Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ghost Rider doesn't come back with a Vengeance!

The Nicolas Cage starrer opened at no.3 for the four-day President Day weekend in America. With a lower number of theatres than the prequel running it, this is still a disappointment.
  The first film was released in 2007 with Cage and the curvy Eva Mendes in the lead. The film a hit but not a super hit in terms of being one based on a popular Marvel Comics character. It made an estimated $29,000.000 on a $110,000,000 budget. The sequel bravely titled Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance released Feb 17,2012 worldwide. No wonder it released on Feb 16 in the UAE as local film co. Imagenation Abu Dhabi co-produced it. They are also known for producing Colin Farrell starrer The Way Back 2010 and the above average spy thriller The Double 2012.
    In GR 2, we see Cage umm... many years after his super stud days. The past is depicted in a series of stylish comic strips, oddly similar to those used to explain the events in the Infamous game series. So it could be seen from this point forward that this film was meant to target regular comic book readers.
  A French black priest who rides a nasty motorcycle played by Idris Elba visit Cage asking him for help. Cage is asked to save a kid from the Devil himself. Elba was also seen in the Marvel comic based Thor 2011, and his role although not being as charismatic in this film, it is still more entertaining than the lead's. The Devil was played by veteran Irish actor Ciaran Hinds. His performance was decent but not as badass as Sam Elliott's in the first part. The kid (Fergus Riordan) played his part well.
  For the pros and cons. The film has a more creative plot than the previous. Of course one would remember the awe-inspiring antics of Jason Statham in Crank and Crakn 2: High Voltage while seeing Cage. It is to remembered this venture is directed by the same duo Neveldine/Taylor. I'm a big fan of theirs. Although critics' reactions to their 2009 film Gamer were highly negative I loved it. I still regard it as the best virtual reality action film after The Matrix series. I was shocked when it flopped. But that's cinema life.
  GR: S of V is a roller coaster ride, literally! The action will leave you fixed to your seats wanting more. Much better than GR 1's amateurish fighting scenes where every conclusion was merely predictable. The film itself is a mix of Crank and Gamer. Those who hated or loved Ghost Rider don't fear. This one is completely different than the last. The main character's design is more ruthless, his bike more grotesque and the scenery is of total Eastern European descent. As opposed to the last part being completely All-American.
  But it also safe to mention that the prequel had its plus points. The stunts carried out were to fun, even over and over again. The Devil and his son played by Wes Bentley were cast perfectly. And the scene where the Rider rides up a skyscraper is unforgettable. Other than that, a weak predictable plot. Average acting by Cage and tried acting by Mendes, although I don't think most people were concentrating on her respective skills. The ending plain sucked as well. It had the potential to be written better.
  Overall, I've given Ghost Rider a 2.5/4 while Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance gets a 3/4. If you want to watch a boring All-American version of this classic flaming skull chain-slinger then watch the former. Or if you want a full throttle action ride with little info. on the plot details, then catch this one in the theatre halls while it's still on.
  This sequel opened with $22m at the US box office behind Safe House $24m and The Vow $23.5m. Less than half of the original's opening. But with a $57m production budget just above the half of the former's, it's less embarrassing. It is 4th on the Presiden't Day Comic Book Weekend behind GR 1, Daredevil and Constantine. I predict it would make $70-$85 worldwide at the end of its theatrical run.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Movie reviews: Colombiana and The Double.

Another rising star, best known for her role in James Cameron's Avatar, Zoe Saldana stars in the action film Colombiana.
  The movie stars off well. The plot is painfully simple. Girl's parents get murdered. She escapes, heads off to a developed country (in this case the US). And gets taught by her boss uncle played perfectly by Cliff Curtis to become an assassin, to avenge the killing of her family.
  I watch the TV series Nikita occasionally and it's the epitome of bad-girl-wanting-to-get-revenge syndrome. Colombiana uses this motive well in its overall running time. Saldana's acting was also worthy, not of an Oscar, but on convincing the audience including me that she can pack more than a punch. The best role-playing was done by Curtis, his darkness lights up the whole film.
  What encouraged me to watch the film full? The choreography. Action scenes were decent enough and well-executed, and not overdone. There was no sentimentality involved in the dramatic acts. If you wish to watch a film with a predictable plot but good fighting, then Colombiana delivers the goods. 2.5/4 from me.
  The Double is a 2011 spy film, and worth watching. To start with, I did not have high hopes in watching this one. I thought the plot and directing would be mediocre. But I was surprisingly impressed.

