Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of July 17, 2015 includes Ant-Man and Trainwreck, as well as 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 below!
Last weekend, Minions were the clear winner, overshadowing its competition with a $115 million opening gross. Jurassic World came in second with only $18 million in its fifth weekend out, and Inside Out in its fourth weekend came in third with $17 million.
The kids had their fun, but two new challengers attempt to claim the top spot at the cinemas. With how hot of a streak Amy Schumer is on, can Judd Apatow walk away with the big W, or will Marvel Studios completely dominate the weekend per usual? I know a guy… This is the Box Office Battlefield:
Ant-Man (Peyton Reed) Rated PG-13 [117 min] – Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Peña [Watch the trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 80% • Audience – 91%
It feels like forever since we’ve had an origin story from Marvel Studios. Guardians of the Galaxy was released only a year ago, but that seemed more like a team up movie than how small and intimate Ant-Man feels in comparison – literally and figuratively. With Ant-Man, you get those origin story tropes. There’s a lot of setup, but director Peyton Reed and co. do a swell job establishing character and building the science behind a very difficult hero to market. Which is why I like the tone they’ve established to introduce Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).
The biggest gripe I have is the fact that Marvel continues to provide weak villains. Not since Loki have we had a complex bad guy that we can understand their plight and reasoning behind their madness. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is such a throwaway villain in that there’s very little surprise as to how this story will end.
I do believe that this is Marvel’s best foot forward in utilizing 3D as a fun inclusion into the movie going experience. The resizing animation of Ant-Man and creating the environments to show him to scale in large environments is really cool to see play out on the big screen in 3D. Also, not since Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will you ever feel so fondly for an ant. MATINEE IT IN 3D!
Trainwreck (Judd Apatow) Rated R [125 min] – Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy. Starring Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Lebron James, Tilda Swinton, and Colin Quinn
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 85% • Audience – 83%
After Judd Apatow’s lackluster attempt at a spin-off sequel, This is 40, the director has been more focused on the small screen with Lena Dunham in Girls. I have not seen an episode of it yet, but he’s been crushing it as far as I can tell. Returning to the silver screen, this is the first feature film Apatow has not written himself. In fact, Trainwreck was written by funny lady and now actress, Amy Schumer. One would assume the pairing of Schumer and Apatow would be a match made in comedy heaven, but the end result is not as progressive as you’d think.
From my experience, Trainwreck is a pretty funny movie. I laughed entirely throughout the course of its overly long run time. The story behind the romantic dramedy is too generic. I think it’s played too safe, with each plot point checking off a box from the rom-com tropes list. I was never surprised by anything I saw in Trainwreck, and ultimately despite how hilarious the jokes are, this movie is pretty unmemorable to me. The relationship between Amy and Aaron (Bill Hadar) is cute with decent chemistry and the supporting cast is good, especially Tilda Swinton. But really there is nothing I took away from this movie that differentiates itself from any other of its kind. MATINEE IT!
Irrational Man (Woody Allen) [LIMITED] Rated R [96 min] – A tormented philosophy professor finds a will to live when he commits an existential act. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, and Joe Stapleton
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 48% • Audience – 70%
“In its own strange, deliberate way the film does wind up feeling surprising, fresh even, as Allen finds new ways to explore some of his most longstanding preoccupations.” – Mark Olsen (Los Angeles Times)
“It’s a Woody Allen film that the next one will make us forget.” – Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal)
Another year, another Woody Allen movie. I am highly fond of the director and impressed that he can churn out a movie each year at his age, 79. Each of his films do feel inherently unique, but also kind of bland. They all have their own magic, which set them apart from one another to create a charming playfulness. However, the stories themselves he tells don’t feel as well crafted as the premise they’re based on. I would love to see what Woody could do if he took a little more time to knock out any kinks his films may have and give us something that we can be blown away by. I love what he can do with his actors and strong dialogue, I just would like more from his stories. And based on the reviews, Irrational Man isn’t his best work. RENT IT!
Mr. Holmes (Bill Condon) [LIMITED] Rated PG [104 min] – An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes looks back on his life, and grapples with an unsolved case involving a beautiful woman. Starring Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Hattie Morahan
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 85% • Audience – 70%
“Mr. Holmes is a solid (if unremarkable) period drama that is anchored by a great Ian McKellen performance as an old Sherlock Holmes.” – Sandy Schaefer (ScreenRant)
“The film’s plots are soft and flimsy, and they don’t mesh as gracefully as they might, but they do serve as an adequate trellis for Mr. McKellen’s performance, which is gratifyingly but unsurprisingly wonderful.” – A.O. Scott (New York Times)
Now this is an interesting concept when approaching Sherlock Holmes. I find it to be refreshing to see the character beyond his prime and reflect back on his crime solving days. And given that Ian McKellen is in front of the camera makes it all the more wondrous and captivating. Based on the reviews, I would say Mr. Holmes is fairly average with a strong performance that keeps your attention drawn to the screen. MATINEE IT!
The Stanford Prison Experiment (Kyle Patrick Alvarez) [LIMITED] Rated R [122 min] – Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Starring Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Billy Crudup, and Olivia Thirlby
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 78% • Audience – 81%
“Disturbing, honest and compelling, The Stanford Prison Experiment turns a well-known story into must-see storytelling, depicting the ugly truth through gorgeous filmmaking.” – James Rocchi (The Wrap)
“Even with some familiar faces, The Stanford Prison Experiment feels like an honest-to-goodness documentary – a high compliment for a movie based on an infamous college project.” – Brian Truitt (USA Today)
Based on the cast alone I am intrigued to see The Stanford Prison Experiment. I had never heard of this true tale before, but the idea of turning it into a film does captivate my imagination. Rarely do I find these kinds of films intriguing, but the experiment and the results sound fascinating. Based on the reviews, I would expect a very thrilling, chilling, and tension-filled two hours. MATINEE IT!
As we know, Minions absolutely dominated the box office last weekend despite its very low response critically. I think that may come back to bite them in the arse after many families enjoyed such a heartfelt tale in Pixar’s Inside Out. I’m sure there will be outliers who waited a weekend to avoid crowds, but Inside Out delivered a superior product and families will return to something original and strong rather than something played out and stale. Trainwreck is a hard, Rated-R adult comedy that isn’t quite targeted toward all audiences. It’s definitely going to draw in the female demographics, but men may stray away if they aren’t familiar or do not like Schumer’s blunt and honest humor. And then there’s Marvel’s Ant-Man, which is rated PG-13. It’s pretty light and funny, a strong female supporting star in Evangeline Lily, and it has a different vibe compared to the other big movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:
Movie synopses courtesy of IMDb.com and Tomatometer Scores from Rotten Tomatoes