Monthly Archives: June 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Movie Review

The central theme of the Jurassic franchise is whether the scientific re-creation of dinosaurs for profit is enough reason to justify their existence. Of course, the real reason these movies exist is so we can gaze upon glorious CG creatures that took our breath away 25 years ago in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Three years ago, Colin Trevorrow gave us Jurassic World. It did just enough to tap into our nostalgia for the original while keeping another central theme prominent in all series entries – the humans are less interesting than their prehistoric counterparts.

In the inevitable sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, we have a newer problem in that the dinosaurs are becoming increasingly less fascinating. When we left that theme park in 2015, it was in tatters due to the havoc wrought by its main attractions. We’re informed that the dinos still roam the deserted Isla Nublar and there’s a political debate as to what to do with them. That conversation is accelerated as a volcano is about to erupt on the island and incinerate everything. As audience members, let’s just choose to forget that even if the park had become successful and free of T-Rex breakouts, it would’ve only existed for three years because of that volcano. We don’t watch Jurassic pics for logic, after all.

The impending meltdown gets the attention of Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park’s former operations manager, who’s now an advocate for the dinosaurs survival. Her nephews from Jurassic World aren’t seen or mentioned. Perhaps they were smart enough to want nothing to do with all this. She’s recruited by Ben Lockwood (James Cromwell), the ailing former partner of the late John Hammond, to gather up Isla Nublar’s famous residents. Claire recruits her ex-flame and dino whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt) to join her, along with a ragtag group of assistants and military types led by mercenary and hunter Ted Levine. It turns out Lockwood’s assistant (Rafe Spall, a rather bland villain) might have conjured up other ideas for the creatures true purposes. Oh and Lockwood has a granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Kids in Jurassic flicks are mandatory. She’s got a spotty British accent and an eventual revelation about her character that is downright bonkers.

Our return to Jurassic World does allow for a couple imaginative action sequences that are well choreographed and filmed by franchise newcomer J.A. Bayona (Trevorrow isn’t behind the camera but has co-writing credit). In the second half, the pic moves to a more insulated setting. This section is less satisfying. While Bayona and company get a wee bit of credit for trying something different, the execution falters.

That’s the real issue here. 25 summers ago, the visuals of Jurassic Park were brand new and stunning. The technology, while still state of the art, isn’t fresh anymore. Human characters here aren’t compelling either. The dynamic between Pratt and Howard is as dull as before. Jeff Goldblum turns up as Dr. Malcolm for the first time since 1997’s The Lost World, but his presence is brief and forgettable. What wowed us a quarter century ago is now a listless undertaking occasionally punctuated by genuine excitement. Put another way, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a tough time justifying its existence.

** (out of four)

Top Ten Summer Hits of 1998: A Look Back

Each summer on the blog, I recount the top 10 summer hits from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. Last week was 1988 and the sounds of three decades ago. If you missed it, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/21/top-ten-summer-hits-of-1988-a-look-back/

Today we move to 1998 and the tunes burning up our CD players (if we were lucky enough to have one in our car) 20 years ago. As with previous posts, I rank each track from 1 (summer bummer) to 10 (summer smash) and reveal the most important truth: is said song on my Apple Music?

Let’s get to it!

10. “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo

We start off quite well with this ballad from K-Ci and JoJo, who originally rose to fame with the R&B group Jodeci. It’s schmaltzy, yes, but in the best way and it gets the job done with the singers expert vocal performances.

My Ranking: 9 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

9. “Crush” by Jennifer Paige

I must confess to having no recollection of this track when I saw it was #9. Listening to it again, it’s a pleasant enough ditty from the one-hit wonder. That said, it’s also rather forgettable.

My Ranking: 6

It Is On My Apple Music?: No

8. “Make It Hot” by Nicole featuring Missy Elliot and Mocha

Timbaland was mostly busy around this time stirring up classics for Aaliyah and Missy Elliot. Yet he concocted this gem for Nicole with assists from Elliot and Mocha. It was her only major hit, but it’s a terrific example of its producer’s wizardry behind the boards.

