Black and Blue Box Office Prediction

Moonlight Oscar nominee Naomie Harris is a rookie officer up against dirty cops in next weekend’s racially tinged action thriller Black and Blue. It comes from Deon Taylor, who directed this summer’s thriller The Intruder. Costars include Tyrese Gibson, Frank Grillo, and Reid Scott.

Late October is typically not a time period where new products post impressive debuts. Buzz is quiet and reviews are middling with a current 57% Rotten Tomatoes score. None of the cast members are much of a draw. Blue will be lucky to attract even the $7.6 million achieved last October by The Hate U Give. It had similar subject matter, but far better critical reaction.

I believe that means mid single digits is probable.

Black and Blue opening weekend prediction: $4.8 million

For my Countdown prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/16/countdown-box-office-prediction/

For my The Current War prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/10/20/the-current-war-box-office-prediction/

Rampage Movie Review

A genetically deformed gorilla, wolf, and alligator walk into a major metropolitan area and destroy buildings. That was the concept of the video game in which Rampage was based upon and the movie adaptation doesn’t burden itself with over ambition in bringing it to the screen. Throw in Dwayne Johnson and lots of CG effects and what do you get? A fairly middling experience that will probably manage to thrill teenage boys whose fathers spent their quarters on the game at the arcade in the 1980s.

Davis Okoye (Johnson) is a primatologist. He’s great with animals and doesn’t really enjoy interacting with people, as the screenplay incessantly reminds us. He’s developed a particular bond with George, an albino gorilla who lives at the sanctuary where Davis works. They’re practically a comedy team as Davis has taught him tricks like flipping the bird. The duo’s future nightclub act is disrupted when a canister of debris containing genetic mutation material lands near George and causes him to grow into a destructive beast. This nasty stuff is also consumed by the aforementioned wolf and alligator.

I could go into further plot detail on the specifics, but here’s the bottom line. Rampage is all about getting that trio of monsters en route to Chicago where they can flick tanks and helicopters into buildings with ease. Davis teams up with an engineer (Naomie Harris) and an outlaw government figure (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to not only stop the creatures, but prevent the military from overreacting to the potential carnage. And there’s Malin Ackerman and Jake Lacy as the sister/brother duo who run the evil corporation that made the stuff that turned funny George into bad George.

Unfortunately for us, there’s about an hour of filler before Rampage reaches its Windy City destination. That time is a bit of a strain. Since it’s Dwayne Johnson playing a primatologist, it will come as no shock that he’s also ex-Special Forces. We get a bit of his background (including some anti-poaching messages) and same goes for Harris’s character who used to work at the conglomerate that wreaked this havoc.

By the time we arrive at the gorilla and wolf and alligator warfare, we’re greeted with some decent set pieces in the Transformers vein. Yet that even manages to overstay its welcome and the CG, while decent, has seen stronger offerings (it’s nothing compared to the animal work in the latest Planet of the Apes pics).

This is Johnson’s second collaboration with Brad Peyton, who directed him in San Andreas. That was another so-so spectacle that was easily digestible and forgettable. The makers of and actors in Rampage do seem to know this is silly junk food and earn some points for never taking it seriously. And there’s certainly been other video game adaptations that have been way worse. We’re talking faint praise, I suppose, but Rampage can only do so much with the simple concept of “smash building, smash car, and repeat.”

**1/2 (out of four)

Rampage Box Office Prediction

Pairing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with a bunch of CG animals in an adventure flick? If that sounds like a recipe for box office success, that’s because Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle became Sony’s biggest hit at the end of 2017. And next weekend’s Rampage (while it won’t approach the numbers of that franchise follow-up) looks poised to bring in generous earnings.

The Warner Bros release is based loosely on the 1980s video game. It marks Johnson’s third collaboration with director Brad Peyton following Journey: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas. Both of those titles managed to top the century mark ($103 million and $155 million respectively) and this should do the same. Costars include Naomie Harris, Malin Ackerman, Joe Manganiello, Jake Lacy, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Perhaps more importantly, other costars are giant gorillas, wolf’s, and alligators.

The question is whether Rampage falls more in line with $27 million debut of Journey 2 or the $54 million accomplished by Andreas. The former seems a bit low to me while the latter is high. I’ll project a mid to possibly high 30s opening is more the ticket.

