Tag Archives: American Sniper

The Best of 2015 Thus Far

As we’re now well and truly past the half-way mark for the year, it seems like as good a time as any for a few of the Failed Critics contributors to bundle together and reveal which films they’ve enjoyed the most so far. Come December, we’ll still be running the annual Failed Critics Awards, giving you the opportunity to cast your vote for your favourite films of 2015.

In the meantime, let’s have a quick run through of what some of our writers and podcasters have chosen as their five favourite films of the year. Will the biggest film of the year so far, Jurassic World, be featured? Will United Passions somehow infect this article too? Will anyone pick anything other than Mad Max?? Find out below…


by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad maxFighting the urge to fill my word limit with just paragraphs of me repeating the words “Perfect”, “Awesome” and “The most fun I’ve had this year with clothes on”, I’ll try and be a little more cohesive in my description. It had been thirty years since the last film in the iconic Mad Max franchise, to bring a fourth entry to a series after that long is a massive undertaking at the best of times. But when its original star is as iconic as the film’s that made him famous, replacing him as well would be a recipe for disaster in any other filmmakers hands. Thankfully for all of us, the series’ creator made a triumphant return and gave us one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. A breathtaking, visceral two hours (on three occasions) in the cinema left me shellshocked and shaking with excitement and almost unable to write my review when I got home I was so pumped. Oh, and there’s a dude on a truck made of drums and speakers playing heavy metal on a flame throwing guitar! No more needs to be said!

2] Ex Machina

3] Whiplash

4] Still Alice

5] It Follows

WORST: Avengers: Age of Ultron – Years of subtle hype and weeks of actual hype in the buildup to this, the biggest Marvel movie yet. What we got was a more than two hour long wet fart of a film that left me blindingly disappointed with a really bad taste in my mouth.


by Paul Field (@pafster)

1] Wild Tales

wild talesDark, twisted and utterly enthralling anthology from Argentina. All of the stories are great, no fillers here as is often the case with anthology films. I love a revenge film, and to have 6 served up in one sitting is a real treat. Hard to pick my favourite… the parking ticket is brilliant, the plane passengers unsettling and hilarious, the overtaking motorist caper that escalates out of all control…..but I think the Wedding. Pissing off the bride on her wedding day is an absolute no no, and here, she conveys her displeasure in spectacular fashion. As a first feature from Damián Szifron, this is outstanding and will take some toppling come the end of the year.

2] Hyena

3] Creep

4] We Are Still Here

5] Buzzard

WORST: Lost River Ryan Gosling believing his own hype, delivers the most pretentious load of cobblers ever committed to film. Utter, utter toilet.. and yes, I’ve seen United Passions, Accidental Love and the new Danny Dyer film this year too. Its worse than all three of those, on repeat, for eternity.


by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

1] Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

birdmanReleased in the UK on 1 January 2015, I still don’t think I’ve seen a funnier, more entertaining film in the cinema all year. Michael Keaton is absolutely phenomenal as the flailing former superhero movie star attempting to reinvent himself as a stage actor and producer. His manic behaviour, coupled with director Iñárritu’s frenetic, constantly adapting story shot as if the whole production was just one long take; I just loved every minute of it. However, I was hesitant to put it as number one on my list, given a couple people I’ve recommended it to have hated it! But ultimately, despite seeing it only two days into the year, nothing else has managed to better it yet for me.

2] Mad Max: Fury Road

3] Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

4] Cobain: Montage of Heck

5] John Wick

WORST: United Passions – Technically not even released in the UK this year, and unlike Jupiter Ascending (cinema) and The Man With The Iron Fists 2 (VOD), I didn’t even watch this legally. But if there’s a more abhorrent, reprehensible piece of offensive propagandist garbage with as high a budget and released globally within the next decade, I’ll be surprised.


By Matt Lambourne (@LamboMat)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max 4I’m still thinking about this movie, weeks after seeing it. The action, the character, the dialogue, the music and most importantly, the SCALE. It’s over the top in every sense and works for me on every level. I can’t wait to get hold of the home release and enjoy it without the hindrance of 3D. Absolutely superb movie!