My Rating: 9

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

7. “Come with Me” by Puff Daddy featuring Jimmy Page

Combine Puff’s love of sampling with the guitar riffs of Jimmy Page’s “Kashmir” and promoting the summer’s unfortunate Godzilla reboot? You get a hit… albeit one that is just as ultimately disappointing as the film in which it appeared on the soundtrack.

My Rating: 5

Is It On My Apple Music? No

6. “My All” by Mariah Carey

Ms. Carey has certainly had her share of powerful ballads. “My All” is an effective one, though I don’t rank it among her most memorable.

My Rating: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes (but mostly because I have her greatest hits and don’t listen to this one hardly at all)

5. “Adia” by Sarah MacLachlan

The Canadian singer is now mostly known for causing you tear up during commercials to help dogs, but she had a string of hits including this one. I’ve never been a big fan and this track does little for me, despite her lovely voice.

My Rating: 5 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

4. “My Way” by Usher

The title track from Usher’s multi-platinum album is a Jermaine Dupri produced banger that spent lots of time being played loudly in my 1987 Ford Thunderbird 20 years ago. Check out Tyrese in the video as well.

My Rating: 9

It Is On My Apple Music?: Yes

3. “Too Close” by Next

An incredibly catchy R&B song from a band that didn’t produce many more hits. This one, however, could still be a massive hit today.

My Rating: 9 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

2. “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain

Another Canadian crooner had her first major crossover hit with this ballad. It moved Twain out of just being known as a country act to one with serious pop appeal.

My Rating: 8

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

1. “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy & Monica

It’s no “The Girl is Mine” by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, but this mid-tempo pop track paired two of the era’s most successful R&B singers to hugely successful results on the charts. Looking back now, I don’t love it (I could list stronger tracks by both Brandy and Monica) but it’s decent.

My Rating: 7 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

And there you have it! The sounds of 1998 in the summertime…

I’ll return soon with 2008.

The First Purge Box Office Prediction

The fourth entry in a heavily profitable franchise, The First Purge invades theaters on July 4th. Blumhouse’s action horror series is (as the title suggests) a prequel that shows how all the purgin’ began. This is the first Purge pic not directed by James DeMonaco (though he wrote it) and Gerard McMurray takes over behind the camera. Cast members include Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Velez, and Marisa Tomei.

As with most Blumhouse titles, this franchise has been a low-budget exercise with pleasing returns. 2013’s The Purge opened to $34 million with a $64 eventual domestic gross. 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy made $29.8 million out of the gate and $71 million overall. 2016’s The Purge: Election Year took off with $31.5 million over its three-day July 1-3 debut with $36.1 million when counting its July 4th gross. The total domestic gross was $79 million. Interestingly, each series feature has made more than the one before it in terms of eventual haul.

The First Purge gets a two-day jump on Ant-Man and the Wasp by rolling out on Wednesday. I don’t see any reason why its box office fireworks would simmer down. Considering its five-day premiere, the traditional weekend gross should be in the low to mid 20s with a high 20s or low 30s take when accounting for Wednesday and Thursday.

The First Purge opening weekend prediction: $22.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $31.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Ant-Man and the Wasp prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/26/ant-man-and-the-wasp-box-office-prediction/

A Quiet Place Movie Review

Prior to this, John Krasinki’s most notable contribution to the sound of silence was his wordless and humorous deadpan expressions that populated each episode of “The Office”. That all changes with A Quiet Place, his supremely satisfying horror flick that uses the absence of noise in scary ways.

Tense and well-crafted, the pic is set in the near future as alien creatures roam the Earth and destroy anything that makes a sound in its path. The Abbott family exists in a rural town where seemingly all other humans couldn’t keep their mouths shut. Lee (Krasinski) and wife Evelyn (the director’s real-life wife Emily Blunt) are raising three youngsters – their deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and two younger brothers. Their every move and action is designed not to elevate decibel levels to dastardly outcomes. A battery-powered toy causes a family tragedy.

About a year later, the Abbotts are coping with loss while Evelyn is in the final days of a pregnancy. This brings the natural question: how in the world can they survive with a baby on the way? The film takes careful consideration of the details to their staying alive. The characters are in a persistent state of worry. So are we.

