfyingly ambiguous.

Friday, April 8, 2016

"You Couldn't Get Away With This Plot Twist In An Airplane Paperback": A Look At The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

By now, the level of hyperbolic praise slathered onto The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story from both critics and audiences has reached the level of inescapable. Allow me to toss in my voice to such a chorus of rapturous commentary, because good Lord was this some excellently crafted television. Ten straight episodes that managed to be a riveting crime thriller in their own context and a fascinating rumination on race and gender related hardships. Sure, we all knew when we first strapped in for the first episode of this show exactly how it would end, but did any of us know The People v. O.J. Simpson was going to be this exemplary in every sense of the word?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Trailer For Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Is Here!

It's a Star Wars world, and we're all just living in it. After The Force Awakens broke every box office record in the book, not to mentioning earning acclaim from both moviegoers and critics alike, Disney/Lucasfilm are off on their plan to make a new Star Wars movie every single year. The current plan is for every other year to deliver a traditional Star Wars episode chronicling the tale of Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron, while alternating years will be home to spin-off features that are a "Star Wars Story".

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Eye In The Sky Review

Any new technological advancement is going to be met with a wide gamut of responses, especially when said piece of technology can drastically change the way our society operates. Just look at how the very presence of cell phones has upended social conventions the world over. When those leap forwards in technology apply to a piece of military hardware, a whole new level of scrutiny is applied to the object, mainly because, more likely than not, this newly created device could be responsible for the loss of lives. The advent of nuclear weaponry was one such military-related creation that sparked debates about morality that are still ongoing today, while today's modern day military technological advancement that's creating plenty of conversation is drone warfare.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A New BFG Trailer Has Arrived For All Of Us Human Beans to Watch!

Roal Dahl is a trick author to adapt to film. His works were so full of flights of the most fantastical kind of fantasy that it can be difficult for certain filmmakers to adapt such works into cohesive features. Tim Burtons Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, for instance, does not work in any shape or form any way you slice it. As its own thing, it's a repetitive slog sorely lacking in whimsy or fun, while as an adaptation it's borderline infuriating. Like I said, the books of Dahl thrived on the nonsensical and all of that vagary found in the text is tossed aside so that the root of all of Willy Wonka's idiosyncrasies are....daddy issues. His father was dentist ya see. Not only did it go against the spirit of the source material, it was an eye-rolling plot development take in the context of just the film itself. Screw that garbage.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dazed And Confused Review (Classic Write-Up)

At this point, the rise of a new breed of indie filmmaker in the early 90's is practically a legend itself, with the rise of individuals like Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino ushering in a new age of cinema at the dawn of the final decade of the 20th century. Just as the likes of Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen shifted the paradigm of filmmaking in the 70's, these storytellers were changing everything as far as indie cinema, and even film in general, and among those directors altering the movie landscape at this time was a guy by the name of Richard Linklater. Emerging from Austin, Texas, his debut film, Slacker, had actually inspired fellow early 90's indie cinema auteur Kevin Smith to become a director.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Batman v. Superman Descends By 68% In Second Weekend While God's Not Dead 2 Gets Crucified At The Box Office

After having one of the best opening weekends in history, Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice had a massive second-weekend decline, losing 68% from its debut opening weekend for a $52.3 million second weekend gross. That's a larger second-weekend dip than superhero movies like Man Of Steel (64%) and Green Lantern (66%) and on par with the second-weekend decline of Fantastic Four (2015) (69%). In terms of overall second weekends, it's the twenty-sixth biggest second weekend ever, putting it just ahead of the second weekend gross of Inside Out and just behind the second-weekend cumes of Shrek The Third and The Passion Of The Christ. It's worth noting also that, while the $27.7 million BvS grossed at Thursday night last weekend certainly boosted its opening weekend, last year's Avengers: Age Of Ultron made only $100,000 less at Thursday night showings and lost only 59% in its second weekend.

Friday, April 1, 2016

God's Not Dead 2 Review

And so, the day has come, when the single most anticipated sequel since The Land Before Time XIV would arrive onto the populace to spread "wisdom" and "harmony".  Yes, folks, God's Not Dead 2 has been bestowed upon us all. In this second chapter of the God's Not Dead saga, Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart), is a High School teacher whose Jesus Christ-related answer to a student's question ends up getting her into some hot water. More specifically, her actions end up getting her embroiled in a court case where the opposing lawyers are out to prove once and for all....that God is dead. She's gonna need the help of a kindly non-believing lawyer named Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), the wisdom of God's grace and I'm gonna need even more assistance to stay awake during the two hour run-time of this cinematic fiasco.