CinemaNerdz Mon, 03 Aug 2015 21:19:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Box Office Weekend: An Impossible Mission? Not for Cruise Mon, 03 Aug 2015 09:00:59 +0000 With a strong advertising blitz and J.J. Abrams in a producing chair, it seemed almost certain that Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation would be a top box office draw – and it was, reaching first with an estimated $56 million and garnering all sort of praise. And while it has opened very well compared to the previous Mission: Impossible films (second only to Mission: Impossible II), it has strangely fallen short compared to the summer blockbusters of July, including the opening of Ant-Man (which reached third place this weekend with an estimated $12.6 million), the lowest earning Marvel film since The Incredible Hulk. However, both films are likely to do well considering overseas dollars, which will not be the case Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nationfor Vacation. With Chevy Chase handing the reins to Ed Helms (taking over the role of grown-up Rusty), the latest entry does not appear destined for greatness; even with a second-place finish and a Wednesday opening, it made an estimated weekend total of $14.9 million and mostly critical scorn.

Minions continues to pile on the cash with an estimated $12.2 million, making Pixels (estimated $10.4 million) look small and blocky in comparison; the latest DreamWorks entry is more than triple its budget in domestic earnings alone, while Pixels has not even broken a profit counting worldwide totals. Even Trainwreck, landing in sixth with an estimated $9.7 million, has made good with critics and in cash alike.

Southpaw picked up an estimated $7.5 million and appears to be in an uphill battle to make back its $30 million costs, while Paper Towns is probably thankful for its $12 million budget, as its estimated $4.6 million is bringing it close to breaking even. But flop or success, neither can hold a candle to ninth and tenth place finishers Inside Out and Jurassic World. While Inside Out (estimated $4.5 million) might appear at first glance a flop, unable to make up the difference on its $175 million costs, worldwide totals tell a very different story with $602.3 million in the bank. Jurassic World (estimated $3.8 million), in the meantime, is a success on all counts, now standing solidly as the third highest-earning movie of all-time.

Weekend Box Office (July 29th – August 2nd)

  1. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation…$56 million
  2. Vacation…$14.9 million
  3. Ant-Man…$12.6 million
  4. Minions…$12.2 million
  5. Pixels…$10.4 million
  6. Trainwreck…$9.7 million
  7. Southpaw…$7.5 million
  8. Paper Towns…$4.6 million
  9. Inside Out…$4.5 million
  10. Jurassic World…$3.8 million
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Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Fri, 31 Jul 2015 04:25:18 +0000 If you’ve seen any of the marketing for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, you’ve almost certainly seen the image of Tom Cruise gripping the side of a jet plane as it takes off. The outrageous stunt is real, and the laws of modern movie marketing would seem to dictate that this could well be the money shot for the whole movie. So there’s a certain refreshing pleasure in sitting down to watch the film and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nationfinding that the plane stunt happens right in the opening sequence. If the trailer’s big wowza moment is just table setting, what could the filmmakers have in store for the final showdown? The answer, as it turns out, is plenty, but also not quite enough. This Mission: Impossible is a remarkably fun and clever continuation of the franchise, but also occasionally frustrating in the way it fails to live up to its own standards.

Rogue Nation finds the top-secret daredevil government agency known as the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) in disarray. CIA director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) has successfully lobbied Congress to dismantle the organization, and orders IMF agent Brandt (Jeremy Renner) to bring his people in. Of course Ethan Hunt (Cruise), the most unconventional agent in the highly unconventional agency, has better things to do than turn in his badge. He and former IMF agent Benji (Simon Pegg) are on the trail of the Syndicate, an “anti-IMF” composed of missing and presumed-dead agents who have long been off the IMF’s grid. Alternately tussling and collaborating with a slippery British agent (Rebecca Ferguson), and with the IMF always just a step behind, saving the world has never been a bigger pain in the ass for Ethan and Benji.

