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.

  

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Box Office Recap: It’s All the Same, Only the Names (from 3-10) have Changed

Last week, two new releases, “Madgascar 3” and “Prometheus,” occupied the top two spots on the domestic box office charts for the first time since April 22, when “Think Like a Man” and “The Lucky One” knocked out “The Hunger Games” after four weeks on top. This weekend, something else that hadn’t happened in some time occurred: the nation’s two highest grossing movies remained static. “Madgascar 3” and “Prometheus” remain cemented at the top of the charts with $35.5 million and $20.2 million, respectively. The last films to accomplish that feat: “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” over the last two weekends of 2011, Dec. 23-25 and Dec. 30-Jan. 1.

Hair metal musical “Rock of Ages” came in third place with $15 million. Now, I could make that sound like a lot by pointing out that’s the sixth best opening of all-time for a musical and the third highest for a film adapted from the stage. But let’s be frank here, given the film’s prime summer release date, huge release (it played in 74 more theaters than “Prometheus” did in its first week), and most importantly its star-studded cast, “Rock of Ages” was a supreme disappointment. Seriously, this is a film with names like Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston, Will Forte, Eli Roth and of course, Tom Cruise in its end credits. It should have made more money.

So what was the problem? Well, as I hypothesized in my Box Office Preview, nobody, and I mean nobody likes hair metal, the genre this film was banking on. Kids don’t like it, of that I can assure you, and baby boomers were the ones telling their children to turn that garbage down during the lost decade that was the 1980’s. As I said on Friday, the target audience here was the tiny sliver of the American population that was both a teenager during the 1980′s and enjoyed the crap at the top of the pop charts at the time.

All that showed in the demographics. For some reason, whoever keeps track of this stuff divides the entire population of the country into only two groups: above 25 and below 25. Nearly 75 percent of the audience for “Rock of Ages” was in the above category, and females made up 62 percent. Those numbers are staggeringly skewed.

Unsurprisingly, the demographics for the weekend’s other new release, Adam Sandler’s “That’s My Boy,” were distorted in the opposite direction. Sandler, of course, is known for his high-brow humor, stuff like “If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.” That’s sarcasm folks. Anyway, 52 percent of the comedy’s audience was under 25, and 54 percent was male. I know that doesn’t sound like much after what you just read, but in general, that’s not an insignificant skew towards teenage boys. “That’s My Boy” came in fifth place with $13 million.

The remainder of the chart offered few surprises. Sandwiched between the two new releases, “Snow White and the Huntsman” made $13.8 million, and “That’s My Boy” was followed by “Men in Black 3” and “The Avengers.”

Meanwhile, Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom” continues to chug along at the specialty box office. With nearly $2.2 million, the film moved into ninth place this weekend despite being shown in just 178 theaters (compare that to Rock of Ages'” 3,470 and tenth place finisher “What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s” 1,216).

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. Madagascar 3, 2/4,263, Paramount/Dreamworks, $35.5 million, $120.451 million.
2. Prometheus, 2/3,442, Fox, $20.2 million, $88.858 million.
3. Rock of Ages, 1/3,470, Warner Bros., $15 million.
4. Snow White and the Huntsman, 3/3,701, Universal, $13.805 million, $122.602 million.
5. That’s My Boy, 1/3,030, Sony, $13 million.
6. Men in Black 3, 4/3,135, Sony, $10 million, $152.679 million.
7. The Avengers, 7/2,582, Disney/Marvel Studios, $8.848 million, $586.737 million.
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 7/1,184, Fox Searchlight, $2.2 million, $35.133 million.
9. Moonrise Kingdom, 4/178, Focus, $2.181 million, $6.779 million.
10.What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 5/1,216, $1.33 million, $38.766 million.

  

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Box Office Preview: ‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘That’s My Boy’

Rock of Ages

OK, so “Rock of Ages” is an adaptation of a Broadway musical that uses hair metal the way “Across the Universe” used The Beatles. First problem: who the hell likes hair metal? It’s certainly not baby boomers or kids these days. The target audience seems to be the tiny sliver of the American population that was both a teenager during the 1980’s and enjoyed the crap, excuse me, music, at the top of the pop charts at the time. Maybe that’s a decent amount of people, but I sincerely hope not.

Anyway, on to the plot. Small town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough), who’s presumably living in a lonely world, boards a midnight er, bus, going specifically to Los Angeles, which I suppose is close enough to “anywhere.” She’s mugged soon after arriving, but is saved by city boy Drew (origins unknown). Cue love story. Drew (Diego Boneta) is a busboy at Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand’s (character’s) nightclub, The Bourbon Room, but dreams of being a rock star (imagine that). The club is struggling, but its owner hopes Stacee Jaxx’s (Tom Cruise) final show before going solo will help spark revenues. That may just be the one upside in this movie, anyone who’s seen “Tropic Thunder” knows when Cruise gets a little self-deprecating it can earn major laughs. Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Whitmore (Bryan Cranston), along with his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are launching a campaign to clean up the city, starting with The Bourbon Room. You disappoint me Bryan Cranston, but I doubt I’ll see this movie and “Breaking Bad” starts in a month, so my love for you shall survive.

