Thursday, August 31, 2017

The 1952 Western High Noon Is As Relevant Today As It Was In It's Initial Release

Will Kane (Gary Cooper) has been good to the town of Hadleyville, New Mexico. He's been a loyal Marshall to this town for as long he can remember, making some enemies on the criminal side of things in the process but also making even more friends as he cleaned up the town and made it a safer place for people to live. Today, he's married his sweetheart Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly) and in the process, he's retiring from his duties as the Marshall of Hadleyville, New Mexico. The wedding between these two is a time of bliss and joy for both Kane and Fowler but it's cut short by news that none other than Frank Miller (Ian McDonald) has returned to town seeking vengeance against Will Kane.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In Laman's Terms: Get Shorty: A Plea For More Theatrical Films To Be Preceded By Short Films

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!

As a kid, I was always transfixed by the short films that would play before PIXAR movies. None of the other movies I had on VHS tapes had little short films paying before them, making the likes of Geri's Game and Luxo Jr. all the more special than they already were. As I got older,  I realized PIXAR was an anomaly in the world of American cinema in that they were the only production company or studio to put short films on all their releases (once PIXAR head honcho John Lasseter took the reins on Walt Disney Animation Studios, features from that studio also always carried short films) as everyone else in Hollywood seemed to consider the artform of short films a frivolous affair and a pointless business expense.

Wind River Is A Snow-Ridden Search For Answers

What is Wind River? Well, it's an Indian Reservation, primarily populated by Native American individuals, that is located in Wyoming. It is here that Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) makes his living as he hunts predators for farmers who are concerned that said predators may be gobbling down their livestock. It's an occupation that makes him a decent chunk of change and allows him to live close to his son with whom he shares custody with his ex-wife. While on patrol for his job one day, Cory comes across the body of a deceased young woman in the snow. An FBI agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), is called in to help with the investigation into this mysterious death, as suspicions soon arise that this lady could have been murdered.

Superbad? More Like SuperGreat!

Sure, we all know who Jonah Hill and Michael Cera are today but ten years ago this very month, each of them got to headline their very first (but certainly not their last) motion picture with the Greg Mottola-directed feature Superbad. Neither came from out of nowhere of course since Cera had done Arrested Development for three seasons and Hill had been a character actor in a couple of comedies, but neither one were movie stars until Superbad came along and rocketed them both to new levels of fame. In my first time ever viewing of Superbad, I was delighted to see that the initial breakthrough movie for these two wasn't just a worthy start for two talented actors but may be one of the strongest movies either of them has ever appeared in.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hop Aboard The Thrilling And Well-Crafted Tony Scott Feature The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3

It starts out like any other normal day. The trains are whizzing by, they stop, people get on, other people get off. Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) shows up to his station as a Subway dispatcher as he helps all the various trains in the subway system of New York City run smoothly. Most days, they do just that. But today, something's gone wrong. The train Pelham 1 2 3 has stopped suddenly in the middle of the rails and nobody in charge of Pelham 1 2 3 with Garber over the established communication channels. Confusion ensues until a voice is heard speaking to Garber, with the voice belonging to a man who has taken control of the train with the help of some other gun-toting men.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The First Half Of The First Season Of The Tick Is A Surprisingly Funny And Enjoyable Affair

It isn't just in your local multiplex that superheroes have become a recurring presence, the boob tube is also an entertainment locale where superheroes can be found in heavy doses. Each of the five major networks, save for CBS, have at least one superhero show on their airwaves while all sorts of cable networks have their own superhero TV shows. Some of these programs, in order to fit into the smaller budgeted nature of TV shows, are deconstructions of superheroes focusing on normal people, like NBC's Powerless or the Playstation Network's one stab at original programming Powers. The Tick is kind of sort of being made in that storytelling mold but its savvy knowledge of superhero tropes is used more for good-natured rib poking than outright mockery. Plus, it's refreshingly not at all ashamed of embracing the sillier aspects of superheroes, one of a number of positive elements of this program.

