Another seven days has come and gone, and left us with a new slew of movie news, box office info, new official websites for upcoming movies and new trailers. Before we get into all that, lets take a look at what I watched this week.
WHAT DID GALLAGHER WATCHED THIS WEEK?
I believe this is a first. It just has to be the first time I've seen a movie open on a Monday night. Weird. Still, they could've opened this any damn time they pleased, with the insane buzz around the flick, and the buzz was quite warranted after watching this visually-arresting movie.
In the past I've disliked movies that have taken some extreme measures with CGI such as War of the Worlds and anything by Stephen Sommers. This just might have to be the exception because of the simply astounding nature of the CGI. Director Michael Bay and the ILM folks have set the new gold standard for visual effects with this movie. It's just purely amazing work, folks. They'll surely take home the brunt of the techie Oscars this year and even the sound engineers did Oscar-worthy work, with the incredibly-cool sounds they make while transforming. This might also have to be the exception for the fact that there's an actual story behind all the effects.
Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (The Island, Mission: Impossible III) craft a really surprisingly-good script here, with some great snippets of humor, some very nice dialogue and some nicely-placed dashes of character development thrown in between the non-stop 144-minutes. They don't even go all cheeseball on us with the romantic potential for Shia LaBeouf and the sultry newcomer Megan Fox. I'm usually a fan of more character development as well, but this is a movie about frickin ROBOTS! The few human characters that are really important have just enough development to get by with, I believe. They actually balance the human characters out quite nicely, with the almost all of the human characters getting ample screen time to show their chops.
LaBeouf is, as always, atop his game here and with this and his last lead performance in Disturbia, it's clear he's going to be a huge star in the years to come. Newcomer Megan Fox is certainly delectable and does show potential in her performance as Mikaela. Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel give solid turns as Marines who first encounter the robots in disguise and we get some nice smaller turns from John Turturro, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight and the lovely new Aussie actress Racheal Taylor.
I could say a bunch of stuff now about how it's more than meets the eye and everything and, as cliche as that could be, it really is so. You expect an incredible amount of visual stimuli here and you get WAY more than you bargain for here, folks. What you might not expect is such a talented and diverse cast and a bona fide solid story to accompany those effects. 4.5 stars out of 5
Jesse Stone: Night Passage:
Wow. Tom Selleck up on the topline again, for a TV movie, granted, but still... Who'd of thunk it? I'm not familiar with Robert B. Parker's novel series dedicated to Selleck's Jesse Stone character, but it looks like Selleck has found a nice little niche in this character that might spawn a TV-movie franchise. CLICK HERE for my full review.
Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise:
This is the next in the series, and just slightly not as good as the last one. They focus more on the case this time instead of Stone's character, as he gets used to his new post in a new town, but it's still worth watching to see what happens next in this series. CLICK HERE for my full review.
I caught this on cable over the weekend, and I've realized it's one of those movies that I can have no trouble watching at any time of any day. It's a wonderfully gritty throwback movie that harkens back to the violent exploitation movies of the 70s. We get a no-frills story, with four adopted brothers - all played marvelously by Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre "3000" Benjamin and the vastly underrated Garrett Hedlund - who reunite after the tragic and mysterious death of their adoptive mother. A great supporting cast as well with the likes of Terrence Howard as a pair of cops, although Chiwitel Ejiofor is way WAY too much as the main baddie Victor Sweet. Altogether it's a great dude movie, full of violence and action that shows even adoptive blood is thicker than anything. 4.5 stars out of 5.
I had nothing to do yesterday so I thew in this flick that hooks me in a little more each time I watch it. I wasn't a big fan of the movie when I first saw it, despite talented turns from Justin Long and Jonah Hill, but it's really growing on me. They still lay on this anti-college sentiment a little too thick here and it's quite blatantly obvious that at least one of the three writers (Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Mark Perez) are very much against fraternities. However, Long and his little tale seems more authentic and realistic each time around and they've made me a fan... after about four or five tries. 4 stars out of 5
"George C. Wolfe to Direct Blood on the Leaves" - Monday, July 2:
This sounds almost like a reversed or modified version of the John Grisham adaptation A Time To Kill. This one stars Jamie Foxx as a prosecutor who must struggle with his own vengeful feelings when he is to defend a black history professor charged with killing white men who were alleged of crimes against blacks during the Civil Rights Movement. While Wolfe hasn't done much in theatrical film, his Lackwanna Blues was highly regarded and, along with Foxx's attachment, this could make some decent noise when it's released. Best News of the Week Nominee.
"Saw IV Official Synopsis Revealed" - Tuesday, July 3:
Ugh. The Saw guys really should've checked out my open letter last year, because this just sounds like a train wreck. Jigsaw and Amanda are dead... and somehow there is still another game as Lyriq Bent's Rigg is kidnapped. We never met any other apprentices or anything. That aside, they're making Lyriq Bent a MAIN character! Wow. Of course, Tobin Bell is still starring here, likely through flashbacks which will likely explain that one mysterious shot near the end of Saw III of some woman Jigsaw was thinking about. It looks like they're totally ditching Angus McFayden's character and the game that he was about to start at the end of number 3 and, from what it sounds like now, they're going to run this franchise into the ground with this one. Worst News of the Week Nominee.
"Zak Penn to Rewrite the Remake of The Dirty Dozen" - Thursday, July 5:
I'm not normally a huge fan of remaking classics like this one, but just the story alone, and our modern war climate makes this rife for the remaking, in the same way that I agreed with doing a The Manchurian Candidate remake. Zak Penn does have a somewhat-questionable filmography, but he's still a fairly solid writer with some solid credits under his belt. Casting will be HUGE here, and I have to imagine a project of this magnitude will attract some top-flight talent... even though they're some mighty big shoes to fill. I still hope this moves along swiftly, especially casting. Best News of the Week Nominee.
BOX OFFICE CORNER
Gee, I really thought License to Wed had a shot this weekend... Ha. As it has been expected for about a year now, Transformers was high atop the box office this weekend... despite opening at the beginning of the week. The robots-in-disguise took in an impressive $70.5 million in its opening weekend, especially since these Friday-Sunday numbers were a few days after the movie actually opened. The Michael Bay CGI-ladened flick took in a splendid haul of $155.4 million for its total seven-day total, including the Monday twilight showings.
Still, the total is a bit low, I believe, because of the immense buzz and lack of competition. I know the fact it opened at the beginning of the week had something to do with it, firstly. Perhaps the semi-lackluster reviews (57% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes) accounted for it, but who knows. It's also surprising that, after seeing movies with budgets between $250 million and $300 million, this one, with roughly the entire movie comprised of special effects, cost only $150 million. I'm sure a lack of A-list start power brought down the cost (even though Shia LaBeouf and maybe Megan Fox will be skyrocketed up a few notches, at least), but still it boggles me. Of course, they've already made money after just a week, and it's all profit from here, but I'm rather surprised it didn't come closer to record-breaking territory.
Anyway, the movie received a great rollout at 4,011 theaters and took in a superb $17,577 per-screen average. It'll be rather interesting to see how much of a decline this will have, with the very high-profile Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix bowing on Wednesday. Oh yeah, there were a few other movies that braved the robots, although only one was in wide release.
License to Wed had the balls (or ovaries, I guess) to open against Transformers and for its bravery was awarded with a fourth place finish and a $10.4 million take, and made $17.8 million since it's July 3rd release. This is actually way higher than I expected, but this weekend has been puzzling enough. It received a much-lower but decent rollout of 2,604 theaters, good for a middling $4,002 per-screen average. The Robin Williams/Mandy Moore comedy didn't have budget figures released, but it couldn't have cost too much and even if it did... who cares.
The only other notable release was the limited bow of Rescue Dawn. The Christian Bale/Steve Zahn movie took in $110,000 and some change through just six theaters, good for a robust $18,387 per-screen average. Hopefully this great numbers will lead to a notable expansion for the war flick. Maybe this one and License to Wed can swap theater counts from now on. Hmm...
The first page of the site has the movie's MySpace page, a link where you can buy the novel and the trailer. Inside the main site, we don't get a whole lot more. There's the Synopsis, which also includes some in-depth character descriptions, a link for The Cast, which offers detailed filmographies on the main players. The next link is Jane Austen's Books which offers thorough synopses, character descriptions and external links to learn more about each of these six Austen books. We also get a full rundown of writer-director Robin Swicord's accomplishments in Director, a small 12-picture Gallery and the Trailer again, with a little bookmark tab here for a Contest. Nothing too flashy, but some decent style and content here. The Jane Austen Book Club opens on September 21.