2] American Sniper

3] Furious 7

4] Jurassic World

5] Terminator Genisys

WORST: Fifty Shades of Grey Bloated, tacky, overly polished and un-sexy. I didn’t get an erection and I didn’t get a shag that night.

by Steve Norman (@StevePN86)

1] The Theory of Everything

theory of everythingThe Stephen Hawking biopic earned lead man Eddie Redmayne an Oscar and deservedly so. His portrayal of a genius of a man going through various stages of a terrible, life changing illness was extremely believable. The film also put over a side of Hawking you don’t often see, the friend, parent and husband, not the man who invented time. Or something.

2] Ex Machina

3] Kingsman: The Secret Service

4] Selma

5] Furious 7

WORST: United Passions Garbage of the highest order. I found Tim Roth less deplorable playing a racist in Selma than I did playing Sepp Blatter in this tripe. It’s offensive that it was even made.


by Callum Petch (@CallumPetch)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max fury roadFury Road is the kind of film whose existence is a reminder that this Movies thing might be alright after all, a beacon of hope that we can all look to in dark times and remind ourselves that we can, in fact, have it so much better.  From its uncomplicated story, to its unique world and set design, to its outstanding special effects, to its jaw-dropping practical stunts, to its brilliantly subtle Tom Hardy performance, to its mesmerising Charlize Theron performance, to its openly and furiously feminist and matriarchal heart, every last frame of this utter masterpiece is what I have heard perfection is supposed to be like.  It is everything that modern Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking isn’t, a purposeful pushback against everything wrong with those films right now that, in a just world, will have everyone following its example in the years to come.  Both times that I saw this movie, my veins pulsed with pure adrenaline from frame one and the feeling did not stop until long after I left the screen in tears of pure joy at that perfect final shot.  I foresee nothing else coming anywhere close to it for the rest of this year, mainly cos I have no idea what’ll happen to me if there is a better film than Fury Road to come.

2] Magic Mike XXL

3] The Voices

4] Shaun The Sheep Movie

5] Spy

WORST: Entourage  I said everything I needed to say about this reprehensible piece of abysmal shite here and here.  I’m not going to repeat myself.

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Failed Critics Podcast: Rushers / Draggers

american sniperWelcome to the Failed Critics podcast. Keeping to Steve & Owen’s tempo this week are two more guests!

Returning for his first appearance since the end of year awards episode is James Diamond, ready to demolish you with his reviews of Whiplash and all things Luc Besson. Joining James is horror-fanatic and best mates with ‘Scream Queen’ Jessica Cameron; it’s Mike Shawcross finally making his long overdue debut with American Sniper, Testament of Youth and 80’s b-movie creature feature Alligator in his sights.

Among a hefty discussion on the Academy Awards and Razzie nominations, Owen explains why not even Steven Soderbergh puts giant space baby in the corner* with his cut of 2001: A Space Odyssey, whilst Steve struggles to get his head around the popularity of Disney’s mammoth hit, Frozen. Let it go, Steve! Let it goooo…

Join us next week for reviews of Mortdecai, Ex Machina and Kingsman!

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

*credit to @naanbab for the (quite frankly amazing) pun

American Sniper

By design, American Sniper has nothing to say which makes it a waste of both my time and yours.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Film Fact Based FracasLike it or not, a war film is inherently political.  The act of war is inherently political and ideological, so a war movie, by extension, has to be about something.  A “just the facts” war movie is a documentary and even then many have things to say about war and/or the people being forced to fight in it – Restrepo, for example, ends up making a sharp point about how war can affect the men and women forced onto the front lines, and the absolute mess that comes from having to establish relations with citizens whose language you don’t speak and who do not trust you at all, purely by stepping back and “just showing the facts”.  A non-documentary film, though, cannot subscribe to that and needs an overall point to power it, otherwise it’s just wasting the viewer’s time.  Something to say about the war, about PTSD, about politics, about the men and women who pull the triggers, something, anything.

American Sniper, the newest film from director Clint Eastwood, has no point.  By design, it has absolutely no point to make.  When faced with the task of adapting the life story of Chris Kyle (here portrayed by Bradley Cooper), a decorated war hero who went on four tours of Iraq between 2001 and 2009 and whose official recorded kill count of 160 makes him the deadliest sniper in US military history, Eastwood and the film’s writer, Jason Hall, have opted to simply print the legend.  “Just the facts.”  Consequently, American Sniper is a film that goes out of its way to avoid making any point whatsoever, which is the single worst possible thing it could do.