A Quiet Place has a simple concept and wisely doesn’t waste time explaining the events that put the Abbotts in their predicament. We know we need to know. Make a sound and you’re a goner. Perhaps sequels or spin-offs will delve into the history. It’s not exactly necessary. Krasinski had previously made two comedic dramas that made little impact with critics or audiences. We did not know he was capable of something like this and it’s an announcement of a filmmaker who’s found a roaring place in this genre. There’s some Spielberg influence, a sprinkle of Shyamalan, some Hitchcockian stuff here and there. Additionally there’s an Alien vibe happening. That classic’s tagline was “In space, no one can you hear you scream.” The rule is Earthbound here. Yet it also feels highly original at times.

Much of the film is silent itself save for the solid musical score. We don’t even get the amount of symphonic jump scares that you might expect. Like many famous horror titles, A Quiet Place has something to say about parenting and you may find yourself reconsidering its themes of that subject once the credits roll. Krasinski and Blunt are convincing as the protectors of their always vulnerable flock. Simmonds (who is deaf herself) is terrific. The picture is pulled off well enough that you may find yourself tempted to tip toe immediately afterwards.

***1/2 (out of four)

Ant-Man and the Wasp Box Office Prediction

The 20th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe crawls into theaters next weekend with AntMan and the Wasp. The sequel to the 2015 original, Paul Rudd is back in the title role along with Evangeline Lilly  as his partner in heroics (aka Wasp). Peyton Reed returns is back directing along with returning cast members Michael Pena, T.I., Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, and Michael Douglas. New faces joining the MCU include Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne.

This has been a banner year for Disney’s multi-billion franchise as Black Panther just hit $700 million domestically and Avengers: Infinity War not far behind. While AntMan was certainly a hit, its numbers three years ago weren’t quite on pace with numerous other MCU titles. It opened to $57 million (18th of the 19 series pics) with an eventual stateside gross of $180 million (17 out of 19).

That said, the MCU is on a roll and early word-of-mouth for this follow-up is encouraging. In the past decade, we’ve seen three examples of a direct MCU sequel making $20-$30 million more than the first during opening weekend. They are:

Iron Man 2 ($128 million), Iron Man ($98 million)

Thor: The Dark World ($85 million), Thor ($65 million)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 million), Captain America: The First Avenger ($65 million)

I feel there is a very strong chance AntMan and the Wasp will do the same and possibly hit that mark of close to $30 million higher than part 1. That would put it at #14 out of the 20 MCU movies between Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: The Dark World.

AntMan and the Wasp opening weekend prediction: $86.4 million

For my The First Purge prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/27/the-first-purge-box-office-prediction/

Box Office Predictions: June 29-July 1

The basketball themed comedy Uncle Drew and crime thriller sequel Sicario: Day of the Soldado debut in theaters this weekend and they could battle it out for the third spot behind returning blockbusters Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the two newbies right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/19/uncle-drew-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/19/sicario-day-of-the-soldado-box-office-prediction/

Of the two newcomers, I am giving Drew the slight edge over Sicario. I also believe that if one of them over performs my estimate, it will be the former. My low to mid teens projections on both means Jurassic and Incredibles should easily maintain their 1-2 slots on the charts.

Kingdom came in on the higher end of expectations this weekend (more on that below) and now we move to how far it will drop. Its predecessor dipped just 49% in its sophomore frame after its (at the time) record-breaking $208 million opening. Kingdom should fall farther and I foresee a mid-high 50s decline.

The percentage drop for Incredibles 2 was more pronounced than I projected in weekend #2 and that should subside a bit this weekend (I’ll say 46%).

The women of Ocean’s 8 should round out the top five. And with that, those 5 estimates for the frame ahead:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Predicted Gross: $62.1 million

2. Incredibles 2

Predicted Gross: $42.8 million

3. Uncle Drew

Predicted Gross: $16.4 million

4. Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Predicted Gross: $13.8 million

5. Ocean’s 8

Predicted Gross: $7 million

Box Office Results (June 22-24)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom easily ruled the box office grossing $148 million out of the gate. I was a bit lower at $140.4 million. The dino sequel, as mentioned, performed on the higher end of expectations while earning $60 million less for its start than Jurassic World in 2015. Its debut gives it the fourth largest in 2018 behind Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Incredibles 2.

