Box Office Battlefield: Burnt, Scouts vs. Zombies, and Our Brand is Crisis

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious cinematic battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of October 30, 2015 includes Burnt, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, and Our Brand is Crisis. 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, The Martian capitalized on one of the busiest slated schedules of the year with five new wide releases vying for your attention, all of which largely under performed with The Last Witch Hunter, debuting fourth at the box office, making out the best with only $10.8 million. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension scavanged a meager $8.07 million landing sixth. Steve Jobs expanded to over 2,400 theaters after its successful limited run and only raked in $7.10 million. Rock the Kasbah and Jem and the Holograms both opened with some of the worst first weekend domestic hauls for movies in over 2,000 theaters. Rock the Kasbah placed 13th and grossed $1.47 million while Jem and the Holograms took in $1.37 million placing 15th.

With three new releases this weekend, two of which have Oscar potential while the other has the advantage of being a comedic horror just in time for Halloween, there’s a good chance the reigning champ could be dethroned. Can Bradley Cooper bat those blue eyes for top dollar? Will Sandra Bullock avoid a box office crisis? Or will a bunch scouts use their resources to to upset all expectations. Should you see ’em, skip ’em, or rent ’em?

This is the Box Office Battlefield:

Burnt 2015 Movie Title Logo

Burnt (John Wells) Rated R [101 min] – Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a Chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars. Starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl, and Riccardo Scamarcio [Watch the Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 29% • Audience – 57%

My review:

While Burnt offers a tremendous cast who all perform exceptionally well, the film makes little effort to develop an understanding in its characters’ motivations to work with or support Bradley Cooper’s Adam Jones. Though he is admittedly one of the greatest chefs to live in this world, and a certain level of respect is expected, I’m not convinced there is proof to believe why anyone would want to put themselves through the Hell’s Kitchen-like atmosphere for a man who has been absent from the industry for the past three years. I think that Burnt has a ton of potential, filled with unique characters who aren’t given enough to do, and a plot that that has all the ripe ingredients to be cinematically delicious. However, everything in Burnt is very surface level and there’s no rhyme or reason for us to care about Jone’s mission to redeem himself and earn his third Michelin star. There is more heart and better food porn in Chef. RENT IT!

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Movie Title Logo

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Christopher Landon) Rated R [93 min] – Three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak. Starring Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, and Sarah Dumont [Watch the Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 32% • Audience – 61%

My review:

I really believed that Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse had the potential to be greater than what the end product delivered. An infusion of both Superbad and Zombieland, two movies I highly enjoy, Scouts Guide is pretty average on all levels. The characters are your typical tripod: the outlandish and outspoken hothead, the socially awkward outcast, and the aloof kid next door who doesn’t know his potential. All the actors do well and fit their roles comfortably, but it’s all familiar. The set pieces are fresh, but the results are predictable. And although the premise is wildly different than most zombie movies, more often than not the film treads down paths we’ve seen a thousand times over. WATCH IT ON NETFLIX!

Our Brand is Crisis Movie Title Logo

Our Brand Is Crisis (David Gordon Green) Rated R [107 min] – An American woman, well-versed in political campaigns, is sent to the war-torn lands of South America to help install a new leader but is threatened to be thwarted by a long-term rival. Starring Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, and Joaquim de Almeida [Watch the Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 33% • Audience – 47%

Their reviews:

“The film becomes a Sandra Bullock vehicle, and while it’s buoyed by her typical comic aplomb, it loses sight of the bigger picture.” – Scott Tobias (NPR)

“[A] chaotic, scrappy, deeply cynical look at political puppet masters.” – Jordan Hoffman (Mashable)

My take:

Sandra Bullock joints have never captured my attention. I think she’s a fine actress who can fulfill most roles that are asked of her with grace and finesse. According to critics, the film doesn’t seem to takeoff despite it’s solid cast and general appeal surrounding its original documentary source material. The marketing spews out every beat, leaving little to the imagination. The biggest red flag that keeps me from getting on board with Our Brand is that I can’t seem to find an angle as to why Bullock’s character cares enough to back this government official’s campaign.RENT IT!

Freaks of Nature 2015 Movie Title Logo

Freaks of Nature (Robbie Pickering) [Limited] Rated R [Time N/A] – In the town of Dillford, humans, vampires and zombies were all living in peace – until the alien apocalypse arrived. Now three teenagers-one human, one vampire, and one zombie-have to team up to figure out how to get rid of the visitors.Starring Nicholas Braun, Mackenzie Davis, Josh Fadem, and Denis Leary [Watch the Red Band Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – XX% • Audience – 78%

Their reviews:

“Doesn’t offer connective tissue, bellylaughs, and scares. It’s just a shapeless creation that didn’t survive the production process, rendering a promising premise forgettable.” – Brian Orndorf (Blu-ray.com)

“There’s a whole lot of arid downtime in between the ostensibly colorful set pieces, and on the whole the movie seems like it was edited with a blender.” – Scott Weinberg (Nerdist)

My take:

Originally titled Kitchen Sink, I had hopes that this concept would prove to be a lot of fun and smarter than your average bear. Sadly, after watching the trailer I can’t say that Freaks of Nature looks anything beyond a terrible B-horror movie. The initial title says it all. It’s got everything jam packed into a little feature that has weak legs to stand on. There’s very little draw and looks like a jumbled mess. WAIT FOR IT ON NETLIX!

