Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of May 22, 2015 includes Tomorrowland and Poltergeist, as well as 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, Pitch Perfect 2 blew away all expectations as the film made more in its debut than the original did in its entire domestic run in 2012. Girl power ran strong with both PP2 and Mad Max: Fury Road with a strong weekend at the box office, and this Memorial Day weekend looks no different. With two new big releases, both of varying genres, moviegoers will have a lot of options over the holiday weekend. Will the future be bright for Disney or will a horror remake scare folks into theaters? They’re here! This is the Box Office Battlefield:
Tomorrowland (Brad Bird) Rated PG [130 min] – Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory. Starring George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, and Raffey Cassidy [Watch the trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 49% • Audience – 66%
If box office trends have taught us anything, original science fiction features don’t fare well with general audiences. We’ve grown accustom with so many sequels and adaptations that it’s almost bizarre to see an original story. Tomorrowland, as refreshing as the experience is, Tomorrowland has as many wonders as it does faults. The movie gets very clunky in its third act, but the steps in getting there are quite fun to behold. Up and coming Raffey Cassidy is rather enjoyable to see in between the two main leads, Clooney and Robertson, who make an interesting on-screen dynamic together. It’s definitely has some positive vibes, but is mostly half-baked. RENT IT!
Poltergeist (Gil Kenan) Rated PG-13 [93 min] – A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive. Starring Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kennedi Clements, and Saxon Sharbino [Watch the trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 37% • Audience – 41%
Viewing the film on its own merits, the Poltergeist remake is absolutely adequate as a horror movie. It’s quick to get on to the good stuff and doesn’t back down from trying new ways to tell this story. Nonetheless, this is a completely unnecessary remake that doesn’t quite live up to the caliber of the original. Sam Rockwell is hilariously awesome, per usual, and I actually didn’t mind the little kids either – they grow on you. The scares feel like they’re going down a check list to make sure they get everything in from Tobe Hooper’s 1982 classic. I guess if you haven’t seen it, this would make for an OK horror movie experience. RENT IT!
When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi) [Limited] Rated PG [103 min] – A young girl is sent to the country for health reasons, where she meets an unlikely friend in the form of Marnie, a young girl with flowing blonde hair. As the friendship unravels it is possible that Marnie has closer ties to the protagonist than we might expect. Starring Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Nanako Matsushima, and Susumu Terajima
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 84% • Audience – 87%
“It’s a quiet film of modest narrative ambitions and simple shifts, but its technical and visual ambitions couldn’t be higher.” – Tasha Robinson (The Dissolve)
“Wistful and stirringly humane, When Marnie Was There isn’t one of Ghibli’s greatest films, but it’s emblematic of their collective greatness. In a way, that’s the most perfect thing it could be.” – David Ehrlich (Time Out)
This latest Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke; Spirited Away; Howl’s Moving Castle) feature looks like some kind of fantasy crossover of a Nicholas Sparks film. Based on the caliber of stories the animation power house is known for, I’m sure When Marnie Was There continues its incredible legacy. Based on the reviews above, it sure looks this way. SEE IT!
Aloft (Claudia Llosa) [Limited] Rated R [112 min] – Aloft tells of a struggling mother who encounters the son she abandoned 20 years earlier. Starring Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Mélanie Laurent, and Oona Chaplin
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 8% • Audience – 50%
“Llosa’s tableaus are also striking – there is a suggestion here that this is an impoverished, futuristic wasteland – but their back story is elusive to the point of meaninglessness.” – Sara Stewart (New York Post)
“Even those incapable of getting ahead of the film’s big reveal … will probably lose interest before all the cards are laid on the table. What’s really been withheld, in this dreary drag of a movie, is a reason to care.” – A.A. Dowd (AV Club)
I can handle slow burn stories, but Aloft looks like it lacks any kind of reward at the end of the journey. Kind of like Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, Lost River, but with even more art-house ambiguity. I enjoy all the actors involved, however if the content isn’t strong enough to support its cast you can see it crumbling before your eyes. That never bodes well for something as boring as Aloft looks. SKIP IT!
Pitch Perfect 2 made so much money last weekend, almost more than it deserves (my review), but it will definitely have legs over the long weekend. But don’t count out Mad Max: Fury Road (my review). There’s been so much unexpected advocacy for the movie that the word of mouth is sure to keep it afloat for its second weekend too. Tomorrowland is so different many might not be too enthusiastic to try something original, even with Clooney’s involvement; Robertson isn’t exactly a leading lady yet too. And there’s been so much undeserved, scathing reviews toward Poltergeist that it would be hard-pressed to believe that moviegoers will seek out a horror remake. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:
Winner: Pitch Perfect 2
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Movie synopses courtesy of IMDb.com and Tomatometer Scores from Rotten Tomatoe