Rampage opening weekend prediction: $36.6 million

For my Truth or Dare prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/04/03/truth-or-dare-box-office-prediction/

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

David Frankel’s Collateral Beauty starts with a pretentious name and goes downhill from there. It’s a film dealing with weighty subjects in a manner that is borderline offensive and cheats the audience and its talented actors of quality. When you can’t get past an incredibly contrived concept, it makes any semblance of emotional resonance that the screenplay is trying to beat into you fail badly. And it does.

Howard (Will Smith) is an advertising exec who’s mourning the loss of his young daughter. He can’t get past the loss and he’s cut off communication with the world, including his coworkers. There’s three of them that are focused on and they’re all given their own soap opera subplots. Whit (Edward Norton) is a divorcee trying to reconnect with his own little girl. Claire (Kate Winslet) is the workaholic wanting to become a mother. Simon (Michael Pena) is terminally ill and trying to hide his diagnosis from everyone.

The trio make the tough decision to try to push Howard out of the company. In order to do so, the script invents quite a remarkably ridiculous way to do so. You see – Howard writes letters to issues he’s grappling with – Love, Death, Time. When his coworkers are at their wit’s end, they make the puzzling decision to hire an acting troupe to portray those emotions, catch Howard’s reaction to them on camera, and exploit his response for the company’s gain. It’s even more contrived than it sounds. So we have Helen Mirren as Death, Keira Knightley as Love, and Jacob Latimore as Time. Howard also reaches out to a grief counselor (Naomie Harris) who’s experienced similar life issues.

This is the type of picture that some may not want to criticize due to its subject matter. Yet Collateral Beauty deserves scorn, especially because so many other films have dealt with similar themes in far more mature and satisfying ways. There’s not a performance here worthy of praise and that’s remarkable considering the cast. Smith is stuck playing one note throughout and even Mirren (one of our finest actresses) is annoying. No actors could make this dialogue work to be fair. It’s as if screenwriter Allan Loeb took a bunch of sympathy and encouragement cards and self-help manuals, cut them up, threw them in the air, and let treacly word piles form. The result is ugly.

* (out of four)

 

Moonlight Movie Review

One not need to live in Chiron’s world in Moonlight to understand his struggles. We all have moments where we feel isolated. We all have had family drama. We all have moments where we strive to figure out who we are. The central character in this Barry Jenkins picture may experience it at an elevated level and in a universe where his identity is shunned. However, we manage to identify with him and that’s a tribute to an often subtle and smart script.

The film is told in three chapters as it follows various stages in Chiron’s life in Miami and eventually Atlanta. It begins under the heading “Little”, where we find him as a shy young boy. His mother Paula (Naomie Harris) is an absentee one and Little is soon befriended by drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monae). They serve as his de facto parents.

Second chapter “Chiron” finds him as a teenager who’s frequently targeted at school. Paula is now a drug addict, Teresa still cares for him, and Juan is no longer in the picture. He also has a complicated relationship with longtime friend Kevin that alters between romantic and antagonistic.

Chapter three “Black” finds Chiron as a twenty something whose life has veered into territory much like Juan’s. It would probably be something his father figure would despise. The years gone by have also gotten him out of touch with Kevin, but their paths coincide once again.

Moonlight finds three actors playing Chiron (and Kevin) in these stages. Alex Hibbert is the youngster in part one, Ashton Sanders is the teen, and Trevante Rhodes is the young man. All of them shine. Same goes for the supporting players, with note deserved to Ali for putting a fresh spin on a character who could’ve been far more stereotypical.

There are events key to Chiron’s story that aren’t shown here and while I understand the structural decision not to belabor them, it does occasionally take away from its overall dramatic impact.

Yet its staying power is still significant. The film is about someone discovering their sexuality and we finds ourselves for rooting for Chiron to get there. No matter your identity, you’ll recognize and sympathize with moments of family struggle, bullying, and loneliness. Jenkins (who wrote and directed) assuredly keeps the audience wondering where his subject’s journey turns next.

***1/2 (out of four)

Todd’s Updated 2016 Oscar Winner Predictions

Good Sunday all! 15 days from today, the Oscars will air and for the next three Sundays, I’ll be giving you my take on where I see each category standing. This means my winner prediction and each nominee listed in order of likelihood to take their prize.

My final predictions will post on Sunday, February 26 prior to the broadcast the next day. Let’s get to it, shall we?

