Month: April 2017

Weekly Box Office Work-Up: Apr. 21-23

It was a disappointing weekend at the box office for new releases, of which there were five. None of them managed to crack the top five. Born in China, the latest Disneynature documentary, came the closest at number six with $4.7 million.

In fact, this week’s top five performers are the same top five from last weekend only with a slight variation. Zach Braff’s remake Going in Style took the number four slot and pushed Smurfs: The Lost Village down to five.

The Fate of the Furious once again took the top spot with $38 million domestic. If you haven’t been paying attention, that means the eighth ‘Fast and Furious’ film has cleared $910 million worldwide. Only a handful of films in history have grossed over one billion dollars and ‘Fate’ has nearly done it in just two weeks. Bonkers!

Here are the specific tallies:

                                                                                Weekend Domestic                                       Worldwide

1. The Fate of the Furious                    $38,408,415                                       $910,798,783

2. The Boss Baby                                    $12,712,144                                       $360,303,943

3. Beauty and the Beast                        $9,662,645                                         $1,101,396,411

4. Going in Style                                     $4,910,895                                         $51,294,817

5. Smurfs: The Lost Village                  $4,880,377                                         $134,573,099

 

9 Films That Justified the Found Footage Craze

After Blair Witch‘s disappointing box office run last year, the found footage fad has seemingly died down. This might be music to the ears of the many film fans who had grown weary of the overused trope, but it wasn’t all just shaky noise. Before Phoenix Forgotten once again sours moviegoers’ tastes this weekend, let’s take a moment to honor those films that justified the bygone found footage craze.

9.) The Visit

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To many, this film marks the beginning of the Shyamalanissance (you’re welcome): the reemergence of writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, whose reputation as “The Next Spielberg” infamously soured following the critical and financial flop that was The Last Airbender. It’s also Shyamalan’s foray into found footage and a solid thriller at that. Yes, you see Shyamalan’s signature twist coming from miles out, but what elevates this movie above the mass of forgettable found footage films is its charming self-awareness. It has fun with its premise and in turn the audience has fun.

8.) Unfriended

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While The Visit feeds off our fears of growing old, Unfriended gets its kicks from the new. It puts a scary spin on relatively recent technology like laptops, webcams, and social media. Not only does this make for some pretty innovative aesthetics, but the filmmakers take advantage of the medium to effectively stack the tension as the film builds towards its bonkers conclusion. There is also a deeper layer of horror hiding just beneath the surface scares, particularly for millennials.

7.) V/H/S

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Not only is V/H/S one of the most creative, creepy horror anthologies out there, but it’s also one of the best films to come out of the found footage craze. It benefits from being split into a handful of short stories, which means you don’t spend too much time on one thing. Each film introduces its horrifying hook and splits before you get bogged down in too much exposition. It also helps that these shorts are helmed by the rising stars in the genre, such as Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) and Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers).

6.) Paranormal Activity 2

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The original Paranormal Activity may not have been the first found footage film, but it was the film that set off the craze in the late 2000’s. Arguably, Paranormal Activity 2 is a better film. It successfully lead the franchise in new directions. It expanded the single shaky cam premise from the first film and introduced security cams that were set up around the house. This allowed for the exploration of the family dynamic in new, exciting ways (let’s not forget about the poor baby!). It also paved the road for some of the most iconic scares, not just in the series, but in found footage as a whole.

5.) What We Do in the Shadows

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Who said a found footage horror flick can’t be funny? This quirky comedy centers around a flat of vampire mates who are desperately trying to fit in with the contemporary social climate. It’s your typical fish-out-of-water story but with a supernatural twist. Their failures result in some hysterical hijinks but there’s something ultimately charming about their undying (pun intended) persistence. Indeed, these guys are fun to watch and easy to root for despite their complicated natures. Though they live in the shadows, they’re moral dilemmas are not so black, nor white.

4.) The Last Exorcism

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This film puts an interesting religious spin on the seemingly played out “recording an exorcism” thing. Patrick Fabian gives a strong performance as Cotton Marcus, an evangelical minister who lost his faith long ago but continues to prey upon the religious beliefs of the families he exorcises by charging them to perform fake, theatrical exorcisms. Before retiring, he gets a letter in the mail from a family desperately seeking to exorcise their daughter. Marcus takes the job on the premise it will be his last exorcism. From there his faith is challenged by the increasingly insane Hell he and his camera crew endure. It’s one half intriguing character study, one half terrifying thrill ride.

3.) Creep

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This film is, well, creepy. Like The Last Exorcism, Creep too functions as an eerie character study. Mark Duplas gives a chilling, charismatic performance as a socially awkward but seemingly solicitous individual who employs the services of an amateur videographer for the purpose of shooting a documentary about his “life.” As events unfold in their palatably plodding manner, it becomes clear that Duplas is harboring sinister intentions. Every time I was sure I knew where this movie was going, the narrative took a sharp, 90 degree turn. And the ultimate ending left me shockingly stupefied and wanting to know more.

