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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Olympus Has Fallen vs. White House Down

Two films were released in 2013 based on the same concept: Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. The plot being the takeover of the White House by terrorists. In 2012, a couple of character-related movies were also premiered: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and Lincoln. The latter deuce cannot be compared as they only have major characters in common. But the White House movies deserve to be tackled.

(Source: Wikipedia)

  Firstly, I will elaborate on the movie that was issued fundamentally. Although, I watched the trailer of WHD before OHF, the latter's preview seemed more disappointing. It was like seeing Red Dawn all over again, with primary focus on the White House. The trailer showcased over-the-top action scenes, and it seemed so cliched it made Hollywood seem fallen. Yet, never judge a movie by its trailer. Some of the action scenes were overdone, but most of them were adrenaline-pumping. OHF has more pros than cons.
  One pro being the superb acting by the protagonist Gerald Butler. Although, he has proven himself before in 300 and Gamer, he did no less in OHF. Butler's action scenes were radiantly choreographed, and if it were a dramatic film, he could have been nominated for an Oscar. Butler plays Mike Banning, who was the lead Secret Service agent who heads the Presidential Detail. He is on good terms with the American President (played exquisitely by Aaron Eckhart) and his family. But things take a turn for the worst, when an accident forces Banning to save the President, but not the First Lady. 
  18 months later, Banning is seen working at the Treasury Department, and has been removed from the detail, due to President Asher being furious with him for not saving his wife. That day terrorists attack Washington with foremost force on the White House. The assault is led by a North Korean terrorist known as Kang Yeonasak (Rick Yune). A scene also shows an agent in the White House saying through the comm, ''Olympus Has Fallen'' before he is killed. The title refers to the Mount Olympus in Greek Mythology, where all the Major Gods resided. In the film, it Olympus refers to the White House, where the most powerful American politicians gather. 
  Morgan Freeman also has a main role as the Speaker of the House. It is well to note that in White House Down, the President is African-American, and the Speaker is Caucasian. The writers wanted to make sure there was a major plot difference by adding these distinctions.

(Best acting in OHF was by Gerard Butler. Source: Wikipedia)

  Olympus Has Fallen has cons though. Much of the feature feels like it copied inner White House scenes from the inaugural Die Hard. Though, without its humor that made Die Hard one of the best H-wood action pictures of all time. The comm scenes between Banning and the Yeonasak are entertaining though. Still, the ending is too predictable. Even the mid-scenes are forthcoming. Veteran action watchers will not be fully satisfied by this movie. And it has received mixed reviews from universal critics. 
  Still, OHF has enough kick-ass scenes for audiences to be eluded away from the cliches. It is a good photoplay, but in no way original, or worthy of entering a best-action movies list. Butler plays his character with every fiber of his being, and in some scenes his dialogue delivery is reminiscent of Bruce Willis in Die Hard - although, the dialogues not being referential at all. The conclusion of this movie battle will arrive after White House Down has been reviewed.

Olympus Has Fallen:
IMDb: 6.5/10.
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%.
BO101: 3/4.

(Source: Wikipedia)

You can see from the above poster, the blockbuster credits from director Roland Emmerich. Features like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 are all disaster movies. White House Down itself is a disaster.
  When I watched the trailer for White House Down I loved it. It was showcased as a comedy-action movie, and Jamie Foxx is one of my favorite African-American actors. His scenes were the best in the trailer, and ended up the best in the entire flick. Yet, WHD was a global disappointment critically, financially and by my standards.

(Source: YouTube)

  The storyline follows John Cale (Channing Tatum) a US Capitol Police Officer assigned to the Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins), who is struggling after an Afghanistan tour to develop a better relationship with his daughter Emily, played brilliantly by Joey King. Her acting was far better than Tatum's. She is also very intrigued by American politics. So both visit the White House for John Cale's interview for a Secret Service job opening. 
  But Cale does not get the job as Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) deduces that he is unqualified. Later on, the father and daughter duo are still inside the White House when it is attacked by terrorists. Of course, American press and armed forces basically believe it must be Koreans or AL Qaeda, but in fact, it is played out by retiring head of the Presidential Detail Martin Walker (James Woods). This is because he is infuriated with the fact that his son was killed in a mission conceived by President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx).
  Cale might have not gotten the employment, but he does a better job than the entire Secret Service in escorting the President inside the under-siege White House. A great scene is when Cale's daughter is hidden and shoots a video of some of the terrorists uploading it to YouTube. A major difference in the pair of movies is that in OHF, the President is taken hostage in the emergency bunker from the get-go, whilst in WHD, the President is with the hero from the initial time of the takeover.
  Jamie Foxx plays the President with a humor that makes the rest of the silver-screen seem dull. His scenes are awesome, but the rest of the cinematic is boring and predictable. The US Military is shown to be too stupid. The politicians outside the White House also seem unintelligent. The military does not even know how to negotiate with terrorists, and Walker is a mundane villain, unlike Keonasak in OHF. 
  A film where the villains are boring is just lame. Channing Tatum has averagely-choreographed fight scenes, and President Sawyer's antics with an RPG launcher were more entertaining than Cale's whole punching and kicking prowess. White House Down's uppermost flaw is that it does not know how to distinguish itself from a comedy-action flick, and as a serious political agenda. OHF was campaigned as a thriller and rightfully so. 
  The only saving grace of the film is Foxx. Tatum's acting is mediocre whilst King's is still above-average. The ending is super-predictable, and the whole flick beats OHF in terms of predictability. James Vanderbilt has written better visual-presentations such as The Rundown, The Losers and The Amazing Spider-Man. With White House Down his feat of stupefying screenplays seems to have run out. His next film is Robocop releasing early next month in the UAE, let's just hope it does not end up the same as White House Down, both by BO101 standards and commercially. And I will catch the flick in the theater.
  Olympus Has Fallen was a worldwide economic success, making $161m off a $70m budget. However, White House Down fared worse with a $205m global gross with a humongous production cost of $150m. So Tatum failed as both an actor and producer of the film. OHF is directed by African-American director Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, Brooklyn's Finest) and written by Creighton Rothenberger, along with wife Katrin Benedikt. They are also going to pen The Expendables 3 and London Has Fallen (the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen). All three main actors of OHF will appear in the sequel but with a new director, as the previous one is busy working on a film starring Denzel Washington. 
  In the end, Olympus Has Fallen was broadcast three months prior to White House Down, so maybe people weren't interested in watching a similarly-themed movie. Still, OHF deserves recognition, and can be watched 3 to 4 times by action junkies. WHD is a torture to be watched a single period. Fuqua might not be as highly a renowned director as Emmerich, but he won this round fair and square.

