Hopefully by now you will have caught up with DCEU’s latest attempt at salvaging a flailing franchise with Justice League. Hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes run their beady eye over Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon’s ensemble superhero flick, as well as chatting about some post-apocalyptic fiction and reviewing their favourite cough sweets. Yum.
“Y’all jokers must be crazy.”
February. Awards month. This second diary entry starts with a list of Oscar nominated films I would love to get through before the awards ceremony on the last Sunday of the month. Try as I might, I don’t have the time nor energy to travel up and down the country to obscure little picturehouses to watch three hour French films about the government’s war on Brussels sprouts (I don’t know what any of these films are about. Call that an educated guess) so that pipe dream was never going to be doable.
Maybe that’s a tick list for next year. One challenge at a time. Maybe next year will be the year I watch every single nominated film. For now, it’s all about these 365 films I have to watch. So…
The first week felt pretty busy when it came to films. More blind luck than organisation, the month started by knocking another film of the blu-ray pile of shame; The Martian‘s extended cut burned through our evening on day one. I honestly forgot how good that film was.
The three year old’s journey through the MCU continued with Iron Man 2 on the same night we bought foreign film Oscar nom A Man Called Ove. The Saturday of the Failed Critics Pubcast gave me train time for a first watch of 1984’s Bad Taste and a repeat visit to Luc Besson’s Lucy. A family trip for the excellent Lego Batman Movie, followed by the pretty rubbish Gold was how that Sunday started. Rounded it off with the traditional yearly watch of Any Given Sunday.
Early February ended a bit of a mixed bag. The hopefully final but surprisingly fun Resident Evil movie was certainly better than the first Schumacher Batman that I somehow ended up watching. But with the last films of the week being the great Hidden Figures and the sublime Gone Baby Gone, things were looking up.
In my misguided attempt to watch all the Oscar nominated films, I forced myself through a couple of horrendous films to start week two. Michael Bay’s Stars and Stripes masturbatory fantasy that is 13 Hours may be one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Followed by the promising, but overall sleep inducing Passengers felt like the worst way to continue this challenge. Luckily, the newly released “Definitive Directors Cut” of Heat was enough to cleanse the palette.
The next few days was a mix of first watches and old favourites. John Wick and Training Day filling the quota of films we’d seen before; while new films were covered by The Girl With All The Gifts and Fences. All superb choices, if I do say so myself. The bizarre documentary Beware the Slenderman was our Saturday night viewing this week. Four films on the Sunday filled in my numbers nicely, I finished off the weekend with the beautiful, boner inducing “Black and Chrome” cut of Mad Max: Fury Road.
Luckily, work was quiet as this week carried on. An empty office and a stack of paperwork meant iTunes films to pass the time. A couple of films at work, the original Jungle Book with the kid when I got home and I ended the week with an early contender for film of the year, John Wick: Chapter 2.
More films at work mean that by the time we are watching Leon that evening – another from the Pile of Shame – I’ve added three more to the list. Revisiting last year’s War on Everyone, along with an impromptu Paranorman watch and rewatching Antoine Fuqua’s Shooter meant my list had a diverse selection being added.
Excellent espionage thriller/comic book film Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Founder clocked in at numbers 98 and 99 on my spreadsheet. Leaving space for something special for the next milestone. Film 100 was the first watch of this year, the seventeenth since the film came out almost a year ago to the day. Film 100 was the one, the only, Deadpool.
A couple of animated films, that included the surreal but fun A Cat in Paris brought up the rear for the most part this week. I also managed to get my sticky hands on a review screener for the latest film from one of my favourite directors to end this week. If you ever get the chance, you should definitely watch James Cullen Bressack’s Bethany.
The month begins to come to a close. The original cut of Mad Max: Fury Road kicks things off (yes, a different cut is a different film. My challenge, my rules). Peter Berg’s Patriots Day and Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness meant the week had an up and down middle section. You can hear me wax lyrical about both on the Oscar fallout podcast. This week also saw us dig into one of the worst films we have ever seen; Nude Nuns with Big Guns is just as award worthy as you think it is.
Loads of films with the kid this week, too. On request, we saw three, THREE, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. The two recent ones and the original 1990 version. Creepy, rapey Michelangelo aside, they ain’t the worst movies in the world. And she loved them, that’s all that matters. It’s the same reason I sat through the Angry Birds Movie again! Luckily, she didn’t watch our final one of that weekend, we watched the dug in to The Greasy Strangler. Just… wow.
Finally, after weeks of joking around about how ridiculous it is that we could live in a world where Suicide Squad won an academy award, it actually happened. So a rewatch of the film I loved that everyone else despised; the Oscar winning Suicide Squad. Then, as I write this, I’m in my seat at the local IMAX waiting for the premiere of Logan to begin. And thanks to Fox’s brilliant marketing ploy to show it at 10.23pm, it still counts as a February film. And much like last month, the second I turn this in, it’s onto writing the review.
This is getting tiring. But at this point, I’ve done more than half of the number I totalled last year. That can’t be bad.
Two months in the bag. Only ten to go.
Films seen this month: 54
Current count, as of 28th of February: 114 of 365.
Votes have been counted, booze has been consumed and a resulting two hour long podcast has been produced, examining each of the winners (and some of the losers) in this year’s Failed Critics Awards.
With Steve Norman absent, it’s up to Matt Lambourne to step in and host our final podcast of the year as Owen Hughes runs through who has won what in all eight of the different categories that our listeners have submitted votes in. Accompanying them both are special guests Callum Petch and Phil Sharman, who duke it out in the opening quiz, before laughing/lamenting the choices for:
Best soundtrack of 2015
Best film not in the English language
Best British film
Best male performance
Best female performance
Worst film of 2015
and of course the definitive Top 10 films of the year.
Thank you to everybody who spared 5 minutes to send in your picks for each of the above – and thanks to all of you who have downloaded our podcast over the past 12 months. You’ve made this year the most successful in our relatively short history and without you, it’d just be Steve and I talking over Skype each week to an invisible audience. Which, quite frankly, would be a bit weird. So thanks for sparing us that indignity, at least!
We’ll be back again the first week of January to review Joy, The Danish Girl and no doubt some other stuff too.
Ding dong, merrily on high – Steve’s pants are wet and minging.
Don’t worry. He just got a bit over-excited on last week’s Star Wars podcast. But before Steve worked himself up into that state, you can listen to his usual mildly-subdued-self as he hosted our Christmas special podcast, recorded the week before he exploded in a fit of fan-geekery over The Force Awakens.
Joining him in our festive celebrations during this most unholy Winterval and non-religion-specific season are Owen Hughes, Andrew Brooker and Brian Plank. As is tradition, we start off with a Christmassy quiz – quite possibly the worst quiz we’ve had on the podcast all year. Possibly ever. But moods are soon lifted as the team run through which Christmas movies they’ve been watching over the holiday period.
In lieu of any main releases to talk about, we have a special triple bill where each member of the crew pick their films of Christmas past (favourite first watch of a non-2015 film during this year), Christmas present (favourite 2015 release) and Christmas future (which movie they’re most looking forward to in 2016). It really isn’t as confusing as I’ve made it sound.
There’s still one more podcast to go this year – our Failed Critics Awards end of year wrap up (deadline for votes is 27th Dec) – so you can join us again later this month. Until then, Merry Christmas from all of us here at Failed Critics!
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)
Fighting 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
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
Dark, 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.
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)
Released 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
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)
I’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!
3] Furious 7
by Steve Norman (@StevePN86)
The 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
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
Fury 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.
3] The Voices
Terminator: Genisys’ order to “Come with [it] if [we] want to live” is studiously ignored, Magic Mike XXL only ends up in a light shower of dollars, they tried to make people watch Amy and people said “Yes, yes, yes”, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Ah, 4th of July weekend! The five-day stretch where everybody, in their great patriotic American duty, travels down to the cinemas to watch the latest wares that Hollywood has to peddle! Past years have seen films like Despicable Me 2, The Amazing Spider-Man, various Transformers movies, a Twilight instalment, and (obviously) Independence Day launch in this lucrative and prestigious slot in order to help fuel that great American past-time: ignoring your families and friends by sitting down and shutting up for two and a bit hours! And, sure, last year was kind of a major disappointment, but those movies weren’t going to set any box offices on fire, anyway. This year had two supposedly highly anticipated sequels to beloved franchises, plus the continuing success of two of the strongest box office holdovers to come along in an age! Everything was going to be peaches and cream, right?
Well, not exactly. If you’re a holdover, this weekend was pretty great for you, at least. In the three-day statistics (which are the only numbers that matter in this house), Jurassic World grabbed a hold of that number one slot for the fourth straight week in a row with just under $30.9 million, whilst Inside Out just cannot seal the deal with $30.1 million for second place. Of course, with numbers that close, things could switch when actuals come in, and Inside Out apparently won the five-day weekend quite handily if we looked at things like that, so this isn’t exactly information that is going to send Pixar executives in existential crises about whether their time is really up or not. After all, it’s neck-and-neck with Jurassic World and has been for three straight weeks. That’s like if I lasted 12 rounds against Brock Lesnar. Sure, I didn’t win, but I got some good hits in as he was treating my body like a Stretch Armstrong!
Good News, folks! Terminator: Mega Drive is a failure! For an expensive blockbuster with a beloved franchise attached to it and the intention of starting a brand new trilogy from it (like every single blockbuster ever nowadays), it did appallingly! Over the five-day weekend, the film could only manage $44 million, whilst the three-day weekend cut that down to just $28 million! To make matters even better, it was crushed by Jurassic World, another expensive blockbuster with a beloved franchise attached to it, in proof positive that people will skip your film if it as utter miserable shit as Terminator: CD is! Also in Good News: in the land of limited releases, Amy, the Amy Winehouse documentary directed by Asif Kapida (the man responsible for 2011’s excellent Senna), got off to a fantastic start with $220,000 from 6 screens for a $37,000 per screen average.
