WEEKEND BOX OFFICE REPORT
of September 28, 2014

Maze Runner and Boxtrolls get nailed gunned to the head by Denzel’s grown ass man swag!!! 

When it comes to action movies, audiences still root for the older ass-kicking cosmonaut, because who are we fooling, we all still look up to our fathers to get us out of trouble one way or another: like needing their help to change a flat-tire, fixing a busted pipe in the house to giving permission to borrow the car while simultaneously patting us on the head. The point is we still look to older men to lead the way and take care of us. Expendables, finally expended, Liam Neeson, is more bankable and reliable now than 10 years ago because if you are trapped in troubling eurotrash emergencies, he is the wooden fire hatchet behind glass you break, and Denzel is just status quo'ing with is own brand of AARP justice. Washington’s ‘The Equalizer’ opened to a justifiable $35 million dollar domestic box weekend opening. This is the stuff of late September box offices are made of - kinetic fandom, built in audience, track record of previous successful commercial collaborations with Fuqua, were going to astronomically rally around this movie. I was wrong but not mistaken. This is the likeable dumb bro movie that guys who think Fast and Furious 5 is not good enough. Who else could had pulled this movie off? Not anyone younger than a baby boomer. Denzel did what he came to do and that is pick up where he left off in the highly flammable ‘Man on Fire’. We’ve seen him in this role, but weren’t clamoring for it. Reinterpretation is the name of the game with reboots, especially television ones. I dare anyone of any consequence after the Reagan era to truly tell me they know what the original source was beyond the show’s entitled ‘moniker’. This movie is two thirds Denzel’s paunchy reliability and one third a cool ass name. Didn’t matter what the movie is about, he is about to “equalize” it the hell out if it!

This opening pleased Sony Pictures very much, as we know as sequel is on its way, but don’t worry - Denzel will be two years older, so there should be twice as much implausible ratcheted up action. ‘Maze Runner’, the young adult, post-apocalyptic summer camp acid held steady coming in second at $17.5 million dollars, which gives it a domestic total of a little over $58 million. Not bad actually, but not good enough to take out Denzel in a café at night. The movie made its dent had time in the glade’s bankable sun. Maze Runner didn’t sprint around the competition in M.C. Escher-like circles, but a planned sequel is going to hit our theaters in two years, forcibly to hold its place among audiences Hunger game’s doggiebag stuffed tween leftovers.

Boxtrolls? I don’t even know what that is, but when Traci Morgan and Toni Collette (who I respect very much) are your lead voices, your movie will suffer. There is no box office “come hitherness” with either actor and when a movie is called “Boxtrolls” it makes me want to hide in a box and seal myself up with packing tape. Kids come out in droves for movies, and typically slays the adult competition like a little pixilated buzzsaw with parent permission slip included. However, this movie sounds like an April Fool’s day present for someone you really don’t like. It did come out at $17.25 million for animation studio LAIKA which also previously released the peculiar ‘Coraline’ and disappointing stylish ‘Paranorman’. I refuse to believe that ‘Boxtrolls’ is better than those movies, and just write off the $17.25 million to inflation. Star studded Tina Fey ‘This is Where I Leave You’ came in fourth at $7 million and just a drop of 39 percent from the previous weeks earnings.  And lastly, ‘Dolphin Tale 2: Electric Boogaloo’ finished 5th at $4.8 million too much (what the hell is wrong with people???). Anyways the moral of the story here is that Denzel is still Denzel, but also attribute the relative opening weekend success to a lazy competition, excellent marketing but more importantly, the right calendar date. Also, right now is the in-between season for Hollywood where we are exposed to the sleepy little known titles that may surprise or ultimately end up as a Netflix recommendation. We are not yet to the awards season where quality will match quantity, but we finally shook off the Guardians of the Galaxy roofied hangover fog. Kudos, Denzel, be proud of your opening because it’s nothing but a Fleetwood Mac "Landslide" from here on down for your gross dollars. You will not “Equalize” the box office next week. Here are the top five in order for the weekend ending on September 28, 2014.