Despite its star-studded cast and Cruise making an ass of himself, “Rock of Ages” is at a 44 percent on the Tomatometer, and Bullz-eye’s David Medsker had this to say:

If you look at “Rock of Ages” as a movie that knows it’s beyond salvation and is interested in finding out just far down the rabbit hole it can go, then it might earn some respect as the next cult classic in the making. Unfortunately, this is far closer to “The Apple” (look it up, if you dare) than it is to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” In the end, it’s just one of those movies that was never going to work. Pity no one realized this before they spent tens of millions to make it.

There you have it, if you’re a huge and I mean huge fan of musicals, hair metal, or any of the actors involved (Paul Giamatti’s in there too, somehow it never came up) then see this movie. But you’ve probably got better things to do.

That’s My Boy

So, it has come to this. Andy Samberg is Adam Sandler’s son, laughs ensue, or they would if this movie didn’t look so god awful. Also, is it just me or is the above picture a really bad photoshop job? Anyway, let’s just stick to the official synopsis:

While still in his teens, Donny (Adam Sandler) fathered a son, Todd (Andy Samberg), and raised him as a single parent up until Todd’s 18th birthday. Now, after not seeing each other for years, Todd’s world comes crashing down on the eve of his wedding when an uninvited Donny suddenly shows up. Trying desperately to reconnect with his son, Donny is now forced to deal with the repercussions of his bad parenting skills.

Specifically, Donny shows up because Todd is a hot shot hedge fund manager and he owes $43,000 to the IRS. He recieves this information from lawyer Jim Nance, played by Rex Ryan. That’s right, Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets. I love sexy Rexy but c’mon, what does a football coach with no acting experience getting a part tell you about this movie?

If you didn’t get it from a thousand other hints, it tells you that it sucks. “That’s My Boy” is at an abysmal 23 percent on the Tomatometer. The best line of a review I’ve read so far comes from Adam Graham of The Detroit News: “Sandler’s Berger is the most loutish, annoying character he’s come up with since ‘Little Nicky.’ Nicky came from hell; viewers of ‘That’s My Boy’ will feel like they’re in it.”

  

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Batman: Year One

DC Comics may be lagging behind its rivals at Marvel when it comes to their live-action movie ventures, but they’ve still utilized their stable of superheroes pretty well with Warner Bros.’ ongoing series of direct-to-DVD animated films. Lately, the studio has been digging into their back catalog to produce some of the label’s fan favorite storylines, and when it comes to the Caped Crusader, there’s no story more revered than Frank Miller’s 1987 miniseries, “Batman: Year One.” Though it actually focuses more James Gordon’s move to Gotham and his fight against police corruption, the tale also tracks Bruce Wayne’s early days as the masked vigilante Batman.

Those who aren’t familiar with Miller’s comic will notice several similarities between “Year One” and Christopher Nolan’s recent Batman films — particularly “Batman Begins,” which drew a lot of inspiration from the miniseries. Unfortunately, for as groundbreaking and influential as Miller’s story was during its initial release, it feels too fractured in animated form. The movie is also shockingly short at only 64 minutes, and though the animation is excellent, the voice acting leaves much to be desired. Ben McKenzie is horribly miscast as Wayne/Batman, and while Bryan Cranston was a great choice for Gordon, his line readings are also a little wooden. As a result, “Year One” isn’t as entertaining as it should be, but Batman fans will still enjoy the mostly faithful adaptation.

Click to buy “Batman: Year One”

  

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Breaking Bad 4.1 – “Well…? Get back to work!”

NOTE: Henceforth, you’ll be able to find the “Breaking Bad” blog over at the Bullz-Eye blog, or you can just visit Bullz-Eye’s “Breaking Bad” fan hub, where the latest entry can always be found.

Hey, everybody, Gale’s okay! Gee, I guess Jesse’s bullet missed him after all, so…

Oh. Never mind. It’s a flashback. But, hey, at least now we know how the superlab first came into being. And we also know the sad irony that Gale is directly responsible for Gus bringing Walt into the business in the first place. So obsessive was he with his concern about the quality of the meth he was making – more concerned, even, than Gus himself – that he simply couldn’t comprehend that Gus wouldn’t want to work with someone like that, even risking the possibility of talking himself out of a job by saying of Walt, “If he’s not (a professional), I don’t know what that makes me.”

Well, as it turns out, Gale, what is makes you is dead. But, then, I think we all pretty much knew that when Season 3 faded to black. Some of us just didn’t want to admit it.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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