Angel Has Fallen Box Office Prediction

In 2913, Olympus Has Fallen surprised box office prognosticators with a gross of $98 million stateside, eclipsing the earnings of the similarly themed and higher profile White House Down from that same year. The Gerard Butler action thriller has now spawned two sequels with Angel Has Fallen rising in cinemas next weekend.

Butler’s Secret Service agent now finds himself framed for the attempted assassination of Morgan Freeman’s character. Ric Roman Waugh, best known for directing Dwayne Johnson in Snitch, is behind the camera. Costars include Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo, Danny Huston, and Nick Nolte.

As mentioned, Olympus was a sleeper hit that soared out of the gate with $30 million. 2016 follow-up London Has Fallen couldn’t match those numbers with a $21 million start and $62 million eventual tally.

My expectation is that the third edition will continue the downward trend. Mid to possibly high teens is likely. In the dog days of August, that might be enough for an unremarkable #1 debut.

Angel Has Fallen opening weekend prediction: $15.2 million

For my Overcomer prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/14/overcomer-box-office-prediction/

For my Ready or Not prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/08/16/ready-or-not-box-office-prediction/

Game Night Movie Review

Too many big studio comedies can be numbered by the handful of gags that work while the rest fall flat. This is thankfully not the case with Game Night. It’s gimmicky, sure. It’s a bit forgettable. Yet it’s consistently amusing and doesn’t overburden itself with too much sentimentality. As far as the genre goes as of late, that’s enough to mark this a success.

The pic comes from co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who last made the more consistently unfunny Vacation reboot. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are Max and Annie, married with no children even though she’s ready. Their biggest shared love is one of competitiveness, which includes their game nights with friends. Their usual group includes playboy Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and childhood sweethearts Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury). Next door neighbor and police officer Gary (Jesse Plemons) is a former regular until his recent divorce has turned him into quite the weirdo.

Our main couple’s typical showing of charade and board gaming dominance is interrupted when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) pops up. Brooks is the ultra cool brother with a better bone structure and larger pocketbook that Max harbors jealousy for. Instead of Clue or Risk, Brooks has a different idea for game night involving a kidnapping and real actors interacting with the group. The players won’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

Wouldn’t you know it? Turns out some real kidnappers turn up and that Brooks may be involved in some seedy stuff. What follows is a search for a Faberge egg, guns that the principals think aren’t real (an overused gag by now), squeaky toys used to bite down on for pain (a never before seen gag that’s pretty darn funny), and Bateman’s patented ironic detachment that always seems to work.

Night is served with a game cast. Standouts include Plemons as the creepy but probably well-meaning neighbor and Magnussen as the dim bulb participant of the team. Sharon Horgan is his much smarter date for the evening and she provides some humorous moments as well. The screenplay also provides a twist or two that are genuinely surprising.

The actual concept of a game night may not be as joyous as it’s supposed to be on occasion. You need fun people there. This movie has them. Like real game nights, you may forget some of details by the next day but you’ll remember enjoying it.

*** (out of four)

Wonder Woman Movie Review

The small sub genre of female driven superhero movies has unfortunately been a bit of a cinematic litter box with forgettable fare like Supergirl, Catwoman, and Elektra. That changes with Wonder Woman from director Patty Jenkins. It is not only by far the most satisfying comic book adaptation headlined by a woman, it’s the most entertaining DC pic since Christopher Nolan was handling the Batman franchise.

We first saw Gal Gadot’s title character in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as a sidekick to those two iconic titans. While it deservedly earned its reputation as a mess, it was also a mess worth watching and Wonder Woman was a bright spot in it. Now we get her origin story. We begin in present day with Diana Prince collaborating with Bruce Wayne. The Caped Crusader’s research has uncovered a photograph of the ageless Wonder from the World War I era (which we first saw in BvS). This causes Diana’s memory to travel way, way back.

Before the events chronicled in that picture come into play, we get Diana as a young girl on the lush and secluded island of Themyscira. It is a land of only women, including her Amazon queen mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her warrior aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). As a child, she’s told grand stories of the Gods and how Ares the god of war killed Zeus and it all led to this private island paradise. Mother mostly wants this quality of life preserved while Auntie Antiope insists on training Diana into a warrior princess. And it seems even pre teen Diana has a knack for kicking butt.

The dynamic of life on Themyscira is altered when hunky WWI spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and his plane crash lands there. Diana rescues him and get her first exposure to the male species. She’s also exposed to the news that a massive war is taking place outside her small world and she feels it’s her duty to help. So off she goes with Captain Trevor with the idea that she’ll rid the Earth of Ares, whom she believes is the real culprit behind all the chaos.

Our scenery changes from the bright and shimmering island to gray and drab London where Diana is a major fish out of water. There are scenes of her adjusting to her new surroundings (including having to try on the restrictive clothing of the era) that are quite humorous. The duo soon assemble a rag tag team with tacit approval from a commander played by David Thewlis. Their mission is to stop a German general (Danny Huston) and a deformed scientist (Elena Anaya, who is memorable here) who’s developed a dastardly gas concoction.

