Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Movie Minutes is moving (again)!

Hello, readers!

I am happy to announce that Movie Minutes is moving to Wordpress! Movie Minutes is a passion project of mine and my hope is to be able to expand and share this passion with as many people as possible. Unfortunately, this means having to say goodbye to the old Blogger site. You can catch all further updates at the link provided below and I hope you will join me as I begin this new chapter in my blogging life!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

KONG: SKULL ISLAND Non-Spoilers Review

Kong: Skull Island would make an interesting case study for anyone interested in making a good movie the wrong way. Much to the chagrin of this reviewer's monster movie-loving heart, this film has a lot of problems. Despite this sad reality, however, Kong: Skull Island still manages to dish out enough of what it promises (namely ungodly havoc at the unnaturally large paws of the largest primate ever put to film) for a good time at the theater. 

Whether you enjoyed Gareth Edwards' 2014 Godzilla reboot or not, many criticized it for a severe lack of the scaly antihero. Judging from the trailers for 'Kong,' you would think Legendary and Warner Bros. had learned a thing or two. Unfortunately, Kong: Skull Island boasts only a bit more screen time for its own titular behemoth. To be fair, Kong's excellently choreographed throw-downs are the best parts of the film. They're exhilarating. They're just too sporadically spaced out between the dull human melodrama.

The hollow script (co-written by Nightcrawler's Dan Gilroy, I'll have you know) does not allow its stranded characters (I use the term loosely) time to develop outside their ninety second introductions and none of them are given any arcs, none with a satisfying payoff anyways. This is all the more disappointing when you consider how well its superstar cast does with so little to go off. Alas, we are left to imagine what they could have accomplished with richer material.

On that note, it would be a miss if I did not mention John C. Reilly, who plays an Air Force vet who has been living on the island for almost three decades after crash landing there during WWII. Despite this nightmarish scenario, he perfectly embodies the film's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. While most jokes fall flat throughout, Reilly, much like his humongous humanoid co-star, is a constant source of unabashed enjoyment.

Even in the face of its mounting imperfections, this unabashed enjoyment ultimately rises to the surface. Whether you're jumping in your seat from the intensity of the monster mayhem, busting a gut at one of Reilly's self-referential jokes, or bobbing your head to any of the kick-ass 70s rock selections, Kong: Skull Island succeeds in being what it is: a fun monster romp. 

Grade: B

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Box Office Predictions (2/10/17)

Over the past few years, studio executives have been gleefully sliding the summer movie season further up each year, like that guy at the bar whose had too much to drink and doesn't think you'll notice if he scooches towards you a couple inches every few minutes. Movies one would expect to see between May and August are now starting to appear as early as February, which has recently proven to be as good a month as any for studios to plant a franchise tent pole.

This weekend is shaping up for a similar shakedown, with multiple, big franchises looking to stake an early 2017 claim. Such licenses include the second 50 Shades of Grey installment, the next chapter in the surprise John Wick storyline, and of course the first of many LEGO Movie spinoffs. These newcomers are set to square off against the reigning champ Split as well as the hot underdog (and Oscar Darling) Hidden Figures. By the looks of it, the box office could be in for quite a slobber knocker this weekend.

Here are my predictions for the match (ranked by predicted domestic gross):

#1: The LEGO Batman Movie
In February, 2014, The LEGO Movie grossed near $70 million its opening weekend and from there continued its box office marathon, earning into the millions every weekend until April 11th. Since then its popularity has only grown (though it failed to garner a mere nomination for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars that year). What's more, there hasn't been a new family release since December. Oh! I almost forgot: It also has "Batman" in the title and Batman sells. Big time.

Predicted gross: $80 million

#2: Fifty Shades Darker
If the first 'Fifty Shades' film proved anything, it's that Americans like to get freaky. That's my rationale for predicting a second place slot for the sequel. Though a vast majority of its overall domestic gross was already accumulated by the end of its first weekend (a grand total of just over $93 million), it dropped more than 73% the following weekend. Many complained that the film did not live up to the promised promiscuity of its sexy source material. The disappointment may carry over from 2015, but if this film is freakier than the first (like its marketing campaign suggests), then this follow-up will have *ahem* better legs.

Predicted gross: $55 million

#3: John Wick Chapter 2
Sometimes franchises are built on low budget surprises. Such was the case with John Wick. When it came out in 2014, it didn't put up blockbuster numbers (raking in a little over $14 million its fire weekend out), but it also didn't have to. A relatively low budget coupled with high critical praise, including a pretty lucrative home video life. However, now the cat's outta the bag and people know what to expect from this retired-not-retired assassin.

Predicted gross: $19 million

#4: Split
After two consecutive box office successes, many are hailing the return of Writer-Director M. Night Shyamalan. After Split rocked three back-to-back-to-back weeks on top the box office while also pulling in positive critical praise, it's difficult to argue otherwise. With three heavy hitters joining the fight this weekend, a drop to the number four slot should still mean a pretty decent return for the defending champ.

Predicted gross: $8.3 million

#5: Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures recently passed La La Land to become the highest domestic grossing Best Picture nominee this year. Based on general reactions from moviegoers and critics alike, there seems to be a thirst for a feel good theater experience and Hidden Figures definitely delivers on that front. Expect this true story to continue hanging around the top five for at least another weekend or two.

Predicted gross: $6.9 million

*All box office figures provided by Box Office Mojo & The Numbers.