Monday, February 26, 2007

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 2/26/07

What's this Oscar stuff I keep hearing about? No, no, it's time to focus on the films that will never see the light of a golden statue. So clearly, it's the weekend box office, released today, Monday 2/26/07

1. Ghost Rider
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $19.7 million
Total Gross: $78.7 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Ok, I think it's pretty clear that nothing super interesting came out this weekend. By that I mean that even a crazy Jim Carrey...ok crazier Carrey wasn't enough to stop the Cage. I mean, Nicholas Cage gets his head lit on fire, who wouldn't pay for that? Ok well I wouldn't but I'll be damned if the movie going public could care about anything else than a superhero or action film.

2. The Number 23
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $14.9 million
Total Gross: $14.9 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: So of course I'm disappointed that it didn't gross $23 million, but hey it did open at #2, one of the numbers in 23. Eh that's close enough. Jim Carrey is back, he's not funny, he's crazy, and he's obsessing over a Lost number. What went wrong? Two words: Joel Schumacher.

3. Bridge To Terabithia
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $13.6 million
Total Gross: $46.2 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Still charging plenty for tolls, this bridge will be strong until another bigger kiddie/fantasy film can knock it out. I find it amazing that these children's/young adult's fantasy books are becoming films faster than you can say the entire title of Narnia. It's kinda like every comic book becoming a movie, as kids we imagined these things being movies one day, but most of the time it's not a very good idea.

4. Reno 911!: Miami
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $10.4 million
Total Gross: $10.4 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: I like comedy as much as anybody, but I've never been made to laugh out loud at this show. So I'm trying to figure out how it got a movie made about it. TV-based movies are a strange breed. Many don't translate well, some TV shows were killed before their time and deserved it (Firefly) and others have taken way too long to pull it off (Simpsons). Course it could be worse, it could be a 60s or 70s TV show becoming a movie, we know how well those have worked.

5. Norbit
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $9.7 million
Total Gross: $74.7 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Ahahahahahahahaha. Oh sorry, that was me laughing about Eddie Murphy not getting the Oscar. That's what you get for making this piece of total trash. Seriously, Eddie, will you do anything anyone tells you to do? If it makes you feel better, Eddie, Whitaker is ten times the actor you'll ever be.

6. Music And Lyrics
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $8 million
Total Gross: $32.1 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Hugh Grant doesn't have what he used to, apparently. Little interest has been shown in this film, not surprising. There isn't anything remotely intriguing about the movie. I remind everyone that Barrymore attempts to sing, avoid at all cost.

7. Breach
Last Week Rank: 6th
Weekend Gross: $6.2 million
Total Gross: $20.5 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Lucky to only drop one spot but it's still not doing so hot. Between The Departed and The Good Shephard, I'm fairly sure people have had their fill of these kinds of movies. True stories don't always equal a fun time at the movies. Maybe if they added in the Mission: Impossible music, but that may be asking for too much.

8. Daddy's Little Girls
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $5.3 million
Total Gross: $25.6 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Yeah movies are really not lasting very long nowadays and this one's a sinker for sure. In fact it's such a sinker, I've got nothing else to talk about for this one. Nope nothing...moving right along...

9. The Astronaut Farmer
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $4.5 million
Total Gross: $4.5 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: One of the worst concepts I have ever heard of out of Hollywood, this one had to be a joke. Billy Bob Thornton is a former NASA guy who builds a rocket in his barn and oddly enough, this pisses off NASA. Oh and from the previews, he apparently launches it. You gotta be freakin' kidding me, this premise is so ridiculous, sci-fi films are turning the other cheek. Audiences apparently agreed and Billy Bob will live to regret this one.

10. Amazing Grace
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $4.3 million
Total Gross: $4.3 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: So yeah, we won't be seeing this one again. Wow debuting at 10th just means no one either cares, likes, or knows anything about this movie. I'm gonna go with the latter. It's about ending slavery in colonial America and while it's an interesting subject, it doesn't have the promotion of an Amistad and probably came too late in February to make an impact.


Oscars as They Unfold

As I was watching the Academy Awards tonight, I jotted down my thoughts. Here is what I was thinking as the night unspooled.

8:31 - It begins and it's already 1 minutes behind.
8:33 - This opening, reminiscent of the old Mac commercials, is pretty unfunny. It is not dynamic enough to grab one's attention.
8:34 - Who cares about these people, the nominees? We will them all later anyways.
8:35 - And now the nominees are being showcased live. Again, as if we will never seem then again on this show.
8:37 - Ellen arrives, finally.
8:38 - Did I just see a bald Jack Nicholson?
8:40 - Yay, let's celebrate how diverse Hollywood is! Pat on the back!
8:42 - Time for the prerequisite "Let's point out whose in the audience" portion of the show.
8:44 - First funny joke of the night and it's on Al Gore.
8:45 - Great reaction by Steve Carell.
8:46 - Just as I predicted: Ellen's cute, but give me Jon Stewart's sarcasm any day of the week.
8:47 - Quick, someone give Nicole Kidman a personality!
8:50 - Is Maggie Gyllenhal sucking on a lemon?
8:51 - First commercial break thoughts: This is going to be a long, comedically safe night that is ultimately filler.
8:52 - Wow, that iPhone commercial with all the helloes is awesome.
8:54 - Will Ferell and a piano? Hilarious. Sing it, Will!
8:59 - So far, Pan's 2 for 2.
9:00 - Cute kids.
9:05 - A movie about Jews wins an award? Shocking!
9:13 - Sound FX choir? Yes!
9:15 - They've done the indie comedy,now Carell and Greg Kinnear need to do a buddy comedy.
9:21 - Finally, a category that matters: Supporting Actor.
9:24 - Wow, an upset! Arkin over Murphy. Guess Norbit didn't help. And for the first time in a while, I have seen a movie that won an acting award.
9:27 - Interpretive dance? Who grennlit this idea?
9:30 - Gotta switch from Departed clips as that movie is coming up on my Netflix list.
9:31 - Our Town was an original song? It sounded like a typical (old) James Taylor song to me.
9:36 - Ah, the hippies, Leo and Al Gore are presenting together.
9:45 - I liked that the Academy added an Animated Film award a few years ago.
9:46 - Hollywood loves penguins.
9:54 - The Departed wins for best adapted screenplay. Too bad, we could have seen Sasha Baron Cohen on stage.
10:01 - Heh, nice little Devil Wears Prada homage.
10:05 - Holy Tom Cruise sighting! See, if he sticks to the script, he seems normal.
10:06 - Oh, an honorary Oscar. Time to see what's on Cartoon Network.
10:11 - Ok, Ellen interacting with Scorsese and Eastwood is pretty funny.
10:22 - Poisedon is nominated for an award? Did anyone other than me see that movie?
10:25 - Foreign Language presentation and they cut to Sasha Cohen I guess because he's English?
10:31 - Another minor upset as Pan's Labyrinth doesn't win Best Foreign Film and the director who does win doesn't even sound foreign!
10:35 - Best Supporting Actress Time!
10:36 - No upset here as Hudson wins and breaks down immediately.
10:45 - Jerry Seinfeld is a big enough movie star to present at the Oscars? I'll buy that!
10:50 - Another movie I have seen wins. Al Gore will not be denied as his docu wins.
10:51 - Another honorary Oscar, this time a lifetime achievement award for the guy who did that famous Western theme. I think Family Guy is about to start on CN.
10:58 - Flipping back briefly, I see Celine Dion has escaped from Las Vegas. Get the tranq guns ready!
11:11 - Nice minute long speech/gag from the Prez of the Academy.
11:12 - Being paired with Tobey Maguire and coming out to the Spidey Theme must be killing Mary Jane, er, Kirstin Dunst.
11:15 - Little Miss Sunshine wins Best Original Screenplay and although I didn't like the plot, it was different enough to deserve it.
11:30 - Another mnior upset as Melissa Ethridge wins Best Original Song over a trio of Dreamgirls songs. I guess hippies can beat Motown.
11:43 - USA! USA! Nice tribute to America in Film.
11:45 - Moment of Silence/Popularity Contest commences.
11:52 - Ah, time for Best Actress or as I like to call it "Helen Mirren begins her walk to the podium."
11:55 - A collective yarm comes from the audience as Mirren accepts her trophy.
12:01 - Reese Witherspoon is looking hot presenting the Best Actor award.
12:05 - Do you see the Forest for the trees? No, all I see is another predicted winner.
12:07 - The 3 great directors of the last generation (Spielberg, Lucas, and Coppola) show they are very affable and funny as they present Best Director.
12:09 - Scorsese finally wins the big one. Maybe he can return to the gritty films of his past, you know, the ones that really deserved to win, and not his watered down films of the past few years (though The Departed seems to be a step in the right direction).
12:15 - Last award of the night is finally here. We've been waiting for this moment for nearly four hours!
12:16 - Another upset as The Departed wins. I was sure that Babel would score this award, with Little Miss Sunshine as the possible upset, but I was wrong. This definitely moves The Departed to the top of my Netflix list.

