Advertisements

Cinemaholics Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

fallen kingdom

This week on Cinemaholics, I’m joined by special guest Jake Holland and my co-host Will Ashton to review Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Is the “fallen kingdom” in question the state of the Jurassic Park franchise at this point? Well, according to the box office, definitely not. We had a great conversation about the series as a whole and leading up to this new film from J.A. Bayona, and we’ve even included a brief section for spoilers (with fair warning of course).

We opened this week’s show with some Off-Topics, including a rundown of Incredibles 2 breaking all kinds of box office records, plus how Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s utter failure at the box office has reportedly led to Disney and Lucasfilm putting future standalone Star Wars movies on hold. We also get into a fascinating segment about Gotti, which includes everything from a marketing campaign targeted at film critics to some seriously shady number crunching going on at Rotten Tomatoes. You’ll have to hear this one to believe it.

Last, we get into Mini Reviews as usual, but only a few this week. I give my thoughts on Luke Cage Season 2, which just dropped on Netflix, as well as the new romantic comedy Set It Up. And Will finally saw Thoroughbreds, one of my favorites of 2018.

Question for you: Aside from the original, which is your favorite Jurassic Park movie?

Go on…Cinemaholics Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Advertisements

‘Incredibles 2’ Is Beating ‘Finding Dory’ at Ticket Pre-Sales

incredibles 2

From Entertainment Weekly, which has a more dramatic headline – Incredibles 2 on track to be biggest animated movie of all time:

According to Fandango, Disney’s highly anticipated superhero family sequel is tracking to be the biggest animated movie ever in pre-sales.

The film is out-pacing the previous record holder, 2016’s Finding Dory, which went onto become the highest-grossing animated movie ever with $486 million in domestic sales (followed by Shrek 2 with $441 million, The Lion King with $422 million and Toy Story 3 with $415 million).

We don’t know for sure if this will translate to an equally strong opening weekend (Solo also had good pre-ticket sales), but this falls in line with my prediction that Incredibles 2 will be one of the biggest movies of the summer, probably just below Avengers: Infinity War in terms of worldwide box office, or perhaps Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. It also helps that this new Incredibles sequel is about as good as everyone is hoping (I saw it yesterday, and I expect most of you will be more than pleased).

Go on…‘Incredibles 2’ Is Beating ‘Finding Dory’ at Ticket Pre-Sales

Incredibles 2 Will Be Way More Successful Than (Some) Think

I don’t usually dive into the prediction game, but this year I’m feeling uniquely compelled to weigh in on the box office future of Incredibles 2, a Pixar film some are strangely underestimating as we close in on Summer 2018.

Will it be #1 for the whole summer? Not necessarily, thanks to Avengers: Infinity War. But here’s my breakdown on how I envision the summer playing out in general, from Deadpool 2 to Solo. Spoiler alert: it involves Disney making way more money than everyone else. In part thanks to Pixar’s latest sequel based off of one of their most beloved movies.

Go on…Incredibles 2 Will Be Way More Successful Than (Some) Think

Every Pixar Film Ranked By Their Box Office Success

pixar movies

From Toy Story to Finding Dory, which Pixar movies found the most financial success with audiences? 

A few years ago, I did a ranking just like this in the year leading up to Inside Out. It was simple: I took the worldwide box office returns for each Pixar movie and adjusted for inflation, though I measured the numbers according current rates of inflation (2014 at the time). A faulty metric, now that I take a second look.

Honestly, it’s hard to rank these movies on the same playing field, because so many circumstances determined their profits. 3D ticket sales and a widening international market make it harder to define which Pixar movies were more “successful” than others based on their own terms and fair context.

So this time, I’m only looking at two factors: domestic box office and a rate of inflation with 1995, the year that Toy Story came out. So all of the numbers you’re about to see bolded are NOT the actual numbers you’ll find online, but rather they’ve been modified to match what they were worth 22 years ago. UPDATE: I’ve since added Cars 3 and Coco to this list. 

Let’s start at the bottom of the list this time with…

Go on…Every Pixar Film Ranked By Their Box Office Success

Marvel Has Been Successful Because It’s Better at Being Different

marvel better different

Until the end of the “superhero golden era” finally comes, we won’t be able to analyze the full impact that Marvel Studios has had with its cinematic universe of movies. But even though we don’t have the full picture at our disposal, everyone has their own reasonable guess for how and why Marvel been the dominant superhero movie franchise for nearly a decade, in terms of both critical and fan reception.

