April 20, 2014

Tag Archives: the Sun-Times

Hollywood Movie Roundup: ‘Killers,’ ‘Splice,’ ‘Marmaduke’

By Kevin Crust
HollywoodNews.com: A soft May could turn into June gloom at the box-office if the pre-”Toy Story” (June 18) releases all fail to break out. Four new movies debut this week, but will all likely fall behind the ogre who looking to three-peat at number one.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK
A spinoff of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” from producer Judd Apatow and director Nicholas Stoller, the raunchy comedy features Russell Brand‘s naughty rock star character Aldous Snow being shepherded to L.A.’s famous open-air ampitheare by record company flunky Jonah Hill for a concert. Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, Rose Byrne of “Damages” and “Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss co-star along with the usual array of Apatow stock company cameos. Stoller scripted.
Despite the high raunch factor, “Greek” is earning surprisingly good reviews. The sentiments of the Chicago duo of Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times and Michael Phillips of the rival Tribune are largely echoed in the words of A.O. Scott of the New York Times who writes that the signature “bawdy-sweet mixture”of Apatow films works here. Finding less to cheer about are Slate’s Dana Stevens, the Los Angeles Times’ Betsy Sharkey and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, who dubs it a “buzz-kill.”
Apatow and company are hoping for some R-rated, “Hangover”-like magic, but will be thrilled with half of that film’s $45 million opening. Positive word-of-mouth might help nudge it past Kutcher and Heigl into the number two spot, but if the overall numbers are down and “Prince of Persia” and/or “Sex and the City 2″ minimize their second-week drops, things could get mighty crowded behind “Shrek 4.”

KILLERS
An action comedy starring Katherine Heigl as a newlywed who suspects that hubby Ashton Kutcher is an assassin and their new neighbors have been contracted to rub them out. “Legally Blonde’s” Robert Luketic directed. Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara offer support. The screenplay was written by Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin, credited as T.M. Griffin
Lionsgate didn’t bother to preview their most expensive movie ever for critics, a fairly certain sign that they wouldn’t have liked it anyway. When the reviews do roll out this afternoon you can count all the unflattering references to “True Lies” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”
The negative buzz from not being screened could have an impact in the crowded marketplace with audiences opting for the more touted “Greek.” The Los Angeles Times quoted a Lionsgate exec as saying if “Killers” clears $20M this weekend, [...]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: Enter Sandman (but make way for the ladies)

By Kevin Crust
HollywoodNews.com: The summer’s first three-day weekend features a pair of films that figure to split demographically along gender lines with the women taking the top spot at the box-office. Memorial Day is traditionally one of the biggest holiday weekends at the movies, but without a behemoth to soak up most of the attention, attendance figures to be widely distributed with many people using the extra time to catch up with movies that have been out for a few weeks.
PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME
Jake Gyllenhaal straps on sword and sandals for his action hero debut, starring as a renegade royal seeking a powerful ancient dagger.  Rising British star Gemma Arterton portrays the enigmatic princess he teams with. Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina are also along for the ride. Director Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) attempts to brings a little magic to the popular video game, while Boaz Yakin,  Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard did the adaptation.
A few critics — including Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum and the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips — found some fun in the film, but Phillips’ Windy City counterpart, Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times, fashions a more typical response, labeling the film’s leads as “not inspired” and the special effects, “irritating.” Manohla Dargis of the New York Times calls the movie, “perfectly painless mush,” while the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern finds that the pumped-up “Prince” proves his thesis that bigger is not better when it comes to the digital realm.
The movie hasn’t garnered the kind of must-see buzz to launch it into the stratosphere. Despite a fanboy base from its VG progenitor, “Prince” already looks like an also-ran at the box office, which has not been kind to action epics of late. Not only will it lose out the top spot to a bunch of well-heeled girls, its predicted take of $35-44 million may not even be enough to hold off “Shrek 4″ for second place.

SEX AND THE CITY 2
Carrie Bradshaw and company reunite for a romp through Abu Dhabi with stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon back for a return engagement. Writer-director Michael Patrick King attempts to mine more from Candace Bushnell’s stylish, sassy characters but he may have finally hit bottom.
There’s little love from critics for SATC2. Some bemoan the tired state of the franchise, while others [...]

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

BY KEVIN CRUST
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.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
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.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE
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 [...]