Zombies Will (Probably) Devour Stallone, Elderly in a Crime Comedy, and the Rest of the Competition

The new releases

Bullet to the Head

Bullet to the Head

Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies

 

 

 

 

This weekend, there are three new releases coming along: the zombie-love story, Warm Bodies; Stallone’s new vehicle, Bullet to the Head; and a limited release of Stand Up Guys, where Alan Arkin, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken team up for a crime comedy.

Sylvester Stallone is breaking off from his The Expendables series for a solo outing with Bullet to the Head. Here, Stallone plays a hit man situated in New Orleans. The story follows Stallone and a Washington D.C. detective who see their respective partners die, and they then form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy. Stallone is a fairly popular action hero whose popularity has grown with his start of a new ensemble action series, The Expendables. Stallone’s average opening weekend earning is $13.079 million, with The Expendables being his best number with $34. 825 million. Bullet to the Head probably won’t meet his average earning, but his new vehicle will draw a nice crowd for those who need their Sly fix.

Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin team up for a buddy crime comedy, Stand Up Guys. The film follows Val (Pacino) who has just been released from prison, as he and his buddy Doc (Walken) try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah, before one of the guys takes his last assingment — to kill his comrade. It’s really all a great formula for a potentially great action comedy.

But the real winner of the weekend will be Warm Bodies, a new comedy horror that might be considered Twilight with zombies, but I truly hope, nor think, this is the case. This feature feels like it really might reinvent the genre, and do it successfully. This film follows R (Nicholas Hoult), a highly unusual zombie who saves a human, Julie (Teresa Palmer), from an attack. Their growing bond may just change the lifeless world altogether. You’ve seen the whole odd relationship before: an average girl and a boy of the supernatural kind. But this is different. This is set in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies are the norm, and humans are odd. Another interesting concept is this flick is actually suggesting the main girl is hot enough to reanimate a whole lifeless world, and make the zombies real again. Sure, Palmer’s hot, but she’s no Megan Fox. She’ll have to do. This makes the film have an original concept, and from the trailer, the humour looks like the strange, awkward brand of comedy that I love. This flick will also attract fans of the novel, as well as those who are interested in this awesome feature, like myself. This zombie feature looks cool, smart, and original. One thing that could make this film a certified sleeper hit is expert writing and direction from writer/director Jonathan Levine (50/50). I’ll appreciate this as long as there aren’t any love triangles…

Here’s how I see the Top 10:
1. Warm Bodies/$18, 700, 000
2. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters/ $12, 400, 000
3. Bullet to the Head/ $9, 200, 000
4. Silver Linings Playbook/ $7, 650, 000
5. Mama/ $5, 620, 000
6. Zero Dark Thirty/ $5, 530, 000
7. Parker/ $4, 065, 000
8. Django Unchained/ $2, 920, 000
9. Stand Up Guys/ $2, 000, 000
10. Movie 43/ $1, 970, 000

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‘Hansel and Gretel’ Comes Out on Top (Jan. 25-27)

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters came out on top with $19.69 million, and Mama drops 53.9% to $13.088 million this weekend. Parker made $7 million, while Movie 43 proves to be the worst reviewed film of the year so far, and the largest box office bomb with a measly $4.8 million.

Click the title for my review.

Top 10 Box Office, The Results (Estimates)

My Prediction/Off by (+/)

1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: $19, 690, 956

– $19, 000, 000$690, 956 Under

2. Mama: $13, 088, 145

– $16, 900, 000$3, 811, 855 Over

3. Zero Dark Thirty: $9, 700, 132

– $9, 500, 000$200, 132 Over

4. Silver Linings Playbook: $9, 444, 039

– $7, 300, 000$2, 144, 039 Under

5. Parker: $7, 008, 222

– $9, 400, 000$2, 391, 778 Over

6. Django Unchained: $4, 946, 932

– $5, 000, 000$53, 068 Over

7. Movie 43: $4, 805, 878

– $12, 500, 000$7, 694, 122 Over

8. Gangster Squad: $4, 278, 235

– $4, 000, 000$278, 235 Under

9. Les Misérables: $4, 221, 055

– $4, 800, 000$578, 945 Over

10. Broken City: $4, 019, 558

– $4, 000, 000$19, 558 Over

New releases total difference: $10, 776, 856.

Holdovers total difference: $7, 085, 832.

 

 

Super 8 (2011)

Super 8Super 8

Release Date: June 10, 2011

Director: J.J. Abrams

Stars: Elle Fanning, AJ Michalka, Joel Courtney

Runtime: 112 min

Tagline: It arrives.