BEST PICTURE

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Manchester by the Sea

4) Hidden Figures

5) Lion

6) Arrival

7) Hacksaw Ridge

8) Hell or High Water

9) Fences

BEST DIRECTOR

1) Damien Chazelle, La La Land

2) Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

3) Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

4) Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

5) Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

BEST ACTOR

1) Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

2) Denzel Washington, Fences

3) Ryan Gosling, La La Land

4) Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

5) Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

BEST ACTRESS

1) Emma Stone, La La Land

2) Natalie Portman, Jackie

3) Isabelle Huppert, Elle

4) Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

5) Ruth Negga, Loving

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1) Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

2) Dev Patel, Lion

3) Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

4) Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

5) Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1) Viola Davis, Fences

2) Naomie Harris, Moonlight

3) Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

4) Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

5) Nicole Kidman, Lion

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1) Moonlight

2) Lion

3) Hidden Figures

4) Fences

5) Arrival

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1) Manchester by the Sea

2) La La Land

3) Hell or High Water

4) The Lobster

5) 20th Century Women

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

1) Zootopia

2) Kubo and the Two Strings

3) Moana

4) My Life as a Zucchini

5) The Red Turtle

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

1) The Salesman

2) Toni Erdmann

3) Land of Mine

4) A Man Called Ove

5) Tanna

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1) I Am Not Your Negro

2) O.J.: Made in America

3) 13th

4) Fire at Sea

5) Life, Animated

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Arrival

4) Lion

5) Silence

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1) Jackie

2) La La Land

3) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

4) Florence Foster Jenkins

5) Allied

BEST EDITING

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight

3) Arrival

4) Hacksaw Ridge

5) Hell or High Water

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1) Star Trek Beyond

2) Suicide Squad

3) A Man Called Ove

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

1) La La Land

2) Arrival

3) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

4) Hail, Caesar!

5) Passengers

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1) La La Land

2) Lion

3) Moonlight

4) Jackie

5) Passengers

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1) “City of Stars” from La La Land

2) “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

3) “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” from Trolls

4) “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

5) “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

BEST SOUND EDITING

1) La La Land

2) Hacksaw Ridge

3) Arrival

4) Deepwater Horizon

5) Sully

BEST SOUND MIXING

1) La La Land

2) Hacksaw Ridge

3) Arrival

4) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

5) 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1) The Jungle Book

2) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

3) Doctor Strange

4) Kubo and the Two Strings

5) Deepwater Horizon

Next Update will be Be Sunday!

2016 SAG Awards Predictions

The final major awards ceremony before Oscar takes place tonight on TBS and TNT as the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards airs. These awards and winners are voted by fellow thespians, so the races are a bit different in the sense that there’s no Best Picture per se. Instead it’s Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and the five nominated pictures contains one rather glaring omission: La La Land, even though it’s the front runner at the Academy Awards.

We do have the other acting races we’re accustomed to, as well as Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture. Let’s break each category down one by one with my predicted winners for this evening.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture 

Nominees: Captain Fantastic, Fences, Hidden Figures, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Predicted Winner: Moonlight

Analysis: The recipient here could solidify its status as Most Likely to Win Best Picture at the Oscars if La La doesn’t. I’ll predict the SAG voters give the edge to Barry Jenkins acclaimed drama over Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester, just like the Globes did.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences)

Predicted Winner: Casey Affleck

Analysis: The five nominees match five for five with the Academy. Affleck has received the lions share of precursors thus far and I expect that to continue here. Washington is the only other possibility.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Amy Adams (Arrival), Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Predicted Winner: Natalie Portman

Analysis: Yes, I’m going for the minor upset here as Stone is the likely front runner. Only the two of them and Streep match the Oscar nods, as SAG honored Adams and Blunt instead of Isabelle Huppert (Elle) and Ruth Negga (Loving).

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Dev Patel (Lion)

Predicted Winner: Mahershala Ali

Analysis: A win by either Bridges or Patel wouldn’t surprise me, but Ali has picked up a lot of critics prizes. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, surprise Globe winner for Nocturnal Animals, isn’t present here.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Predicted Winner: Viola Davis

Analysis: Another exact match with Oscar and I expect the same result – a win for Ms. Davis. Anything else would be a surprise.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Nominees: Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Hacksaw Ridge, Jason Bourne, Nocturnal Animals

Predicted Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Analysis: This is a tough one as either of the comic book flicks could win. Still, I’ll go with the only nominated Best Picture at the Oscars. By the way, why Nocturnal is present here baffles me.

And there you have it! Happy watching tonight…