Uncharted Review

One of the big fights in Uncharted takes place at a Papa John’s in Barcelona. We know this because Mark Wahlberg announces he’s in a Papa John’s with more emotion than 90% of his other line deliveries. I’m sorry to say that a bored looking Wahlberg, a Tom Holland without quality Spidey material, and a screenplay borrowing heavily from superior franchises are not the better ingredients to make this a better slice of entertainment.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer (Venom), Uncharted raids the Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and National Treasure pics as did the PlayStation games it is based on. I won’t pretend to be an expert on its source material as I’ve never played it. I read that Holland and Wahlberg wouldn’t be the casting choices of its fanbase majority. All I can say is that their chemistry is rather nonexistent. The film only bails itself out a little in the third act with some impressive set pieces.

Nathan Drake (Holland) works nights bartending in New York City while pickpocketing his unsuspecting imbibers. 15 years prior (as we witness in the prologue), he and his brother Sam attempted to steal a map purportedly leading to Magellan’s 16th century gold. Sam gets kicked out of the orphanage they inhabit with a vow to Nathan to return. A decade and a half later, that hasn’t occurred but little bro does get an occasional postcard. Enter Sully (Wahlberg), a treasure seeker who enlists Nathan’s assistance when he reveals Sam is missing. The two team up to find fortune and family and are soon globetrotting along with Chloe (Sophie Ali), Sully’s distrustful colleague and potential love interest to Nathan.

The trio aren’t the only ones looking for Magellan’s ships filled with shiny bars. There’s Moncada (Antonio Banderas), whose lineage stems from the famed explorer’s funders. He believes the gold is his birthright and he’s got ruthless henchwoman Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) helping.

The treasure seeking brings us to Barcelona where key clues are buried beneath that aforementioned pizza franchise and its mediocre at best pizza with decent enough breadsticks if you get a double order of cheese sauce (that’s my P.J. review). It’s not until we reach the Philippines towards the final act that Uncharted‘s pulse is detected. The action sequences in that region and on the plane getting there (a definite standout) are well choreographed and offer more excitement than anything in the first two-thirds.

There’s not really a performance that stands out, but I will reiterate that Wahlberg doesn’t seem much into the mission or movie. You have to wade through a lot of dusty material to find scenes worth keeping in Uncharted. In Papa John’s terms, there’s not enough cheese sauce to go around.

** (out of four)

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Box Office Prediction

In what Hollywood is hoping looks more like a traditional summer season, it’s the MCU kicking it off with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The 28th feature in the biggest franchise of all is technically the follow-up to 2016’s Doctor Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. It is, however, the character’s sixth appearance overall in the cinematic universe with the most recent being December’s massive Spider-Man: No Way Home. 

Speaking of Spidey, Sam Raimi, maker of Tobey Maguire’s 2002-2007 trilogy, directs (taking over from Scott Derrickson). Costars back in the mix are Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. Newcomers to the MCU include Xochitl Gomez and Patrick Stewart (in an undisclosed role that could turn out to be quite familiar).

Madness has the big advantage of following a juggernaut in No Way Home. That has served as an advantage to other MCU properties. For instance, Captain Marvel in 2019 was the follow-up to Avengers: Endgame and it made $153 million out of the gate. That was slightly better than the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel from two years earlier. Assisting Multiverse is that the good Doctor had a sizable part in the previous Spidey adventure.

Five and a half years ago, the first Strange took in $85 million for its start with an eventual domestic haul of $232 million. In the MCU world, it’s way more normal for sequels to outdo their predecessors and that will certainly apply here. It should have no trouble achieving the largest premiere for 2022 – currently held by The Batman at $134 million.

No one is really thinking this will approach the $260 million weekend of No Way Home, but $200 million is definitely feasible. Underestimating the MCU is usually not wise so I’ll say it hits that mark. My projection would get it the 7th largest domestic debut of all time (right behind Jurassic World and just ahead of The Avengers).

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opening weekend prediction: $208.5 million

Oscar Predictions – Downton Abbey: A New Era

After the original grossed nearly $200 million worldwide in 2019, the sequel to Downton Abbey subtitled A New Era arrives in theaters on May 20. It’s in UK cinemas this Friday with the majority of the cast from the series it’s based on (which ran domestically on PBS) returning.

With Simon Curtis (maker of My Week with Marilyn and Woman in Gold) taking over directorial duties from Michael Engler, early reviews for part II are in line with its predecessor. 2019’s Abbey has an 84% Rotten Tomatoes rating while Era‘s currently sits at 78%.

