Box Office Battlefield: Steve Jobs, Paranormal Activity 5, Jem and the Holograms, The Last Witch Hunter, and Rock the Kasbah

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious cinematic battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of October 23, 2015 includes Steve Jobs, Paranormal Activity 5, Jem and the Holograms, The Last Witch Hunter, Rock the Kasbah, and I Smile Back. Box Office Battlefield is here to help you decide which movie(s) will take precedence over the others while also taking a look at which will come out on top.

Last weekend, Goosebumps delivered nostalgic thrills for late ’80s and early ’90s babies while Crimson Peak and Bridge of Spies faltered to find audiences. With five new wide release contenders vying for the number one spot this weekend, it’s going to be a brutal showdown. The odds are practically stacked against each other. It’s going to be truly outrageous.

Should you see ’em, skip ’em, or rent ’em?

This is the Box Office Battlefield:

Steve Jobs 2015 Movie Title Logo

Steve Jobs (Danny Boyle) Rated R [122 min] – Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Katherine Waterston

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 85% • Audience – 79%

My review:

Steve Jobs is an absolute tour de force. I was swept away by the top notch dialogue and acting. Danny Boyle directs the hell out of this film, presenting it in a well-crafted three act structure like you would see in a play. It’s sharp and fast for a movie where all you have are people talking to each other. I was on the edge of my seat at all times hanging on to every word of Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay perfectly delivered by Hollywood’s finest.

And although this is all incredible to behold, it doesn’t feel entirely organic. It would be hard to find people in real life who could talk like these characters, at the pace they bounce off each othter and with such wit. Regardless, the flurry of talent involved putting this cinematic achievement together is well worth the time spent watching it unfold before you. SEE IT!

Paranormal Activity The Ghost Dimension 2015 Movie Title Logo

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Gregory Plotkin) Rated R [88 min] – Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family must protect their daughter from an evil entity with a sinister plan.Director: Stars: Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, and Dan Gill

 Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 15% • Audience – 39%

My review:

There must have been something in the water I was drinking before seeing The Ghost Dimension because the 3D gimmick for the final Paranormal Activity movie had me giddy with excitement. I was actually captivated by its use, practically the last ditch effort to revitalize this tired franchise.

The story itself is lackluster and uninventive. It’s nice that they wanted to tie everything together in one ambitious story, but its many parts did not benefit the whole. Since the original and very subtle flick, the PA series has evolved into your typical loud mainstream horror with an over abundance of fake scares and an over opportunistic sound mixer. There’s more tension in silence than that white noise they’ve produced that slowly builds to a boom. It’s annoying and all that sound leading up to the big action beat feels empty compared to when the scares and frights really mean something.

The Ghost Dimension is unsatisfactory, and the fact that they consider this a ghost story when in fact they’ve said all along it’s about demons and witches boggles my mind. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

Jem and the Holograms 2015 Movie Title Logo

Jem and the Holograms (Jon M. Chu) Rated PG [118 min] – As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden.Starring Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Molly Ringwald, and Juliette Lewis [Watch the Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 20% • Audience – 51%

My review:

Despite not following the beloved original ’80s cartoon, Jem and the Holograms is fairly competent in its ability to tell a complete story. However, it feels constrained, plays it too safe, and has very weak character development. It’s an average movie that doesn’t know exactly what it wants to be. On one hand it wants to be fun, wacky, and childish like a cartoon, but at the same time it has a very adult feel to it that caters to CW/ABC Family audiences.

I strangely enjoy the music, but in the context of the story when the original songs sung by the band are played too on the nose and don’t work authentically. The girls have a good rapport with one another, but I feel they were all under utilized with little depth to feel any attachment or resonance. RENT IT!