The Hitman's Bodyguard Tops Box Office Again As Trio Of Newcomers Bomb In One Of The Worst Box Office Weekends Of The 21st Century

Well, this was one of the worst box office weekends in recent memory, with this being the worst box office weekend in sixteen years, not exactly the kind of news you want to hear. Leading the anemic pack was The Hitman's Bodyguard, which grossed $10 million, a 53% drop from opening weekend that brings the action/comedy's ten-day cume to $37 million. That second-weekend dip is on par with the one experienced by fellow recent mid-August Lionsgate R-rated action movie The Expendables 2 If The Hitman's Bodyguard continues to play that Expendables movie, it would end up grossing $64 million domestically, actually a solid haul for this $30 million budgeted feature. In second place was Annabelle: Creation, which grossed another $7.3 million, a 53% drop from last weekend. This new horror film has now grossed $77.8 million and should be headed for a domestic total around $90 million.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Wolf Warrior II Improves On The Action Of Its Predecessor But Still Remains Too Generic

For my American readers, it's likely you haven't even heard of Wolf Warrior II, but if you're a resident of China, well, the odds are good you're very much acquainted with this motion picture due to the massive box office success it's experienced in China. Breaking box office records left and right in its home country of China, Wolf Warrior II has become the biggest movie of all-time in China and has amassed the second largest box office sum ever accumulated by one movie in one country, only behind the $936 million grossed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the U.S. in 2015. Already one of the ten biggest movies of the year at the worldwide box office, Wolf Warriors II is a phenomenon.

The Moments Of True Blue Success In American Beauty Make Its Flaws All The More Aggravating

Best Picture winners (with a few exceptions like No Country For Old Men or Moonlight) always tend to garner divisive reputations (if they aren't outright forgotten like certain films like The English Patient, Out Of Africa and Around The World In 80 Days have been) in the years since they took home that golden statue. 20 years later, Titanic still gets passionate debates on its artistic merits going while American Beauty seems to have that same effect, I'd been hearing about this Sam Mendes directorial debut for ages now and was mighty curious to see it for the first time and add my own two cents to the vibrant discussion.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Hollow And Forgettable Death Note Lacks Substance But At Least Willem Dafoe Is Fun In It

Because the majority of the most well-known American comic book characters are owned by two comic book companies (Marvel and DC Comics) that are each already owned by differing corporations, movie studios in recent years have been looking around for other already-established material to work as the basis for franchises that can replicate the success of these comic book based features. We've gotten more high-profile video game movies lately as attempts to make that subgenre the next beloved nerdy pop culture staple alongside comic book movies. Of course, we all know the majority of video game movies haven't gone so well and the same can be said for American movie adaptations of pieces of Anime, a subgenre the new Netflix movie Death Note belongs to.

The Godfather Trilogy Comes To An Underwhelming End With The Godfather: Part III

And so, we come to the end of The Godfather trilogy, a saga of films adapting the literary work by Mario Puzo of the same name. Following his tenure helming the lasts two entries in this series, Francis Ford Coppola returns to the directors chair for this final chapter in the Corleone saga, though considering how starved Paramount Pictures is for content these days, I'm preparing myself for an inevitable McG directed reboot of The Godfather to get announced anyday now. For now though, The Godfather: Part III serves as the definitive end of one of the most acclaimed franchises in cinematic history, though this third chapter received initial responses that proved to be far more critical than its predecessors.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up (Entry #6): The Clash by The Clash

ENTRY #6: The Clash by The Clash

Douglas Laman Gets A Tune-Up is a series of essays wherein Douglas Laman listens to an album of music he's never fully listened to before (though he may have heard one or two songs from it) and writes up his brief thoughts on it. 

Rock n' roll has taken on many different forms over the years, with each generation bringing something new to the table in terms of thematic content and instrumental composition that differentiates themselves from the past. But in its many forms, there's always been one common thread linking the various incarnations of rock n' roll; rebellion. From the time rock n' roll as we know it really took off in the mid-20th century, the artform has been always known as something meant to raise a middle finger to authority and provide an outlet for frustration at conventionality, structure and all other things that listeners felt were hindering their full potential.

Though Better Than Expected, The 2003 Daredevil Movie Still Finds Itself Not Realizing Its Full Potential

Surprisingly, the 2003 feature film take on Daredevil does rise above a number of the middling or outright bad comic book movies that were being made in the era in which it was released. It's a thousand times better than Catwoman, it's far more interesting than The Punisher, it's less aggravating than the 2005 Fantastic Four film and I'd even go as far as to say it's at least on par with the 2000 X-Men movie in terms of overall quality. The problem here is that's probably the highest praise I can lather Daredevil with because it's still an erratic heavily flawed movie that's kept from being something truly special due to a pretty poor screenplay, though it does have its moments of charm or gusto goofiness, can't deny that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Is An Utterly Unique And Transfixing Feature

I know it'll sound a pretentious descriptor on par with "It's really a tone poem" or "The city is a character unto itself", but it does feel appropriate for me to note that Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives feels more like a dream mixed with a fairy tale than it does a traditional piece of cinema. Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's 2010 motion picture heavily utilizes the more abstract and fantastical nature that most dreams and fairy tales have with aplomb to create something thoroughly unpredictable (one can never tell just what heightened imagery the next scene might bring) as well as something emotionally powerful on an intimate level too, which, come to think of it, is where many particularly memorable fairy tales and even dreams tend to resonate.

