Monday, May 21, 2012

The Week That Was and the Week That Will Be - 5/21

The big news of the weekend was the firing of showrunner Dan Harmon from Community, the show he created in 2009. This increases the likelihood that next season's 13 episode order will be the show's final run. I'm bummed about the loss of Harmon. However, there were a number of fans across the Internet reacting to this news as if the show couldn't possibly be good without Harmon. To those fans I say, let's just wait and see. I'm not saying it's going to be great (and it certainly has been GREAT of late), I'm just saying let's watch an episode or two before passing judgment.

Aaron Sorkin has agreed to pen the Steve Jobs biopic for Sony. Now THAT is a tremendous combination. 

He may have been left out of the The Avengers but Ant-Man may receive his very own movie soon, courtesy of Edgar Wright. 

The upcoming Blade Runner film has been officially termed a sequel with original screenwriter Hampton Fancher putting together the story. The internal battle within my brain ("We don't need a Blade Runner sequel!!!" versus "Gosh, Blade Runner is amazing!!!") is beginning to pick up in intensity. 

Dan over at Fogs Movie Reviews did an excellent write-up on Jurassic Park as part of his "Movies Everyone Should See" series. Check it out!

Finally, the season finale of Saturday Night Live was this weekend and it featured a fantastic send off for Kristen Wiig who will leave the show for the greener pastures of a post-Bridesmaids world. In my opinion, Wiig is one of the most talented and versatile performers the show has ever employed and she will be greatly missed. Check out the classy farewell which brought both Kristen and myself to tears (sue me). 

Weekend Box Office Returns
The records keep piling up for Marvel’s The Avengers. The superhero flick is now the fourth highest-grossing film of all-time, bringing its total up to just over $1.18 billion worldwide along with grabbing its third straight domestic box office title. Now the only question is whether or not it can unseat Avatar and become the highest-grossing movie ever. I’m of the opinion that it cannot achieve this feat. Avatar took in over $2.7 billion during its theatrical run and $760 million on US soils. So while what The Avengers has done is EXTREMELY impressive, it would need a real boost to make a run at more than doubling its money. (I’m not entirely sure if it has debuted in all of the major worldwide markets, however. That could be just the boost I’m talking about.) Avatar also received a substantial bonus in terms of overall viewership from all the awards buzz it generated, something that I doubt The Avengers will receive. I would love to be proven wrong, however, and it’s going to be quite interesting to keep an eye on a movie I absolutely love.

Meanwhile, the filmmakers behind The Avengers and The Hunger Games continue to make their contemporaries look bad as yet another would-be blockbuster (Battleship) struggled mightily in its debut. Having not yet seen this movie, I will continue to stand my assertion that, like John Carter before it, Battleship isn’t that bad but never stood a chance given its absurd budget ($209 million). Maybe these failures will lead Hollywood to reexamine the movie-making process when it comes to this sort of film. The Dictator also underperformed relative to its budget and I guess What to Expect did about as well as it was expected to.

1. The Avengers - $55.05M ($457.07M)
2. Battleship - $25.3M
3. The Dictator - $17.41M
4. Dark Shadows - $12.77M ($50.9M)
5. What to Expect When You’re Expecting - $10.5M
6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - $3.25M ($8.25M)
7. The Hunger Games - $3M ($391.63M)
8. Think Like a Man - $2.7M ($85.88M)
9. The Lucky One - $1.76M ($56.92M)
10. Pirates! Band of Misfits - $1.07M ($27.06M)

New to DVD
What I’ll Probably Watch at Some Point I Guess
Red Tails (2012) – Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Oyelowo
*Sigh* I’d like to believe there’s a bizarro universe out there somewhere in which Red Tails is a good movie. I guess for that to happen this alternate universe would also have to include a version of George Lucas who didn’t lose his mind in 1984. The Tuskegee Airmen deserve a good movie, though, and unfortunately I cannot expect this to be that movie even if the special effects are enough to make me just interested enough to rent it at some point.

What I’m Looking Forward to Catching Up On
Sherlock: Season 2 (2012) – Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman
Next week I’ll be writing a column on the shows/movies I plan to watch over the summer. This will be involved. Stay tuned.

What I’ve Seen So You Don’t Have To
This Means War (2012) – Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy
Look, if you’re searching for a date movie that will be passable for both sexes, you could probably do worse than This Means War. (You could also do decidedly better but that’s beside the point.) It has some decent moments (most of which do not involve Witherspoon) but even at its best, it plays like a bland, mid-season episode of Chuck and while I like Chuck as a TV show, I’m not pining for it to become a movie. If you do decide to check this one out, just don’t expect much in the way of…well…anything, really.

What I’ve Seen and Quite Liked
The River: Season 1 (2012) – Joe Anderson, Bruce Greenwood, Leslie Hope
It never really found an audience during its brief run this spring but having watched all 10 episodes of The River, I think it would play quite nicely on DVD/instant streaming. The character development is nothing to write home about but the concept is very interesting and there are some genuinely scary moments throughout the series. It also wrapped up nicely, providing a satisfying conclusion while still leaving itself open for a second season pickup (which never came). If you’re a fan of Lost and need a fix this summer, I recommend a viewing.

Also New
The Secret World of Arrietty (2012) – Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Bridgit Mendler
The Woman in Black (2012) – Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciaran Hinds
Rizzoli and Isles: Season 2 (2011) – Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander
Perfect Sense (2011) – Eva Green, Ewan McGregor

Coming to a Theater Near You
Our trio of newcomers last week didn’t fare so well at the box office but received mix reviews from the critics. Battleship made me look smart, finishing on Rotten Tomatoes with a 36% rotten rating (35% predicted). The Dictator started out the weekend in the 75% range but dropped down to a barely-fresh 60% at the time of this writing (70% prediction. And What to Expect When You’re Expecting was worse than I could have imagined, grabbing a Valentine’s Day-like 22% rating (38% prediction). I should have seen that last one coming. I have failed.

This week we get three more new offerings to the gods of Marvel. Good luck, newbies.

Men in Black 3 – Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
After the disappearance of Agent K (TLJ), Agent J (Smith) travels back in time to the ‘60s in an effort to stop a mischievous alien. Full disclosure: I love Will Smith. I fully believe in his talent and most of his movies are a ridiculously fun. Men in Black actually holds up really, really well 15 years later and has some darker edges that make it an excellent experience. The sequel, though, is one of the worst movies of the last decade. Chances are this installment winds up somewhere in between those two extremes but if I had to guess, I’d say it’ll probably come in closer to the sequel than to the original. And that really bums me out. It’s been four years since we’ve seen Smith on the screen and still he refuses to take real chances. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: Fresh, 61%

Moonrise Kingdom – Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton
After a pair of pre-teens (Gilman, Hayward) run away together, a small New England town organizes a haphazard search party and executes the search accordingly. I don’t really know what else to say about Moonrise Kingdom except that I’m really, REALLY excited about this one. It’s been five years since Wes Anderson directed a live-action film (though The Fantastic Mr. Fox was excellent) and I’m looking forward to seeing the way in which his trademark style works with a bit of a different narrative. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: 88%

Chernobyl Diaries – Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Olivia Dudley
A group of adventurers has their fun spoiled when they are attacked during a guided tour of Chernobyl. More often than not the combination of found-footage and the horror genre turns into a gimmicky waste of time. And yet, I find myself somewhat interested in this, in part because of the success of Chronicle (which reaffirmed my belief in the filmmaking technique) and in part because I have always been extremely interested in Chernobyl. I won’t be heading to theaters for this one but I imagine I’ll check it out at some point. Rotten Tomatoes prediction: Rotten, 51%

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