The TV show scored a heaping on Emmy nods with costar Maggie Smith winning Supporting Actress. However, despite Critics Choice nominations for Costume and Production Design, the cinematic rendering didn’t catch the attention of Academy voters. If it couldn’t do so, I’m doubtful its follow-up will manage to either. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

April 29-May 1 Box Office Predictions

Before Doctor Strange and his Marvel friends dominate the box office next weekend, it should be an unmemorable one as April closes out. The only new release is Liam Neeson’s action thriller Memory and you can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:

Memory Box Office Prediction

My meager $3.3 million estimate for Memory (in line with recent Neeson pics) could leave it outside the top five with the family friendly holdovers maintaining the 1-2-3 positions.

The Bad Guys got off to a terrific start (more on that below) and it should easily maintain first position with a drop potentially in the 45-50% range. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore should follow and the 4-5 spots may again be held by The Northman and The Incredible Weight of Massive Talent. Depending on how far Talent falls, it may find itself in a battle for 5th with Memory. However, we also have Everything Everywhere All at Once and it could nab the 5 spot with another meager decline.

And with that, ny take on the weekend’s top 7:

1. The Bad Guys

Predicted Gross: $14.4 million

2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million

3. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million

4. The Northman

Predicted Gross: $5.6 million

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

6. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million

7. Memory

Predicted Gross: $3.3 million

Box Office Results (April 22-24)

DreamWorks Animation had an even bigger than anticipated hit on their hands as The Bad Guys did good business at $23.9 million, easily surpassing my $16.7 million projection. As mentioned, it should have little trouble stealing a second weekend at #1 before the Doctor arrives in May.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 held in second with $15.6 million, right in line with my $15.5 million call. The blockbuster sequel has amassed $146 million in its three weeks of release.

The news got worse for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. It fell from first to third with a steep 67% sophomore drop at $14 million. I was a tad higher at $15.1 million. In what should be the franchise’s last installment (it’s hard to justify fourth and fifth chapters as originally planned), the two-week tally is a mere $67 million. Reaching $100 million domestically is a stretch.

The Viking action drama The Northman slightly exceeded most prognosticators with $12.2 million in fourth. The Robert Eggers directed tale sailed ahead of my $10.3 million prediction. Problem is – its budget is reportedly a massive $90 million.

Nicolas Cage’s meta comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent opened in fifth with a muted $7.1 million, not quite matching my $7.9 million estimate. Despite glowing reviews, it couldn’t quite branch out beyond cinephiles who attended.

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

Oscar Predictions: The Bad Guys

We’re not yet a third of the way into 2022 and it’s at least feasible that three of the five eventual Best Animated Feature nominees will have been released. DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys opens this Friday and with a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score, it shouldn’t be counted out for inclusion.

It joins the already out Turning Red (Disney) and Apollo 10 1/2 (Netflix) as viable contenders for the prize. None are shoo-in nominees, but all three had their chances assisted today with the announcement that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been pushed to 2023.

Bottom line: there’s two-thirds of the year left for other hopefuls to emerge, but The Bad Guys has a fighting shot to make the cut. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…

Memory Box Office Prediction

Can Memory reverse the string of forgettable Liam Neeson pics we’ve seen lately or will it fall in line with his recent underwhelming performers? Slated for April 29th, this casts him as an assassin dealing with cognitive lapses. Martin Campbell (who kicked off the Brosnan and Craig 007 eras with Goldeneye and Casino Royale) directs. He most recently helmed the lackluster The Protege with Maggie Q and Michael Keaton.  Costars include Guy Pearce (who starred in the acclaimed Memento which covered similar themes) and Monica Bellucci.

It’s been nearly a decade and a half since Neeson resurged his career with Taken. This second life as an action star resulted in some hits, but there’s been more misses recently. The Marksman and Blacklight took in $3.7 and $3.5 million, respectively, in the COVID era. I see no reason why Memory wouldn’t suffer a similar fate and the gross may even dip a bit.

Memory opening weekend prediction: $3.3 million

April 22-24 Box Office Predictions

It’s likely to be a top heavy family friendly box office chart this weekend as DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys makes a play for the #1 spot. The well-reviewed action comedy could find itself in a battle with the second weekend of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (after a lackluster start) and the third frame of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The adults have fresh product to choose from as well. There’s the Viking epic The Northman from director Robert Eggers and Nicolas Cage headlining the meta comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. My detailed prediction posts on the trio of newbies can be accessed here:

The Bad Guys Box Office Prediction

The Northman Box Office Prediction

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Box Office Prediction

Considering Beasts easily had a Wizarding World franchise low opening (more on that below), even a mid teens start for The Bad Guys could mean it’ll manage to nab first place. If Sonic fell nearly 60% in its sophomore frame, I’m saying Beasts plummets in the mid 60s and it could be a close contest for second between the two holdovers.