For the audience, though, it’s kind of a blast – at least for the first two-thirds or so of writer-director Christopher McQuarrie’s script. McQuarrie’s never written a bigger or better twist than the now-classic ending of his The Usual Suspects, but he always manages to throw some unexpected tweaks even into essentially dull films like his 2012 Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher. You’d think throwing Tom Cruise on the side of a plane would be spectacle enough, but McQuarrie tosses in an extra surprise by having Hunt’s accomplice on the ground remotely open the wrong door of the plane as he attempts to let Hunt in. Later in the film’s first act, a handcuffed Hunt is provided with the keys to escape and fight his jailors – but he can’t reach the lock while cuffed, so he must fight while still restrained. None of this is earth-shattering stuff, but McQuarrie is adept at subverting his audience’s expectations of any given showdown in clever ways that will keep you wondering: “Now how is he going to get out of that?” Appropriate for a movie about impossible missions.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue NationThe action and surprises continue almost non-stop through a game of cat-and-mouse behind the scenes of an opera, an underwater heist, and a deftly edited motorcycle chase that seems to almost literally blow your hair back. And then…the air goes out of the whole thing a little bit. The movie’s third act is curiously devoid of the high-concept stunts and amusing reversals that make the preceding material so enjoyable. McQuarrie finally decides to focus on his ill-defined villain (Sean Harris) after basically ignoring him for most of the film, and introduces a secondary baddie into the mix as well. The action gets lighter and more generic – other than a climactic trap that requires simply too many coincidences for it to have worked as its creators planned, even by the high standards of disbelief suspension Mission: Impossible requires. Kudos to McQuarrie for front-loading the movie with that plane sequence, but by the end you’ll be wishing there was something equally smashing to bring the curtain down.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation still stays entertaining, though, thanks in large part to the remarkable charisma of Cruise and Ferguson. Pegg is also practically a lead here, but between this franchise and Star Trek, his hysterical nebbish stock character is wearing awfully thin. Ironically, Edgar Wright, the director who introduced Pegg to the public through Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, knows how to exploit Pegg’s versatility. Hollywood doesn’t. Pegg was introduced in Mission: Impossible 3, his role was beefed up in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and the audience’s affection for Benji is assumed far too much by this point. He needs to be phased out again for the next installment in favor of newcomer Ferguson, an immediately engaging Swedish actress with a poise and screen presence that recalls Ingrid Bergman. She’s appropriately cast for the complex, believable character McQuarrie has written, which dodges both the sex-object and the hey-she’s-a-girl-but-she-can-punch-too syndromes that so often define female characters in these kind of movies. She holds her own against Cruise and even saves his ass a few times. When Cruise finally decides he’s too old to hang off planes, someone hand the keys of this franchise to Ferguson. As long as the series’ scribes continue to write her character as strongly as McQuarrie does here, the show will be in good hands.

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Win Passes to An Advance Screening of Ricki and the Flash Thu, 30 Jul 2015 20:00:38 +0000 Enter here for your chance to win passes to an advance screening of the new film from director Jonathan Demme, Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, and Rick Springfield.

Ricki and the FlashFor your chance to receive two (2) complimentary passes to see the new film Ricki and the Flash at the MJR Grand Digital Cinema 16 Theater in Troy, Michigan on Tuesday, August 4th at 7:00PM, just look for the “Enter the Contest” box further down on this page. But hurry, because there are a limited number of passes available and when they’re gone, they’re gone!


RICKI AND THE FLASH: Meryl Streep takes on a whole new gig – a hard-rocking singer/guitarist – for Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody in Ricki and the Flash. In an original and electrifying film loaded with live musical performances, Streep stars as Ricki Rendazzo, a guitar heroine who made a world of mistakes as she followed her dreams of rock-and-roll stardom. Returning home, Ricki gets a shot at redemption and a chance to make things right as she faces the music with her family. Streep stars opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer; Rick Springfield, portraying a Flash member in love with Ricki; Kevin Kline as Ricki’s ex-husband; and Audra McDonald as Kline’s new wife. Starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, and Rick Springfield. Directed by Jonathan Demme. (TRISTAR/SONY) This film is rated PG-13.

RICKI AND THE FLASH will be released in theaters on Friday, August 7th!

Enter the contest by clicking here!

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Win Passes to An Advance Screening of Dark Places Thu, 30 Jul 2015 09:00:19 +0000 Enter here for your chance to win passes to an advance screening of Dark Places starring Charlize Theron, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, and Chloë Grace Moretz.

Dark PlacesFor your chance to receive two (2) complimentary passes to see the new film Dark Places at the MJR Troy Theater in Troy, Michigan on Tuesday, August 4th at 7:00PM, just look for the contest box further down on this page. But hurry, because the contest ends at 12:00am on August 3rd, 2015! We’ll contact you via email on the morning of Tuesday, August 4th, if you’ve won a pair of passes.


DARK PLACES: Libby Day (Charlize Theron) was only seven years old when her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. In court, the traumatized child pointed the finger at her brother, Ben (Tye Sheridan), and her testimony put the troubled sixteen-year-old in prison for life. Twenty-five years later, a broke and desperate Libby has run through donations from a sympathetic public and royalties from her sensational autobiography, without ever moving past the events of that night. When Libby accepts a fee to appear at a gathering of true-crime aficionados led by Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult), she is shocked to learn most of them believe Ben is innocent and the real killer is still at large. In need of money, she reluctantly agrees to help them reexamine the crime by revisiting the worst moments of her life. But as Libby and Lyle dig deeper into the circumstances surrounding the murders, her recollections start to unravel and she is forced to question exactly what she saw – or didn’t see. As long-buried memories resurface, Libby begins to confront the wrenching truths that led up to that horrific night. Also starring Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, and Chloë Grace Moretz, Dark Places is an ingeniously twisted thriller based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl). (A24) This film is rated R.