2.) The Blair Witch Project

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This movie gets a lot of love and deservedly so. Even after sixteen years, this bare-bones thriller still holds up. It features a simple setup and arguably three of the most deceptively plain performances ever. The kids look and act like kids. Even as the film takes its time building towards its now iconic finish, it’s difficult not to be hooked by the mythology. Every town has a haunted house (or forest) with a darkly fascinating history. Naturally, tales about these locations are handed down through the generations to the point where it’s difficult to separate what’s fact from fiction. In the end, though, the actual events, whatever may have truthfully transpired, are a moot point. It’s what we imagine those events to be that enamor us. The Blair Witch Project exploits this tradition to haunting effect.

1.) End of Watch

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It’s strange to think of the found footage craze and not think horror. I mean, just look at this list. Alas, the best film to come out of the fad was End of Watch. It’s the crime thriller that put Director David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad) on the map. It features two career-highlighting performances from both Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as partner cops who have a gut-wrenching run-in with the cartel. Equally gruesome and gripping, End of Watch represents the pinnacle of the found footage craze and will stay with you long after the credits roll.

What do you think of our list? Which ones did we get right and which ones would you swap out? Let us know in the comments below!

‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ has FIVE post-credit scenes

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 screened for the press last night at its Hollywood premiere. The film is still under embargo so we won’t be receiving any actual reviews until closer to its May 5th release. However, critics have been blowing up social media with mostly positive feedback.

But good word of mouth isn’t the only thing coming out of the premiere. James Gunn confirmed on Twitter that the theatrical release of ‘Guardians 2’ will indeed feature five post-credit scenes.  So make sure to stick around after the movie to catch ’em all!

Below is a picture I snapped off my phone of James Gunn’s tweet:

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*Movie Minutes would like to extend their sincerest apologies to all movie theater ushers. We thank you for your patience and endurance in all that you do.

Wow! What do you think of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 featuring not one, not three, but FIVE post-credit stingers? Is that overkill? Does that excite you even more? Sound off in the comments below and let us know!

Weekly Box Office Work-Up (Apr.14-16): Don’t be fooled by ‘F8’ opening record

The Fate of the Furious, the eighth movie in the Universal tent pole franchise, blazed across the weekend finish line. It topped the domestic box office with over $98 million. That’s a strong number for sure, but it’s a drop of nearly 50% from the previous installment.

And while the numbers suggest American audiences have grown fast and fatigued of the franchise, these films do have  traction overseas. The international haul for ‘Fate’ was $433.2 million. Combined, The Fate of the Furious had a record-setting weekend with a worldwide gross of nearly $532 million.

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The sexy headlines across the internet this Monday will have you know that ‘Fate’ took the record from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which opened worldwide to $529 million. And while this is technically the case, it’s also important to keep in mind that ‘The Force Awakens’ only opened to 46 markets worldwide while ‘Fate’ opened to 63. There are countless variables that play into where and when a particular film will open around the world. The worldwide comparison won’t truly matter until ‘Fate’ runs its theatrical course.

In other box office news, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake has joined the exclusive billion-dollar club. Not adjusted for inflation, the film is now the 22nd highest grossing film of all time.

Here’s the specific breakdown of the top five movies this weekend (provided by Box Office Mojo):

1. The Fate of the Furious

Domestic: $98,786,705          Worldwide: $532

2. The Boss Baby

Domestic: $16,012,349          Worldwide: $288,171,663

3. Beauty and the Beast

Domestic: $13,705,122          Worldwide: $1,043,120,873

4. Smurfs: The Lost Village

Domestic: $6,714,300            Worldwide: $95,245,059

5. Going in Style

Domestic: $6,288,402            Worldwide: $35,318,880

What do you think of our top five this weekend? Are you at all surprised by huge domestic drop-off for the Fast & Furious franchise? Do you think it’ll make more money overall than ‘The Force Awakens’? Let us know in the comments below!

James Gunn to write & direct ‘Guardians 3’

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He said “Yes!”

After months of speculation and rumors, Writer-Director James Gunn has confirmed that he will indeed return to helm Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn made the announcement today via his Facebook account, stating that he did not want to partake in the “dishonorable” Hollywood tradition of pretending the third installment of the trilogy doesn’t exist.

In his post, Gunn goes on to say that his love of the characters goes “deeper than you guys can possibly imagine” and that he still has ideas adventures to take them on. The writer-director also cited his working relationship with Marvel Studios and Disney as playing a role in his decision to return, saying that the collaboration “has been the best of my professional career.”

Gunn wraps up his post with one last tidbit of info regarding ‘Guardians 3,’ clarifying that it will indeed take place after Avengers: Infinity War. You can read Gunn’s full post below:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjgunn%2Fposts%2F10154170335931157&width=500

What do you think? Are you excited to see James Gunn return to top off his trilogy? Or did you want Gunn to take a stab at another existing franchise? Perhaps you were more interested in seeing him do something more original? Let us know in the comments below!

