Tag Archives: Bryan Singer

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Review

Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody hits many familiar notes and plot points as it explores the great showman that was Freddie Mercury and his iconic band Queen. There’s strain in his family – his actual one and the one that consists of his band mates. There’s the rise to fame and corruption of it. We have relationships strained to the point of apparent breakdown before reconciliation. Truth be told, many of these story arcs are so well-worn that you may feel you already know the words to them in the screenplay before they’re spoken.

However, it manages to succeed in a couple of meaningful ways. More than most music biopics, Rhapsody often captures the sheer magic that was Mercury. In the performance of Rami Malek, we have more than a fine impersonation (with the assistance of fake teeth). His work here captures the magnetism that Queen’s front man had. Additionally, the film builds its tale around their music that culminates in a Live Aid set that plays like a phoenix rising through the ashes.

We first meet the awkward looking Freddie handling luggage at Heathrow in London. He’s shy to a point, but also brimming with confidence in his vocal abilities as he rightly should. Freddie takes advantage of a lead singer opening in the band Smile and dubs it Queen. The rest, as they say, is history.

Regarding that history, Rhapsody has taken its licks for alternating some of the band’s timeline and events. It’s fair criticism, but the aim here is more of a celebration of the tracks that Mercury, Brian Ferry (Gwilym Lee, who nails the guitarist’s look and stance), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) create. Segments are featured around the title track, “We Will Rock You”, and “Another One Bites the Dust”. Freddie’s relationship with Mary (Lucy Boynton) is chronicled through the creation of “Love of My Life”. She’s his one-time fiancee who realizes his homosexuality perhaps before he does. Yet their bond is stronger than the physical.

The screenplay from Anthony McCarten also delves into the group’s business dealings. There’s a cheeky scene about the release of “Rhapsody” that allows Mike Myers (as a very 1970s looking record exec) to reference his famous head banging scene in Wayne’s World. We see the hangers-on that nearly deep six the band. Contrary to early reports, we do glimpse Freddie’s promiscuity and substance abuse and eventual AIDS diagnosis.

It’s not the movie’s nature to go too far down that rabbit hole. If you are expecting that, you may walk away disappointed. I walked away impressed by its achievement in capturing what made Freddie and his musical family so special. I didn’t walk away sensing any of the well-publicized behind the scenes drama that resulted in director Singer being replaced well into the shooting schedule by Dexter Fletcher. And I certainly left marveling at Malek’s commitment in bringing Freddie to the screen, with the loud and gorgeous sounds of his live performance in front of a billion plus people ringing in my ears.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Bohemian Rhapsody

The review embargo is officially lapsed for next weekend’s Bohemian Rhapsody, the highly publicized Queen biopic headlined by Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. Critical reaction appears to mostly match the social media buzz that emerged a couple of weeks back.

In short – Malek gives a bravura performance as the legendary frontman while the picture itself is more of a mixed and conventional bag. At the moment, its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at just 50%. Don’t expect this to come anywhere near a Best Picture nod. In my weekly prediction posts, I’ve had this hovering in the bottom rungs of 25 possibilities. I anticipate it falling out completely on Thursday.

Malek, on the other hand, is still viable. He could especially find himself making the final five if Rhapsody soars at the box office. Yet I believe it’s a legitimate question as to whether the reviews risk pushing him out of contention.

Bottom line: Bohemian getting Best Picture attention isn’t real life. That’s just fantasy, but Malek’s nomination could still happen.

The film opens November 2. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Bohemian Rhapsody Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (10/30/18): My estimate has been bumped from $31.8M to $41.8M

In the United States, famed British band Queen had two #1 hits with “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. Next weekend, a biopic of its legendary lead singer Freddie Mercury is likely to top box office charts when Bohemian Rhapsody debuts. Named after one of their signature tunes (used memorably in 1992’s Wayne’s World), Rami Malek stars as Mercury. The supporting cast includes Lucy Boynton, Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, Joseph Mazzello, and Wayne Campbell himself – Mike Myers. The film shares credit for its directors, as original filmmaker Bryan Singer was replaced well into the shooting schedule with Dexter Fletcher. That move attracted plenty of publicity.

With its well-received and rocking trailers, Rhapsody appears poised to knock off Michael Myers from #1 when it opens. It certainly has breakout potential due to familiarity with the band, but it could also leg out well if it achieves positive audience word-of-mouth. Reviews will be out shortly, but early buzz suggests the picture is a bit of a mixed bag while Malek’s portrayal of Mercury could generate Oscar attention.