White House Down: 
IMDb: 6.4/10.
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%.
BO101: 2/4.



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Man of Steel is Platinum

Before starting the most-anticipated article of the year (that I have been longing to write), I'd like to say thank you to my avid readers. Namely, Shahwath, Hassan, Ae.Jaye and Rashid. I acknowledge ya'all taking out some precious time to read my blog-posts. I am forever obliged.
  If there was ever any alloy to specify the type of Steel used in the title, it would be Platinum. One of the most expensive metals on planet earth, and singularly of the rarest.. This is the same embodiment that defines MoS. A superhero movie with a budget in the top expensive 10s, also being a prime gem of celluloid. The first screenshot released of Man of Steel was in mid 2011:


  Yup, it couldn't of been more awesome (well unless Superman was surrounded by a thousand kilos of Kryptonite and still breathing). Looking at this single glance, I was able to make out that the recent headliner was that of Immortals (2011). It was a great movie and way better than both of the Titans' films. Henry Cavill also acted superbly. A performance that was better than in MoS. Latterly, picturing Cavill donning the suit I realised at that moment this was a recommencement for sure. Did Superman need another beginning? Of course.


  Superman Returns is a 2006 homage sequel to the 1978 and 1980 comic-book figure flicks. It ignores the events of the 3rd and 4th film. Brandon Routh (atop wallpaper) depicted the nominal hero replacing Christopher Reeve (who played the character in all the predecessors). A former manager of Routh signed him on because he bared a physical resemblance to Reeve. And that Routh might be able to portray the character if there was a following movie.. Another coincidence is that Routh grew up in the same town as George Reeves (who was the first entertainer to render Superman on-screen). So there were many conditions that supported Routh to his destiny. Nevertheless, critics and even movie-goers did not eulogise him in contrast.
  Superman Returns was surprisingly markedly lauded with a 75% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Box Office 101 scores it with 1.5/4. This is simply because it was a bore of a DC script. Batman Forever was better and that was deemed as a joke by pundits. Not only was the suit cited by viewers as gay but Routh only gave justice to the hero as Clark Kent. He had no silver screen charisma as Superman. There were no amazing scenes. Except the one where Superman amazingly lifts up an entire crater of green crystals into the void, then gravitates downwards receding to earth. This scene was impossible without Superman actually dying. 
  Well I wouldn't blame the shoot-taker Bryan Singer. He is best known for directing X-men and X2 (which I've seen 30 times). His decision to leave the third in the hands of Brett Ratner for Superman was disastrous in my opinion. X-men: The Last Stand was a poor generic effort as a the climax of the grandstand. Albeit, grossing more than SR with even lesser funds. Singer also planned a 2009 sequel but Warner Bros. correctly cancelled it because of the $391m return on a humongous allocation of $204m. This is one of the superlative engendering bulks for any comic-strip hero adaptations ever, and 16th overall in Hollywood.
  Surprisingly, many of the people who delianted Supes either on the small or big screen were inter-related. For example, Brandon Routh tried out for the Smallville auditioning but the role went on to Tom Welling. Then Cavill tried for the Returns part and it went to Routh. In the end, Routh ended up with nothing whilst Welling was cast in all ten seasons that were mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records. And Cavill's film has a $116.6m curtain-raiser. Two weeks ago, BO101 anticipated a $100m-$150m opening in North America. Returns had a mediocre launch in the US with only $52m. By that figure, the studious must have determined that this was a box office bomb.


