Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ranking the Movies from the First Half of 2016

I suck.

That may not be the most self-affirming way to start a post, but I confess that no matter what my excuses may be that my output on here over the last year or more has been pathetic. I keep promising more reviews than just the podcast and well, check out the archives to see how I've done. But we've hit the half way point of 2016 and seems like a perfect time to declare a fresh start. But to catch you up, here are all the 2016 movies that I've seen and reviewed in some form (podcast, written or ghostwritten) over the past 6 months.

Some of these movies I hope to see again and write more thorough reviews, while others I hope to never think about again (well, until the Breakdown of the Stinkers of 2016 show).

1. Zootopia ****
2. The Jungle Book ****
3. The Nice Guys ***½
4. Deadpool ***½
5. Captain America: Civil War ***½
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane ***½
7. The Conjuring 2 ***½
8. Team Foxcatcher ***½
9. Eye in the Sky ***½
10. Hush ***
11. The Shallows ***
12. Keanu ***
13. Finding Dory ***
14. Money Monster ***
15. Kung Fu Panda 3 ***
16. My Beautiful Broken Brain ***
17. The Little Prince ***
18. Band of Robbers ***
19. Boom Bust Boom ***
20. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising ***
21. How to Be Single ***
22. Pee-Wee's Big Holiday ***
23. Prescription Thugs ***
24. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping **½
25. The Fundamentals of Caring **½
26. Monster Hunt **½
27. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot **½
28. Ava's Possessions **½
29. Eddie the Eagle **
30. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies **
31. X-Men: Apocalypse **
32. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny **
33. Gods of Egypt **
34. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice **
35. Triple 9 **
36. Special Correspondents **
37. Criminal
38. The Huntsman: Winter's War
39. Warcraft
40. The Boy
41. Independence Day: Resurgence
42. Mojave
43. The 5th Wave
44. Free State of Jones *
45. The Veil *
46. Zoolander 2 ½*
47. The Do-Over ½*

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Breakdown of 'Independence Day: Resurgence', 'The Shallows', 'Monster Hunt', 'The Fundamentals of Caring', 'Boom Bust Boom'

This week on the Breakdown we review the alien invasion that is 20 years in the making, Independence Day: Resurgence and as well, the killer shark thriller, The Shallows. One of those movies was a giant drag and the other was one of the best times at the cinema this summer. You can try guessing or just listen to the show. As always if you love it then please spread the word.

 Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

Independence Day: Resurgence *½ (CS) & ** (SM)
The Shallows *** (CS & SM)
Monster Hunt **½ (CS & SM)
The Fundamentals of Caring **½ (CS) & *** (SM)
Boom Bust Boom *** (CS & SM)

Box Office Challenge Game:

Christopher

1. Captain America: Civil War $181 790 000.00
2. X-Men: Apocalypse $65 000 000.00
3. Ghostbusters
4. Ice Age: Collision Course  
5. Suicide Squad
6. Central Intelligence $35 535 250.00
7. BFG
8. The Secret Life of Pets
9. Warcraft $24, 356, 000.00
10. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Total: $306 681 250.00

Scott 

1. Finding Dory $135 060 273.00
2. Star Trek Beyond
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows $35 250 000.00
4. Alice in the Looking Glass $28 112 000.00
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
$41, 600 000.00
6. The Conjuring 2 $40, 350, 000.00
7. Angry Birds $39 000 000.00
8. Jason Bourne
9. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rises
$21 790 000.00
10. The Purge: Election Day
Total: $341 562 273.00

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Darn You, Mike Flanagan! I Wasn't Supposed to be Excited About 'Ouija: Origin of Evil'

If I composed a "Top Ten 2016 Movies That I Don't Want to See" list, then a few hours ago there would have been a strong chance Ouija: Origin of Evil would have ranked high. I also would have become one of those cynical and cranky movie writers and I'd deserve one of the 10 or so daily slaps I get from my 15-month old daughter. The first movie looked to be pure haunted horror cliché and a sequel screamed studio-driven cash grab since the first was such a huge surprise hit. As well, it is based off a really dumb board game that lacks marbles posing as fireballs.

Yet today was when I discovered that Mike Flanagan is directing it and suddenly, that rascal has got me a little bit excited to check this movie out. Flanagan has done a fantastic job of taking what could be routine horror pictures in Oculus and Hush, and plays on the tropes and twists them around to make something fresh plus he is without doubt one of the more stylish and atmospheric horror filmmakers. The new trailer actually looks pretty decent with the typical jump scares but there seems to be a patience here and an attempt to try some new things. I also dig the 1960s setting and several scenes feel like homages to classic horror from the time like Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby and even a bit of Omen. If this ends up being really good, then this will be the third horror sequel that wins me over after I didn't like the original (Insidious Chapter 3 and Conjuring 2). With the amazing talent that has been emerging over the past few years, it looks like we may be entering into a new golden era for mainstream horror.

'Mechanic: Resurrection' Trailer is Very Informative

I'm really excited about the new Mechanic: Resurrection trailer, because I learned several new things. The big one is that they made a remake to the Charles Bronson 1972 Mechanic movie, and someone must have gone to see it since here is the sequel. Another big revelation is that Jessica Alba is still getting work in mainstream movies, so that is nice. On the casting front, it is clear that Tommy Lee Jones' new thing is to be token crusty bad guy or maybe he is the crusty starts as a bad guy but then become buds with Jason Statham but he is definitely crusty. The last thing that I've learned is that end of August seems to be the best time to plop down your generic and derivative violent action movie with a star who isn't really a draw anymore (it follows the lead of such action gems as The November Man, The Transporter Refueled, and Hitman: Agent 47).


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Breakdown of 'Finding Dory', 'Attack the Block', 'Band of Robbers', 'They Look Like People' and 'The Trials of Muhammad Ali'

The Breakdown reviews five pictures this week including the latest grand Pixar animated adventure, Finding Dory, as well as the 2011 sci-fi action comedy, Attack the Block. We also look at a Muhammad Ali doc as our tribute to the greatest and discuss a modern retelling of a Mark Twain classic. As always if you enjoy the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

Finding Dory *** (CS & SM)
Band of Robbers *** (CS) & ***½(SM)
Attack the Block *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
They Look Like People *** (CS & SM)
The Trials of Muhammad Ali ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)

Box Office Challenge Game:

Christopher

1. Captain America: Civil War $181 790 000.00
2. X-Men: Apocalypse $65 000 000.00
3. Ghostbusters
4. Ice Age: Collision Course  
5. Suicide Squad
6. Central Intelligence $35 535 250.00

7. BFG
8. The Secret Life of Pets
9. Warcraft $24, 356, 000.00
10. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Total: $306 681 250.00

Scott 

1. Finding Dory $135 060 273.00
2. Star Trek Beyond
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows $35 250 000.00
4. Alice in the Looking Glass $28 112 000.00
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
6. The Conjuring 2 $40, 350, 000.00
7. Angry Birds $39 000 000.00
8. Jason Bourne
9. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rises $21 790 000.00
10. The Purge: Election Day
Total: $299 562 273.00

Friday, June 17, 2016

'Denial' Trailer Hints at an Interesting Movie if You Ignore Its Oscar Baiting

Denial seems to have cracked the code for award recognition. Making of a Murderer and American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson have proven that real life cases are hot entertainment right now. The Holocaust is almost guaranteed Oscar nomination material and on top of that, historical stories about racism seems to hit the Academy right in the heart every few years. If this movie even ends up being half decent then it has to be in talks come the end of the year. I remember the Deborah E. Lipstadt v. David Irving case at the time, which was pretty major news but also had some huge implication when it came to definition of racism and academic accountability. It should make for a pretty interesting movie if it is willing to explore the more complicated issues. It is supported by a powerhouse cast with Rachel Wiesz, Timothy Spall and Tom Wilkinson who are pretty reliable at bringing the goods. The trailer is pretty standard Oscar bait type of stuff with its pacing and music, but as I've said before, the trailer isn't the movie. This has strong potential to be a thriller like Spotlight where it relies less on the cliches like car chases or sneaky villains and brings the intrigue and excitement through the in-depth character interactions and intricate layers of the case.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

'Pete's Dragon' Trailer Shows How Marketing Has Lost the Art of Surprise and Anticipation

It may be an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and my own fading memory, but how I remember the marketing campaign for Gremlins was one fuelled by mystery and anticipation. First there were the posters of the partly open box that had something inside but it was covered by darkness and the only other hints about the movie was the classic rules of "Keep out of light. Don't get them wet. And never feed them after midnight" printed on the poster. Then there was the trailer that showed a kitchen in shambles and an ominous voice going over those rules again, but we never see what the Gremlins looks like. I'm pretty sure that sense of mystery remained right until opening weekend, then they started rattling off ads and commercials that were full of the nasty creatures and the cute Gizmo. The mega-hit E.T. followed almost the exact same strategy with a vague poster and only glimpses of the alien in the trailer until the more overt ads arrived after opening day.

The anticipation game is lost now in modern marketing where if they have a big CGI creature then it gets shown in all its glory and every movie goer is well aware what to expect come opening night. The trailer for Pete's Dragon makes it seem like the first act of the movie will be all build up and set up for the big appearance of the dragon, but no audience member is going to buy into it because we saw him for free in the trailer. It is the same thing that annoyed me with the BFG trailer where it hints the start of the movie is about the girl worrying about the creature that stomps about at night but we have him spoiled in the trailer. There is no chance now for surprise or excitement about the appearances of the big creature because we know exactly what to expect.

I realize it is hard to keep things hidden with social media and a culture of instant gratification, but there is something lost when all the big reveals come out before opening night. Of course, the problem is amplified with today's movie websites that almost demand that trailers deliver cool scenes and show us more of the big characters. I've read countless pieces of a writer wishing he saw more in a trailer and how the next trailer better reveal a specific story point. Trailers have become part of the entertainment package and in some ways get more attention than the actual movies. Trailers should be about teasing and building up anticipation and the entertainment and satisfaction should be left to the real feature.




Monday, June 13, 2016

Life Post the Great Computer Crash

For all seventeen of you gripped by the exciting computer drama, I'm currently using a loaner while my laptop sits for three weeks in a shop and my desktop sits pretty as I take advantage of its operational minutes by manually backing up all the important files. For some reason the computer won't do a full system back-up, so I'm just picking and choosing what I can't live without (mainly family pictures stored on there) and burning it on DVDs. It'll be nice when that is done because then it can keep the laptop company and I can drop even more money on my aged computers. Unfortunately, all this playing around has meant that my productivity hasn't been rocking too hard, especially since the non backing-up minutes have been occupied by a certain 15 month old who feels napping is cutting into her mischief making. Client work has taken precedence over written reviews of Warcraft and Conjuring 2, but you can listen to both on this week's podcast. Not sure if I'll end up finding time to write them but I promise there will be other writery goodness on here this week. Maybe it will even be more than excuse posts for a change.

The Breakdown of 'Warcraft', 'The Conjuring 2', 'Ghostbusters 2' and 'Mojave' Podcast

The Breakdown gets hit with a case of sequelitis as we review James Wan's return to horror, The Conjuring 2, we also look at the 1989 follow-up to a classic, Ghostbusters 2, and we discuss the modern state of sequels. On top of that, we review the highly anticipated fantasy epic directed by Duncan Jones, Warcraft. As always if you love the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Rating Rundown:

Warcraft *½ (CS) & **½ (SM)
The Conjuring 2 ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)
Ghostbusters 2 *½ (CS & SM)
Mojave *½ (CS & SM)

Box Office Challenge Game:

Christopher:

1. Captain America: Civil War $181 790 000.00
2. X-Men: Apocalypse $65 000 000.00
3. Ghostbusters
4. Ice Age: Collision Course
5. Suicide Squad
6. Central Intelligence
7. BFG  
8. The Secret Life of Pets
9. Warcraft $24, 356, 000.00
10. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Total: $271 146 000.00

Scott:

1. Finding Dory
2. Star Trek Beyond
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows $35 250 000.00  
4. Alice in the Looking Glass $28 112 000.00 
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
6. Conjuring 2 $40, 350, 000.00  
7. Angry Birds $39 000 000.00
8. Jason Bourne
9. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rises $21 790 000.00  
10. The Purge: Election Day
Total: $164 502 000.00

Moana Teaser Promises an Inspiring and Gorgeous Adventure

Disney's latest animated feature is going to be an interesting mix of going to their classic formula while also being progressive and fresh. Moana delivers us yet another Disney princess to be slapped on backpacks and lunch boxes, but just like Pocahontas, Mulan and Tiana (The Princess and the Frog) the studio is moving away from the traditional European fairy tale princess. We now have our first Polynesian princess. Based off the little bits shown in the teaser, she is going to be a strong and independent female who isn't easily impressed by the strength of males. This has been Disney's thing lately as shown with Frozen, and of course, this is a great new direction with damsels no longer being distressed. But even removing the positive gender direction, this movie looks bright and gorgeous with some really cool visuals. It looks like a sweeping adventure with interesting characters and a story steeped in Polynesian mythology. Plus the Rock as Maui has already won me over as a fun character. If this lives up to its potential, then along with The Jungle Book and Zootopia, Disney has marked 2016 as a year they've made instant classics and reestablished themselves as the rulers of family fare.