Box Office Battlefield: Fury, The Best of Me, and The Book of Life

Box Office Battlefield Fury, The Best of Me, and The Book of Life

The weekend warriors of October 17, 2014 includes Fury, The Best of Me, and The Book of Life, along with some 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, Gone Girl cleaned house over the many new releases. Into the arena this week are three new contenders vying for the top spot at the box office. One’s got fire power while the other two fight for true love. Which will stand come out victorious? The first rule about Tank Club is you do not talk about Tank Club! This is the Box Office Battlefield:

Fury 2014 Movie Title Logo

Fury (David Ayer) Rated R [134 min] – April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany. Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, and Scott Eastwood

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 76% • Audience – 85%

What I’m saying:

Fury is a whirlwind of intense action and suspenseful tank warfare. The cast does a stand out job to build honest chemistry among themselves while giving their characters individuality. Director David Ayer has a natural talent for pacing his battle scenes with gritty finesse and thrilling tension. But when he tries to infuse a little drama the movie drags at an unforgiving tempo. Although these moments provide a little extra color to our characters it doesn’t really help the plot move forward. And at a little over two hours, some extra meat could have been cut off in the final cut. Regardless, this is a well made, semi-ugly depiction of war which is a good watch on the big screen. SEE IT! (Watch the trailer)

The Book of Life 2014 Movie Title Logo

The Book of Life (Jorge R. Gutierrez) Rated PG [95 min] – Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears. Starring Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, and Danny Trejo

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 75% • Audience – 76%

What I’m saying:

If a simple children’s movie is what you seek then you’ll find it in The Book of Life. Playing up more of the whimsical fun and silly fantasy, The Book of Life doesn’t even come close to the level of storytelling Pixar or even Walt Disney Animation Studios have been churning out. They utilize a lot of convenience and contrived plot devices to move from point A to point B. All of the characters were very surface level too. Despite the crude and literal wooden animation, it is very colorful and intricate. I just couldn’t get past the unresponsive character models and ugly boxy designs. But the biggest offender is the use of current pop culture influences. When movies like this or Shrek do this when the story takes place in another world or period in time that really grinds my gears. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

The Best of Me 2014 Movie Title Logo

The Best of Me (Michael Hoffman) Rated PG-13 [117 min] – A pair of former high school sweethearts reunite after many years when they return to visit their small hometown. Starring Michelle Monaghan, Liana Liberato, James Marsden, and Luke Bracey

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 6% • Audience – 68%

What They’re Saying:

“As misguided and overemotional as a drunk high-school production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and just as weirdly, unintentionally entertaining.” – Tom Huddleston (Time Out)

What I’m Saying:

For Nicholas Sparks fans who were disappointed that this Valentine’s Day was without another one of his sappy trash adaptations fear not, The Best of Me is here to fulfill your empty heart. How audiences are still eating up this overly melodramatic and unrealistic depiction of love is beyond me. I’m sure Sparks is doubled over laughing wiping the tears from his eyes with your money. The Best of Me looks like one of the most cookie cutter of them all and I cannot imagine how audiences won’t see right through this one. SKIP IT!

Men Women & Children Movie Title Logo

Men, Women & Children (Jason Reitman) Rated R [119 min] A look at the sexual frustrations that young teenagers and adults face in today’s world. Starring Ansel Elgort, Adam Sandler, and Judy Greer

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 28% • Audience – 50%

What they’re saying:

“Men, Women & Children attempts to achieve the tone of Reitman’s early films, pirouetting between behavioral levity and dark melodrama, yet it often falls flat.” – Richard Corliss (TIME Magazine)

“Think a computer-driven, de-fanged Crash, without the ethnic diversity. Not exactly an epic fail, it could have used a reboot.” – Claudia Puig (USA Today)

What I’m saying:

I’m a little baffled at the critical response to Men, Women & Children. The trailers look really good; above and beyond what Disconnected tried to do. After Labor Day was a total disaster of a film, I was hoping Reitman could return to form to the director who gave us Up in the Air and Juno. I’ll have to see it for myself, which will hopefully not be as disappointing as reviews have made it out to be. RENT IT!

Birdman 2014 Movie Title Logo

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Alejandro González Iñárritu) [Limited] Rated R [119 min] – A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory. Starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, and Andrea Riseborough

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 93% • Audience – 88%

What they’re saying:

“Birdman – which Iñárritu wrote with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo – feels as broadly ambitious as Babel, his most widely watched work to date, but without the crushing burden of self-importance.” – Alison Willmore (BuzzFeed)

“How can you not be in awe of the sheer physical achievement, of the intricate choreography of the actors and the camera, of the gung ho performances? When it ends you go, “Whew!” It’s a triumph of vacuous virtuosity.” – David Edelstein (Vulture)

What I’m saying:

I’m really excited to see Birdman movie once it comes around to my area. Michael Keaton has been doing some really interesting work in his career lately and this looks like the icing on the cake. I really hope the film is as bizarre as the trailers make it out to be. SEE IT!