Plot: During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town.

Quick Thoughts review.

– A problem with this one is the expectations of it. A lot of people were expecting pure gold, and the results are a tad sub par. What you get isn’t quite pure gold, but it is somewhere between a fine silver and a fine silver with some dashes of gold. I wasn’t one of those people who had anticipated this, so my low expectations were exceeded

– The finale really isn’t incredible, it’s only pretty good

– The young stars (particularly Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning) and old stars do quite well

– I only liked a select few characters, like Charles, even though he was pretty irritating

– It’s well-cast like The Goonies, but the unlike that film, most the characters aren’t anything special

– There are great homages to 1980s Steven Spielberg – it has elements of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial and The Goonies. There’s a great sense of 80s nostalgia for the 2011 season. The atmosphere is quite great. There’s fine elements of science fiction and a bit of horror

– There are spikes of poignancy within the character development

– The cinematography is fine

– It’s a pretty awesome science fiction mystery that is quite memorable

75/100

The Last Stand (2013)

The Last StandThe Last Stand

Release Date: January 18, 2012

Director: Jee-won Kim

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville

Runtime: 107 min

Tagline: Retirement is for sissies

The most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the Western hemisphere escapes a prisoner transfer and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a town sheriff (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his inexperienced staff.

Director Jee-won Kim makes his American film debut with The Last Stand, Schwarzenegger’s comeback vehicle. This film does a lot of things right, like its simplistic plot, and a few things wrong, like its characterization and storytelling that has room for improvement.

Firstly, the main problem with the film is the characterization. For a fun action flick, it does admirably attempt to develop the characters, but it’s not easy to care for them thoroughly. Jerry (Zach Gilford) is developed as a young rookie Deputy trying to make it to the big city as he is slightly bored; the Sheriff, Ray Owens, is developed as a former narcotics officer who wanted to take it easy with a small-time Sheriff position; Sarah (Jaimie Alexander) and Frank (Rodrigo Santoro) are established as ex-girlfriend and boyfriend; and Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) is established as a Weapon Museum owner that’s open every second Thursday of each month from 12 P.M. to 3 P.M.; and that’s all the attempt at development, really. Everyone else is established as roles really; angry FBI agent (Forest Whitaker’s John Bannister), damsel in distress (Genesis Rodriguez’ Ellen Richards), insane criminal (Eduardo Noriega’s Gabriel Cortez) and the main deputy (Luis Guzmán’s Mike Figuerola). I didn’t care for all the characters, and the ones I did care for slightly was because they were such good presences (mostly just the Sheriff, Guzmán’s Mike and Knoxville’s Lewis Dinkum.

The other problem with the film is just a little hole in the storytelling. It was probably established that Gabriel Cortez is a ruthless drug kingpin, but if it was, it immediately went out of mind. He just seemed like a criminal everyone is imtimidated by for some reason or a criminal who has a lot of money and is driving a really fast Corvette ZR1.

One must keep in mind, however, that this is mostly just a fun action flick, and the attempt at the character development is just a bonus.

Now, for the question on everyone’s mind: is this a worthy comeback flick for Arnie? Yes, yes it is, with nods to earlier Schwarzenegger that make for funny lines. Arnie, now 65, may comment on how old he is, but he proves he is still capable with a gun and can be in a real fight-to-the-death wrestling match that’s even better than Stallone vs. Van Damme in The Expendables 2. He also can put up a better fight than a SWAT team or multiple road blocks, just because nothing’s more threatening than a body builder. As a guy standing on his own, Ray Owens is a fairly memorable action hero to be added to Arnie’s filmography. However, put him beside the show-stealing Knoxville, he is forgettable. We forget about Knoxville’s Dinkum until he comes back for the last 50 minutes, where he gets the biggest laughs of the feature (besides a rifle-wielding granny who comes out of nowhere). He has finally found a role where his maniacal laughter and crazy comedy works absolute wonders. Oh, and he [Knoxville] and Guzmán make a pretty stellar team, because at some points in the film they’re both confused by what the time period is (examples: swords and shields – Medieval Times; and a Tommy Gun – 1940s gangster era).

The fine pacing all leads up to an extremely fun shoot-out that lasts a fairly appropriate amount of time. If your stomach can handle all the blood, it’s even more fun. That’s what this film offers: bloody violence, a few big laughs, somewhat poorly formed characters, an effectively simplistic plot, and a few nice cars being traditionally wrecked. If that’s your idea of a good time, check out Arnie’s return to the big screen.