Top five films of the weekend:
  1. The Equalizer — $35 million
  2. The Maze Runner — $17.5 million
  3. The Boxtrolls — $17.25 million
  4. This is Where I Leave You — $7 million
  5. Dolphin Tale 2 — $4.8 million

Source: Entertainment Weekly www.ew.com

 
 
TRAILER BREAKDOWN: INTERSTELLAR
Nolan's time and space epic that no one is talking about.
TEN... NINE… EIGHT… SEVEN… SIX… FIVE... A looming countdown is the connective spine at the heart of the trailer adding to the anticipation of the characters launching into the great unknown frantically gripped with a mix of fear and wonderment. Han Zimmer’s score, per usual soars and gives the trailer a feeling of not aspiring to reach the stars but actually able to do so. Love is the most apparent theme that drives McConaughey to become a heartlanded, yahoo, earnest astronaut, as he promises to his young daughter that he is leaving, and he is leaving to prove his love for her. You get the usual wonderful placement and blocking with Nolan’s IMAX compositions with strong side to side camera action. Anne Hathaway, ditched the catskin and night goggles, to be the female concerning monotone voice of reason. Predicated by all of this is that there seems to be strong parallels of flashbacks in McConaughey’s reality merging with Chastain’s adult longing real timeline. 

So, with the demonstration of tremendous thundering cinematic power placed into the trailer, and the brand name of Nolan, why is no one excited or anticipating this movie? This is Christopher Nolan we are talking about here. He is box office money. Big Box Office money. He set the IMAX world on its over-leansed ears and practically reinvented what direction you could go with superheroes. But for some reason or another a collective meh is transcribed with a casual malaise. Interstellar is impressive, but at a cost - we expected it to be. Are we at the point with Nolan’s films that because he doesn’t have to prove anything, we don’t have to prove our anticipation with film nerd gusto? I don’t think so, but I do think with this particular movie, based upon its limited news, and purposefully crafted trailers that seemed creatively contractually bound by narrative non-disclosure agreements, there is a groundswell of people clutching dollar bills. I honestly still feel this movie will do well and by all accounts be another solid to very good movie feather in Nolan’s cap. It doesn’t look like Inception as much as it’s looking like Prestige. And I own Prestige, but it didn’t light the world of fire. To me, after all, he is commandeering at certain filmmaking level where no matter what he does, his fans will turn out, and honestly how many directors now a days can pull that feat off? 

I for one like the trailer and feel it gives me enough but not the whole plot. And to their credit, I say "HA-ZA" with movie trailers practically giving you all the details in 2 – 3 minute spots and some with four different trailers coming out in succession on Youtube; it’s shamefully to the point where you could faintly put together a jigsaw puzzle to the actual critical details of a movie. Interstellar has a lot of promise that will obviously transcends themes, just as much as Hathaway’s didactic speech about love. However, I hope we are not at the point of taking Nolan for granted, because his filmmaking deserves much more than that: regardless of whether we don’t know or care to know what retread space ideas could be explored, or possibly won’t be, in this movie, I’m buckling my safety belt. Nolan is Nolan and that is good enough for me and definitely more than good enough for anybody else.
0:33  |  You get the first shot of the ship, which looks cool and expected. No Xenomorph’s were killed in the making of this movie!!    

1:04  |  What is that??? Three things stood out to me: 1) It looks like a Black guy not named Morgan Freeman is in this film 2) It looks like a liquid sleeping chamber perhaps? 3) It’s a black guy in a liquid sleeping chamber. I hope it doesn’t foreshadow a death cause we got to keep out minority characters alive, Nolan! 

1:18  |  McConaughey’s character says to a little girl, “I love you” who I assume is his daughter, and is Jessica Chastain’s younger self.

1:44  |  The first time you see an actual planet that the crew lands on. The ice planet looks vivid under Nolan’s IMAX camera, but my gut is telling me there is danger with this planet than meets the eye. This IS Nolan we are talking about after all.     

2:07  |  Topher Grace sighting?? He still alive and making films??? Damn... :mind blown:

 
 
"CAN'T BE" TRUE DETECTIVE
This time is a flat square.
It’s not looking good for Nic Pizzolatto’s mystery darling as more news keeps coming out for the upcoming season.

