January 23, 2017

Tag Archives: Claudia Puig

Hollywood Movie Roundup: Buckle up for ‘Inception’

Finally, the wait is over.
Warner Bros.’ Leonardo DiCaprio headliner “Inception” directed by “Dark Knight’s” Christopher Nolan finally unspools in over 3,800 locations.
“Inception” follows Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) a master thief at stealing others’ dreams and a pivotal player in the world of corporate espionage. While he has become an international fugitive, he is given a shot at redeeming his life. Cobb and his team are given the chance to plant an idea in the subconscious of another person, pulling off the perfect crime. However, a larger dark power looms over Cobb.
The film cost $160 million and is expected to pull in anywhere from $45 to $60 million this weekend. Already, “Inception” has bagged $3 million from midnight showings at 2,000 theaters. “Inception” also stars Michael Caine, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
“Inception” has scored a wonderful 84% on the Tomatometer with top critics such as Justin Chang at Variety exclaiming “If movies are shared dreams, then Christopher Nolan is surely one of Hollywood’s most inventive dreamers.”

The second wide release of this weekend is Walt Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” inspired by the Mickey Mouse vignette in “Fantasia.”
Getting a head start of “Inception,” “Apprentice” bowed on Wednesday and in its first two days at the B.O. has generated $7.1 million. The Jerry Bruckheimer production looks to make $30 million by Sunday.
“Apprentice” stars Nicolas Cage as an age-old sorcerer and Jay Baruchel as his protégé. The duo are fighting an arch-nemesis in modern day Manhattan, Maxim Horvath portrayed by Alfred Molina. Along the way, Baruchel’s Dave Stutler gets a crash course in magic and sorcery.
The director Jon Turteltaub who has worked with Cage and Bruckheimer on “the “National Treasure” franchise has reaped great B.O. success from creating family adventure features.
The big question is whether “Apprentice” has the legs to make its $150 million budget back.
“Apprentice” has scored a rotten rating of 40% on the Tomatometer with USA Today’s Claudia Puig blasting “The disjointed plot is a mélange of clichés with logic that feels conjured up on the spot. Magical legends are cobbled together as if by someone in Screenwriting 101. Or, as is the case here, by a half dozen writers, seemingly at cross purposes.”
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Hollywood Movie Roundup: “Shrek” Always, but not 4ever

BY Kevin Crust
HollywoodNews.com: The summer fare keeps coming with nary an original idea in sight. This week’s offerings boast a distinct “Saturday Night Live” vibe, featuring a showdown between prominent alums and current cast members.
“Shrek the Third” disappointed animation fans so expectations are on hold for what is promised as the “final” installment, released in the now de rigueur three dimensions. The stars, including Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas, are back as the big green guy gets into trouble after entering into an ill-advised contract with the nefarious Rumplestiltskin.  Director Mike Mitchell (“Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo,” “Sky High”) takes the helm. Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke wrote the script.
The reviews are split fairly evenly between critics who believe there is still a bit of magic in Far, Far Away Land and those who are ready to stick a fork in it. Those that do find some remaining charm — including Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, Stephen Holden of the New York Times and Claudia Puig of USA Today — attribute it to the continuing antics of the series’ enduring characters and performers. John Anderson of Variety, on the other hand, notes the unfortunate borrowing of plot from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and labels the “dead-eyed” “Shrek” a franchise that time has passed by — visually, musically, comedically, and, especially, technologically. The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern is dazzled by one enchanting set piece, but otherwise grouses that “Shrek” tries both audience’s patience and love.
Even with inflation and the higher ducat price for 3D, the fourth installment of the ogre opera will likely fall short of the second and third “Shrek” films that earned $108M and $123M, respectively, in 2004 and 2007. Nevertheless, “Forever’s” expected $90-105M haul will easily earn the week’s top spot over such holdovers as “Iron Man 2” and “Robin Hood.” With the release slate cleared of family films for four weeks until “Toy Story 3” arrives, DreamWorks is aiming to eclipse “Shrek the Third’s” tally of $323M.

Will Forte‘s “MacGyver” parody makes the leap from SNL skit to big screen movie as the resourceful former Special Forces operative is called upon to save Washington, D.C. from nuclear annihilation. Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer and Ryan Phillippe co-star. Forte teamed with SNL writers John Solomon and Jorma Taccone on the script. Taccone also direted.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes […]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: “Hood” — #2 with an Arrow, not a Bullet