  The overhead magazine cover shows a perfect comparison between Reeve and Cavill. Notice the lofty cheekbones and greasy jet black hair. Also, the evolution of the suit that is ten times better than the Returns costume. So Superman finally learned to wear his trademark red underwear inside. Other editions were the stylisations to the wrists that are similar to Jor-El's (Superman's father) attire, along with the metallic S. Russel Crowe interpreted Jor-El and his robes was also super-stylish:

  To move on, Man of Steel was a super awesome movie. I was hesitant of watching the inception but when I saw Nolan's name in the trailer I took all reluctance back. Christopher Nolan is the filmmaker of the 2000s and 2010s Batman franchise. But it was a wise call not to be taking the predominant seat in this venture, and rather merchandising and being the alternative contributor of the story, along with genius David S. Goyer. The latter has come a long way from writing the superb first and second Blade films and writing-directing the lower-rated third. He has co-addressed 2005's Batman Begins, and given stories for The Dark Knight and its sequel. Goyer is also well-known for being the vital author of the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 campaign (again superb). As I had said before, Goyer has come a long way. 
  Man of Steel's amazing screenplay was solely written by him. With Nolan and him laying out the plot. I was dumbfounded that Jonathan Nolan did not take part in any of the fabrication. Surely, with his inclusion the film would've been perfect. Notwithstanding, Jon Nolan has co-inked The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises, with his older brother. It could be that Jon is busy working withing his brother on their next sci-fi thriller Interstellar set to release next year. Also, Person of Interest, an American TV exhibition that airs on CBS. He created the succession and must've been busy co-formulating the finale.
  On the other hand, Goyer deserves a stand-alone credit. And he's done more than justice to the man. I was shocked by his writing skills. It couldn't have been done better. Man of Steel was brilliant, simply brilliant. It is the greatest reboot of all time. The greatest Superman blockbuster of all time. And one of the classiest superhero movies of all time. Man of Steel was bound to fail if Singer and Routh had returned as originally planned. But  Singer dropped out due to the original scripters leaving for other career opportunities, and Warner Bros. reluctance in a sequel. Routh's contract lapsed halfway through 2009, providentially. He wanted to enrobe the emblem again given the stake. That runner-up break came soaring to the ace - in his dreams. This was substantially due to the approximate $400m return of Superman Returns. WB wanted at least $500m and stated later on, that the film should've had more action to satisfy the male audience. Haha! The only stuff to be deemed action was Superman going up against petty burglars and showing his invincibility when a bullet was plunged into his eye. The number of times I watched that scene in the trailers of 2006 is too damn high!
  When Goyer pitched the idea to Nolan and when he delivered the message to WB, is was imminent that Superman Returns 2 be trashed away. Nolan is my treasured cinepreneur of the 21st century. He is even better than James Cameron who was just fortunate with Avatar becoming the paramount-grossing movie in cinema history. Nolan's The Prestige and Inception are also two features featured in my 100 must-watch movies list (when it gets completely finished).
  Man of Steel is a distinct movie. Before Batman Begins the chain was mostly acutely hammered. All critics noticed the somber side of the DC comics legend in the first of The Dark Knight trilogy. Superman Returns only returned the character into a duller state. Even the 1978 ONE was better. At least it had originality for that time. Man of Steel is not a straightforward superhero adventure. It is not about a young Clark Kent running faster than a bus to reach school. Or impressing the cheerleaders with his strength against the jocks. No, this is the lurid side of the foremost cultural icon of the United States. The 'S' stands for hope and the movie stands for getting audiences to awe in excitement. 
  The direction by Zack Snyder is unequal. Nolan is more of a thriller maestro so Snyder is a better choice than Nolan. But without Nolan's provision and story aid I know it could've been less enthralling. Snyder correctly utilises the above 120-minute running time. At the start the terrene of Kal-El (original Superman name) is limned beautifully. No detail from the original comic book is left out, and the eventual explosion is super realistic. 

(Director Zack Snyder, www.guardian.co.uk)

  Man of Steel does not start, continue or end predictably. Flashbacks are shown at times that were correctly timed by Snyder. The film is a perfect symmetry of the DC universe. There are no flaws in the CGI effects, ensembles or character representations. The cast includes six cardinal actors who have been nominated and/or have won Academy Awards namely Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne Michael Shannon and Russel Crowe. Ironically, the lead thespian Cavill has not even been nominated for a Golden Globe. This is a similar casting method from The Dark Knight trilogy. Christian Bale had no Oscar noms before Batman Begins although fundamental troupers with that criteria were cast: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Liam Neeson. Gary Oldman was cast as police officer James Gordon. However, not being nominated for an Academy Award before the initial film., Oldman had won BAFTAs, and was nominated in 2011 for a Best Actor Oscar for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
  Batman Begins and Man of Steel have also accomplished the same feat. Batman Begins was directed by Nolan when he was not at the height of his career so a $374m cumulative was enough. Man of Steel will likely reach $800m worldwide - on an expense of $225m but the $1 billion milestone might be impossible. It may also make $300m nationwide but anything supplementary is precisely improbable.