When last season’s True Detective came out on HBO there were no anticipation, no fanfare, no hoopla and no inflated expectation of this new seemingly buddy cop detective show. All we knew and saw at that moment was HBO gracing us with two credible actors in Harrelson and a resurgent Matthey McConaughey. At first it looked familiar and slightly pornographic. Slowly but surely viewers knew that something lingering and perverse was developing into a solid Cajun noir, completely at our disposal to dissect, redissect and re-redissect. Suffice to say, season one went out like a meta-physical indecipherable beast! Because of that, conspiracy theories were born, the yellow king became the yellow monarchy and McConaughey further cemented his comeback story with arguably his best performance of the year regardless of what the academy says. The show was the perfect storm of handing something familiar but delivering it in a different way. With eight shows and two movie stars, albeit not headliners, True Detective called its own number and won cryptic Yahtzee. So when news casting rumors were confirmed this week with a complete overhaul it was met with a collective silent dud of a stinky fart!

Various news outlets came out earlier this week that Colin Farrell, by his own admission, had landed the first role as one of the three lead detectives. Shortly thereafter, news came out that Vince Vaughn was cast as the main criminal. Then yesterday, it’s pretty close that Rachael McAdams is going to be casted as the second detective with John Carter’s colossal flop of a lead, Taylor Kitsch, well on his way to being the third and last detective. Adding to the hot garbage news piling up on the front of our lawns and blogs was the confirmation that for at least the first two episodes, ‘Fast and Furious’ director, Justin Lin, will be taking over for newcomer Cary Fakunga. Pizzolatto, who really brought a verve of puzzling wizardry with his showrunning, built up an impressive line of fan cult credit in such a limited amount of time, because he pulled it off and with such fervor! Because of this certain tongue in cheek charlatan “cryptogramming,” his brilliant screenwriting throughout cable’s competition left us on high note wanting more.

The cast, or the potential of the cast, once everything is confirmed, is a real ass-buster falling on its back not being able to support the perceived big names under its weighty intentions. Starting with Farrell, Hollywood really went out of its way to make him the next ‘Golden Boy’. It never took off for him but to his roguish credit, he re-examined himself and broke through to audiences in smaller more self-defining roles, and he is great at it. He is the Scotty Pippen of film roles, not his “Airness." The collective news of the cast is so devastatingly horrible; Farrell alone gave fans a terse eye roll in unison, then hearing about Vaughn, and now McAdams with Kitsch possibly coming after, (who stoically meanders through whatever chiseled role he just lamed). Relatively, Farrell, is not the ugliest kid apple-bobbing the turd in this diluted punch bowl. Even still, nothing strikes confidence, aside from the possibility that the castings are so bad that they could be terrifying good, which is crazy talk. That is, though, how Season 1 made me want to crate little beer can men. Pizzolatto in a weird way has a certain good-will built up, but he is not yet on the level, and maybe will never be on the level, no matter what abstract creative decisions he makes he is bonafide.

The most frustratrating thing is that there seems to be a stunt casting with each of these actors where we'll see them in roles that we are not accustomed to seeing them play but perhaps, pieces of previous performances, in theory, could create the whole picture. I don’t see that. When McConaughey and Harrelson were cast they were welcomed under different circumstances. Out of both casts, McConaughey and Farrell are the closest parallel. Both were anointed as handsome leading men that could also be the guy next door. Both failed, and both resurrected in more serious roles. McConaughey has a better acting range and more talent than Farrell but the talent isn’t astronomically far between them. Farrell is talented also but only in the right role. I don’t feel he can do what is needed from Pizzolatto’s universe, cause I’ve seen him in thrillers/procedural roles before and he wasn’t that convincing, which is why prior to this news, he wasn’t thriving in those roles. Farrell is a real life bad boy who wants desperately to be a film bad ass but can’t because really deep down inside he is too much of a really good guy. McConaughey is nuts. I mean that in the best possible way. There was always a surfer boy dude that was wacky cool and in roles where he has to chill the fuck out and focus, he brings the goods. And oh did he bring it with Rust Cohle. Harrelson, did a great job as well, but it’s McConaughey’s Cohle that we still emulate.

I hope, ultimately, that Pizzolatto knows what he is going to do because HBO needs another hit after Game of Thrones. Boardwalk, after six fretful seasons, was found dead at the pier. Newsroom is too busy playing revisionist news and Monday morning quarterback, is leaving, and we don’t even know what The Leftovers "IS." It’s my intention to support good television and good media overall, but as it stands right now, I want the news and to have these castings sacrificed like some pagan ritualistic murder scene, and have the real actorsshow up and investigate because after all – time, like a bad casting, is a flat circle. 

 
 
GOTHAM: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE
This show is off to a dazzling start like a shiny new pair of shoes.

Last night’s episode for better or for worse was the most buzzed about/worthy show that I can remember since maybe Game of Thrones. On Twitter, minions (me included) were losing their minds as they unravel in all of pop geekdom that the DC Universe ushers its most successful, most commercial comic hero on the small screen with miniature, but gargantuan promising results. Having been spoiled with the cinematic treatment of one of the most iconic, brooding, entitled and well-funded superheroes in all of comic book history I was very tentative of this show. :CHARLIE MURPHY ALERT - WRONG, WRONG: The show really started off on solid footing with a swath of who’s who rouges gallery led by the ferocious and lovely delivery of Jada Pinkett Smith as minor crime boss Fish Mooney. Pinkett-Smith is met with as much over-delivered gusto from comedian/actor Donal Logue as the “cynical and slovenly” Harvey Bullock. The show focuses on Obi-Wan James Gordon-Kanobi and how he meets and chivalrously introduces himself to Anakin Wayne by promising to find the shadowy killer of Wayne’s parents. The strength of this show upon first watch is the familiarity and brand with the characters and history: the City looks how it’s supposed to, the Cops make lackadaisical corrupt arrests and plant evidence like they are supposed to, and the world is laced verbally with lines in comic corny brilliance that works because after all – we are dealing with characters called ‘The Penguin’ and ‘Fish’.

The promise of the show is that we are getting major face time of the supporting albeit strong and intrusive, meddlesome characters. This is a good thing. Personally, I have seen iterations of these characters in one way or another: some were taken as seriously as Heath Ledger’s, Joker, and some not so much as they were played with an overt villainous damnation like say, Jim Carey’s, Riddler. Gotham wasted no time pulling characters out like Pokémon cards in the first episode: Poison Ivy, Riddler, possibly Joker, Penguin & the missing Khardashian Sister playing Catwoman! The immediate stand-out is played by a Cripsin Glover stunt doubled Penguin, who, in my not so humble opinion, is the strongest character thus far. Yes, Pinkett-Smith got the good lines and played a tough as nails mob boss, but we’ve seen this from her, Bullock is irredeemably heroic dowsed in his own self-loathing Vodka drenched cologne and along with Jim Gordon playing the good boy scout with nice fitted dress shirts, but these are all the characters that exist according to how we expect them to. Penguin is the only character that pushes that given assumption – and pushes with it on an accord that makes him still nefarious and deplorable, but yet sympathetic and tragic. We are dealing with a character that is pushing the boundary on what we’ve become accustomed to with the character coming in, and what was stripped down, and built back up to a whole new shade and reservoir of fortuitous dimension of a character that could make this show rewarding to watch. And isn’t that the point? 

The main affliction that I was harboring coming into this show was that DC/Fox were just going to replow already solid ground around Batman’s ethos and universe. We have seen the movies, and most have been acquainted with the incomparable WB’s ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ which is still the highmark outside of Christopher Nolan’s cinematic triumph. I’m not interested in belligerent rehashes or reboots, and this show doesn’t cater or operate in either caped crusading box.

What yesterday’s winning rocket launcher debut episode demonstrated is that it’s taking what’s familiar, but focusing on the ground zero of the world that Bruce Wayne is reared in, meanwhile, showcasing the other characters in a way that fleshes out arcs, motives and personalities without the established gimmicks. Show me something new, and this show seems intended to hold me to that promise. If this show continues to trust itself and rely on the characterizations that the show was beautifully gifted, then the show should flourish. Never has Batman not been in the center of the radius of his own angst grappled world, and here, there is an honest attempt to sprinkle him in, but not shoehorning his coming of age. I like how he is more the object in this show than the subject. Leave the heroics to Jim Gordon. Gordon is a little on the short statured side for me, however, his strident singular determination and valiant focused brand of policing is what makes this Detective able to support Gotham on his shoulders like Atlas, being more than adequate for us to follow as young Bruce is still trying to find out where that “edge” lies by jumping off rooftops.

Regardless of how the rest of the show plays out and where it ends up in the Bat pantheon order – the first show was electric, earnest, tad trite, but as legit as a one-hour TV superhero/fantasy show can be without fucking it all up like Agents of Shield.