While all this intrigue is occurring, Diana and Steve are becoming closer and Gadot and Pine have a romantic and often funny chemistry. Their interactions lead to some charming moments, but also ones that lead to dramatic heft later. Unlike recent DC titles like BvS and Man of Steel, Wonder Woman isn’t afraid to have a degree of silliness that is welcome. After all, our heroine’s “lasso of truth” is present here and it’s difficult to take it very seriously. What’s easy to admire is Gadot’s work in selling her character’s reaction to her new reality off the island. Wonder Woman believes that simply stopping the God she’s heard about for all her life will make everything right. It’s fascinating to watch her realization that the world is a bit more complicated.

The grand action sequences here aren’t much different in style or quality than what we’ve witnessed before in countless other superhero tales. Wonder Woman doesn’t break the mold from the many origin stories that come from comic book pages. Some of the plot points are familiar – we know there will be an additional villain reveal in the third act and there is.

However, Wonder Woman succeeds because it takes time to develop her story. It gives her a partner and romantic interest that we like and care about. The screenplay isn’t solely consumed with loud and fiery battle set pieces. The writers remember that character exploration and humor are assets as well. And, yes, for the first time witness a superhero with “wo” added to the “man” that hits the mark.

*** (out of four)

Wonder Woman Box Office Prediction

The DC Cinematic Universe continues next weekend with the release of Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. spin-off of Gal Gadot’s version of the iconic character that first appeared in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Patty Jenkins, who hasn’t made a feature since directing Charlize Theron to an Oscar in 2003’s Monster, is the first female director to helm a big-budget comic book adaptation. It’s also the first of its genre to focus on a female protagonist.

In addition to Gadot’s Amazon princess, Chris Pine costars along with Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, David Thewlis, and Danny Huston. DC is looking to replicate the smashing success that Marvel and Disney have accomplished in their series of Avengers flicks and spin-offs. The aforementioned Batman v Superman debuted in March 2016 to $166 million, which accounted for over half of its eventual $330M domestic haul. While that’s certainly a very solid gross, many critics and moviegoers weren’t blown away by what they saw. That said, Gadot’s Wonder Woman was considered to be a highlight among many.

The pic is not expected to approach BvS territory. Early estimates have been all over the map as to how it will open (anywhere from $65 to $115 million). A bright spot: word-of-mouth has been encouraging and reviews have been very strong.

I believe Wonder Woman will make over half of what the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel achieved for its start over a year ago and approach $100 million. Hopefully, fans will like what they see as they’ll only have to wait five and a half months to see the title character again in Justice League. 

Wonder Woman opening weekend prediction: $98.3 million

For my Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/05/25/captain-underpants-the-first-epic-movie-box-office-prediction/

Big Eyes Movie Review

Early on in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) pontificates that art is not about quality when it comes to whether it sells. It’s about being at the right place at the right time. For many years, Walter’s words couldn’t ring more true for himself. And he could’ve added meeting the right person.

That person is Margaret (Amy Adams) and she’s a recent divorcee in the late 1950s (when it was quite uncommon) with a talent for painting portraits of her young daughter. Her signature look is our movie title on the face of her work. When she meets Walter, he seduces her with his plentiful charm and they’re soon married. He presents himself as a fellow painter, but his Paris landscapes don’t interest anyone. Margaret’s, on the other hand, begin to capture some attention and soon a confluence of circumstances lead Walter to claim credit for her work. Those circumstances (most completely Walter’s doing and some not) additionally lead his wife to go along with the deceit for a long time. As the years roll by, Walter becomes a renowned and celebrated figure, while conflicted Margaret paints their fortune in her secret studio in homes that grow in size.

Big Eyes is based on true events and the art filled subject matter is right up Burton’s alley, though with a majorly smaller budget than he’s used to. The 50s and then 60s San Francisco setting provides a vibrant look to the proceedings. Unlike most of the director’s recent efforts, the only special effects is some big eyes superimposed on human faces from time to time. The focus is on the relationship of Walter and Margaret. Recognizable faces like Danny Huston, Jon Polito, Krysten Ritter, Terence Stamp and Jason Schwartzman pop up in small supporting roles. Truth be told, the relationship dynamic between our two leads is often treading familiar territory. Margaret lives in an era where challenging her husband’s word is not easy. She even attempts to tell her huge secret during confession and the priest basically tells her to obey him.

The work of primarily Adams is impressive, as it almost always is. Creating a sympathetic character who still is not totally innocent in all her actions, the actress is fascinating to watch. Waltz is an exciting performer who’s earned two Oscars for his mastery of Tarantino’s dialogue. The role of Walter is a tricky one. He is painted in broad strokes in the screenplay and the filmmakers insist they actually downplayed him from real life. It may all be the truth about Walter’s world of non truth, but it is difficult to view him as anything more than a caricature on occasion.

Adams’ work and the legitimately interesting real life tale we see here are enough to recommend Big Eyes.  It is also refreshing to see Burton doing commendable work without a $200 million budget remaking something, like he did 20 years back with Ed Wood. Speaking of that effort, Big Eyes comes from the same writers (Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski). This isn’t as memorable as that fine picture about a terrible director, but it’s a good film about a talented artist who is directed into a heckuva big scheme.

*** (out of four)