Bad News, folks! Magic Mike XXL has crashed and burned! Perhaps forever cautioning Hollywood studios from making movies solely for the female or homosexual gaze, XXL could only scrape together $26 million from the five-day weekend, and $11 million from the three-day weekend. Who knows why this happened? Maybe everybody saw the trailer to this one, remembered the trailer to the first Magic Mike and went, “Oh, no! I’m not falling for that again!” Maybe certain prospective audience members didn’t have anyone to go with and felt too ashamed to go alone? Maybe everybody who saw it the first time was in too much pleasure to risk going back for seconds, or incapable of communicating to their friends just how brilliant the film is? Or maybe, just maybe, it could have something to do with the fact that THE MOVIE OPENED ON A WEDNESDAY, YOU BLITHERING IMBECILES! Why would you do that?! Do you hate making money? Do you?
Much like Judgement Day and Jai Courtney’s inexplicable leading man career, this Full List cannot be stopped. It can only be delayed for a short period.
Box Office Results: Friday 3rd July 2015 – Sunday 5th July 2015
1] Jurassic World
$30,900,000 / $558,137,000
Good lord, this might actually reach $2 billion. It’ll at least get close enough that it’ll cross that threshold when its inevitable re-release comes along in a few years’ time, and maybe even dethrone Avatar at that point, too. This is mind-blowing to me. In fact, everything about everything that isn’t to do with the film itself is mind-blowing to me: the rampant mega-success with the public, the extreme vitriol with which it’s been received by everybody I know and follow on Twitter, with many all but claiming its success to be an indicator of the death of cinema with the general public. I don’t get that, but nor do I get the earth-shattering success it’s been having. I stand by my review but… it’s a fun dinosaur movie that’s honestly kinda terrible. It’s not brilliant and it’s not an abomination. Can somebody please fill me in on how both sides got to their respective stations? I’m confused, and I don’t like not understanding people, it’s one of the many reasons why I’m so miserable all the time.
2] Inside Out
$30,105,000 / $246,160,000
Have I ever mentioned that I love Amy Poehler? Because I do, and I think that she’s amazing, and that this train of praise and adoration that she’s currently on is more than deserved. Seriously, she’s wonderful and I admire the ever-loving heck out of her.
3] Terminator: 32x
$28,700,000 / $44,156,000 / NEW
I hate this movie. I hate this movie with a burning passion. I hate its simultaneously needlessly complex and nowhere-near-as-clever-and-complex-as-it-thinks-it-is plot. I hate its dreadful special effects. I hate how I was not once scared or intimidated by a skinless Terminator. I hate its insipid exposition-heavy and grade-school level dialogue. I hate how dreadful absolutely everybody is in this movie despite many people showing that they are far better actors and actresses elsewhere. I hate the fact that it restages so many moments from the first two Terminator films and expects easy nostalgia points for doing so under the untrue guise of “subversion”. I hate its utterly pathetic excuse of a Sarah Connor. I hate its awful action scenes. I hate how it won’t even reach for being obviously and extravagantly bad, instead just settling for mediocrity and expecting everyone to not get angered enough to take it to task for that. I hate the fact that it was fucking right about doing that and that everyone is letting this one pass with a shrug of their shoulders instead of the righteous fury it deserves. I hate it I hate it I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate it!
I don’t hate Terminator: Jaguar as much as I hate Entourage, but I hate it more than Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, and the fact that 2015 Film is trying so very hard to keep Paul Blart from the Top 5 of my Bottom Films of 2015 list is a genuine thing that we should be concerned about.
4] Magic Mike XXL
$11,600,000 / $26,656,000 / NEW
In complete contrast to Terminator: Dreamcast, I adore Magic Mike XXL, as my super peppy review helpfully demonstrates. It is a thing of wondrous majestic beauty, especially in the way that it is super progressive in all of these brilliantly quiet ways whilst still being nearly two hours of blatant wonderful fan-service. I really cannot stop thinking about this movie, and I’m probably going to see it again next week. I might even see if Lucy’s up for coming again, although I get the feeling that that first time was enough for her. You seriously should have heard her when Backstreet Boys started on the soundtrack, it was magnificent and I was feeling exactly the same as her!
5] Ted 2
$11,000,000 / $58,334,000
Well, in four days’ time, I guess I’ll find out if my fondness for Seth MacFarlane has to once again be affixed with a giant specific asterisk and hidden from sight unless directly brought up. At least we still have American Dad! and his excellent voice acting. Those can’t ever be taken away from me.
$6,610,000 / $25,349,000
Oh. I guess the fact that this is apparently rubbish has cut those seemingly long legs short after all. Or maybe we all saw Marley & Me and are now automatically sceptical about any film with a dog because we don’t want to cry when something bad happens to it. Either works.
$5,500,000 / $97,846,000
Ex-Disney CEO and Professional Tit Michael Eisner stated his belief, at the Aspen Ideas Festival (which is a real thing and I can’t believe that either) on Thursday, that “the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman.” Prefacing the following with an acknowledgement that “I am going to get in trouble, I know this goes online”, which should be as clear an indicator as humanly possible to stop talking, he believes that “usually, unbelievably beautiful women… are not funny.”
I don’t think I need to add anything more to that. Although I will say that I bet that Eisner’s wife is just thrilled to know that her husband finds her either ugly or a humourless shrill.
8] San Andreas
$3,030,000 / $147,373,000
How many of you spent your 4th of July watching Independence Day? Come on, don’t be shy! It’s good to remind yourself of how much dumb, slightly guilty fun that movie is before the sequel comes along and is inevitably terrible!
9] Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
$1,320,000 / $4,004,000
God, this is like my own personal version of the monster from It Follows. It’s coming, it can’t be stopped, there is no way of getting away from it, and it will get me. Urgh. I just want to get this over with, already, please. Films that are clearly going to be terrible but that I have to see anyway are the worst.
As for It Follows, it is pencilled in for October 31st. I’ll explain more closer to the time.
$1,098,000 / $14,104,000
You people disgust me.
Dropped Out: Insidious Chapter 3, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Violent, trashy, and boasting an outstanding lead turn by Salma Hayek, Everly is the calling card that Joe Lynch deserves.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Joe Lynch is one of those guys who feels like he really should be a better known name in genre movie circles than he is. He first appeared on radars with 2009’s surprisingly great Wrong Turn 2, and followed that up with a segment in the apparently great and under-seen (I am one of those who have yet to see it) Chillerama in 2011. He should have broken big with 2012’s Knights of Badassdom… but the film was taken away from him by its producers, significantly edited down against his will, kept in release window purgatory for well after the initial hype had died down, and then was dumped into cinemas last year with no fanfare, ultimately being a disappointment, albeit one with clear potential (that may exist in the director’s cut that we will likely never get to see).
This is all kind of a shame, but it does make Lynch a lovable underdog for me. I want to see this guy succeed, cos he clearly has a tonne of potential, and a fun and unique approach to gory mayhem. If he could just be given a proper opportunity, one that wasn’t tied down to straight-to-DVD horror movies (that never get their proper due if they are good) or meddled to death by producers, then I knew that he could put out a damn great B-movie. Fortunately, Everly is neither a straight-to-DVD horror flick and nor has it been unnecessarily meddled with by producers, and it makes for as great a calling card as any because Everly is a heck of a lot of fun.
Set in something close to real-time and taking place almost entirely in one apartment, Everly (Salma Hayek) is a woman who was kidnapped four years prior to the film by a Yakuza boss to be his personal sex slave. She has not seen the outside of her apartment nor has she had any contact with her mother Edith (Laura Cepeda) or her young daughter since then, although she has been working with a police officer in an attempt to bring the gang down. Her boss, however, has discovered her betrayal, killed the officer, and ordered some of his men to kill her as punishment. Unable to leave the apartment and with a bounty placed on her head after the initial hit fails, Everly now has to survive long enough for her mother and daughter to meet up with her, so she can give them a rucksack full of cash that will allow them to get away from the Yakuza’s reach.
And… that’s pretty much it. It’s a simple premise for a lean, mean, 90 minute action movie, and Lynch and the film’s writer, Yale Hannon, wring it for every last possible drop. This is a film that careens wildly between tense scenes of uncomfortable violence, to bloody slapstick, to quiet drama, to fun and cathartic action sequences, to extremely pitch-black comedy with barely any time to breathe between each switch. That will probably turn off some people, but I happened to dig it. It reminded me a fair bit of the recent works of Matthew Vaughn, except if he just completely let go of any restraints he placed on himself, it’s that kind of mischievous “we don’t do anything by halves” approach to action filmmaking, albeit a lot bloodier.
Yes, if you like your action bloody with a capital B and violent with a capital V, then Everly is absolutely the movie for you. I haven’t had the pleasure of watching an action movie that is this joyously committed to sending the claret flying everywhere at the cinema in a near-literal age, although there are many scenes that were incredibly hard to watch, so committed is this film to violence-ass violence. That said, though, this isn’t just violence for the sake of violence, although there is some of that. The film actually makes a big deal out of the aftermath of each confrontation and the restrictive nature of Everly’s apartment. The bodies and blood don’t just magically disappear between scenes so they end up informing the geography of later action scenes, as well as a sequence of character-based tension at about the film’s halfway point. Lynch’s horror roots are undoubtedly a reason for the emphasis on the aftermath of these action scenes, but it does make for a refreshing change of pace in a genre that normally enjoys getting away from the aftermath of violence as soon as possible.
Also refreshing, Everly herself. In contrast to the usual emotionless, hyper-competent badasses that usually turn up whenever a woman is given the chance to lead an action movie, Everly is human. She has some talent with firearms, but she’s not a crack shot. She is capable under pressure and in overwhelming situations, but she’s not invincible. She can be tough and determined, but she’s also barely holding it together and running mainly on survival instincts for herself and her family. Everly feels incredibly well-rounded, basically, with multiple sides to her, reminiscent of The Bride from Kill Bill, albeit not as fully developed as that character for obvious reasons. And because Everly feels three-dimensional, she’s that much more relatable, that much more root-able, it makes the times where she’s at risk that much more tense and the times where she’s unleashing hellfire upon her would-be attackers that much more cathartic.
Although the well-handled script provides that groundwork, Salma Hayek is the reason why Everly works so totally as a character. She completely throws herself into the role, switching smoothly and convincingly through each facet of Everly without ever letting one overshadow the rest. She’s convincingly tough, but not excessively so. She’s warm and motherly when necessary, but is also befittingly awkward for someone who hasn’t been able to be a mother for most of her child’s life. Everly’s also in way over her head and Salma lets us, the audience, into that fear throughout almost the whole movie, never burying that fear under excess Tough Girl vibes. A lesser actress would have made the character a complete mess, the kind that alternates between “hyper-competent badass” and “crying trainwreck” with no nuance, but Hayek finds that through-line and nuance, and that helps make Everly feel like a consistent character. She is so good in this role that I sat there wondering why casting directors haven’t put her in everything already, and why she’s mostly been wasting her talents on Happy Madison vehicles for the last half-decade.
