Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of April 10, 2015 includes The Longest Ride and two limited releases. Box Office Battlefield is here to help you decide which movie(s) will take priority over the others and determine who will be victorious. Should you see ’em, skip ’em, or rent ’em? Find out after the break.
Last weekend, Furious 7 drove off with moviegoers money gleefully as the most successful opening of the franchise. Crushing its predecessor’s opening by $50 million. Overall, the film earned almost $400 million in its first weekend worldwide. Other properties stood no chance against the juggernaut of a blockbuster the franchise has become. And it may be the same story this weekend. Does another Nicholas Sparks movie have a shot of upsetting the reigning champ outside of its regular Valentine’s Day weekend spot? If you’re a bird, I’m a bird. This is the Box Office Battlefield:
The Longest Ride (George Tillman Jr.) Rated PG-13 [139 min] – The lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man as he reflects back on a lost love while he’s trapped in an automobile crash. Starring Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, and Jack Huston
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 27% • Audience – 67%
What I’m saying:
Far more subtle in its sappiness and less tragic than most of his previous stories, The Longest Ride, however, is a collection of Nicholas Sparks’ greatest hits all bundled up into one. The formula consists of an old man telling stories; two sets of couples, with both pairs from different worlds; one person from each couple has a disabling issue that holds them back from love; a disapproving parent; war tragedy; steamy sex initiated from kissing while drenched in water; heartbreak; loss; a twist; and of course a happy ending.
Yes, Sparks films utilize the same tropes over and over again in different scenarios, and the dialogue can be pretty much eye-rolling at times, but I found The Longest Ride to be far more tolerable than The Fault in Our Stars, a film that felt overly pretentious and too cool for school. I’m not sure why critics and even some audiences are giving this film completely scathing reviews. The Longest Ride is definitely passable as a coherent piece of cinema. I’m sure if none of them had ever seen a romance film before they would praise it, but that’s territory comes with the business.
I do believe Sparks needs to evolve his storytelling, he would slay audiences in the ’90s if these films released then. His tropes are well played out and his dialogue can make my eyes completely roll out of my skull. Regardless, he is a master at developing almost unbelievably fantastical romances that produce squee inducing wish fulfillment from audiences.
The relationships between both couples feels fairly contrived, but their chemistry as actors works reasonably well. I went in with very low expectations and was surprised that Tillman Jr. was able to tie both plots together well enough for it to make sense. Both narrative paths could have easily been two separate movies on their own. Some fine tuning could have made certain moments less redundant. My biggest complaint against the movie is that it doesn’t mind taking its time. We hardly get romcoms that are two hours. The Longest Ride works on some levels that will capture the hearts of hopeless romantics, but those seeking something fresh will find it elsewhere. RENT IT!
Ex Machina (Alex Garland) [Limited] Rated R [108 min] – A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I. Starring Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Sonoya Mizuno
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 89% • Audience – 88%
What they’re saying:
“Might not be the first film about the dangers inherent in giving robots free will, but it’s certainly one of the most accomplished.” – Scott Weinberg (Nerdist)
“It’s a very smart movie and seems to almost be cognitive of what the audience is thinking … one of the best pure sci-fi movies to come out in a very long time.” – Mike Ryan (Uproxx)
What I’m saying:
From all the positive headlines that I’ve read, I’m really looking forward to seeing Ex Machina once it becomes available in my area. Oscar Isaac is a complete chameleon and is a tour de force in any role he embodies. The concept is not unfamiliar as Weinberg states above, but I believe from what I’ve seen in the trailers that the execution is superb. The tone is dark and just within the marketing there is an eerie vibe that just sets itself up as an interesting time at the movies. SEE IT!
Lost River (Ryan Gosling) [Limited] Rated R [95 min] – A single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town.Director:Ryan GoslingStars:Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ronan
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 30% • Audience – 45%
What they’re saying:
“Lost River comes across as the work of a poseur, but it’s not that far away from being the striking, left-field cult vision Gosling clearly hoped it would be. ” – Scott Tobias (The Dissolve)
“Ryan Gosling wanted to make an art film and, despite some dull patches, pretty much succeeded.” – Jordan Hoffman (Film.com)
What I’m saying:
I can’t say I’m too confident in Ryan Gosling’s directing abilities as much as his stellar performances. The man is quite mysterious outside of his films and press interviews, and he seems like he could be a wild card behind camera. I’m intrigued by what he is capable of doing, but I am not going in with any sort of high expectations. It looks artsy fartsy, almost too much, that his direction could be muddled by his style. NETFLIX IT!
Like I said, not releasing during Valentine’s Day weekend may hurt The Longest Ride’s chances to become a big earner. The last Nicholas Sparks movie, The Best of Me, released last year in November and only earned $26 million domestically. Safe Haven had a V-Day release and it wound up earning $71. Star power could also play a factor as The Lucky One and The Last Song both saw domestic grosses in the $60 million range. But with that said, Furious 7 has been keeping a steady track of around $10 million per day over this past week. But hey, romantics may want a straight love drama rather than sweaty, muscly men this weekend, right? So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:
Winner: Furious 7
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