Friday, August 30, 2013

RESULTS: Summer 2013 Box Office Predictions

Damn, didn't the summer just fly by?  Both figuratively AND literally (due to all the superheroes).  You might remember that little game I started back in May, trying to predict the summer movie box office - and like my last Oscar prediction blog, kind of dropped the ball.  I thought for sure Johnny Depp's star power would make The Lone Ranger a big hit, and I TOTALLY underestimated those friggen minions.  Despicable Me 2 beat a Pixar movie!  My gamble with The Heat did pay off though, which turned out to be the biggest comedy of the summer (though the insipid Grown-Ups 2 almost cracked the top ten).  If you played along, write in the comments how you did and what your score was, and how you felt about this summer in movies!  Stay tuned for Oscar season!  And here's the points system if you forgot:

- Pick 1-10 movies you think will top the summer box office (May through August)
- 13 points for getting 1 or 10 exactly correct
- 10 points for getting 2-9 exactly correct
- 7 points if movie was one spot away
- 5 points if movie was two spots away
- 3 points if movie was anywhere the top ten
- 1 point for each dark horse (pick three)

Actual (Domestic):

1. Iron Man 3 - $408.6 million
2. Despicable Me 2 - $351.9 million
3. Man of Steel - $290.3 million
4. Monsters University - $262 million
5. Fast & Furious 6 - $238.5 million
6. Star Trek into Darkness - $227.4 million
7. World War Z - $198.9 million
8. The Heat - $156.6 million
9. The Great Gatsby - $144.8 million
10. The Conjuring - $132.4 million


My Predictions:

1. Iron Man 3 (+13)
2. Monsters University (+5)
3. Man of Steel (+10)
4. Star Trek Into Darkness (+5)
5. The Lone Ranger
6. The Hangover Part III
7. The Heat (+7)
8. Despicable Me 2 (+3)
9. Fast and Furious 6 (+3)
10. Pacific Rim

Dark Horses:
World War Z (+1)
The Wolverine
The Smurfs 2


Thursday, August 29, 2013

In a World... Review: Gender-bending the voiceover industry

Dir. Lake Bell
93 Minutes
Rated R
Watch Trailer

In a World... begins with a brief introduction to Don Lafontaine, perhaps the biggest name in trailer voiceovers of all time, whose deep-voiced phrase "In a world" became the go-to trailer cliche for years.  The film tells the fictional story of Carol Solomon (Lake Bell, who also wrote and directed the movie), a vocal coach at a sound studio, whose big, hairy, abrasive father (Fred Melamed) is the current "king" of voiceovers.  Now his daughter wants in on the industry that previously catered only to male voices - and once word on the street goes that the "in a world" phrase is making a comeback in the latest big-budget sci-fi 'quadrilogy,' the two must put their relationships on the line for the coveted voice spot.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blue Jasmine Review: Woody Allen's unofficial "Streetcar" remake is a true acting showcase

Dir. Woody Allen
98 Minutes
Rated PG-13
Watch Trailer

Woody Allen has always been hit-or-miss with me, even with his most critically-lauded works (Midnight in Paris just wasn't my kind of flick), but the casting choices alone got me excited for his latest, Blue Jasmine - especially Louis CK and Andrew Dice Clay, two comedians not necessarily known for their subtle performances.  But Allen knows how to work his cast, and Blue Jasmine has some of the best performances I've seen all year.  Cate Blanchett is the "Blanche," Jasmine, a neurotic debutante who lost everything after her millionaire husband (Alec Baldwin) was sent to jail for scamming people out of money. She books a flight to New York to dorm with her sister (Sally Hawkins), a lower-class mom with two kids and a blue collar boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale).  The film depicts Jasmine's mental descent both seriously and humorously to great effect, and shows that the now 77-year-old Allen still has creative juice left in him.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The World's End Review: Inebriation of the Body Snatchers

Dir. Edgar Wright
109 Minutes
Rated R
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Gary King is living in the past.  He's out to re-live the infamous pub crawl that he and his high school buddies never finished back in the day.  Although Gary (Simon Pegg) hasn't moved on from his younger days (riding the same car, rocking to the same cassette, wearing the same black overcoat), his friends take some persuading to come along, including Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), and especially the now-teetotaling Andy Knightley (Nick Frost).  The guys all eventually agree to join Gary on this nostalgic trip, reminiscing over past loves (Rosamund Pike), bullies, and teachers.  But something is off in their hometown, and without going into too big of spoilers, the guys must literally fight their way through to reach the end of "the golden mile."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 Review: Tries to recapture the spirit of the first, but gets its ass kicked

Dir. Jeff Wadlow
103 Minutes
Rated R
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Kick-Ass 2 takes everything that made the first film good and literally pukes and craps all over it.  The original, directed with care by X-Men: First Class helmer Matthew Vaughn, balanced ultra-violence with offbeat humor in a great dismantling of the superhero genre.  The second was directed by Jeff Wadlow, the man responsible for such hits as Never Back Down and Cry_Wolf, who either doesn't "get" what made the first so great, or just failed at recapturing that same dark/funny tone of the first.  Simply copying what's come before (in a much less exciting way, no less), won't have the same impact.  The movie is all over the place with its message, its characters, its plot, even what its trying to be.  Kick-Ass himself has no motivation this time around; he puts the costume on again simply out of boredom.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Elysium Review: Occupy Wall SPACE!

Dir. Neill Blomkamp
109 Minutes
Rated R
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It's 2154 and Earth is a shithole.  All the rich people left the planet to live on Elysium, a ring-shaped space station with mansions, trees, and magic health machines that will heal everything from a papercut to a grenade-to-the-face.  Back on Earth, however, things are run by mean robots and everybody lives in shacks.  Matt Damon, ever since he was a little kid, wanted to leave Earth to live on Elysium, and a nun told him it was his destiny.  One day on a factory job, he gets locked in a radiation chamber and finds out he has five days to live.  So might as well go on a suicide mission to Elysium in an attempt to provide free health care to everyone - including the obligatory love interest's little girl with Leukemia.  Elysium, while it sticks its toe in the pool of good ideas (parallels between immigration, health care, class systems), it pretty much devolves into a mindless action film with no rhyme or reason to the story or characters.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Way, Way Back Review: A great light comedy gem in the middle of blockbuster season

Dir. Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
103 Minutes
Rated PG-13
Watch Trailer

"On a scale from 1 to 10, what do you think you are?  I think you're a 3."  The Way Way Back had me from the very beginning, with Steve Carell posing that question to his step-son during a trip to their summer beach house.  The film follows an awkward pubescent teenager, Duncan (Liam James), as he's dragged along on vacation with his mother (Toni Collete), sister, and step-dad.  Feeling like an outcast every step of the way, he finally finds a home at a job at Water Whizz, a local water park, where he meets the brash and fun-loving Owen (Sam Rockwell).  The story may not break whole new ground in the coming-of-age genre, but it was incredibly well written, with plenty of fun and interesting side characters (Allison Janney is a scene stealer as the neighbor who's had her fair share of margaritas before 10am) and some well-earned emotional moments.

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