March 15-17 Box Office Results

Oz The Great and Powerful saw a 47.9% drop to $41.2 million, while The Incredible Burt Wonderstone bombed at $10.1 million and The Call over-performed at $17.1 million.
Title: Result
Prediction/Difference (Over/Under)

1. Oz the Great and Powerful: $41,252,704
– $43, 750, 000/ $2, 497, 296 over

2. The Call: $17,118,745
– $11, 500, 000/ $5, 618, 745 under

3. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: $10,177,257
– $17, 000, 000/ $6, 822, 743 over

4. Jack the Giant Slayer: $6,315,262
– $4, 000, 000/ $2, 315, 262 under

5. Identity Thief: $4,419,310
– $4, 500, 000/ $80, 690 over

6. Snitch: $3,504,618
– $3, 250, 000/ $254, 618 under

7. 21 and Over: $2,669,967
– $3, 000, 000/ $330, 033 over

8. Silver Linings Playbook: $2,525,603
– $2, 150, 000/ $375, 603 under

9. Safe Haven: $2,453,229
– $2, 200, 000/ $253, 229 under

11. Dead Man Down: $2,126,029
– $2, 100, 000/ $26, 029

Total difference for new releases: $12, 441, 488 (2)

Total difference for holdovers: $6, 132, 760 (8)

Despicable Me (2010)

despicable meRelease Date:July 9, 2010Director:Pierre Coffin, Chris RenaudStars:Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell BrandRuntime:95 min.

Despicable Me is so cute, it almost hurts one’s face.
Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is a super villain down-on-his-luck who has had failed scheme after failed scheme. After this new villain called Vector (Jason Segel) stole the pyramid, he is looked down upon compared to the shadow the little weird dude casts. Gru plans to pull the biggest heist ever comitted: steal the moon. To do this, he must first steal a shrink ray at a secret government facility. Soon enough, Vector gets in his way, and for Gru to steal it back, he must enroll the help of three orphan girls to help him. In the process, they teach him a love that he thought he could never experience.

Despicable Me offers a premise that is very predictable, but nonetheless very, very fun. It’s fun to see the villains of Gru and Vector duel against each other. With Vector’s weapons of mass destruction, he often has the advantage in their battles. I guess it doesn’t help when Gru has a Q like the old-as-Betty-White Dr. Nefario. Next time, he should make his own toys.

There’s enough humour here to make one’s face hurt for days. It’s very funny and charming for all ages. The Minions have started a trend for many animated films, as many want to copy the cuteness factor that was so greatly achieved here (films like The Lorax [even though this and that are the same studio] and Rise of the Guardians).

Gru’s voice is very fun to imitate. Sometimes the action sequences get a little tiring, but it’s a great animated feature to put on for comfort. The message of love is preachy, but it is nonetheless nice. The animation is really something nice to watch. Also, the Minions will make it worth your while.

I look forward to the sequel, but with Gru’s change of heart – I’m not sure how well the sequel will work. Whatever, I’d love another chance at seeing more of the Minions’ antics. Funny thing, could you imagine those guys as real henchmen? They’re that small because the studio couldn’t afford to make them any taller.

Score85/100

Snitch (2013)

snitchReleased: February 22, 2013. Director: Ric Roman Waugh. Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal. Runtime: 1hr 52 min. Tagline: How far would you go to save your son?

Snitch, a film based on a true story, opens with a young man, Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron), talking to a buddy on Skype. The best friend asks if he can ship drugs to Jason’s address, and tempts him by saying he can try some if he wants, and the skeptical Jason says he’ll talk to him later about it. When the drugs get to his door, DEA agents track the package and bring him into custody.

It seems that his so-called best friend has set him up by sending drugs to his house, and by doing so, his own sentence will be reduced. The only option for Jason is to do the same, or face a minimum sentence of ten years in prison. His integrity is too strong to do so, so he’s left to sit on his hands. Though, his construction worker father, John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) can’t let that happen. John and Jason’s mother are divorced, and Jason wants little to do with his dad.

John chooses that the only one to save his son from prison is to become an informant himself. With help from one of his ex-con employees, Daniel Cruz (The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal), he is able to get an introduction to a drug dealer in order to take down a cartel, participate in a drug deal, and in turn, reduce his son’s sentence.

Snitch is a decent-enough film. The feature takes a fairly simple plot and attempts to make it a little more complex than it has to be. With this, it manages to write in a few surprises for the audience. The characters are also one of the best parts of the film.

First of all, the supporting legal players who help John out are pretty good. Susan Sarandon plays an attorney who doesn’t have that big a heart for John, as she would be willing to risk John’s life for a bigger arrest. In the first place, it’s not extremely easy to believe that the DEA would be willing to let this man get involved with this drug world. She seems to be the face of greedy lawyers everywhere, but she isn’t entirely despicable, as this is an intense situation. Barry Pepper’s character is also good, and he embraces his stereotype of traditional DEA agent, while sporting a long beard. Seriously, you’ll want to grasp that hair and take some scissors to it.

