The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious is our eighth – yes, eighth – installment of a franchise that it would have been ridiculous to imagine there being that many entries. We’re a long way from the original 16 years ago that was sort of a drag racing rip-off of Point Break, or Point Brake as I deemed it in my review. That said, a common thread among the series is its willingness to be knowingly ridiculous while weaving in endless monologues about the importance of family.

The formula took on a different tone in predecessor Furious 7, which admirably managed to deal with the death of franchise stalwart Paul Walker in its conclusion. In that sense, Fate ushers in a new chapter. New characters are introduced, old ones are rehashed, and the level of silliness is brought to a level not quite seen before. Yes, cars go fast here. However, part 8 owes more to James Bond flicks when they were less grim (think Roger Moore era with a quarter billion dollar budget).

As I’ve written in previous Furious critiques, plot is secondary but here’s what you need to know: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has turned on his team. Sort of. He’s being forced to team up with criminal mastermind Cipher (Charlize Theron), who evades authorities in the air on an invisible plane. See what I mean? Isn’t that the kind of villain 007 might battle in the late seventies? Now on the wrong side of justice, Dominic and Cipher must go against Dom’s “family”, including wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and the familiar players played by Dwayne Johnson (whose goofy character is still good for some funny and bizarre moments), Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Kurt Russell, and more. Part 7’s main villain Jason Statham is more of a team player this time around and even Oscar winner Helen Mirren turns up as his mum. Statham is granted a fight scene towards the end where he has to be delicate with some cargo he’s carrying (you’ll see what I mean). The scene is genuinely humorous and quite well choreographed.

The plot is all an excuse for the massive action spectacles and globe trotting we’ve become accustomed to and we have it here in Cuba, New York City, and Russia. The climactic sequence set on Russian frozen tundra employs the usual expensive vehicles, but we also are treated to tanks and submarines. Remember the ice action in Pierce Brosnan’s Bond flick Die Another Day? Think that, but it’s not embarrassingly awful.

Our Furious sagas rise and fall on the ability for us to check our brains at the Universal logo. By the third act, I’d succumbed once again to its cheesy charms. Maybe one day this series will truly stall like it briefly did in 2006’s Tokyo Drift. Not yet though and that’s some kind of testament to its durability.

*** (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: January 8-10

Unless Leonardo DiCaprio’s awards contender The Revenant has a much bigger than anticipated debut, it should be weekend #4 atop the charts for record breaker Star Wars: The Force Awakens on this second 2016 frame. As I see it – Han, Leia and company should garner about another $50M+ to add to its astonishing total.

The Revenant is certainly the heavy hitter newbie this weekend and it should have no trouble posting runner-up status. The weekend’s other fresh offerings are horror pic The Forest and faith based sports drama The Masked Saint. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them all here:

The Forest should manage to place fifth unless some leftovers hold up better than my estimates while The Masked Saint may have to settle for an 11th place showing. Daddy’s Home and The Hateful Eight should populate the three and four spots.

And with that, my top five predictions for the weekend:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Gross: $51.6 million (representing a drop of 43%)

2. The Revenant

Predicted Gross: $33.2 million

3. Daddy’s Home

Predicted Gross: $16.8 million (representing a drop of 42%)

4. The Hateful Eight

Predicted Gross: $10.5 million (representing a drop of 33%)

5. The Forest

Predicted Gross: $8.7 million

Box Office Results (January 1-3)

The Force continued to be incredibly strong as Star Wars three-peated with $90.2 million, a bit under my $98.7M projection. The acclaimed seventh episode of the iconic franchise has amassed $742M at press time and looks to become the highest domestic grosser in history on Wednesday – surpassing Avatar‘s $760M.

Daddy’s Home remained in second with $29.2 million, ahead of my $25.9M estimate for a terrific 10 day haul of $93M. The Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy has proven itself to be quite the breakout.

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight expanded wide and could not match my lofty expectations. Coming in behind his previous pics Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, the three hour pic grossed $15.7 million over the traditional three day weekend and $22.3 million since its wide Wednesday opening. While this is considerably under my $27.2M and $36.1M respective predictions, this is still a decent debut and it hopes to hold up well in subsequent frames.

The Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters continued its fine run in fourth with $12.7 million (outpacing my $9.2M estimate) for a three week total of $61M. It could manage to reach close to the century mark and maybe even top it.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip held up solidly in weekend #3 with $12 million for fifth, ahead of my $9.1M projection for a total of $67M.

The David O. Russell/Jennifer Lawrence collaboration Joy was sixth in its second weekend with $10.2 million, in line with my $10.7M estimate. Its just OK two week cume is at $38M.

In seventh was Oscar contender The Big Short, holding nicely at $9 million (above my $7.8M guess) for a tally of $33M. A potential Golden Globe win this coming weekend in the Musical/Comedy race could help continue its sterling performance.

Will Smith’s underwhelming Concussion was eighth with $7.8 million (I was in the ballpark with $8.6M) for ten days earnings of $25M.

Point Break held up stronger than my $5.4M estimate with $6.8 million for a still weak 10 day tally of only $22M.

Rounding out the top ten was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 at $4.6 million (I said $3.6M) for a $274M overall gross.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: January 1-3

2016 should come in just as 2015 went out with Star Wars: The Force Awakens continuing its historic record breaking run all over the globe. As I see it, I look for its third weekend to hover right around the $100M mark as it blasts forward with becoming the highest grossing domestic earner of all time.

The big opening this weekend is Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which debuted in limited release to scorching results. I look for it to come close to $30M over the three day weekend and reach mid 30s for its five day haul (it premieres wide on Wednesday), which should be enough to edge out the second weekend of Daddy’s Home. You can read my detailed prediction post on it here:

There are a host of Christmas holdovers in their second and third frames which should dominate the rest of the Top Ten (without November’s Hunger Games likely rounding out the list). The New Year’s weekend usually sees Christmas products experiencing smallish declines and this year should be no different. Point Break is likely to see the heftiest fall while I anticipate good holds for Joy, Concussion, and The Big Short.

And with that, my top ten predictions for the weekend:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Gross: $98.7 million (representing a drop of 33%)

2. The Hateful Eight

Predicted Gross: $29.2 million

3. Daddy’s Home

Predicted Gross: $25.9 million (representing a drop of 33%)

4. Joy

Predicted Gross: $10.7 million (representing a drop of 37%)

5. Sisters

Predicted Gross: $9.2 million (representing a drop of 35%)

6. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

Predicted Gross: $9.1 million (representing a drop of 30%)

7. Concussion 

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million (representing a drop of 22%)

8. The Big Short

Predicted Gross: $7.8 million (representing a drop of 26%)

9. Point Break 

Predicted Gross: $5.4 million (representing a drop of 47%)

10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Predicted Gross: $3.6 million (representing a drop of 30%)

Box Office Results (December 25-27)

The Christmas holiday produced great results (and mediocre ones) for some newbies while Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued its domination and became the fastest pic to gross a billion dollars worldwide. Awakens took in $149.2 million, in line with my $151.6M estimate for a ten day domestic total of $540M. It looks to extend its #1 streak next weekend and beyond.

While the billion $ Star Wars action deservedly got the most press, the other big story of the weekend is the terrific performance of the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy’s Home. Despite lackluster reviews, Home scored with $38.7 million, more than doubling my meager $16.5M prediction.

Jennifer Lawrence and her go to director David O. Russell scored a decent opening with Joy. It placed third with $17 million, above my $14.9M projection. The comedic drama, which got mixed reviews, is highly unlikely to reach the grosses of the star and director’s previous outings, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.

The Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters actually increased its gross during its sophomore weekend with $14.1 million for fourth, ahead of my $10.4M projection for a nice total of $37M. The other flick in its second weekend, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip placed fifth with $13.1 million, not matching my $16.7M estimate. It’s earned an OK $39M and looks to come in well below its three predecessors in the animated rodent franchise.

Will Smith experienced the worst wide opening of his career with the NFL themed Concussion at $11 million for sixth place, under my $13.8M projection. However, an A Cinemascore grade could portend low declines in coming weekends.

Adam McKay’s critically acclaimed Oscar hopeful The Big Short got off to a robust start at seventh place in wide release with $10.5 million over the three day weekend and $14.5 million since its Wednesday roll out (outshining my projections of $8.1M and $10.6M, respectively).

In eighth, action remake Point Break posted the lowest of the newbies with just $10.2 million, a bit under my $11M prediction. Look for it to fade fast.

Ninth place belonged to the sixth weekend of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 with $5.2 million (under my $6.5M estimate) for a total of $264M.

I didn’t post a prediction for the limited release of The Hateful Eight, but it managed to crack the top ten with $4.6 million for an explosive per screen average of $46K on just 100 screens. That bodes well for its wide release on Wednesday.

The emergence of Tarantino’s latest pushed Creed and The Good Dinosaur to 11th and 12th place showings. Creed took in $4.6 million (I said $5.8M) for earnings of $96M. Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur made $3.7 million (I predicted $4.9M) for a total of just $105M. To put that in perspective, Dinosaur has made just $105M at press time. The current lowest overall grosser of Pixar’s 16 offerings is 1998’s A Bug’s Life at $162M at that was 17 years ago when ticket prices were considerably less. Dinosaur will be lucky to reach $120M. Ouch.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time and next year with brand spanking new 2016 box office predictions…

Box Office Predictions: December 25-27

This year, Christmas falls on a Friday and there are five new presents to potentially unwrap at the theater: Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy’s Home, David O. Russell/Jennifer Lawrence collaboration Joy, Oscar hopeful The Big Short with Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, action remake Point Break, and Will Smith NFL centered drama Concussion. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

As I see it, all five are likely to gross somewhere from the high single digits to mid to high teens. I have Daddy’s Home managing to come in first among the newbies, but it could be a close competition for sure.