  The film stars H-wood veteran Richard Gere, and Topher Grace best known for his role as the fiend Venom in Spider-man 3. Directed and co-written by Michael Brandt with Derek Haas. The film follows retired CIA operative Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) called in once again to duty when the murder of a Kansas senator takes place. The assassination is said to be done by a person on top of the CIA's most wanted list Cassius, who had not shown his mark from about 20 years. Young FBI agent Ben Geary (Topher Grace) assists Paul, and is also his greatest fan, in tracking down the serial killer once and for all.
  The plot unfolds interestingly though slowly. It was not as cliched as with most CIA-based flicks. The directing was well done with decent action scenes. Michael Brandt is best known for writing Wanted and 3:10 to Yuma, and shines a bit with his directing debut.
  The film is co-produced by Imagenation Abu Dhabi and I was amazed not to have seen the film made in any part of the middle east. Seems the Arabs are getting less egoistic after the success of Ghost Protocol. I award the film 2.5/4. It's the opposite of Colombiana, better story but average action.

Tower Heist did not heist my attention

I had not the pleasure of seeing Tower Heist today. Expected it to be one of the best movies I've ever seen with H-wood veterans Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. Turned out to be the biggest overstatement of cinema history.
  For sure Brett Ratner, known for the Rush Hour films, directed the movie brilliantly. But the screenplay but Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson  managed to deliver a plot, a proper story but failed in the comic factor. The characterisation was boring. I'd get more laughs watching a Japanese ad for McDonald's.
   The jokes were confusing - I couldn't tell when one was being funny or not. Eddie Murphy's role didn't suit him. Unlike Jamie Foxx as MF Jones in my favourite comedy of all time Horrible Bosses. I've wondered whether the writers were inspired by his role in designing Murphy's character.
  The movie is rated PG-13 and rightfully so. It's about 3 employees of an exclusive apartment building who lose their pensions in the Ponzi scheme of Wall street business Arthur Shaw played by Alan Alda. The group enlist the aid of criminal slide (Eddie Murphy) and some others to steal their money back. Alda's performance was the best although you could say no one else sparked prominently in their own roles.
  The film gets a 2 out of 4 from me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Weekend box office Feb 10-12, 2012.

1NThe VowSGem$41,202,458-2,958-$13,929$41,202,458$301
2NSafe HouseUni.$40,172,720-3,119-$12,880$40,172,720$851
3NJourney 2: The Mysterious IslandWB$27,335,363-3,470-$7,878$27,335,363$791
4NStar Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (in 3D)Fox$22,469,932-2,655-$8,463$22,469,932-1
51Chronicle (2012)Fox$12,092,589-45.0%2,908+1$4,158$39,959,856$122
62The Woman in BlackCBS$10,102,658-51.6%2,856+1$3,537$35,258,145-2
73The GreyORF$5,045,620-45.8%2,801-407$1,801$42,787,884$253
84Big MiracleUni.$3,946,050-49.2%2,133+4$1,850$13,281,985$402
98The DescendantsFoxS$3,441,676-24.4%1,581-457$2,177$70,671,289-13
105Underworld AwakeningSGem$2,480,156-54.9%1,657-979$1,497$58,914,525$704
Info. from Box Office Mojo.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chronicle on top, Radcliffe starrer follows

Look what we have have. Last weekend's topper is none other than the sci-fi superhero (pun intended) film Chronicle.
  I am surprised this low-budget venture beat both the star power of Daniel Radcliffe and Liam Neesom (The Grey). The producers have a lottery on their hands. I had predicted that Chronicle would beat The Grey but beating The Woman in Black was a shocker. Interesting thing to note is all the top films have a dark aura about them. And of course you can say darker than dark for The Woman in Black.