The Last Witch Hunter 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Last Witch Hunter (Breck Eisner) Rated PG-13 [106 min] – The last witch hunter is all that stands between humanity and the combined forces of the most horrifying witches in history. Starring Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 15% • Audience – 54%

Their reviews:

“The Last Witch Hunter aims for pulpy, comic-book fun, but it’s never as fleet, funny, or detailed as it needs to be. If you’re looking for something above middling in terms of plot, characters, [or] world-building, you’ll need to seek it elsewhere.” – Inkoo Kang (The Wrap)

“The screenplay by a trio of writers is muddled and goofy and riddled with clichés.” – Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)

My take:

Sounds like The Last Witch Hunter is a big bowl of nope. I had a sliver of hope hiding somewhere inside me that wanted this to be so wacky that it would make for an entertaining time. But from what I’ve gathered from the reviews, Witch Hunter is so bad it’s not worth even a first glance. SKIP IT!

Rock the Kasbah 2015 Movie Title Logo

Rock the Kasbah (Barry Levinson) Rated R [100 min] – A down-on-his-luck music manager discovers a teenage girl with an extraordinary voice while on a music tour in Afghanistan and takes her to Kabul to compete on the popular television show, Afghan Star. Starring Bill Murray, Leem Lubany, Zooey Deschanel, and Bruce Willis

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 8% • Audience – 44%

Their reviews:

“Clichéd, enervating, insulting – it’s tough to settle on a single pejorative for “Rock the Kasbah,” though abysmal might do.” – Manohla Dargis (New York Times)

“A comedy that’s openly afraid to seem too sincere or too mawkish, and doesn’t fully commit either to its comedy or its uplift. Like Murray, it’s wry and presented largely in air quotes, with an accompanying eye-roll.” – Tasha Robinson (AV Club)

My take:

There was nothing within the trailer for Rock the Kasbah that caught my interest and it would appear that within the film itself critics couldn’t find anything to latch onto either. Which is sad, because I like Bill Murray, but the story gave him nothing particular enough to capture the actor’s many talents. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

I Smile Back 2015 Movie Title Logo

I Smile Back (Adam Salky) [Limited] Rated R [85 min] – Laney Brooks does bad things. Married with kids, she takes the drugs she wants, sleeps with the men she wants, disappears when she wants. Now, with the destruction of her family looming, and temptation everywhere, Laney makes one last desperate attempt at redemption. Starring Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Skylar Gaertner, and Shayne Coleman

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 44% • Audience – 52%

My review:

I am all in favor for Sarah Silverman continuing to push herself in new directions and to expand her career forward. Silverman gives a very heartfelt and earnest performance that would be surprising to most who are familiar with her raunchy, comedic side. However, I Smile Back isn’t the most capable movie to let her talents shine bright. The third act is a complete nightmare, back-peddling on themes and story arcs that make little sense for her character to revisit or take upon herself. There’s a lot of potential, especially with its poignant ending, but sadly I Smile Back’s sloppy character faults make me frown. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

In summation:

I feel that with so many movies releasing wide this weekend they’re all going to cancel each other out.

The Last Witch Hunter is expected to do big business with Vin Diesel at the forefront with all his Fast and Furious fame. But the movie looks too terrible and evoking too much genre that it will turn folks away. Case in point: Jupiter Ascending.

The only thing Rock the Kasbah has going for it is Bill Murray. Unfortunately, that isn’t the most deciding factor to see a movie these days.

Steve Jobs, no matter how wonderful it is, doesn’t have the appeal to grab the attention of demographics outside those who favor the actors, Steve Jobs himself, or awards season movies. Plus the recent Steve Jobs biopic with Ashton Kutcher is on Netflix.

I would like to think that Paranormal Activity will make the big bucks this weekend based on the franchise’s track record, but it’s only opening in 1,500 before it his VOD – a strange roll out Paramount is testing. The 3D might give it a decent push, but there’s been a lot of burnout for that medium.

Which leaves us with Jem and the Holograms. The first trailer set the bar really low with its varying tones. It may be hard for moviegoers to determine who Jem and the Holograms is intended for. It’s is all over the place and I doubt parents are going to take their kids to something that feels more adult thanks to its bizarre marketing.

Last weekend, Goosebumps and The Martian hit figures in the low twenties. With the buffet selection of movies to choose from this weekend, a previous winner could come out on top.

So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:

Winner: The Martian

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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