See, again, war films are inherently political.  War films about the Iraq war, one of the most political wars of at least the last 30 or so years, are especially inherently political.  The conflict is so muddled, so ideologically driven in such different ways, so tied to the current world landscape, and such a mess that any film made about it or set during it is going to make a point regardless of how hard it tries not to.  American Sniper, therefore, most resembles the Modern Warfare-era Call of Duty games.  Those are war games set in the Middle East that just want to be fun video games and not make any major ideological points.  However, by aiming to do that, they do, in fact, end up taking a side: that side being jingoistic pro-war slightly xenophobic glorification, insidiously so.

And that’s what American Sniper ends up doing.  Without even meaning to, it glorifies the war, its subject, and the murdering of any being who even dares resemble a terrorist because of its desire to try and make a “just the facts” film.  Because there can be no such thing as a “just the facts” dramatisation because a film has to decide and construct certain things that will get in the way of “just the facts”.  A filmmaker will bring their own personal baggage and ideologies to a film and that will influence them on what they end up doing, consciously or unconsciously.  So Kyle’s shots are always justified, the American military’s response is always justified, and the war is always justified because the film refuses to linger on any of the aftermath, or to characterise any of the Iraqis as anything other than Western-hating insurgents – save for one Sheik which is the film equivalent of “I can’t be racist, one of my best friends is Iraqi!” – because Eastwood and co. are all trying so hard to avoid making a point.  The irony of a film trying so hard to avoid saying anything about the Iraq war ending up saying something is not lost on me, but is completely lost on the film.

Then there’s the character of Chris Kyle himself who, once again, the film completely refuses to try and say anything about.  Kyle is a man with a ridiculously long kill list, who went on four tours, had a loving wife (played thanklessly by Sienna Miller) and family back home, and who struggled with severe PTSD upon finally remaining at home… and yet, despite spending two hours and ten minutes in his company, the film has nothing to say about the man.  Nothing about his upbringing, nothing about his time overseas, nothing about why he keeps re-enlisting despite having a loving wife begging him to stay home, nothing.  It utterly refuses to dig into his psyche and figure out why he does what he does, instead presenting the things he does as stuff he did.

This, ultimately, means that the film also fails as a biopic about Chris Kyle.  Bradley Cooper is trying really hard – in a relaxed manner that isn’t straining for awards consideration like Eddie Redmayne was in The Theory Of Everything, another film with nothing to say about its subject – to find the character of Chris Kyle and what makes him tick, but the script gives him next-to-no material to work with on that front.  Occasionally, we will be given the slightest slither of an insight into Kyle – there’s a sequence late on where he quietly begs a child he has lined up in his sights to not go for the recently dropped RPG, as well as a very understated scene in a bar when he returns home early – but then we’re back to this cold, distant, closed-off look at what he done did, with pretty much every other time that the film threatens to question what makes him tick – usually signposted by his wife asking him point blank “Why do you keep going back?” – immediately cutting away before anything can be revealed.

As a result, the extent of the film’s insight into what made Chris Kyle the man he was boils down to “When he was a young boy, his dad took him hunting and gave him a talk about being a man who stands up to bullies.  Also, he’s just such a goddamn patriot.”  And maybe it really is that simple.  Maybe he really was just a man who wanted to save the lives of his fellow and prospective fellow soldiers, and maybe he really was just a man who didn’t question or self-reflect on his actions.  There is a difference, though, between a portrait of a man like that and a film that doesn’t want or can’t be bothered to reflect on a man like that, and American Sniper is the latter.  This is a film that relegates Kyle’s fight with PTSD to a barely five minute montage near the end and doesn’t have the guts to spend any time on the circumstances leading up to and surrounding his (off-screen) murder, because those would risk having to actually probe Kyle psychologically and that goes against the apparent “just the facts” edict that seemingly informed the whole production.

American Sniper is not a badly-made film – there’s Cooper’s aforementioned performance, Eastwood is able to extract some decent tension out of some scenes, and there are times when the film threatens to start on the road to making a point – save for a prominently featured plastic baby standing in for a real one, but it is a completely pointless one.  Yes, it insidiously promotes and glorifies a jingoistic patriotic attitude towards war, but that’s completely by accident.  The fact is that American Sniper has nothing to say about war.  Not about Iraq, not about the men and women who fought there, not about its subject Chris Kyle, not about the moral quandaries behind his actions and most certainly nothing about PTSD or his post-war life.  It has nothing to say and the fact that it actively goes out of its way to avoid having an intentional point or something to say is infuriating.