Love Gasper Noe Movie Title Logo

Love (Gaspar Noé) [Limited] [Rating N/A] [135 min] – Murphy is an American living in Paris who enters a highly sexually and emotionally charged relationship with the unstable Electra. Unaware of the effect it will have on their relationship, they invite their pretty neighbor into their bed. Starring Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman, Klara Kristin, and Juan Saavedra

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 52% • Audience – 49%

Their reviews:

“Noé clearly wants to chart his own path, but as his movie chronicles that desire rather than realizing it, Noé mainly succeeds at broadcasting his intentions. That’s an achievement in its own right, if not enough to make for a satisfying movie.” – Eric Kohn (IndieWIRE)

“It may be hardcore XXX but “Love” is Noe at his most softhearted following the brutality of “Irreversible” and his most straightforward, following the mindfuckery of “Enter the Void” so it may even leave his fans feeling underwhelmed.” – Jessica Kiang (The Playlist)

My take:

Gaspar Noé’s films have always been controversially polarizing, i.e. Irréversible and Enter the Void. I don’t expect anything less with Love. The marketing is very tight lipped on the story, but the word buzzing about the film regarding the sex is the talk of the town. That’s not really a selling point for me, but from what other critics are saying, you’re going to either be on board or not. It’s a gamble that I’m willing to take because I have an interest in Noé’s filmography. The plot seems simple enough, and if he can tell a compelling story then all the power to this film. RENT IT!

Despite the slew of many new films lately, everything has been very lackluster. There are so many options that it’s hard to believe that The Martian continues to dominate over its competition. And it might happen again this weekend.

Burnt offers Bradley Cooper, but after the horrendous showing for Aloha the mega star and Oscar nominee may not be the biggest draw box office wise without some kind of mainstream hook like Guardians of the Galaxy or Jennifer Lawrence by his side. The cast is superb, but a grab bag of talent that many average Joe/Jane movie goers may not be too familiar with. And the negative reviews are not building a case for Burnt either.

Our Brand is Crisis has a more known, reputable cast; it has an Avenger. But I think the subject matter and the boring marketing campaign will turn folks away.

Although it may be Halloween weekend, and Scouts Guide seems like the best choice for the weekend, the movie is pretty silly and also Rated R, limiting the audience count to a select few who will more than likely be at costume parties rather than holed up in a movie theater.

The Martian is still going strong, and it’s positive word of mouth continues to drive in crowds. 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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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

Box Office Battlefield: Crimson Peak, Goosebumps, and Bridge of Spies

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 2015 Movie Title Logo

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%

My review:

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 2015 Movie Title Logo

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%

My review:

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 2015 Movie Title Logo

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%

My review:

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 2015 Movie Title Logo

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%

My review:

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 2015 Movie Title Logo

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%

My review:

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 2015 Movie Title Logo

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%

Their reviews:

“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)

My take:

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:

Winner: Goosebumps

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

Box Office Battlefield: Pan, Victoria, and The Final Girls

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of October 9, 2015 includes Pan, Victoria, The Final Girls, and Knock Knock. 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, Maaaattt Daamon took audiences on a wild ride of survival on the lonely red planet. With no real competition, The Martian moon-walked away with $54.3 million domestically, leaving everything in its red dust. This weekend sees the retelling of the origins of Peter Pan along with the expansion of The Walk into theaters. There are also a handful of limited releases that have been on my radar. Who will reign supreme and who will be the codfish? This is the Box Office Battlefield:

peter-pan-2015-movie-title-logo

Pan (Joe Wright) Rated PG [111 min] – 12-year-old orphan Peter is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland, where he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan Starring Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, and Rooney Mara [Watch the Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 24% • Audience – 52%

My review:

Never have I giggled in delight so much for one of the most mind-boggling entrances to a villain I’ve ever seen. Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard is so deliciously wrong for this Peter Pan origin story, but you can’t look away. For the rest of the cast, I though Levi Miller does a thorough enough job as the young Peter, however everyone else feels wildly miscast. I’m not sure what Garrett Hedlund’s accent for Hook is, but it’s atrocious. And of course Tiger Lily is played by the incredibly talented and white-skinned Rooney Mara. Pan is pure lunacy that is too caught up trying to make the origin story of Peter Pan work. The nods to the character are eye-rolling, Neverland is unimaginative, and the final action scene is awfully silly. This makes Hook look like an Oscar contender. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX SO YOU CAN HAVE A GOOD LAUGH!!!

Victoria 2015 Movie Title Logo

Victoria (Sebastian Schipper) [Limited] Unrated [138 min] – While on holiday in Berlin, a young woman finds her flirtation with a local guy turn potentially deadly as their night out with his friends reveals its secret: the four men owe someone a dangerous favor that requires repaying that evening. Starring Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, and Burak Yigit [Watch the Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 77% • Audience – 86%

My review:

Long takes are not for the faint of heart. They take a lot of patience and planning to ensure every detail is nailed down. Birdman was shot over the course of 30 days or so and pieces of film were edited together to give the illusion of one long take. Victoria, however, was shot in one long take – they got it in their third attempt. And not only was it shot in one take, but it’s also over two hours long and takes place over multiple locations throughout Berlin. It’s quite impressive and highly commendable, but that doesn’t exactly mean it is without flaws. Edited films have the benefit of trimming down fat and making sure pacing is right for the story.