John attempts very hard to connect with his son, but it proves difficult since Jason doesn’t want anything to do with him. The fact that Jason feels abandoned makes some of the concepts very real and, frankly, rather profound. John’s just really a family man risking his life, and the future of his own family. Though, it’s admirable that he’d go to these extreme measures to help him and rescue him. The fact that he is a construction company owner also makes it logical to the drug dealers, since they see it that he’s merely trying to save a company that he’s worked hard to get off the ground. Dwayne Johnson plays him fairly well, and even though he feels miscast because he sometimes has to act wimpy while he’s so huge, he makes the best of it, and he ends up being pretty good. Daniel Cruz’s motivations are, like John’s, for his family. Some of his character’s actions are stereotypical ‘former ex-con trying to make good for himself, but he ends up falling in with the wrong crowd’, but he’s just trying to make money for his family. He embraces his stereotype and does a good and believable job with it, and it’s just satisfying enough to make me think he can do well outside of The Walking Dead.

Since these men are trying to fend for their families and their motivations are very real and rather understandable, we all can become easily invested in them. The story manages to get in more surprises than one would expect, but the goings-on to the end are often surprising; the actual end, one could see coming from the opening credits. The story is just average at best. The character’s genuine motivations make us care for them, and since one could easily be invested in them, the characters are the thing that makes one engaged in the film, not strictly the story itself. We don’t want to see these families destroyed, we need that happy ending. The story is never extremely exciting, but it’s never particularly boring.

The film is falsely advertised. It feels more like a genuine crime drama with solid characters, and not a mindless action film like Johnson’s many vehicles. There isn’t much action as much would expect. Yes, there is some, but if you think about it as a crime drama with the flair for intensity and action, you’ll like it a lot more. If you go in expecting balls-to-the-wall action, odds are you’ll be sorely disappointed. The film is fairly slow and lengthy, with maybe three to five action sequences. When the action shows up, the sequences are pretty good, but the cinematography is very dizzying and it makes it hard to follow who’s getting pushed off the road or what’s happening exactly. That’s one of its major flaws.

The film is also fairly slow and lengthy. Another flaw is, though it offers a solid time during, there isn’t a lot of memorable content. By the time December rolls around, one might struggle saying what Snitch is about, exactly. Dwayne Johnson (who is the size of a small truck) in a semi-truck, narcotics, a few car crashes, and dizzying scenes might come to mind. It’s rather forgettable, and if you do indeed struggle to remember this at the end of the year; no, it is not a sequel to Snatch.

Score: 71/100

March 15-17 Box Office Predictions

Last weekend, 2013 saw the first blockbuster of the year, Oz the Great and Powerful, which debuted to $79.1 million. This weekend, two new films are being released: The Call and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. However, neither will be able to beat Oz.

Evan Almighty and Bruce Almighty (Steve Carrell and Jim Carrey) are reuniting for this funky little comedy called The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, something that looks a little like Blades of Glory. Carrell and Steve Buscemi will be sporting silly wigs, and funky costumes. Jim Carrey seems to be the show-stealing supporting actor in this film. It will draw a good audience, as Carrey has been in 12 $100 million movies and Carrell has had great box office legs since his break-out in The 40-Year Old Virgin.

Halle Berry is starring in the new thriller, The Call, and while many thrillers this year have disappointed this year, this has received a promising marketing kick. It looks like it will earn over $10 million.

Here’s how I see the top 10:
1. Oz The Great and the Powerful: $43, 750, 000
2. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: $17, 000, 000
3. The Call: $11, 500, 000
4. Identity Thief: $4, 500, 000
5. Jack the Giant Slayer: $4, 000, 000
6. Snitch: $3, 250, 000
7. 21 and Over: $3, 000, 000
8. Safe Haven: $2, 200, 000
9. Silver Linings Playbook: $2, 150, 000
10. Dead Man Down: $2, 100, 000

The Mist (2007)

The Mist

Stephen King’s The Mist

Release Date: November 21, 2007

Director: Frank Darabont

Stars: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden

Runtime: 125 min

A small town in Maine has just been struck by a large lightning storm, and many of the townspeople are going to the local grocery store to stock up. Among these people are Mr. David Drayton (Thomas Jane), a small-time celebrity, and his son, Billy (Nathan Gamble). A mysterious mist falls over the town and local man Dan Miller (Jeffrey DeMunn) comes running in yelling “There’s something in the mist!” and that the mist took a local man. There is something lurking in the mist, but what is it? Extraterrestrial creatures? All the townsfolk know is that they’re incredibly dangerous, and if they make one wrong move, it could mean their life. The only key to survival is the occupants of the store coming together and fighting, but will human nature allow it?