In other words, it’s two hours and ten minutes of active squandering of anything interesting to say.  It is literal timewasting that inadvertently pushes a glorified pro-war viewpoint.  If it were open about it, I’d still disagree with the film, because of my own staunch anti-war and anti-violence beliefs, but I’d at least respect it for being open about it and saying something.  Instead, American Sniper is a film that runs out the clock for two hours and ten minutes of admittedly well-made pointlessness.  That offends me.

Callum Petch likes to destroy all the things that bring the idiots joy.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

Unfortunately, The Oscars Do Matter

There are those who insist that the Academy Awards don’t matter.  Those people could not be more unfortunately wrong.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

oscars 2What was your big complaint this year’s pool of Oscar nominations?  Gone Girl being near-shut-out along with SelmaAmerican Sniper inexplicably receiving six nominations?  The extreme white maleness of the awards themselves after a 12-month period where the issue of diversity, rightly, just wouldn’t go away?  The Lego Movie not even receiving a nomination for Best Animated Feature?  The fact that they’re happening at all?

Yes, as traditional as the Oscar nominations and complaining about the Oscar nominations, it’s that time of the year for certain people to come out of the woodwork and openly announce their disdain for the entire process.  Not that I completely disagree with the general principle, mind.  We human beings are our own individual persons who each have our own tastes and personal favourite films, so the process of getting together a giant committee of diverse people, getting them to pick their favourite films and such of the past year, and then using those to come up with, essentially, a compromised set of choices is rather redundant and unindicative of the personal experiences that cinema can impart on its viewers – the “why” is more important than the “what” and that’s a thing that gets lost in general group sampling.

However, the phrase in this complaining that irks me – in equal parts because of the high horse snobbery it is typically used like by those who invoke it, and because it reminds me of the worst parts of this current industry – is that “The Oscars don’t matter.”  Again, I get where they are coming from when they use this phrase, their reasoning is that entire prior paragraph plus the fact that the voting body for the Academy is overwhelmingly white, overwhelming male, and overwhelmingly old which typically leads to safe conservative nominations and races that reflect just how out of touch the people who get to decide it are from the public and modern culture – obligatory reminder that The f*cking Artist is a Best Picture winner.  So, in a way, The Oscars don’t matter.  Unfortunately, that’s really only true on a smaller, more micro level – for us, the moviegoers, the ones who care about the art.

The sad truth is that the movies are also an industry, have been for a very, very long time, and the process of moviemaking is driven just as much by the business side as it is the creative side.  When a studio makes and releases a film, they’re looking to make money from its business because, you know, that’s how Capitalism works – losing money on a venture looks real bad.  That’s why you don’t see 20th Century Fox turning around tomorrow and releasing an experimental avant-garde sci-fi drama about the nature of humanity that cost them $110 million to make; it’s financial suicide.  You stick with safer bets, try and please everybody, in the hopes that you’ll make your money back; hence why nearly every goddamn blockbuster nowadays is a sequel, remake, adaptation, or budding franchise because apparently nobody is going to the cinema otherwise.

The Oscars have a reputation for snubbing mainstream successful films in favour of more specialist “Prestige Picture” fare, but that doesn’t mean the studios are making and releasing these films purely for specialist audiences.  “The Oscar Bump” – where the films that are nominated for Best Picture receive a box office or home media boost as people go out of their way to see them – is a thing that exists and near-guarantees future income for the studio.  A film like Birdman was never going to do particularly well on its first run, but its studio, Fox Searchlight, were likely banking on the Academy coming a-calling and giving less specialist people a sense of obligation to see it.  (Note: if Birdman doesn’t do so well this weekend, then mentally replace its name with whatever film does do well.  Point stands.)

Because, again, Hollywood is a business and awards season is one of the biggest business sessions for the film industry.  The prestige, the allure, the weight, the worth that even a nomination carries is too much to pass up.  Admit it, how many times have you gone to see a film you wouldn’t normally have gone for if it weren’t up for some kind of award?  Plus, the buzz.  Awards season itself is confined to the last three months of the year – due to the, seemingly often right, stigma that Academy voters have short memories – but the buzz is damn-near year-long.  We press, especially we Internet press, are more than guilty of talking way too much way too early about this stuff and, eventually, we end up doing the influencing.  Boyhood – although I called it from frame one – would never normally be a Best Picture frontrunner, but now it’s all but guaranteed the prize because we haven’t stopped yammering on about how it will win for the last seven months.