As much as I enjoyed marveling in awe at how Victoria was made, there are a handful of times where the movie could have been cut down. On the other side of the coin, the single take transports you alongside the characters as if you’re right there in the nitty-gritty of the action. The movie feels personable with our two leads where where the camera lingers long enough without movement that the experience feels very intimate. Sadly the rest of the cast isn’t fleshed out enough to be developed because we cannot cut to what they’re doing. But overall, Victoria is a feat to behold. MATINEE IT!

The Final Girls 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Final Girls (Todd Strauss-Schulson) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [88 min] – A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer. Starring Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Adam DeVine, and Thomas Middleditch [Watch the Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 72% • Audience – 77%

Their reviews:

“There’s plenty to like in Todd Strauss-Schulson’s THE FINAL GIRLS, a perky meta homage to slashers of the ’70s and ’80s.” – Meredith Borders (Birth.Movies.Death.)

“A funny, creative, fast-paced, and well-shot horror satire. They do exist.” – Scott Weinberg (TheHorrorShow)

My take:

Ever since Scream, meta horror has become quite the unsung hero of horror. When things start to turn stale we have the likes of Cabin in the Woods, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and even Scary Movie to thank for shedding some light on tropes horror fans are getting tired of. Unlike You’re Next, that twists the final girl stereotype into a new age, The Final Girls is far more aware of itself as a horror movie because its characters get sucked into one. It looks like a lot of fun and the cast is pretty solid. I look forward to this when it hits theaters near me. MATINEE IT!

Knock Knock 2015 Movie Title Logo

Knock Knock (Eli Roth) Rated R [99 min] – When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse. Starring Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo, and Ana de Armas [Watch the Trailer]

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 33% • Audience – 29%

Their reviews:

“Maybe Knock Knock is just one long, sick joke, skillfully told by a filmmaker who’s always spiked his horror with black humor, just never this effectively.” – A..A Dowd (The AV Club)
“Takes a titillating setup and turns it into hot, wet garbage that doesn’t even work as exploitation, much less as psychological horror or social commentary. ” – Eric D. Snider (GeekNation)

My take:

I want to believe that Knock Knock isn’t as bad as the critics are slamming it for because I think the premise is cleverly unusual. So I remain cautiously optimistic, hoping that Eli Roth can dish something out more energetic and vibrant like Cabin Fever and Hostel rather than The Green Inferno. RENT IT!

No one asked for a Peter Pan origin story, and the marketing is so terrible that I think it’s going to turn away parents. The Walk is getting a wide release in 2D, but last weekend it didn’t fair that well in IMAX 3D to begin with. I don’t think there’s enough enthusiasm for a man that people have hardly heard about. Which is unfortunate because The Walk has a lot to offer. The rest of this weeks releases are all limited and hardly have enough screens to compete with the wide releases. All that’s left is the tremendous love for The Martian. Suffice it to say, Matt Damon still has the charisma that people love and the story is too captivating not to enjoy. 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

Box Office Battlefield: The Martian, The Walk, and Freeheld

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of October 2, 2015 includes The Martian, The Walk (IMAX 3D Only), Freeheld, and He Named Me Malala. 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, Hotel Transylvania 2 frightfully broke September box office records, unfortunately proving there may be some gas left in the tank for Adam Sandler. With Translyvania 2 gaining almost $50 million in domestic ticket sales, The Intern lagged behind in second with a mere $17.7 million. Ouch. Can a science fiction adaptation bolstering a star-studded cast make waves against the monsters of Transylvania or will Joseph Gordon-Levitt and crew walk away as victors? Matt Damon phone home! This is the Box Office Battlefield:

The Martian 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Martian (Ridley Scott) Rated PG-13 [141 min] – During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jeff Daniels

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 94% • Audience – 94%

My review:

Leading up to this film, I had always heard from others that The Martian is a wonderful book. I didn’t know exactly what it was about, but my anticipation and expectations were fairly high going in. Suffice it to say, the film definitely met my expectations and more.

Matt Damon brings an excellent balance of emotions to his portrayal of astronaut Mark Watney. While having to stay calm and collected to keep his scientific mind at peace to solve every scenario, there’s a resonating layer of humanity that Damon brings to the character that shows he is not infallible. Although we can’t always see it on the outside, we understand that he cannot let his fears get the better of him.

With the help of an incredible supporting cast, those on the ground at NASA and in the Ares space shuttle, they can fear for Watney, as they struggle to come up with a solution to bring him home. While not every character is as strong as others, and it may seem like Game of Thrones trying to keep up with everyone’s title and name, each character serves a purpose.

After a huge slump of subpar features, The Martian is Ridley Scott’s (Alien; Blade Runner) return to form. Every element sewn together to create this unreal mission to explore the many facets of science in order to save one man is all tied together neatly. And despite its long run time, there are scenes that you wish the science was explained a little more intricately because of how well it’s presented on screen.

Cast Away meets Gravity meets Apollo 13, The Martian is a sleek, entertaining adaptation that works on many levels to positively shed the more boring facade of science into the mainstream conversation.

The Walk 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Walk (Robert Zemeckis) [Opens on 9/30 on IMAX Only] Rated PG [123 min] – In 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit recruits a team of people to help him realize his dream: to walk the the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Guillaume Baillargeon, and Émilie Leclerc

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 86% • Audience – 85%

My review:

If you can’t get past Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s terrifying “French” accent than you might not be able to make it through The Walk unscathed. It’s atrocious in every conceivable way, but beyond this hiccup lies a gleefully cartoonish biopic that works far better than it should.