DARK PLACES will be released in theaters on Friday, August 7th!

For more information on DARK PLACES, visit the Official Site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Trailer Trashin’: The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Comic-Con Trailer Shot By Shot Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:08:17 +0000 Hello again, dear readers, and I hope a lot of you have gotten out to see Ant-Man at this point. To help make up for my recent absence, this week’s return of Trailer Trashin’ brings you my looks at both of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justicethe big DC Comics movie trailers to come out of San Diego Comic-Con earlier this month. Now, I use my X-ray vision on the new trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Premise: Gotham City’s own vigilante, Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck), travels to Metropolis to take on Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill), fearing what would happen if the latter is kept unchecked. As Batman and Superman confront one another, a new threat arrives to put mankind in greater danger than it has previously known.

My take: Before we start, I’ve decided to again change the format I use for these columns. In order to not bore you with walls of text, dear readers, I’m going to use time stamps for each shot I discuss, so you can easily go to the exact point I’m talking about.

0:07-0:16: As Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) speaks, we see Superman land outside the United States Capitol building. Gathered outside is a massive group of protestors, holding up signs with various anti-alien messages. Superman is, we assume, here to be held accountable for his actions during the climax of Man of Steel.

0:16-0:24: Superman walks into the Senate chamber, similar to a moment early in the premiere episode of the 2001-2004 Justice League animated series. But this also raises a serious question if you think about it. There are obviously going to be cameras filming this whole hearing, which will be able to get a very close, detailed look at Superman’s face. How are we supposed to still buy that none of Clark Kent’s coworkers at the Daily Planet will put two and two together?

0:25-0:30: Bruce Wayne running through the streets of Gotham City, in a flashback to the climax of Man of Steel. According to the film’s Comic-Con panel, Gotham and Metropolis are located very close together, across a bay from each other. Clearly, the battle between Superman and General Zod spilled over into Gotham. The red-orange energy beams cutting through the building are clearly Superman’s and Zod’s heat vision.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice0:33-0:39: Very nice moment as, while everyone else is running away from the advancing cloud of dust created by the destruction, Bruce Wayne actually runs into it. Even if he’s retired from being Batman, he can’t get rid of that need to help people. Also a fun little detail that his outfit is the traditional Batman colors of blue and gray.

0:40-0:48: Bruce holds a scared little girl amidst the wreckage of the Wayne Financial building. He looks pissed. I kind of like this element of Bruce having a more personal reason to initially distrust Superman, because Supes unintentionally cost him not only a building, but presumably the lives of people who worked for Bruce.

0:54-0:59: Bruce looks at a newspaper clipping, which was apparently mailed to him, given that he’s also holding an envelope. The clipping is from the Daily Planet and shows the destruction in Gotham, with the headline “Wayne Tower Devastated.” Written over the article in red ink letters are the words “You Let Your Family Die.” This seems like something the Joker would do, doesn’t it?

1:00-1:01: Why is Bruce Wayne, a billionaire who can obviously afford any piece of gym equipment imaginable, training by dragging a big tire with a rope like some stereotypical gym-bro meathead?

1:07-1:08: Good look at Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons), Bruce Wayne’s butler, mentor, and friend. I really like this take on Alfred so far, with him looking a bit rougher around the edges, and I can’t wait to see more of him.

1:10-1:14: Having come out of retirement, Batman is not only beating up criminals and leaving them to be found by the police, but actually marking or branding them with the bat-symbol. This kind of brutality is similar to what Batman was like in the classic 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns, which also was about an older Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to put the cowl back on and start fighting crime again.

1:15-1:20: In the Daily Planet office, editor-in-chief Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) tells off Clark. Always nice to see Fishburne, but the line “Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman” feels a little too applicable to all the jokes that people have made about Superman being almost turned into a supporting player in his own sequel.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice1:24-1:29: This shot finally gives some context to a shot from the previous teaser trailer, of Superman backlit by the sun while a woman in the foreground reaches up to him. It’s a scene of a flooded town, with several families up on the roofs of their homes; the house in the foreground has a giant Superman “S” symbol pained on the roof, probably as a way to signal for help.

1:30-1:47: At the Kent farm in Kansas, Superman with Martha Kent (Diane Lane), his adoptive mother. She talks about how people think different things about him and what he does, intercut with shots of Superman around the world. She says “Be anything they need you to be, or be none of it. You don’t owe this world a thing, you never did.” That last part has really stuck in some people’s craw, because it feels contrary to the idea of Superman being the paragon for us to look up to. But it is possible there might be some additional context we don’t have yet.