The Punisher Is So Lacking In Creativity Even John Travolta Phones It In As A Mob Boss

Over the course of a 19 year period, we got three different Punisher movies, none of them direct continuations of each other. Instead, we got a trio of attempts to launch a series of movies based on this Marvel Comics character, none of which left all that much of an impact, especially compared to how well-received Jon Bernthal's take on the character on the Daredevil TV show was. The second of these three Punisher movies is the 2004 film by Johnathan Hensleigh, simply called The Punisher, which is one of only two movies (along with that 2005 Man-Thing film that ended up becoming a TV movie) to emerge from an extensive deal Marvel made with now-defunct movie studio Artisan Entertainment to turn various Marvel characters into various pop culture properties.

In Laman's Terms: The Weinstein Co. And Its Twelve-Year-Long Struggle To Build An Animation Empire

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!

Last week, The Weinstein Company announced that their newest animated movie Leap! (that's hitting theaters this Friday) would be the start of a new animation division at the studio called Mizchief, so named because that's how the son of Weinstein Company head Harvey Weinstein pronounces mischief. It's the newest chapter in the story of The Weinstein Company's extensive saga of trying to become a formidable force in the world of animated family fare and finding more struggles than success in the process. When did such a quest begin? Well, to answer that question, you have to go all the way back to when The Weinstein Company started.....

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Terrence Malick's Days Of Heaven Is A Beautiful Look At Early 20th Romantic Strife, And Yes, Douglas Laman Wrote This Review

Well hello Terrence Malick. It's been awhile. Me and o'l Malick may be two Texas boys but we haven't always seen eye to eye in the past. By that, I mean I haven't enjoyed a lot of what I've seen from this prolific filmmaker, even features of his like Badlands and The Tree Of Life that have scored outstanding acclaim left me more cold than impressed. But I am not one to give up on any artist, especially one that has clearly resonated emotionally on a profound level with so many like Terrence Malick and so I have pressed on in consuming titles from his filmography. It seems I have finally stumbled upon a feature of his that I could enjoy in the form of the 1978 motion picture Days Of Heaven.

Monday, August 21, 2017

"We're Up All Night For Good Fun, We're Up All Night To Get (Logan) Lucky"

The South and its associated culture (and other parts of the country north of the South that hew closely to said country) are weird. Anything to do with redneck stuff is inherently just a little bit off-kilter. Not saying there aren't strange facets of the upper-crust life too (why are fish eggs considered a culinary delicacy among the wealthy again?) but having lived in Texas for over two decades, I'm well-aware of how a large share of the little details of everyday life around here really are just bizarre like certain colloquialisms, fashion traits, and societal faux pas. Filmmakers like Richard Linklater have used that truth heavily in their own films and now Logan Lucky is the newest film to utilize the inherent oddness of Southern customs as a backbone for entertaining cinema.

The Glass Castle Is Admirable For Its Thematic Aspirations And Is Less So In Its Execution Of Said Aspirations

At the dawn of this decade, the general populace mostly knew Brie Larson as Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and as a recurring heavy presence on the Showtime drama United States Of Tara. In the years since though, she's starred in a number of acclaimed motion pictures hailing from all sorts of genres, won an Oscar and been cast as a Marvel superhero. Perhaps the movie that really helped her start her ascension to movie star was the 2013 drama Short Term 12, an outstanding feature full of lovable characters and an emphatic spirit that made human beings out of its troubled characters. She reunites with that films director, Destin Daniel Cretton, for the new drama The Glass Castle, which, sadly, is a major step down from the quality of Short Term 12.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Defenders Is Way More Tedious Than It Should Be. At Least Jessica Jones Is Around.


And so we come to the culmination of that original pact Marvel Television made with Netflix, the one that stated Marvel's TV arm would provide the streaming service with 13-episode long seasons of four different superhero shows and then all of those individual superheroes would meet up in an 8-episode long miniseries The Defenders (the original plan has now expanded to accommodate additional seasons of each of the shows as well as a Punisher spin-off). That original plan got off to a great start with the first seasons of Daredevil and especially Jessica Jones, but since then the Marvel/Netflix stuff has been heavily flawed in quality (at best) and The Defenders continues the more middle-of-the-road artistic trajectory of the recent fare created by this collaboration.