There’s a special chemistry that Philippe (Gordon-Levitt) shares with each of his crew that’s built very patiently and rewards in the final moments of the film as everything unfolds. As uninteresting and laborious as it all may seem, I enjoyed the camaraderie shared between everyone leading up to the walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Having this prolonged exposition and character building adds extra value to the walk itself, because without it all their hard work would have felt empty no matter how thrilling it is. And thrilling is almost an understatement. Sadly, I have yet to see Man on Wire, the documentary this film is based on, so I had no awareness of the level of insanity Petit’s walk truly was. It’s completely bonkers that this was achieved.

Even knowing that what I’m watching on screen is fake, after the movie was over I discovered I sweat through the pits of my shirt. The IMAX 3D experience, as gimmicky as it is, pays off immensely. Credit should be given to Gordon-Levitt’s physical performance as well as the effects team. The last third of The Walk will be what many only takeaway from this cinematic experience, but without the heist-y Ocean’s Eleven gravitas it wouldn’t have felt as grand of a spectacle.

Freeheld 2015 Movie Title Logo

Freeheld (Peter Sollett) Rated PG-13 [103 min] – New Jersey police lieutenant, Laurel Hester, and her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree, both battle to secure Hester’s pension benefits when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell, and Michael Shannon

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 53% • Audience – 58%

Their reviews:

“A television movie of the week gone uninterestingly wrong.” – Manohla Dargis (New York Times)

“It doesn’t quite feel like the prestige pictures that blow through theaters this time of year; it’s a drama often dignified by its workmanlike approach, one that feels relatively judicious with its uplift.” – Benjamin Mercer (AV Club)

My take:

All the right intentions are here, but from what it sounds like, Freeheld doesn’t seem to be as moving or inspiring as it is written on paper. I’m sure Page and Moore put on a good show, but a lot of the other character portrayals I’ve seen in the trailers look like they’re in a completely different movie – I’m looking at you Carell. I don’t think Freeheld looks terrible, I’m just not convinced the movie has that Oscar-level prestige it thinks it does.

He Named Me Malala 2015 Movie Title Logo

He Named Me Malala (Davis Guggenheim) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [87 min] – A look at the events leading up to the Talibans’ attack on the young Pakistani school girl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls’ education and the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations. Starring Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, and Khushal Yousafzai

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 60% • Audience – 72%

Their reviews:

“The slick, shallow result [movie] better suited for schools than the cineplex: The Malala who lets herself be captured here is to be admired and applauded, not identified with.” – Inkoo Kang (The Wrap)

“Malala’s undeterred fearlessness in the face of extremists should be applauded, and she is rightfully a model for young women around the planet. But ultimately, this amazing girl is underserved by an unremarkable, congenial and safe portrait.” – Rodrigo Perez (The Playlist)

My take:

The whole story involving Malala sounds harrowing and intense, but it doesn’t seem as though the importance of her work and movement are conveyed well through this documentary. I’m sure within the next 15 years from now there will be a feature film based on the true events that might strike a larger impact with movie going audiences.

Sure Hotel Transylvania 2 wound up capturing the many dollars of families across the country, but I don’t think that it has a strong enough appeal to keep a steady stream of cabbage. The Martian is rated PG-13, it has a huge cast of stars, and Matt Damon maintains his likability on the silver screen despite whatever nonsense he’s spouting off in the media. The Walk is a good movie that demands your attendance in theaters, but it’s only in a select few due to its IMAX 3D limitation – it expands to all theaters in 2D next weekend. 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

Box Office Battlefield: The Intern, Hotel Transylvania 2, and The Green Inferno

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of September 25, 2015 includes The Intern, Hotel Transylvania 2, and The Green Inferno, 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, The Maze Runner sequel scorched the box office with $30.3 million in domestic ticket sales. Johny Depp fared well with Black Mass owning up to $22 million. But with three new wide releases set to divide audiences, will the young adult adaptation have what it takes to fend off its competitors? Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga! This is the Box Office Battlefield:

The Intern 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Intern (Nancy Meyers) Rated PG-13 [121 min] – 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin. Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 55% • Audience – 79%

My review:

The Intern has all the right intentions. It has a progressive edge in its plot and characters, there’s solid chemistry between De Niro and Hathaway, and it speaks to this generation. Nancy Meyers movies definitely skew toward women, but The Intern has a voice that can be understood and enjoyed by all. Unfortunately, the further down the rabbit hole you go the uglier it becomes, and there’s nothing the actors could have done to salvage its remains.

Mad Max: Fury Road single-handedly demonstrates how you can take an bonkers male property and infuse it with feminist ideals without compromising plot or character for the sake of its agenda. The Intern doesn’t bother with this kind of subtlety. Nancy Meyers shoves her ideas down your throat to ensure you fully grasp what it means to be a woman in a successful company. Representing a woman at the top of her game at the head of a large company is a grand idea that’s rarely seen – The Devil Wears Prada (2006) comes to mind – but Meyers doesn’t allow The Intern to tell this story organically enough to feel completely honest with itself. Her direction and awkward comedic shifts derail the more heartfelt moments that are sprinkled within. Which is a shame because there is a lot to like about The Intern. RENT IT!