(Also, if you’ll let me be frank, it’s pretty damn great to see a non-white non-twentysomething woman being cast in a role like this. Can this happen more often please, movie industry? Thank you!)
However, there are a few things that keep Everly from being one of the very best genre pictures of the last few years. For one, it’s another action movie that has to dangle the threat of rape over its heroine; the film actually opens with the sounds (but not images as the film never shows it) of Everly being raped. I get why this seems necessary, but you don’t need to depict rape in any form for the audience to get the message, especially so in this post-Fury Road world that we reside in, so it’s disappointing to see it happen here. There’s an extended torture scene around the two-thirds mark that goes on just a little too long, seems to take a little too much pleasure in turning the screws and ratcheting up the tension for Everly and the audience, and has a payoff that doesn’t quite justify the amount of time spent on the build-up. And the post-finale beat – and, incidentally, I really liked the final confrontation, although I know that it will rankle the hell out of you if you’re a member of the “WHY DON’T YOU JUST SHOOT THEM?” crowd – feels more than a little gratuitous and openly manipulative in the form that it takes.
For me, though, these ended up being minor quibbles. I found Everly to be an absolute blast, being gloriously violent, loads of dark trashy fun, stylish, and many other redundant words to describe the highly entertained state that I was in for the entire time it was playing in front of me. It’s a fantastic star turn for Salma Hayek, a distinctive calling card for Joe Lynch, and just a damn fine film in its own right. I had a lot of fun with this one, and I can damn-near guarantee that you will too if you like your B-movies bloody, trashy, and damn great. Seek it out.
People REALLY f*cking love dinosaurs, Ted ends up like Flash Gordon – a thing we all liked as a kid and now want to distance ourselves from, [Insert Tasteless Mean-Spirited Batkid Begins Gag Here], and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
For the third week in a row, somehow, Jurassic World has taken the top spot at the box office, this time with $54 million in ticket sales, pushing its domestic total to over $500 million. There’s a part of me that’s surprised that Jurassic World is doing this well, but I guess it’s gonna take a while for a film like this to stop posting non-ridiculous numbers when it opened over $200 million. That, incidentally, is still something I definitely can’t get over. Meanwhile, Pixar’s Inside Out is probably going to become the first Pixar film to not hit the number one slot, since Jurassic World managed to keep it off of the top even with $52 million in ticket sales. I guess everyone prefers velociraptors fighting genetically-modified dinosaurs to intimate tales of depression. In entirely unrelated news, Pixar have just delayed The Good Dinosaur yet again. Apparently they’ve finally cracked the ending.
“But wait, Callum,” I hear you, imaginary reader calling out to nobody in particular. “Weren’t there new films out this last weekend?” Indeed there were, astutely attuned and likely very attractive reader! Indeed there were! Specifically, Ted 2 happened and, in the grand tradition of Seth MacFarlane works, was apparently nowhere near as good brought back from its at-the-time great original self. The film regressed. Significantly. Whilst the first Ted managed to break box office records with a $54 million opening, Ted 2 could only manage $33 million for third place. It’s not as bad as A Million Ways To Die In The West’s $16 million third place opening, but it’s still troubling. Now, thanks to this, Seth MacFarlane is going to have to make and unleash that Family Guy movie upon the world. Thanks, you lot. Thanks a million.
In “Films That Are Guaranteed To Make Me Weep Like A Three Year-Old” news, Max, the family drama about the loyal dog of a deceased soldier that returns home and suffers from PTSD… sorry, you’ll need to give me a second. Just typing that sentence is causing my eyes to water. …OK, I’m good. Anyways, that film got off to a pretty good start for a low budget and thinly advertised family drama, managing $12 million for fourth place. Its limited release equivalent, Batkid Begins, which is a documentary about how the city of San Francisco came together to help Make-A-Wish kid Miles Scott’s dream to be Batkid for a day… … …OK, I can keep going. Anywho, that film didn’t get off to such a good start, only managing $23,000 from 4 screens because YOU ARE ALL HEARTLESS BASTARDS!
Elsewhere in the part of these articles where I kill time before we get to the Full List, The Third Man received a special re-release to celebrate its restoration and managed an alright $24,000 from 3 screens because who wants to watch old movies at the cinema anymore, AMIRIGHT LADS? A Little Chaos, a movie I fell asleep watching at the cinema for what it’s worth, finally debuted in 83 American theatres and was collectively shrugged out of the room with only $186,000 and a $2,241 per-screen average. Runoff, a festival darling that’s finally managing to get a theatrical release, was the only real bright spot for limited release films this weekend, managing $10,000 from a single theatre.
Actually, no, wait! There was another good slice of news in limited release! Me and Earl and the Dying Girl expanded to 354 locations and couldn’t even manage $1 million! THE SYSTEM WORKS!
This Full List is nowhere near as good as it was before it got cancelled the first time.
Box Office Results: Friday 26th June 2015 – Sunday 28th June 2015
1] Jurassic World
$54,200,000 / $500,100,000
Highest grossing film of the year domestically. Add another $737 mil onto that and you have its current worldwide total. This will beat Frozen in the all-time worldwide totals by the time I finish writing this sentence, and will probably cross Age of Ultron off the list on its journey for world dominance by the end of next week. This is a literal juggernaut. A quite literal juggernaut. How?! I had a lot of fun with it, and even I am perplexed by the sheer non-stoppery of this thing! If Terminator: Mega Drive falls to this next week, I will not be surprised, believe me.
2] Inside Out
$52,128,000 / $184,945,000
Accidentally found out that Inside Out is all about a young girl who has to move house and goddammit Pixar why don’t you just stab me in the heart and get it over with! Seriously, it doesn’t matter if this movie ends up being garbage, I will cry seven hundred times watching it.
3] Ted 2
$33,000,000 / NEW
I honestly just don’t know why Seth MacFarlane hasn’t just made a musical already. He clearly loves them, he’s already recorded two big-band and swing albums, and his voice would probably be able to carry the musical you just know he’d have a starring role in. I mean, it would certainly be better if he just admits that he wants to make a musical and does a full-on musical instead of forcing them into everything else he does even though they mostly just kill the pace of the thing he’s shoving them into.
$12,210,000 / NEW
You remember what I said about Inside Out? Multiply that by a thousand for this. Not joking. This past weekend, I thought I’d lost my dog, Mac, and spent five minutes running about the house in pure panicked terror because I couldn’t find him and was worried he’d somehow slipped out of the house without my knowing. Then I opened a closed bedroom door and found him sat there wondering why I was looking so terrified. Yeah, this film will kill me.
$7,800,000 / $88,351,000
So this is on track to become Paul Feig’s lowest grossing film yet – unless you count his pre-Bridesmaids films, which nobody does because doing so is stupid – despite it being his best by a country mile. That’s a shame, but hopefully Hollywood won’t hold it against him when it comes time to bankroll his and Melissa McCarthy’s next films. After all, everybody has been summarily crushed by Jurassic World, it’s not like this is indicative of anything except that all films need dinosaurs.
6] San Andreas
$5,275,000 / $141,871,000
I’m actually completely out of things to say about this, so have a picture of an adorable puppy.
$2,862,000 / $11,776,000
Sigh… goddammit, people. You can’t spend forever joining me in campaigning for greater diversity and representation in movies and then not actually pay to see the ones that get a wide release! This is why Jai Courtney gets to be a thing, people! That is your goddamn fault!
8] Insidious Chapter 3
$2,025,000 / $49,816,000
A cinema in Middleton, Ohio ended up playing Insidious Chapter 3 for a group of families who had instead turned up to see Inside Out and every single story like this always bewilders me for the following reasons. 1] When you’re programming the projector, do you really pay that little attention to the title of the film you’re setting up that you really will confuse Insidious for Inside Out? 2] Does America not flash up the rating and film title before the film starts like we do in England? Cos this seems like a weird thing to not do if that’s the case. 3] Why don’t the families scramble for the nearest exit when the studio logos quite clearly indicate that this is not the Pixar film they signed up to see? 4] Why does everybody continue to stay in the cinema long after it’s been made apparent that this is a horror movie and not something the kids should see? Y’all do know that horror movies don’t start flinging jump scares and loud noises and terrifying images non-stop from frame one, right? That’s what horror videogames do.
9] Mad Max: Fury Road
$1,735,000 / $147,078,000
Still got nothing to add, so here’s a picture of an adorable kitten.
10] The Avengers: Age of Ultron
$1,643,000 / $452,428,000
Word is starting to come in on Ant-Man from lucky so-and-so American critics, and the consensus is currently at “Hey, that was actually pretty good!” Called it. I mean, that’s how the early consensus on all Marvel films initially comes to, but I called it nonetheless. You people can’t commit to your Marvel backlash! Not when they’re still putting out films that are at least good or better! (*acts like a petulant fanboy, loses all credibility, becomes washed-up jaded alcoholic at the age of 20*)
Dropped Out: Pitch Perfect 2, Tomorrowland
When dinosaurs ruled the box office, Inside Out/Inside Win, people sadly Just Say “Nope” to Dope, Manglehorn gets mangled, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Before we move on, a brief apology and correction. Last week, we reported that Jurassic World had scored the second-highest opening weekend of all-time at the domestic box office with $204 million. Well it turns out that we misreported those numbers and I would like to apologise for that. Jurassic World actually made $208 million and is, therefore, actually the highest grossing opening weekend of all-time domestically. The Avengers has, in fact, been dethroned. In my defence, I can only work from the estimates, since the actuals don’t come in until late-afternoon on a Monday and I have sh*t to do then, which is why these get written on a Sunday night.
Hence why I don’t want to make any definitive statements regarding Jurassic World’s box office performance this weekend, record-wise. Whatever happens, it is finishing in first place, but the box office records are what’s in contention. Currently, the film is sat on $102 million for its second weekend, which puts it almost exactly $1 million below The Avengers’ record-breaking second weekend, but the numbers are so close that, and since Universal under-estimated last weekend, there is every chance that Jurassic World’s actuals will push it higher than The Avengers after all. It’s already a pure and total unstoppable juggernaut that will pass $400 million domestic by lunchtime, so it’s not like this is much of a stretch. Just saying, if it does happen, you can’t say I got it wrong, cos I’m not definitively saying anything! So there!