Some of the effects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are quite obvious, and I think that’s why vague observations about Marvel Studios are tossed around by its naysayers. When you think of shared universe movies — that is, movies that share the same characters and other sandbox elements without being direct sequels — you might feel the urge to groan a bit, especially if you watch and keep up with a lot of different movie franchises that all strive to replicate what Marvel did so well with Iron Man in 2008.

Sony tried to kickstart a Spider-Man shared universe of villains and ultimately failed. Universal has long been planning a shared universe of monster movies, citing they could have the “Avengers” of Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, and more. Even a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe is reportedly in the works, planned to kick off with a new Scooby Doo movie. And this year’s Ghostbusters ends with a universe-setting teaser straight out of the ambiguously defined Marvel formula.

Marvel’s most direct rival, and for several obvious, yet key reasons, is DC Comics, which Warner Bros. owns the exclusive rights to. After a hugely successful trilogy of Batman movies, all helmed by Christopher Nolan and universally praised by fans and critics, Warner Bros. took the next logical step toward establishing a shared universe of their own that could do for Wonder Woman and the Flash what Marvel managed for Iron Man and Captain America, just to name a few.

marvel better different

Remember, just one year after Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. released Man of Steel, the perfunctory beginning of what was meant to be something completely different compared to anything put out by Marvel Studios.

Except, well, Marvel has already  been “different” by its own standards for years, and it’s found great success doing so, while DC Comics hasn’t. At least not on the same scale.

To be fair, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were not financial failures, but they did fail to live up to their profitable potential, making less money domestically than Deadpool, which is based on a character far less popular and recognizable than Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. And even more recently, Suicide Squad has been panned by critics for sharing a lot of the same flaws of these movies, though it will still open to huge box office numbers, regardless.

What’s odd, then, is that the films have been criticized by many for being too different, using phrases like joyless and dark to color a picture of a movie that doesn’t deliver the same experience viewers got with most of the Marvel movies.

marvel better different

Supporters of these DC Comics movies have a right to call out this opinion for being intellectually dishonest. Of course a movie like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is different, they say. If it were the same formula as a movie like The Avengers, then critics would complain just as feverishly.

Both sides of this argument have it wrong, then. Because what they both forget is that while there is a bare-bones formula to the Marvel movies that makes them feel cohesive — that is, it’s easy to believe the movies exist in the same universe at all — none of them are all that similar to any of the others in just about every other way, unless the movie is a sequel, and even then, Marvel movies have a habit of changing entire subgenres in between their sequels.

One of the best and most famous examples of Marvel being “different” involves the entirety of what sets up the first Avengers movie, which serendipitously released the same year as The Dark Knight Rises. The very concept of setting up an ensemble superhero film after several standalone pictures that establish the characters was brand new at the time and, more importantly, untested.

Yet The Avengers is the highest-grossing superhero film of all time and was universally acclaimed by moviegoers, which holds up even today.

marvel better different

It’s fair to judge Marvel for being good at being different based on the fact that people loved The Avengers, despite how risky the structure of it was, and because it provided a sizable return on investment both financially and even culturally, hence we’re even having this debate about superhero movies being different.

What’s even more interesting, though, is the fact that Marvel movies have continued to be different and surprising, even though they have a proven formula they could repeat on end to minimize the risk of failure.

For example, the Marvel films that have truly defied expectations include Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, arnhich were both proven hits for the studio, despite being completely different from any other Marvel film in tone, structure, and many other crucial elements.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an action comedy set in space, and most of its characters aren’t even human. That’s a far cry from any other comic book film, period, let alone Marvel movies like Iron Man and even Thor. The premise of Ant-Man is absurd enough, despite the movie actually taking place on Earth. Yet it feels so different as a superhero movie because first and foremost, it’s really a heist film with bits of Edgar Wright’s unique editing style thrown in.

marvel better different

The upcoming Doctor Strange, set to release this November, is also a movie that — judging by the marketing and previous knowledge of the character — looks and feels different from previous Marvel offerings, because it seems to be tackling unchartered territory in terms of fantasy elements and dimensional science for the hero of that movie to experience.

These movies, excluding the as of yet unseen Doctor Strange, have been hits with both critics and casual audiences because yes, they’re different. So it’s strange, then, when both critics and naysayers of Marvel movies speak as if this cinematic universe has a firm license on vague storytelling elements, like humor and quipping. There’s a desire for DC to be the other side of the coin, different and more progressive than what might be called a mainstream superhero franchise with Marvel.