The Green Inferno Movie Title Logo

The Green Inferno (Eli Roth) Rated R [100 min] – A group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished. Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, and Kirby Bliss Blanton

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 38% • Audience – 46%

Their reviews:

“A fun and interesting twist on the travelogue sub-genre of horror … far better than many horror movies with twice the budget.” – Edward Douglas (ShockTillYouDrop)

“Eli Roth’s faux-smart, long-shelved, and exploitative-as-hell cannibal tale “The Green Inferno” is a remarkably perfect example of horror’s unexamined white privilege.” – Inkoo Kang (The Wrap)

My take:

Unfortunately there were no opportunities for me to see The Green Inferno on Thursday night due to conflicting screen times, so I decided to see Sicario instead. I’m sure I made a far better decision, but I really do eventually want to see The Green Inferno. Eli Roth may not be the greatest actor or have a keen sense of good movies to produce, but he has a decent eye for directing horror. I’ve enjoyed both Hostel films and Cabin Fever, so The Green Inferno tickles my fancy. Other critics who have seen the movie are wildly mixed, leaning more toward the negative end, but I will chalk it up to most critics not liking horror movies in general. I don’t think The Green Inferno warrants a trip to the theater, unless you want to hear other people’s gut reactions to the disgusting visuals. RENT IT!

Hotel Transylvania 2 Movie Title Logo

Hotel Transylvania 2 (Genndy Tartakovsky) Rated PG [89 min] – Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.Director: Stars: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, and Kevin James

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 45% • Audience – 86%

Their reviews:

“Hotel Transylvania 2 offers cute but brainless escapism for young moviegoers – as well as parents looking to distract their children for a few hours.” – Ben Kendrick (ScreenRant)

“The whole thing is amiable and colorful and surprisingly low on body-function gags. It may not kill you to take your kids.” – Glenn Kenny (New York Times)

My take:

Hotel Transylvania 2 wasn’t an option for Thursday night because it wasn’t being screened. Plus I’ve never seen the original, but I can easily guess what happens based on the trailer. This sequel looks like it’s much of the same shtick. Although critics are saying it’s good for the kids, I’m not sure it would be worth the time or money to see it in theaters. Who would want to subject their children to mindless entertainment? WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

Mississippi Grind 2015 Movie Title Logo

Mississippi Grind (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) [Limited] Rated R [108 min] – Down on his luck and facing financial hardship, Gerry teams up with younger charismatic poker player, Curtis, in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what’s been lost. Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Ryan Reynolds, Yvonne Landry, and Anthony Howard

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 90% • Audience – 60%

Their reviews:

“Mendelsohn plays Gerry as a stringy, sweaty hunk of pure desperation, while Reynolds, as the ostensibly more stable partner, demonstrates yet again that he’s much more than a ridiculously pretty face.” – Mike D’Angelo (AV Club)

“Mississippi Grind captures the ecstasy of a good role of the dice and the desperation of a bad turn of the cards — and provides a sense of why some keep going even when it becomes clear they’ve lost their shot at a happy ending.” – Keith Phipps (Uproxx)

My take:

There was a lot of buzz for Mississippi Grind coming out of Sundance earlier this year. Ben Mendelsohn (Slow West) and Ryan Reynolds are on the up and up with these little indie features they’ve been appearing in this year. The trailer sets up an intriguing premise, one that gains my attention but doesn’t giveaway all its cards. Based on its praise, I’d be hard pressed not to wonder what’s so special about it. MATINEE IT!

Ashby 2015 Movie Title Logo

Ashby (Tony McNamara) [Limited] Rated R [100 min] – High-school student Ed Wallis enters into a friendship with his neighbor, Ashby, a retired CIA assassin who only has a few months left to live. Starring Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts, Sarah Silverman

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 46% • Audience – 56%

Their reviews:

“Folks buying a ticket to Ashby hoping to see a film about the late-great director of Being There and Harold and Maude are about to be sorely disappointed. So is everyone else.” – Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)

“The film displays little ability to utilize Ashby’s violent actions for means other than high-concept fodder and out-of-place bloodshed.” – Clayton Dillard (Slant Magazine)

My take:

Last year we had an old man bestowing wisdom to a young lad in St. Vincent with Bill Murray. This year it’s Mickey Rourke’s turn to bring Nat Wolff into adulthood. I’m not sure when there’s going to be a specific genre category named for these old mentor/socially awkward youngster films (Bad Santa; Bad Teacher; Bad Words), but there’s a clear formula they all follow. The performances all look dialed-in and the trailer shows me nothing that hasn’t already been done before. I don’t see much of a reason to waste any money on it. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

99 Homes 2015 Movie Title Logo

99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani) [Limited] Rated R [112 min] – A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker who’s the source of his frustration. Starring Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, and Clancy Brown

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 90% • Audience – 84%

Their reviews:

“Bahrani’s dismantling of the American dream — a dream deferred — has finally reached its finest conclusion with the director’s finely wrought (and seriously fraught) 99 Homes.” – Kate Erbland (Film School Rejects)

“99 Homes is by no means a perfect film, but it can achieve something more precious, and rarer than glossy perfection: it can take you by the shoulders and shake the apathy and complacency away.” – Jessica Kiang (The Playlist)

My take:

Andrew Garfield has to fill his time with something more fruitful now that he’s off Spider-Man, so why not a little indie crime drama? The plot behind 99 Homes comes across very intimate and fresh. And based on the reviews and the scope of the film it feels like one of those indie movies that many will praise but unfortunately few will see. It’s not grand enough to gain awards season attention, but it definitely has enough clout to be worth your time. MATINEE IT!