Ellen was the nonoffensive, safe host I thought she would be, virtually disappearing after her opening monologue. This is almost opposite of waht happened last year, as Jon Stewart got stronger and funnier as the night went on. I am going to predict that Ellen is not asked back as the host, at least, not next year.

This wasn't a particularly strong year for films, so the awards weren't particularly exciting. The various montages shown seemed more self-congratulatory than showcasing the strengths of film. Now that the award season is over it is time for Hollywood to regroup and attempt to blow our socks off in the rest of 2007.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

SNL's The Office Parody

Last night, since Rainn Wilson of The Office was hosting SNL, I decided to watch the show. Wilson was hilarious in his sketches, though most seemed to skewer towards office place premises. Still, I enjoyed SNL for the first time in a while.

Of course, it is hard to disappoint with such a dead-on parody of The Office such as this one.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Movie Review: "The Number 23"

What is the draw of the number 23? It was Michael Jordan's number. It is one of the Numbers on Lost. And now it is a psychological thriller starring Jim Carrey and directed by Joel Schumacher. Yes the same Schumacher who made Batman and Robin. In past movie reviews, I have pointed out director trademarks and how they affect a movie. The notorious Schumacher touch is evident in this movie.

The plot is pretty basic as far as psychological thrillers go: Carrey starts to obsess over a book and the number 23. This obsession pushes away his wife, played by Virginia Madsen, and his son. The movie switches off between the "real world" that Carrey inhabits, and the world of the book that Carrey is picturing in his mind. Make-believe Carrey has tattoos, so you know he is hardcore.

Like all movies of this nature, there is a twist. I didn't see the twist coming, so it was somewhat surprising. But the movie suffers from how fast Carrey descends into insanity, and the convience of the number 23. The lengths the movie went to "prove" that the number is everywhere was hilarious. As was stated in the movie, if you look hard enough, you can find connections between any two things. The son also joins in on Carrey's madness, which seems more of a plot contrivance than anything else.

The movie tries to be shocking at times, but often it comes across as comedy. Perhaps Schumacher was trying to go for a B-movie thriller. If so, he succeeded. Although the scenes and the movie on a whole was corny, it somehow works to be mildly entertaining. I was rolling my eyes at a few scenes, but the last half hour was entrancing (save for the last scene). Carrey shows in this movie that he can be a middle of the road actor like a Kevin Bacon and not suck too much or excel too much. That may or may not be a good thing though. He doesn't "overact" and he plays crazy well. But this is not anything more than an average movie.

2 1/2 Color Pinks out of 5.

Oscar Predictions!

The Oscars are tomorrow night, and I'll be semi-live blogging it. But who do I think will win the major categories? Read on to find out!

Best Motion Picture of the Year



The Departed

Letters from Iwo Jima

Little Miss Sunshine

The Queen

AE's Prediction: Like Crash last year, Babel will win due to its issue-driven plot. Little Miss Sunshine might score an upset, but I doubt it.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role


Leonardo DiCaprio

Ryan Gosling

Peter O'Toole

Will Smith

Forest Whitaker

AE's Prediction: Forest Whitaker will win to no one's surprise.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role


Penélope Cruz

Judi Dench

Helen Mirren

Meryl Streep

Kate Winslet

AE's: Helen Mirren, in what will become a disturbing trend in the acting categories: no surprises.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role


Alan Arkin

Jackie Earle Haley

Djimon Hounsou

Eddie Murphy

Mark Wahlberg

AE's Prediction: Although some are saying Arkin will win with a "Lifetime Achievement" caveat, Murphy should walk away with this. There is some backlash against Murphy, but I do believe he will walk away with an Oscar.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role


Adriana Barraza

Cate Blanchett

Abigail Breslin

Jennifer Hudson

Rinko Kikuchi

AE's Prediction: Critics have recently been saying Hudson might lose because she is more a singer than an actress. Ignore them, as Hudson will join her Dreamgirls costar Murphy on the winner's stand.

Best Achievement in Directing


Clint Eastwood

Stephen Frears

Paul Greengrass

Alejandro González Iñárritu

Martin Scorsese

AE's Prediction: If Eastwood wins again, he might start to be remembered as a director not an actor. It would be three directing awards for his career, something Spielberg hasn't done. I think the Academy will finally give Scorsese his much deserved Oscar.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen



Letters from Iwo Jima

Little Miss Sunshine

Laberinto del Fauno, El

The Queen

AE's Prediction: Here's a category that Sunshine is going to win. The Academy will reward it's behind-the-scenes stuff, if not their on-screen performances.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published


Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Children of Men

The Departed

Little Children

Notes on a Scandal

AE's Prediction: As much as everyone would like to see Sasha Baron Cohen give another hilarious speech, I think The Departed will win since people probably voted for Babel over it for Best Picture, but still feel a need to reward the entire film.

I don't think this will be an exciting Oscars, but it may be a "coronation" ceremony, with many first time nominees/winners picking up trophies.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Horatio Caine meets Jim Carrey

A while ago, we all had a laugh at the CSI:Miami montage that put all the openings with Caruso's character Caine overacting.

Well, another overactor decided to share his feelings.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lost: "Stranger in a Strange Land" Review

After two action-packed, thrilling episodes, Lost decided to slow things down a bit. While it will probably hurt them in the short run, it may help them later on, when various plot points from this episode are brought up again.