Dear White People Movie Title Logo

Dear White People (Justin Simien) [Limited] Rated R [100 min]   A satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular African American-themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in post-racial America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world. Starring Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon Bell, Kyle Gallner, and Dennis Haysbert

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 97% • Audience – 55%

What they’re saying:

“If Dear White People is Simien’s School Daze, complete with academic setting and DIY scrappiness, does that mean he has a Do The Right Thing in him, too?” – A.A. Dowd (AV Club)

“It’s been a while since a movie comedy dealt as directly and smartly with questions of racial identity as Dear White People does.” – Noel Murray (The Dissolve)

What I’m saying:

I don’t think there are enough in-your-face social commentary films these days that pack a certain punch like Dear White People accomplishes. Absolutely Blunt, I’m intrigued to see what the buzz at Sundance was all about. MATINEE IT!

The Town that Dreaded Sundown Movie Title Logo

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon) [Limited] Rated R [90 min] – 65 years after a masked serial killer terrorized the small town of Texarkana, the so-called ‘moonlight murders’ begin again. Is it a copycat or something even more sinister? A lonely high school girl, with dark secrets of her own, may be the key to catching him.Director: Starring Addison Timlin, Veronica Cartwright, Anthony Anderson, Travis Tope

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 60% • Audience – 67%

What they’re saying:

“This is no way to make a horror movie, and it’s no way to tamper with a horror movie that is trying to be so wildly different.” – Drew Taylor (IndieWire)

“Mostly, it’s a smartly written film that adds much-needed spark to a saturated market of endless movie rehashes.” – Rebekah McKendry (Fangoria)

What I’m saying:

It’s October and there haven’t been any good horror movies released this year. And I don’t think The Town that Dreaded Sundown is going to change that. Remakes can work fairly well if executed properly, and this looks like your average run of the mill horror remake. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX! 

Listen Up Philip Movie Title Logo

Listen Up Philip (Alex Ross Perry) [Limited] Unrated [108 min]  – Anger rages in Philip as he awaits the publication of his second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley, and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip’s idol Ike Zimmerman offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject: himself. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, and Krysten Ritter

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 88% • Audience – 55%

What they’re saying:

“Words do more than hurt, they also slash and burn in this sharp, dyspeptic, sometimes gaspingly funny exploration of art and life, men and women, being and nonbeing, and the power and limits of language.” – Manohla Dargis (New York Times)

“Perry doesn’t care to make his hero cute or conventionally redeemable in any way, and he doesn’t turn away from the emotional wreckage he leaves in his wake.” – Scott Tobias (The Dissolve)

What I’m saying:

What I’ve seen from Listen Up Philip makes me believe director Alex Ross Perry was trying to go for something to the tune of Woody Allen, but more pretentious and pandering to hipsters. I think the cast is there, but I’m not so sure about the plot and whether or not it can hold on to its smug attitude to make the film worthwhile. RENT IT!

Camp X-Ray Movie Title Logo

Camp X-Ray (Peter Sattler) [Limited] Rated R [117 min] – A soldier assigned to Guantanamo Bay befriends a man who has been imprisoned there for eight years. Starring Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, and Lane Garrison

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 63% • Audience – 69%

What they’re saying:

“Stewart’s strained stoicism bounces nicely off of Maadi’s winningly garrulous performance, which he has to give almost entirely through a small window in the door of Amir’s cell.’ – Mike D’Angelo (The Dissolve)

“Camp X-Ray already feels like a throwback to an earlier era, when Hollywood cared about what was going on at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for suspected Islamist terrorists.” – Kyle Smith (New York Post)

What I’m Saying

From the trailer, I gather this could be a real turning point for Stewart’s career. The story plays a little one note, but if director Peter Sattler is able to find the right beats and keep up the pacing for the film’s two hour run time, this could be a great drama. MATINEE IT!

The Tale of Princess Kaguya Movie Title Logo

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata) [Limited] Rated PG [137 min] – Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her – but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and James Marsden

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 100% • Audience – 81%

What they’re saying:

“With its delicate lines, understated palette and exquisite water color backgrounds, Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya ranks among the loveliest animated features of recent years.” – Charles Solomon (Animation Scoop)

“Distills a millennium of Japanese storytelling into a timeless film that feels both ancient and alive in equal measure.” – David Ehrlich (AV Club)

What I’m saying:

Kaguya looks absolutely stunning, plain and simple. You’ll have to really let mind go for this one, but if the plot is as fun and beautiful as the animation, I think there’s a good time to be had here. Plus it’s from Studio Ghibli, how could it go wrong? MATINEE IT!

Brad Pitt has a lot of appeal, but Shia LeBeouf’s recent shenanigans could keep audiences away from Fury. The Book of Life has family fun appeal, but the animation, although colorful, is literally blocky and not too visually appealing. And then The Best of Me will get those hopeless romantics out, but that market is too niche. I think war movies still have their big draw, and with such a diverse cast and positive reviews, Shia won’t be a big issue to deal with. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend shall be:

Winner: Fury

Movie synopses courtesy of and Tomatometer Scores from Rotten Tomatoes

Find me on the Twitter @TyRawrrnosaurus

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