Box Office Battlefield: Focus vs. The Lazarus Effect

Box Office Battlefield Focus vs. The Lazarus Effect

The weekend warriors of February 27, 2015 includes Focus and The Lazarus Effect. 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, although it dropped a staggering 74% in attendance, Fifty Shades of Grey still managed to give the new releases a run for their money. As for this weekend, there are two big contenders looking to uproot Fifty Shades. Blumhouse is looking to deliver their first supernatural thriller of the year and Will Smith seeks redemption for After Earth. As they say, “Sometimes dead is better.” This is the Box Office Battlefield:

Focus 2015 Movie Title Logo

Focus (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) Rated R [104 min] – In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s latest scheme, a woman from his past – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up and throws his plans for a loop. Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, and Adrian Martinez

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 58% • Audience – 65%

What I’m saying:

There are not many movies better than Focus that can deliver such a bland product within an interesting world such as the one it inhabits. It feels like two completely different movies hanging together by a thread. Everything is very loosely structured with little direction. Sprinkled throughout the first half of this film are moments that really make the world of these con artists fun and engaging, but they last very shortly and are interrupted by either long periods of exposition or a montage recapping what we just witnessed, explained in great detail. There is also a terribly prolonged scene with BD Wong that is completely out of place and could have been completely removed. Focus is daunting and highly tedious to sit through. With its length, it feels as though it was three hours long. Will Smith and Margot Robbie work well together, but the rest of the cast is overshadowed and underdeveloped. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

The Lazarus Effect Movie Title Logo

The Lazarus Effect (David Gelb) Rated PG-13 [83 min] – A group of medical students discover a way to bring dead patients back to life. Starring Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, and Sarah Bolger

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 14% • Audience – 36%

What I’m saying:

As much as I admire Blumhouse’s dedication to produce low budget horror movies for wide release audiences, I think they need to put a little extra care on some of their projects to develop the stories better. Nothing in The Lazarus Effect feels terrifying or fresh. It’s a struggle to find anything alluring about this predicament because you’re always 10 steps ahead of the characters, all of which, despite a wonderfully chosen cast, are vapid and thinly written. Due to the low budget, the movie takes place in a single location for about 85% of the movie, presenting a sense of claustrophobia, not because it’s close quarters, but because you want to see something different from the white walls and glass windows. Nothing that Gelb uses within the laboratory is shot cleverly enough to make the environment feel threatening. And to top it all off, the climax is just uninventive. Lazarus Effect briefly ponders the polarizing question about the existence of heaven or hell, giving the film a sense of moral fiber and a theme to grab onto, but is thrown away in favor of cheap scare tactics. SKIP IT!

Maps to the Stars Title Movie Logo

Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg) [Limited] Rated R [111 min] – A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts. Starring Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 65% • Audience – 52%

What they’re saying:

“Moore delivers the film’s most consistently, fascinatingly insecure performance, embodying an entire industry’s desperation and determination within the fraying persona of a nearly-there has-been.” – William Goss (Film School Rejects)

“For a movie that has so many problems, it is one of the more watchable ones.” – Jordon Hoffman (Film.com)

What I’m saying:

David Cronenberg can be a bit unaccessible to general audiences when he wants to be; case in point Cosmopolis. But A Map to the Stars seems a little more grounded and easier to digest. However, from what I’ve seen from the trailers, it still has that existential Cronenberg vibe that only works for the art house enthusiasts. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

Everly Title Movie Logo

Everly (Joe Lynch) Rated R [92 min] – An action/thriller centered on a woman who faces down assassins sent by her ex, a mob boss, while holed up in her apartment. Starring Salma Hayek, Jennifer Blanc, Uros Certic, and Togo Igawa

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 40% • Audience – 36%

What they’re saying:

“Everly has the heaving, bloody bosoms of an exploitation flick, yet Hayek gives the character powerful dignity. She’s no victim, nor an off-the-shelf ‘strong woman.'” – Amy Nicholson (LA Weekly)

“There isn’t much music to be made by mashing the same couple of notes, and the lack of variation gets to be a grind.” – Scott Tobias (The Dissolve)

What I’m saying:

As much enthusiasm as I’ve read about this film, it would appear there is just as much negativity towards it. Everly appears to be a fun, action thriller with Selma Hayek absolutely dominating with her kick ass person. But from what I gather, the movie is rather meager in substance. It doesn’t look like it quite reaches the entertainment level of John Wick, but it would still be a fun watch with a group of friends. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

As much fun as it was, Fifty Shades of Grey had its run and those who wanted to see it have already done so. The Lazarus Effect has some pretty vile reviews directed toward it, and those are going to hurt its chances to win the weekend. Will Smith has some star power left, and the marketing makes the film seem more fun than it actually is. And Margot Robbie, with her newly cast role as Harley Quinn, will generate some butts in seats. However, I’m afraid word of mouth and poor reviews will keep its earning potential low. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:

Winner: Focus


You can follow me on the Twitters @TyRawrrnosaurus

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

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