I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news first, right? Okay, the bad news is the only thing on this site is the trailer. The good news is the trailer is simply wonderful. I've been psyched for this movie simply for the players involved both in front of the camera (Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett) and behind it (director Rod Lurie). From the looks of this trailer, it looks like all three don't dissapoint. So go and check this trailer out, but sadly there's nothing else here. Resurrecting the Champ opens on August 24.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything -- A VeggieTales Movie: (VeggiePirates.com)
Wow. Unreal. The Veggie Tales are doing a pirate spoof. I feel an aneurysm coming on... The site just has a brief Synopsis, small Gallery of photos, some wallpapers and AIM Buddy Icons in Downloads and the Trailer, which is painful to watch. Ugh. The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything opens on January 11, much to mine and probably everyone's chagrin.
Ang Lee looks like he's going back to his roots, somewhat, in his new movie Lust, Caution. It revolves around some Chinese revolutionary students during World War II who attempt to murder the Chinese intelligence chief, who is backed by Japan. Based on a short story by Eileen Chang, this looks like a very intriguing piece with Lee's silk-like style and this layered story. Lust, Caution opens on September 28 in limited release.
I've been wondering when I'd see a trailer for this one, and I can tell it was well worth the wait. There are some interesting dynamics going on here. One is that this movie is the feature directorial debut of a one Ben Affleck, and also marks his return to writing, although with a different partner, Aaron Stockard, who's making his writing debut. Along with that you have the book this was based off written by Dennis Lehane, who wrote the novel Mystic River which was turned into the award-winning film. Then there's the movie itself, with a great cast of Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan. Oddly and intriguingly enough, the lead here is played by Ben's brother Casey Affleck, and he looks pretty damn effective here. The story surrounds the kidnapping of a young girl, whose mother turns to Casey Affleck's character, who's associated with the shady zip-lipped people who never cooperate with police, to try to get some answers. This just looks like a pretty damn good movie, folks, and if it's good enough, it could open up some whole new doors for both of the Afflecks. Gone, Baby, Gone opens on October 19, in limited release.
Umm, ok. This is one of the shortest trailers I've seen in awhile, at just over a minute. It's short enough to be a teaser, but doesn't start off like or feel like a teaser at all. It almost seems like whoever put the trailer together just simply lost the last minute and a half of the trailer, but put it out there anyway. It certainly is a new way to do things, but I'm not sure how effective it is. We get a bare-bones look at this flick in that it has three different stories/perspectives dealing with the war on terror. We actually only get two of them here, with the relationship between a congressman (Tom Cruise) and a journalist (Meryl Streep) and the relationship between an professor (Robert Redford) and a rich student (who knows). Yeah. Check it out for yourself, but hopefully a decent trailer comes out before this hits theaters on November 9.
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK
There were some slim pickens over the holiday week, but I'm going with Zak Penn reinventing The Dirty Dozen for my Best News of the Week. I'm just a huge fan of the original and it's been exactly 40 years since it's release so I don't think an overhaul is out of line at all. Penn can easily use the current war in Iraq, come up with some crazy secret mission into the heart of Baghdad or something and bam. Remake. With such big characters in this flick, the potential cast can be just mammoth. This could be a gigantic remake, provided Penn scripts this properly and that proper talent finds its way here.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
Only one thing to choose from here and that's the new synopsis for Saw IV for my Worst News of the Week. I just can't wrap my head around Lyriq Bent being a main character here. I'm guessing that Angus McFayden passed... or at least I'm hoping that was the case. I really just wish they would've ended it at 3, or, at the very least, have the whole thing be a prequel, before the events of the first movie, so we can get a lot of background to why he did what he did. I'm sure we'll get some of that here, but with this new inane story about Lyriq Bent being captured... by who we have no idea since everyone's dead. Ugh. My head hurts...
That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official sites for upcoming flicks, new trailers and, of course, the best and worst news of the week. Take care folks and, always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free. Gallagher out!