( Fan-made banner at forums.superherohype.com)

  The action scenes in Man of Steel were not overdone. They actually reminded me of the Japanese video anime Dragon Ball Z. Ironically, much of DBZ's storyline is inspired by Superman. The main character Goku has the same history as Superman: his sphere exploded and he was sent prior to that in a space capsule to earth. I did not expect the action be so high-octane and so suitable to the Superman status. Snyder has surprised me with 300 and Watchmen.
  Yet, there were flaws. Goyer wrote the film a little too gloomy. Batman was of course a nocturnal demeanour. But Superman is awfully colourful. Additional humour should have been comprised. Secondly, the casting of Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Snyder really liked Adams for the role of the feisty journalist. But what I cannot comprehend is leaving out Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis and Kristen Stewart for the predominant female act. Wilde being perfect for the bit, Mila being OK and Stewart as uniformly bad as Adams.
  Adams is nine years older than the 30 year old Cavill. So I don't even want to imagine her in bed with Kent in the sequel or the planned Justice League modification in the coming years. I also wanted the ending to be very innovative. Even though it was not the perfect ending it's as justifiable to the final rating I'll be declaring at the end of this review.
  MoS is not a superhero illustration. It's about the world's reaction to a person from another world's finding on earth. It's about how humans will react to the evidence of such existence. How the curious and narrow-mindedness of the orb impacts Superman's decisions.
  The synopsis: An extraterrestrial must look after his loved ones as further aliens arrive on the cosmos. It's about tough choices that have to be made. What Superman's adoptive dad and real father have taught him. How life on the big blue marble was so distinct from life on Krypton. Costner and Diane Lane are good as the foster couple. Laurence Fishburne plays Perry White, the editor-in-chief of Daily Planet. He is the first African-American to play Lois Lane's executive in a live-action feature, and fittingly so. Frank Langella was the last performer to impersonate Perry in the fifth attempt. Michael Shannon has not only the finesse of General Zod but also an eerie resemblance. Surely, this super-villain role was made for him, as he can never be billed for a hero's act. Russel Crowe delivers the ultimate performance in full length. When he's depressed, it looks as if put every fibre of his being into the soul of the form. Crowe outshines every other star in Man of Steel. And I hope I see him in the sequel as he would be a real miss if he weren't.
  Connoisseurs at RT have given the film a rotten 56% (as of June 18) and I can't give them a rotten frown but all speculations differ. How Superman got that rating is beyond me. The consensus does state: 'Superman's return to the big screen is successful, as Man of Steel provided enough exhilarating action and spectacle to overcome its occasional detours into generic blockbuster territory.' Batman Begins, in comparison has a 85% positive score. I am comparing the two from the viewpoint of onsets though that was when Nolan wasn't this renown. 
  Superman Returns also returned with Superman's primary antagonist Lex Luthor. Kevin Spacey did outline the villain well in Returns. But I am jolly that Lex was not the supreme villain in this scheme. LL has also been the primary opposing figure in the TV series Smallville. There is a reference to Lex in the flick that keen fans will notice.
  The flying scenes are neither too real or unreal, but rather surreal. The major plus points in the film are the character improvisation and Krypton's amazing showcase. Man of Steel is the sci-fi/superhero motion picture of the year, ahead of Iron Man 3, so far. The Wolverine and Thor 2 are unlikely to beat it both analytically and financially. And the second best action film of the year, up till now, behind Fast and Furious Six.

IMDb: 8.2/10.
RT: 56%.
BO101: 3.5/4.




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

After Effects of After Earth

TWLWTitle (click to view)StudioWeekend Gross% ChangeTheater Count /ChangeAverageTotal GrossBudget*Week #
11Fast & Furious 6Uni.$35,164,440-63.9%3,686+28$9,540$171,003,965$1602
2NNow You See MeLG/S$29,254,674-2,925-$10,002$29,254,674$751
3NAfter EarthSony$27,520,040-3,401-$8,092$27,520,040$1301
43Star Trek Into DarknessPar.$16,780,895-55.0%3,585-322$4,681$181,537,381$1903
62The Hangover Part IIIWB$16,385,254-60.7%3,565+10$4,596$88,540,908$1032
75Iron Man 3BV$8,442,451-56.3%2,895-529$2,916$385,187,736$2005
86The Great Gatsby (2013)WB$6,517,317-51.9%2,635-455$2,473$128,508,209$1054
9NYeh Jawaani Hai DeewaniEros$1,568,677-161-$9,743$1,568,677-1

Livin's life in the Fast Lane
Movin' at the speed of light and I can't slow down
Only got a gallon in the gas tank
But I'm almost at the finish line, so I can't stop now

The above verses are from Bad Meets Evil's Fast Lane. Many of the readers will know that this was the soundtrack in the Fast Six trailer. Although it was not used in the opening sequence of the flick itself. It is considered an unusual flaw in Fast and Furious Six for me.
  I still can't forget that . That night I watched it I had dreams of engines whirring in my head. Not only was the chemistry between Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) heightened. But also that of Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster). Also, the interracial couple portrayed by Sung Kang and Gal Gadot respectively.

Danger is real. Watching this movie is a choice. Last week in my Fast Six review I stated in the end that it would stay in top place next period. My prediction has become 100% true. I also stated that the silver screen had one major competitor for the crown: After Earth. Yet AE came after Now You See Me. I saw the trailer of it in the cinema before F6 and had this thought: an above-average looking theatrical that will certainly not open above the 5th spot. And I was dead wrong!