The Mist is based on Stephen King’s novella of the same name, written for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile). It’s a well-crafted creature feature that brings in brilliant elements of the power of human nature. This situation calls for the people of the store to come together to survive, and not launch at each other’s throats and get bad cases of cabin fever. This is a little hard with a crazy local loon, Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden).

Carmody is that crazy person you might see on a street corner saying “Oh Jesus loves ya! He will judge you on this day! Praise Jesus and what not!” You get the picture. I’m not saying that religion is bad, but this woman takes it to a whole new level interpreting the Bible too eerily, and apotheosizing with her imaginary crystal ball. She has read one too many religious books. Even when she may make you want to throw a can of peas at her, she’s an amazing and memorable character. Crazy, yes, but so necessary for the feature, and she is at times an equal threat to the people of the market than whatever’s in that mist. She’s at their throats in the day, and those things come at night. She is also superbly portrayed by Marcia Gay Harden.

The rest of the cast is pretty good. She is the real notable performer, both Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden and Jeffrey DeMunn are good in their roles, but the only other besides Harden worth mentioning is the great Toby Jones, who brings a lot of backbone to an assistant store manager, Ollie. At first glance you might think Ollie is a coward, but give him a gun and put him in this situation, the result is comparable to that of Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs. Though, Hoffman was only fighting against psychopaths, these guys are up against an extreme fundamentalist and monsters of all kinds.
The Mist is a good creature feature that is both taut and clever, slowly paced during the day, but fast-paced when whatever’s out there comes out to play. The characters are top-notch and you can really care for most of them, and the bravery of a select few is extremely admirable. The novella is a little better (as expected) because the reader uses their imagination for what may lie in the mist, and it is much scarier. Though, the creature effects are impressive. One reason it is worse than the novella is the ending that will divide audiences and critics alike.

Darabont takes a much darker route with his ending than King did with his own. Yes, it’s an admirable risk. Yes, it’s what makes the film stand out a little more. But, it just throws it off and messes up the general film. It makes the long film based on a 134-page novella unrewarding. It makes me hesitate to recommend this whole-heartedly, as if one ending could ruin an entire experience, it is this one. It is arguably the most talked about aspect of the feature, but it is no means the best. I still love Darabont with a lot of my might as he directed and wrote for the screen my favourite film, The Green Mile, and he did the same for the amazing The Shawshank Redemption. Darabont took a risk with this new, dark ending, and it did not pay off nearly as well as – say – Stanley Kubrick’s re-imagining of King’s The Shining. That might not be fair to compare the two, but it’s the best analogy that comes to mind.

The ending will divide audiences, some will hate it and some will like it for Darabont’s backbone to be different. I, myself, am unfortunately on the side of hating the ending that did greatly affect my general idea of the mostly solid creature feature. It’s a good film, yes, but it is a big part of what stops it from being great for me. It is also the reason why I hesitate to whole-heartedly recommend this. So, because of that I say: Watch it if you want, but if you like to read, just stick with King’s original 134-page novella.

68/100

March 8-10 Box Office Results

Oz The Great and the Powerful made the box office have a heart beat again, earning a solid $79.1 million. Many thought it would make over $80, and it just missed it. It’s still a great opening, though.

The results

Title: Result

Prediction/Difference

1. Oz The Great and the Powerful$79,110,453

– $87, 000, 000$7, 889, 547 over

2. Jack the Giant Slayer$9,839,135

– $15, 000, 000/ $5, 160, 865 over

3. Identity Thief$6, 334, 220

– $7, 000, 000$665, 780 over

4. Dead Man Down$5, 345, 250

– $7, 500, 000$2, 154, 750 over

5. Snitch$5, 098, 235

– $4, 500, 000$598, 235 under

6. 21 and Over$5, 091, 384

– $5, 000, 000$91, 384 under

7. Safe Haven$3, 753, 384

– $3, 700, 000$53, 384 under

8. Silver Linings Playbook$3, 618, 171

– $4, 800, 000$1, 181, 829 over

9. Escape from Planet Earth$3, 218, 923

– $4, 000, 000$781, 077 over

10. The Last Exorcism Part II$3, 167, 040

– $4, 250, 000$1, 082, 960

Total difference for new releases (2): $10, 044, 297

Total difference for holdovers (8): $9, 615, 514

Breakdown (1997)

BreakdownBreakdown

Release Date: May 2, 1997

Director: Jonathan Mastow

Stars: Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan

Runtime: 93 min

Breakdown isn’t very predictable, but there aren’t very many memorable twists. It’s really just an enthralling and compelling taut thriller that puts an average man (Kurt Russell) against a few ruthless criminals and in a situation that could genuinely happen to anyone. Even if it is a little far-fetched. It’s a very engaging ride that truly entertains for its ninety minute runtime. It’s lots of fun.

80/100