The Only Living Boy In New York Is So Boring It'll Send Audiences Into A Snooze

Just as Star Wars is still influencing modern day blockbusters in way both big and small, fellow noteworthy 1977 motion picture Annie Hall, and other iconic Woody Allen movies that would follow it like Manhattan, are still having their impact felt on movies made in 2017. So many intimate dialogue and character driven dramas in the modern age still look to the works of Woody Allen as a guiding star of sorts, hoping the same level of critical adulation and high-quality storytelling that marked Allen's best works in the 70's will also befall their creative endeavors. That seems to be the hope of The Only Living Boy In New York, a Marc Webb movie that very much seems like it's a Woody Allen movie wannabe.

The Hitman's Bodyguard Hits A Bullseye At The Top Of The Box Office While Logan Lucky Underperforms

The Summer 2017 box office blahs went on unabated this weekend as The Hitman's Bodyguard took over the box office with an actually pretty solid sum of $21.6 million. That doesn't break any records or anything but for a $29 million budgeted R-rated action/comedy that's also based on no source material, that's actually a fine haul. This marks the fifth live-action movie Ryan Reynolds has starred in that's opened to over $20 million and is way above the openings of fellow recent rated action/comedies that opened in mid-August like Kick-Ass 2, The Expendables 3 and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Lionsgate/Summit put together a solid marketing campaign for this project that emphasized the two stars and also the lighthearted atmosphere of the film that made it stand out amidst a barrage of recent darker movies in the marketplace. If it follows the box office trajectory of the first two Expendables movies (which were also released by Lionsgate in mid-August), it would make about $64 million domestically.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Comedic Craftsmanship And Cute Doggies Make A Dog's Life A Major Winner

Chocolate and peanut butter. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Michael Buble and music. Sometimes, two items that are awesome on their own manage to come together in a once in a lifetime even that manages to both enhance their individual merits and create something entirely new in the process. So it is with the 1918 film A Dog's Life that the individually outstanding elements of Charlie Chaplin and cute puppies were brought together to make a movie called A Dog's Life that ends up being oh so entertaining. Considering just how outstanding Charlie Chaplin and cute puppies are on their own merits, you'd have to be a real schmuck to mess up this combo!

The Hitman's Bodyguard Is Paint-By-Numbers Action Fare But At Least The Two Leads Are Fun

Considering Samuel L. Jackson has been a prominent figure of American cinema for nearly a quarter-of-a-century now and also considering that Ryan Reynolds has become (after a couple of big box office duds that seemed to suggest he might not get there) Hollywood's go-to leading man thanks to the rousing success of Deadpool, it feels like it was just about inevitable that the two would star in a movie together. They've managed to do just that with director Patrick Hughes (the guy who directed the third Expendables movie) new movie, The Hitman's Bodyguard, an R-rated action film that allows both Reynolds and Jackson to drop all the buckets of profanity and hardcore violence that their past biggest movies are known for.

Friday, August 18, 2017

"I Shot The Sheriff But I Did Not Shoot The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

In his forty years as a notable cinematic leading man, Jimmy Stewart had more variety in terms of the types of characters he played and films he appeared than you might expect given how the default version of the guy is the "Aw, shucks" good o'l boy he played in his earliest works, most notably It's A Wonderful Life. But Stewart also played darker roles in Alfred Hitchcock fare like Vertigo and Rear Window that allowed the guys versatility as an actor to shine. Once the 1960's rolled around, he got to do a couple of collaborations with another iconic Hollywood director, John Ford, with one of their efforts being the 1962 motion picture The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

"Now That's How You Make a Movie!" - A Review Of The Brilliant Brigsby Bear

It takes a lot of passion and soul to make any piece of art. Whether it's a film, a book, music, whatever artform it manifests in, the act of putting all of yourself into some kind of creative expression is incredibly admirable. There's many moments in the monologue Anton Ego gives in the final scene of Ratatouille that really resonate with me, but I'm particularly fond of the one line that goes "in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so." That's very much something that needs to be kept in mind when examining any piece of art and it's an idea most definitely reinforced by Brigsby Bear, a superb new indie dramedy that put a big smile on my face and warm n' fuzzy feelings in my heart.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Atypical's Brief Moments Of Promise Are Overshadowed By Lazy And Stereotypical Writing

For a TV show whose very title places an enormous emphasis on being unique, Atypical is a tragically conventional show in nearly every respect. Risks of any kind are kept to a minimum on this program and the positive qualities are even more sparse. It's the kind of TV show that struck can go eight episodes (each running from 29-37 minutes in length) without really carving out its own distinct identity or making its characters interesting or even just delivering some solid jokes. Worst of all, it ends up falling prey to some of the most egregious flaws found in typical American pop culture portrayals of people on the Autism spectrum.