80/100

Did you know? This is Schwarzenegger’s first leading role since 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

 

Mama (2013)

MamaMama

Release Date: January 18, 2013

Director: Andrés Muschietti

Stars: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier

Runtime: 100 min

Tagline: A mother’s love is forever

In this modern age, it is very difficult for horror films to be original. There is so little ground that has not already been stepped on. This is exactly one of the biggest problems of Mama, a film that has a great backstory, but it’s a story that reminds me of The Woman in Black and it copies scares from many other features.

One day, a father goes insane, kills his wife because she is going to leave him, and he takes his two young daughters with him and they hit the road, meaning to go far away. The father, Jeffrey, is zooming too fast, and the car skids off the road and down into the forest. They find a cabin, and just when the father is about to kill the elder daughter, a mysterious being comes and takes him away.

It is now five years later, and the girls have not been found. The uncle of the two young girls, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), hasn’t given up hope of finding them. With the support of his girlfriend, Annabel (portrayed by Jessica Chastian, who is sporting a short jet black wig and rocker tattoos), he has been paying investigators to look for them for those five years. When the investigators finally find them, they are in odd states. They crawl to get around, they’re dirty, and they claim to have been taken care of by something they called “Mama”. When Lucas and Annabel take in Victoria, 8, and Lily, 6, Mama isn’t very fond of her girls being taken away from her.

The back story established in Mama is a good one: a institutionalized woman steals back her baby in the late 1800’s, but she dies and her baby doesn’t. Soon, her ghost searches everywhere for the baby, only to find Victoria and Lily instead.

The only reason this feels reminiscent of The Woman in Black is the back story, the spirit in that film also wants to rest with their son, but in the meantime kills the townsfolk. It’s not extremely similar, but I still thought of it during. The film’s main scares are from better horror films, so there isn’t much content one hasn’t seen. There are also many convenient things that happen in the film: the uncle gets put into a coma rather early on in the film, leaving Annabel take care of the little eerie tykes so he doesn’t lose custody. Whilst the film does a few things wrong, it does a lot of things right.

We may have seen the scares before, but it doesn’t stop the film from being effective and spooky. Many of the scares also do linger on the mind after watching the feature, which is an effective thing that horror flicks aspire to possess. It’s an atmosphere that doesn’t give its audience many senses of security. Mama is often popping up every which way, and the feature can really get the heart racing. Mama starts off on a strong note, keeps going strong, and the third act is the weakest of them all because of a characters’ stupid decision not to tell anyone where they were going.

Until it loses its pacing balance during the final act, it’s a chilling experience each time the sun goes out. It is even quite scary during the day, because apparently spirits never sleep. The bond between the two sisters is generally strong throughout the feature, but there is room for improvement. Lily, the youngest, is still very dependent on Mama, while Victoria is getting closer to Annabel and Mama’s malevolent tendencies are becoming more visible. Lily seems as if she’s too afraid to be abandoned again, as is Victoria in a way. Mama doesn’t want to be abandoned either, rousing malevolent jealousy. Annabel is depicted as a character not open to having kids in the beginning because of her excitement to a failed pregnancy, but she does open up to the girls as the film goes along. This is much to Mama’s dismay, as she is suffering from a disease called JBS (Jealous Bitch Syndrome). You really don’t want to screw with this mother. All of this duelling of jealousy leads to the unbalanced third act, but it also leads up to a surprisingly emotionally stirring ending.

The performances in the feature aren’t top-tier, as this is still a horror movie. Each performer does express the usual fear and anxiety, topped on with more screaming. It was a great decision by the casting director to cast such a big star as Jessica Chastain. However, for Chastain, this is a career low-point for her. Even though this doesn’t say a lot because this is still a great feature. At least her character didn’t commit too many horror flick clichés. Chastain does prove she really can rock any look.

In a nutshell: Mama has a great backstory, but it doesn’t strive on originality. With great pacing until the final act, Mama makes for a thoroughly scary experience with hardly any room for a feeling of safety. And if there is, don’t fall for it. The concepts of abandonment and jealousy are cool to bring into horror flicks. Mama is a solid antagonist who won’t allow me to look at moths and butterflies the same again*.

*The moths and butterflies would show up whenever she is near.

Did you know? This isn’t extremely interesting, but; this was filmed in Hamilton, Ontario and a studio in Toronto, both a little more than a five-hour drive from where I live.

78/100

Cloverfield (2008)

CloverfieldCloverfield

Release Date: January 18, 2008

Director: Matt Reeves

Stars: Mike Vogel, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan

Runtime: 85 min

Tagline: Some thing has found us

Older review, written November 26, 2012. 

You all know how these found footage feautures work, right? Something attacks, everyone (probably) dies. Yup. That’s it, that’s all. That’s all she wrote.

Cloverfield revolves around a monster attack in New York as told from the point of view of a small group of people.

The cinematography is about as shaky as that of The Blair Witch Project. The story may not be that realistic, but it is still a pretty scary idea. Imagine this: You’re just partying, having a good time, and then there’s a crash outside. You go out to investigate, and there’s a big monster out there, and you think to yourself, “Holy crap! I thought I was in New York, not Tokyo!”

What if you get separated by your family and friends? You might not see them anymore because of this. That’s a scary thought.

Anyways, it’s action-packed and sort of thrilling, but at times it gets boring. I don’t dig these traditional stories that most found footage films offer. The formula is tired, and footage should just get sweeped under the rug for a little while. This one is just okay, but it brings a belief to so many other new filmmakers: “Hey, I could get a few million bucks and make my own movie… I’ll do that… It’ll be good…” No, young filmmakers, the joke’s on you! Once in a blue moon, a found footage horror flick is actually good. They’re usually bad, and you’ll probably produce that crappy one. So don’t. Please. At least for another ten years.

66/100

Did you know? The film begins on April 27 and ends on May 23 at the exact same time: 6.42 AM.

January 25-27 Box Office Predictions

The new releases

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Parker

Parker

Movie 43

Movie 43

 

 

 

 

 

There are three releases coming out this weekend: an action-comedy cross-over, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; a crude comedy, Movie 43 and; a new Statham vehicle, Parker.

The most intriguing, to me, is Hansel and Gretel. I love a good twist on a classic tale, and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay on as producers catches my attention even more. The story follows the titular pair of the classic fairy tale, but this time they’re bounty hunters who hunt witches all over the world. They are also now facing a new form of evil.

One of the most recent classic twists on a fairy tale, Red Riding Hood, made $14 million in its opening weekend. Though, this one is in 3D and it has the popularity of Jeremy Renner going for it. I also hope it’ll be a bigger hit than R.R.H. I think this will gross $19 million this weekend.

Movie 43 seems like a new New Year’s Eve for the crude comedy genre, and for the modern internet age. The story: A series of interconnected short films follows three kids as they search the depths of the Internet to find the world’s most banned movie. It has a bunch of different directors and practically everyone in it, so it has that going for it… It also looks incredibly stupid. New Year’s Eve grossed $13 million in its opening weekend, and Valentine’s Day grossed $56.26 million in its opening weekend, but I highly doubt this will get an opening weekend return anywhere near Valentine’s number. I think it will gross a little less than New Year’s Eve number. With better execution than 2012’s V/H/S (a film that also used short films as a major contribution), this could turn out to be a hit. This will still earn a nice profit in its opening weekend because of its solid marketing campaign and buzz on thee ole Twitter-sphere. I think this will gross $12.5 million this weekend.

Statham’s most recent action vehicle, Parker, teams him up with Jennifer Lopez. The story: A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew’s latest heist. For 2013, the gross for the one action flick with a primary action hero isn’t too promising (Arnie’s The Last Stand, grossing $6.28 in its opening weekend). Statham has an average opening weekend gross of $12.19 million. Whilst that’s more than decent, my interest for Statham has been wavering as of late. His last two leading man action flicks haven’t produced great returns – Killer Elite: total gross of $25 million (with $9.35 in its opening weekend) and; Safe: total gross of $17.14 million (with $7.89 in its opening weekend). This time, though, he’s being paired with Jennifer Lopez, and the film could be a winner. We’ll see what happens, but I think it’ll make $9.4 million this weekend.

Here’s how I see the top 10:

Title/Prediction/Studio

1. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters/ $19, 000, 000/ Paramount
2. Mama/ $16, 900, 000/ Universal
3. Movie 43/ $12, 500, 000/ Relativity
4. Zero Dark Thirty/ $9, 500, 000/ Sony
5. Parker/ $9, 400, 000/ FilmDistrict
6. Silver Linings Playbook/ $7, 300, 000/ Weinstein Company
7. Django Unchained/ $5, 000, 000/ Weinstein Company
8. Les Misérables/ $4, 800, 000/ Universal
9. Broken City/ $4, 300, 000/ Fox
10. Gangster Squad/ $4, 000, 000/ Warner Bros.