"Jack Reacher" was a surprise hit last year, grossing close to $220 million off a $60 million budget, and according to Deadline, Paramount and Skydance are hoping for a very successful franchise. Tom Cruise is currently re-teaming with the studios to develop a sequel based on Lee Child's series of books. The next film will follow the 18th book, "Never Go Back," and will have Reacher going back to the Virginia headquarters of his old military unit and get arrested for a crime he doesn't remember committing 16 years earlier. I really did enjoy the first "Jack Reacher," and thought it was different enough from other genre fare to keep mass audiences entertained, and hopefully they can pump out a few more films before Cruise throws in the "I'm too old" towel.
It looks like the remake of "The Crow" is actually going to be a reboot after all. Originally star Luke Evans ("Fast & Furious 6") had stated they would be doing a full remake of the original 1994 film, but in a statement to The Metro he confirmed it would be closer to the comics. Touching on the death of actors on the set of the original and one of its sequels Evans stated, "I’m not one of those superstitious people. It is incredibly sad that Brandon died making the movie. He was a very talented actor. It is a very beautiful story, The Crow. It is a very tragic story with huge emotional themes. We plan to tell the story differently and with a lot of integrity to the original comic book." I'm a lot happier knowing Brandon Lee's original will remain untouched as they are going in a different direction now, and I'm excited to see Evans performance as he sold me on his potential to play "The Crow" in "No One Lives."
Gru is back, and in “Despicable Me 2,” he is out to save the world. Voiced by Steve Carell with a generically eastern European accent, the lovable ex-supervillain has made a home with the girls (or as he pronounces it, “goirls”) from the first “Despicable Me” and turned his evil laboratory into a factory for making jams and jellies. All is well until Gru’s top scientist Dr. Nefario (voice of Russell Brand) quits and Gru is recruited by the AVL (Anti-Villain League) to find a super serum that turns loveable creatures into hideous monsters.
Lucky for Gru, he is recruited by Lucy (voice of Kristen Wiig), who has a fresh, funny, down to Earth style that is an absolute blast. She’s one of those characters who cuts through the silliness, calls it like it is, and offers some good advice. For example, maybe it’s not such a good idea that Gru announces his weapons before he uses them—a lesson he learns the hard way. She also has Gru’s back, and in my favorite sequence, saves him from an awful first date with a woman named Shannon (voice of Kristen Schaal, a great choice whom I adore), who embodies some of the top deal-breaking worst traits in women that make men cringe and ask for the check before the entrees arrive. The way Gru and Lucy get her home had me roaring with cathartic laughter.
The frigid weather outside didn't stop the box office from heating up, and Box Office Mojo has the numbers. "Frozen" took the first place spot with $31.6 million, and a $134 million domestic take so far. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" settled for second place adding $27 million, bringing it a $336.7 million domestic total. Stumbling out of the gates in third was "Out of the Furnace" which deservedly only took in $5.3 million (it is highly overrated critically, but so is the upcoming "American Hustle"). Landing in fourth was "Thor: The Dark World" which took in another $4.7 million; it will pass $200 million domestically before Christmas. Rounding out the top five was the financially disappointing "Delivery Man" which took in $3.8 million for a $24.8 million total.
One of my favorite movies featuring Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson is apparently getting a sequel. "The Rundown" is about a tough guy (Dwayne Johnson) who has to retrieve a squirrelly, sly guy (Seann William Scott), but runs into a conflict with a slave driving gold mine owner (Christopher Walken). Director Peter Berg just announced, via Collider, at a press junket for his incredible upcoming film "Lone Survivor," that he and Dwayne Johnson would be re-teaming for another go at what is now a franchise. It doesn't look like anyone else from the original will be returning, but it is still exciting to see Johnson getting back into one of the roles that helped put him on the map with action seeking audiences. If you haven't seen it the first film really is a lot of fun!.
Is it worth $10? No
“Out of the Furnace” has plenty to get movie fans excited: An A-list cast, a gritty revenge premise, and a promising young director hot off an Oscar contender. And yet, as sometimes happens in Hollywood, they messed it all up.
Specifically, director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart”) messed it up. The pacing doesn’t work, there’s no clear sense of narrative structure, and as a result the story feels aimless. This also means the plot never develops suspense and we’re left not caring about what we’re watching. For viewers of a drama, apathy is deadly.
Is it worth $10? Yes
A full appreciation of Belgium’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 2014 Oscars requires an understanding of the dual meaning of the word “melodrama.” Critics often use the term (especially in adjective form) to pejoratively describe films or scenes that depict saccharine outpourings of emotion intended to coax an emotional response from the audience. The related, alternative meaning, though, is a legitimate sub-genre of drama film and usually employs some form of tragedy. It dates back to the earliest days of the medium. Both meanings apply to director Felix Van Groeningen’s “The Broken Circle Breakdown.” And fortunately, the second definition applies much more than the first.
