Box Office Battlefield: Unbroken, The Interview, Into the Woods, Selma, Big Eyes, and American Sniper

Box Office Battlefield Unbroken, The Interview, Into the Woods, Selma, Big Eyes, and American Sniper

The Christmas warriors of December 25, 2014 includes Unbroken, The Interview, Into the Woods, Selma, American Sniper, The Gambler, Big Eyes, and Two Days, One Night. 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, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took audiences by storm – because there was nothing else out – but this Christmas, it’s an all out war. Sleigh bells will be ring ding ding-a-linging as eight new contenders fight their way to the top. Merry Christmas you filthy animals! This is the Box Office Battlefield:

The Interview 2014 Movie Title Logo

The Interview (Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg) [Limited and VOD] Rated R [112 min] – Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapoport run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission. Starring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, and Randall Park

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 53% • Audience – XX%

What they’re saying:

“For all the controversy, in the end, the funniest thing about The Interview may be people’s ‘Is that what the fuss was about?’ response to the finished product.” – Kofi Outlaw (ScreenRant)

“Putting two American dinguses in North Korea is rich source material for racial stereotyping, but the jokes are, by and large, self-aware.” – Jordan Hoffman (Guardian)

What I’m saying:

I honestly don’t think there is anything to this movie and all the hubbub is a bit exaggerated. I’m sure it has some decent laughs, but it won’t nearly be as organic or funny as Neighbors or This is the End. The whole premise itself is just stupid and I’m surprised this even got green-lit. I’m definitely curious to see what it’s all about, but I wouldn’t let the hype of the controversy raise your expectations to greatness. MATINEE IT! (THEATER LIST) OR RENT IT ON VOD!

Unbroken Movie Title Logo

Unbroken (Angelina Jolie) Rated PG-13 [137 min] – After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he’s caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Starring Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson, and Garrett Hedlund

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 48% • Audience – XX%

What they’re saying:

“A dozen great movies could be made about the extraordinary life of Louis “Louie” Zamperini. The folly of this bland and broadly forgettable version is that it tries to be all of them.” – David Ehrlich (Little White Lies)

“Jolie is more fixated on gore than grace. In making us feel every crushing blow – the better to burnish her reputation as a serious director – we’re shortchanged on the beauty of Zamperini’s story.” – Amy Nicholson (LA Weekly)

What I’m saying:

The critics have some pretty scathing reviews. As Angelina’s sophomore directorial effort, Unbroken looks like your standard biopic with the sepia tone gloss of big budget Oscar bait. It looks like it was shot well and everything looks pretty, but from what I’ve read from the reviews the story of this man’s journey is severely lacking. RENT IT!

Into the Woods Movie Title Logo 2

Into the Woods (Rob Marshall) Rated PG [124 min] – A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree. Starring Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, James Corden, and Emily Blunt

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 73% • Audience – XX%

What they’re saying:

 “It’s a filmmaker and, by extension, an entire studio smartly and vividly understanding that genius need only be translated to a different medium, not tampered with.” – Robert Levin (Film School Rejects)

“This twisty fairy-tale mash-up shows an appreciation for the virtues of old-fashioned storytelling, along with a welcome dash of subversive wit.” – David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)

What I’m saying:

With this cast it’s kind of hard not to turn your nose to Into the Woods. I’ve never seen the musical, but all the elements for the film are in place. Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Sondheim, Disney, and Rob Marshall. I think what audiences may struggle to latch on to is the in your face themes delivered on a silver platter along with a overstuffed story filled with many different fairy tale characters. I’m sure the film is pretty enjoyable still, but I’m mostly concerned about the sing-talking. MATINEE IT!

The Gambler Movie Title Logo

The Gambler (Rupert Wyatt) Rated R [111 min] – Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett’s debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance? Starring Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, Brie Larson

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 52% • Audience – XX%

What they’re saying:

“The Gambler is a hollow, overwrought and glibly cynical remake of a ’70s drama about a self-destructive academic.” – Claudia Puig (USA Today)

“Its central flaw of having an unwatchable protagonist is simply too massive to ignore, and sours everything that comes as an extension of it.” – Eric Eisenberg (CinemaBlend)

What I’m saying:

I’m pretty sure we’ve seen this kind of story a thousand times over. Can’t we come up with something better for the “debt” genre. Why do they have to be so dower and convoluted? WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

Selma Movie Title Logo

Selma (Ava DuVernay) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [127 min] – Martin Luther King and the civil rights marches of Selma, Alabama, that changed the United States for ever. Starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, and Lorraine Toussaint

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

What they’re saying:

“Hollywood’s definitive depiction of the 1960s American civil rights movement – as well as perhaps the most timely movie you’ll see this year.” – Lou Lumenick (New York Post)

“Selma invites viewers to heed its story, meditate on its implications and allow those images once again to change our hearts and minds.” – Ann Hornaday (Washington Post)

What I’m saying:

Timely? Definitely. On purpose? Not at all. But it’s important to remember how far we have and have not come, and where we still need to go. I’m not big on biopics or period pieces, but from what I can tell, Selma seems to be the end all be all for movies based on MLK Jr. SEE IT!

American Sniper Title Movie Logo

American Sniper (Clint Eastwood) [Limited] Rated R [132 min] – Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind. Starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, E.R. Ruiz, and Luke Grimes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 72% • Audience – XX%

What they’re saying:

“American Sniper reflects its subject’s perspective-perhaps to a fault.” – Matt Singer (ScreenCrush)

“The result is not unlike watching a suspenseful but highly repetitive video game, especially since nearly every Iraqi is seen through Kyle’s highly perched rifle scope.” – Inkoo Kang (The Wrap)

What I’m saying:

Eastwood movies can be really hit or miss. The teaser trailer for American Sniper is absolutely incredible, and if the movie keeps up that tension I’m sure it will make for a wild ride in theaters. But something tells me, based on the reviews, that the narrative is a bit loose and kind of redundant. MATINEE IT!

Big Eyes Movie Title Logo

Big Eyes (Tim Burton) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [105 min] – A drama about the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s. Starring Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, and Jason Schwartzman

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 74% • Audience – XX%

What they’re saying:

“Instead of comic and dramatic provocation, “Big Eyes” settles for a pastel set of emotions lost in a primary color world.” – Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)

“Big Eyes is an entertaining, thought-provoking, and often insightful drama on the subject of art and authorship. However, it’s marred by an uneven approach.” – Daniel Krupa (IGN Movies)

What I’m saying:

I’m glad to see Tim Burton get away from his Burtoness here. No twisty trees, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, or daddy issues. Having him branch outside his comfort zone to tell a biopic of a painter with a complicated relationship is really unique for him and I’m rather interested to see how it all plays out. Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz’s chemistry looks to be all that and a bag of chips, so I look forward to seeing their performance on screen as well. MATINEE IT!

Two Days One Night Movie Title Logo

Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne) [Limited] Certificate PG-13 [95 min] – Sandra, a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job. Starring Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salée, and Batiste Sornin

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 93% • Audience – 79%

What they’re saying:

 “Two Days, One Night is a small miracle of a movie, a drama so purely humane that it makes most attempts at audience uplift look crass and calculated by comparison.” – A.A. Dowd (AV Club)

“Ms. Cotillard’s performance is as fine a piece of screen acting as you will ever see.” – A.O. Scott (New York Times)

What I’m saying:

Marion Cotillard’s performance has been receiving a lot of awards buzz this year. She is a wonderful actress and the story is quite different. It’s the simplest and most intimate of the bunch releasing this weekend. If you’re looking for a film that is more grounded and truly human, I would check out Two Days, One Night. SEE IT!

Four biopics this weekend, one musical, a foreign flick, a controversial comedy, and Mark Wahlberg. There are many, many choices this weekend. Seeing how Unbroken, Into the Woods, and The Gambler have the largest theater counts, and the rest with a limited release, I believe Into the Woods has the biggest chance for success. Although musicals do not receive the biggest draw, the film has Anna Kendrick and Meryl Streep, as well as Stephen Sondheim to back it up. Les Miserables did gangbusters a few years back and Frozen took the world by storm last year. Unbroken is rated PG-13 and The Gambler is rated R, whereas Woods is PG. It’s just the feel good movie of the holidays. It will be interesting to see how well The Interview does with it being released online though. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend shall be:

Winner: Into the Woods


Movie synopses courtesy of IMDb.com and Tomatometer Scores from Rotten Tomatoes

Find me on the Twitter @TyRawrrnosaurus

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