As for holdovers, both Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip and Sisters will be entering their sophomore frames after sturdy debuts (especially considering the competition). The Christmas weekend usually means that holdovers often increase their gross from the previous weekend and I believe this will hold true for Alvin (and Hunger Games and The Good Dinosaur and Creed for that matter). Sisters should experience a fairly small decline.

And that, of course, brings us to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will be entering weekend #2 after its historic opening (more on that below). Audiences and critics have taken to it and it has quickly become a cultural phenomenon. Its next record could be highest second weekend total of all time and in order to do so, it would need to top the six month long record of Jurassic World‘s $106.6 million. As I see it, Force shouldn’t have much of a problem accomplishing that feat and I envision a drop of around 40% for the holiday weekend.

And with that, I’ll expand beyond my usual number and do a Top 11 predictions for an extraordinarily packed Christmas weekend:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Gross: $151.6 million (representing a drop of 38%)

2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

Predicted Gross: $16.7 million (representing an increase of 17%)

3. Daddy’s Home

Predicted Gross: $16.5 million

4. Joy

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million

5. Concussion

Predicted Gross: $13.8 million

6. Point Break

Predicted Gross: $11 million

7. Sisters

Predicted Gross: $10.4 million (representing a drop of 25%)

8. The Big Short

Predicted Gross: $8.1 million (Friday to Sunday prediction), $10.6 million (Wednesday to Sunday prediction)

9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Predicted Gross: $6.5 million (representing an increase of 11%)

10. Creed

Predicted Gross: $5.8 million (representing an increase of 14%)

11. The Good Dinosaur

Predicted Gross: $4.9 million (representing an increase of 14%)

Box Office Results (December 18-20)

Slip in any cliche you like. The Force was with it. It moved at warp speed past the record. Star Wars: The Force Awakens easily set the high for largest domestic opening of all time with an otherworldly $247.9 million, topping my projection of $234.7M. This blasted past the record of Jurassic World, which made $208.8M this summer by nearly $40M. With universal acclaim, Awakens has given Disney a mega franchise to work with for years and crowds were clearly clamoring for a return to that galaxy far, far away.

Two titles dared to open against this juggernaut and both fared decently. Alvin and the Chipmunks took the runner-up spot with $14.2 million, right on par with my $14.3M estimate. While this fourth entry in the series easily had the smallest debut of the bunch, it’s still not bad considering it was up against Luke and company. I’m predicting it’ll see a bounce and stay #2 next weekend.

The Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters was third with $13.9 million for a commendable beginning. My prediction? $13.9M… boom!

Holdovers fell a bit further than my predictions. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 fell to fourth after four weeks at #1 with $5.8 million (I said $7M). Its total stands at $254M.

Creed rounded out the top five with $5 million compared to my $6.3M estimate for an overall gross of $87M.

Pixar disappointment The Good Dinosaur was sixth with $4.3 million, under my $6.8M projection. It has yet to reach $100M after 4 weeks at $96M.

I incorrectly had Krampus outside my top seven and it took that number with $4.1 million for a tidy gross of $35M. That’s because I had the Ron Howard/Chris Hemsworth dud In the Heart of the Sea in seventh. It plummeted to 8th in weekend #2 with a gross of just $3.4 million (compared to my $5.6M estimate) and ten days earnings of just $18M. Ouch.

And that’ll do it for now, ladies and gents! Be sure to check back next week for all the Merry results…



Point Break Box Office Prediction

Nearly 25 years ago, eventual Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow made Point Break, an effective mix of action and surfing that starred Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. It turned into quite a cult hit and Warner Bros. has teed up a Christmas Day remake that comes with a reported $120 million budget.

The pic stars Edgar Ramirez (pulling double duty over the holidays in Joy), Luke Bracey, and Ray Winstone. Break has already opened overseas to so-so results. The questions begs itself: are audiences clamoring for a Point Break remake? While the original deserves its solid reputation, is the remembrance of it fond enough so that action fans will see it? And there’s also the fact that genre fans might be taking in Star Wars in its second weekend for the first time. Or second or third.

Considering those factors, I’m even skeptical that this breaks double digits in its debut. To be fair, another recent action remake Red Dawn opened to $14 million and $21 million over the Thanksgiving 2012 holiday, which was more than I predicted by quite a bit. That aside, I’ll estimate that Point Break just squeaks by the double digit mark for a disappointing start.

Point Break opening weekend prediction: $11 million

For my Joy prediction, click here:

For my Daddy’s Home prediction, click here:

For my Concussion prediction, click here:

For my The Big Short prediction, click here: