CinemaNerdz Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:45:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Movie Review: The Salvation Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:45:34 +0000 The Salvation is a revenge film so obsessed with the “revenge” part of its plot that you can practically feel the filmmakers salivating to get to the cathartic final shootout. (And yes, a better title for it might be The Salivation. This writer is self-respecting enough not to lead with that zinger, but not above putting it in a self-aware aside.) In so doing, the film makes for a rather pointed lesson in making a good revenge movie: sure, the revenge itself had better be big and it had better be bloody, but it needs to be truly cathartic – a release of emotional energy The Salvationfor an interesting character. In The Salvation, it’s just one particularly concentrated explosion of cold-blooded cruelty to cap a movie that’s already dished out cold-blooded cruelty to spare.

The film opens in the 1870s, when a Danish settler’s (Mads Mikkelsen) wife and son join him in America for the first time. It’s been a long time since the settler, Jon, has seen them; his boy doesn’t even remember him and must be introduced to him for the first time. Moments later, the wife and child are brutally murdered by a couple of nasty customers on a stagecoach; moments after that, Jon catches up to the nasty customers and brutally murders them. Turns out one of the nasty customers had an even nastier brother named Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a vicious gang leader who runs a nearby town with an iron fist. Delarue mounts a manhunt that quickly locates Jon, subjecting him to various abuses as punishment for his righteous crime.

The film becomes, in a way, a dual revenge story. Delarue seeks vengeance for his brother’s killing, while Jon seeks retribution for his family’s killings, and eventually for the wrongs Delarue perpetrates against him as a result. But as an audience we find precious little reason to believe in, or care about, either one of these characters. Although Morgan plays Delarue with a nicely subdued menace, the character is written as a ridiculously over-the-top sadist. In one early scene, he calmly executes a pathetically protesting drunk man and an old woman just to make a point.

For his part, Mikkelsen is consistently a captivating actor, naturally possessed of a weather-beaten yet handsome face and eyes that look as though they’ve seen things whether he’s acting or not. He’s reliable as ever here, as a character considerably more The Salvationaltruistic than his villainous roles in Casino Royale and TV’s Hannibal, but this script gives him so little to do. The story establishes only the ghost of a relationship between Jon and his family before whisking the wife and child away. Then it’s off to the shootings, beatings, and manhunts.

Sure, when director and co-writer Kristian Levring gets to the final showdown, it’s well-staged and well-paced. But the enthusiasm Levring throws into the climax just doesn’t match what’s come before. It’s as if he slogged through all that other setup stuff just so he could get to this one scene. It’s difficult, too, to ignore the awful CGI flames that show up in one protracted segment of that final battle – but in a way, the glaring visual flaw suggests the interesting B-movie that could have been. If Levring had embraced the limitations of his filmmaking a little more, embraced the inherent outrageousness of some of his material, it’d be a lot easier to enjoy The Salvation. But Levring is so doggedly assured of his material’s dramatic weight that he misfires almost from the first shot.

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Unbroken Blu-ray Giveaway Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:18:53 +0000 CinemaNerdz is proud to offer our readers a chance to win one of two Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo copies of Unbroken starring Jack O’Connell and directed by Angelina Jolie.

UnbrokenFor your chance to win one of the discs, just look for the “giveaway” box further down on this page.

There you’ll be directed to a variety of methods by which you can enter the contest. You’ll be asked to provide a valid email address, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, and Tweet the contest. That’s it! That’s all you have to do to enter. We’ll contact you to let you know if you’ve won one of the prizes. But hurry, because the contest ends at 12:00AM on Saturday, April 4th!


UNBROKEN: Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces this epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived on a raft for forty-seven days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, only to be caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s (Seabiscuit: An American Legend) enormously popular book, it’s the inspiring true story about the resilient power of the human spirit.

The UNBROKEN Blu-ray was released on Tuesday, March 24, 2015!

Enter the contest below!

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Box Office Weekend: Insurgent Surges, Gunman Lacks Caliber Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:40:14 +0000 With Young Adult fiction making good bank at the box office, it should be no surprise that the dystopian Divergent movies are moving along well with a first-place finish for The Divergent Series: Insurgent and an estimated $54 million to start the weekend right, even if critics are lambasting it. It is not getting as much flak as The Gunman; debuting in fourth with an estimated $5 million, the Sean Penn led action film may be brought to the theaters by the makers of Taken, but it is doing nowhere near the business of the Liam Neeson franchise, and its lack of reported budget is very telling.

Cinderella may not be first this time around, but a second-place estimate of $34.5 million is not looking shabby for the Kenneth Branagh-directed fairy tale, doing good box office here and abroad. Run All Night, on the other hand, with a second weekend estimate of $5.1 million, is failing to make back even its $50 million Insurgentcosts. Kingsman: The Secret Service pulled out of its rough start and despite only an estimated $4.6 million, pulled in enough worldwide to look good on paper…a far cry better than the audience-approved but critic-burned Do You Believe? While hosting a bevy of well-known stars, the faith-based film pulled in an estimated $4 million…and while an unreported budget is not necessarily a disaster, considering the low budget of previous similar films, it does not bode well for its future at the box office.

Reporting its budget at last, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel turns out to be, as expected, roughly the same $10 million cost as the previous film, but not quite as popular. Still, at an estimated $3.5 million for the weekend and $24.1 million in domestic income, it is by no means a loser, but considering the worldwide $100+ million of the first film, it is probably a comparative disappointment. So, too, are Focus and Chappie; with an estimated weekend take of $3.3 million and $2.7 million respectively, both are weak domestically and may have to rely squarely on overseas money to do well, but the star power involved probably has investors wishing they had done better. Granted, with worldwide money Focus has made its money back while Chappie has not, but after the monumental After Earth debacle Will Smith’s star seems to have tarnished a bit.

Finally, in tenth, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water sits at the bottom, but remains the best performer in the domestic top ten, an estimated $2.4 million contributing to a fine $158.8 million in total…a reminder that last can sometimes be first, at least when it comes to the movies.

Weekend Box Office (March 20th – March 22nd)

  1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent…$54 million
  2. Cinderella…$34.5 million
  3. Run All Night…$5.1 million
  4. The Gunman…$5 million
  5. Kingsman: The Secret Service…$4.6 million
  6. Do You Believe?…$4 million
  7. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel…$3.5 million
  8. Focus…$3.3 million
  9. Chappie…$2.7 million
  10. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water…$2.4 million
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Movie Review: It Follows Fri, 20 Mar 2015 04:34:29 +0000 Horror is the most formulaic genre in cinema – or, perhaps, simply the one in which filmmakers seem most willing to rely on formula. The genre often descends into a spiral of derivative shtick, with the occasional good or great film spawning ten knockoffs that then give rise to another fifty of their own imitators. See Paranormal Activity, a novel It Followsand creepy film (a Blair Witch Project copycat itself? perhaps), which has jumpstarted the genre’s most recent god-awful trend: found-footage horror. But even Paranormal Activity stood by certain rules of its genre, a condition the new horror flick It Follows renders itself blissfully, thrillingly free of.

At least for the first two-thirds or so. The film opens with a gripping sequence, horrifying in its simplicity. Writer-director David Robert Mitchell places his camera in the middle of a suburban street and simply, well, follows in a 360-degree pivot as a terrified young woman runs out of her house, into the street and back into the house before fleeing in her car. We don’t see whatever seems to be pursuing her, nor do we see how it brings about her grisly fate moments later. But we soon learn the specifics from Hugh (Jake Weary), a young man of questionable morals, after he has sex for the first time with our heroine, Jay (Maika Monroe). Hugh has a sexually transmitted curse of sorts, causing its most recent victim to be pursued by a slow-moving, malignant entity that can take the form of any human, either anonymous or dear to the victim. If it succeeds in killing its prey – as it did Hugh’s last sexual conquest, the woman in the prologue – it moves back down the line to the last person afflicted. Hugh explains that he’s only passing the curse on again to Jay to save himself. Helpfully, he adds that she should do the same as quickly as possible.

It’s a clever concept, a novel twist on the perennial horror subject material of teens, sex and death. But the real subversive brilliance lies in Mitchell’s presentation. First, Mitchell defies the horror dictum that claustrophobia equals terror. Starting from that chilling opening sequence, Mitchell keeps his characters at a distance, mostly in wide or medium shots. His boogeyman doesn’t work by that old trick where you follow your terrified protagonist closely, revealing suddenly that – BOOGA! – the bad guy’s right behind her. The creeping entity that pursues Jay doesn’t need to sneak up on you. It’ll get to you one way or another. Besides serving the peculiar nature of his antagonist, Mitchell’s wide-open compositions convey his characters’ alienation with crushing beauty. The young leads cling to each other in a bleak, often creepily uninhabited adult world that’s not as promising as they dreamed.

This horrific anti-claustrophobia is Mitchell’s most inspired subversion, but it’s certainly not the only one. Forget the idea that a horror villain should look cool, or at least unique. It could take the form of a character we know, or some random extra in the background. It FollowsIt could be anyone, and the constant possibility of its presence shoots a fresh kind of fear into the film. Mitchell also has almost no truck with the horror convention of jump scares. He’d rather slowly make your hairs stand on end for minutes at a time than waste the scare on a single moment. He goes for a bit of a 1980s vibe with a terrific synth score by Disasterpeace, but doesn’t wallow in it the way recent nostalgia trips like The Guest have. There’s very little gore. Thoughtful performances! A self-possessed heroine who makes compelling choices for herself! Are we sure this is even a horror movie?

The big letdown of It Follows is that it’s not sure quite where to go with this setup. The denouement is quietly chilling, but it’s preceded by a fairly unremarkable showdown set piece. It’s entertaining enough, but it doesn’t deliver on the promise of the hour and a quarter of excellence that sets it up. But It Follows is only Mitchell’s second feature, and it’s still remarkable by any metric. It’ll be fascinating to see what Mitchell applies his considerable talent to next. And in the meantime, for once I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a few imitators adopt Mitchell’s unorthodox approach into their boring little horror rulebooks.

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Box Office Weekend: Cinderella Has $70 Million Opening Ball Mon, 16 Mar 2015 17:26:23 +0000 Sometimes, there is simply no winning against Disney and Buena Vista. The new, live action Cinderella proved a big boost to a flagging weekend box office, pulling in an estimated $70.1 million – a strong start against a $92 million budget. Nothing else Cinderellaeven came close, with the Ed Harris/Liam Neeson thriller Run All Night opening with a rather weak $11 million estimate in comparison, and an unreported budget is not helping matters. Beyond that, things dropped below the $10 million threshold; even Kingsman: The Secret Service bumping up a place to third from last week only garnered an estimated $6.2 million. But in the end, counting worldwide gross, it is proving a decent success at the box office.

In fourth and fifth place, respectively, Focus and Chappie both pulled in about $5.8 million, and cost roughly the same to make, but by far Focus is more successful, especially when taking worldwide gross into account ($101.7 million to $56.7 million). However, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, despite an unreleased budget and an estimated $5.7 million weekend, may be profitable on its own terms, if it cost the same as the previous film ($10 million), though it certainly appears it will be much less successful ($46.4 million domestic for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel compared to $18.1 million). Speaking of sequels, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water proved a bigger success than the original 2004 film, an estimated $4.1 million just pushing it further into success.

An estimated $3.7 million was the take for McFarland, USA, but on an unreported budget it is hard to say if it made good on a small budget or is floundering under a large one (needless to say, $35 million is still not a huge success). The same could not be said for American Sniper, which returns to the list with an estimated $2.9 million and remains the top earner of 2014, and The DUFF, whose low budget made the estimated $2.9 million it earned this weekend a nice capper to a decent $30.3 million over an $8.5 million budget.

Weekend Box Office (March 13th – March 15th)

  1. Cinderella…$70.1 million
  2. Run All Night…$11 million
  3. Kingsman: The Secret Service…$6.2 million
  4. Focus…$5.8 million
  5. Chappie…$5.8 million
  6. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel…$8.6 million
  7. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water…$4.1 million
  8. McFarland, USA…$3.7 million
  9. American Sniper…$2.9 million
  10. The DUFF…$2.9 million
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