What will be indisputable, unless some kind of catastrophic error causes 15 million bucks to mysteriously go missing between now and the actuals coming in, is the success of Inside Out, which now holds the record for the biggest domestic opening weekend ever for a non-sequel non-adaptation, taking the title from Avatar’s $77 million opening weekend back in December of 2009. I mean, technically one could argue that it does count as a sequel in the sense that it’s a part of the Pixar brand that might as well be a franchise unto itself by this point, but I’m just going to block that out and savour this Avatar-crushing moment. Aaaaaahhhh… that feels good.
Unfortunately, all this wantonly spent cashola had to skip out on one of the week’s releases, and that poor sod ended up being the Sundance hit Dope, which bravely launched on 2,000 screens but could only manage $6 million for fifth place because, well, it went up against Pixar and dinosaurs. I applaud the bravery of Open Road Films for putting a black film out there as an option for mainstream audiences, but they were never going to win this one. Similarly failing to lift off, albeit in limited release, was the new David Gordon Green film, Manglehorn. Even with Al Pacino apparently deciding to try this whole “acting” thing again to see what that was like, the film couldn’t really get butts in seats, possibly due to mediocre critic reviews, and it only made $13,000 from 3 screens. But, hey! This should hopefully not discourage Al Pacino’s decision to start acting again! Last thing we need is him crawling back to Adam Sandler.
Fun Fact: I have seen all of Jack & Jill but only one Alfred Hitchcock film in the 20 years I have lived. Why on earth do you people listen to what I have to say?
I don’t actually have any witty segway pun for this Full List, since I’m trying to stay dark on Inside Out. So, here’s the thing, then, I guess.
Box Office Results: Friday 19th June 2015 – Sunday 21st June 2015
1] Jurassic World
$102,019,000 / $398,230,000
I think I am the only one of my Internet friends – cos I don’t have real friends with the exception of Lucy (*cries profusely*) – who actually likes this, which is always a good thing to have happen when you’re constantly paranoid that what you do and feel is wrong and that you’re bad for doing and feeling those things. It’s especially more so in this case since, well, Jurassic World is actually a pretty terrible film, yet I like it anyway. I dunno, maybe I’ll someday get lucky and not be so self-conscious.
2] Inside Out
$91,056,000 / NEW
Staying as in-the-dark as possible until it drops here at the end of next month, since this and Minions have basically swapped places on the release calendar for the UK. I’m hoping that this will be as good as critics are saying… but critics also gave Monsters University a seal of quality and that was a massive disappointment, so Pixar are still on my Warning List for now.
And, yes, I am aware that a trailer has dropped for Kung Fu Panda 3. Don’t send me it. If I’m keeping myself in the dark for a film that I’m honestly not that excited for, then why do you think I would want to watch the trailer for a film that I am on tenterhooks for?
$10,500,000 / $74,374,000
So I feel like I’ve been acting a lot like Jason Statham in Spy whenever the subject of The Peanuts Movie is brought up for whatever reason. Just me constantly and unfairly going “They’re gonna f*ck it up,” over and over and over and over again, totally blind, thanks to my own prejudices, to the idea that Blue Sky Studios may not actually f*ck it up.
Folks, and I say this with no hyperbole and complete sincerity, Blue Sky Studios may not have f*cked this up.
4] San Andreas
$8,240,000 / $132,229,000
This might end up one of the highest grossing films of the year. It’s up to $414 million worldwide, after all. I, err, really did not see this one coming. OK, then. Maybe we’ll get lucky and an actually good disaster movie will come from this?
$6,018,000 / NEW
Doesn’t come out here until September 5th, despite looking like as much of a Summer movie as they come. Unless that was actually the plan all along and its UK distributor is taking advantage of the fact that our one nice week of Summer-like weather is going to come in September! That’s genius, and I also want to know the secret to their psychic and weather-controlling powers!
6] Insidious Chapter 3
$4,110,000 / $45,370,000
Oh, God, It Follows is due on home media next week! Guess I’m done putting it off and it’ll be time to watch a film that I know I will love but which will undoubtedly cause me to not sleep for at least three weeks afterwards! I hate being a wuss.
7] Pitch Perfect 2
$3,300,000 / $177,500,000
Pitch Perfect 3 is officially happening. I personally think that this is really stretching it, and I say that as a huge fan of the second instalment, but we’ll see when the film comes out, I guess. Besides, if they’re going to use this as an opportunity to correct the race problems that these films do have, then that’s alright by me.
I mean, they probably won’t, they’ll likely just do number 2 again, but I can hope, can’t I?
8] Mad Max: Fury Road
$2,815,000 / $143,602,000
…I’m out of things to say about this movie, by now. Or, at least, things to say in the tiny space that I get each week. Needless to say, I still doubt that anything will surpass it for my Film Of The Year, it’s amazing, and that’s that. So… yeah.
9] The Avengers: Age of Ultron
$2,723,000 / $451,039,000
Never did get to see this again, sadly, such is the life of somebody who is just terrible at time-management. Or, more specifically, realising how long stuff actually takes to do. Since I’ve written something close to 250 or-so articles of similar excessive length in the past two years, you’d think that I’d know how long it takes for me to write one of the damn things by now.
$2,009,000 / $87,696,000
Tomorrow! Tomorrow! This film might not suck, tomorrow! But it’s always a day away!
Dropped Out: Entourage (AND STAY THE FUCK OUT), Love & Mercy
People f*cking love dinosaurs, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Jurassic World made $204 million, making it the second biggest domestic opening weekend of all-time.
(*drops mic, leaves*)
(*walks back in*)
So, apparently, I have to write more than that for these things. But, I mean, I’m slightly at a loss as to what to write. That figure and those numbers kinda tower over everything else, grabbing the eye and the attention so totally that to talk about anything else feels like trying to hold a conversation at a party that’s about anything but the grizzly act of cannibalism that everyone just saw occur in the parlour room moments ago. You know how ridiculous that opening is? I ran the opening of Jurassic Park back in 1993 ($47 million) through an inflation converter, and the result ($77 million) was still nearly three times less than what Jurassic World just made. I am at a loss to explain this, I really am. Like, I knew that Jurassic Park was a beloved touchstone for a generation of moviegoers, and that everybody loves dinosaurs, but DAMN!
That said, it was not the only film making waves this past weekend. For, in the land of the limited releases, it was time to unleash Me and Earl and the Dying Girl upon the world. This year’s Sundance darling, having premiered to a standing ovation and winning the Grand Jury and Audience Prizes for Drama at the festival, critically beloved by most, and looking absolutely and totally motherf*cking INSUFFERABLY GODAWFUL, was launched in the Little Miss Sunshine slot to a pretty great success – $210,000 from 15 screens with a per-screen average of $14,000. On any other weekend, that would be a per-screen average to kill for, but this was Jurassic World’s weekend and that film managed a per-screen average of $47,871 FROM 4,274 SCREENS. So, dinosaurs beat sh*tty-looking try-too-hard indie dramedies in the public sphere! This is information that makes me happy.
Finally, before we get into the part that matters, there’s the issue of Love & Mercy, the biopic of Brian Wilson that came out last week. Now, as you may know, I didn’t talk about it last week or, in fact, any of the week’s limited releases as I was far too busy making easy jokes at the expense of Entourage – which, as I discovered about 8 hours after that post went live, was letting that film off was too easily – to report on them or the fact that United Passions only made $607 from 10 screens – side note: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (*continues like so for another 10 minutes). Besides, I had the feeling that the supposedly great film would make an appearance in the Top 10 eventually, as it was too star-packed, too widely-released, and too critically-slathered to not break in at some point. Well, it did! This week, even! So, there!
This Full List found a way, the clever girl.
Box Office Results: Friday 12th June 2015 – Sunday 14th June 2015
1] Jurassic World
$204,600,000 / NEW
My review is over here, for those of you who are interested. Ended up digging this one a whole lot, even though it’s got characters that might as well just be breadsticks, dialogue that’s on the level of a five year-old, and themes that are communicated on the same level as that of a first year film studies student with a distrust of the military. But who cares about any of that when you have dinosaurs fighting each other and Chris Pratt – albeit minus any gratuitous shots of his abs, which is UNACCEPTABLE – both things I’ve wanted since I was 5 years-old? Not me, that’s for certain!
$16,000,000 / $56,937,000
Very strong 45% hold between weekends, which is very good for an R-rated comedy that is being released in this utterly insane Summer season. Can I also echo The Playlist’s demand that Melissa McCarthy gets a look-in for the Best Actress race come Oscar season? She is absolutely phenomenal in this, and I guarantee you that she’ll have put in a better performance than at least half of the people whose names get trotted out in this year’s Battle of Apparently Lowering Standards.
3] San Andreas
$11,010,000 / $119,321,000
…hey, Hollywood. Can’t help but notice that you haven’t gotten back to me about that goldmine of a film pitch that I gave you last week. Tell me, do you have a negative disposition towards the act of making money? Seriously, who doesn’t want to see Chris Pratt and The Rock solving crimes together in a buddy cop movie? I know that America wants to see The Rock lay the smacketh down on a bunch of candy asses whilst Chris Pratt says something Burt Macklin, FBI-y before The Rock raises his eyebrow inquisitively and humanity collectively creams its pants and explodes in pure glee!
No, seriously, this is pure f*cking gold, Hollywood! Hit me up about this! I’ll even convince my actually talented writing friend to sell out his principles to help me write this script, as it is surely guaranteed millions upon MILLIONS of dollars and millions of dollars and millions of dollars!
4] Insidious Chapter 3
$7,300,000 / $37,371,000
Forgot to mention this last week as I was too busy… whatever I was doing last week, but now’s as good a time as any. If you are writing a box office piece and use the phrase “scares up” when talking about the performance of a horror movie, quit. Just quit. Stop writing, resign from your position, and go and do something else with your life. I am dead serious. That phrase is so, so old and worn out, that even complete hacks will look at that and go, “Yeah, you absolutely put no effort into this whatsoever.” I find it a personal insult that professional writers are paid money to be that lazy whilst I slave away trying to find new spins on material and new talking points every week for free. So if you do use that phrase, quit. Give your job to people who deserve it.