The episode focuses on Jack and the aftermath of his surgery on Ben. Ben's tumor is gone, Juliet is on trail for killing Pickett, and Jack is now in Sawyer's old cage. A new Other is introduced, and the kidnapped Tailies are seen again. While none of this was particularly exciting, we do see the beginning of a possible romance between Jack and Juliet, now that Juliet is an outsider to the Others. Jack's tattoos get their own backstory and Juliet gets her own markings. So they have that in common now.

Back on the main Island, Sawyer, Kate, and Karl, the Other boy, make it the far side of the Island. Sawyer encourages Karl to go to Alex, because apparently, the Others live on this Island and work on the previous Island...kay. I mean, we already sorta guessed at that. We also guessed at the Tailies situation too, but I digress.

While the episode had some good bits between Jack and Juliet, I felt the episode was a little flat, especially after two weeks of pure adrenaline.

2 1/2 Phuket jokes out of 5.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Full Length Simpsons Trailer

Here is the full length trailer that Fox aired on Sunday for The Simpsons Movie. It looks very cool indeed, with some stellar animation.

I have to wait 5 more months for this movie? D'oh!

Heroes: "Unexpected" Review

It's finally back, such a long 7 days to wait for a new Heroes. Last week was alright, but it's all a memory compared to what this week brought us. Week by week, Heroes is slowly becoming one of the most consistent, well paced and interesting shows on television. There are a few stories that may drag a bit, but no episode is without several awesome moments or character progression. This week is definitely no exception.

We say hi again to Ted "I'ma esplode" Sprague, as he gets some IMs. Ok that doesn't sound interesting, except that he isn't online. It's being sent by our newest hero, Hana aka Wireless. Well done, you've already picked out your name, plus you've got the leather jacket thing going. You can get started on the X-Mansion next week, if you like. She explains that she knows plenty of what's going on and teams up with Ted, and Ted realizes that one more person could help out if they want to expose HRG.

Isaac is our treacherous traitor of the week, as he believes Peter is a serious threat to New York and everyone else, though really he just wants Simone for himself. Simone is basically what if Storm wasn't from Africa, wasn't played by Halle Berry and had no powers. Yeah that makes sense. HRG makes sure Isaac has a gun to ward off Peter and take care of him if necessary. As Joss Whedon taught us on Buffy, though, guns only make more problems, they rarely help.

Sylar and Mohinder meet Dale, no affiliation with Chip. She has super hearing, which by itself is alright by likely very annoying. Sylar's heartbeat can mean only one thing: murder. Well, he says it a lot cooler. Obviously Sylar is going to take this woman's power and Mohinder is just not catching on fast enough. Sylar is doing his acting charade but not trying terribly hard to hide it. Looks like he's about to get an unfortunate affinity for rap music.

Claire's mom finally collapses, and Mr. Muggles is all up on the floor milk. The timing of this is troublesome for HRG though. See Peter and the Invisible Whobo (credit that to AE) are still training on the rooftop. Peter uses Sylar's TK (telekinesis for you n00bs) to stop a stick from coming down on him, though eventually he gets whacked, not the dead kind. HRG and Haitian in tow find them on the roof, and they can see both of them using infrared goggles (leading to believe that the Haitian can't cancel out powers, likely just protect from their effects). Whobo is pissed and gets shocked. Peter manages to stop another taser shot in mid-air, more like he's stopping time for an instant and it drops. In a moment of remarkable coolness that will stay with you, Peter tosses Whobo over the edge of the building, dives after him and then carries him away as he flies off into the night sky. Take that, Smallville!

HRG eventually comes back home and he and Claire get fake Mom to the hospital. Let's face it though, Claire's had enough of this crap. She tries to confront HRG but isn't going to get very far. Before this though, Ted and Wireless ask to meet up with Matt "I heard that" Parkman. Parkman and his wife talked to each other before, but no one cares, let the guy steal a little, he sucks at his job anyway. They convince Parkman to help them against HRG, they're all victims and they won't be any longer. Each has a distinct marking like this || on their neck, which is not a logical OR for those of you in the engineering field.

But wait, what about Ando and Hiro, you didn't ask? That is resolved finally, as Ando does get shot but not badly, just a shoulder/flesh wound, with an ensuing fire fight that isn't actually shown, making it much funnier as Hiro and Ando hide away. Hiro arrived with the cop or whatever he is. Soon enough, Hiro is convinced that Ando can go no further but home, he doesn't want to be responsible for Ando's death and feels he is holding him back. Hiro steps onto the bus to leave Ando, greeted by STAN THE MAN LEE. Hiro is a true believer, are you?

Back at Casa de Secrets and Powers, Claire and HRG are about to have it out when Ted comes out of nowhere. This is quite alarming to HRG, considering Ted could level the entire block in enough time. Matt shows up, too, and they want answers...answers you'll get next week! But we're not done yet, finally Peter confronts Isaac, as Whobo concludes that Isaac betrayed them. Peter is seriously hopped up on powers, almost like Sylar, it's scary. He uses his TK to toss him around a bit, even going so far as to use the freaky Sylar voice at one point. He goes invisible and Isaac starts freaking out with his gun, trying to find something to shoot. Well he does...and we have our latest death. So long Simone, we knew you not so well. Peter and Isaac realize what they've just done, and it's a moment right out of Lost between Ana-Lucia and Sayid. Guess which one is really pissed and who's likely going to get it bad?

Wow, that was an amazing episode. Action, suspense, drama, STAN LEE. It had it all. One of the best this series has had thus far, without a doubt Gonch's Gold Medal of True Believing. I believe, that next week we'll find out just what is really up with HRG and his organization and maybe more than we bargained for. EXCELSIOR!


Monday, February 19, 2007

Classic Movie Review: "Dazed and Confused"

Although I entitled this post Classic Movie Review, it could as well have read Retro Movie. As Netflix noted on their plot summary of Dazed and Confused, a 1993 movie directed by Richard Linklater, the movie is done in the style of American Graffiti, in that it is more of a love letter to a decade than an actual plotted movie. In Graffiti, the decade was the 50s, in Dazed, that decade is the 70s.

Much like Graffiti, Dazed is a lot of interwoven character plots, with each character either entering their last or first year in high school. From initiation rights to decisions to be made about their future, the film touches upon all the struggles a high schooler in the 70s might endure. Of course, the movie climaxes with a night time party, where everything comes together. There is much driving around to be had, like in American Graffiti, and comparing the two films side-by-side finds that through a moviemaker's eye, the struggles of our youth does not differ from decade to decade.

Now that I got the deep part of the review over with, it is time to be superficial. Dazed has a lot of roles in it, and viewers will find a lot of familiar faces. Jason London plays the main character, with Joey Lauren Adams as his girlfriend. I find this ironic, since Jason's brother, Jeremy, plays Joey's ex-boyfriend in my favorite movie, Mallrats. The biggest starts in the movie, though they weren't stars at the time, are Ben Affleck as a bully and Matthew McConaughey as an older stoner. McConaughey utters the now classic line "That's what I like abotu high school girls: I get older, but they stay the same age." And although it may seem funny to say this, the actors play stoned very well. From mannerism to speech style, I was convinced at times that they were toking the reefer.

This movie didn't suffer from the nostalgia burn that Graffiti did, because except for a few scenes, DaC didn't stress that it was 70s. Sure the music was from that period and the atmosphere of the high school was from 1970s, but it wasn't as blatant as AG. Maybe it was also helped by the fact that I am more "aware" of the 70s and this movie than I was about George Lucas's movie. I would recommend Dazed and Confused over American Graffiti in fact.

4 Mans out of 5.

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 2/19/07

If someone is riding on a ghost bridge, it can only mean one thing: the weekend box office, released today, Monday 2/19/07 - Dead President's Day edition

1. Ghost Rider
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $44.5 million
Total Gross: $44.5 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Not surprisingly, the film that people were actually anticipating finally came out and thankfully has grossed higher than that Norbit crap. To be fair though, the film has also been pegged as cheesy, and downright dialogue sappy. Also low on plot but real big on special effects. Apparently Nicholas Cage acts circles around Eva Mendes, which is neither as hot nor as difficult as that sounds. Oh well, at least Marvel's happy.

2. Bridge To Terabithia
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $22.1 million
Total Gross: $22.1 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: This is a strong weekend for the box office (also President's Day weekend) and Terabithia was part of it. To me this film seemed like a crappy ripoff of Narnia, which in itself did not interest me enough to see it though I was familiar with Narnia as a kid. However, the reviews have been positive on a level that says the film itself does more justice to the book than the previews suggest and that it's a family film that treats kids' issues like real life does. Gasp, a fantasy film has a better grasp on children's problems then normal family films? And Disney gets a little richer.

3. Norbit
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $16.8 million
Total Gross: $58.9 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Look I'm glad it dropped two spots but I won't be satisfied until it's off the map. If this was the summer time, this thing would fall faster than Bush's approval ratings. It took two bigger budget films just to push this down and it's going to unfortunately take even more to submerge it. Maybe Jim Carrey can do the trick next week, but Murphy is on my hate list until he attempts to redeem himself in Shrek The Third.

4. Music And Lyrics
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $14 million
Total Gross: $19.5 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore...if you're still reading you have more of a stomach than I do. Grant is a likeable annoyance only because he's English (the guy pulled an Affleck but got away with it) [AE Note: What does that mean?] and Barrymore's last good film? The Wedding Singer, because it was also one of the only good things Adam Sandler ever did. This combo would drive me nuts, and apparently Grant is a singer and Barrymore writes the lyrics. Grant singing, Barrymore writing, this is like a lethal combo of bad movie.

5. Daddy's Little Girls
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $12.1 million
Total Gross: $17.8 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Tyler Perry makes a movie without a fat black woman...I think. Look either way that makes it leaps and bounds better than Norbit. However, when I read the synopsis, I see just about zero plot. Let's not make movies for the sake of making movies, a guy taking care of his three daughters is about as interesting as watching astro turf grow.

6. Breach
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $10.4 million
Total Gross: $10.4 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Wow, lot of new movies out this week, huh? The film is about an FBI double-agent who was also working for the Russians (true story). While this is an engaging story as it really happened, it doesn't have much oomph to it, as evidenced by its 6th place opening. Plus when you tell me Ryan Phillippe is in a film, my ears don't exactly perk up in interest.

7. Hannibal Rising
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $5.5 million
Total Gross: $22.1 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: More like Hannibal Falling! Yeah I couldn't resist. Seems like everyone who wanted to see this one did, and it dropped like a rock from 2nd to 7th. Expect this one to rest comfortably out of reach next week. This should stop them from making any more of these films and stop soiling the name of Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. I hear Foster locked herself in a panic room to escape this film and Hopkins is preparing a very tasteful voiceover.

8. Because I Said So
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $5 million
Total Gross: $33.2 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Gah, this is still here, again another one likely to fall out of the top 10. Please stop making these kinds of movies. I know it's too much to ask to not make sappy, redundant, useless romantic comedies, especially ones with aging actresses who can't seem to find any project that's actually interesting, engaging, or makes the audience feel like they're escaping know, the reason people see movies in the first place? It's about entertainment, people!

9. The Messengers
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $3.8 million
Total Gross: $30.5 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Yeah this is so very toast. Another cookie-cutter horror film that piqued everyone's interest for all of 5 seconds. If I showed you the last 20 horror films to come out in previews, side by side, I wonder how many of them you could actually identify the title. Wait a minute, cookie-cutter horror film? Someone call Sesame Street, I got an idea for a muppet serial killer...

10. Night At The Museum
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $3.7 million
Total Gross: $237.3 million
Weeks Out: 9
Musings: The Oscar candidate films are gone, and all that remains of December is this film, the eternal Night that never ends. It looks like it finally might though, as it stands on the threshold of DVD land. Of course we all know that once a Ben Stiller film leaves theaters, you must immediately begin promoting the next one. I'm afraid to even ask what it is.[AE Note: Among Stiller's upcoming movie list? A Hardy Boys update with Tom Cruise.] But remember, it's always darkest before dawn.


The Simpsons: "Springfield Up" Review

After last week's disappointing episode, I was hoping for a Simpsons' episode that would reassure me that the quality of the show would remain high. "Springfield Up" certainly made me happy in that regard and may be one of the my favorite episodes of recent times.

Te first half of the episode was presented as documentary narrated and starring Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, as the documentarian. Eric's character has become a reoccuring role on the show and while he is very hit or miss, tonight he was definitely hit. The documentary is done in the style of the "-Up" films, which follows a set of kids as they grow up, each film checking in after some interval of time. Applying this structure to a Simpsons episode provided a rare peak into Springfield's past. We don't often get to see the backstories of characters, other than how they interact with Homer or Marge. But it was delight to see a young Professor Frink in his cardboard rocketship, wanting to be a rocket scientist. It was also funny seeing Frink try to go back in time to warn his younger self that science is no way to meet girls.

There were other fun bits, like Lenny being too boring to film and how Police Chief Wiggum arose in his position. Of course, after the little character bits, we get to the core of the story: Homer and Marge throughout the years. Homer has always been a little dense, especially when it comes to cameras and squeek toys. Marge has also seemed bright eyed and happy, no matter if it was following her dream of photography or married to a man like Homer. When we catch up to these two, Homer has seemingly made it rich and is living in a mansion. At first, I thought this would be the jump-the-shark moment fo the episode, but the punchline (they were squatting in Mr. Burns' winter home) was enough to make me happy. Homer blames Eric Idle for Homer not living his dream of being rich, and Idle actually feels sorry for Homer and shows him, through all the film he has shot, that Homer is actually living a good life.

There were many funny bits in the show that actually added to the story. The progression of Moe through the years was hilarious to see as was his hope that his father was every circus freak his mom slept with. This was one episode that definitely was an instant classic.

And oh yeah, there was a full-length trailer for the Simpsons movie too!

4 1/2 Black and White Scenes out of 5.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bald Britney is Just Too Much

As you can see, Ms. Britney Spears has shaved her head. Credit and KABC for the photo. I think it clearly states the downward spiral that Britney is experiencing.