The problem with that desire, though, is that Marvel has already been the other side of that coin, and the other side of many coins that they, themselves, have inserted into the zeitgeist of superhero films. They don’t always get it right, of course, and some of their risks have been paid off better than others, but if DC should take notes on being “different” for the sake of surprising and delighting its fans, it should really be paying more attention to Marvel. Not less.

Because being different, while a good start, is not a merit on its own. Fantastic Four was different, which we can all agree on. But that definitely didn’t improve what was inherently flawed with that film. A non-Marvel movie that’s great at being different is Deadpool, made by Fox, proving that a superhero film doesn’t have to be made by Disney in order for it to be beloved by just about everyone old enough to see it.

marvel better different

I still have high hopes for DC Comics moving forward, though not nearly as high as I used to three years ago. But if you’re reading this and feeling a bit alienated because you want DC Comics and Warner Bros. to keep taking risks and producing films with these iconic characters that demand to be different from what we’ve seen before, then you can definitely take solace in one, major thing: The DC Comics movie universe under Geoff Johns — their new Chief Creative Officer and co-developer of The Flash on CW — kicks off next year with Wonder Woman.

And from what we’ve seen so far of that movie, the future could still be quite bright (not dark) for DC Comics.


I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Hollywood has a Sequel Problem

hollywood sequel problem

Pamela McClintock via THR: 

Sequel after sequel has disappointed at the box office this year. This weekend’s underpowered opening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is just the latest example. And that is perplexing and alarming Hollywood studios, which are addicted to turning films of all sizes and genres into ongoing franchises, from comedies to the smallest horror films to tentpoles.

And that’s just one of many examples cased in this article, which include Alice Through the Looking GlassThe Huntsman: Winter’s WarRide Along 2Zoolander 2, Divergent Series: Allegiant even Neighbors 2, and more, which all have suffered huge drops in box office against all of Hollywood’s expectations for how sequels should “work.”

In this list alone, I’ve only bothered to review Alice and Allegiant, mostly because interest in these other movies was waning long before I ever went to a screening. When I choose a film to review, I usually go with the one I think people are actually on the fence about checking out and want to discuss afterward. How much does that say about the fact that we don’t even want to talk about some of these sequels?

TMNT is the exception, and it’s a film I would have reviewed if I had seen the first of the series. But even that franchise is a tough sell for me because the Turtles are such lasting pop culture icons with so many iterations that I don’t think my opinion on said movies will do much to sway people or offer some new insight.

“Sequels of late have fallen on rough times. The tried-and-true formulas and familiar characters and themes that are the cornerstone of the modern sequel have acted as a de facto life insurance policy against box-office failure,” says box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “However, 2016 has proven to be a very tough battleground, and the landscape has been littered with a series of sequels that have come up short, and thus call into question the entire notion of the inherent appeal of non-original, franchise-based content.”

Good.

Snarcasm: Critics Ruined ‘Gods of Egypt,’ Not the Movie Itself

gods of egypt critics

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

Remember last year when Josh Trank embarrassed himself via Twitter by dissing his own movie (Fantastic Four)  before it even came out?

Well, Alex Proyas, director of Gods of Egypt, apparently thought that his own airing of grievances over social media was a smart career move. Or he just loves one-upping Josh Trank, which may also be valid.

Gods of Egypt hasn’t been doing all that well at the box office since it opened two weeks ago. Deadpool (which opened on Valentine’s Day) is still outperforming it, which wouldn’t be bad news until you remember that the kid-friendly Zootopia is on the horizon.

At this point, Gods of Egypt has made about $40 million, which is modest until you remember that the film has a reported production budget of $140 million, not including marketing dollars (which tend to double that number). Worse, much of the money it has made is overseas, which the studio gets less of a return on.

gods of egypt critics

So unless the gods of the box office perform an impossible miracle similar to the final act of the movie we’re talking about, Gods of Egypt will be a big flop. And Alex Proyas took to Facebook recently to explain exactly why that is in the most eloquent way possible. Well, depending on who you ask…though that would have to be Alex Proyas.

No headline, but Proyas begins his rant with a killer summation:

NOTHING CONFIRMS RAMPANT STUPIDITY FASTER…Than reading reviews of my own movies.

Off to a great start. People who review Proyas’ movies are consistently stupid, and this is a confirmed thing, according to said director. Seems legit.

As someone who also reviewed Gods of Egypt (I gave it a C), I’m starting to wonder if I fall into the grace of Proyas’ approval, lest I be doomed to a life of moronity.

 I usually try to avoid the experience – but this one takes the cake.

This is coming from a guy who hasn’t made a movie in seven years. Saying “I usually avoid the experience” is like me saying “I usually avoid taking girls to the food court on our first date.”

Often, to my great amusement, a critic will mention my past films in glowing terms,

Well, some of these past films.

OK, like two of them.

when at the time those same films were savaged, as if to highlight the critic’s flawed belief of my descent into mediocrity.

This is a laugh for anyone remotely familiar with Proyas’ filmography. Dark City and The Crow are the movies critics reference most, and both received excellent reviews at the time they were released. His other movies — such as i, Robot — received mostly mixed reviews. They weren’t “savaged.”

And who today looks that fondly on i, Robot? Besides me?

The only movie “savaged” in his filmography is Knowing, which no one except for Roger Ebert thought was very good. Years later, this hasn’t changed in the slightest. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the magic of selective memory.

You see, my dear fellow FBookers, I have rarely gotten great reviews… on any of my movies, apart from those by reviewers who think for themselves and make up their own opinions.

That’s right. Proyas’ argument is equivocal to that of a temper tantrum.

“Only bad critics give me bad reviews,” he says. Or in other words, “Me good, no matter what bad man say!”

Sadly those type of reviewers are nearly all dead.

WOW. 

Good reviews often come many years after the movie has opened.

Let me fix that for you. Better reviews come out years after people have had time to think about the film, its impact, and how repeated viewings improve or worsen the experience. But that doesn’t invalidate the first inspection of a film. Critics are mostly judging the first experience because that’s what people read their reviews for. 

I don’t care if a movie that’s just come out will be more interesting ten years from now because it says something compelling about a culture point that may not have happened yet. I want to a watch a movie that’s competently made and will deliver a great experience in the theater.

 I guess I have the knack of rubbing reviewers the wrong way – always have.

But hey, that couldn’t possibly mean that there’s something wrong with you. That’s not how narcissism works, right?

This time of course they have bigger axes to grind – they can rip into my movie while trying to make their mainly pale asses look so politically correct by screaming “white-wash!!!” like the deranged idiots they all are. 

Really? It’s idiotic to point out that your movie set within an established mythology is mostly casted by a single, unrelated demographic? To Proyas, we’re idiots for pointing this out, despite the fact that nearly everyone seemed to think this long before the reviews hit the web.

That’s not even mentioning the fact that most reviews didn’t even spend much time on white washing, if at all. In my review, I bring it up because it’s ultimately distracting to be watching a movie set in Egypt without anyone who looks Egyptian. It ruins the immersion of the movie, which hurts the overall experience of watching it.

They fail to understand, or chose to pretend to not understand what this movie is, so as to serve some bizarre consensus of opinion which has nothing to do with the movie at all. 

Oh, we know what this movie is, Proyas. It’s an attempt to make as much money possible for the studio. Problem is, you thought you had to cast only white actors in order to do so, but it didn’t work. That’s not anyone’s fault but yours.

That’s ok, this modern age of texting will probably make them go the way of the dinosaur or the newspaper shortly – don’t movie-goers text their friends with what they thought of a movie? 

This oddly constructed sentence is an appropriate parallel for Gods of Egypt. It tries to look like it’s not out of touch, but everything presented makes it more obvious that it’s out of touch.

People don’t just text for information, Proyas. They use this magical thing called the Internet, which you’re using now. And while movie critics as we know them may not remain the same forever, it’s clear that the Internet isn’t leaving them behind; not when YouTube critics are gaining subscribers in the millions.

Besides, aren’t you undermining your argument that critics ruined your movie’s box office by saying they don’t even influence people anymore? Why write any of this at all if you sincerely believe no one will read reviews in the next few years?

Seems most critics spend their time trying to work out what most people will want to hear.

Finally, something sensible out of this rant. Yes, we can agree that a lot of critics form their reviews around groupthink, not real analysis, that forms before a movie releases. I wouldn’t say most critics do this, but it certainly happens.

How do you do that? Why these days it is so easy… just surf the net to read other reviews or what bloggers are saying – no matter how misguided an opinion of a movie might be before it actually comes out.

I think what this supposedly professional screenwriter is blathering about is how critics may read other reviews and blogs in order to form their own opinion. His evidence? Well, people don’t like his movie, so…

To him, it’s not because a lot of people have the same problem with a movie. Nope, because that would mean there’s a problem with his movie, and that can’t be right. Proyas is mad at the people who hate his movie, who then influence “deranged idiots” into hating his movie. But even if you’re right (and you’re not), that’s still a good chunk of people who still hated your movie before anyone else did.