1:49-1:56: Our first looks at Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). So far, I’m not sure how I feel about it. When Eisenberg’s casting was first announced, my general feeling was “huh, that’s interesting.” But based on what we see in this trailer, I have much more mixed feelings. He just looks kind of goofy, like he’s trying to ape what Gene Hackman did as Luthor in the old Christopher Reeve films, but not really nailing it. And yes, we do know he’s going to be bald, but the wig he’s wearing here just looks stupid. I’d make a joke asking why one of the world’s richest men would buy a hairpiece that bad, but then I remember that Donald Trump exists.

1:57-1:59: Lex Luthor’s assistant Mercy Graves (Tao Okamoto) leads two soldiers, who are pushing a large metal box shaped rather like a coffin. This is immediately followed by a body-bag being opened, and inside is the corpse of General Zod. If Lex has Zod’s body, then I have to imagine he’ll be messing around with it. Don’t be surprised if the corpse ends up being used as the basis for a version of a more monstrous Superman foe like Bizarro or Doomsday.

2:00-2:02: Inside the Batcave, Bruce looks at a suit inside a glass case, with the words “Ha Ha Ha, Joke’s On You Batman” written in paint on the chest. Given that the suit has a small mask instead of a cowl, and is holding a staff weapon in his hands, this must be a Robin costume. This tracks with rumors that Robin did exist, but has been dead for some time, having been killed by the Joker. We also hear Bruce say “Twenty years in Gotham, how many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?” This establishes a timeline of how long Bruce has been fighting his war against crime.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice2:03: Our first look at Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), in her civilian identity as Diana Prince. She looks like she’s at some kind of fancy shindig.

2:09-2:24: Batman, in full battle armor, pulls the canvas off the Bat-signal and turns it on. He glowers up at the rainy night sky, while I am again reminded of Lego Batman’s “Darkness! No Parents!” from The Lego Movie (2014).

2:28-2:31: Flashback to the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Thomas Wayne. Why? What is the point of this? Is there seriously anyone left who doesn’t know Batman’s origin story? In a movie with this many characters and so much going on, why spend precious time rehashing something that the vast majority of the audience will already know?

2:35: Diana Prince gets into a car, wearing a very fetching dark red backless dress. The valet or whoever he is behind her is clearly checking her out, which just cracks me up for some reason.

2:36-2:38: WONDER WOMAN!!! We finally get to see Diana in full costume, in action, and she looks awesome. We still don’t know how exactly she fits into this story, but I can’t wait to see more of her.

2:38-2:41: Batman, wearing what looks like a trench coat and goggles over his costume, in some kind of war-torn, almost desert-like environment. The paramilitary guys with the Superman crests on their shoulders are blazing away with their guns. A group of them are struggling to subdue Batman, who unsurprisingly won’t go down without a fight.

2:44-2:45: “He is not our enemy!” Alfred says to Bruce, presumably referring to Superman. Glad to see at least one person isn’t on the “let’s persecute the guy who saved the whole freaking planet” bandwagon.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice2:48: Lex Luthor looking through a glass case at a glowing green rock, which is obviously Kryptonite.

2:49-3:01: Various battle shots of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Armored Batman jumps boots-first onto Superman, sending them both crashing down through the roof of the building they’re on. Wonder Woman, sword and shield in hand, slams against a stone wall with fire behind her. Batman using his grappling gun to swing away just in time to avoid what looks like Superman’s heat vision. Over all this, Luthor says “Black and blue. God versus man. Day versus night.” Eisenberg’s trying his hardest, but I’m just not buying it.

3:03-3:09: In his office, holding a glass of surely expensive liquor, Luthor says “The red capes are coming! The red capes are coming!” Seriously, these deliberately goofy lines aren’t helping sell Eisenberg as Luthor.

3:10-3:19: Superman strides toward the wrecked Batmobile, in the ruins of what looks like a destroyed garage or service station. He rips the armored canopy off the car in two pieces and tosses them aside. Batman stands up, and the two heroes stare each other down.

At this point, I’m still cautiously optimistic about this film, but I’m leaning a bit more toward the “cautious” right now. The visuals are amazing, and I’m so glad that Wonder Woman looks like she’ll be good, but I’m kind of disheartened by how Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor just doesn’t seem menacing. I’m definitely going to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when it comes out next March, but for the moment, I’m keeping my expectations in check.

ANTICIPATION: Please be good, please be good, please be good.

Release Date: March 25th, 2016

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Tao Okamoto, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Christina Wren, and Harry Lennix
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer, based on characters published by DC Comics

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