The Keeping Room 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Keeping Room (Daniel Barber) [Limited] Rated R [95 min] – Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women – two sisters and one African-American slave – must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army. Starring Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Sam Worthington, and Muna Otaru

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 65% • Audience – 56%

Their reviews:

“An intriguing premise never finds a dramatic pulse in “The Keeping Room,” a self-consciously artsy depiction of female grit during the final days of the Civil War.” – Sheri Linden (Los Angeles Times)

“Riveting from start to finish and profoundly crowd-pleasing in its later stretches, The Keeping Room is a spare but unsparing film that empowers its women by allowing them to find a power of their own.” – David Ehrlich (Little White Lies)

My take:

I don’t know what it is that turns me off about it, maybe it’s the loony Sam Worthington or the ugly period piece setting, but The Keeping Room looks like a colossal waste of time. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!

As De Niro has grown older his films have lost touch with the younger male demographic. He’s still a good show, but the stories he inhibits these days shy away from his more known roles. Nancy Meyers and Anne Hathaway are a good draw for moviegoers, but The Intern isn’t strong enough to create positive buzz traffic. The Green Inferno is alienating itself by its premise alone. Folks love horror movies, but not something this far away from mainstream horror. Adam Sandler may be toxic but the last Hotel Transylvania did OK in theaters and there hasn’t been a good kids movie since Inside Out released in June. And I’m sure parents have been waiting for the prime opportunity to get their kids out of the house and into theaters to annoy people. But if I were you I would go see Sicario. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:

Winner: Hotel Transylvania 2

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

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

Box Office Battlefield: The Visit vs. The Perfect Guy

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of September 11, 2015 includes The Visit and The Perfect Guy, 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 below!

Last weekend, not a single soul cared about the most recently released, being The Transporter Refueled and A Walk in the Woods. Instead, audiences decided it was best to throw their money at a faith based film no one has even talked about other than in box office reports, War RoomStraight Outta Compton almost ran away with a four weekend spree at the top spot, and everyone must have wanted to cleanse their palettes after all the gangster rap? Can M. Night Shamalamadingdong make his way back into the hearts of horror fans or will a hilariously awful looking film about a sociopath get its way? I see old people! This is the Box Office Battlefield:

The Visit 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Visit (M. Night Shyamalan) Rated PG-13 [94 min] – A single mother finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents. Starring Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, and Peter McRobbie

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 64% • Audience – 64%

My review:

I really wanted to hate The Visit after being burned (see After Earth; The Last Airbender) by such a promising director with an eye for good suspense and storytelling (see Signs; The Sixth Sense), but I can’t. The Visit is definitely a step in the right direction for M. Night Shyamalan, though I wouldn’t be quick to say this a return to form. There are still awkward shifts in tone that aren’t quite as cringe worthy as the ones in The Happening and the characters are not the most likable people you care to root for. What works really well in The Visit is M. Night’s ability to create suspense through eerie visuals and uncomfortable tension. As with most of his works, The Visit is a slow burn only this time the twist pays off in spades. There are gaps in the plot that could have been filled and the movie feels a little long despite its short run-time. However, I can confidently say that I am now more open to see what M. Night can do if he can create another intimate story like this that is this just as entertaining. MATINEE IT!

The Perfect Guy 2015 Movie Title Logo

The Perfect Guy (David M. Rosenthal) Rated PG-13 [100 min] – After breaking up with her boyfriend, a professional woman gets involved with a man who seems almost too good to be true. Starring Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy, Morris Chestnut, and L. Scott Caldwell

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 25% • Audience – 78%

Their reviews:

“Nobody goes to these Fatal Attraction retreads anymore for serious drama. But this one is a movie torn – too grim and self-important to go truly nuts, but too silly and slipshod to work on a more somber level.” – Bilge Ebiri (New York Magazine)

“The Perfect Guy – which was, it must be pointed out, deliberately not screened for critics prior to release – is a perfect example of how lame, lazy material strands good actors, resulting in a movie that looks great and feels less so.” – James Rocchi (The Wrap)

My take:

Not that I wanted to, but I couldn’t even see The Perfect Guy last night to review because it wasn’t playing in theaters last night nor was it screened for critics, which never speaks well to the quality of a film if thus is the case. The Perfect Guy does look a lot better and more put together than Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, but I can’t get over the intial concept to begin with. The trailer is a knee slapper, and the intensity from Michael Ealy is just hilarious because of how serious every thing is taken. It’s as if The Perfect Guy is the embodiment of the uncanny valley of movies. It wants to be taken seriously as a real movie but it’s oozing with superficiality. This movie looks bonkers in every way possible. WATCH IT ON NETFLIX!