The Northman and Talent should hold the four and spots and maybe not in that order. That’s how I have it, however, with Northman just surpassing double digits and Talent falling just under. Both features have solid critical support and could overperform, but I’m being cautious with each.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. The Bad Guys

Predicted Gross: $16.7 million

2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Predicted Gross: $15.5 million

3. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Predicted Gross: $15.1 million

4. The Northman

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million

5. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Predicted Gross: $7.9 million

Box Office Results (April 15-17)

It was an Easter to forget for Warner Bros as Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore remained a secret to many. The third entry in the series took in a lowly $42.1 million, below my $48.1 million projection. That’s about $20 million under 2018 predecessor The Crimes of Grindelwald and it genuinely brings into question whether the studio will move forward with planned fourth and fifth installments.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 dropped to second with $29.3 million and a larger than anticipated 59% drop. I was more generous at $35.8 million. The video game based sequel is up to a nevertheless impressive $118 million after 10 days.

The Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum rom com The Lost City was third with $6.2 million, on target with my $6.3 million take. Total is $78 million.

Everything Everywhere All at Once increased its screen count by nearly 1000 venues and boasted a 2% increase in weekend #2 with $6.1 million (I said $5.5 million). The potential awards contender has made $17 million.

Mark Wahlberg’s faith-based and fact based drama Father Stu opened in fifth with a muted $5.4 million from Friday to Sunday and $7.7 million since its Wednesday debut. That’s on pace with my respective takes of $5.7 million and $8.5 million.

Morbius was sixth with $4.7 million, a tad ahead of my $4.3 million prediction for $65 million overall.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Ambulance continued to stall with $4 million (I went with $4.5 million) for a two-week tally of only $15 million.

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

Oscar Predictions: The Tale of King Crab

Set in the late 19th century, the treasure themed adventure drama The Tale of King Crab hit the festival circuit last year and is premiering in limited release stateside this Easter weekend. The Italian production comes from documentary filmmakers Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis, making their fiction debut.

Nearly all reviews are positive as it stands at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, many of the critics aren’t gushing over it. I’m skeptical that its home country selects it as their entry for International Feature Film at the Oscars.

Italy got their contender in the final five in 2021 with The Hand of God. Don’t look for this Tale, despite some praise, to claw its way into the competition. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2022 Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Best Picture)

My initial early take on the Oscar landscape in the major categories brings us to Best Picture! If you missed my posts covering Director and the four acting races, they’re here:

2022 Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Best Director)

2022 Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Best Actress)

2022 Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Best Actor)

2022 Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Best Supporting Actress)

2022 Oscar Predictions: April Edition (Best Supporting Actor)

At this early stage in the proceedings, it’s a whole lotta guesswork going on. Some of these titles could end up getting pushed back to 2023. There’s no doubt some of these will fail to garner the critical raves they require to contend.

Yet we have to start somewhere so here’s the first look at my 10 projected BP nominees and 15 other possibilities!




Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

Killers of the Flower Moon


She Said

The Son

The Whale

Women Talking

Other Possibilities:

Armageddon Time

Asteroid City

Avatar 2

The Banshees of Inisherin

Canterbury Glass

Don’t Worry Darling


Empire of Light

The Killer

Poor Things



Three Thousand Years of Longing 


White Noise

Look for these to be updated (and ranked) in May!

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Box Office Prediction

Nicolas Cage may not always be picky with his projects and that gets him into hot water in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, out April 22nd. The acclaimed comedy casts the eccentric national treasure as an exaggerated (?) version of himself who accepts $1 million from Pedro Pascal’s superfan to attend a birthday party. It goes downhill from there. Tom Gormican directs and the supporting cast includes Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tiffany Haddish.

When Weight premiered in March at South by Southwest, it did so to sizzling reviews. The Rotten Tomatoes meter stands at a clean 100%. That should get a decent amount of cinephiles in multiplexes to see what all the buzz is about.

That said, I wonder if the concept is a little too inside baseball for general audiences. Additionally, plenty of viewers have grown accustomed to dialing up Cage’s new pics on streaming services and not in theaters.

Some forecasts have this reaching double digits in its debut, but I’m going a bit under that.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent opening weekend prediction: $7.9 million

For my The Bad Guys prediction, click here:

The Bad Guys Box Office Prediction

For my The Northman prediction, click here:

The Northman Box Office Prediction