  The whole film was shot in found footage style. This may be the first sci-fi superhero movie to be made so. Not including the zoo documentary style of The Rise of the Planet of the Apes - wonder how they earned so much with that long a title.
  I predict it would end its cinematic run with $80 million on a $15 million budget. The Woman in Black may as well end with probably the same or less on a $13 million budget. The latter is the biggest US opening for a Hammer productions film. It has also received a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes praising its traditional approach. I applaud Daniel from not venturing into rom-coms like sensible young superstars would do. Trailer below:
   The trailer is spooky although it reveals very less about the plot. In contrast, Chronicle has a more extensive trailer. My friend thought it was based on a DC comic. So you can see the eagerness of audiences rushing into the Chronicle theatre stands.
  Chronicle is directed by Josh Trank, becoming the youngest film-maker, at 27, to go number 1 in the US. It'written by Max Landis based on a story by both of them. Hats off!


No 'Wrath' of the Titans

Oh please, not again.
  I officially declare this the worst movie trailer of 2012.
  The Clash of the Titans (2010) was, what would you say, the reverse of an epic Gods-filled blockbuster. Although Sam Worthington's stone-faced acting suited the role the whole story was handled foolishly. I haven't seen 1981 original but if that was a classic then this was far from it. Nevertheless it made a little above $490m on a $125m budget.
  Sam's latest movie Man on a Ledge entered the box office last week at 5. It's even more humiliating that his film to be beat by low-budget Chronicle and Katherine Heigl starrer One for the Money. I'm not a great fan of his acting. He seems to have no charisma but maybe that's the trick. Nowadays, with so many showy actors he may be the only one who doesn't know how to act. Or it could be that the movies were just too good for him. And most of his roles suit him. He's not some expressionless lover boy. He's a lean, mean machine (Terminator cliche). I'm surprised if he could even tell a joke in real life and laugh at it. But his personality had given him the Terminator Salvation role. The 2nd best Terminator after Judgement Day.
  Sam received even better profitable offers in The Debt (boring as the title) and Avatar. All I would love to see in his new film is Liam Neeson's dialogue delivery. Even the action shown in the trailer feels to deliver any sort of wrath.
  It's releasing on the March 30 weekend in Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D and I bet it will come 1st followed by Immortals director Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror starring Julia Roberts. And Rachel Weisz's The Deep Blue Sea at 3rd and Goon at 4th. Good luck Sam, you may as well end up in the Guinness Book of Records for highest earning poker-faced actors.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend gross Feb 3-5, 2012.

Info. from Box Office Mojo.
1NChronicle (2012)Fox$22,000,000-2,907-$7,568$22,000,000$121
2NThe Woman in BlackCBS$21,000,000-2,855-$7,356$21,000,000-1
31The GreyORF$9,500,000-51.7%3,208+23$2,961$34,756,000$252
4NBig MiracleUni.$8,500,000-2,129-$3,992$8,500,000$401
52Underworld AwakeningSGem$5,600,000-54.7%2,636-442$2,124$54,353,000$703
63One For the MoneyLGF$5,250,000-54.4%2,737-$1,918$19,668,000$402
74Red TailsFox$5,000,000-51.8%2,347-226$2,130$41,323,000$583
88The DescendantsFoxS$4,600,000-28.2%2,038+37$2,257$65,523,000-12
95Man on a LedgeSum.$4,500,000-43.8%2,998-$1,501$14,700,000$422
106Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseWB$3,925,000-43.8%2,505-125$1,567$26,793,000-7

Friday, February 3, 2012

Liam Neeson on a hatrick

The Grey topped last weekend with $20 million. It successfully beat much-hyped Underworld: Awakening and the Katherine Heigl starrer One for the Money.
  Liam Neeson's two previous lead roles were in Taken 2008 and Unknown 2011, both thrillers like his latest release. Both also took the no.1 position at the US box office respectively. So it's no surprise that The Grey managed to do what it did last weekend.
  On a $25m budget the film's going strong. I'm very excited to see whether it will be able to hold on to its position this weekend following the release of Daniel Radcliffe's The Woman in Black, and sci-fi flick Chronicle. Taken 2008 was a spy thriller masterpiece. Unknown was less impressive on making a twisting impact and grossed less than the former, deserving it.
  Hope The Grey is as good or even better than Taken. My favourite critic Roger Ebert has given it a 3.5/4 rating and that man is seldom wrong. Although, the trailer seems mediocre, Taken had the same feature but ended up as a blockbuster.
  Box Office 101's prediction for The Grey is that it might gross $100-$120m at the end of its theatrical run. Liam's Taken 2, slated for an Oct 012 release also has a 90% chance of topping the US chart, giving him a fourth consecutive hit.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

US Box Office Jan 27-29

1NThe GreyORF$19,665,101-3,185-$6,174$19,665,101$251
21Underworld AwakeningSGem$12,352,802-51.2%3,078-$4,013$44,978,415$702
3NOne For the MoneyLGF$11,515,790-2,737-$4,207$11,515,790$401
42Red TailsFox$10,370,323-44.8%2,573+61$4,030$33,750,118$582
5NMan on a LedgeSum.$8,001,932-2,998-$2,669$8,001,932$421
64Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseWB$6,980,448-30.5%2,630-$2,654$20,941,702-6
816The DescendantsFoxS$6,405,285+170.0%2,001+1,441$3,201$58,703,299-11
95Beauty and the Beast (3D)BV$5,307,807-39.5%2,145-480$2,475$41,110,138-3
  (Info. from Box Office Mojo).

Bollywood101: History DOES NOT repeat itself

Yes, it's hard to believe the title. But Hrithik Roshan starrer and Priyanka Chopra co-starrer Agneepath 2012 has become the biggest grossing Bollywood film of this year. Well, I suppose Abhishek Bachchan's presence in Players (2012) helped that. Players didn't even manage to cover its budget. Which itself had a 20% chance to do so. So audiences would generally flop to any Hrithik film blindly.
  The last Agneepath, which was made in 1990 was a colossal flop. It was released in the era of Sir Bachchan's 90s movies known as his 'series of flops'. Again, I'm surprised that such a a loosely-based rip off of The Italian Job 2003, Players could still not recover its budget. The film made only 4.60 crore on the first day which with its cast is very disappointing as a non-commercial Farhan Akhtar film could have made twice as much on the first day. In its 3rd week Players made only US$ 6 million on a US$ 9 million budget. Please Ab Bachchan leave the acting to your wife.
  Audiences loved Agneepath for mainly two reasons: Sanjay Dutt's character as well as Rishi Kapoor's. I asked my colleague who had watched it and she gave it a B-C rating. She mentioned that the film contained a lot of violence and gore, but a good story, she certainly hasn't seen Eli Roth's Hostel.
  Another thing to note for Agneepath's success is the item song Chikni Charmeli starring none other than show-it-almost-all-off Katrina Kaif. So shaking her ass made more people pay in cash. Also, Bollywood box office guru Karan Johar, who produced the film, is also to be concluded as a reason for the hit. He couldn't of directed it. Or else it would've turned out like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum with a sentimental and slow bloodfest.
  Agneepath has grossed $16.2m on a $12.4m budget as of Feb 2, being its first-week run. I bet a Katrina Kaif item song could've helped Players at least cover its budget by some dollars! Players has been added to the list of Bollywood New Year flops with Dulha Mil Gaya 2010, Pyaar Impossible 2010, Chandni Chowk to China 2009 and Halla Bol 2008. Agneepath may as well end its run with $25m-$30m as predicted.

G.I. Joe 2: Will it Retaliate at the box office?

  There are two reasons: Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson.
  The Rock has become even more famous in Hollywood after critics applauded his performance in Fast Five wholeheartedly. Ever since then he has been termed as the modern action star. I also liked his performance in Faster 2010 and the movie was fun to watch. I'm hoping he would stick to only action roles and not play a tooth fairy again. Can't say anything for his latest release Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. I may not be watching that but if I do I will write a review for sure. 
  The first part was good 2.5/4 from me. The movie contained the action and humour element  successfully side by side. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra grossed an impressive $302,469,017 on a $175,000,000 budget.
  I will also enjoy Bruce Willis's role in The Expendables 2 later this August. G.I. Joe 2 is being directed by John M. Chu best known for Step Up 2 and 3. So maybe he's as good in choreographing action scenes as he is in dance moves. I have to say that the trailer for it is the best summer blockbuster trailer I've seen along with The Dark Knight Rises.
  G.I. Joe: Retaliation trailer:
  G.I. Joe: Retaliation is slated for a June 29 release in the US and 22 June in the UK. No prediction as I'm not aware of the budget. But it does have the potential to out-gross its predecessor.

Kate Beckinsale is Back-In-Sales

She was out of the limelight since 2009's flop Everybody's Fine. But at the start of 2012 she has starred in two lead roles of Underworld Awakening and Contraband co-starring Mark Wahlberg.
  A great similarity between the two is that both films have crossed their budgets over a period of 2-3 weeks. Both films had reached no.1 on the US box office on the first say. So it would be unprofessional to say that Kate is not getting bankable by each movie.
  Underworld: Awakening is the fourth movie in the Underworld series. This Vampire-Lycan (werewolf) franchise has been a thrilling mixture of action and horror. It could well be my favourite vampire movie series after Blade. I am yet to see Awakening but from I've heard most critics have said that story is somewhat similar to most modern vampire tales nowadays, but the action may be the best of them all.
  And I'm sure her husband Len Wiseman, producer of all the 4 movies, would be contemplating happily on a fifth after seeing the end-run gross of Awakening. I hadn't forecast Contraband earning so high so quickly though I'm a big Mark Wahlberg fan. The success of the film is also due to Kate's on-screen presence. The two also share a cute chemistry
  Her next project is a remake of Arnold Schwarzenegger's super-hit Total Recall 1990 which was a pain in the head for me. And I hope this one doesn't disappoint as much as the last. It stars Colin Farrell and is directed by Len Wiseman. Thought I predict it would have an above average gross worldwide.
  Underworld 4 has made approximately over $85m on $70m and Contraband has made $65m on a $30m budget since the weekend of Jan 27-29. Awakening may eventually end its run with $120-$150m.

Nicolas Cage's Comeback

  It's been ages since I heard Nic Cage's name in a sensible title. Although, the movie seems far from it. After going through a series of two average grossers The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010) and Drive Angry 3-D (2011), and with a better box office grosser Season of the Witch (2011). Nic will play a 'badass' superhero in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Of course he would want to take 'vengeance' on the box office due to the lack of success of his previous releases.
  I had the courtesy of watching his last two movies Trespass, which was stupid fun, and Seeking Justice which was the epitome of dull and boring put together. For Ghost Rider 2 Nic was paid 7,500,000 dollars and the movie has been made on a $75 million budget compared to Ghost Rider (2007)'s $110,000 budget. The last part made $237,000,000 worldwide although fans disapproved of Cage's portraying Johnny Blaze and critics gave it a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.
  But people listen Nic's a great actor. He has played so many different characters in over two decades and if anyone is to blamed for the film it's David S. Goyer who produced it but left the screenwriting to Mark Steven Johnson, the director. Personally, I thought the story was good and the stunts were carried out fantastically, but after the first half hour the film fell flat of its charm. The final action scenes were too predictable and boring, and the ending was a surprise as it plain sucked. Green Lantern 2011 was a deja vu of this.
  Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is directed by Neveldine/ Taylor. They are one of my favourite duo of directors known for directing/writing Crank, Crank: High Voltage, and the flop Gamer which I personally saw as a superb action film.
  So I have made an assumption of 80% that the sequel will be better than the first Rider movie. David S. Goyer has written the screenplay along with two other writers, which is a disappointment as I wished he'd write it alone like the Blade series of films. The story has been given by Goyer which is a big turn-on. And Eva Mendes is not reviving her role as the heroine, probably the producers thought she was the main reason for the film not reaching the $300m mark.
  My prediction for Ghost Rider 2 is that it will certainly cross over $100m and it may ends its run with a 210m-230m. But if the movie delivers the action promised in the trailers then the 75m budget could be multiplied significantly even grossing about 300m.
  It is set for a 17th Feb release in the US and the UK, and a 16th Feb release in the UAE in Digital 3-D. Who in their right minds would want to take their girlfriend out to see GR 2 on a Valentines Day? I would!