Some may say that she shaved her head for a new start. I say hogwash. If she wanted to a new start, she would have stayed in rehab. What am I talking about? Well, reports are that Spears entered and then left a rehab facility in the same day. That doesn't tell me she wants a fresh start, it tells me she doesn't know what she is doing. Also, if she truly wants to form a new opinion about herself, such a public and radical display is not going to signify that. She had to know that the media would seize upon this picture as indicative of her crazies, not her sanity.

I don't know what else to say about this. She either getting bad advice or no advice at all. She seems disconnected from reality. Hopefully, she pulls herself together. Remember, she has two young boys to look after.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Heroes: "Run!" Review

We return for our next installment of Heroes, brought to you by recaps and Mr. Solar Eclipse. Hi Mr. Eclipse, I'm sure you have some significance in this show, right? Anyway onto the goodies. This week's episode is called Run!, because the writers have a lot of fun naming the episodes in comic book fashionness, or something. But who's doing the running? If I've gotta pick anyone who should have been running this week, it's Matt Parkman aka I Can Hear Your Boring Thoughts Man. It's a very cool power to have if hard to control, but man it is useless in a fight unless you can hear what your opponent's next move is going to be. In a way that does help this week, well at least for Matt.

But let's start back with Claire, who having met her real mom, eventually is lied to about her father, Nathan. Claire is disappointed in this, and even moreso when she finds out that her father may or may not want to see her and her mother lying about it. I guess it could be worse; Claire could find out that Burning Mom actually is trying to cheat her out of the money, too. Oh well, $25,000 goes a long way for a high schooler. That's one year of college for you, you lucky kid. Claire's problems continue, in a non-superheroic way when her [adopted] father grounds her for going behind the back of a guy with a gun while her mother is having some serious brain issues from the all the mind-wiping. Either HRG is making it seem worse somehow or it really does have a mean side effect...also this is conjuring up images of the brain tumor that Buffy's mom suffered and started to forget/remember that her daughter [Dawn] didn't exist. But I digress.

Hiro and Ando are back in Vegas, baby. This story is probably another instance of not quite utilizing these guys to full potential. They are two of the most interesting characters, but given so little to work with. They find "Hope" and Ando helps her get her bag back from her beating ex-boyfriend. Except of course that she's lying, this guy is a Gaming cop or something and he's in the right and she's in the wrong. This leaves Hiro locked in a closet of some sort, where there isn't even a slot machine to pass the time. Better learn how to teleport again fast.

Our second-most interesting story involves Sylar (doesn't it always?) and Mohinder. Quite the unused combo to this point. Mohinder keeps searching for new heroes and finds one in Virginia (I knew something was up with that state). True to the state's lineage, this hero's power is well, lame. I mean the guy can basically melt stuff. I was confused at first at what he could do with the puddles on the floor, but he was at the very least converting pots and pans to liquid metal. This could be quite useful for a bank robbery on the vault, but it's still a very lame power [Unless Sylar gets thrown into a prison with metal bars. Then it becomes all the rage - AE]. Sylar gets to the guy first and kills him, taking his power. So he pretends to be this guy, Zane, which is too bad he died cause that's a cool name though he was a few steps away from being Brian Posehn. Mohinder gets duped into this and let's Sylar tag along to find other heroes, of course giving Sylar a one way ticket to all the power he can handle. Way to go, Mo.

Least but not last, our real running portion is Matt and Jessika (that's my Jessica/Niki combo name from now on). Matt, now off the force for 6 months, takes a job as a body guard to Mr. Malsky, a fat bald dude working with Linderman. Malsky is trying to use the $2 million that Jessika stole that was given to Linderman [Actually, the case with the money was given to Malsky himself, so Linderman probably never got the money in the first place - AE] by D.L. to buy some diamonds, likely behind Linderman's back. If you followed that then maybe you're actually paying attention to this show, kudos. The seller is aware of this and knows that Linderman sent an "assassin" to kill Malsky, none other than Jessika. Parkman figures this out with telepathy and prepares for Jessika's arrival. They run around the building for some time, Malsky needing his inhaler. Parkman even overhears Jessica talking to Niki, and I say those separately because they actually appear as separate people, which that's confusing as all hell. Is Niki out and can she attempt to stop Jessica or ! is that just played as if she was there but is just in Jessica's head? Ach, my brain. Anyway fight ensues shortly and Parkman is lucky to be thrown out of a window but still hit the sign, not falling far at all. Malsky isn't so lucky, and let's just say his head and legs shouldn't be at the same height level, yikes. Parkman winds up keeping the diamonds because he needs money dammit, you just don't understand!

So is Parkman the one that "crossed" the line this time? Did Malsky have it coming? Is Nathan Jessika's next target? Will the next episode be a little more interesting with more power usage? The answer is hopefully yes to all of those but we'll find out next week. Run! gets Gonch's Silver medal of well, running. Wait, that's an actual medal...ah screw it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lost: "Flashes Before Your Eyes" Review

If last week's episode of Lost featured one mindblowing scene, then I would say this week's episode was one whole mindblowing experience!

The focus of the episode was Desmond. Except, instead of an episode where the time on the Island and the time in a flashback were equally divided to tell the story, 3/4 of the episode was Desmond in his flashback. And there was no breaking up of the flashback to go back and forth. It was one, long flashback.

The flashback itself was interesting in that it appeared that present day Desmond was reliving his past. He kept on getting reminders of his experience on the Island. At one point, he thought he had actually time traveled and sought help. However, his friend said time travel was impossible and Desmond seemed satisfied with that answer. He settled into his past life, until he made a decision that was the opposite of what he made the first time through the events. At that point, a woman popped up, and in a Matrix-style explanation, told Desmond that fate could not be changed and he had better realize that.

Why is that important? For one, Desmond decides to make the previous decision to break up with his girlfriend Penny (last seen in the Season 2 Finale) and go down the path that leads him to the Island. And also, on the Island, Desmond is seeing flashes of someone's death. He has tried to save this person repeatedly, but each time he saves the person, he sees another instance of their death.

That person? Charlie.

Charlie is doomed to die in one of the bigger twists in Lost history. Once again, Lost has sucked me in!

4 Whiskey Bottles out of 5.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

!tsoL evol I yhw si sihT/This is why I love Lost!

If you watched Lost last week, you are sure to remember the freak-deaky brainwashing video. Here is the scene again.

Well, embetted in that video, while being played backwards, is an unusual (and so far not proven false) message. You can clearly hear a woman say "Only fools are enslaved by time and space".

My mind has been blown!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 2/12/07

There's an uneasy sense of dread in the air. Thus, it could only be the weekend box office, released today, Monday 2/12/07

1. Norbit
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $33.7 million
Total Gross: $33.7 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Our worst fears have been realized. Not only is this one of the most horrific things I've ever seen Eddie Murphy do (based on previews only, I dare not see it), but it also *sigh* is the largest opening of the new year. I weep for society as a whole that dared to see this movie. Eddie Murphy should be ashamed and should be blocked from his Oscar just for doing this sham of a film. I just hope Ghost Rider doesn't suck...then again it does have Nicholas Cage.

2. Hannibal Rising
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $13.3 million
Total Gross: $13.3 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: This film marks the 4th, yes 4th Hannibal film. Silence of The Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon, and now this. The route has been quite confusing. As I understand it, Silence was the best of the books, thus leading it to be made a movie and win best picture. But Red Dragon was actually the first film when it was called Manhunter in 1986. That film was based on the first book. Hannibal was more of a sequel, where Julianne Moore tried to supplant the role made by Jodie Foster (hah yeah right Julianne). This film? It's a prequel of the prequel, I think. Either way, an unnecessary movie.

3. Because I Said So
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $9 million
Total Gross: $25.6 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: The world has seen enough Diane Keaton for a lifetime. The same goes for Mandy Moore's acting career. Is every romantic comedy going to be cookie cutter and totally pointless? I even let myself sit through Something's Gotta Give because of Jack Nicholson. That was a mistake.

4. The Messengers
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $7.2 million
Total Gross: $24.7 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: The only message this film has to convey is how Hollywood has run out of horror ideas. I feel bad that Sam Raimi produced/touted this film, then again, it's like Peter Jackson touting a film. It's a nice endorsement and all but it just means it's something they'd rather promote than actually make, so that should make the message loud and clear.

5. Night At The Museum
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $5.7 million
Total Gross: $232.1 million
Weeks Out: 8
Musings: I think I give up with this movie. It's as if no matter how many films come out, it's totally untouched by them. Sure it drops one more spot this week, but look at those numbers, that's staggering for a film like this. With presence like this, I fear that Ben Stiller will be able to make any movie he can dream up, and at his worst, he's really at his worst. The days of There's Something About Mary are long gone.

6. Epic Movie
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $4.4 million
Total Gross: $35.4 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: This movie of course looks horrible, and yet for some reason I feel that Norbit is likely worse, not sure why. What's funny is this movie is on about 100 more screens than Night at the Museum is, which is a lofty shot at nothing. Someone's gotta stop these 1 or 2 writers from Scary Movie films from making anything else. You know you suck when even the Wayans brothers are funnier than you.

7. Smokin' Aces
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $3.8 million
Total Gross: $30.9 million
Weeks Out: 5
Musings: I just realized why this film is titled the way it is. Apparently Jeremy Piven's name in the film is Buddy "Aces" Israel. Hah, get it, they're trying to "smoke" Aces. Yeah it's not that funny, but how funny is it that Matthew Fox set aside time to be in this movie? I believe it's just a cameo but it's funny because there's so many cast members in this movie, he'd be Lost in the shuffle. Ah, good thing I never make puns.

8. Pan's Labyrinth
Last Week Rank: 8th
Weekend Gross: $3.6 million
Total Gross: $26.6 million
Weeks Out: 7
Musings: Impressively holding onto its spot, only available on 1143 screens around the country, too. This is also one of the highest rated films of the year, with maybe only the Queen ahead of it. Likely to drop out before or shortly after the Oscars, one of the only reasons the film is keeping its claim. But since it doesn't have fat suits or explosions (I think?) it won't be long before it's off the list.

9. Dreamgirls
Last Week Rank: 8th
Weekend Gross: $3.1 million
Total Gross: $97.1 million
Weeks Out: 9
Musings: Quick, Jamie Foxx, get as far away from Eddie Murphy as you can. Dreamgirls is slowly on its way out, waiting for the Oscars. But if Norbit will show us anything, it's that Murphy's performance while not necessarily a one time thing, is something he doesn't hold much stake in. I didn't see Ray (that was NOT a pun) but I did view Collateral, and if that movie is proof of anything, Foxx's acting puts Murphy to shame.

10. The Queen
Last Week Rank: 10th
Weekend Gross: $2.5 million
Total Gross: $49 million
Weeks Out: 20
Musings: Yes that's right people, 20 weeks. 20 freakin' weeks and it's still on here. Granted it wasn't always on the top ten, but ever since the Golden Globes it has held onto the ledge of the lower spots. This week it survived the dropoff of films like The Pursuit of Happyness and Stomp The Yard (yay it's gone). It just proves that the English may not be very strong, but when they build something, by George it lasts!


Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Simpsons: "Little Big Girl" Review

Wow. Was tonight's Simpsons a clunker or what? Two plot lines, Lisa pretending to be a Native American and Bart dating an older woman, voiced by Natalie Portman, were stupid and mundane. The plot involving Bart was especially dumb. First, Bart accidentally saves the town from a fire, then he gets a driver's license, then he meets, dates, possibly impregnates Natalie Portman, then goes to marry her. Join me when I saw whaaaaaa?

I felt the episode was more a collection of scenes than one whole unit. It was also one of those episodes where the first 15 minutes has very little to do with the last 15 minutes, and those episodes are always boring. It was all very blah.

While there were a few funny scenes, none of them had long lasting guffaws. I hope this is a momentary swoon and not indicative of the rest of the season.

2 Pregnant Nats out of 5.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lack of Musical Excitement

The Grammys are tomorrow night, and despite the subtitle of this blog mentioning music, I could care less about the biggest night of that industry. Why? Because music has become to fractured, crowded, and boring.

It used to be that when a big artist released an album, everyone got excited. There where lines around the block. People united to buy records. Now? With a seemingly new big release every week, records no longer have the longevity they used to. Every week has a "big star", whose album is a must have. How can there be an level of excitement, when every week is demanding your attention?

As I have mentioned before, with the influx of more and more musical genres, people's taste are becoming more refined. That refinement leads to more and more influxes of new sounds. While new is not necessarily bad, it is not good for old schoolers or for consumers who have a set of tastes that are outside "new". If you have a certain niche, and that niche is being filled, it is easy to ignore current releases because that is what the business has told you to do.

Concerts are still being sold out, some artists are still making a killing with their album sales, but I do not see the days of mega-anticipated albums returning anytime soon. I see no artist with cross-generational and cross-taste appeal of The Beatles or the early Bruce Springsteen or the influence of Led Zepplin arising anytime soon. It's a shame that the music industry has so willingly splintered itself so much that it is unable to unite anymore.

That being said, I hope Gnarls Barkley wins some awards tomorrow.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lost: "Not in Portland" Review

Lost returned from a self-imposed three month hiatus with an episode that extends the rabbit hole that is this series even deeper. The episode, and flashback, centered on an Other, Juliet. While one would think that an episode focused an Other would reveal a whole lot of the mythology, we actually learn that Juliet has not been a lifelong Other and had a life before, off the Island.

She was seemingly recruited by a front company (of Dharma? Hanso?), but she was reluctant to join them at first. Why? Many reasons: she was under the thumb of her ex-husband (whose methods were very much Ben-like), she feels obligated to take care of her sick sister (who she is trying to help impregnate, to give her a glimmer of hope), she is just a weak person previous to the Island experience. Indeed, the contrast between meek Juliet in the past and the strong-willed Juliet on the Island is striking. Lost does these character bits very well, and although they weaken as we know more and more about the character, Lost's introductions are second-to-none. Juliet was recruited by a Dr. Alpert and Ethan Rom (my favorite reoccuring character) for her fertility expertise. This gives further credence to the idea that the Others can't have children and why they kidnap them.

The present day plot picked up right where we left off before: Jack is threatening to let Ben die unless Sawyer and Kate are freed. Once Jack finds out that they are on a separate island, rather than fold, he steps up his demands. He also rats out Juliet and her plea to "accidentally" kill Ben. Ben wakes up at this point, but rather then be mad at Juliet tells her that if she complies with Jack, she, a prisoner too of the Island, can go home. In the end, Juliet has to kill an Other to fulfill Ben's wishes and is left alone with the slight hope of a return home.

We did get some myth hints in this episode, as Sawyer and Kate are helped out by Alex, Rosseau's rumored daughter and apparently Ben's "daughter". The trio saves Carl, Alex's boyfriend and intially, Sawyer's former cellmate, from what apparently is a brainwashing room. On the brainwashing screen, we see such omnious sayings as "Everything changes", "We are the cause of our own suffering" and "God loves us like God loved Jacob", Jacob being the mysterious list maker mentioned in the fall finale. What this all means is vague, but no less chilling.

This episode rekindled my love affair with Lost. I am looking forward to 15 more weeks of these sorts of episodes.

4 Buses out of 5.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Retro Movie Review: "Darkman"

Sam Raimi brings a distinct style to the films he directs. From Evil Dead to Spider-Man, he has a unique vision. However, before Spider-Man, Raimi directed another suphero flick: Darkman. As the title implies, this is no ordinary superhero.

Darkman is not based on a comic, but an original creation by Raimi. Darkman, played by Liam Neeson, was scientist who was caught with some evidence against a gangster. When the gangster's goons blow up his lab, Darkman is horrible scarred. But since his research concerned fake skin, Darkman is able to disguise himself for a limited amount of time per day. He struggles to reconnect with his lost love and seek vengeance on those who destroyed him.

Raimi shows his knack for superheroes with a script that snaps and cracks with tongue-in-cheek cliches. A couple of lines are deliciously, and intentionally, cheesy. Liam Neeson plays Darkman as a cross between the Phantom of the Opera and The Punisher. Frances McDormand really doesn't add anything to the film other than Darkman's damsel in distress, but the part really wasn't written as more than that.

There are the typical Raimi cuts, with the action entering and quickly leaving frames, and the camera taking all sorts of weird angles to film. Ted Raimi, Sam's brother, has a small role in the film, as does Bruce Campbell. Even Raimi's trademark Oldsmobile shows up.

It was an entertaining movie and a must see movie if you are a Raimi fanatic.

3 1/2 Fake Noses out of 5.

"Across the Universe" Trailer

I remember reading about this movie a while back. It's a musical based on The Beatles' catalogue of songs. The trailer makes it seem interesting and it looks like the characters will have names from The Beatles' songs (one is named Jude, naturally). It also looks a fantasy-based musical, in that there seems to be dream sequences that only a musical can produce. I hope to catch this movie in theaters when it comes out.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Heroes: "Distractions" Review

[AE's Note: A while ago, I mentioned that I would start reviewing the new hit show Heroes, which airs on NBC. If you haven't noticed, I didn't live up to that promise. However, Gonch has taken it upon himself to review the episodes. He might not catch each episode on Mondays, but he does watch them at a later point, so the reviews might be spread out over the week. Enjoy!

Gonch here, and I hope to start another new weekly tradition (while it's on the air at least) for my reviews of my newest favorite show: Heroes. I won't recap what's happened so far in the show, there's plenty of sites for that, so let's get onto the review of a very distracting episode...oooh shiny!

There are only two truly main storylines to this week, one for Peter and and one for Claire. The show itself manages to almost always divide up well between as many characters as possible but I would say these two were the focus this week. Peter is in contact with Claude, aka Christopher Eccelston from Doctor Who's The Boss. Claude can make him and other things he touches invisible. Through most of the ep, Peter is also invisible as long as he's around Claude. He needs his help to focus his powers, otherwise he's gonna take out a nice chunk of Manhatten with him in the finale. This is done through some fun segments involving trying to steal a purse as Claude runs away and Peter tries to stay invisible, which doesn't work too well. Later Claude shows Peter what it's like when no one things you're there, as they spy on Simone and Isaac sharing a moment. Isaac himself had been looking for Peter in many many paintings (boy he's getting good at his power!) but kept finding nothing (Peter being invisible and all).

Claire on the other hand makes an attempt to find her mother in Kermit The Frog, Texas. Much to my dismay, Miss Piggy did not answer the trailer door, but her mother did. Turns out her mother can light stuff on fire. Claire is invulnerable. Claire's mother was in a fire where she thought her daughter died, yeah no coincidence there. They share their moment but Claire is lucky to be away from home. It's at this time that Sylar has escaped from Primatech Paper Prison (really need to reinforce those mache walls) where he pretended to be dead, only to trap Mr. Bennett (aka Horn Rimmed Glasses guy HRG). Sylar makes way for Claire/HRG's home, where he pretends to be an employee at Primatech. Claire's fake mom doesn't figure things are wrong until too late and she gets hurt some. Before Sylar can make his fatal mark, Bennett shows up somehow (I assume the Haitian found him there) and he takes some shots. Needless to say, Sylar gets away and Claire's fake mom is mindwiped. Claire, as always, suspects something was up.

In other stories, Hiro has no real action, but must face down George Takei, no easy task. Worse, it's his father who wants him to come home and run the business. But he convinces Captain Sulu that his sister is more worthy of that, and his mission comes first. Nikki/Jessica took out a doctor who was STUPID and got let free by Linderman's agent...only to trap Nikki in the Mirror of Doom.

The real fun at the end involves Claude tossing Peter over a building top, trying to make him fly. Instead Peter crashes onto a taxi but manages to use regeneration from Claire instead, based only his memory of her. This would not be quite as creepy except when we learn the truth. The father of Claire Bennett is none other than...dun dun duhhhhhh: Nathan Petrelli aka Flying Man.

I'm amazed at not just the plot lines (I do not think they are too slow, in fact faster moving so far than Lost) but also the consistency of the show. Sure it's just the first season but this episode gets Gonch's Gold Medal of Heroism. Keep it up, Kring.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 2/5/07

The Oscars are approaching, but did the moviegoing public notice? It's the weekend box office, released today, Monday 2/5/07

1. The Messengers
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $14.5 million
Total Gross: $14.5 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Well I'm glad to see Epic Movie didn't manage an impossible two week run at the top. This week's #1 is none other than The Grudge 3. I mean The Messengers. In this original horror/thriller, children are the only ones who can see evil ghosts in a spooky house in the country. The ghosts themselves look nothing like the Grudge ghosts. Also, scary movies come out during this time so some people can forget about Valentine's Day and complain about movies.

2. Because I Said So
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $13 million
Total Gross: $13 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Finally, I've waited since my childhood for this one. I remember asking why I had to clean up my room or make my bed or take out the trash. I was told "Because I Said So", and I'm sure this film will finally clear up the meaning behind that phrase and delve deep into the psyche of the parent-child relationship. What's that? It's a Diane Keaton movie with Mandy Moore in it? Crap.

3. Epic Movie
Last Week Rank: 1st (hah I know right?)
Weekend Gross: $8.2 million
Total Gross: $29.4 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Not so epic now, are we? Ok it's still way too high as in, how is this on the top ten at all? But I digress. Epic Movie is ironically a Fox movie, which while it does take a dig at X-Men, it also digs at Superman Returns. You hear that Mr. Singer? Fox is still not happy with you, in fact they even made Brett Ratner finish off your franchise just to spite you.