(Have to re-edit this meme)

  Courtesy of Hassan Faheem for the upper illustration. After Earth may have been doomed to fail analytically (it has a current 12% score on Rotten Tomatoes), still having the father-son duo return on screen should've prompted at least a $35m debut. Will Smith's last venture was Men in Black 3 and it was a failure for me, on the other hand, gaining both critical and commercial establishment. Now AE that had a chance to at least end with $100m less than MiB 3's worldwide gross has underwhelmed Smith fans  expectations. This interval's box office is a surprise. The top 10 helms approximately $155m when last vacation it was much greater than that figure.
  AE is directed by riches-to-rags director M. Night Shyamalan. His The Last Airbender colossally failed fault-findingly with him even favouring to go ahead with casting Dev Patel in a role that gained him the paramount-achieving Award award he ever had: a Razzie Award nomination for as Worst Supporting Actor. In comparison, Frieda Pinto (his girlfriend) has received grand parts in the hits Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Immortal.
  Sci-fi big-budget in recent years have all acquired low revenues: John Carter is a perfect example and it deserved it. Recent sci-fi has either been plainly good or bad but beautiful: Star Trek, Prometheus being positive and Battleship with a score in between. I won't rule out my score of Oblivion. Still, it might mean that Tom Cruise is turned out to be a more profitable actor than Smith with blockbusters like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Jack Reacher and financially yes, Oblivion.
  M. Night Shyamalan came back with some spark in Devil for which he gave the story only. So it was like a 50% recovery. After Earth I'll watch half-reluctantly as Smith is my third favourtie African-American actor after Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Foxx.
  AE has consummated a bit of praise on the performance by Jaden Smith and that it is a much greater showcase than The Last Airbender. Also one thing to note is that the latter still had some follow-up because it was based on a very popular kids' TV show. After Earth is based on a story by a hugely renown actor Will Smith.
  In other news, the latest new opener on number 9th is Yeh Jaawani Hai Deewani. When I started BO101 I did do Bollywood stories and it does say Hollywood+Bollywood on the banner. Still, I haven't mentioned B-wood in a long time and H-town has given me a chance. YJHD translates into 'This Youth Is Crazy' and it has received globally mixed-to-positive reviews.

  As seen in the above poster, the main roles are carried out by none other than ex-couple Ranbir Kapoor, and super-sizzling Deepika Padukone. The film has become a hit in India with 100% occupancy at multiplexes, and $12m on its kickoff 3-day jubilee in Hindustan beating Salman Khan starrer Dabangg 2's commencement. The onset figure in US is $1.6m. YJHD's production cost is $9.2m.
  Iron Man 3 stands a tall man at 7 with a domestic gross of $385m on a budget of $200m. Internationally, the cumulative is $1.18 billion. IM3 is the fifth apically-earning picture of all time. And the 16th feature to reach the $1b mark. I actually predicted it would make $1.2b or $1.3b, however, it relinquished in my expectations. Robert Downey Jr.'s contract as the titular character expires with his  nevertheless it certainly will be extended for The Avengers 2. And there is great cause for Marvel to consider it for a probable Iron Man 4.
  Star Trek: Into Darkness will pass its $190m budget domestically in the next seven days. The Purge and The Internship are up for wide national debuts in the impending weekend. Man of Steel will reign first on its launching season afterwards with a predicted $100m-$150m start-up as by BoxOffice101.
  That's all from me folks, check out the trailer for Now You See Me starring Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo with Woody Harrelson and Morgan Freeman after the last paragraph. The latter has been appearing in a lot of subsidiary roles in main productions such as The Dark Knight Rises, and a celluloid I hate to mention again, Oblivion.
  This quote is pledged to Fast Six: 'I believe that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' - Maya Angelou. I forgot 100% the dialogues and high-octane scenes though not the feelings that confounded me. Sentimentality is harbouring a cloud over me.

(Chart by Box Office Mojo)


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fast Six pushes the Pedal to the Metal

After watching Fast and Furious I was like the franchise couldn't get worse than this. After catching its sequel Fast Five, I was like it couldn't get better than this. In both instances, I was proven wrong.


  As the poster suggests, yes this is the sixth installment in the highest-grossing (and longest-lasting) car-racing movie series. Now I caught this last night at the theatre with my good friend Syed Ali. He won't be reading this post as he's not an avid reader of blogs, but I'd like to mention him anyway.
  Fast Six had a lot to accomplish. Not only commercially but more so critically. Fast Five was a boom for the series. It had lost its steam after the fourth part. The introduction of The Rock as a DSS agent really shook the cinema hall. 
(Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson)