Now, normally, all of this wouldn’t be so much of a major problem because film as a whole would be nice and diverse.  Sure, you’d have your big blockbusters and your awards bait, but you’d also have low-to-mid budget curiosities and experiments.  Some would be trifles, some would be crowdpleasers, others would give David Cronenberg $15 million to go and make eXistenZ, but we’d get something different.  We’d get unlikely stars, women like Penelope Spheeris would actually be given studio backing to make their films, and studios would personally fund films like Boyz n The Hood.  Now was this period perfect, or anywhere near as diverse and layered as it sounds like I’m making it out to be?  F*ck no, I’m not deluded, these are just examples and not indicative of an industry I wasn’t around to experience as a whole.  But there was something, some risk, some difference.

Unfortunately, people have stopped going to the movies.  There are statistics to prove it.  So that mid-range fare is mostly gone.  Now it’s All, Awards, or Nothing – blockbusters, awards bait, next-to-nothing.  The studios have reacted to our gradual disappearance from cinemas by getting more insular, sticking more to formula, and trying to give the people what they think they want.  The blockbuster crowd seemingly want heroic white men, preferably in spandex, saving the world from unknown horrors, preferably as part of some kind of franchise so that there’s brand awareness, so that’s what we’re getting, and it’s why they just won’t stop pushing Jai Courtney on us instead of making somebody like Chiwetel Ejiofer a proper goddamn movie star by now.  Meanwhile, the Academy is comprised of old white conservative men, so the awards bait will be about troubled yet gifted white men overcoming some sort of adversity, because that’s what gets their attention.

That’s why people are so angry about the diversity problem in this year’s nominations pool.  Because the fact of the matter is this: The Oscars have power.  They have a large influence over what films get greenlit, who stars in them, who directs them, writes them, scores them, photographs, produces, supports.   Before, they could be balanced out because the industry was doing well enough that they could take risks.  Now, though, The Academy power is scarily and, from a business side of things, justifiably large.  If they say that the best films of last year were predominately about and made by white men, that’s what the studios are going to make, because that’s what many of us are going to feel obligated to see.

Now more than ever, the film industry has become a closed, self-perpetuating circle, terrified of trying to deviate from what it deems to be The Formula for fear that we, the audience, won’t turn up.  So it sticks closer to that formula, limits our options, makes the default stories about white men because it believes that’s what we want to see, writes off films with black leads or female leads as anomalies and uses any failure as an excuse to put the kibosh on future projects with those things.  It hires white and male because it thinks that we, the movie-going audience, are scared of non-white and non-male.

And it knows that the Academy don’t go for non-white and non-male so it rarely makes any awards bait films with those in mind.  Well, unless the film is about something exclusively linked to race or gender, has a surrogate for them to latch onto, or is made by a white man – incidentally, I haven’t seen Selma yet, but when Morten Tyldum is nominated for Best Director for The f*cking Imitation Game over Ava DuVernay you’re gonna have to forgive me for assuming that racism of some kind is at play here.  So what we end up getting is this constant cycle of negative re-enforcement because Hollywood has now doubled down on All, Awards, or Nothing and, although it can do something about the blockbuster part if it damn well wanted to, it can’t do anything about the Academy who will remain old, white, male, and conservative, and that means that we can’t do anything about it, because this damn industry won’t let us.

This all seems very nihilistic for what is on the surface an extended period of time where the industry pats itself on the back for a job well done, but that’s sadly how it is.  The Academy is diversifying to an extent, but it’s not happening fast enough and it’s going to continue to look out-of-touch until the day it finally does so.  Until then, the current guard wields a disappointing amount of power in the modern American film landscape, and nothing short of every human being on Earth waking up one day and simultaneously deciding to stop giving a shit about The Oscars – which is a pipe dream and we all know it – is going to change this fact:

Unfortunately, The Oscars do matter.

Callum Petch is gonna come in first place.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

US Box Office Report: 26/12/14 – 28/12/14

Unbroken takes home a silver medal, Into The Woods busts out The Gambler, Big Eyes sees little money, The Interview did alright, [Insert Tasteless Joke About American Sniper Beating Selma Here], and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Ah, yes!  That great American tradition of spending Christmas and its surrounding weekend at the cinema in order to try and force the family to shut up for 2 hours!  As a Brit, I don’t get to experience this joy as all of our cinemas inconsiderately shut down on Christmas Day, like the people who work there have families they’d rather go home to or something.  In any case, the majority of Americans chose to spend their Christmas returning to the cinema to re-watch that film they all saw last week.  The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies easily beat off all comers to retain the #1 spot with $41 million in ticket sales and only a 24% drop between weekends, the softest for any instalment of The Hobbit trilogy (sort of, considering the fact that last weekend came after a Wednesday opening that burnt off some demand).

In fact, Americans chose to spend a lot of their moneys re-seeing films from prior weekends over the holidays, even the ones that don’t deserve it.  Night At The Museum 3 leapt up 20% between weekends because being sad about the passing of Robin Williams really does bring families closer together (not sarcasm, I’m speaking from experience), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 jumped up 27% in its sixth week to prove that, yes, this series is still a juggernaut that will make all of the money despite what the haters will say, and Annie increased by 5% presumably because a whole bunch of confused families didn’t realise Into The Woods came out this week.  Elsewhere, The Imitation Game went nationwide in 747 theatres and smashed its way into the Top 10 because everybody is in love with Benedict Cumberbatch.  I don’t quite get why, but it’s a thing nonetheless.

The holiday weekend was also the last opportunity for studios to get their films out in time to be considered for awards season, hence the flood of new releases.  Leading the charge was Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken which surprisingly smashed its way to the Christmas Day number 1 slot and then rode that momentum to a strong number 2 finish.  That, however, only happened because Into The Woods opened on 600 less screens; it ended up losing the battle for second by only $700,000 even though it had a higher per-screen average, so these two may switch places when the actuals come in.  Much less successful was the Mark Wahlberg-fronted The Gambler which only managed $9 million over the three-day weekend, sinking after a strong $5 million Christmas Day performance.

In limited release news, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper ran rampant on the competition, making $610,000 from 4 theatres over the weekend ($850,000 including Christmas Day) for a per-screen average of $152,000, the third highest opening per-screen average of any live-action film ever.  Slightly less successfully but still a major success nonetheless was the opening of Selma, which took $590,000 from 19 screens ($912,000 incl. Christmas Day) for a per-screen average of $31,053.  The inexplicably-not-nominated-for-Best-Foreign-Film Two Days, One Night finally received a US release and took $30,600 ($48,200 incl. Christmas Day) from two screens, whilst Leviathan managed $15,200 ($23,000 incl. Christmas Day) from two screens.  FILMS!!!

And lastly – good lord, this was a busy weekend – The Interview, after a whole bunch of utterly ridiculously insane and awful events, finally got a last minute go-ahead to be screened in select cinemas.  So, after all of that hoopla, the film managed to take $1,811,000 ($2,851,000 including Christmas Day) from 331 screens for an average of $5,471 per-screen.  Decidedly average, but that doesn’t count the fact that many of these were hastily-arranged at the last minute with few showings and the fact that the film has apparently made an extra $15 million over the weekend with its simultaneous VOD release.  Depending on how that holds, we could be looking at the start of something new in film distribution, here.  Time will tell, but for now I’m pretty sure Sony will be calling this somewhat of a success.

Oh, and lastly lastly, Big Eyes, the new Tim Burton film and the best thing he’s made in at least 7 years (if you like Sweeney Todd) as well as a pretty bloody good movie in its own right, collapsed on 1,307 theatres with just under $3 million for 15th place.  Dammit.


hobbit

Will the circle be Unbroken by this Full List?  Let’s go Into The Woods for the last time this year to find out!

Box Office Results: Friday 26th December 2014 – Sunday 28th December 2014

1] The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

$41,420,000 / $168,522,000

The more I think back on The Hobbit trilogy, the less and less I like it.  I find more faults, the stuff I like rescinds further into the background, and the stuff I dislike becomes more pronounced in my mind.  The Lord Of The Rings, meanwhile and which I saw for the first time in the same two week period in which I saw The Hobbit, rises more and more and more in my estimations the more I think back on it, and I really, really liked The Lord Of The Rings when I saw it.  I still don’t hate The Hobbit, but man I wish Peter Jackson had just moved on from LOTR instead of making a lower-quality facsimile of it.