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.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sanjuro Is Both A Sequel To Yojimbo And Yet Another Excellent Akira Kurosawa Movie

Sanjuro marks my sixth foray in the filmography of Akira Kurosawa and each time I view a movie by this guy, it really is an awesome experience. Kurosawa just shows so much skill as a filmmaker, with such great command of his craft, it's just a joy to spend a few hours immersed in something he created. Sanjuro is yet another great example of the kind of high-quality cinema Kurosawa so frequently dabbled in. This feature serves as a sequel to an earlier Kurosawa work Yojimbo, with Sanjuro, like its predecessor, featuring Toshiruo Mifune in a lead role as a heavily experienced samurai. Those expecting simply a retread of Yojimbo, though, will be elated to know there's plenty going on here in Sanjuro to give it its own identity.

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Boring And Meandering Plot Make Sure That The Dark Tower Crumbles

When I finished watching Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief back in February 2010, I was crushed. One of my favorite books, The Lightning Thief, had come to the big screen in a big-budget live-action movie and it was terrible. In taking the source material to the screen, they'd make drastic alterations to the book, which isn't inherently bad of course, but the changes they made here were just awful and somehow the execution of characters and plot details from the book were even worse. All those years of anticipation for a proper movie were answered by this trash heap of a feature film, one that seemed far more intent on kick-starting the next big fantasy movie franchise like Harry Potter than creating an actually good movie.

The Inconsistent Miss Congeniality Has Glimmers Of Real Creativity And Laughs

To follow the trajectory of Sandra Bullock's career is to see a fascinating career path that, with the benefit of hindsight, really does just exemplify longevity. Bullock garnered large amounts of fame in the 90's, thanks to Speed and While You Were Sleeping kicking her career into overdrive and she maintained that star wattage through the next two decades of her career, with the only real bump in her career coming in the 2006-2007 era where she just had some mild box office underperformers. Right after that though, the 2009 double-whammy of The Proposal and The Blind Side took her to the next level of stardom that she's been riding ever since. Nine years prior to those two movies though, Bullock starred in one of her most famous motion pictures, the comedy Miss Congeniality.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Atomic Blonde Is Frequently Entertaining But It Gets Too Bogged Down In Its Own Plot

In order to make the new action/thriller Atomic Blonde as awesome as potentially possible, it looks like the producers of this project swung for the fences and got two of the most influential figures of the mid-2010's American cinema action scene. David Leitch, one of the two directors of John Wick and one of the fight choreographers for the Captain America sequels (Chad Stahleski joined him on both of those duties), whose helped create a fresh modern-day style of cogently filmed and intense hand-to-hand combat, is helming this motion picture while his leading actor of the piece is Charlize Theron, star of one of the most iconic films of this decade in any genre, Mad Max: Fury Road. Alas, them working together doesn't result in a movie anywhere near as good as their best movies, though that doesn't mean Atomic Blonde doesn't have its own action-packed pleasures.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In Laman's Terms: Five Classic Directors Who Deserve A Major Comeback

In Laman's Terms is a new 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!

While a number of directors from the big American cinema revolution of the 1970's (like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen) are still doing regular work in Hollywood, it must be said that quite of the few masters from this era as well as other prolific directors from other epochs of Hollywood have found shockingly little work in the modern day cinematic landscape given how many classics they've delivered in their career. As just a little fun exercise, I've compiled five notable directors, some of whom come from the aforementioned creative boom of the 70's, others who come from other eras of Hollywood, who don't get much in the way of work anymore but totally deserve more high-profile gigs, perhaps from the likes of studios like Netflix, Annapurna or Amazon who are now in the business of financing costly auteur-driven projects that major studios are hesitant to greenlight.

Pack Your Things And Go On A Hilarious Girls Trip

Girls Trip is the sort of movie that very much knows where its best assets are. It recognizes right off the bat that there's more humor and heart to be generated from making its lead four characters true blue friends instead of being individuals who are constantly at each other throats (though there is conflict between two of the members of the group to be sure), for instance. It also clearly knows that it's got plenty of strong performers filling out the lead roles and letting the plot mainly concern the characters caring for one another would be a better way to properly utilize said talents instead of having the four protagonists solely go through contrived conflicts with one another.