Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of August 7, 2015 includes Fantastic Four, The Gift, Ricki and the Flash, and Shaun the Sheep. 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, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation took care of business and easily claimed the top seat at the box office. However, Tom Cruise has four big challengers vying to overthrow the superstar this weekend. Can a superhero reboot, Meryl Streep, an animated movie about sheep, or a creepy Jason Bateman thriller come home with the win? Excelsior! This is the Box Office Battlefield:
Fantastic Four (Josh Trank) Rated PG-13 [100 min] – Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy. Starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 9% • Audience – 29%
After Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, I didn’t think I had superhero fatigue, and after seeing the abysmal Fantastic Four reboot, I still don’t believe I do. What the Fantastic Four movie represents is the complete lack of imagination superhero films are capable of. I went in with the lowest expectations possible, and plot holes aside, I was bored to tears. There is nothing interesting or unique that this new iteration of the Fantastic Four is trying ti say or do. The camaraderie amongst the team is lackluster and uninspired; this is suppose to be a family and yet they hardly talk to one another. Doctor Doom, above all, is the flimsiest aspect of the story and one of the worst villains we’ve had in a superhero flick. This movie fails on all levels. SKIP IT!
The Gift (Joel Edgerton) Rated R [108 min] – A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years. Starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, and Allison Tolman
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 92% • Audience – 85%
From the trailers, The Gift looked like a terrible straight to home video release. Nothing about the performances stood out, and the plot seemed so one-note that I felt nothing could surprise me. Boy was I wrong. Joel Edgerton has put together a fine little film that is playfully thrilling and keeps you thinking long after you’ve left the theater. All of the performances are pretty standard, but the story is so fresh that it’s unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time. The Gift will definitely be one of the most surprising movies of the year for me. MATINEE IT!
Ricki and the Flash (Jonathan Demme) Rated PG-13 [101 min] – A musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom returns home, looking to make things right with her family. Starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, and Sebastian Stan
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 59% • Audience – 57%
“Streep’s latest mom role, as Ricki Rendazzo in Ricki and the Flash, has a light, Mamma Mia! vibe, but it still hits all those hot buttons.” – Susanna Schrobsdorff (TIME Magazine)
“Diablo Cody’s dispiriting screenplay is all about everyone coming to love Ricki, faults and all, and that is just not convincingly done.” – Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times)
Most of the review headlines I’ve read haven’t been too favorable to Ricki and the Flash, and the trailer paints every beat of the film to the point that you can see the movie without actually seeing it. So I decided to skip this one for the sake of time, and I figured Meryl Streep would obviously be Meryl Streeping. From what I understand, this movie is pretty vanilla and the emotional impact the film is trying to make is on the nose and pandering. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
Shaun the Sheep Movie (Mark Burton and Richard Starzak) Rated PG [85 min] – When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it’s up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home. Starring Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili, and Richard Webber
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 99% • Audience – 82%
“Plenty of bigger, more grown-up movies could learn a thing or two from its humanity.” – Bilge Ebiri (New York Magazine)
“Grownups will enjoy every delicious irony and twisted sight gag that floats over kids’ heads. If the brats don’t get the shout-outs to The Night of the Hunter, The Silence of the Lambs and Scorsese’s Cape Fear, let them suck on it.” – Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
I’ve never been a fan of the Wallace and Gromit films. Not that I hate them or anything, but the storytelling and humor has never appealed to me. Apparently Shaun the Sheep is pretty solid family fun. It looks a little more energetic and mainstream than its predecessors. MATINEE IT!
