Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of May 8, 2015 includes Hot Pursuit and three 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, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron dominated the box office as predetermined by the Hollywood gods. No virgin sacrifices could ever topple that titan head on, and no studios attempted to. But this weekend, Warner Bros. is hoping to chip away a little bit of the Avengers audience with a female led buddy movie. Can Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara unplug Ultron’s hopes for back-to-back weekend victories? Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed. This is the Box Office Battlefield:
Hot Pursuit (Anne Fletcher) Rated PG-13 [87 min] – An uptight and by-the-book cop tries to protect the outgoing widow of a drug boss as they race through Texas pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara, Matthew Del Negro, Michael Mosley, and John Carroll Lynch (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 7% • Audience – 46%
If you love the shrill of Sofia Vergara’s voice as she yells and accentuates every other word, then this may be the movie for you. If you want to see Reese Witherspoon in the most wooden, uncomfortable, and unlikable roles she’s ever portrayed, Hot Pursuit is right up your alley. If you want a movie that has unreasonably dumb with poorly written, one-dimensional characters, I’d say this film is your cup of tea. If you believe that movies should follow a certain, predictable path while inserting unrelenting wacky banter that doesn’t evolve the characters in the slightest, you’ve scored the jackpot. If you… well you get the picture. SKIP IT!
Maggie (Henry Hobson) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [95 min] – A teenage girl in the Midwest becomes infected by an outbreak of a disease that slowly turns the infected into cannibalistic zombies. During her transformation, her loving father stays by her side. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, and Laura Cayouette (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics –52% • Audience – 69%
“Schwarzenegger gives a solemn performance unlike anything he’s done in the past, and Breslin is even better as a girl who’s withering away.” – Scott Tobias (The Dissolve)
“The plot is lean, the dialogue is spare and there are some intriguing stabs at intellectual and emotional terrain. But the pacing is deadly, so slow there might be time for a catnap or two without missing anything important.” – Betsy Sharkey (LA Times)
As far as zombie movies go, you’re either tired of them or looking for one that is original. Warm Bodies was a nice spin on the genre, but most have just tried to emulate The Walking Dead phenomenon. Maggie has a bit of both going for it, where it is a pretty unique take on the zombie apocalypse while also being a character piece rather than a horrifying outbreak action horror. And the fact that it appears as though Arnold gives a good performance is very enticing. Sadly, critics and audiences are not too keen on its dreary pace and lack of plot. I’d give it a whirl at home. RENT IT!
The D Train (Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul) [Limited] Rated R [97 min] – The head of a high school reunion committee travels to Los Angeles to track down the most popular guy from his graduating class and convince him to go to the reunion. Starring Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, and Jeffrey Tambor (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics –46% • Audience – 49%
“So many comedies toy with the idea of the man crush, but always on one side of an invisible line. The D-Train just breezes right over the line like it was never there in the first place, and that’s truly beautiful.” – Vince Mancini (FilmDrunk)
“The ‘neither this nor that quality torpedoes any hope of accepting its characters and their far-fetched shenanigans as anything resembling real life. The result is a film as annoying as its lead character.” – Jordan Hoffman (Guardian)
I like the cast, James Marsden is great in comedy, but something about this story I find to be unappealing. Jack Black just doesn’t have the energy I’m use to seeing from him and that may be a turn off for audiences. The D Train doesn’t look fun or exciting or even funny, it just feels kind of bleh. It’s a pretty original story, which I’ll give them that, but nothing grabbed my attention in the trailer to make me say, “wow, now this I have to see.” Some critics are either elated upon their screening, but most are pretty down on it. Even audiences too. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
5 Flights Up (Richard Loncraine) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [92 min] – A long-time married couple who’ve spent their lives together in the same New York apartment become overwhelmed by personal and real estate-related issues when they plan to move away. Starring Diane Keaton, Morgan Freeman, Cynthia Nixon, and Carrie Preston (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics –65% • Audience – 100%
“The lead performances are so perfectly in sync that Alex and Ruth really feel like an old married couple who know each other’s foibles and cherish every tic.” – Stephen Holden (New York Times)
“5 Flights Up is far from perfect, but it’s also undeniably touching.” – Stephanie Merry (Washington Post)
This looks like a cute little romp with two great actors. The fact that they are portraying an interracial couple is pretty cool too. It’s something daring unlike other lighthearted romantic dramas old and new. Recently Margot Robbie and Will Smith gave audiences a taste, but there really haven’t been any films that feature this regular, everyday, real life occurrence. And the best part is, the trailer doesn’t even make a big deal out of it or even take note of it. I’d be interested in seeing it just for the leads, but 5 Flights Up looks like your better than average movie with an elderly couple looking to make a comfortable living for the rest of their lives. Nothing special, but ultimately sweet and endearing, because love. RENT IT!
As brave as Hot Pursuit is in attempting to take down the juggernaut that is Marvel Studios, Age of Ultron did achieve the second largest box office opening of all time domestically with $191 million last weekend. Movies tend to drop about 50% the following weekend too. But with such a small niche market to draw from I don’t think Hot Pursuit stands the chance to make more than $15 million this weekend, if that. However, Age of Ultron didn’t seem to gain as much praise as its predecessor. Now that Joss Whedon has left Twitter, folks who had not seen Age of Ultron may be interested in seeing the movie thinking it had something to do with it. Also, all of those people who watched the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, as well as the Derby, and those wanting to skip the ridiculous first weekend lines will more than likely be out to see Age of Ultron this weekend too. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:
Winner: Avengers: Age of Ultron
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Movie synopses courtesy of IMDb.com and Tomatometer Scores from Rotten Tomatoe