  It was not only his greatest role to date but the movie's highest grossing point. Below are the worldwide commercial and critical statistics, plus the BoxOffice101 ratings for all of the Fast films:
  1. The Fast and the Furious (2001): $207m, 53%, 3/4.
  2. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003): $236m, 36%, 2.5/4.
  3. The Fast and the Furious (2006): Tokyo Drift, $158m, 35%, 3.5/4.
  4. Fast and Furious (2009): $363m, 27%, 2/4.
  5. Fast Five (2011): $626m, 78%, 3.5/5.
  6. Fast Six (2013): $314m as of May 27, 72%, 4/4.
  Yes, as you can clearly see I rated the final film on the list with a perfect rating. There were hardly any faults in the blockbuster, or did I dismiss them? I think I just answered my own question. Fast Five was almost perfect but the ending of the bank heist was too far-fetched. I mean if street racing finesse takes it to steal 100 million dollars from Rio, then I can pass my driving test without any classes.
  In Fast Five, Agent Hobbs, played by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson was chasing Dom Toretto's (Vin Diesel)'s team. In the sequel, Hobbs enlists the help of Toretto's crew to capture Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) who's a former Special Air Service agent now running his heist gang. The difference between him and Toretto is simply self-righteous: Toretto's team doesn't kill or steal from the military. To further motivate Dom Toretto to pursue this competitor, Hobbs shows him a snapshot of Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) who has been presumed dead since the fourth feature. 
  Well, even though the hero is a millionaire, can afford any woman, and is with a hotter girlfriend than the former, he still decides to take the job. Fast Six had every comeback to what audiences and critics were expecting: action, great dialogues especially by Roman Pearce (played by Tyrese Gibson who has played the same role in two previous flicks), and a great ending. Fast Six cuts to the chase quickly, pun intended. It gives room to drama, but entertaining sentimentality. It showcases awesome cars such as Toretto's favourite Dodge Daytona (a NASCAR version of the Dodge Charger seen in the other films), BMW M5, Nissan Skyline and many other super brands.
  Before F5, street racing was the driving strength of the franchise. Fast Five gave way to the bank heist. Fast Six gives way to a military heist. Fast 7 might go with stealing The Declaration of Independence, haha!
  Assaying the previous ventures, The Fast and the Furious was great but lacked substance. It was also vaguely predictable but had a satisfying ending. 2 Fast 2 Furious had a bad script but the screen space shared by Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson was hilarious (like the car stunts) so it was good. Tokyo Drift was amazing with being shot at the locations of the real Tokyo, and Los Angeles. The set pieces showcased the beauty of drifting in Tokyo. Again, the movie was dull in the middle, though it was better than 1 and 2. TD had a higher budget than one and two, still grossed quite lower than both of them. Maybe it was the introduction of Tokyo instead of tradition USA muscle racing, also the absence of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Although, Vin Diesel makes a cameo appearance at the end of the film.
  Fast and Furious was bad. It is the worst racing film I've seen. Even the ill-fated Torque which was Fast and Furious on motorcycle earning a neat 3.7 rating on IMDb. Even though it had the return of the original stars from the 2001 film: Diesel, Walker, Jordana Brewster and Rodriguez. It also introduced Gal Gadot who revisited the series with F5 and F6.
  Fast Five was bad-ass returning with all the above and more: Gibson and Sung Kang from Tokyo Drift (which is set after the events of Fast and Furious Six). Rapper Ludacris and The Rock made their intros in the film while reprising their roles in the sixth installment and debuting MMA star Gina Carano (who presented herself like the female version of The Rock) as Agent Hobbs' partner. Evans is the main antagonist and also the return of John Ortiz as Braga, who was the main villain in Fast Four. Also, Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves, Toretto's latest girlfriend, who was his love interest in the foregoing cinematic.
  Before viewing F6 I had lower expectations for it. I mean the sequel beating Fast Five, impossible. This was in regard to the BoxOffice101 rating not the Rotten Tomatoes consensus, or the universal aggregate. My expectations were risen above sky level. Fast Six is better than Five though not by a margin. Fast Six is fast cars on celluloid. F6 gives you so much adrenaline afterwards you'll wish to have fast sex, with a fast chick, in a fast car. I even prefer it worthier in comparison to last year's The Avengers, which I gave 3 out of 4 points respectively. The only competitor to beat his blockbuster of the year is Man of Steel which has 2 weeks left from its release. Next week's After Earth has only a chance  of surpassing Oblivion as another dystopian depressing venture. Oblivion was intimidating with high-profile star Tom Cruise, so After Earth has Will Smith and it can be worse with M. Night Shyamalan returning to direct during a flop phase.
  Of course A.E. will not flop commercially with Will Smith's prior 10 films have grossed above $100m domestically and A.E. was smart to release one week later to Fast Six. Still F6 has a BO101 prediction of keeping its top spot next week with Smith's sci-fi venture opening at 2. Fast Six opened with $117m whilst box office moguls predicted a $92m debut. 
  Due to Memorial Day it was a 4-day weekend. Fast 5 opened in the US in the mid of April in a 3-day weekend. So in quadruple days the prequel made $92m. Even if there were triple holidays I still claim that F6 would've have opened with at least $100m. 
  Though there are two flaws to be noted in this venture: First is one scene on the highway that is impossible in real life, and the whole crowd shook with laughter other than shock in the seats. Secondly, Luke Evan's character is not exploited wholly. Still, the positive outweighs the negative as this not a Diesel/Walker film as before F5. Steven Soderbergh used every actor in his Oceans trilogy to share the same screen greatness. With no thespian being showcased as of lower talent. F6 is the best in using such an entourage in the same condition as Oceans and The Avengers, even outranking both.
  Fast 7 has already been announced with shooting to start in August. F7 has a stated July 2014 date. Diesel and Walker are confirmed. The Rock is facing scheduling conflicts, and Justin Lin (director of TD, F4, F5 and F6) is not participating as he has just finished F6. James Wan is one of my favourite horror directors who is known for collaborating with Leigh Whannell for the first SAW film, and in Insidious plus Dead Silence. The only action venture he has directed was Death Sentence (without Whannell) which starred Kevin Bacon and was a thriller for me. It was about a mild-mannered white collar worker avenging his son's death against a street gang. Wan is also of Asian origin like Lin but it was his releases of Dead Silence and Death Sentence in one year that Universal decided to involve him in the next project. I still fear the not taking a two or three year gap could affect the final product. Still, I'll check the critical consensus before deciding to watch Fast Seven.