I’ll say this starts its cinematic journey in the high 30s to low 40s range.

Bohemian Rhapsody opening weekend prediction: $41.8M million

For my The Nutcracker and the Four Realms prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/24/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms-box-office-prediction/

For my Nobody’s Fool prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/10/24/nobodys-fool-box-office-prediction/

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

XMen: Apocalypse isn’t the only disappointing entry in the franchise, but it’s the only one directed by Bryan Singer that I’d classify as such. He directed the first two X entries in 2000 and 2002 and got the series off to a satisfying start. Singer would return in 2014 with Days of Future Past to mostly pleasing results. Apocalypse may have you feeling blue about where this series is at. The villain is shrug worthy, some of the actors seem to not be giving it their all, and some of the CG effects are questionable at best. It also makes the error of providing dull backstory material for characters we didn’t really need to know backstory for.

When Singer left the franchise for the first time in 2002, Brett Ratner took over with The Last Stand in 2006 and was crucified for his efforts. In fact, when Singer returned in 2014, much of Future Past erased Last Stand. Maybe Apocalypse is a bit of revenge for Ratner, because it’s worse than his X-perience. Quite a bit worse actually. Stand doesn’t quite deserve its bad reputation and Apocalypse does.

The whole proceedings get off to a shaky start with a prologue set in Egypt where the first believed mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, in heavy and ugly makeup) is entombed by his enemies. Flash to centuries later and it’s 1983. When Apocalypse breaks out of his long slumber, he is hell bent on exacting revenge on the human race and showing off his many mutant abilities. He doesn’t comment on the awful 80s fashion, but it probably doesn’t make him any more fond of the people he seeks to destroy.

Fighting Apocalypse are many familiar X-Men, including Professor X (James McAvoy, still with hair for awhile) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Meanwhile, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is laying low in Poland working in factory with lots of metal (oh the temptations!). He has a wife and daughter and a tragic family scene between them is actually rather well handled. While this trio of movie stars playing the most liked X characters get their screen time, Simon Kinberg’s screenplay also spends an unnecessary amount of ink on backstories for Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Storm (younger versions of them all). These are unsought subplots that feel like filler and not much else. We also get a young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) storyline that should be more interesting than it is.

All in all, there’s simply nothing very exciting about Apocalypse. Lawrence seems downright bored and her performance reflects that. Oscar Isaac is a tremendously talented performer who’s utterly wasted in a one-note villain role. The 60s vibe worked in X-Men: First Class and the 70s era feel of Future Past was pretty cool. Here, the 80s references add little.

There’s a sequence early on when Jean and friends leave Return of the Jedi disappointed and says everyone knows that the third one in a series is always the worst. Was screenwriter Simon Kinberg trying to warn us? Apocalypse isn’t terrible, but it’s the low point of this series so far.

** (out of four)

X-Men: Apocalypse Box Office Prediction

The Mutants are back in the multiplex as X-Men: Apocalypse hits screens this Memorial Day weekend. Bryan Singer (who directed the first two well-regarded entries in the original trilogy and 2014’s Days of Future Past) is back behind the camera with franchise regulars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Rose Byrne returning, in addition to Oscar Isaac and Olivia Munn.

The pic is likely to rule the holiday weekend, but it is worth noting that competition is fiercer than two years ago when Future Past debuted on the same weekend. In 2014, the only other newcomer was the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore dud Blended. This time around, it’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, another high-profile sequel.

This is the 8th X-Men franchise flick in the 21st century (counting the two stand-alone Wolverine features) and the best opening so far is ironically 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Despite being generally regarded as the worst of the X series, it premiered to $102 million over that year’s Memorial Day Weekend from Friday to Sunday with $122 million for the four-day holiday frame. Days of Future Past was second with a $90 million Friday to Sunday and $110 million Friday to Monday.

Apocalypse would love to match Last Stand‘s debut or exceed it and there’s another common bond between them. This is the third movie in the current trilogy that began with 2011’s X-Men: First Class and like Stand, it’s receiving the weakest reviews. First Class earned an 87% Rotten Tomatoes score. Future Past improved slightly with 91%. Apocalypse currently sits at just 53%. The somewhat negative word of mouth and more significant competition could cause this to gross under what Past managed. However, I don’t think it’ll be much under.

I look for Apocalypse to post a low to mid-80s start for the traditional three-day with a gross just eclipsing the century mark for the holiday weekend.