Hollywoodnews.com: A return to Sherwood Forest doesn’t herald any type of rich-to-poor stimulus package so the Man in the Iron Suit will continue to control the box-office lucre. In more modest offerings, the new princess of romance is back and the Queen indulges in some romantic comedy hoop dreams of her own.
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott re-team for this origin story of how the Prince of Thieves came to be. Cate Blanchett as Marian and Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham are also onboard. Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland wrote the screenplay with Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris also receiving story credit.
The historical epic, marketed as “Gladiator” meets Medieval Times, is getting mixed reviews from critics after debuting at Cannes. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times finds it “simultaneously simplistic and over-plotted, revisionist and predictable.” For the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert, the film is not enough like the Robins he has come to cherish (Flynn, Connery, the Disney fox) to justify dusting off the brand. A.O. Scott of the New York Times is even less enthused, declaring the movie “long, bloody, self-serious” and, perhaps, most damning of all, “lumbering.” Several critics. including Peter Travers of Rolling Stone and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune were able to mine some popcorn entertainment from the film’s action.
Scott and Crowe are on a bit of a losing streak and pundits are all over the map, pegging RH to gross anywhere from the mid-$20 millions to as much as $45M. Regardless, the big-budget epic will fall far short of “Iron Man 2,” which should earn  at least $60M in its second week of domestic release bliss. Universal faces a tough path to earn back the rumored $155-200M it has spent on the project.
Amanda Seyfried, following her successful turns in “Mamma Mia” and “Dear John,” now stands as the poster girl for young love at the movies. Here, she acts as a facilitator of the heart, playing a young woman who visits Italy and sets out to find two long ago lovers mentioned in the title missive. The cast also includes Gael García Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. Written by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan. Directed by Gary Winick.
Predictably, critical response is tepid, but there is some grudging admiration for the film’s straightforwardness and special appreciation for the presence of Redgrave and Nero. Betsy Sharkey of the LA Times […]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: Freddy Gets Fingered

As we head head into the final weekend of spring before movie summer kicks into high gear, it might be a good time to catch up with some of the releases that will soon be evicted from theaters by “Iron Man 2” and the tentpoles that follow. This week’s new offerings are thin to say the least, unless you have a fondness for Freddy.
Jackie Earle Haley parlays his Oscar nomination for “Little Children” and roles in “Watchmen” and “Shutter Island” into the presumably lucrative gig of wearing Freddy Krueger’s hat. Haley takes over Robert Englund‘s nasty habit of scaring the sleep out of teens and slashing them to bits with bladed glove. Rooney Mara and Kyle Gallner head the cast of preyed upon young ‘uns who desperately try to stay awake to avoid Freddy. Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer are credited with adapting Wes Craven‘s 1984 original. Veteran commercial and music video director Samuel Bayer (Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”) makes his feature debut.
For a horror movie to even be screened for critics is a bit unusual, but “Nightmare” took the challenge with mixed to poor results. EW’s Owen Gleiberman had high hopes for this revival, especially with the casting of Haley, and rates it above the rest of the horror reboot wannabes, but ultimately, he’s disappointed by the slick, “by-the-numbers” rendering. A.O. Scott of the New York Times credits the filmmakers with returning to the spirit of Craven’s version rather than some of the campier successors, but also cites the “overly familiar scare tactics.” Other critics report that Freddy has been declawed and made generic with Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News laying the blame on writers Strick and Heisserer, calling the remake a “bludgeoning” of the original.
From a business standpoint, a horror remake is the perfect film to release this weekend as it will be one-and-done once IM2 lands. According to B.O. pundits, “Nightmare” should easily win the weekend, raking in approximately $30 million, but will likely fall short of the $40m+ earned by New Line’s last horror relaunch, “Friday the 13th.”

You can never really be sure when congenial star Brendan Fraser‘s career has bottomed out, but this would seem to be a likely candidate. The actor plays dorky a real estate developer whose supposedly “green” housing tract tears into a forest and encounters the […]

Steve Carrell and Tina Fey in “Date Night” – Hollywood Movie Roundup

Following last week’s three-for-all, a David-vs.-Goliath match-up takes shape at the box office as NBC’s Thursday night comedy stars go a little screwy on the big screen and could go to #1.
The only major studio release pairs Steve Carrell and Tina Fey as a married couple whose night on the town goes wildly awry. Critically-maligned, but über-successful comedy director Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum,” “The Pink Panther”) strikes again, attempting to mine screwball gold from a script by Josh Klausner (the third and fourth “Shrek” sequels).
Reviews are mixed-to-positive with critics responding to the Carrell-Fey pairing slightly outnumbering those who’d like to tear up the script or revoke Levy’s DGA membership. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times finds humor in the couple as an atypical romantic comedy duo, while Claudia Puig of USA Today admires the film’s plot and pace. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal and Slate’s Dana Stevens also come down favorably on “Date Night,” although Stevens acknowledges that she’s grading on a curve in a weak year (thus far). The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips points out that it’s “a product substantially inferior to the material routinely finessed” by the stars on their TV shows (which prompts the question, will audiences be willing to go and fork out the bucks when they can stay home and see Fey and Carrell do something better for free?). Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times calls it ” a half-a-loaf comedy,” that leaves you wishing the better parts lasted longer and the movie as a whole was as good as its stars. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott grudgingly admits that the movie is better than most in a typically bad genre (“the marital action comedy”).
With “Clash of the Titans’ ” less than inspiring numbers following last Friday’s opening, “Date Night” has a serious shot at winning the weekend with a gross between $20 and $25 million. The Christian-themed “Letters to God” opens in nearly 900 theaters, but few reviews and figures to do modest business among the faithful .


