With Taken, Liam Neeson became an unlikely action star, with his quiet, solemn masculinity lending gravitas to even the silliest dialogue and story beats. But rather than use the success of that instantly meme-able film as an excuse to pursue more period dramas and British weepies, Neeson embraced his newfound action hero identity. Now, after seven years of snapping necks and gunning people down across several continents, it looks like he’s ready to retire from the action hero game for good.
With some of the year’s biggest movies only a month or two away, the box office seems to have entered a holding pattern. Some of the new releases are minor hits. Others crash and burn. Right now, Hollywood just seems to be crossing their fingers and hoping for the sweet, sweet summer movie season to come along and save them (or at least the April release of Furious 7). In other words, every new release underperformed this weekend.
It’s an undisputed scientific fact that Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston is the greatest villain in the Disney animated canon. After all, we’re talking about a guy whose theme song is all about how many eggs he eats and how every last inch of him is covered in hair. Sorry Maleficent, you have nothing on this guy. So, the news that Luke Evans has been cast as Gaston in Disney’s upcoming live action take on Beauty and the Beast has us feeling awfully judgmental. Sure, Evans is a good actor, but is he Gaston good?
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (which the real, actual title of this film) has been bombarding us with trailers for so long that it feels like the movie should have come out by now. But alas, the next chapter in this young adult dystopian romantic action series is still a month away and Summit has released the final Insurgent trailer. To their credit, this is easily the most effective preview they’ve cut so far, even if it seems like it’s in an alien language to the people who skipped Divergent.
A lot of people are going to act like they didn’t see the enormous success of ‘American Sniper’ coming, but the signs were all there. On top of the promising limited release numbers, there was the awards buzz. On top of that, there were the names of director Clint Eastwood and star Bradley Cooper. On top of that, the subject matter of the film is inherently attractive to the same category of moviegoer that makes Christian-themed films into massive hits. ‘American Sniper’ had one doozy of a weekend, but it’s not that surprising.
The ‘Big Game’ trailer sells a concept that rides a fine line between totally preposterous and incredible. What if Air Force One was shot down and the President’s escape pod landed in the isolated woods of Finland? What is the President, now pursued by terrorists, only had one ally? What if that one ally was a pre-teen boy armed with a bow? What if the President was played by Samuel L. Jackson? Yeah, ‘Big Game’ is a real movie and we still can’t decide if it’s too ludicrous or just ludicrous enough.
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
After getting bumped around the release schedule for the better part of a year, the found-footage time travel thriller ‘Project Almanac’ (which used to be known as ‘Welcome to Yesterday’) is finally arriving in theaters this January. And to prove it, the studio has released a new trailer, which makes this look like ‘The Sound of Thunder’ for millennials.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
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