Sleeping With Other People 2015 Movie Title Logo

Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland) [Limited] Rated R [95 min] – A good-natured womanizer and a serial cheater form a platonic relationship that helps reform them in ways, while a mutual attraction sets in. Starring Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Jordan Carlos, and Margarita Levieva

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 53% • Audience – 70%

Their reviews:

“Although there are a handful of missteps, Sleeping With Other People is ultimately a satisfying charmer with a big payoff.” – Kate Erbland (The Playlist)

“Ms. Headland has a concept for a latter-day screwball comedy … but she doesn’t have the jokes or the emotionally textured characters that can fill in that conceit.” – Manohla Dargis (New York Times)

My take:

I like Alison Brie, but I can’t help but think she has a bad agent. She’s a wonderful television actress (see Mad Men; Community) and human being, however her roles on the big screen (Save the Date; Get Hard The 5-Year Engagement) have been pretty lackluster. Sleeping with Other People is definitely her biggest starring role in her career and I’m happy to see that she’s gaining more recognition, but the premise and trailer of the film seem so cliche. Nothing about it feels original or fresh. And I hate to be bias, but I have never liked anything Jason Sudeikis has done. Ever. RENT IT!

Goonight Mommy 2015 Movie Title Logo

Goodnight Mommy (Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz) [Limited] Rated R [99 min] – Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don’t recognize. Starring Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz, and Hans Escher

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 80% • Audience – 70%

Their reviews:

“Beginning with a gentle lullaby and ending with a tightly packed wallop, Goodnight Mommy is one viscerally chilling, seriously unsettling horror film.” – Michael Rechtshaffen (Los Angeles Times)

“Holds your attention hostage even as the urge to look away from the terror grows within you.” – Rob Hunter (Film School Rejects)

My take:

I’ve tried to avoid a lot of the hype Goodnight Mommy has garnered since its festival circuit run. I was convinced of its value after taking only a peek at the trailer. The film looks so creepy. I love it. The reviews are hot and championing it. So I can’t wait to see it when it reaches theaters near me. SEE IT!

Let’s be honest here, The Perfect Stranger looks like the biggest joke of a movie that somehow escaped from the lost archives of Lifetime and made its way onto the silver screen by sheer luck. The Visit is rated PG-13 and I can’t help but think that moviegoers will be really curious after the fairly positive buzz being an M. Night Shyamalan movie and all. Everything else in theaters is so stale and folks have got to be thirsty for something new too. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:

Winner: The Visit

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

Box Office Battlefield: The Transporter Refueled vs. A Walk in the Woods

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of September 4, 2015 includes The Transporter Refueled, A Walk in the Woods, and Before We Go. 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, Straight Outta Compton straight capitalized on yet another poor delivery of new wide releases. We Are Your Friends made box office history in its debut as the fourth worst opening weekend for a new wide release film in more than 2,000 theaters. The Zac Efron led moving picture grossed only $1.76 million. Does an action reboot or a small Robert Redford indie stand a chance to capitalize on the weak selection as of late? Or will movie goers keep their hard earned cash and enjoy their Labor Day weekend? Never change the deal. This is the Box Office Battlefield:

The Transporter Refueled Movie Title Logo

The Transporter Refueled (Camille Delamarre) Rated PG-13 [96 min] – In the south of France, former special-ops mercenary Frank Martin enters into a game of chess with a femme-fatale and her three sidekicks who are looking for revenge against a sinister Russian kingpin. Starring Ed Skrein, Loan Chabanol, Ray Stevenson, and Lenn Kudrjawizki

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 18% • Audience – 35%

Their reviews:

“So many amazingly absurd things occur during the course of “The Transporter: Refueled” that it’s almost easy to forget that the basic idea driving this fourth installment is itself nonsensical.” – Nick Schager (The Playlist)

“Despite a lot of shortcomings and undercooked elements, The Transporter Refueled is a mildly entertaining action film.” – Ben Kendrick (ScreenRant)

My take:

With so many terrible movies in theaters lately, and my lack of exposure to The Transporter franchise, I decided to take a pass on The Transporter Refueled as my one skip weekend of the year. The action looks OK, but the story looks mediocre at best. And I don’t think this reboot looks as fun sans Jason Statham’s charisma. I liked Ed Skrein as Daario in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and he should have stayed there for a better opportunity to shine rather than get caught up in this waste of an effort film. I’m surprised The Transporter Refueled didn’t go straight to home video. WATCH IT ON NETFLIX OR SKIP IT!

A Walk in the Woods Movie Title Logo

A Walk in the Woods (Ken Kwapis) Rated R [104 min] – After spending two decades in England, Bill Bryson returns to the U.S., where he decides the best way to connect with his homeland is to hike the Appalachian Trail with one of his oldest friends. Starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, and Mary Steenburgen

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 47% • Audience – 59%

Their reviews:

“If I hadn’t known it was Bryson, A Walk In The Woods would just feel like some half-assed oldsploitation version of Wild starring a poor man’s odd couple with the comedic timing of a Google Translated Mexican sitcom from the eighties.” – Vince Mancini (FilmDrunk)

“It’s not a difficult picture to watch. All you want from A Walk in the Woods, honestly, is a chance to enjoy a couple of veteran actors. But the book’s comic tone hasn’t found a comfortable equivalent for the screen.” – Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)

My take:

I’m not a hiker nor am I an elderly man going through a third/end-life crisis seeking to enjoy what time I have left on this planet – although I always try to keep a positive and optimistic mindset so I can carpe that diem. After watching the trailer for A Walk in the Woods I found similarities to Grumpy Old Men and The Bucket List. They’re movies that I can understand, but not necessarily would seek or find too resonating. I’m sure this film has its quirky “old people” jokes that can create a smirk, however I don’t think anyone is going to get anything new out of their viewing experience. WATCH IT ON NETFLIX!