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller) [Limited] Rated R [102 min] – A teen artist living in 1970s San Francisco enters into an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. Starring Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Meloni
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 94% • Audience – 85%
“The novel is life-specific, but what makes Minnie – on the page and now on the screen – greater than any one girl is how she tells her own story in her own soaringly alive voice.” – Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
“For a movie about such fraught topics, sometimes rendered with admirable and non-squeamish explicitness, Diary often eschews melodrama; when the plot turns, it does so abruptly, providing a credible simulation of real-life tumult.” – Jesse Hassenger (AV Club)
This book adaptation hasn’t been available to me yet, but I really want to see it. I haven’t seen the trailer nor do I know anything about The Diary of a Teenage Girl. All I know is that it’s getting good reviews and that I’m told it’s required 2015 viewing. SEE IT!
Cop Car (Jon Watts) [Limited] Rated R [86 min] – A small town sheriff sets out to find the two kids who have taken his car on a joy ride. Starring Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, and Shea Whigham
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 76% • Audience – 80%
“Cop Car is a movie that prioritizes a child’s-eye view to merciless effect, even as it deals with corruption, drugs, and murder.” – Alison Willmore (BuzzFeed)
“Scenes that should take 30 seconds take three minutes. Writer-director Jon Watts does successfully channel childhood, though: He’s like a kid short of ideas who triple-spaces his book report.” – Kyle Smith (New York Post)
If you want to see how competent the director of the next Spider-Man movie will be, check out Cop Car. This is a Sundance darling that has received fairly positive reviews. The trailer has pretty wild tones that starts off light and comedic and gets dark very quickly. It reminds me of Mud starring Matthew McConnaughey in a way thanks to its two kid leads and indie sheen. Looks like Cop Car offers a good watch. MATINEE IT!
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (Tadayoshi Yamamuro) [Limited] Not Rated [93 min] – One peaceful day on Earth, two remnants of Frieza’s army named Sorbet and Tagoma arrive searching for the Dragon Balls with the aim of reviving Frieza. They succeed, and Frieza subsequently seeks revenge on the Saiyans. Starring Masako Nozawa, Ryô Horikawa, Hiromi Tsuru, and Masaharu Satô
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 100% • Audience – 86%
“DBZ: Resurrection ‘F’ is a fast-paced film with tons of action and great animation, but lacks any meaningful punch.” – Shawn Saris (IGN News)
“This slam-bang action-adventure will have “Dragon Ball” fans of all ages cheering with delight.” – Charles Solomon (Los Angeles Times)
Dragon Ball Z is obviously as niche as it gets. There’s definitely a formula that the DBZ producers stick to that has continued to work well into the present. Bringing back an old big bad is not unfamiliar territory, but it seems fresh enough to enjoy based on the reviews. MATINEE IT!
Dark Places (Gilles Paquet-Brenner) [Limited] Rated R [113 min] – Libby Day was only seven years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Twenty-five years later, she agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night. Starring Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, and Chloë Grace Moretz
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 26% • Audience – 40%
“A lazy, flat and poorly written thriller that fails at grabbing viewers by the throat or by the heart.” – Rob Hunter (Film School Rejects)
“Dark Places just becomes an overstuffed, low-simmer potboiler with too many improbable detours and overly convenient twists.” – Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)
From watching the trailer, Dark Places looks like a terrible straight to home video story with an A-list cast. I think the concept comes off way too cheesy and heavy handed. I think these actors accidentally signed up for the wrong film when they heard this was adapted from the author of Gone Girl. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
For some, superhero fatigue may have already set in, but I think folks will be curious about how well 20th Century Fox has rebooted Marvel’s first family. It has terrible reviews, but that hasn’t stopped moviegoers before when it comes to tent pole summer films i.e. Transformers. Ricki and the Flash is in less than 2,000 theaters and Meryl Streep alone cannot gain wide audiences outside adult demographics. While on the other side of the coin, Shaun the Sheep may get families and kids to venture into the movies, but teens may find it too childish to check out. And then there’s The Gift, a thriller that in my mind was marketed poorly but is gaining rave reviews. It’s odd roles for all teh cast involved and should make for an interesting turnout. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:
Winner: Fantastic Four
Movie synopses courtesy of IMDb.com and Tomatometer Scores from Rotten Tomatoes