Box Office Battlefield: The Scorch Trials, Black Mass, and Everest

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of September 18, 2015 includes The Scorch Trials, Black Mass, and Everest, as well as a handful of 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, two low-budget films, The Visit and The Perfect Guy, battled it out in a close match up to gain supremacy. In a surprising turn of events, Perfect Guy beat out Visit by about $400 thousand. Do they have what it takes to fend off some heavy hitters this weekend? UNLEASH THE POWER OF APPLES! This is the Box Office Battlefield:

Maze Runner The Scorch Trials 2015 Movie Title Logo

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Wes Ball) Rated PG-13 [131 min] – After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.Director: Wes BallStars: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Ki Hong Lee, Dexter Darden, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Aidan Gillen, and Patricia Clarkson

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 49% • Audience – 69%

My review:

I’m highly impressed with director Wes Ball. For only being his second feature length film, his first being The Maze Runner, the man has an eye for adventure. Which is what predominately The Scorch Trials consists of. The plot of the movie is pretty thin, exhibiting little depth to build the post-apocalyptic world the story inhabits. But what it lacks in plot The Scorch Trials makes up for in action.

The biggest downfall of the series thus far is how they’re handling the lead character, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien). He’s a strong, emotive character, but the story isn’t giving us enough to completely understand his motivations. He has a very one track mind that isn’t very compelling, and it hurts the credibility of his sidekicks as they go along with him just because. We’ve gained more backstory from his gal pal Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) than anyone else in the entirety of both films.

With only one movie left in the trilogy – which is great because I’m sick of studios splitting up the last book of YA franchises just to make a quick buck– there needs to be more in order for us to root for Thomas, otherwise this will be a very disappointing trilogy because its premise has a lot of promise. MATINEE IT!

Black Mass 2015 Movie Title Logo

Black Mass (Scott Cooper) Rated R [122 min] – The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. Starring Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Jesse Plemons, Dakota Johnson, Adam Scott, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Corey Stoll, David Harbour, and Julianne Nicholson

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 76% • Audience – 80%

My review:

Full disclosure: if you put Johnny Depp in anything I’m going to be very unenthusiastic going in to a movie. His recent stints in makeup (The Lone Ranger; Alice in Wonderland; Into the Woods) and without (Transcendence; Tusk; Mortdecai) have been quite indigestible. With that said, I found Depp to be quite satisfactory as Whitey Bulger. I am happy to see the actor take a more grounded role that doesn’t call for any of his Depp-isms or any quirky behavior traits. Bulger is a straight up thug who played the system very well. And the rest of the cast are excellent too; although I couldn’t comprehend Benedict Cumberbatch’s Boston accent.

Be that as it may, I can’t help but find Black Mass to be your ordinary gangster film. There isn’t much to say about Bulger, what drives him, or anyone really. Black Mass has a very linear plot that recalls events from A to B rather than putting any kind of effort to provide perspective or depth to Bulger. This bland representation, and maybe that’s who he was, doesn’t make for an entertaining piece of cinema. RENT IT!

Everest 2015 Movie Title Logo

Everest (Baltasar Kormákur) [IMAX Only] Rated PG-13 ]121 min] – A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm. Starring Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright, and Martin Henderson

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 72% • Audience – 76%

Their reviews:

“Everest is a sobering character story packed with bravery, horror, and humility – as well as thrilling tension.” – Ben Kendrick (ScreenRant)

“Film has two big issues, one dramatic, one having to do with awful and stupid 3D conversion.” – James Verniere (Boston Herald)

My take:

Everest looks like a thrilling sit. It’s sad that the trailer had to explain the entire situation and leave no surprise for moviegoers. But the fact that the only way to see Everest is in a 3D IMAX theater makes me shudder to think what was going on in the minds of the studio execs who green-lit that decision. Is the gimmick of a 3D IMAX experience worth the trip to the theaters? I don’t personally think so. If Everest was presented in regular IMAX I would be more accepting, but 3D? Come on. MATINEE IT IF YOU TRULY HAVE TO SEE IT!