4. Night At The Museum
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $6.8 million
Total Gross: $225.4 million
Weeks Out: 7
Musings: Why...won'! Seriously though, I can't believe how long this one is sticking around, not just that but I mean it's still in the top 5! How bad of a series of movie releases does it have to be that in February, a movie from December that is not even of a special quality is still around? Hannibal Rising, Ghost Rider, somebody put a stop to this madness!

5. Smokin' Aces
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $6.3 million
Total Gross: $25 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: I'm trying to figure out why this movie hasn't done as well as I might have thought. I mean it reminds me of films like Snatch, which was a lot of fun. Oh, wait it has Ben Affleck in it. Nevermind, case closed.

6. Stomp The Yard
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $4.2 million
Total Gross: $56 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Stomping is a good reason why you should try to live on the top floor of an apartment complex, believe me I know. I also realized that the title can be related to the Bears' defense, who put their foot down, but forgot to actually keep moving those feet to stop the yard gainage by the Colts. Oh, burn.

7. Dreamgirls
Last Week Rank: 6th
Weekend Gross: $4 million
Total Gross: $92.8 million
Weeks Out: 8
Musings: I know it's been out for many weeks, but with the Oscar noms, is this film more of a distraction so no one notices Norbit? The more I see commercials for that thing, the more I cringe. Did everyone seem to forget that unless Murphy is a talking CGI donkey, he hasn't had a good film in 10 years? He already came to America and traded places, I think we're done with the attempts at "comedy". It's pretty bad when his brother's stories on Chappelle's Show were more entertaining.

8. Pan's Labyrinth
Last Week Rank: 8th
Weekend Gross: $3.6 million
Total Gross: $21.7 million
Weeks Out: 6
Musings: When you think of this title, do you not instantly remember The Labyrinth from your childhood? Who can forget David Bowie or the phenomenon of contact juggling? Jim freakin' Henson people, that's where it was at. Ok, so I like a lot of the CGI stuff better anyway. What can I say, new technology rules.

9. Pursuit Of Happyness
Last Week Rank: 7th
Weekend Gross: $3.1 million
Total Gross: $157.4 million
Weeks Out: 8
Musings: We're winding down our Will Smith time, so let's have a good one, shall we? This week, I am thankful that Will Smith managed to become a summer blockbuster superstar. Why you ask? Well let's be fair, he's not a bad actor and has been in some of the more interesting summer films. Sure Independence Day was foolishly dumb at times, but he made it more watchable. Men In Black was a blast, too. Since then he's winded down, but soon, he'll be the last man alive fighting vampires in I Am Legend. And he'll be a washed up super-hero in Tonight, He Comes. The future could be bright again, Mr. Smith.

10. The Queen
Last Week Rank: 9th
Weekend Gross: $2.7 million
Total Gross: $45.5 million
Weeks Out: 19
Musings: Not to be confused with ...of the Damned, or a King of Spades or the Ace of Hearts. It's a British-y film and it's Miramax, so they basically get to pick where they want to sit for the Oscars before the nominations even came out. But this is the American cinema. We don't have time or room for classy English films. I mean, if there's no explosions or tense music or classic one-liners, how am I supposed to know when to clap/yell mindlessly at the screen?


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Whedon off Wonder Woman

Joss Whedon, the creator of such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, has announced that he is no longer involved with the movie based off the comic book heroine Wonder Woman. After the success of Batman Begins, WB announced a new movie based on the Amazon and brought Whedon aboard to write and direct the movie. Whedon was there from the start and it seemed like it was his movie to do as he wishes.

However, after reading update after update about how he was still working on the script, nearly two years after being hired, I started to have my doubts about whether or not Whedon would ever finish the script in time to please the studio heads. The studio probably wants the WW to be a tent pole movie, and they couldn't have been happy that Whedon was seemingly dragging his feet. Also, Whedon wouldn't comment on who he wanted to play WW and the many rumors that surfaced, while in some part promoting the movie, also probably had the effect of allowing the public to think that the studio had no idea what to do.

I can imagine that Whedon, like another one of my directing heroes, Kevin Smith, is a very meticulous dirctor/writer. He is very detailed originated and would probably have a different vision for WW than the studios might want. I can see the studio wanting a big action film, but Whedon wanting a character study in the style of Batman Begins. Remember, Superman Returns also was more of a character study, and it did not do so well. So the studio might have been wary about going down that road again.

All this is speculation, of course. The Whedon and WB split was not acrimonous and Whedon will land on his feet. He already has an original horror movie lined up to work on. The WW movie will go on, maybe languishing in development hell for a while (though the studio did buy another script the day before Whedon announced his leaving. Interesting?). The little interested I had in a WW movie though as already decreased with this announcement as I am a big fan of Whedon. But it just may have been a case of someone who is knowledgeable about comics (Whedon is currently writing an X-Men comic) knowing too much for his own good. WB has a long way to go to make Wonder Woman work.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The 400 lb Guerrilla

Guerrilla marketing refers to an ad campaign that takes a nontraditional approach to promotion, often by using an artistic or underground approach. Recently, such a technique caused a scare in Boston. Whose to blame in this case? Turner Broadcasting, who airs the show Aqua Teen Hunger Force? The ad execs who were arrested for setting up the ads? Or the Boston authorities, who rushed to judgement? It is a tricky argument.

Surely, in today's climate, increased vigilance is key. But shouldn't increased awareness also be learned? It was pointed out that the shape that the lite-brites were in (a Mooninite from ATHF) has also appeared on billboards promoting the upcoming ATHF movie. Likely, the authorities are out of the demographic that the show appeals to, but they seemingly jumped to conclusions about the ads very quickly. Backpacks left in suspicious locations don't garner this type of overattention, and if one takes a step back, how are lights arranged in a specific shape (nongeometric) more threatening than a backpack? Then the media started to pile on, declaring it a terrorist threat without any concrete information. These ads have been in place for over 2 weeks and in other major cities as well, but only Boston reacted in this manner.

But the ad execs and Turner broacdcast are not blameless. They should have at least informed the cities that there will be boxes laying with blinking lights. Also, I am not sure if Adult Swim (the late night counterpart to Cartoon Network that Turner is responsible for) has showed pictures of the ads on air like they had done with similar campaigns. If they did, then I would say they were properly informing the public of the true intentions. If not, then it is both a bit irresponsible and bad marketing if they didn't connect a product directly with the ads. Not everyone knows what a Mooninite is.

I have always enjoyed the unusual ways Hollywood promotes itself. Hopefully this incident only changes the creativity not stifle it. Boston does seem to have overreacted and has, for the moment, become a laughing stock. It will be interesting to see if someone brings up the First Amendment in regards to advertising. Is this a case of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater? Cartoon Network/Adult Swim does get widespread publicity and we all know that old axiom about publicity. There are a lot of "ifs" in this situation and it certainly bears some close following.

Meanwhile, we all should be happy that the ads didn't concern another set of ATHF characters: The Plutononians. Just imagine a box label "Pluton..." being found in a city.