Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of October 16, 2015 includes Crimson Peak, Goosebumps, and Bridge of Spies, as well as a handful of limited releases such as Room, Meadowland, and Truth. 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, The Martian continued its voyage into the cinematic history books at number one while Pan absolutely bombed. With more a handful of big new releases this weekend, does Matt Damon stand a chance for a three-peat? Viewer, beware, you’re in for a scare! This is the Box Office Battlefield:
Goosebumps (Rob Letterman) Rated PG [103 min] – A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R.L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Greendale, Maryland. Starring Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, and Ryan Lee [Watch the Trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 72% • Audience – 77%
There is something magical about Jumanji that Goosebumps doesn’t quite have. While both films explore what happens when imaginary creatures terrorize a small suburban town and the only way to stop the madness is by sucking them back into an object by completing a task, Goosebumps doesn’t have the same amount of heart. The dialogue is fairly smart and there are some imaginative set pieces, but unfortunately the characters are very thin with little to offer, especially Ryan Lee’s Champ.
Jack Black is wonderful as R.L. Stine, however. He chews up every scene with a twinkle in his eye. It’s his best role since starring as the titular character in 2011’s Bernie. Rising stars Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush have decent chemistry together, but again, there isn’t enough depth behind each of their characters to really root for them.
With so much rich content to draw from the pages of Stine’s classic tales, many of the monsters get thrown to the wayside and are given little to do. Too much time is devoted to Slappy the Dummy, the Abominable Snowman, and the Werewolf of Fever Swamp. There were so many fun monsters to choose from that could have made Goosebumps more thrilling.
The biggest offense this movie offers is its lack in playing by the rules. The third act becomes such a hodgepodge of convenience in order to tie up loose ends that you’d think the screenwriters ran out of paper and had to finish the rest of the story by scribbling on napkins with crayons. RENT IT!
Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro) Rated R [119 min] – In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Charlie Hunnam [Watch the Trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 69% • Audience – 66%
Crimson Peak is an ambitious ghost story that fails to make its primary subjects as incredibly detailed as the film’s production design. The atmosphere and tone of the film is right where it needs to be, but the characters that inhabit this movie are too underwritten to gain an understanding of their motivations. Despite this hiccup, the actors who portray these ghastly weak characters act the hell out of this film.
The envisioned world that Guillermo del Toro has brought to life is highly commendable. From the “bleeding” walls of red clay to the twisty corridors of the manor, the visual spectacle relies too heavily on its sets and effects to create a chilling effect that it hopes you forget about asking bigger questions around the theme or the character’s actions. I wouldn’t be as quick as to call Guillermo del Toro the Michael Bay of horror movies, but all sizzle and no steak is what you’ll find with Crimson Peak. RENT IT!
Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg) Rated PG-13 [135 min] – An American lawyer is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union. Starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, and Amy Ryan [Watch the Trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 93% • Audience – 91%
Bridge of Spies delivers exactly what you’d come to expect from a Steven Spielberg biopic. Every aspect of this film is crafted to near perfection from the veteran filmmaker. As I’ve mentioned multiple times in the past, I’m not a period piece nor a biopic kinda guy. However, Tom Hanks is too enthralling not to be sucked in by his spectacular charisma and the cold war drama finds heart pounding tension with well-written dialogue polished by the Coen brothers.
Although Bridge of Spies is a little over two hours, I would have welcomed more scenes devoted to building the relationship between Tom Hanks’ and Mark Rylance’s characters to help make the ending feel a bit more earned. It’s not that their time isn’t valued, but with how complicated the situation is and how little time is spent with the two of them together, there isn’t enough proof to understand why Donovan is willing to do what’s right and defend Rylance’s Russian spy, Rudolf Abel. MATINEE IT!
Room (Lenny Abrahamson) [Limited] Rated R [118 min] – After 5-year old Jack and his Ma escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery: the outside world. Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, and Wendy Crewson [Watch the Trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 95% • Audience – 92%
Room is an impressive story of love, family, and courage. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, from an unlikely perspective that makes the traumatizing experience even more compelling. The heartfelt performances from all actors involved, especially from Brie Larson and Jacob Trembaly, are truly captivating. The brilliant dynamic between mother and son along with the dramatic undertaking they must endure is remarkably honest and poignant, but at the same time triumphant and humanizing. SEE IT!
Meadowland (Reed Morano) Rated R [105 min] – In the hazy aftermath of an unimaginable loss, Sarah and Phil come unhinged, recklessly ignoring the repercussions. Phil starts to lose sight of his morals; Sarah takes off on a potentially disastrous journey, falling deeper into her own fever dream. Starring Olivia Wilde, Luke Wilson, John Leguizamo, Ty Simpkins, Giovanni Ribisi, Juno Temple, and Elisabeth Moss [Watch the Trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 100% • Audience – 70%
Despite what the Tomatometer and only other 17 critics who gave Meadowland a pass are saying, this film is pretty much a waste of time. The screenplay is an absolute travesty littered with bizarre character motivations, ugly dialogue, and underutilized side characters that bring nothing to the story. The directors and actors did the best with what they were given, but even they couldn’t drag this story out of the mud. Meadowland tries very hard to bring depth to its themes through sadness porn, but it only fails miserably thanks in part to the little support given to justify the extremes it presents. SKIP IT!
Truth (James Vanderbilt) [Limited] Rated R [121 min] – Newsroom drama detailing the 2004 CBS 60 Minutes report investigating then-President George W. Bush’s military service, and the subsequent firestorm of criticism that cost anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes their careers. Starring Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, and Elisabeth Moss [Watch the Trailer]
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 64% • Audience – 48%
“Truth is fascinating and often exciting. But the film lacks the qualities of great drama that make it feel like it’s unfolding right in front of the audience.” – Noel Murray (AV Club)
“While it gives Robert Redford the opportunity to chew on scenery in the role of Rather, much of the movie cedes control to Cate Blachett, who turns Mapes into a brazen hero undone by the courage of her convictions.” – Eric Kohn (indieWIRE)
From what it seems, Cate Blanchett has given yet another awards caliber performance, but even she can’t hold up the entire weight of the movie on her shoulders. The story of Truth is no doubt fascinating and the trailer sells the movie well, so it’s sad to see that Truth is not at the level it wants to be. RENT IT!
Crimson Peak seems like the sure-fire winner that has the most to lose this weekend. It has a fun, haunted house vibe with a strong cast and spooky visuals perfect for Halloween. But don’t discount Goosebumps. Crimson Peak is rated R whereas Goosebumps PG. There hasn’t be a strong kid-friendly live action movie in quite some time, and Goosebumps has a delicious recipe for kids to enjoy. I’m sure there will be positive word of mouth and nostalgia fueling its first weekend out.
And then there’s Bridge of Spies, who bolsters a grand Tom Hanks performance. Along with its subject matter, Bridge of Spies makes a case to be a choice Oscar contender, which could draw out the elder demographics. But with that in mind it also limits the interest of potential of younger audiences.
So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:
What will you be watching this weekend? What did you think of the current releases? Tell us in the comment section below.