There is something to be said about critics who go into a movie ready to hate it because the public hates it. Yet what often happens is the opposite, in that critics give a movie great reviews, much to everyone’s surprise. A good example is last year’s Paddington, which no one thought would be a great movie due to its bad marketing.

It’s clear that Proyas was wrongfully convinced this would happen with Gods of Egypt.

Lock a critic in a room with a movie no one has even seen and they will not know what to make of it.

Has Proyas never heard of a press screening? We do this all the time. It’s as if he thinks we write these reviews while conducting exit interviews simultaneously, despite the fact that most reviews are written weeks or days before the embargo lifts, and we spend most of that time editing our grammar.

Because contrary to what a critic should probably be they have no personal taste or opinion, because they are basing their views on the status quo.

Again, you can argue that some critics do this (because human beings are human beings), but Proyas is trying to make the case that all critics lack the ability to criticize, which he has to say in order to justify why Gods of Egypt has an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes.

This is the logic of a narcissist incapable of admitting his own mistakes. After all, the diversity problem in Gods of Egypt is easily the least of its problems. Everything from the shoddy CGI to the middling performances screams of mediocrity, not some sort of hidden gem we’ll all be celebrating in 2026.

None of them are brave enough to say “well I like it” if it goes against consensus.

False, untrue, a lie, etc. Critics enjoy movies all the time that go against consensus. That’s why Gods of Egypt has an 11%, not a 0%, on RT. 

More recently, I gave The Good Dinosaur a perfect grade, despite everyone telling me I was “wrong.” Months later, I haven’t changed my mind, and critics everywhere do the same thing with movies that I don’t like. But in Proyas’ fantasy land, we all give the same reviews about everything somehow.

Therefore they are less than worthless.

No one can be “less than worthless,” but at least that sentence matches the rest of the logic in this Facebook post. Hey, and his movie, too!

Now that anyone can post their opinion about anything from a movie to a pair of shoes to a hamburger, what value do they have – nothing.

Wrong. Now that everyone can have a platform, competition is skyrocketing, pushing all of us to rise about the complacency that plagued film criticism in the past. Some people try to stand out by doing the opposite of Proyas accuses by liking a movie against consensus, even if they didn’t like it all.

In other words, Proyas can’t see beyond the issues that affect him and only him. Because he’s what, class?

“A narcissist,” said the children in Snarcasm Elementary School.

Roger Ebert wasn’t bad. He was a true film lover at least, a failed film-maker, which gave him a great deal of insight. His passion for film was contagious and he shared this with his fans. He loved films and his contribution to cinema as a result was positive.

This is all true, but just keep in mind that Roger Ebert was the about the only critic to give Proyas’ last film, Knowing, four stars. I wonder if that factors into Proyas’ belief that Ebert was the only good critic…

Now we have a pack of diseased vultures pecking at the bones of a dying carcass. Trying to peck to the rhythm of the consensus.

Are you the dying carcass? Because it’s not our fault you don’t make a lot of movies anymore, and when you do, we don’t like them. That’s completely on you.

Or is “the dying carcass” your movie? Because if so, I’m glad we’re pecking apart a movie that was incapable of thinking outside of the pale-white action fantasy movies made in the 80s.

Or is “the dying carcass” the film industry as a whole? Because if so, your barely average movies aren’t doing much to make things better.

Also, we’re not that diseased.

I applaud any film-goer who values their own opinion enough to not base it on what the pack-mentality say is good or bad.

The false premise, of course, is that film-goers can only do this by burying their head in the sand, not reading the varying opinions of others. Oh, I guess they should just text each other reviews sentence by sentence instead.

I feel bad for Proyas because it’s clear he bases the value of his work on the opinions of critics, instead of his own fans who champion Gods of Egypt. For him, that’s not enough because a group of evil film critics are now conspiring against him (roll credits).

gods of egypt critics

Yet Proyas says nothing of the people who like something merely because no one else does, a practice just as dishonest as what he condemns critics for.

That said, critics aren’t perfect, and they’re certainly not my favorite people to mingle with. They can be cynical cockroaches, if you ask me and plenty others. But not all of them. Many critics put as much work into their criticism as anyone else who puts effort into their art.

Heck, it’s clear they work harder on their reviews than this lopsided, no line-broken block of Facebook post text that makes it clear that you must have at written Gods of Egypt in at least some capacity.


 

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

%d bloggers like this: