Tag Archives: Furious 7

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.

Advertisements

US Box Office Report: 22/05/15 – 24/05/15

Tomorrowland comes today and is really underwhelming, Poltergeist is here and did really mediocre… y’know what?  This whole Memorial Day Weekend was basically a total bust, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

You may not know this, but this past weekend was a Bank Holiday.  No, really.  A second one in the same month, the official “Spring Bank Holiday”.  No, I really don’t know why.  Maybe we have it so that, when America shuts down for Memorial Day Weekend, we don’t have to wonder what those lazy ingrates are celebrating for whilst we have to keep going to our miserable dead-end jobs.  Did anything even actually shut down on Monday for anybody?  All of the shops in my village remained open as if it was any normal Monday, as if even they realised that this bank holiday is utterly pointless…

Hmm…?  Oh, right, movies.  Sorry, I was awake until 3:30am last night essay writing and got barely 5 hours of sleep.  My brain might make some left-turns during this piece, so be prepared.

Anyways, Memorial Day Weekend!  Typically, this is the period in which studios launch their biggest heavy-hitters to guide the 4-day weekend to piles-full of Scrooge McDuck money.  For example, last year, 20th Century Fox dropped X-Men: Days of Future Past, and despite humanity collectively forgetting everything that ever happened in that 2 hour piece of moving wallpaper as soon as they left the cinema – yeah, I said it – the film still opened to a ridiculous $110 million.  Analyst expectations were high, everyone was on the edge of their seat, this is meant to be the first Summer Blockbuster season that crosses $5 billion, after all, so Memorial Day Weekend should be a fever pit of activity, right?

Small problem with that: the two big films that people gave a sh*t about came out last weekend.  Instead we got a bad Brad Bird film, which is a phrase that physically hurts to type, and a crappy pointless horror movie remake.  Surprising nobody, the box office promptly died on its arse.

Tomorrowland is technically the winner, since it ended up in first place over the period, but it could barely scrape together $40 million over all four days which, for a film that cost $190 million to make and has been marketed and advertised to the hilt, is more than a little pathetic and embarrassing.  Hell, it barely beat the second week of Pitch Perfect 2, which was in an almost dead-heat with Tomorrowland for most of the weekend!  Meanwhile, Poltergeist posted exactly the numbers that you are expecting a crappy horror movie remake to post.  It started out strong on Friday with a good $9 million, then proceeded to sink like a stone once every horror fan collectively realised that, yeah, it was a bit sh*t, wasn’t it?  It eventually finished the long weekend with $26 million for fifth place.

In the land of the limited releases… things were rather crap over there, too, actually.  The only thing worth talking about was When Marnie Was There, currently the last planned Studio Ghibli film so, let’s face it, it would have still been the only thing worth talking about even if the limited releases were filled to the brim with films of quality and note.  Well, for the possible swansong of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, animation studios that has ever existed, the public came out in force!  They all collectively joined arms, packed their best tissues, and skipped merrily together down to their local cine…  Sigh.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  Marnie managed to post a three-day weekend total of $27,388 from 2 screens.  By contrast, Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya managed $54,915 from 3 screens, whilst Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises scored $313,751 from 21 screens.  So, a bit underwhelming.  It did, though, post the highest per-screen average of the whole miserable weekend, at $13,694, so little victories and all that.


tomorrowland 1

This Full List will only be doing the three-day period of this four-day weekend (but including the fourth day in the total gross so far area) cos that’s the formula.  You know what happens when you mess with formula?  Chaos and anarchy, that’s what!

Box Office Results: Friday 22nd May 2015 – Sunday 24th May 2015

1] Tomorrowland

$32,972,000 / $41,736,000 / NEW

My review, for those of you who enjoy reading my opinions on stuff, for some bizarre reason.  Yeah, really disappointed that this one didn’t work and I lay the blame at Brad Bird’s feet.  I know that a lot of people are going to blame Damon Lindelof, and I do get why, but he’s not mainly to blame, here.  I mean, Lindelof’s various works are a lot of things, but the last thing that they are is preachy and obsessively on-the-nose about their messaging, to the detriment of everything else.  Bird is usually way better than this, but he dropped the ball here for whatever reason.  Damn shame.

2] Pitch Perfect 2

$30,830,000 / $117,305,000

For those of you following along at home, that is a 55% drop between weekends which is a far better hold than I thought this film would have.  It is typical, after all, for female-targeted movies to drop majorly between weekends – last year’s box office smash The Fault In Our Stars collapsed 70% between weekends, whilst Fifty Shades Of Grey plummeted 73% between weekends – so this hold is pretty miraculous.  It’s not tearing it up overseas like I thought it would, but $250 million worldwide still seems like a lock by this point, and combined with the inevitable smash that it will be on DVD…

Give me a moment, I just want to savour all of this cos like sh*t is anybody going to give this the proper credit that it is due.

3] Mad Max: Fury Road

$24,815,000 / $95,540,000

Look, I know that everybody is collectively crapping their pants because Fury Road hasn’t slaughtered every box office record and made off with all the money in the world in its first week.  I get that, I really do, the quick-fix narrative of modern day box office reportage makes any film that doesn’t immediately dominate all-comers a complete failure that will sully impressive track-records and ruin careers.  But look a little closer for a second: Max spent the weekdays trading incredibly close places with Pitch Perfect 2, whilst posting very strong numbers, it’s doing very well overseas, that R-rating was always going to handicap it anyway, $150 million domestic now seems a lock, and it’s only dropped 45% between weekends with nothing else to really challenge it until Jurassic World comes along.

Plus, as myself and Lucy discovered on Thursday together for the second time, it’s still an utterly mesmeric movie that deserves way more than a ridiculous box office narrative attached to it.  Believe me, it’s going to be fine.

4] Poltergeist

$22,600,000 / $25,509,000 / NEW

Yep, the reason why it finishes fifth on the four-day scale is because it only made $2.9 million on the Monday.  Crappy horror movies, and especially pointless crappy remakes of actually good horror movies, won’t hang around for long.  Nor, in fact, will actually good horror movies.  Really, no horror movies do particularly strongly at the cinema.  Huh.

5] The Avengers: Age of Ultron

$21,691,000 / $410,978,000

do we think anything will ever beat Avatar’s $2.7 billion all-time worldwide gross?  Can anything?  I ask because I don’t want Avatar to be remembered as a statistic, mainly because I don’t want Avatar to be remembered at all.  Nobody remembers anything from the movie itself, anyway, so we’re already halfway there!

6] Hot Pursuit

$3,600,000 / $30,300,000

The rest of this chart might be wrong, don’t blame me if it is.  Box Office Mojo has clearly been handed over to a clueless intern for whatever reason, and is thusly impossible to read and trust.  I can’t find anything, several reported grosses are just plain wrong – yeah, sure Pitch Perfect 2 posted a $30 million weekend but only did $900,000 on Friday – and their write-ups are somehow even worse than mine.  What’s going on, folks?  Sort it out!  Where am I going to go otherwise for this stuff?  Deadline?  (*snorts derisively*)

7] Furious 7

$2,232,000 / $347,687,000

So I am actually now cross-checking with Deadline on all of these entries for total accuracy.  Feel I need to explain that that was my attempt at a light-hearted joke and that I harbour no ill will to any potential outlets who are looking for writers and, if they’re gigs of the paying variety, I can be reached at p…  (*author notices Owen eyeballing him, hastily covers up work and moves on*)

8] Far From The Madding Crowd

$2,200,000 / $6,048,000

At least I never have to hear “Come all ye fair and tender girls” ever again.  Hearing it in front of damn near every single film for 3 straight months was absolutely maddening, which is something I should never have to say about Carey Mulligan’s singing.

9] Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

$1,875,000 / $66,358,000

Kevin James’ next film has just been picked up by Netflix, the company that just won’t stop enabling Happy Madison affiliates despite common goddamn sense.  If this is this trade-off for Orange Is The New Black and Bojack Horseman… well, I can’t really have an opinion in this case as I haven’t watched either show yet.  They are in my cue, though, so I’ll get to them around 2018.  At the earliest.

10] Home

$1,753,000 / $168,763,000

Well, after nine weeks of quietly decent performing, it’s time to say goodbye to Home.  It’s almost certainly not done well enough to justify DreamWorks continuing to spend $135 million on every damn film they release – thank CHRIST, that lesson cannot be hammered into them fast enough – but it’s hopefully done strong enough to keep them afloat for another year.  Yay!  Now I’m just going to go and find myself some Tip merchandise so that I can feel good and happy about DreamWorks taking steps towards better representation in ani…

Just one goddamn doll?  One?!

(*buries head in hands, defeated*)

Dropped Out: The Age of Adaline, Ex Machina

Callum Petch is living on such sweet nothing.  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: 15/05/15 – 17/05/15

Pitch Perfect 2 beat Mad Max: Fury Road so I guess society is completely fucked or something, Age of Ultron has only just now passed $1 billion so Marvel are completely fucked I guess, people are still voluntarily giving money to Far From The Madding Crowd, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

This weekend, two female-driven – and, at least according to the fact that the film itself bills Charlize Theron above Tom Hardy, female-fronted – blockbusters/tentpoles made a combined opening weekend of $114 million between them.  If you, for some literally inexplicable reason, still thought prior to this weekend that female-fronted and female-targeted films just can’t make any money, then this should finally piledrive that stupid, moronic, close-minded, and arguably sexist line of thinking straight down to the earth’s core where it will never again return from.  Now watch as Hollywood, instead of doing the correct thing and green-lighting every single female-driven film that crosses their path, sticks dollar bills in their ears, loudly yells “LA LA LA” and continues to try and shove Jai Courtney or Joel Kinnaman down our throats.

So, I’m celebrating!  Two damn great, staunchly feminist movies with a female-focus just made ALL the money!  …oh, no, wait, hang on.  Cancel the celebrations, it turns out that Pitch Perfect 2 beat Mad Max: Fury Road, like we all saw coming from a mile away.  After all, one’s a PG-13 teen comedy sequel to a sleeper hit from 3 years ago that became a sensation on home video, whilst the other is a hard R-rated action sequel to a cult franchise that hadn’t produced any activity in exactly 30 years prior to this.  What did you all think was going to happen?  Pitch Perfect 2 handily trounced Mad Max: Fury Road, $70 million to $44 million, and both posted absolutely ludicrous per-screen averages, $20,242 and $12,004 respectively.

In a perfect world, we would all simply sit here and celebrate the fact that these two films did great and be happy and optimistic about the future of this whole Movies thing.  Unfortunately, our world is crap and so now I, along with those of us who follow Film Twitter even tangentially or who are even slightly involved in Internet Film Circles, have to strap in for the next week of Thinkpiece Hell.  Joy!  What’s on your bingo card?  I am expecting variations on “Damn Millennials, ruining everything for the rest of us!”, “REAL action movies are DEAD!!”, “stupid girls with their cooties!”, and “Why Film Critics Don’t Matter In 2015” among others.  I mean, GOD FORBID we just take this positive victory as is and leave it at that(!)

Also likely to cause Thinkpiece Hell, although it’s already done a fine enough job of that before this weekend, is The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  This weekend, the film finally passed the $1 billion mark worldwide, but only after 24 days, which is foooooreeeeveeeerrr in these days of Furious 7 crossing the mark in 19.  Clearly this means that Marvel Studios are in complete disarray and that, in addition to ruining all blockbusters for everybody forever, they have ruined their once glorious and infallible reputation on a not-completely-incredibly-brilliant film that everybody hates and nobody wants to see again.  Oh, the horror!  Oh, the humanity!

Meanwhile, Far From The Madding Crowd breaks into the Top 10 and nobody’s whipping up their vitriol for that.  I fucking hate Film Internet.


pitch perfect two

What a lovely day for this aca-mazing Full List.

Box Office Results: Friday 15th May 2015 – Sunday 17th May 2015

1] Pitch Perfect 2

$70,300,000 / NEW

I stand by most all of my review.  See, heading back in this past weekend, I was rather nervous, because my good friend Jackson hated the living daylights out of this film for perfectly legitimate reasons – his great review is over here – and he and I are so well-tuned and agree so often with one another that whenever we do end up having differing opinions I end up getting very worried and self-conscious, especially since he’s really good at reading films (better than I am, at any rate).  Did I get it wrong?  How did I miss such glaringly obvious minority-marginalising?  Do I not check my privilege enough despite spending almost every goddamn day fretting over everything I do or say?  Does really liking something problematic make me a terrible person?

Then I saw the film again, had a lot of fun whilst acknowledging certain flaws, and left feeling confident in my opinion, albeit slightly cooler on it than I was the first time.  One of these days I’ll learn not to be so self-conscious, it’s bad form in this critic game.

2] Mad Max: Fury Road

$44,440,000 / NEW

At approximately 5:18PM on Saturday the 16th of May 2015, I am 80% certain that I witnessed perfection, and it was tear-inducing.  The last shot of Fury Road is the textbook definition of perfection, for me, and it so perfectly caps off a film for which there are no descriptors that could be classed as hyperbole when applied to this thing.  I couldn’t think straight for almost the rest of the day, let alone form coherent thoughts on this utter masterpiece of cinema.  It’s… it’s just beautiful.  Utter beauty.  I don’t know why we haven’t been giving George Miller $150 million live-action budgets for the last 20 years, and why we’ve been settling for anything less than this.  I really don’t.  More coherent thoughts can be found here on the site by good old Brooker.

Also, I want to be even a tenth as awesomely and passionately feminist as Imperator Furiosa when I grow up.

3] The Avengers: Age of Ultron

$38,837,000 / $372,008,000

Finally going to give this a re-watch on Thursday, when I can finally get a spare few moments break from the Hell that is Essay Season 2015.  Then I’ll more than likely immediately walk back into Mad Max: Fury Road afterwards.  Then I’ll get out of Fury Road and immediately buy a ticket for the next showing, and so on and so on until that film is seared permanently into my retinas.

4] Hot Pursuit

$5,780,000 / $23,504,000

This collapsed 59% between weekends, surprising nobody since Pitch Perfect 2 arrived to remind everybody what a good female-led and female-focussed comedy should look like, and Mad Max: Fury Road arrived to inform everybody of what feminist entertainment should be like.  Therefore, this movie has no reason to exist.  Roll on July 31st when I can be incredibly disappointed myself, then, I guess.

5] Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

$3,600,000 / $62,939,000

I don’t care that this is only making miniscule money each week and has still only just made half worldwide of what the first one managed worldwide, WHY IS THIS UTTERLY REPREHENSIBLE PIECE OF SLOTH FAECES STILL HANGING AROUND MY CHART?! Get it out of here!  Get it out!  OUT!  GET IT THE FU…

6] Furious 7

$3,600,000 / $343,800,000

This has a higher per-screen average than Blart yet is sat behind it, for some reason.  Why?  Do we really think that the actuals are going to hurt this more than Blart?  Ugh, whatever.  Let’s instead look forward to next February’s Academy Awards where this and Mad Max will duke it out for Best Picture!  …it can totally happen, shut up.

7] The Age of Adaline

$3,200,000 / $37,072,000

I don’t know what the hyper-specific and scientific narration in this movie was all about, but what I do know is that it made me really, really want a resurrected Pushing Daisies.  Hey, Bryan Fuller!  Yeah, I hear that Hannibal is great and all, but could you maybe put it on pause to bring back Pushing Daisies?  Thanks!

8] Home

$2,700,000 / $165,647,000

This just will not die at my local Cineworld.  No, really, it’s still here after more than two full months!  I don’t care anymore about box office grosses, I’m just going to class this as a full-blown success and live in bliss for a while.

9] Ex Machina

$2,103,000 / $19,556,000

Really looking forward to revisiting this when it hits Blu-Ray on June 1st.  Film Crit Hulk’s piece on it this past week has sufficiently stoked those fires and I’m all about revisiting that ending to see if I read it wrong – I saw it as the film sacrificing its fantastic and angry gender themes in favour of returning to the surface-level and far less compelling AI themes – or whether Alex Garland really is just 90% incapable of sticking the goddamn landing.

10] Far From The Madding Crowd

$1,300,000 / $2,631,000

This goddamn movie…  If I get started on this thing, I will be here all day, so just skip to the drop-outs before I spoil a nice day with unrestrained venom.

Dropped Out: Woman In Gold, Cinderella

Callum Petch got you thinking just too much.  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: 08/05/15 – 10/05/15

Age of Ultron drops like that one thing from the movie that I can’t specify cos spoilers I guess, Hot Pursuit has lost ‘em, The D Train has been cancelled, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Continuing to very much embody and experience the effects of the younger sibling of the family – in that it comes along after a successful first effort that everybody loves, has unreasonably high expectations fostered upon it that it unsurprisingly doesn’t live up to, ends up vocally liked a whole lot less than its older sibling, and eventually grows up to be a miserable burnout who never received the love and compassion that could have stoked its drive to succeed and do something great with the world, YOU MONSTERSThe Avengers: Age of Ultron managed a second weekend of only $77 million for first place, $26 million less than The Avengers’ second weekend.  (*takes deep breath*) CINEMA IS DOOOOOOOOOO-

In non-superhero news, because such things do actually exist nowadays believe it or not, Hot Pursuit came out!  You know, that Reese Witherspoon/Sofia Vergara buddy-movie?  Fronted by women, directed by a woman, aimed at women, things that are still unfortunately rare in this damn industry?  The one that looks like (and, by all accounts, is) total garbage?  Yeah, that one!  Well, it’s a dud.  Despite canny counter-programming placement and an apparently decent marketing campaign, it turns out that those toxic reviews caught up with it after all, so its second place finish came from a paltry $13 million.  Maybe everybody was saving their money for Pitch Perfect 2 next weekend instead.

(Side bar: If Pitch Perfect 2 bombs, I am going medieval on everyone’s asses.  Consider yourselves warned.)

Meanwhile, in the land of limited releases…  things were rather miserable here, too, actually.  I’m starting to believe that people actually were saving their money for Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 next weekend.  Doing the worst of the lot and opening on the most screens of the lot was The D Train which built its marketing campaign around Jack Black and a twist that anybody could figure out purely by looking at the goddamn title.  It did horrendously, only managing $469,000 from 1,003 screens for a per-screen average of $465.  That makes it the 17th worst opening weekend for a wide-release film ever and puts it below even Men, Women & Children in terms of per-screen averages.  Poor, poor Jack Black.  I was looking forward to christening his career resurrection “Back In Jack Black” but I guess everybody figured that would happen and decided to snuff out the whole concept to be safe.

Speaking of actors pushing themselves out of their comfort zone only to be slapped down violently by an uncaring public who just want the monkeys to dance for their amusement, dammit, Arnold Schwarzenegger tried acting in a moody zombie drama called Maggie this past weekend where, by all accounts, he actually acted instead of just chewing scenery!  This, however, is not the kind of sh*t the public pay to see Arnie do, dammit, and so the film could only manage $131,000 from 79 screens for a sub-$2,000 per-screen average.  Not even “pleasant” movies were saved from general public apathy as the Morgan Freeman/Diane Keaton comedy 5 Flights Up found out the hard way, only mustering up $234,000 from 87 screens for a $2,690 per-screen average.  The only success from this weekend was I Am Big Bird which managed a $10,000 per-screen average… from its singular screen.


maggie

We’ll head off this Full List at the pass, boys!

Box Office Results: Friday 8th May 2015 – Sunday 10th May 2015

1] The Avengers: Age of Ultron

$77,203,000 / $312,589,000

This will pass a billion next week.  Three words my friends: Chinese opening weekend.  Mad Max doesn’t have a release date over there yet, and Tomorrowland doesn’t drop until the very end of May.  Consider this Open Season for The Avengers on the Chinese box office.  I really need to find the time to see this again in cinemas before the utter mayhem that is Summer Movie Season 2015 boots this to home media.

2] Hot Pursuit

$13,300,000 / NEW

Disappointed but not at all surprised to hear that this is garbage.  I watched that trailer, too, and it was around about the time jokes were made about how Reese Witherspoon is short (ha!) and Sofia Vergara is over-40-and-therefore-ancient (HA!) that I realised, despite all my best hopes, that this would be pure garbage.  Sigh.  Hurry along, Pitch Perfect 2.  Show the rest of cinema how to do this sh*t right.

3] The Age of Adaline

$5,600,000 / $31,529,000

Saw this this past weekend and I was so close to liking it for what it is – a film that wastes its thematically rich premise on a bog-standard love story with an infinitely better melodramatic subplot at the halfway point – but it loses points for having a lead male protagonist who only gets the girl because he keeps forcefully inserting himself into her life despite her objections, wearing her down until she finally goes on a date and realises how dreamy he is.  Serious question: how goddamn hard is it to get a romance story that’s actually friggin’ romantic, huh?!  Surprisingly great Harrison Ford performance, though.

4] Furious 7

$5,272,000 / $338,420,000

When actuals came in last weekend, this did beat Adaline after all.  Might even happen again!  Who knows?  Not I, for I am neither psychic nor particularly bothered.

5] Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

$5,190,000 / $58,075,000

Oh, just fuck off already.

6] Ex Machina

$3,470,000 / $15,722,000

This expanded to another 725 theatres this past weekend, putting it up to 2,004 total, hence why it’s made a fair bit more money than last weekend.  I mean, its per-screen average isn’t particularly great but, again, this is a hard sci-fi that’s expanding purely on word-of-mouth and with little advertising behind it.  I think we can agree that this is doing fine.

7] Home

$3,000,000 / $162,116,000

Up to $330 million worldwide which makes it currently the 18th highest grossing DreamWorks film worldwide.  It will pass Over The Hedge this week but Shark Tale seems more than a little out-of-reach, and it’s still made less worldwide than notorious flop Penguins of Madagascar.  No, I won’t stop worrying about DreamWorks Animation.  I feel like a parent with a kid at Secondary School – the kid is more than likely fine and capable of taking care of themselves, but I’m going to keep worrying regardless.

8] Woman In Gold

$1,652,000 / $26,978,000

The Voices is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from all good retailers on July 27th.

9] Cinderella

$1,574,000 / $196,116,000

OK, I am completely out of things to say for most of this list.  Can the rest of May hurry up please so that I get some fresh material?  Not too quickly, mind, I still have 5 uni essays to do in the next 8 or so days, but, y’know, soon.

10] Unfriended

$1,412,000 / $30,943,000

Lucy was sufficiently impressed with this when she reviewed it for Screen 1 – if you missed the episode, you can listen back here – which, coupled with the generally positive responses I have heard from other people, has led me to believe that this isn’t a total waste of time.  I’ll find out for myself on DVD then, I guess. [Owen: Also, we covered this on our recent podcast and apparently have a very different opinion to Callum’s colleague]

Dropped Out: The Longest Ride

Callum Petch will do this one himself.  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: 01/05/15 – 03/05/15

Age of Ultron makes all of the money but not ALL of the money so cinema is officially doomed, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Heading into this weekend, Disney and Marvel Studios were probably preparing the Scrooge McDuck money bin for the inbound GDP of multiple small countries that would make up the opening weekend total of Age of Ultron.  After all, it’s not like they’ve been quiet about the fact that the film was inbound – I’m waiting for somebody to piece together the movie from the endless promo clips that Marvel released for this thing, like what happened with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – it’s The Avengers, and it’s not like there was anything else out this weekend.  Or the weekend before that.  Or the weekend before that.  What was everybody going to do, watch Furious 7 again?  They probably felt like Shane McMahon; “here comes the mon-ay!

Well, the mon-ay came, but not in the Earth-shattering quantity that we all unreasonably expected it to.  Age of Ultron opened in first, and accounted for 85% of the weekend’s domestic box office, but it didn’t beat The Avengers’ $207 million opening weekend.  In fact, it didn’t even come close, finishing with $187 million.  I mean, it’s understandable, the first Avengers was an EVENT MOVIE of epic proportions, the first time that we could see all of these guys (and girl) together on screen in the same movie.  By simple fact of it happening again, Age of Ultron is only an Event Movie, and no amount of excess marketing saturation can change that.

Then there’s also the fact that everybody seems very much more divided on this instalment than the first one.  I mean, not so much audience-wise – it got an “A” on the shaky silly CinemaScore metric – but critically, definitely.  I mean, I’m probably going to be on the minority side of things with regards to my critic friends by liking it, and this divide will likely bleed over into the general public, too.  Plus, some sh*tty boxing thing happened this weekend or something, and there’s only one thing that captures the American public’s slovenly attention quicker than movies…  It’s sports, I’m talking about sports.  Besides, this is still, by a considerable margin, the second best opening weekend in America ever, and the film is already up to $436 million overseas with China still to go.

However, Age of Ultron did not beat The Avengers in its opening weekend and May is incredibly crowded with regards to films – basically guaranteeing that Ultron won’t match The Avengers’ total – so cinema is now doomed forever.  The superhero bubble has burst, folks!  Marvel Studios are over the hill!  Their films aren’t as good as they used to be, they can’t beat opening weekend records anymore, and they only made all of the money instead of ALL of the money!  They’re finished, the genre is finished, this whole goddamn medium is finished!  If even Marvel can’t make ALL of the money, anymore, then what hope is there for the rest of us?!  WHAT, I TELLS YA?!

Oh, yeah, and Far From The Madding Crowd opened in limited release this weekend.  $172,000 from 10 theatres.  Snooze.


age of ultron

There are no strings on this Full List.

Box Office Results: Friday 1st May 2015 – Sunday 3rd May 2015

1] The Avengers: Age of Ultron

$187,656,000 / NEW

Yes, even with a per-screen average of $44,000, Age of Ultron is still a failure!  …yeah, OK, I’m gonna stop that now.  I am serious though when I say that I don’t think Ultron is going to match The Avengers’ total, at least domestically.  The first film had nothing serious to challenge it for three weeks, and even then I don’t think we all expected Men In Black III to perform that well, but Ultron has the combined onslaught of Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 in 11 days, with Tomorrowland the week after.  Even if one of those bombs – hint: it’s going to be Tomorrowland, get the disappointment out of your system now – that’s still two films taking a chunk out of its box office.  We’ll see, I guess.  Man, this Summer is stacked!

2] The Age of Adeline

$6,250,000 / $23,424,000

Wait, this actually beat Furious 7?!  I mean, I sort of saw this coming since this has only been out for two weeks and Furious 7 has been out for over a month, but still.  Huh.

3] Furious 7

$6,114,000 / $330,539,000

Up to $1.4 billion worldwide, now the 4th highest grossing film worldwide of all-time, has successfully made $1 billion purely from foreign markets, and is closing fast on The Avengers’ $1.5 billion.  It might actually get there, but this going to go right down to the wire.  I still can’t get over the fact that all of this originally came from a silly mid-budget Point Break riff from 2001.

4] Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

$5,500,000 / $51,186,000

So, last Thursday, I was given the opportunity by my university to go down to London, attend a press-only screening of Pitch Perfect 2, and have a 20 minute roundtable interview with the film’s director (and movie star in her own right), Elizabeth Banks, afterwards.  I have been wanting to shout about that day and that whole experience since I found out about it that Tuesday, so finally getting to spill today has been incredibly cathartic.  At the risk of sounding unprofessional, the day was incomparable – mainly because it proved that I could do this for a living if the opportunity were presented to me – and you can read all about it and the interview here.  The full interview transcript will be posted over at The Hullfire soon enough, but there’s a Pitch Perfect 2 review for you to read in the meantime!

Yes, I am talking about something that makes me happy instead of Paul Blart.  Why wouldn’t I?

5] Home

$3,300,000 / $158,132,000

Home finally opened in China last week, where DreamWorks films have often done well recently… and only made $8 million.  It is now up to $326 million worldwide, though.  Still, MAKE MORE MONEY FASTER, DAMMIT!

6] Cinderella

$2,357,000 / $193,651,000

Wait, seriously?  This re-entered the chart?  From the no. 12 slot?  Man, this was a bad week to be a non-Avengers film.

7] Ex Machina

$2,231,000 / $10,868,000

Surprising no-one, not even art house patrons could resist the allure of Ultron, since all art house patrons must be able to butt into conversations about blockbusters and explain in great detail why they suck horribly.  In any case, Ex Machina was never going to be a film that made a giant expansion in audience moneybills, anyway, so the fact that it’s doing $10 million worth of business already is good enough, I feel.  Yay for Alex Garland!

8] Unfriended

$1,988,000 / $28,531,000

I don’t think Lucy’s seen this yet, so I’m going to withhold having an opinion until I’ve heard from her.   What?

9] The Longest Ride

$1,700,000 / $33,240,000

Should probably clarify that I don’t think Age of Ultron is perfect – god, no, it’s a mess – and that having reasonable complaints about it is fine.  I just don’t understand why people who hate a certain genre or series, know that they will hate the latest instalment, and spend all of their time prior to seeing the thing complaining about doing so, would voluntarily… (*author remembers that this is what he does on an astoundingly frequent basis*)

I’ll be quiet now.

10] Woman In Gold

$1,681,000 / $24,588,000

The Voices is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from all good video shops on July 27th.

Dropped Out: Get Hard, Monkey Kingdom

Callum Petch didn’t mean to make you cry.  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: 24/04/15 – 26/04/15

The Age of Adeline is not upon us, Little Boy makes child-sized money… basically, filmgoers opted to not see the crap that came out this week, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

…look, nothing came out this week.  It’s the weekend before The Avengers, or it is the weekend of The Avengers if you live in the specially designated half of the world, and every movie studio worth their salt knows that you release jack in the week before and after that Galactus-sized money-hoover.  After all, what’s the point when The Avengers will just swallow up any and all potential revenue for your film near-immediately?  This does make me question why Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 are opening two weeks after instead of three to make absolutely certain that they can bank a nice amount of cash… but, then, I’m not the guy who has to deal with the utterly ridiculous Summer 2015 release schedule, so what do I know?

In fact, side note: can 2015 just end after the weekend of May 15th?  Like, just stop and move onto 2016?  I’m seeing Mad Max: Fury Road and, more importantly, Pitch Perfect 2 on the same day with the bestest and closest friend I have, who’s also staying for the weekend.  The year’s not going to get any better than that, it may as well just pack up and go home.  Anyways…

So, since nothing came out, audiences decided to take one last ride with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and the whole gang before The Avengers supplants the “surrogate family”-driven film fix that we all so desperately crave.  Furious 7 held onto the top spot for the 4th weekend in a row with $18 million in ticket sales.  Close behind it – OK, about $2.5 million behind it, but that’s still way too close for me – was the excretable Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 which somehow retained 65% of its opening weekend audience and came away with $15.5 million in ticket sales.  It’s still trailing how the first Paul Blart was doing at this time by about $20 million, but that still doesn’t guarantee that we are safe from a sequel just yet.  I mean, we already got one!  I now have to go through my life in constant fear that Kevin James might force another one of these upon me!  I don’t like living in fear, you guys!

In any case, some films did come out this week.  It’s just that, like Paul Blart, they all stank to high heaven.  Widest-releasing, and therefore the one that actually charted, was The Age of Adeline, a film so confident in its construction and qualities that it actually lists one of its two screenwriters twice on its poster.  (EDIT: my good friend Jackson Tyler has informed me that it’s a WGA thing.  Still seems weird and ridiculous, mind.)  It actually beat Furious 7 on Friday, until everybody collectively realised that they could be watching good movies instead, where upon it finished the weekend in third with about $13 million in ticket sales.  Next up was Little Boy, a film that… you know what, how about I just post the Wikipedia synopsis and see how long it takes for you to realise why this film has not exactly won over the critical press…

The story centers on a 7-year-old boy, Pepper Flynt Busbee, who uses magic powers produced by his faith to end World War II and bring his father home.

yeah.  It only managed $2.8 million from 1,045 screens for a pathetic $2,708 per-screen average.  Then we have Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner.  Despite, according to himself, being a much more talented movie director than any other movie director alive today, because he’s been in 41 movies which means he knows more about directing than someone like Ridley Scott, nobody much seemed to care about his movie.  The film managed a meh $1.25 million from 320 screens and a sub-$4,000 per-screen average.  But, hey, at least it wasn’t Child 44!  Poor, poor Child 44.  I’d feel kinda bad for both of these films if they weren’t so uninterestingly rubbish.


furious 7 2

The age of this Full List is none of your business, you rude young man!

Box Office Results: Friday 24th April 2015 – Sunday 26th April 2015

1] Furious 7

$18,259,000 / $320,536,000

This will close having out-grossed 2014’s actual Highest Grossing Film Domestically, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and what is technically its Highest Grossing Film Domestically, American Sniper.  More importantly, this week, and this is even with Age of Ultron coming in hot, it will become the 4th highest grossing film worldwide of all-time and has a good shot of closing extremely close to The Avengers’ $1.5 billion.  Once again, if I see ANY “The Box Office Is DYING!” think-pieces this year… words have not yet been invented that can convey the strength of my response.

2] Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

$15,500,000 / $43,950,000

Now, I realise that I didn’t provide an actual professional or traditional review of this film when I subjected myself to it a few weeks back.  Some of you may wish for a second review, one that actually discusses the movie and properly conveys its various qualities and failings.  Well, you are in luck, cos I’ve got one right here for you!  Are you ready?

(*hits head on desk repeatedly for about 5 minutes*)

That’s your professional review of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

3] The Age of Adeline

$13,375,000 / NEW

Age of Ultron has already banked $201 million at the countries it managed to roll out to this past weekend.  Think it has any chance of breaking $2 billion?  Think it has any chance of breaking the $200 million opening weekend the first Avengers had in America?  All of this, I feel, depends on whether everybody agrees with Owen – who really doesn’t like it and is wrong – or myself – who finds it great but doesn’t love it like he did the first one, and is right.  Time will tell soon enough, folks.  Time will tell.

4] Home

$8,300,000 / $153,784,000

Despite being a legitimate success, Home has only just now been able to double its production budget worldwide.  Goddamn, even when they have a success, DreamWorks are still constantly teetering on the verge of oblivion!  Kung Fu Panda 3 was moved to late-January, recently, and I’m still worried that that’s going to crash and burn!  Do you see what you’re doing to me, DreamWorks?  DO YOU?!  Don’t you dare go dying on me now, ya hear!

5] Unfriended

$6,244,000 / $25,158,000

So this is apparently actually good?  Well, not if you believe the public – this has plummeted 60% between weekends – but the public wouldn’t know a good horror movie if it appeared out of nowhere and inflicted some kind of blender-based violence upon them; they mostly rejected It Follows, after all.  According to critics and horror fans, this is apparently rather good.  Huh, colour me surprised.  I’ll know for certain, in any case, when I subject Lucy to it this coming Friday.

6] Ex Machina

$5,441,000 / $6,920,000

Oh, yeah, this movie!  This actually expanded nationwide after a string of strong reviews and a fantastic pair of limited release weekends, so for a hard sci-fi with next-to-no real advertising behind it and only critical and art-house buzz this is a really good performance!  Yay for Alex Garland!  I don’t love this film like everyone else – mainly because, in typical Alex Garland fashion, he drops the ball on the ending, and there are a few structural choices that undermine its strongest thematic through-line – but I’m happy to see him do well.

7] The Longest Ride

$4,365,000 / $30,398,000

This has now done better than The Best (THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST) of Me, but is still one of the lowest-grossing Nicholas Sparks adaptations ever.  Can we finally put this guy’s brand/schtick out to pasture now?  Please?

8] Get Hard

$3,905,000 / $84,066,000

Because I know that some of you are curious: “Lucy” is Lucy Meer, my co-host of Screen 1, Monday nights at 9PM BST on Hullfire Radio.  The fact that you don’t know that means that you don’t listen, and that fact hurts my feelings.

9] Monkey Kingdom

$3,551,000 / $10,258,000

Monkeys are amazing.  That is all.

10] Woman In Gold

$3,501,000 / $21,635,000

The Voices is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from all good video shops on July 27th.

Dropped Out: Insurgent, Cinderella

Callum Petch can’t read about it, burns the skin from his eyes.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Furious 7, John Wick and Occasionally Jokes

john wicikWelcome to this week’s Failed Critics podcast! Back down to our normal run time of just over an hour you’ll be glad to hear after our mammoth 150th episode podcast last week.

Regulars Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by Callum Petch and making his debut on one of our proper podcasts, the equivalent of us bringing in Jason Statham to our franchise I’m sure you’ll all agree, is Jackson Tyler.

On that topic, the team review new releases including the box office juggernaut Fast & Furious 7 (or Furious 7, or whatever you want to call it), revenge thriller John Wick, teen comedy The DUFF and the latest from Noah Baumbach, While We’re Young.

There’s also time to discuss the latest news which is, erm, well, there wasn’t really any. We also take a look back at the classic Jim Henson fantasy movie The Dark Crystal; Callum shares his LCD Soundsystem love with documentary Shut Up And Play The Hits; Jackson revisits the Tenacious D movie The Pick of Destiny; whilst Steve continues with his foray through the Harry Potter series.

Join us next week as we finally get around to inducting Jean-Claude Van Damme into our illustrious Corridor of Praise!

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINK

US Box Office Report: 3/4/15 – 5/4/15

Furious 7 makes Fast mo-HOLY MOTHER OF CRAP, THAT’S MORE THAN I’LL MAKE IN 11 LIFETIMES, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

OK, let’s see if I still know how to do this…

I think we all expected Furious 7 to do well.  It’s the sequel to a series that has slowly become genuinely beloved as time has marched on, the last one made $97 million opening weekend – no, I have no idea how, and I say that as a fan of these movies – and it’s the last appearance of Paul Walker and, let’s face it, we were all morbidly curious to see how they dealt with it in film.  Oh, yeah, and the film itself is pretty great and stuff.  So, a high debut was pretty much guaranteed.  That didn’t stop me from flinging out the shocked profanity when I saw that it made $67 million on opening day alone.  I mean, $67 million!  That’s more than the GDP of some countries in a year!  In one day!

Furious 7 would close out the weekend with $143 million, officially the ninth best opening weekend ever for a film in America (assuming that actuals don’t drop it by about $800,000).  Undoubtedly the film was kept from ridiculously stupid echelons of money by the fact that it opened on Easter weekend, making Saturday and Sunday totals come in lower than they otherwise could have… but then I remember that $143 million is still ridiculously stupid echelons of money and I go back to just being in awe of that total.  I mean, aren’t you?  And that’s not even mentioning the fact that the film also made $240 million overseas, and that’s not including China as it doesn’t open there until next week.  All that money from a film with a predominately non-white cast.  Y’know, it’s almost like Hollywood could learn something from this but I just don’t know what…

Despite that commanding performance, which we all sort of saw coming from multiple miles away, other films did attempt opening against Furious 7.  They just correctly stuck to limited release.  Best performing of the lot was Woman In Gold, the Weinsteins’ attempt to re-capture that Philomena magic kinda sorta maybe not really – the trailer gave me a lot of Philomena vibes, OK?  On 258 screens, the film managed $2 million overall and actually broke into the chart itself, which isn’t bad at all.  Chinese possibly-comedy – I can find sod all about this film on the Internet – Let’s Get Married did next best with $180,000 from 39 screens, with the Anton Yelchin romantic drama 5 To 7 bringing up the rear but technically doing the best with $19,600 from 2 screens.  Indie films!

Elsewhere, before we get into the real meat of things, despite having collapsed disappointingly in America like a man who talks a big game about his bedding prowess but can only give you a few brief moments of satisfaction, Fifty Shades of Grey is now up to $400 million overseas from people who just don’t know how to quit this terrible movie.  It Follows continues to post relatively strong numbers in its nationwide expansion despite it getting next-to-no-marketing and, unsurprisingly since these are the people who made Ouija a success, being rejected by the general public at large.  Home dropped 47% between weekends but is still making good money, thank the Maker!  And finally, The Gunman dropped out after 2 weeks and nothing of value was lost.


paul walker

This Full List lives its life a quarter-mile at a time.

Box Office Results: Friday 3rd April 2015 – Sunday 5th April 2015

1] Furious 7

$143,623,000 / NEW

My review, for those of you who are interested.  This is going to be a fun week; I have to go on two separate audio outlets and defend this movie against two separate misery guts who wouldn’t know what a fun movie was if it sla- (*remembers that Owen is the head of this site and hastily shuts up*)

2] Home

$27,400,000 / $95,621,000

Home is the first DreamWorks Animation film since Shrek Forever After to be classified as Rotten because critics are unpleasable tits.  Trust me, Home is great.  Mind you, you probably already know that as you’ve likely already seen it, thank the Maker again!  Seriously, even though it’s nothing particularly brilliant, Home being a success makes me really legitimately happy for both DreamWorks’ immediate future and for more diversity in our animated leads.  Seriously, look at this image!  LOOK AT THIS GODDAMN IMAGE!  If your heart doesn’t swell with happiness looking at that, you are basically dead.

3] Get Hard

$12,925,000 / $57,004,000

I did see this last weekend, but I just never got around to reviewing it.  Probably for the best, otherwise you would have read nearly 2,000 words of me insisting that Kevin Hart is actually a really funny guy honest!  Seriously, he is a really funny guy, it’s just that his movies are really bad which makes my opinion come off as deluded for anybody who has only seen his terrible, terrible movies.  Seriously, man.  Pick better films!  Quickly, whilst I still have a chance at convincing people of your talent!

4] Cinderella

$10,289,000 / $167,251,000

Didn’t review this one for one simple reason: I’m getting really self-conscious about the fact that I am a straight white guy writing frequently about women in film.  Even the fact that I consider myself a feminist doesn’t help assuage the guilt and fear that I might be dictating how things should be with my man ways and such, and crowding out female voices which are far more important to this conversation.  Therefore, I point you towards Tasha Robinson of The Dissolve whose thoughts basically line up with mine but are far better expressed than I ever could.

5] The Divergent Series: Insurgent

$10,000,000 / $103,385,000

I was on the Failed Critics Podcast two weeks back where I attempted to explain this stupid, stupid universe to people who either hadn’t seen the movies or couldn’t remember the movies.  It was fun, even though I’m still 80% certain that I am the drunk stepchild that everybody puts up with out of politeness whenever I show up on there.

6] It Follows

$2,465,000 / $8,541,000

I’m looking forward to finally watch this when it hits Blu-Ray.  At home.  With all of the lights on.  And the ability to pause and/or mute the film when it inevitably pushes my nerves beyond breaking point.  Have I ever mentioned that I am really bad when it comes to horror?

7] Woman In Gold

$2,004,000 / NEW

The Voices is available to watch in all good cinemas right now!

8] Kingsman: The Secret Service

$1,700,000 / $122,260,000

With Home about to cross the mark sometime this week, that will make 7 films in the space of just over 3 months that have made $100 million at the domestic box office – 8 if you want to also count American Sniper from last year.  If I hear or see any “The Domestic Box Office Is Dying!” thinkpieces at any point this year, I am going to go f*cking nuclear.  Fair warning.

9] Do You Believe?

$1,500,000 / $9,811,000

…in life after love?  After love?  After love?  After love?

10] The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

$1,000,000 / $30,059,000

Has anybody else seen the trailer for The Lady In The Van yet?  If not, go do so.  It’s not out until November, which clearly means that this is being positioned as one last Best Actress roll call for Maggie Smith, but it looks so off-beat and distinctly and truly British – in the way that films like The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game could only dream of being – that I’m really intrigued by it.  There are still 7 months to go until I can actually see the thing, but I’ve already got a good feeling about it!  I’m optimistic!

Dropped Out: Run All Night, The Gunman

Callum Petch is a man, woman.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

Furious 7

Although it’s a step down from Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7 is still a tonne of incredible fun.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

f&f7Watching the film critic community slowly come around to the Fast & Furious series has been almost as fun as watching the evolution of the Fast & Furious series or, in fact, watching these movies themselves.  See, with the obvious exception of 2 Fast 2 Furious – which failed because, as the title alone probably tips you off to, it tried force its ridiculous cheesiness in a cynical way instead of with the sincerity that the rest of the franchise has – this series has always at least been good.  The Fast and the Furious is a perfectly watchable movie, if a little self-serious, the strangely-maligned Tokyo Drift would still be the series high-watermark if it didn’t have the problem of Lucas Black being near-incapable of acting, and I like Fast & Furious shut up.

Fast Five was the moment where the rest of the critical world sat up, took notice and collectively realised that these are some damn fine movies worthy of legitimate appraisal, likely helped by the fact that it’s still one of the best action movies released this decade – a lightning-in-a-bottle moment where all of the unintentional hard work in constructing this world and these characters paid off in spectacular fashion, whilst still working as a brilliant action film in its own right.  Also it’s a heist movie and, as science can prove, good heist movies are better than pretty much anything else ever.

Fast & Furious 6 couldn’t hope to match up, although it gave it its best damn shot by once again changing genres.  In fact, there’s another reason why this series has been great.  In addition to its knowing but completely sincere silliness – I mean, this is a series whose main emotional and thematic through-line is about the unbreakable power of a surrogate family of friends with no knowing winking or under-cutting of said, after all – and its surprisingly deep and well-drawn cast of characters, the series is never afraid to simply change genres at the drop of a dime.  The Fast and the Furious was a Point Break riff, 2 Fast was a bad buddy-cop movie, Tokyo Drift was basically a coming-of-age drama, Fast & Furious was a good buddy-cop movie shut up, Fast Five was a heist movie, and Fast & Furious 6 was a gloriously ridiculous action movie.

So, following on from all of that, Furious 7 turns out to be… Fast & Furious 6 again, sorta.  In its defence, save for space or trans-dimensional hopping – which are both gold ideas, you can have those for free, Universal – there really isn’t anywhere else left to take this series, except to make the ridiculous action movie even more ridiculous.  With the change in directors, though, from Justin Lin to horror movie veteran James Wan, you’ll have to forgive me for hoping for more of a shift than “bigger and crazier”, an admittedly welcome injection of extra melodrama, and more camera tricks for certain action sequences.

That being said, though, the fact that Furious 7 is still an incredibly fun and surprisingly coherent film is a goddamn miracle considering its troubled and beleaguered production.  In fact, let’s address that room elephant right now: it’s amazing just how well the film manages to work around the death of franchise star Paul Walker and the necessary requirement to write the character of Brian O’Conner out of the series.  I even spent a lot of the runtime sat there in the cinema trying to figure out where exactly the re-writes and stand-ins had started occurring, expecting it to be really obvious relatively early, but the way they do it is so natural and so keeping in kind with what they had set up before – Brian is adjusting somewhat reluctantly to domesticated family life with Mia (Jordana Brewster) and his son Jack, missing the life-or-death adrenaline that came from working with Dom – that it gains this extra eerie undertone that adds to the subplot’s weight instead of distracting from it.