2] Unbroken

$31,748,000 / $47,341,000 / NEW

Saw this on Friday and ultimately left rather cold.  Its intentions are pure and Jack O’Connell gives another commanding lead performance – now making him 3 for 3 this year – but its structure is a complete mess, any influence The Coen Brothers may have had on the screenplay has been near-totally scrubbed away by endless rewrites that make it more awards-baity and Jolie just doesn’t know when to stop overcooking certain scenes.  Nothing about the film gives me any indication that Jolie was purely aiming for awards with this one, but the finished product seems perennially missing a “For Your Consideration” watermark over 75% of its reels and so nothing truly landed for me.  Shame.

3] Into The Woods

$31,021,000 / $46,105,000 / NEW

Drops here in two weeks, which is a surprisingly quick turn-around for a Disney film, I gotta say.  Still, really looking forward to this; there’s a lot of actors and actresses that I really like in it and I am dying for a musical that’s damn proud of its musical foundations and nature right about now.  Yes, I am still angry about Annie.

4] Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb

$20,600,000 / $55,307,000

Still not an outstanding performance since the film inexplicably cost $127 million to make – and if you’ve actually seen the film, you’ll get why I refuse to believe that figure – but any film that increases its weekend takings by 20% from opening weekend at least deserves a modicum of respect tipped in its direction.

5] Annie

$16,600,000 / $45,835,000

Speaking of Into The Woods, The 2014 Failed Critics Awards results were revealed last week (*plug plug*) and Emily Blunt in Edge Of Tomorrow didn’t even make the shortlist for Best Actress in yet another example of why democracy doesn’t work.  (*flips table in disgust and storms out*)

6] The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

$10,000,000 / $306,656,000

Just $26 million away from taking the #1 Domestic Movie of 2014 spot away from Guardians Of The Galaxy.  It’s got a good chance at making it, too, since Tak3n isn’t due out for another two weeks and the general dead zone of January (although it actually doesn’t look that bad this year) means that there’s a large opportunity for it to slowly earn small increments each week in the cinemas that keep it around.  I think this is actually going to be rather close, folks!

7] The Gambler

$9,300,000 / $14,300,000 / NEW

Transformers: Age Of Extinction is still the highest grossing film of the year worldwide by a good margin.  Just thought I’d bring the mood down a little bit.  Thanks for nothing, Mark Wahlberg!

8] The Imitation Game

$7,930,000 / $14,631,000

The wrong Benedict Cumberbatch movie is getting all of the money.  Yes, you damn well perfectly know which film I am talking about.

9] Exodus: Gods And Kings

$6,750,000 / $52,517,000

So, this came out in the UK this past weekend and I was circle-jerked to hell and back.  The Cineworld website said that there were only 3D screenings, but when I got there on Friday they insisted that there were actually 2D screenings, but those ended up overlapping with Unbroken so I pushed Exodus to Saturday instead.  By the time I had finished Unbroken, however, I felt more than a little burnt out when it came to watching movies.  It’s been The Great List Blitz 2014, you see, where I watch a whole bunch of films I missed and re-watch some films that fell out of my memory somewhat over the course of a very cramped couple of weeks to prepare for list-making season, and it had taken its toll on me somewhat.  So I got to thinking, “Do I really want to give over 3 hours of my life to a film I am 95% certain is going to be horrendous tripe?  Big Eyes at least has the potential to be good.”

And, in the end, on that Saturday, I decided that no, I didn’t much fancy giving over 3 hours of my life to Exodus: Gods And Kings.  So I saw Big Eyes and then went home.  And you know what?  I feel great about that!  Now let’s all point and laugh at Exodus one last time before moving on with our lives.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

10] Wild

$5,415,000 / $16,364,000

I suspect that this will experience a resurgence of major proportions when the Academy comes a-calling for Reese Witherspoon, much like what happened when Dallas Buyers Club kept revolving door-ing its way in and out of the list this time last year.  So this is not a farewell, this is a see you tomorrow.  Christ, I just sounded so f*cking pretentious…

Dropped Out: Big Hero 6, Top Five (goddammit, America), P.K., Penguins Of Madagascar (GODDAMMIT, AMERICA!)

Callum Petch got time to kill, got folks to kill, on overkill.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!