Author: Nate Kreichman (Page 2 of 8)

Box Office Preview: ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’

Total Recall

“Total Recall” is a remake of a 1990 film of the same name, which itself was an adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” Yeah, I know, Hollywood is really running out of ideas. As Bullz-Eye’s Jason Zingale put it, “[Director Len] Wiseman does his best to freshen things up, and in some cases, he actually improves upon the original, but you can never quite shake that feeling of déjà vu while watching the film, and that only begs the question, why bother remaking it at all?” Rave reviews I know, but I’ll give you a quick synopsis anyway.

Collin Farrell plays Donald Quaid, a factory worker disenchanted with life in the stereotypical sci-fi “future world” (think “Blade Runner” with better CGI). To cure his woes, Quaid seeks out Rekall, a company that implants artificial memories so realistic you can’t tell the difference between them and your true past. The procedure goes wrong (imagine that) and Quaid finds out his wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale), is a government agent assigned to watch over him. It’s the opening scene of the second “Austin Powers” movie, only her guns are guns, not breasts. Along the way, Quaid finds out he too is a secret agent so undercover not even he knew about it (shit’s deep, bro), and teams up with rebel fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) against the United Federation of Britain and its evil chancellor, Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).

As the source material has gone through each step of the adaptation and remake process, its purpose—the major themes and feelings, indeed the story it was trying to tell—has become increasingly diluted. Dick posed philosophical questions about what makes reality “real” and memories “true,” while in the trailer for the latest version, Collin Farrell asks himself, “If I’m not me, then who the hell am I?” Yep, shit’s deep, bro.

Check out “Total Recall” if you’re in the mood for some heavy on the action, light on the depth sci-fi. The film currently sits at a 31 percent on the Tomatometer, so I’d rent the original or see “The Dark Knight Rises” (again, if need be) before plunking down my hard-earned cash on this one.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

I knew it was a book series, but the only reason I had any inkling this was a sequel, let alone the third film in a series, is the fact that there was a colon in the tile. It turns out there have in fact been two “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” films prior to this one. When a series is able to release its third film in as many years, it screams phoned-in counter programming playing for a built-in audience. Here’s what this one’s about, per the official synopsis:

During his summer vacation, “Wimpy Kid” Greg Heffley, the hero of the phenomenally successful book series, hatches a plan to pretend he has a job at a ritzy country club – which fails to keep him away from the season’s dog days, including embarrassing mishaps at a public pool and a camping trip that goes horribly wrong.

The newest “Wimpy Kid” movie is at a 44 percent on the Tomatometer, which notes that it “fails to improve upon previous installments and will likely appeal to few outside its target audience.” How much could there be to improve upon, given that the first two films are at 53 and 47 percent, respectively? Like I said, this is phoned-in counter programming. If you need to sit in the AC with the kids quiet for 90 minutes, this one might be for you. Otherwise, avoid it.

Follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.

Box Office Recap: “The Dark Knight Rises” Continues to Dominate

While it made just shy of $100 million less than its opening weekend figures, “The Dark Knight Rises” continued to demolish the competition. After all, a $100 million drop from the third best opening of all time still left the film with over $62 million by the time things were said and done. I mean, last week “The Dark Knight Rises” grossed $100 million more than the second through tenth place films combined. It couldn’t hope to top that, but in its second week Batman’s $62 million was identical to the combined grosses of the rest of the top 10.

Despite “The Dark Knight Rises” falling a hefty but expected 61.4 percent, the weeks two new wide releases, “The Watch” and “Step Up Revolution,” came in third and fourth place with $13 and $11.8 million respectively. Frankly, that’s embarrassing, especially for “The Watch” given its counter-programming angle and star power. The film was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the team that brought you “Superbad,” and stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade.

It might not have made “Avengers” money, but “The Dark Knight” is here to stay. We’ll see if “Total Recall,” the new “Bourne” film, or “The Campaign,” which stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis will be able to top it, but I don’t see it happening. No one messes with the Bat.

Here are the results for this weekend’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. The Dark Knight Rises, 2/4,404, Warner Bros., $62.84 million, $287.851 million.
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 3/3,886, Fox, $13.3 million, $114.847 million.
3. The Watch, 1/3,168, Fox, $13 million.
4. Step Up Revolution, 1/2,567, Summit, $11.8 million.
5. Ted, 5/3,129 Universal, $7.353 million, $193.619 million.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man, 4/3,160, Sony, $6.8 million, $242.053 million.
7. Brave, 6/2,551, Buena Vista, $4.237 million, $217.261 million.
8. Magic Mike, 5/2,075, Warner Bros., $2.58 million, $107.587 million.
9. Savages, 4/1,414, Universal, $1.753 million, $43.899 million.
10. Moonrise Kingdom, 10/853, Focus, $1.387 million, $38.396 million.

 

Box Office Preview: ‘The Watch.’ That’s All, Because You don’t Mess with the Bat.

The Watch

Studios were afraid to release much in the way of blockbusters this week, what with competition from “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” That hasn’t changed. Not a lot of big name movies (or movies with big names) are being released around now, save as counter-programming. That is, films that have star power but are decidedly different from those two blockbusters. For a case in point, look to  “The Watch,” the newest picture written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the team who brought “Superbad” into the world. You can almost see the gears churning in the studio exec’s head: the demographic who saw Batman last week might like a nice splash of comedy right about now.

From afar, it looks like “The Watch” could slide perfectly into that hole, given its writers and cast, which includes comedic heavyweights Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill in leading roles. Then there’s the fact that it was directed by Akiva Schaffer of The Lonely Island and “smaller names” like Will Forte and Richard Ayoade in the cast. For those of you wondering who the fourth guy in the above picture is, it’s Ayoade. He’s not very well known stateside, but he’s massively funny and a big deal across the pond. Watch “The IT Crowd” if you don’t believe me, it’ll be a Hidden Netflix Gem one of these days.

Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving. Despite all that potential, “The Watch” currently sits at a 14 percent on the Tomatometer. Bullz-eye’s Ezra Stead had this to say:

Much of the humor comes from screaming, dick jokes and colorful profanity, and the film overall is pretty loud and dumb. Hill and Forte give the funniest performances, and Stiller and Vaughn deliver exactly what is expected of them at this point (I’m pretty sure Vaughn is just playing himself in most of his comedies), but Ayoade and DeWitt have very little to do until the third act. Delivering exactly what is expected is this film’s modus operandi, though, and it’s entertaining and intermittently very funny. It’s only when the audience is asked to care about the idiotic Evan and Bob as characters – particularly in subplots involving Abby or Bob’s teenage daughter (Erin Moriarty) – that “The Watch” falls short of its relatively modest ambitions.

Oh, yes, I’m sure you’re wondering about the plot. Four bored suburban guys come together to form a neighborhood watch after after a friend of Stiller’s character, who works as a night shift security guard, is brutally murdered. But guess who’s actually responsible for the crime? Aliens. No, seriously.

If you do fit “The Watch’s” target demographic: you need to see a movie this weekend and don’t care to see “The Dark Knight Rises” twice, then it could be for you. Just don’t expect the film to be anything but the phoned-in counter program that it is.

Box Office Recap: The Dark Knight Rises… to Number One

Studios released box office figures a day late this week out of respect for the victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Many writers who should be talking about movies have been talking about the tragedy instead. I won’t do that, because the last thing that event needs is more punditry, and the deaths of 12 people should not be made into a political issue. So let’s talk about movies.

Top on the list of things nobody has ever said, ever: “‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ the last entry in Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman reboot trilogy, will not be the weekend’s number one movie.” Seriously, that was a foregone conclusion as soon as the Joker completed his bank heist in “The Dark Knight.” Rather the question was how much exactly the movie would make, and whether or not it would top the competition for the best opening of the year and the best ever opening by a superhero film. In this instance, of course, the two are one and the same. “The Avengers,” and its $207 million opening weekend, hold both honors, and in fact, the highest opening of all time as well, forget about costumed heroes.

After this weekend, that’s still the case. But come on folks, not beating out the best opening weekend of all time isn’t exactly a slight. “The Dark Knight Rises” held its own with just under $161 million in its first three days. That might not be enough to beat out “The Avengers” but it is third best opening of all time. The only other film (besides “The Avengers”) to gross more domestically in in its opening weekend was “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two,” which raked in $169 million last summer.

Things were tough for the films living in the shadow of “The Dark Knight Rises” this weekend. The weekend’s top ten films had dropoffs ranging from 46 percent (“Brave“) to 68.6 percent (“The Amazing Spider-Man“). Clearly, Spidey had a hard time keeping up with a new (and better) superhero flick entering the arena. “The Dark Knight Rises” alone actually grossed $100 million more than the second through tenth place films combined ($60.5 million).

As a result of Nolan and co. sucking up all that revenue, the charts were once again extraordinarily static. Last week’s first through fourth place films (“Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Ted,” “Brave”) each took a step back but remained in the same order. “Magic Mike” scooted past “Savages” (which fell from fifth to seventh) to  remain in sixth place, while “Katy Perry: Part of Me’s” drop out of the Top 10 allowed “To Rome with Love” to come back into tenth, “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection” to take just one step back into eighth, and “Moonrise Kingdom” to stay entrenched in the ninth position.

Here are the results for this weekend’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. The Dark Knight Rises, 1/4,404, Warner Bros., $160.887 million.
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift, 2/3,886, Fox, $20.416 million, $88.84 million.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man, 3/3,753, Sony, $10.887 million, $228.611 million.
4. Ted, 4/3,214 Universal, $10.011 million, $180.431 million.
5. Brave, 5/2,899, Buena Vista, $6.024 million, $208.774 million.
6. Magic Mike, 4/2,606, Warner Bros., $4.291 million, $101.966 million.
7. Savages, 3/2,336, Universal, $3.398 million, $40.055 million.
8. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection, 4/1,540, LGF, $2.253 million, $55.611 million.
9. Moonrise Kingdom, 9/895, Focus, $1.831 million, $36.087 million.
10. To Rome with Love, 5/552, SPC, $1.42 million, $11.107 million.

 

Box Office Preview: The Dark Knight is Finally Rising!

The Dark Knight Rises

After a four (although it felt like 400) year wait, the Caped Crusader is finally back in the third and final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, “The Dark Knight Rises.” I don’t think I’d be able to do the plot justice in just a few sentences, so let’s stick to the official synopsis (although it doesn’t really capture the complexities either):

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.

For obvious reasons, the Joker won’t be appearing in the film. There’s plenty of room for argument, but I absolutely think Nolan and company made the right decision in not recasting the role. Although we won’t be getting any more of the Clown Prince of Crime, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman will return as Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, and Commissioner Gordon, respectively. The new additions to the cast are just as impressive. Anne Hathaway will play Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman, and Tom Hardy will play Bane, the film’s main villain. Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be playing a young cop named Robin John Blake, and Marion Cotillard appears as Miranda Tate. If you couldn’t tell, when Nolan likes an actor, he’s not the type who doesn’t call back. What is that, half the cast of “Inception?” And Ellen Page probably would’ve made an awesome Harley Quinn.

Currently certified fresh and sitting at an 87 percent on the Tomatometer, it’s a foregone conclusion that “The Dark Knight Rises” is going to be awesome. How couldn’t it be? It’s Christopher Nolan. It’s Batman! The only thing that could ruin it is if you go into the theater expecting it to top 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” Don’t do that, it’s not fair. The new film’s predecessor isn’t just the best Batman movie of all time, or the best superhero movie of all time, or the best in this genre or that one, it’s among the top ten films ever made, period. Even if Heath Ledger hadn’t ruined things but up and dying on us (too soon?), it’s unlikely this film could top that one.

No other movies are seeing a wide release this week, because no one messes with the Batman. I’m posting the trailer below, both so you can check it out and to avoid the spoilers I’ve heard are all over YouTube comments sections (I can’t say for sure, because I refuse to look, not even for you, dear reader).

Follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.

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