The Fate of the Furious (2017)– Review

Director: F. Gary Gray

Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell

Synopsis: When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before (source: IMDb). 

Rating: PG-13

What was once a niche street racing series has blown up into a billion-dollar blockbuster tent pole featuring increasingly absurd action. Naturally, this evolution necessitates a heightened suspension of disbelief and over the course of the last few Fast and Furious films, I had fun playing along. I reveled at the miraculous metamorphosis of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his “family” from street-level grease monkeys in 2001 into seemingly indestructible super spies almost two decades later.

I wasn’t the only one either. Thus far each film in the franchise (with the exception of Tokyo Drift) has made more money than its predecessor (Box Office Mojo). The last film, Furious 7, ended its theatrical run with a worldwide haul north of $1.5 billion. Clearly audiences have adored the series’ crackpot changes.

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Now with the eighth entry, aptly titled The Fate of the Furious, Producer-Star Vin Diesel and Director F. Gary Gray make even more changes to the popular program. These changes include revving the action way past the red and pitting Dom against his “family.” The unfortunate consequence is that ‘Fate’ feels too ludicrous and tonally out of sync with itself as well as the other movies.

The most obvious drawback of the increasingly insane car-centric action is the reliance upon mediocre, computer-generated special effects. To accommodate the impossible scale of its automobile stunts, ‘Fate’ mostly opts to go with sadly rendered exploits instead of practically choreographed ones. So instead of beholding fearless feats of real-life daredevils behind the wheel, we’re witnessing yet another bland wave of digital destruction. I found it tough to invest in what was going on because I was not convinced that any of it was real.

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Fortunately this time around, the hand-to-hand combat feels more satisfying than ever. I couldn’t help but crack a smile whenever Dwayne Johnson’s ex-militia cop landed a bone-crunching blow or Jason Statham’s villain-turned-antihero smacked someone across the face with their own gun. Between the two, there is enough variation in technique to keep it from getting stale. It’s also worth mentioning that Statham steals the show in one of the most badass action sequences I’ve ever seen, which doubles as one of my favorite sequences so far this year, period.

The Fate of the Furious is also the darkest of the eight so far. As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Charlize Theron’s villainess entices Dom to fight for her and against the team that Dom’s assembled over the years. It’s an intriguing premise and at times the execution allows for an intimate character study of Dom and a career-highlighting performance for Diesel. And while Dom is more interesting than he’s ever been, both the original team and villain are less so.

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As far as the original team goes, their chemistry largely lacks the loving spark that made them so much fun. The cast isn’t to blame, either. Everyone on board seems just as committed as ever. It’s that no matter how hard the team tries, they’re never able to best Dom. He is “the one thing” they can’t handle, as Cipher (Theron) points out. This puts a perpetual cloud over their scenes together and the sense of hopelessness is inescapable, even as they attempt to keep the classic banter alive.

Likewise, Cipher is a lackluster antagonist with uninspired aspirations for global domination. Thankfully, Theron’s performance saves the character from my ceaseless eye-rolling.

I also found the ending tough to swallow. Despite its turn down a darker road, this film so desperately wants us walking out of the theater feeling good about family that it completely overlooks the complications it set up for itself over the course of this film and the last.

Grade: C+

What did you think of The Fate of the Furious? Where would you rank it among the other seven? Leave a comment and let us know!

‘The Last Jedi’ poster reveal & analysis

Disney and Lucasfilm unveiled today the first teaser poster for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi during the film’s panel at Star Wars Celebration: Orlando. The poster features Rey and Kylo Ren, two of the most prominent characters thus far in this new sequel trilogy. More prominently displayed, however, is Luke Skywalker, who has yet to play much of a role in the new trilogy. Though if Kathleen Kennedy is to be believed (and she is), then Luke will be featured heavily in this new legacy film. Aside from training Rey in the ways of the Force, though, it’s not entirely clear what exactly Luke’s role will be.

The poster’s mostly red splash suggests a much darker tone this time around (in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back). It’s also interesting that even Luke, who has been the hero of this franchise for so long, is doused in red. This along with the squinting face seems to suggest that even Jedi sometimes hold grudges (whatever those grudges may be).

It’s also curious that Rey’s lightsaber starts off blue but fades to red towards the top. Her lightsaber also seems to be shooting out at the sides, much like Kylo’s did in ‘The Force Awakens’. Could these signs be signifying that the rumors are in fact true? Will Rey succumb to the power of the Dark Side? Only time will tell. Until then, at least we got this beautiful poster!

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What do you think of the new poster? Does it bring back the warm nostalgia or do you think it’s too much of a rehash? And would you like to see more, short analysis posts like this one? Let us know in the comments!