The weekend warriors of September 19, 2014 includes The Maze Runner, A Walk Among the Tombstones, and This is Where I Leave You along with a slew of limited releases. Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars, Box Office Battlefield is here to help you decide which movie(s) will take priority over the others and determine who will be victorious.
Last weekend, No Good Deed toppled over the four week reigning champ Guardians of the Galaxy; mainly because everyone has seen Guardians already and there was nothing else better to see. This weekend is jam packed with a ton of new and limited releases vying for your attention. I WAS RUNNING… This is the Box Office Battlefield:
The Maze Runner (Wes Ball) Rated PG-13 [113 min] – Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape. Starring Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Kaya Scodelario
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 62% • Audience – 82%
Despite what the RT score tells you, I would swing more toward the audience’s reception. Although there may be a lot that goes over your head toward the ending that just assumes you’re interested in a sequel, The Maze Runner is a pretty solid film adapted from a young adult fiction book. There have been a sea of terrible YA book adaptations geared toward the female audience with conflicted love stories, but The Maze Runner doesn’t pull any punches with its bizarre premise and sci-fi roots. The Maze Runner has a lot of great action beats, a colorful cast of characters, and a mystery that is rather intriguing to follow. It’s not a movie that demands your attendance, but it is a fun watch. MATINEE IT!
This Is Where I Leave You (Shawn Levy) Rated R [103 min] – When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne, and Adam Driver
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 45% • Audience – 69%
“This comedy about a death is a funeral for the audience. But, hey, here’s your chance to sit shiva with an all-star cast.” – Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
“The movie’s painless. It’s OK. And with this cast, OK is disappointing.” – Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)
I have never read the book, but for those who have had told me that it is a good read. However, those that have seen the film, the reception has been pretty lackluster; even with that cast. This is Where I Leave You reminds me of a less melodramatic version of August Osage County. I’m not sure if it’s me, but I’m seeing a trend of family reunion movies that walk the same beats. The most appealing point of this film is the cast, but it would appear that not even they can save the movie from cliché tropes. RENT IT!
A Walk Among the Tombstones (Scott Frank) Rated R [113 min] – Private investigator Matthew Scudder is hired by a drug kingpin to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife. Starring Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Briana Marin, and Boyd Holbrook
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 66% • Audience – 65%
“A Walk Among the Tombstones is your standard, traditional Noir flick; in other words, it feels pretty dated.” – Kofi Outlad (ScreenRant)
“No wild plot twists or elaborate genre deconstructions, just good old-fashioned sleuthing and gritty New York ambiance par excellence.” – Matt Singer (The Dissolve)
Another gritty Liam Neeson movie. His typecast has ultimately set up what we can come to expect from one of his films. Action, threatening, car chases, running, and guns. There really isn’t much to takeaway from all of it and they have become so one note. I can’t really recommend this film on good faith. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
Tusk (Kevin Smith) [Limited-ish] Rated R [102 Min] – A man is captured by a maniac and tortured, physically and mentally, into becoming a walrus. Starring Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, and Justin Long
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 40% • Audience – 68%
“Tusk, based on one of Kevin Smith’s Smodcasts, smakes a strong case for a smintervention.” – Vince Mancini (FilmDrunk)
“Like most self-conscious attempts at a “midnight movie,” Tusk lacks the conviction that would make it anything more than an outré curiosity; it’s essentially a filmed dare, combined with fan service.” – Mike D’Angelo (AV Club)
Either your on board the Kevin Smith train or your not. I don’t bother involving myself in the cascade of drama behind his career and his critical reception. When I see a film I do my best to separate that noise and focus on what’s in front of me and how it’s presented. With that said, I haven’t seen Tusk yet, but I think it looks bizarre enough to give it a whirl; if you’re down for that sort of thing. RENT IT! If not, and you just want to see where the rabbit hole of Kevin Smith’s career has gone since his golden age, WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
Hector and the Search for Happiness (Peter Chelsom) [Limited] Rated R [114 min] – A psychiatrist searches the globe to find the secret of happiness. Starring Rosamund Pike, Simon Pegg, Stellan Skarsgård, and Toni Collette
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 29% • Audience – 62%
“The film manages, impressively, to be both crushingly banal and offensive in its use of cultural stereotypes.” – Leslie Felperin (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Despite the gusto its star brings to the role, it’s hard to ride shotgun on Hector’s voyage of discovery.” – Olly Richards (Empire Magazine)
And here I thought Simon Pegg could break away from his comedic path and begin his dramatic future. We know him from Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead; Hot Fuzz; The World’s End), but Pegg has branched out to some lighthearted dramatic roles that haven’t seen much light of day. They haven’t really excelled his career, but it’s great to see the actor try new things. Hector looks like a less stylistic version of Walter Mitty, with less pizazz and more Simon Pegg. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
The Zero Theorem (Terry Gilliam) [Limited] Rated R [107 min] – A computer hacker whose goal is to discover the reason for human existence continually finds his work interrupted thanks to the Management; namely, they send a teenager and lusty love interest to distract him.Director:Terry GilliamStars:Christoph Waltz, Lucas Hedges, Mélanie Thierry, David Thewlis
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 53% • Audience – 46%
“This “Theorem” is all sizzle, zero steak.” – Gary Goldstein (LA Times)
“It’s bonkers and brilliant, folding in pop culture icons with classical influences.” – Kristy Puchko (CinemaBlend)
Gilliam has called it his third part of a dystopian trilogy. Starting with Brazil and then 12 Monkeys, we now have The Zero Theorem. There is a certain patience you must take with you when watching one of Gilliam’s movies ((The Fisher King; The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; The Brothers Grimm). But with that said, his out of the box films do reward you most of the time. The critical reception of The Zero Theorem is rather mixed, but I would attempt to MATINEE IT! if you’re a fan of his work, otherwise WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
The Guest (Adam Wingard) [Limited] Rated R [99 min] – A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence. Starring Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, and Maika Monroe
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 93% • Audience – 79%
“The Guest transcends the genre with characters who could have come out of a more serious movie. When they’re in peril, we actually care.” – Amy Nicholson (LA Weekly)
“Together with the writer Simon Barrett, whose canny scripts flip and swerve at unexpected moments, Mr. Wingard is building a résumé that pays at least as much attention to character and story as it does to scares and body count.” – Jeanette Catsoulis (New York Times)
After the two V/H/S films and You’re Next, I am very enthusiastic to see what Adam Wingard has here with The Guest. As you can see the critics are adoring this thriller while audiences are so-so, which I can see based on Wingard’s sense of storytelling. If You’re Next wasn’t your cup of tea, then you might struggle a bit here. The Guest is, however, a step away from horror as it seems, and more to the tune of an action-thriller. I think the tension the trailer builds sets itself up to be a wonderful time in theaters. SEE IT!
Based on the three wide releases this weekend, there is quite the divide in what to see. The Maze Runner is a PG-13 young adult action movie that may have the older crowd avoiding based on the baby faced stars. Regardless, the popularity of the books will draw a more youthful crowd, especially with MTV’s Teen Wolf Dylan O’Brien front and center. Enough people have problems with their families and don’t need to bother seeing it on screen, and the critical reception could deter audiences from seeing This is Where I Leave You. And then Tombstones, no one will really care to see another Liam Neeson movie and will wait for it to come out on FX. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend shall be:
Winner: The Maze Runner
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