5] Pitch Perfect 2
$6,000,000 / $170,715,000
This has managed to jump up one place, this week. People would rather see this again in its fifth week than Entourage in its second week. Humanity is not totally doomed, folks.
$4,340,000 / $25,870,000
I saw Entourage last Monday. If it weren’t for the fact that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is looming on the horizon like a strategically placed solid object aimed directly at one’s junk that you can’t avoid for whatever reason, I would feel very secure calling this the worst film I will see all year. It is just so totally abysmal. Brooker is still reviewing it for this site, but my thoughts were graciously housed by both Movieblort and my friend Charlize of HotMales.net. They’re absolutely worth a read at either location, I genuinely believe it’s one of the best reviews that I have ever written.
7] Mad Max: Fury Road
$4,130,000 / $138,630,000
Goddammit, I’ve been too busy to find the time to see this a third time. If I get lucky, it might hang around next week and I’ll be able to squeeze it between the new releases (otherwise known as the films I don’t give a sh*t about), but otherwise my chance has been and gone. Sigh. I’d say “at least I saw it twice”, but we all know that twice is nowhere near enough cinema-based viewings of Fury Road.
8] The Avengers: Age of Ultron
$3,641,000 / $444,743,000
I am excited and optimistic for Ant-Man. There, I said it. Revoke my “Film Critic” pass if you want, I don’t give a sh*t. It’s the truth and it’s how I feel.
$3,417,000 / $83,607,000
OK, homework for us all: let’s all watch The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille prior to meeting back up next week. We’re not actually going to talk about or do anything with them, it’s just always worth having seen those films. Great? Great.
10] Love & Mercy
$1,765,000 / $4,774,000
Here’s a scene from Walk Hard. Go and watch Walk Hard. This is not optional.
Dropped Out: Aloha, Poltergeist
Callum Petch only cares about that thing, that thing, that thing. Listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio (site link) and follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!
Jurassic World is honestly kind of a bad film, but I love it anyway.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
There’s this thing about irony: if you coat enough of your work in it, it can lead a critic to become genuinely confused as to where the intentional faults and flaws end and the unintentional ones begin. It’s honestly a pretty brilliant tactic, cos how am I supposed to know what is an intentional mistake and what isn’t when almost the entire point of the movie is being drowned in irony and satire? Especially when the film itself calls out in-universe its satirical and ironic aims and intentions.
Jurassic World is a film that swims in irony, perhaps too much for its own good, occasionally appearing to use that as a defence mechanism for the rest of the film. Is the fact that almost every last dinosaur is a never-quite fully convincing CGI effect a comment on modern filmmaking’s detrimental obsession with CGI or just a detrimental obsession with CGI? Is the film’s constant product-placement, that is even a minor plot point and a point of contention for one of the park’s staff members, a wink and nod to its blatancy in modern blockbusters, with its eventual destruction a cathartic blow to such a practice, or just blatant cost-subsidising product placement? Is the fact that the film really isn’t at all scary an acknowledgement that we’re no longer frightened by things that have become institutions, and the failure of the I-Rex to change that being a comment that you can’t just manufacture scary things by throwing a bunch of scary ideas in a blender and printing the resulting concoction, or just a failure on the part of director Colin Trevorrow?
Again, it’s difficult to know where the intentional faults end and the genuine faults begin. Is the fact that much of the movie is all about shaming emotionless Cylon Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, not actually a Cylon) into understanding that these animals are animals, dammit, and not just numbers on a spreadsheet – as well as being shamed into realising that work should not be everything and that family, specifically visiting nephews Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), are deserving of time and attention too a sly parody of such “women shouldn’t science or business” plots or just poor writing that ends up lapsing unintentionally into that area? Speaking of, is her relationship with Owen (Chris Pratt) a purposefully ridiculous demonstration of how fast, frivolous, and ultimately pointless these sorts of obligatory romances in blockbusters are, filled with awkward implications and such, as a “take that” to their continued existence, or is it just all of that with none of the parodic undercurrent?
I could keep going on and on and on – applying this same uncertainty to things like the film’s barely one-note characters, its sledgehammer subtle digs at the military, its unresolved plot threads that are just blatant sequel-teasing, the fact that Owen is quite literally portrayed and characterised by the film as The Greatest Human Being Who Ever Lived and whose sneezes can probably cure cancer – but hopefully you get the point. Since Jurassic World announces from practically the first frame that this is going to be a film with a meta-text about the state of filmmaking today running through it, it eventually reaches the point where one just has to question if it’s only doing so as a pre-cautionary defence in case everything went wrong; the equivalent of slipping on a banana peeling, falling, breaking six bones, and proclaiming, “Totally meant to do that!” I’m glad that we have another blockbuster, the second in two months no less, that wants to say something instead of just being pretty lights and loud explosions, but the sheer extent of its commitment (?) to this theme and message for much of the film’s runtime arguably does it more harm than good.
See, by traditional metrics and what we usually define as ‘good filmmaking’, Jurassic World is a bad film. Its characters are barely the definition of one-note, its dialogue is not corny enough to be corny, it’s not scary, the dinosaurs and the humans never give off the illusion that they share the same reality as one another barring one sequence that only serves to make that fact even more clear, there are some plot turns and developments that scream “last minute sequel-opening rewrite”, its desperate desire to be Aliens sometimes does it no favours (more on that in a sec), its extreme pacing means that there’s barely time for everyone to get their bearings before the I-Rex breaks free, and the Owen and Claire stuff – despite Chris Pratt being on a full-on “come on, come fall asleep on my abs” charm offensive – never works and never stops feeling token at best.
But, goddammit, do I love this friggin’ movie anyway.
Jurassic World is nonsense. Jurassic World is absolute nonsense and, goddammit, do I love it for that, because it is massive amounts of pure fun! That meta-text may sound like it drowns the film in humourless detachment, but it still bristles with pure glee at its various setpieces and ideas. That sprinter’s pacing is like the film is just desperately trying to get to them out of palpable excitement: “No, folks, seriously, there’s a moment where the I-Rex fights an Ankylososaurus! Hold on, I’m just gonna hit the fast-forward button so we can get there quicker! I can’t wait to see the look on your faces, you are going to flip!” In a way, it’s rather analogous to Zach’s character in the film, as the big brother who doesn’t seem like he wants to be here at all, but is not immune to the pleasures of seeing a Mosasaurus eat an entire shark in one bite.
This glee at being able to fling full-scale mayhem about the place does occasionally cross over into being rather mean-spirited – the Pteranodon setpiece is a load of fun but is tainted by one extended and really unnecessarily cruel death sequence – but mostly sticks on the right side of that line. Mainly by being Aliens. I’m not kidding, Jurassic World lifts so much from Aliens’ playbook that I’m expecting James Cameron’s lawyers to be sicced on Universal any second now. Precocious children? Check. A mother figure who puts herself in harm’s way despite wishing not to in order to keep those children safe? Check. One capable partner whom she eventually bonds with despite prior reservations? Check (minus the romance part in Aliens for we all know that no man can tie Ellen Ripley down). That same endless breathless rush from one setpiece to the next once the release valve is turned? Check, check, check!
Now, of course, these are all traits that are not specific to Aliens, but the similarities don’t stop there. There’s even a Weyland-Yutani equivalent in the form of InGen, a corporation who have got their mitts all over Jurassic World, even the parts that no-one else knows about, and who have really just the worst and stupidest ideas. Those raptors that Owen is trying to tame are being bred to become weapons of war, loyal and efficient comrades of soldiers in the field, whilst you gain absolutely no surprises for guessing that they’ve been involved in the creation of the I-Rex and that their refusal to be forward about what went into the thing is very bad for everybody involved. They’ve got a representative, played by the great Vincent D’Onofrio, who is such a smug asshole that you can imagine he drives his car to work on a personal make-shift carpet of baby seals. And there is even a setpiece in the film’s ridiculously fun final third that is so startlingly similar to the first Xeno ambush at Aliens’ halfway point that I’m still not sure that the projectionist didn’t just splice in some footage from that briefly.
This is sometimes to Jurassic World’s detriment, when it is being so blatant in its Aliens referencing that it distracts from the quality of the film itself, but it manages to get away with it by being Aliens in spirit, rather than in flesh. These are two films that share similar makeups and similar traits, but still feel fundamentally individual. This is still a Jurassic Park movie at its core, it’s got that same sense of wonder and the same sense of awe and spectacle, but it’s also a Jurassic Park movie that realises that trying to be just Jurassic Park again won’t work. The core can still be the same, but everything else needs a change-up. So why not take from the playbook of Aliens and go bigger, more action-packed, more crowd-pleasing, and fundamentally different, whilst not losing sight of the core of your series, instead of just doing the first film again?
Jurassic World is not a film that is going to win any awards for storytelling, or for character-work, or pacing, or thematic depth or anything of that sort. Again, take it on traditional merits for what we consider ‘good filmmaking’ and it’s honestly a mess and kinda terrible. But the film instead succeeds on something far more valuable to me: fun. Wonder. Pure entertainment. I don’t hold Jurassic Park up to the same unassailable nostalgic standard as most do, although I do still really like that movie, and even I felt my heart stir and soar at our first introduction to the new park as John Williams’ classic theme overtook the soundtrack. And when the film takes off the safety and goes all-out in the crazy, ridiculous nonsense, including an absolutely wonderful finale that aimed directly for my inner 5 year-old and did not miss? Oh, it is right up there with Mad Max: Fury Road for the most amount of fun I’ve had at the cinema this year.
So, in a way, I guess Jurassic World really is like a theme park. It’s emptier than it lets on, hides behind the “I meant to do that” defence for anything that goes wrong, and kinda falls apart if you think too much about it. But if you just sit back, let go, and allow the pure fun of the whole thing to overtake you, then nothing else matters because HOLY YES THAT LAST SETPIECE YES OH MAN! And, really, shouldn’t we all just let go and give into stupid fun nonsense a little more often?
America chose… wisely! Spy rules, Entourage drools, Insidious pulls… in crowds, OK, this headline has failed totally, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
I don’t think that I’m exaggerating when I say that this weekend’s box office battle was quite literally between good and evil. On the side of good: Spy, the best comedy to come along in a year, and one that is quietly yet brilliantly progressive, boasting outstanding performances, and led almost entirely by excellent female comedians who are getting their deserved shots at the limelight. On the side of evil: Entourage, a piece of pure f*cking garbage, based on pure f*cking garbage, made by and for pure f*cking garbage. Except for Brooker, he’s alright. The outcome of this fight would prove seismic, can good movies aimed at a female audience triumph over pure f*cking garbage aimed at dude-bros, humanity’s collective walking pieces of human f*cking garbage?
For once in this miserable cesspool that is humanity, good won out. Good won out big! Spy opened in first place with a very respectable $30 million. Whilst that’s $9 million less than The Heat opened to in 2013, that is a very good number considering that Spy had mediocre to poor trailers and marketing, and had to open against a horror movie and Insidious Chapter 3. Plus, considering the fact that the comedy landscape is free until Ted 2 at the end of the month, it’s guaranteed decent legs over the coming weeks! We did it everyone! We actually did it! Everything is going to be OK! It is all going to be O. K!
As for those terrifying journeys into worlds of misery populated by evil spirits who wish to do us all harm, Insidious Chapter 3 ended up the victor in that battle, bringing home a very good $23 million. That’s admittedly still a very large drop from Chapter 2’s $40 million opening, and it was still very front-loaded, but Chapter 2 wasn’t released in the Summer and had absolutely no competition that weekend. Besides, a $23 million opening for a horror movie is definitely not something to sniff at. So I hope you’re all looking forward to being drowned in these apparently-great (?) films for years to come! I have no idea why I wrote that so sarcastically, I shouldn’t get sniffy at good horror movies doing good business just cos I selfishly want their trailers to stop appearing before films that won’t give me mini-heart attacks due to my major wussiness.
And as for Vinny and the boys? Well, Entourage blew hot steaming chunks. And the box office of the film wasn’t so great either. Over the three day weekend, it could only manage $10 million for a really pathetic $3,000 per-screen average. “But the film opened on a Wednesday,” I hear you cry! “Surely those extra two days will have provided an opening worthy of the once proud star of James Cameron’s Aquaman which is apparently a real thing that happens in Entourage at some point?” Well, keep dreaming, brah, as Entourage’s five-day total stalled out at $17 million, which still left it stuck in fourth place! The system works! The terrible disaster movie failed! Meanwhile, San Andreas took second with a shockingly great 50% drop between weekends.
I can keep making these awful jokes all day, folks.
This Full List wants you to hug it out, bro.
Box Office Results: Friday 5th June 2015 – Sunday 7th June 2015
$30,000,000 / NEW
Saw it again on Friday night with a nice big crowd, which is exactly the way that one should experience a good comedy. God, this film is so brilliant! I’m actually tempted to check out Miranda, which has always looked like insufferable tripe to me, thanks to Miranda Hart’s brilliant performance in this. I’m jealous of Paul Feig’s ability to assemble perfect casts with seemingly little effort, I really am.
2] San Andreas
$26,440,000 / $92,163,000
This is actually going to cross $100 million domestic by next weekend. Gonna be honest, I did not see that coming at all. Even after last weekend’s surprisingly great opening, I thought for sure that this would collapse spectacularly after word got out that it was really crap, but I guess Mr. The Rock holds way more sway than even I thought he did. Of course, next weekend, everyone’s newest crush, Chris Pratt, arrives to take what’s his, so expect San Andreas to take a tumble.
Hang on a minute… Million dollar idea: buddy-cop movie starring Chris Pratt and Mr. The Rock! How has this not already been optioned?! Call me, Hollywood! I’ll have the script ready for you in a week!
3] Insidious Chapter 3
$23,000,000 / NEW
I will never see these movies. I don’t hate them or anything like that, I’m just way too much of a wuss for jump-scare horror to ever want to see them. I prefer my terror to come from constant unsettling wrongness instead of the film equivalent of a song by a bad Pixies imitator. It’s not for me, and I’m OK with that. It’s not ruining humanity.
$10,420,000 / $17,805,000 / NEW
(*buries head in hands and makes strangulated noise of pure disgust*) I have to see this tonight, and I really am not looking forward to it at all. I had planned to watch as much of the show as I could have before seeing the film, but I only made it through 4 episodes before tapping out. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. They are all terrible people! The show is so ragingly sexist it makes Love Actually look like f*cking Thelma & Louise! There are no dramatic stakes, no actual satire, and no reason to care about any of these raging assholes! WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE THIS?!
God, I have to follow Spy with this. That’s like chasing down a delicious Ham and Turkey Subway with a Gin and Tonic comprised of vomit and dick cheese.
5] Mad Max: Fury Road
$7,970,000 / $130,804,000
This will collapse next week when Jurassic World comes a-calling, but it has now doubled its budget worldwide, pretty much guaranteeing an overall profit. We’re all OK, folks. We’re all OK.
6] Pitch Perfect 2
$7,700,000 / $160,982,000
There’s the big fall! This will cross $250 million worldwide this week, and should also pass both The Spongebob Movie and Fifty Shades of Grey to become the fifth highest-grossing film of 2015 domestically by the time we reconvene next week, in any case. I know that we film critics aren’t supposed to be interested in the business side of things, for whatever reason, but it still does my heart good all the same to see quality films rewarded with large stacks of cash!
$7,022,000 / $76,236,000
As a possible result of this film failing, Disney has cancelled production on Tron 3, like I needed even more reasons to strongly dislike this bad movie. I mean, I’m not surprised – I am a legitimate and unironic Tron fan, I am used to disappointment by now – but I am still sad all the same. Tron: Legacy was fun, dammit! I need another Daft Punk score in my life, dammit! YOU NEVER FORMALLY CANCELLED THE EXCELLENT TRON: UPRISING, DISNEY! AT LEAST BRING THAT BACK!
8] The Avengers: Age of Ultron
$6,201,000 / $438,015,000
Age of Ultron has just passed the last Harry Potter to become the fifth highest grossing film of all-time worldwide. Got a feeling the superhero boom isn’t going away for a while yet. In fact, rather than having everyone moan about that again, can we maybe instead direct our ire at a recent glut of films that are actually even more interchangeable and irritating than superhero films? I am, of course, referring to Young Adult Adaptations. Yeah. Why do I have to sit through seven thousand thinkpieces and complaints about comic book movies, yet the Divergents and Maze Runners of this world get by with nary a shrug of the shoulders? Y’all do know that The Hunger Games existing doesn’t give this mostly-awful subgenre a pass, right?
$3,300,000 / $16,342,000
$2,850,000 / $44,452,000
(*in creepy horror movie child voice*) They’re leaving.
Dropped Out: Far From The Madding Crowd, Hot Pursuit, Home
Here at Failed Critics, we’re all attempting to regain our collective composure after seeing Mad Max: Fury Road over the last couple of weeks. But just when you thought it was safe to leave the wastelands behind, Matt Lambourne takes us back into the post-apocalyptic future with one of the most famous and entertaining Anime’s ever created.
By Matt Lambourne (@LamboMat)
If you enjoy Anime films, comics or video-games you are already probably familiar with Fist of the North Star (or Hakuto No Ken in Japan), but if you haven’t then strap yourself in for an epic assault on the senses!
I’ve wanted to discuss Fist of the North Star for a long time with my colleagues on the Failed Critics team, but we’ve lacked a relevance to feature it. However with the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, I think we have a mutual ground of interest to dip into the ultra-violent and harsh world of this film.
The world of Fist of the North Star is set amongst the post-nuclear global war, scorched Earth. Much of the world is wasteland and few survivors remain. Those that have survived, struggle to rebuild a fragile way of life and continue to fight over the limited food and water supplies that remain.
The hero of the film is Kenshiro, who is to succeed his adopted father Ryuken as the new First of the North Star, a deadly assassination style that is passed from from one Master to a chosen successor.
However Ryuken’s other adopted sons grow jealous of the rise of their youngest sibling and plot against him to remove him from the line of succession. Early in the movie, Kenshiro is confronted by his long-time friend, Shin, who has a deep love for Kenshiro’s fiancée, Julia.
This is used as bait by Kenshiro’s older brother, Jagi, who convinces Shin that only the strongest can protect the ones they love and that he should forcibly take Julia away from Kenshiro.
This results in a grizzly scene in which Kenshiro is repeatedly maimed by Shin (Fist of the South Star) and he inflicts 7 severe wounds into Kenshiro’s chest before leaving him for dead and taking Julia with him.
The story reconvenes a year after Kenshiro’s death at the hands of Shin and we are introduced to 2 children, a thief named Bat and a mute girl named Lin, who are being pursued by a biker gang (ala Mad Max). Just as the 2 are cornered by the murderous bandits a strange and dark figure is seen wondering in the barren landscape, heading towards them.
The figure begins smashing down the crumbling skyscrapers with his fists as he casually walks towards the group. As it draws closer the bikers engage the figure who is eventually revealed as a rejuvenated Kenshiro, who easily annihilates them and rescues the 2 children.
The group eventually meet another deadly martial artist named Rei who is searching for his lost sister. She is being held captive by Jagi, who is impersonating as Fist of the North Star and reigning in terror of the local towns-people.
The group engage Jagi and he is eventually defeated, but not before he makes Kenshiro aware of his betrayal and that he encouraged Shin to take Julia. Learning that Julia is still alive, Kenshiro makes his way to Shin’s stronghold. However he is unaware that his eldest brother Roah: The Conqueror is moving there also with a huge and deadly army, which sets up a climactic battle between the 2 deadly brothers at the end of the film.
There is much to critique about Fist of the North Star, the character development is very much an after-thought to the spectacular violence and compared to the great Anime movies that come at the end of the decade (Akira for example), the animation is very ordinary.
However I think this misses the point of Fist of the North Star. It’s a movie that concentrates on how men’s sole desires influence their entire existence when the world around them falls apart. A theme that was explored to great effect in Mad Max: Fury Road, whereby Max is reduced to a single human instinct, survival. In this movie, Kenshiro’s undying love for Julia keeps him alive and is his sole reason for existence, whilst everyone else around him is power hungry and bent on domination.
Whilst these movies are explicitly different, Fist of the North Star and Mad Max share many themes, particularly the protagonists. It’s what made me instinctively think of FotNS when watching Fury Road and going back to the original Mad Max.
The film’s action is what it is most remembered for, with it’s over the top martial arts and splatterhouse death sequences being some of the most infamous in all of anime. But at the heart of the movie, is an overwhelming sense of the triumph of human-spirit, as Kenshiro wanders the wilderness in search of his true love, the only motivation he has to keep on living.
It may not rank amongst the greatest Anime movies for the purists and perhaps detracts away from the source material in the comics of the same name. But for me, Fist of the North Star is blissfully nostalgic, stylishly violent and conveys a great message behind all of the madness it shrouds itself in.
Just stay clear of the mid-90’s live action movie… we’ll just conveniently pretend that never happened!
The fifth entry in Owen’s continuing year in review series sees him mull over the movies he’s watched during May. As with each of the previous articles in the series, the month will be broken down by week, with a review of one arbitrarily chosen film seen during each period.
by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)
That’s a quote attributed to Plato by Al Pacino’s character Big Boy Caprice in the 1990 crime comedy Dick Tracy. I’m not sure if Plato ever said it, but who cares? It’s a line that has, for some inexplicable reason, stuck in my mind ever since I heard it whilst watching Warren Beatty’s movie for the first time late last month. I literally thought it over and over for about 45 minutes whilst mowing the front lawn this past Saturday, out in the sunshine, mind wandering as it does during these menial tasks, trying to work out the saying’s meaning without going all Phaedrus. Why, of all the quotes from all of the 33 films I’ve watched in May, did this particular line from some pretty crappy (although multiple Oscar winning) comicbook adaptation stand out?
Short answer: I’ve no idea. I think maybe it’s just because it sounds quite cool in the same artificial way that Dick Tracy tries to be. In the film, as in all movies and life in general, there is what there is and there isn’t what there isn’t.
Therefore, I came to the conclusion that there are two ways to interpret the quote. The optimistic way is that ‘stuff just is what it is right now’, but you can always strive for something better; to shape something the way you want it to be (yes, that is me shoe-horning in an Alpha Papa reference, seeing as how I’ve watched the film twice this month).
Or, there’s the pessimistic way of looking at it, which is what I would personally subscribe to. And it’s also kind of the same with movies, for the record. Things are what they are, and you can accept them for that, but they can never be perfect. A movie exists as it is, but there’s always going to be a better movie, or a better way of making the movie. No matter how much you like it, or love it, or want to tell everyone you know about how amazing it is, it just is what it is, and there’ll be another way that you would like or prefer it to be. It’s why I struggle to ever give anything 10/10, or ★★★★★/★★★★★, or two thumbs up or six golden bananas or 100g of dogs bollocks or a full kinky duck or whatever your rating method may be!
I’m not a perfectionist, I just have a problem with the word – or the concept of – ‘perfect’, which is defined as: “as good as it is possible to be.” Nothing is perfect. If you move the goal posts of what’s ‘possible’, then it ceases to be perfect. In the case of a movie, as objective as you might try to be when rating a movie, subjectivity and relativity will always seep in.
If you listened to the recent podcast, you might have heard me talk about the Al Pacino Q&A I went to in Hammersmith last month. I spent a few days/weeks catching up on some of his more well known works that have slipped through the net somewhat during my film watching career (and reviewed a few below, and mentioned one above). I also rewatched one or two of his classics, including a film lauded by many as the perfect film, The Godfather; or, at least, the film that’s held up as an example of the best that it’s possible for a film to be. But The Godfather is only perfect relative to other films. As soon as something better comes along, it ceases to be perfect. Else, are we to believe that L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat is the perfect film? Literally the absolute best that it was possible for that movie to be at the time? Technically speaking, at least. Especially as there were no comparator margins. But it too could be considered flawed now we look at it in hindsight, comparing it to the potential that could be made of the techniques available. Similarly, the same can be said for all films. None of them are perfect. Not even my beloved Night of the Living Dead, as much as it pains me to say it!
It’s not just films, though. Nothing is perfect in the sense that it can never ever possibly be better. The sun isn’t perfect, it’s just the best it’s possible for it to be right now. Al Pacino isn’t the perfect actor, he’s just at times in his career put in the best performance that it was possible to do in his films. Our podcast isn’t perfect! It’s quite clearly limited by both Steve and I’s ……. well, it’s just limited by both Steve and I.
I do think there’s still optimism to be found in that, though. Just because something can’t ever be eternally inexplicably infallible, doesn’t mean it can’t actually meet the actual definition of ‘perfect’ as we know it to be. Things in life that are as perfect as it’s possible for them to be. Such as b-movie director Albert Pyun’s creativity and ambition, or the Alan Partridge movie….
….hey look, that almost resembles a segway into my actual reviews of stuff I’ve watched this month and I can knock the pretentious pseudo-intellectual nonsense on the bonce. You should go read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance instead afterwards to see the thoughts of someone who is actually clever talk about ‘quality’ in a much more meaningful and coherent way.
Week 1 – Friday 1 – Sunday 3 May 2015
Friday – [absolutely nothing]; Saturday – OMEGA DOOM (1996); Sunday – Frankenweenie (2012)
Also in the podcast I linked to above in the intro (with the Al Pacino Q&A), at the beginning, just before the quiz, Steve reviewed an Albert Pyun film that I made him watch. Which, if you’ve been reading any of the previous four articles in this series, you might have been expecting to happen at some point. I gave Steve the option of watching any number of Pyun films, but he picked this particular movie, starring Rutger Hauer as the titular robot ‘Omega Doom’, in a post-apocalyptic future whose ‘evil circuits’ had been destroyed. Blade Runner it ain’t. The plot basically revolves around Doom as he pits two gangs against each other in a small town, both of whom are scared of the presumed extinct human race leading an uprising. Think Yojimbo, or A Fistful of Dollars, but with 1990’s, black-shades wearing, lame-joke making, red-lipstick clad, unemotional, menacing cyborgs. Steve described Omega Doom (rather unfairly, I might add!) as “a bit dumb, a bit annoying, a bit crap”. I tried to explain that the charm of Pyun is all about the concept of his films and the scope of his projects, regardless of his budgetary restraints. But it appears that rather unfortunately, Albert Pyun just isn’t for everyone. A shame, because I genuinely have loved watching his movies this year and would hold this specific example up as maybe his most accessible – and possibly even his best film. As much as I like his Jean-Claude Van Damme led 1980’s classic Cyborg (as discussed on our JCVD Corridor of Praise podcast), Omega Doom is certainly his most well realised. OK, so it’s not perfect………..
Week 2 – Monday 4 – Sunday 10 May 2015
Monday – Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), Unfriended (2015); Tuesday – FALSTAFF – CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1967), The Man With the Iron Fists 2 (2015); Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – Kung Pow (2002); Friday – Repulsion (1965); Saturday – Vertigo (1958), The Punisher (1989), Cube²: Hypercube (2002); Sunday – Lake Placid (1999), Spooks: The Greater Good (2015), Prometheus (2012)
Yes, that’s right, on May the 4th I watched a Star Wars movie. But in my defence, I was gonna anyway! I swear! It wasn’t planned that way to coincide with some Twitter trend. However, continuing my theme from the last article where I refused to talk about any of the Star Wars films, I’ll not be discussing them here either. And just to prove a point, I don’t only watch b-movie sci-fi films with a ridiculous (/equally awesome) premise. Sometimes I watch “proper” films. Like, black and white ones an’ that about plays and cultural things, y’know… For example, during the second week of May, I watched Falstaff, the film that Orson Welles himself described as his favourite of his own movies. That might just be down to the fact that he adored Shakespeare’s recurring character of Sir John Falstaff, who the famous, influential and iconic film maker stars as in this rough adaptation of a number of the Bard’s plays. I can’t purport to be super-knowledgeable about Welles, about Shakespeare, or about Henry V (surprising as that may be..!!) but the reason I’ve chosen this to talk about above all of the others on the list is partly to issue a public apology. I’m sorry everyone. This film did nothing for me. I chose to watch it for two main reasons: firstly, it’s Orson Welles. Secondly; it was research. Preparation for when we eventually get around to finishing the Decade In Film series. And I mention that because it’s unlikely I’ll include this film in my eventual list. The dubbing was very off-putting, although I can understand the rationale behind it from a technical point of view. It’s worht mentioning that the big Battle of Shrewesbury sequence that the film is famous for was extremely well done and gave it that epic feeling of having hundreds of extras, even if there were only a handful. But by the end, it felt like a box ticking exercise. One to disappointingly chalk off the list as “seen”, but not really enjoyed.
Week 3 – Monday 11 – Sunday 17 May 2015
Monday – Brainsmasher: A Love Story (1993) ; Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – Invasion (2007), Abelar: Tales of an Ancient Empire (2010); Thursday – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015); Friday – Pernicious (2015), V/H/S Viral (2014); Saturday – THE CROW (1994); Sunday – Spawn (1997), What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Initially, when I first drafted this list, I really wanted to talk about The Crow in this bit. It was the first time I’d seen it in well over a decade and it was so much better than I remembered. I didn’t care about the cheesy electric guitar this time, I didn’t mind the crying goth anti-hero, or the crying long-haired flannel-shirted bad guy, or any of that! And then I thought, “no, what I really want to talk about is Mad Max: Fury Road, which was gloriously fucking spectacular”. But it seems somewhat greedy to go over Mad Max yet again, especially after Brooker and Jackson Tyler already joined us on the podcast to have a natter on its awesomeness for about half an hour. So, back to The Crow I go. Hand on heart, it was way better than I had expected it to be. I actually only sought it out after seeing a tweet from Brooker about his new blu-ray. Not only did the film take me by surprise, but Brandon Lee was also surprisingly excellent too. Not just in the way that the context around the film makes him seem posthumously, knowing how unfortunate he was to die on set with just 8 days before production wrapped on what would become by far and away his biggest, most successful film – not too dissimilar to his father Bruce Lee dying before getting to see just how successful Enter The Dragon would become. The Crow is undeniably melodramatic (in the best kind of way) and incredibly atmospheric. Strange to think that it was brought to us by the same director responsible for the shower of shit that is Knowing.
Week 4 – Monday 18 – Sunday 24 May 2015
Monday – Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow (1993); Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – Scarface (1983); Thursday – Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995); Friday – …And Justice For All. (1979), In The Loop (2009); Saturday – ALPHA PAPA (2013); Sunday – [absolutely nothing]
“In England we have a saying for a situation such as this, which is that it’s difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.” Yeah, In The Loop is great, isn’t it? “Never, never criticize Muslims; only.. only Christians. And Jews a little bit.” Yeah, Alpha Papa is great, isn’t it? Yeah. Both are great, aren’t they? Considering that Alan Partridge is the best comedy character to come from these shores (or any shores, for that matter), and that The Thick of It is one of the best sitcoms to come from these shores (or any shores, for that matter), it’s not surprising that they both became such fantastic films. Intelligent, well crafted and, above all else, hilarious. On my train trip to London, I needed something to watch on the commute. With both of these available on iPlayer, there didn’t seem any point looking for anything else. In The Loop on the way down, Alpha Papa on the way back the following day. If I had to choose a favourite, then the Alan Partridge Movie nudges it. The evolution of that character from the obnoxious sports reporter and radio-turned-TV chat show host of the early 90’s, to the local radio disc jockey for North Norfolk Digital (Norfolk’s best–North Norfolk’s best music mix) – via one of the funniest sitcoms ever (I’m Alan Partridge), a stupendous webseries-turned-T V show (Mid Morning Matters) and the genius piece of work that is I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan – is so good it makes me swell with pride that the human race is capable of producing something fictional that is as good as this. I saw Alpha Papa in the cinema twice and both times cried with laughter. I’ve seen it half a dozen times since and each time laughed until it hurt. In fact, I even watched it the following week (as you’ll see below!) and I still laughed like an idiot. I’ve seen this film with both Partridge and non-Partridge fans and seen them all with tears in their eyes when watching Steve Coogan’s greatest creation. I voted for it as one of my favourite films in our 2013 Awards, and I stand by that. And, it’s still on iPlayer too if you have yet to watch it.
Week 1 – Monday 25 – Sunday 31 May 2015
Monday – [absolutely nothing]; Tuesday – Scent of a Woman (1992); Wednesday – Dick Tracy (1990); Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – The Panic in Needle Park (1971); Saturday – THE GODFATHER (1972); Sunday – Alpha Papa (2013)
I suppose I better talk about this Q&A with Al Pacino a little bit. My first reaction to Pacino wasn’t one of awe at what a presence he was in the room, but more like “wow, I never knew that the guy who played Michael Corleone and Tony Montana was so camp!” This chap, who I had always assumed was a bit macho, was actually leaping out of his chair to sing show tunes as soon as someone in the audience even finished saying The King & I. Other startling observations from the evening were that: he loved Shakespeare’s character of Richard more than is healthy; that he is genuinely very cool; and that he hated working on The Godfather so much that every day throughout filming, he hoped the studio or Francis Ford Coppola would fire him. It later transpired that my wife had never seen The Godfather (not as a result of the Q&A) as she doesn’t like gangster films. As is kinda normal, I think. Me? I love crime dramas and thrillers. So this past weekend, I forced her to sit through the second best film of all time (according to IMDb’s Top 250, anyway.) It was, as it always has been every time I’ve seen it, exceptional. Everything about it is tremendous. The build up of Michael’s character, the portrayal of the family, the acting on show from the likes of Pacino, Brando and Duvall, and yes, even the camera angles. I’ve already explained why I love it in our Decade In Film articles though, so you can go check that out if you’re actually bothered.
And that’s it. Job done. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do. As ever, I’m more than happy to chat about these films in more detail in the comments below or you can message me on Twitter at @ohughes86. See you next month!
San Andreas is no busta, Aloha says Aloha to any semblance of money, Results can barely do one measly pull-up, I can’t even make up a terrible pun for Heaven Knows What cos it looks too miserable, and Other Box Office News.
by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)
Prior to this weekend, it seemed very much like the box office was going to be extremely quiet until the release of Jurassic World in a fortnight. After all, we all knew that Tomorrowland was going to bomb, Spy will do well but isn’t exactly going to light anything on fire, I know of only one human being who is (self-loathingly) excited for the Entourage movie and he works for this very website, and I know of no human beings who are clamouring for another frickin’ Insidious movie. Post-Pitch Perfect and post-Mad Max, we basically entered a quiet period where little of interest was coming out and nothing was going to do particularly well or make for exciting headlines.
It turns out, however, that we all forgot one very important thing: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. So although San Andreas on paper looked to be a middling underperformer that would be collectively skipped because, goddamn, did this movie ever look (and was) excruciatingly boring, in practice the film stormed its way to number 1 with $53 million in ticket sales. There’s also the fact that it’s an expensive-looking disaster movie released on a weekend where there was almost literally nothing else of note coming out against it, but I think we all know that this is entirely down to Dwayne Johnson. I mean, the guy is just the best, isn’t he? He’s the best. I want him as my dad!
The “of note” was added onto that prior paragraph because San Andreas was not the only wide release of this past weekend. That other one would be Aloha, the first film in almost four years from writer-director Cameron Crowe. In case you hadn’t heard, the film is apparently utter garbage that even Sony heads hated which, combined with the fact that Cameron Crowe has only ever really broken out of being a cult filmmaker maybe twice (thrice if you want to count We Bought A Zoo) in his entire 25 year career, basically sealed its fate even with Bradley Cooper in the lead role. It’s kind of a bomb, opening in sixth place with an estimated $10 million – that, for those of you playing along at home, is behind the third weeks of Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road, the second week of Tomorrowland, and the fifth week of Avengers.
In the land of limited releases, Mumblecore architect Andrew Bujalski took a tentative step towards making a mainstream movie with the Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, and Kevin Corrigan-starring rom-com-ish (I haven’t seen it yet so I don’t know how much it sticks to and how much it subverts formula) Results. The public responded somewhat warmly, with the film finishing up the weekend with $13,000 from 3 screens, which isn’t too bad considering that it’s been on VOD since March 13th. Meanwhile, pure-unfiltered-misery in the shape of Heaven Knows What – here’s the trailer which, even with the obnoxious and ill-fitting Harmony Korine-style editing and soundtrack, gives as good an idea as any as to how miserable that film is going to make me – got off to a very good start with $15,000 from 2 screens. I realise that doesn’t seem like much, but this is a movie about homeless heroin addicts that looks BLEAK AS F*CK. So, yeah, I’m gonna chalk that up as a win.
All this Full List had to do was FOLLOW THE DAMN TRAIN!
Box Office Results: Friday 29th May 2015 – Sunday 31st May 2015
1] San Andreas
$53,215,000 / NEW
Saw this on Saturday and I mostly agree with Steve, it’s not very good. I think the cast really try and there are a few sequences that are pretty good, but mostly I just found this incredibly, mind-numbingly boring. Oh, and loud. Very, very loud. It has got some fine Paul Giamatti overacting, though, so that’s worth something.
Also, yes, I do find the irony in the fact that Tomorrowland, a film that sermonises about our obsession with turning death and planetary destruction and disaster into harmless entertainment, was unceremoniously dumped from number one by a film that is exactly what the former spends 130 minutes railing against.
2] Pitch Perfect 2
$14,381,000 / $147,540,000
This has a surprisingly strong chance of surpassing Fifty Shades of Grey’s closing total of $166 million. It’s barely $20 million away from it, already, and with its strong mid-week grosses it could hold onto that trajectory even when Spy drops next week. Yay to all of this! And, yes, I still do really like this movie and believe it to be better than the first. Accept that I’m not budging, and let’s close the book on this issue.
$13,803,000 / $63,188,000
Yeah… this… this isn’t making its money back. Not even close. I really hope that the lesson Hollywood takes away from the failures of this and Jupiter Ascending is not that the public doesn’t want expensive original blockbusters. It’s that we want good expensive original blockbusters. Actually, that doesn’t quite work since Jupiter Ascending is a good expensive original blockbuster, but the sentiment is still the same.
4] Mad Max: Fury Road
$13,625,000 / $115,915,000
You know what? I think I’m going to go and see this again this week. You should too. I don’t care if you’ve already seen it 5 times in 3 weeks, that’s still not enough times to fully appreciate this magnificent specimen of a film and you damn well know it!
5] The Avengers: Age of Ultron
$10,920,000 / $427,070,000
Gee, Box Office Mojo! It sure would be great if I could find out how Age of Ultron is doing in China, the one market that actually matters for this movie, on a week-to-week basis! But not knowing anything because you have decided to skip on the details of your detail-oriented website and dropped so hard in overall quality since Ray Subers left is fine too! Really! I love having to put in an unnecessarily large amount of work for what should instead be a fun little 75 minute writing exercise each week! I’m not irritated at all!
$10,000,000 / NEW
Bummed to hear this one sucks, but I guess I now know why I have to wait until September 1st – The UK’s Dumping Ground – to see it. On an entirely unrelated note, I need to actually watch a Cameron Crowe film, since he’s one of those filmmakers I’ve heard great things about but never actually seen anything by (otherwise known as: Most Filmmakers). I guess I’ll start with Pearl Jam 20, since Lucy will not stop going on about Pearl Jam, and go from there.
$7,800,000 / $38,267,000
Told you this would sink like a stone. At least Insidious: Chapter 3 can’t use this as a scapegoat defence if it underwhelms next weekend. Side wish: please underwhelm majorly so I never have to be at risk of seeing an Insidious trailer again.
8] Far From The Madding Crowd
$1,420,000 / $8,362,000
Look, instead of watching this garbage, why don’t we all instead go and watch Thomas Vinterberg’s much, much, much better previous film The Hunt? It’s got Mads Mikkelsen in it! In fact, why don’t we all also just watch Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal TV series instead of this tripe? I think we can all agree that both options are much better usages of our collective time than this walking gasbag.
9] Hot Pursuit
$1,370,000 / $32,351,000
Well, goodbye, Hot Pursuit! You couldn’t even make back your $35 million budget, which would be sad if your film wasn’t apparently so excruciatingly terrible. Don’t let the actually-good Spy knock you on your arse on the way out. Spy, after all, deserves better than associating with wastes of space like you.
$1,150,000 / $170,409,000
Wait, this actually made it to 10 weeks on the chart?! And is the fourth highest-grossing film of the year domestically at time of writing? Alright! High fives and party poppers all round, folks! Today is a very good day! Now if Shaun The Sheep: The Movie could be somewhat of a success when it launches in America in August, that would be just peachy!
I know that that is never going to happen, just give me a few more seconds of blissful denial.
Dropped Out: Furious 7, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2