Sicario 2015 Movie Title Logo

Sicario (Denis Villeneuve) [Limited] Rated R [121 min] – An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, and Jon Bernthal

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 88% • Audience – 91%

Their reviews:

“Directed by Denis Villeneuve from a script by Taylor Sheridan, the film manages to somehow be sleek and sprawling, focused and cagey at the same time, often in the same scene.” – Mark Olsen (Los Angeles Times)

“Villeneuve, cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Jóhann Jóhannsson combine to make the action scenes gorgeous, scary and exciting, while the script by Taylor Sheridan is mordant and smart, with not a wasted word.” – Kyle Smith (New York Post)

My take:

Emily Blunt is unstoppable. There’s no other way in saying it. She is a Jill of all trades going from hardcore action to musicals and thrillers to dramas. What can’t she do? Sicario looks great and absolutely suspenseful with all the right tension. I have been avoiding the marketing as much as possible because I’ve heard really positive things. So when it comes to your town be prepared. SEE IT!

Cooties 2015 Movie Title Logo

Cooties (Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion4) Rated R [88 min] – A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school, transforming the kids into a feral swarm of mass savages. An unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives. Starring Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, and Alison Pill

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 36% • Audience – 60%

Their reviews:

“If Cooties subscribes slavishly to the conventions of teacher movies, it at least has fun with them.” – Nathan Rabin (AV Club)

“The engaging opening third of “Cooties” is enough to make the rest of the 96-minute film a mildly amusing diversion, but as the minutes roll by, you’ll wish the brains of the film had remained intact.” – Kevin Jagernauth (The Playlsit)

My take:

Cooties looks cute. A silly romp that you laugh at and with. Elijah Wood has been doing a lot of great work in the horror realm, and throwing him into the horror comedy genre makes me anticipate its release. However, the reviews are pretty negative, which doesn’t bode well and lessens my expectations, but I am still looking forward to seeing it regardless. RENT IT! 

Captive 2015 Movie Title Logo

Captive (Jerry Jameson) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [97 min] – A single mother struggling with drug addiction is taken hostage in her own apartment by a man on the run after breaking out of jail and murdering the judge assigned to his case. Starring Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Mimi Rogers, and Michael Kenneth Williams

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 35% • Audience – 69%

Their reviews:

“A Lifetime movie shoved into a cage and fattened with sermons and platitudes until it is ready to be served up cold and bland.” – James Rocchi (The Wrap)

“A credit-sequence television clip of Mr. Warren and the real Ms. Smith with Oprah Winfrey makes the entire movie feel like the strangest book infomercial in memory.” – Nicolas Rapold (New York Times)

My take:

Faith-based films have been running rampant lately. There was a huge surge last year, and the trend has only continued with each new success. Now equipped with A-list stars, Captive looks like it has the best intentions, but from what I’ve seen from the trailers the themes look inherently forced. I can’t get past it. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

Pawn Sacrifice 2015 Movie Title Logo

Pawn Sacrifice (Edward Zwick) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [114 min] – Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire. Starring Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Michael Stuhlbarg

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 80% • Audience – 76%

Their reviews:

“Edward Zwick’s “Pawn Sacrifice” is an enthralling piece of mainstream entertainment that captures the essence of Fischer’s mad genius, perfectly re-creates the tenor of the times AND works as a legit sports movie about the great game of chess.” – Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)

“There’s much to recommend it… thanks to some sharp lines from screenwriter Steven Knight and first-rate performances.” – Keith Phipps (Uproxx)

My take:

Where has Tobey Maguire been? I feel like he’s been running around in the shadows trying to get the taste of Spider-Man out of his mouth. Pawn Sacrifice seems like a well-crafted biopic that has a dark edge to it, something that brings a little more color into the genre. It doesn’t look like it is playing it safe or straight forward, so I’m intrigued. MATINEE IT!

First off, as exciting as Everest appears to be, I can only imagine it will make very little money because of the gimmick and the limited amount of IMAX screens to begin with. They go up the mountain, they go down the mountain. Not much to it. Although Johnny Depp’s performance is grand and at a high caliber we haven’t seen him at in years, Black Mass is nothing to run home about. Plus it’s rated R so you’re losing a lot of moviegoers there. And then we have The Scorch Trials, which is a PG-13 action flick based on a young adult book series starring a Teen Wolf hunk. There haven’t been a lot of big movies geared toward that tween/young adult genre in about a month since Ant-Man. With school back in session, The Scorch Trials seems like the perfect hangout movie for youths to enjoy. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:

Winner: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

What will you be watching this weekend? What did you think of the current releases? Tell us in the comment section below.


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

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