Elise (Veerle Baetens) and Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) are a Dutch-speaking couple in their thirties in contemporary small-town Belgium. Musician Didier maintains lifelong passions for America and classic bluegrass which Elise, who’s also a talented singer, readily adopts. They are an unconventionally attractive couple, they sing great together, and their downhome country band is gaining fans. Then disaster strikes in the form of an illness that befalls their five year-old daughter Maybelle. (“Like Mother Maybelle,” explains Didier, referring to the matriarch of The Carter Family, America’s country music royals.)
Is it worth $10? Yes
It takes a special kind of person to grace the cover of a magazine called “Fantastique,” but Bettie Page fits the bill like her over-the-elbow opera gloves fit her.
She is such a larger-than-life figure and such an awe-inspiring symbol of strong, feminine perfection that admirers like present-day burlesque star Dita von Teese verge on incredulousness. “It’s sort of confusing whether she was a real person or not,” Von Teese says. In the documentary “Bettie Page Reveals All,” a photographer who worked with “The Queen of the Pinups” points out that she loved her work and let her joy flow into the cameras. Photographer Sam Menning says insightfully of Page, “She smiled with her whole body.” Add in her confident sexuality and it’s a mix that he says “women gravitate towards.”
There are two cool parts in “The Wolverine”: A battle of wits and blades on top of a bullet train, and an end credits cookie scene that sets up the upcoming “X-Men” movie. The fact that one of the best parts of the movie comes during the end credits should be a sign that this movie is not worth seeing. It picks up after the events of 2006’s “X-3:The Last Stand.” Still grieving after the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) accepts an invitation to go to Japan to visit a man named Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi). Logan saved Yashida’s life during the bombing of Nagasaki, and now he wants to repay his debt by giving the almost invincible Logan the gift of mortality. Logan refuses, and fights with ninjas ensue. Cuz you know, this is an action movie set in Japan, so there has to be either ninjas or Yakuza. “The Wolverine” goes the ninja route. Sprinkled between the fights is a half baked story of corporate betrayal and who will inherit Yashida’s fortune and business after his death. It’s pretty standard, and not that interesting. Neither are the fights, except for the one on the train. And sitting through this two hour movie, which has very little to offer in character development for Logan, in order to see a cool ten minute scene is just not worth it. Skip It.
“Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” follows Clara (Lily Collins), a descendant of an angelic race of warriors known as Shadow Hunters. Out to find her kidnapped mother, she joins them and encounters a variety of supernatural beings. As Matthew Kaiser said in his review, “The acting is above average, but the characterizations are nothing mold breaking….it needs some polishing.” Given that there are six books in the series that this is based on, there is time for further development and “Mortal Instruments” may be worth watching as the films roll out over the next few years. Rent It.
We had a record breaking weekend at the box office this past Thanksgiving holiday, and Box Office Mojo has the numbers. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" held the top spot, and took in another $74.5 million ($110.1 million for the 5-day total), and has now grossed just about $300 million domestically. Disney's "Frozen" opened to $66.7 million ($93 million for the 5-day total), and has set a new record for animated films over this break (besting "Toy Story 2"'s $80.1 million). "Thor: The Dark World" took third with $11.1 million, and has grossed $186.7 million domestically. Unfortunately Jason Statham's new (and very entertaining) flick "Homefront" bombed with just $9.8 million over the whole 5-day break. In fifth was "The Book Thief" with $5 million over the weekend in limited release. I am happy to report that Spike Lee's remake "Oldboy" bombed with $1.25 million. I'm only happy it bombed because Spike Lee is such a dick to everyone he meets, and thinks so highly of himself, that it's nice to see him get his just desserts (sorry to anyone who worked on the film).
After the tragic news that Paul Walker ("Running Scared") died in a car crash over the weekend a lot of attention was turned toward the upcoming "Fast and Furious 7," which Walker was in the middle of filming and is scheduled to open July 2014. ComingSoon is reporting that Universal Studios, as respectfully as possible, is already figuring out a way to keep things going. Universal executives and director James Wan held a conference call on Sunday morning to discuss the state of the film, whether rewrites would be necessary and how to proceed in a manner that would be respectful to Walker's death. The movie is facing a delay in production but won't be abandoned. A large portion of the film has already been shot, but all the cast was expected to return to film more scenes, and then re-shoots later on. I agree that they should keep going, and hopefully they can do so in a way that will honor his memory. While I don't think he was the most talented actor he definitely had a heart of gold, and was a really great human being who was using his celebrity status to try to make the world a better place. He will be missed.