Hollywood Movie Roundup: Will anyone remember these “Titans”?

If you measure Summer by big budget, effects-driven movies, then Summer has arrived. We have a Greek mythology remake that fits the bill and some counter-programming in the form of Hannah Montana-meets-Nicholas Sparks and a semi-annual offering from Tyler Perry. If you’re looking for something with good reviews, on the other hand, you’re best advised to stick with the art house.
Sam Worthington, hot off “Avatar,” stars as the demigod Perseus, stepping into the  familial squabbling involving Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Louis Leterrier (“Transporter 2,” “The Incredible Hulk” reboot) directs from a script credited to Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi and Travis Beacham, based on the 1981 movie that starred Harry Hamlin and Laurence Olivier and developed a cult following over the years.
Even critics who find the movie moderately entertaining don’t agree on the visual appeal. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times saw it in 2D and thought it looked “terrific,” cautioning families to save the extra money it costs now to see it in 3D. Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly declares that “there isn’t a single good ‘Wow!’ of a 3D shot in the entire picture.” The majority of the reviewers were much less accommodating. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times writes that it matches the 1981 version as “goofily amusing” — but that’s not actually a compliment. The USA Today’s Claudia Puig labels it a “boring behemoth,” Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers calls it a “sham” and the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern says it is a “sad fiasco.” Dana Stevens of Slate suggests that Leterrier and company should have “steered straight into camp and stepped on the gas.”
Postponed a week so that it could be converted to 3D, “Titans” marches into spring break with a big action-movie push from Warner Bros. Sold as “300” with monsters, it should break $60 million for its first weekend — with WB hoping for something approaching the 2007 film’s $70.9M opening. With 3D quickly becoming the standard for big movies, it will be interesting to see if audiences discern between those actually shot in 3D (such as “Avatar”) and these so-called “conversions.”
The mega-selling novelist Sparks adds screenwriter to his resume (sharing credit with Jeff Van Wie) with this adaptation of his novel. Miley Cyrus gets her first non-Hannah live-action lead playing a teen who is sent off to spend some quality time with her […]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: What a “Dragon” it is getting old

This is the week that “Alice” finally topples from her perch atop the box-office charts and folks in big cities will be paying even more for that third dimension.
DreamWorks Animation, which had a big hit this same weekend last year with “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” stakes out the turf once more with this 3D feature that has been getting hyped all winter. Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (“Lilo & Stitch”) adapt Cressida Cowell’s book about a Viking lad (voiced by Jay Baruchel) who is tasked with the titular act as a rite-of-passage. Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrara and Jonah Hill also lend their voices.
The reviews are solid with most finding the storytelling conventional and workmanlike, but citing the 3D and, especially, the flying sequences, worthy of seeing in a theater (but at what cost?). Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, his city rival, Mr. Ebert of the Sun-Times, A.O. Scott of the New York Times, Claudia Puig of USA Today, the Los Angeles Times’  Betsy Sharkey and Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers all come down favorably, while Ella Taylor, writing in the Village Voice, leads the naysayers, calling the film “adequate and unremarkable.”
It will be interesting to see how the bump in admission prices for 3D flicks — to a whopping $17.50 in some venues — will affect “Dragon’s” grosses. Prognosticators put its opening weekend in the $40-45 million range, enough to topple “Alice” but short of the $59.3 million that “Monster” raked in a year ago.
Everything is right there in the title and for audiences of a certain age it screams “Guilty Pleasure.”  John Cusack stars in an homage to the kind of hormone-driven comedies that kicked off his career (“The Sure Thing,” “Better Off Dead”) and re-teams him with frequent collaborator Steve Pink (“Grosse Pointe Blank,” “High Fidelity”), who is making his feature directing debut. Cusack, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson (“Pineapple Express”) play middle-aged friends who use the liquid temporal portal to try to get their ’80s groove back, such as it was. The movie was written by the trio of Sean Anders & John Morris (“She’s Out of My League”) and Josh Heald.
Critics, for the most part, fall into the age range that might fall prey to the movie’s unabashedly lowbrow time-trippin’. It’s faring surprisingly well at both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. Full […]