X-Men: Apocalypse opening weekend prediction: $82.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $100.4 million (Friday to Monday)

For my Alice Through the Looking Glass prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/18/alice-through-the-looking-glass-box-office-prediction/

 

X-Men: Days of Future Past Movie Review

Some apologies are more sincere than others and X-Men: Days of Future Past may just have the distinction of being 20th Century Fox and Bryan Singer’s most expensive apology ever. Why? Essentially, the seventh X-Men installment (counting the two Wolverine one-offs) renders a lot of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand moot. That picture sent comic book fans into a frenzy with how sub par it was after Brett Ratner took over the directorial reigns from Singer, who made the high quality first two flicks.

In order for Singer to pull off his most miraculous trick since Kevin Spacey started walking straight almost 20 years ago, the franchise must incorporate time travel. That means we get to see the cast from the original trilogy and those who populated 2011’s X-Men: First Class, which triumphantly reinvigorated the series.

At the center of it all is Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, who warps back and forth between 1973 and the near future. In the “sort of” present, giant robots called Sentinels are exterminating Earth’s mutant species. Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Erik/Magneto (Ian McKellen) have actually formed a truce (maybe) to fight them. The solution involves having Wolverine go back 40 years to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Trask (Peter Dinklage), the Sentinel’s creator. Once Wolverine is among the glorious 70s fashion, he has to find younger Charles (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and convince them to work together (no easy assignment) to alter history. Even President Richard Nixon is part of the action, though it’s never established if any of the future dwellers helped him out with that whole Watergate thing.

Along the way, we’re introduced to a new character that inspires the coolest sequence in the picture. That’s Quicksilver (Evan Peters), whose super fast abilities allow for a rather jaw dropping action scene. His presence in the upcoming sequels will be welcome I trust.

To set the future right, Charles can only truly help by giving up a nasty drug addiction that renders his telepathy useless, but allows him to walk. Only by embracing his paralyzed status can he enter the Cerebro chamber and do his Professor X thing. In essence, he’s sort of like the cinematic Bizarro equivalent of Lieutenant Dan.

Besides the company already mentioned, other X-Men favorites (and not so favorites) return. There’s Beast and Shadowcat and Iceman. Halle Berry returns as Storm and, just like in the original trilogy, she doesn’t add much to the proceedings.

For all the time travel gobbledygook, Future Past works best as a highly entertaining action pic spent with old friends. Singer proved himself a great choice for the X material (unlike with Superman) in 2000 and 2002 and that holds true today. We already know how effective Jackman and the fine actors playing young and old Professor X and Magneto are. And with Jennifer Lawrence having become one of the biggest stars in the world since First Class, her role as Mystique is certainly magnified, as would be expected.

Future Past continues the positive trend that the series has been on since First Class washed the bad taste of Last Stand away. Brett Ratner might deservedly feel like a scapegoat once the credits roll here, but you’ll feel pretty satisfied.

*** (out of four)

X-Men: Days of Future Past Box Office Prediction

The Memorial Day weekend box office gets underway with X-Men: Days of Future Past, the seventh installment in the venerable Fox franchise. It’s probably safe to say that audience anticipation for this one is the highest it’s been in the series in a while. Why? That would be the combination of the casts from the original X-Men franchise alongside the group from 2011’s X-Men: First Class. That means Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen matching up against their younger counterparts James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. It also means Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine with Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, as well as Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hault, and Shawn Ashmore.

Director Bryan Singer, who was behind the camera for the franchise’s critically acclaimed first two installments, is back in the mix, too. This has all led to some box office prognosticators forecasting a healthy $125 million four-day holiday opening for the pic. In my view, that seems just a bit high. However, it’s worth noting that I’ve been quite a bit under on both Neighbors and Godzilla‘s debuts so far this summer season. As far as Memorial Day weekends go, the champ is 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which earned $139.8 million. The silver prize goes to 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, which took in $126.9M. Last year’s holiday winner was Fast and Furious 6 with its $117M haul. To me, that seems like a more reasonable ballpark for what Future Past could open at.

In order for the film to break the all-time franchise record, it will need to outdo the $122.8M that X-Men: The Last Stand made over Memorial Day weekend in 2006. It’s certainly possible, but my estimate puts it a bit below that. Either way, this should certainly far outshine the $55.1 million made by First Class three summers ago and set up nicely for the next planned installment, X-Men: Apocalypse, slated for 2016.

X-Men: Days of Future Past four day opening weekend prediction: $114.3 million

For my Blended prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/05/18/blended-box-office-prediction/