Before We Go Movie Title Logo

Before We Go (Chris Evans) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [89 min] – Two strangers stuck in Manhattan for the night grow into each other’s most trusted confidants when an evening of unexpected adventure forces them to confront their fears and take control of their lives. Starring Chris Evans, Alice Eve, Emma Fitzpatrick, and Scott Evans

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 24% • Audience – 65%

Their reviews:

“The whole effort seems to run solely on the smiles of its photogenic leads. And, frankly, the smiles routinely dissipate any perceived tension.” – Robert Abele (Los Angeles Times)

“A missed train sets the stage for Chris Evans’ directorial debut, Before We Go, but dramatically speaking, this talky, contrived and ultimately tedious actors’ exercise never leaves the station.” – Scott Foundas (Variety)

My take:

As Chris Evans’ directorial debut, Before We Go looks like a good attempt at recreating the magic of Before Sunrise. However, in this instance, it feels as if it’s more about the shenanigans of the evening rather than an intimate night with two strangers getting to know each other on a personal level we can relate to. I think Before We Go has potential, but doesn’t have strong enough characters to make it a memorable experience. WATCH IT ON NETFLIX!

Who honestly wants to see a reboot of The Transporter without Jason Statham? A Walk in the Woods is playing in less than 2,000 theaters and is too narrowly focused with its target audience. And all other competitors over the past few weeks have flopped hard. But hey, at least Inside Out and Jurassic World are rereleasing this Labor Day weekend to give you a few, better options if you want to get out of the heat. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:

Winner: Straight Outta Compton

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

Box Office Battlefield: We Are Your Friends vs. No Escape

Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of August 28, 2015 includes We Are Your Friends, No Escape, and Z is for Zachariah. 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, Straight Outta Compton continued its dominance over the competition, holding its own against three opposing new releases. This weekend the boys from the hood will have to face up against Zac Efron and Owen Wilson. Who will come out on top? Drop that bass! This is the Box Office Battlefield:

We Are Your Friends 2015 Movie Title Logo

We Are Your Friends (Max Joseph) Rated R [96 min] – Caught between a forbidden romance and the expectations of his friends, aspiring DJ Cole Carter attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.Starring Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, and Jonny Weston

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 42% • Audience – 52%

My Review:

With strange tonal correlations, We Are Your Friends serves as a unique character study in the world of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) comparative to Magic Mike in the realm of male entertainers. I’ve never seen director Max Joseph’s documentaries before, but he has quite the refreshing style for feature films. However, the story is brisk and leans heavily on plot conveniences to move the story along. It wants to be a Soderbergh-esque character drama so badly but doesn’t have the depth to quite reach those heights. And despite its youthful visual flair, the end result isn’t as captivating as the potential it beholds. Ratajkowski is distractingly gorgeous and fairs well opposite more seasoned actors, Bently and Efron, who both do a pretty stand up job. I wish We Are Your Friends didn’t come down to such a simple ending because it wants to be so much more. As far as the music goes, I don’t listen to EDM, but I didn’t mind listening to it in the film and thought it integrated really well. RENT IT!

No Escape 2015 Movie Title Logo

No Escape (John Erick Dowdle) Rated R [103 min] – In their new overseas home, an American family soon finds themselves caught in the middle of a coup, and they frantically look for a safe escape in an environment where foreigners are being immediately executed. Starring Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Owen Wilson, Thanawut Kasro

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 41% • Audience – 71%

Their reviews:

“The B-movie kicks of scenes like the one in which Jack, with the assistance of some speed ramping, hurls his children across rooftops into his wife’s arms as part of an escape plan, never overcome the rankness of the underlying premise.” – Alison Willmore (Buzzeed)

“I respect No Escape’s attempt at intense, hyper-realism, but that realism tends to be undercut by a bad guy with cheesy scars on his face like The Lion King.” – Vince Mancini (FilmDrunk)

My take:

From what I gather from only seeing the trailer and a few review headlines, No Escape looks like a really silly concept that executes tension and action favorably for us viewers. Something about the tone and the extreme thrill of the situation reminds me of Taken, even down to its ridiculous plot. Didn’t this family research what kind of area they were moving to before heading off to restart their lives? RENT IT!

Z for Zachariah 2015 Movie Title Logo

Z for Zachariah (Craig Zobel) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [95 min] – In the wake of a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, two men and a young woman find themselves in an emotionally charged love triangle as the last known survivors. Starring Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Chris Pine,

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 80% • Audience – 64%

Their reviews:

“While the film isn’t without a few tonal flaws, the performances — particularly Robbie’s — keep the story grounded in a sublime, post-apocalyptic reality.” – Max Nicholson (IGN Movies)

“This minimalist but deeply affecting morality play slowly tugs you in.” – Jeanette Catsoulis (New York Times)

My take:

Out in very limited release, I’ve been waiting for Z for Zachariah since the buzz out of Sundance. I’m not keen on its loose adaptation of the source material by adding Chris Pine into the mix, but I’m open to accepting the film on its own merits. I think the cast has a lot to offer and I’m excited to check it out once it hits theaters near me. MATINEE IT!

So here we have a weekend with titles consisting of terrorism in a foreign estate and EDM. Such choices for moviegoers to choose from. And last weekend’s films were pretty much DOA. Compton had a fairly strong second weekend, but theaters are so full of different options now that it may not stick it out for a third weekend in a row at the top. Then again, there really is very few good options for audiences to see. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:

Winner: Straight Outta Compton

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