(Horror director James Wan)

  A fresh face confirmed for Fast Seven is ex-action star Jason Statham. Ex? Well his stand-alone thrillers i.e.  Blitz, Safe and Parker being the worst films I have seen in the entire decade. Statham registers equally in each film with his trimmed beard and hair. He gives new meaning to the term typecasted. So he is set on a new road in the next FF film as a villain. Hopefully it will help him revive his charisma from The Transporter trio.
  In the end, F6 is an awesome film and yes it is fully worth watching in the cinema. And you'll be missing the drive-thru of a lifetime if you don't. Below is the trailer for Hummingbird, Statham's next bad ass movie:


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pain does not Gain foremost this round-up

TWLWTitle (click to view)StudioWeekend Gross% ChangeTheater Count /ChangeAverageTotal GrossBudget*Week #
1NIron Man 3BV$174,144,585-4,253-$40,946$174,144,585$2001
21Pain and GainPar.$7,511,315-62.9%3,287+10$2,285$33,830,390$262
55The CroodsFox$4,202,639-37.5%2,915-368$1,442$168,720,798$1357
64The Big WeddingLGF$3,881,857-48.9%2,633-$1,474$14,216,422$352
813Oz The Great and PowerfulBV$2,113,009+16.7%1,160-450$1,822$228,858,941$2159
97Scary Movie 5W/Dim.$1,441,360-58.0%1,857-876$776$29,609,668$204
109The Place Beyond the PinesFocus$1,280,152-53.1%1,162-422$1,102$18,676,792$156

As promised I'm back this week to explain my thesis on Pain and Gain. The movie's trailer was the first I'd seen before the starting of the sci-fi venture Oblivion. On the short clip I wasn't impressed. This movie is sort of like Bollywood's Don 2 , where the heroes are a preferable league of sociopaths than the villains. Or where you can't tell which team to support.
Yes, it is from commercially acclaimed director Michael Bay (Transformers 1,2,3 and Armageddon). So the starring of both Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Mark Wahlberg, does not come as a surprise. This is due to the fact Bay's film usually have not only one big male star, but usually two: Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage in The Rock; Will Smith, Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys and its sequel.
  Based on a true story, Pain and Gain's plot comprises of a trio of bodybuilders (third being Anthony Mackie) who get involved in extortion, kidnapping and murder in Florida. This is typical Michael Bay. The premise being wrongly done by the mob boss. And the following being a strike by the employees. If Bay was in a Trade Union, there would've been strikes all over the country.
  Mackie was also the only African-American lead in this year's brilliant Gangster Squad. The trailer of GS looked average yet it delivered in full-time. We could expect the same for Pain and Gain. After all, it stars Dwayne Johnson and his films are seldom supremely disappointing (well, if you forego the crappy kid comedies).
  Now the trailer was really unimpressive. I mean it gives no incentive to the viewer to spend cash on the cinema ticket. Unless he's a die-hard The Rock fan. P+G had made $20m on its beginning weekend. I expected a $15m inception although it was off due to the lack of competitors. It is now on $33m in the US surpassing its $26m budget. Worldwide revenue has not been accounted for yet. It has already been released in the Emirates and Russia, and will sooner or later n the UK.
  In this round-up, there was a lack of competitors - not of a monopoly AKA Iron Man 3. The three-quel reached the 2nd largest opening in North American theatrical history, with $174m. This is behind The Avengers' massive $207m and above Deathly Hallows Part 2's $169m. The introductory gross also pummels my theory that Iron Man 3's attainment of the 1 billion dollars mark is not written in stone. Now it shall be written in box office history.
  The global total is already at $678 million. Nevertheless, Iron Man 3 will not cross The Avenger's $1.5b ending. Problem with The Avengers was that the interest downsized in the last months, so it could have grossed $1.6b. Iron Man 3 will probably end up with $1.2b-$1.3b. IM3 most probably has the topmost kickoff this year. The only sure competitor is Man of Steel. But I will be shocked if it crosses BoxOffice101's prediction of a $150m start-up.
  G.I. Joe: Retaliation finally makes its exit from the top 10 with $118m in the States alone, with a budget of $130m. It will not beat G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra's domestic total of $150m but has already beaten its worldwide total of $302m with $355m. Funny thing to note is that the first part had insignificantly famous actors than the sequel. Overwhelmingly negative reviews from US itself could have diminished the potentiality of audiences. 
  Overall, G.I. Joe 2 was better than the first in my opinion. Though a better story could have broadened my horizons for a third try. The action scenes involving the character Snake Eyes were breath-taking, literally on the cliffs' showcasing.
  Scary Movie 5 has been classified as a disappointment. Rightfully so, the 4th part in the series produced a $178m global cumulative. The 5th has barely managed to hit an approximate $50m mark. Scary Movie 4 grossed $90m domestically, and 5 will exit the top ten with $31m-$32m.
Either it was the colossal number of writers or new direction that doomed the spoof-comedy. Or the casting of Ashley Tisdale instead of traditional (and way better) actress Anna Faris. A movie that Charlie Sheen couldn't save is a box office bomb. Its $20m budget has however been surprassed by $29m. A 6th part might take longer than the 7-year duration between 4 and 5.
  Not all the Scary Movies were brilliant. The third was still the best and four was good in comparison. So with reviews citing this venture lower than the fourth, it might be proportionate to the critical consensus.
  The Place Beyond the Pines is a low-budget crime drama that was at 9 last week, and 10 this weekend. It stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes. The film has 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. It had a commencement of $4.9m.
  The Big Wedding with a big cast is still small at the theatre toll. The likes of Robert De Niro and Susan Sarandon could not save this fictional ceremony. Surprisingly, LionsGateFilms was the distributor that specialises in horror films namely all the SAWs.
  Oz: The Great and  Powerful returns from number 13 to 8 with $228m above its $215m production cost. So original director of the first 3 Spider-man films faces another success commercially and critically. Also note the comparatively inferior earnings of films other than IM3 this weekend.
  That's all from me folks, join me next time on The Fast and The Furious 6's debut. To end with a high note below, is the teaser for the much-awaited (by comic-books fan like myself) Man of Steel:

(Chart by Box Office Mojo)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Iron Man 3 tops The Avengers

TWLWTitle (click to view)StudioWeekend Gross% ChangeTheater Count /ChangeAverageTotal GrossBudget*Week #
1NPain and GainPar.$20,244,505-3,277-$6,178$20,244,505$261
4NThe Big WeddingLGF$7,591,663-2,633-$2,883$7,591,663$351
53The CroodsFox$6,726,918-27.2%3,283-152$2,049$163,151,701$1356
65G.I. Joe: RetaliationPar.$3,701,825-35.8%2,707-468$1,368$116,477,968$1305
74Scary Movie 5W/Dim.$3,434,451-44.2%2,733-669$1,257$27,471,387$203
87Olympus Has FallenFD$2,863,345-36.0%2,334-304$1,227$93,171,817$706
96The Place Beyond the PinesFocus$2,699,000-45.1%1,584+42$1,704$16,205,000$155
109Jurassic Park 3DUni.$2,374,685-41.4%1,848-482$1,285$42,065,060$104

Although it is yet to release in the US, Iron Man 3 has topped The Avengers' opening gross overseas. Yes, this is surprising as I thought only The Avengers 2 would accomplish that. However, strong critical acclaim and awaiting of the third part of the metallic superhero series.

(Iron Man 3 North American poster)

Robert Downey Jr. reprises the titular role for the fifth time (he appeared as Tony Stark in the Incredible Hulk). Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow are also returning. The villain is played by Academy Award attainer Ben Kingsley. Last time it was the Oscar-designated Mickey Rourke. Now Iron Man 2 in my opinion was super boring. The first part overcoming it easily. Three is directed by Shane Black whose first venture was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, also starring Downey Jr.
  KKBB was humorously brilliant. But Black has written films as early as the Lethal Weapon franchise. Iron Man 3 already has a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With negative reviews not being too negative. The earlier films also have had fresh ratings. Iron Man with 95% and the sequel with 73% both movies being directed by Jon Favreau.
  So I'm more interested in watching this one in the theatre. After all, summer has begun. Though it is still spring in Al Ain, UAE. Another point to note is that Iron Man grossed a little above $580m but the sequel only reached $623.9m. I'm not shocked as I hated the latter.
  The three-quel has made $198.4m in its worldwide opening. This is at the same time The Avengers emerged with $185m. This also clears the point that Iron Man is Marvel's most powerful stand-alone Avenger.
  So yes, anything above $800m globally is expected. Though it's not written in stone that the possible last of this trilogy will land at $1b.
  Now for news other than all the above mentioned. Oblivion is at number 2 in its second leg. I also wanted to include a mini-review of Oblivion in this week's article. Starring Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman. The film shines with a star cast (okay discarding Kurylenko). Still, it was a bad flick. 
  Sci-fi today is predictable and demands originality. Oblivion started as any dystopian science-fiction movie would. But Oblivion is not only a post-apocalyptic movie, it's an apocalypse of a movie. Seriously, the  venture became so predictable after one hour that the brilliant director tried to show his finesse afterwards. That ended up being more than audiences bargained for. And I seriously had a headache in the cinema hall. Compared to this, Prometheus looks like a futurism legend.
(Oblivion looks Oblivious)

  With notable action scenes and great acting by Cruise, as usual, Oblivion was fine for the first hour and a half. But the remaining 35 minutes were shear torture. I regretted being born in those final moments. This is the biggest problem with director-writer Joseph Konsinski. He based this film on his unpublished graphic novel to only prove why the art was not published in the first place. He also wrote/directed Tron Legacy that had a stupendous ending yet better than Oblivion's. Well, the whole movie was better than the latter.
  Oblivion has a 56% rotten rating. The consensus: 'Visually striking but thinly scripted', is the best description for that universe. No sequel is in the news and it is possible with the film 1 million dollars away from attaining the $200m mark. Domestically, it has grossed $65m on a budget of $120m. Tom Cruise's face in the trailers were enough to cross the $100m milestone. It won't cover its budget in the States, probably ending up with $100 million. The people's rating on IMDB rating is 7.2. My rating is a razor-edge 1.5/4. 
  The newcomers this week are Pain and Gain at number 1, with The Big Wedding not so big at 4th place. The former stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson respectively.
  That's all from me folks, stay tuned next week for further discussion on this weekend's top spot. And I'd like to end this article with a quote by a fellow movie critic:
'Oblivion is one of the best-looking bad films ever made'. - Shaun Munro (WhatCulture).

(Chart by Box Office Mojo)