Speaking of Incredibles 2, it fell to second with $80.3 million and didn’t reach my forecast of $94.9 million. Its two-week total sits at an incredible $349 million.

Ocean’s 8 held up nicely in third with $11.5 million to bring its tally to a cool $100 million. I was a tad lower at $9.8 million.

Tag was fourth with $8.2 million (I said $7.7 million) for $30 million in two weeks.

Deadpool 2 took the five-spot with $5.2 million (I said $4.9 million) to hit the triple century mark at $304 million.

Solo: A Star Wars Story was sixth at $4.5 million (I said $5.4 million) for $202 million overall.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Top Ten Summer Hits of 1988: A Look Back

Today marks the first official day of summer 2018 and that means some seasonal traditions are back on the blog! For the past few years, I have recounted the top summer tunes from the last 30, 20, and 10 years. It’s a chance to put on our nostalgia goggles and for me to take a look back on if the songs are a summer smash or summer bummer in hindsight. We begin with the tracks of 1988. As in posts from previous summers, I rank each ditty on a scale of 1 (awful) to 10 (classic) and reveal the most important detail of all – whether said song is on my personal Apple Music collection.

In the coming days, we’ll travel to 1998 and 2008. In July, I’ll get to the movie side recounting the top 10 hits, notable pictures, and flops of ’88, ’98, and ’08.

Let’s get to it!

10. “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love” by Chicago

This group that’s been around for decades scored numerous power ballad smashes in the 1980s. This is… one of them. And it’s not nearly as memorable as many of their others from earlier in the period. That said, it nearly deserves an extra half star for its gloriously cheesy music video.

My Ranking: 5

Is It On My Apple Music: Yes (but only because I have their greatest hits downloaded… I never listen to this one)

9. “I Don’t Wanna Go on with You Like That” by Elton John

Keeping on with the “I Don’t Wanna…” themed hits of three decades ago… ok, so it may not be one of the legend’s classic tunes, but this synth heavy concoction is a well-crafted effort at a time when Elton’s career needed a boost.

My Ranking: 8

Is It On My Apple Music? Yes

8. “Make Me Lose Control” by Eric Carmen

Best known for “Hungry Eyes” from Dirty Dancing, Carmen’s follow-up is a decent sing-along in the car with the windows down experience.

My Ranking: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

7. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n Roses

One of the signature tracks from the band with its unmistakable guitar riff to start it off, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is part of our DNA now. That said, there are certainly songs from GnR I would rank higher.

My Ranking: 8 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

6. “Hands to Heaven” by Breathe

The London pop group came and went fairly quickly, but ballad “Hands to Heaven” was their initial smash. Cheesy, sure. Solid chorus – yes.

My Ranking: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

5. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

VH-1 ranked it the second best song of the 1980s in a poll and it certainly is the signature tune of the rock group’s career. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it’s pretty darn iconic. I will, however, confess that the hair bands fad isn’t totally my cup of tea for the most part.

My Ranking: 8 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

4. “Hold On to the Nights” by Richard Marx

Another rather cheesy power ballad, this was nevertheless a smash from Marx that actually kept Leppard’s “Sugar” from hitting #1.

My Ranking: 6

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

3. “Monkey” by George Michael

The fourth single from his landmark Faith album, this uptempo dance track (with production assistance from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) gets the job done even if it doesn’t quite rank with some other classics from the 1987 multi-platinum effort.

My Ranking: 9

Is It On My Apple Music?: Yes

2. “The Flame” by Cheap Trick

A bit of a comeback single from the Illinois group, it found them traveling down the power ballad lane that dominated this particular summer. It’s fine. I don’t love it. Give me “I Want You To Want Me” any day.

My Ranking: 6 and a half

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

1. “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood

Is it catchy? Sure, but I was surprised to recall just how much of a hit this was. Four weeks at #1 and multiple Grammys, but I find it just perfectly adequate and far from a summer classic.

My Ranking: 7

Is It On My Apple Music?: No

I’ll have 1998 up soon! “I Don’t Wanna” keep you waiting long…