Admittedly, it goes overboard near the ending, as the film proceeds to send off Brian and Paul in the most openly manipulative, cheese-ball way, but I would be lying to you if I told you that was a bad thing and that I didn’t shed multiple tears as it happened.  Open heart-on-sleeve affectionate sincerity is how Fast & Furious operates, so the really on-the-nose way that it waves goodbye to Paul Walker is still fitting even if it is admittedly excessively manipulative.  Also helped by the fact that, with the exception of one fight scene late in the game and the last sequence, I honestly could not tell where the real Paul Walker’s scenes finished and his stand-in-CG-combo double started.

And whilst I’m not spending the rest of this review making worrying sounds that approximately translate to how much I enjoyed this movie, I must note that the film is more than a little overcrowded.  In addition to having Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) crew relentless pursued by the brother of Fast & Furious 6’s Owen Shaw, Deckard (Jason Statham), who is looking for vengeance, the crew are tasked by a possibly-government-affiliated division, headed up by a guy who calls himself Mr. Nobody (a positively-beaming Kurt Russell), to recover a super-surveillance software called “God’s Eye” for them before it falls into the hands of an evil warlord (Dijimon Hounsou) with the promise of Dom getting to use it to hunt down Deckard when all is said and done.

Consequently, Hounsou’s warlord feels… pointless, to be frank, and he doesn’t even get any memorable material to make up for that fact.  There’s a lot of relatively unnecessary flab to proceedings, characters that walk in and walk out as required without much to do.  On the positive side, Kurt Russell’s visibly joyous performance is infectious and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) makes a nice addition to the crew if she’s sticking around.  On the negative side, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is side-lined for too much of the film for my liking, although that does let the focus return to Dom and Brian which is fitting, and Rhonda Rousey shows up quite literally just so that Michelle Rodriguez has somebody to fight because, hey, why not try to recapture those brilliant Gina Carano fight scenes from number 6?  Fast Five had a similar excessive nature but did a better job at juggling everything without giving many characters the short shrift.

So, with that negativity and elephant-addressing out of the way…  HOHOHOHOHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Oh, folks, words can’t truly express how much fun I had with this one!  The Fast & Furious series just taps into a kind of primal adolescent joy for me, where everything to do with the action runs purely on Rule of Cool and a desire to be stupidly entertaining, which makes it one of the purest expressions of childlike imaginative fun on film today.  I cackled with maniacal glee at this movie multiple, multiple goddamn times and every time I thought that they’d topped themselves, they proceeded to surpass that bar with ease.  (Whether you agree depends on how much you like your glaringly obvious CGI, although I gave it a pass as I saw it as a stylistic choice.)

On that note, Deckard Shaw.  Now, technically, he’s a victim of the film’s overstuffed nature, since he has to share screen-time with Hounsou’s uninteresting warlord and therefore suffers from alternating too often between being the primary and secondary villain.  However, I honestly like the fact that he’s not really got much of a personality outside of the opening scene of the film – which, for the record, is fingertips away from Fast Five for me in “Best Opening Sequence of This Series” stakes – and I really like the way that he just keeps turning up randomly as our heroes are about to complete their objectives to throw a spanner in the works, like a one man army of TimeSplitters.  He also gets a fantastic pair of fights with Hobbs and Dom, with the latter including a climax that is AMAZINGLY DUMB, so I’m satisfied.

Fight scenes are a lot of fun, even though James Wan and his team of editors have an unfortunate tendency to cut just a little too often.  Tony Jaa is in this and gets to fight Brian with both instances delivering very nicely, the Rousey/Letty fight might not measure up to either Carano fight but is still pretty good and I once again appreciate a Hollywood film with a female fight scene where the aim is not primarily to be intentionally arousing, and the fight scene between Hobbs and Deckard is already a strong contender for the best of the year.  Though he may cut a bit too often, Lin is also a man of style, employing 360° camera pans and a camera that keeps the person it’s shooting vertically-centred but spins the rest of the world around them as normal (I can’t describe it well but it’s self-explanatory in motion) to sparing but enjoyable effect.

You may notice that I’ve talked minimally about the film’s many gloriously deranged action sequences up to this point and, surprising no-one, this is intentional.  I went into Furious 7 knowing pretty much next to nothing about what it would end up doing in said ridiculous action scenes.  This is the optimum way to watch Furious 7.  After all, why should I tell you how a last minute rescue made me laugh maniacally, how the end to one fight scene is officially the new “Most Wonderfully Dumb Thing to Happen In This Glorious Franchise”, how the Abu Dhabi payoff manages to overcome its CGI nature to still be one of the most entertaining setpieces I will likely see all year, or even allude to how the finale goes, when you can experience these things in glorious context properly?  Why should I spoil them for you when I went got to see them near-totally fresh?

Don’t, however, assume that the character work has gotten lost in the shuffle.  It’s all still here – Letty is still struggling with her amnesia, there’s Brian’s conflict with domesticity, and Roman wants to be taken more seriously as a part of the team – but the time delegated to just them is more reduced than it was in Fast Five or Fast & Furious 6.  That said, these characters are all so strongly drawn and defined that any scene of them just bouncing off of one another is a joy to watch, and the action scenes take the time to put in multiple character beats instead of just being pure noise, the car skydive is a particularly great example.  The new additions, again with the exception of the warlord, make great strong impressions and slide neatly into the world that screenwriter Chris Morgan – who has penned this franchise since Tokyo Drift – has created.

Most importantly, that silly heart-on-sleeve sincerity never leaves the film’s side.  Not even for a minute.  This is what separates the Fast & Furious movies from your lesser dumb blockbusters like, say, Transformers.  Films like Transformers clearly hate their own existence almost as much as they hate the audience for turning up to them, so their dumbness is built on bitterness and cynicism, a desire to slap together a whole bunch of loud explosions in as lazy a fashion as possible to extract cash from an audience it reads as gullible walking wallets.  The Fast & Furious series, however, has love for itself and love for its audience.  It sincerely believes that your surrogate family is the strongest bond that one could have, that throwing cars at problems really is the best way to solve everything, and that the audience isn’t wrong for finding this all to be f*cking awesome because it correctly agrees that this is all f*cking awesome.  So it puts effort into every scene, every stupid action sequence, every ridiculous pre-fight exchange, every character’s relationship with one another.

There’s love, genuine love and it doesn’t undercut that at any point.  That’s why, when it comes time to say goodbye to Paul Walker and the character of Brian O’Conner, I proceeded to cry like nobody’s business, because it earned it.  This is a series that earns its emotional release and its heart because it puts tangible love into every single frame.  Yeah, it’s a dumb series about flinging cars at ridiculous problems until they stop being problems!  It’s more f*cking sincere and heartfelt than the majority of last year’s so-called “prestige” pictures!  And even though it doesn’t scale the heights of Fast Five and has its share of structural problems, Furious 7 is still a damn fantastic time at the cinema, another excellent instalment in the blockbuster series that all other blockbuster series should strive to reach for – not even mentioning its majorly diverse cast – and the perfect tribute to one of the series’ main stars.

Goddammit, I love this wonderful series.

Callum Petch coins phrases to trigger dollars.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!