The Invisible Man Movie Review

Finding its source material from the H.G. Wells novel that spawned a classic from the heyday of the Universal Monsters movies, Leigh Whannell’s take on the subject matter spins a 21st century play to the mix. While the title character wreaks his havoc, it’s the central woman in the story who is truly invisible. This is a horror tale in the #MeToo era and an often potent one at that.

We open with Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) trying to escape her abusive marriage in the middle of the night without being seen. Her husband Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), we discover later, is a controlling and dangerous figure. He’s also a mega rich tech genius (think Tony Stark with far more personal demons). Cecilia manages to flee and stay with an old friend who’s also a detective (Aldis Hodge) and his teen daughter (Storm Reid). Afraid to even walk outside, her fears subside when Adrian is found dead of apparent suicide. The relief is short-lived when an unseen force starts stalking Cecilia yet again and all signs point to the apparently departed husband.

Whannell has been an integral player in the scares genre with his involvement in the Saw and Insidious franchises. He is a stylish filmmaker who knows how to construct a suspenseful setup. We have grown rather wearily accustomed to the jump scares that permeate these genre exercises. They are here, but I will say a couple of them really land the jab. There’s a scene in an upscale restaurant where still or sparkling water becomes an afterthought due to a genuinely surprising moment.

That scene and many others are tremendously assisted by the convincing and freaked out to the max performance of Moss. She conveys her fear of Adrian with wide eyed terror and, eventually, a resolve to change the power dynamic. The screenplay (from the director) smartly doesn’t employ flashback sequences to show her cycle of abuse. Her fear says enough. The two-hour running time is a bit out of the ordinary for this type of material and the final third is somewhat of a letdown when the plot becomes more literal with its explanations. However, with Moss’s work fully in control of her out of control situation, The Invisible Man is a creative modern rendering of a familiar monster.

*** (out of four)

Jigsaw Box Office Prediction

For seven years in gruesome clockwork fashion every October, the Saw franchise unleashed a new entry that began in 2004 and ended in 2010. After seven years of dormancy, it’s back next weekend with Jigsaw. The Lionsgate release comes from directors Michael and Peter Spierig with Tobin Bell returning as the title character and a cast of relative unknowns.

In 2004, the first Saw pic impressed critics and audiences alike and quickly turned into a sleeper hit. Sequels II-V all subsequently posted low 30s openings before installment VI stopped the gravy train with a $14.1 million debut and $27 million overall gross (all series lows). The seventh pic, Saw 3D in 2010, bounced back a bit with a $22 million debut and $45 million total.

After such a lengthy break, will sequelitis sink in? The answer is probably yes. We have seen these significant layoffs in the genre hurt titles such as Scream 4 and Blair Witch. Additionally, the teens that frequent these pics may not have as much familiarity with the franchise due to the hiatus.

I’ll predict Jigsaw barely manages to avoid a series low premiere with a debut in the $14-$16 million range.

Jigsaw opening weekend prediction: $14.8 million

For my Suburbicon prediction, click here:

For my Thank You for Your Service prediction, click here:

The #1 Movies That May Shock You

So get this… when James Bond made his triumphant return to the silver screen in 2006 with Daniel Craig and Casino Royale, it did not open at #1 at the box office. That’s because it opened against the animated hit Happy Feet and those darn penguins never allowed 007 a top spot.

Yet two years later, the critically massacred Bangkok Dangerous with Nicolas Cage did manage to open atop the charts. This is a picture that’d almost certainly be relegated to a VOD only debut today.

This is one among many surprising examples of films in the last two decades that were fortunate enough to claim that they were the #1 movie in America that you wouldn’t expect. It’s all about timing. And there’s a host of easily forgotten pictures that accomplished the number one feat due to debuting in January or April or September in many cases – often seen as dumping grounds for studios. The reverse holds true. As with Casino Royale and others, the fact that they opened in more competitive weekends prevented them from top dog bragging rights.

Neither Austin Powers (in the original 1997 pic) or Ron Burgundy can claim a first place ribbon. Austin came in second to Kurt Russell’s Breakdown out of the gate. The first Anchorman couldn’t topple the second weekend of Spider-Man 2 in 2004. The 2013 sequel couldn’t get above the second Hobbit flick.

However, David Spade’s Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star somehow hit #1 in 2003 when it came out in the doldrums known as early September. And how about that Classic Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt comedy romp Heartbreakers? It also reigned supreme for a week in April 2001. The 2011 Farrelly Brothers dud Hall Pass with Owen Wilson accomplished the same, but it took his Wedding Crashers three weeks to get to first due to interference from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Even Frozen couldn’t open first and it may be the most beloved kids flick in some time. You know what did? 2003’s Kangaroo Jack and I didn’t see too many kids wearing his Halloween costume…

In 1996, Jean Claudde Van Damme had two #1 premieres with The Quest and Maximum Risk. So did Steven Seagal in 1997 with Fire Down Below and Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen in 2010 with Takers. Much better known action pictures such as Wanted, World War Z, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Bourne Identity cannot claim the same.

How about horror classics Urban Legends: Final Cut, Darkness Falls, The Covenant, The Roommate and The Possession? Number ones they all were. Real genre classics Scream and Saw? Nope.

Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for The Blind Side, but it never got there. Christoph Waltz did for Django Unchained. Same story. These films did open #1 and have a combined zero Oscar nominations among them: Eye of the Beholder and The Musketeer from 2001. SwimFan in 2002. The Forgotten (how appropriate) in 2004. Glory Road in 2006. Lakeview Terrace in 2010.

So, as you can see, longevity counts in box office world and being #1 doesn’t always equate to adoration. Just ask James Bond. And then ask Dickie Roberts.

Box Office Predictions: November 7-9

After a sleepy Halloween weekend at the box office, November will bring some much needed fireworks to the multiplex as two eagerly awaited release debut Friday. They are Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic Interstellar and Disney’s animated Big Hero 6. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each here:

The big question is: which one will open #1? I have Interstellar just outdoing what Gravity accomplished last year, while putting Big Hero 6 roughly in the middle of the opening weekends of Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen. That means I’m predicting Hero will edge out Interstellar for the top spot, though other prognosticators feel differently.

As for the remainder of the top five, there should be a grouping of pics that all make in the $5M range jockeying for position. I’ll predict current #1 Ouija and #3 Fury drop out.

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

1. Big Hero 6

Predicted Gross: $61.4 million

2. Interstellar

Predicted Gross: $57.2 million

3. Nightcrawler

Predicted Gross: $5.4 million (representing a drop of 49%)

4. Gone Girl

Predicted Gross: $5.4 million (representing a drop of 37%)

5. The Book of Life

Predicted Gross: $5.3 million (representing a drop of 31%)

Box Office Results (October 31-November 2)

As mentioned, it was a quiet weekend at the box office as Ouija managed to stay #1. The critically reviled horror flick took in $10.7 million in weekend #2, ahead of my $8.8M estimate. It’s taken in $46 million so far, which is terrific considering its tiny budget.

The critically acclaimed Jake Gyllenhall thriller Nightcrawler debuted in second with a decent $10.4 million, above my $8.1M projection. While reviewers dug it, its weak B- Cinemascore indicates a rather tough road ahead.

Other holdovers all managed to outpace my predictions for the weekend. Fury was third with $8.8 million (I predicted $7.7M). It’s taken in $60 million so far. Gone Girl was fourth with $8.4 million – compared to my $7.4M estimate. It’s up to $136M domestically and has become David Fincher’s highest grossing film stateside. The Book of Life was fifth with $8.2 million, compared to my $7.1M projection (it stands at $40M).

In weekend two, Keanu Reeves’s action pic John Wick was sixth at $7.9 million, in line with my $7.3M prediction. Its two week total is at $27M. Bill Murray’s St. Vincent help up considerably better than my $4.6M estimate as it earned $7.2 million. The comedy/drama has made $19M. In eighth was Alexander and his long title of a bad day with $6.5 million, ahead of my $4.4M projection. It’s earned $53M.

On the other hand, when it came to newbies – I vastly gave two of them too much credit. The Nicole Kidman/Colin Firth thriller Before I Go to Sleep stumbled with only $1.8 million for a 15th place debut. I predicted $3.5M. And the 10th anniversary re-release of Saw gained no traction with a pathetic $650,000 for a 20th place opening. I thought it would manage $4.1M. Oops.

That’s all for now, friends!

Box Office Predictions: October 31-November 2

The Halloween weekend is shaping up to be a tepid yet unpredictable one at the box office. There are three new entries: the Jake Gyllenhall crime pic Nightcrawler, Nicole Kidman/Colin Firth thriller Before I Go to Sleep, and the 10th anniversary re-release of Saw. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:

None of these newbies is expected to scare up much business. Added to the misery: all holdovers should dip below double digits, assuming current champ Ouija suffers the typical horror flick big drop. That means that my estimates reflect the #1 movie for this weekend will fail to reach past $10M for the first time since September 2012 when horror pic The Possession managed to open first with just over $9 million. Simply put, this is a dull weekend at the multiplex until November heavy hitters Interstellar, Big Hero 6, Dumb and Dumber To, and Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 open.

Depending on what happens, it could be a free for all for the #1 position as the difference between my #1 and #6 are a mere $1.7M apart. For this weekend, I’ll do a rare top ten predictions and we’ll see how it all shakes out:

1. Ouija

Predicted Gross: $8.8 million (representing a drop of 56%)

2. Nightcrawler

Predicted Gross: $8.1 million

3. Fury

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million (representing a drop of 42%)

4. Gone Girl

Predicted Gross: $7.4 million (representing a drop of 34%)

5. John Wick

Predicted Gross: $7.3 million (representing a drop of 49%)

6. The Book of Life

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million (representing a drop of 38%)

7. St. Vincent

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million (representing a drop of 39%)

8. Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Predicted Gross: $4.4 million (representing a drop of 38%)

9. Saw 10th Anniversary

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

10. Before I Go to Sleep 

Predicted Gross: $3.5 million

Box Office Results (October 24-26)

As expected, the pre-Halloween weekend allowed critically reviled Ouija took open #1 with $19.8 million, under my $24.9M projection. With a tiny budget, however, this will reap a nice cash flow for its studio.

Keanu Reeves saw a better than expected opening for his critically acclaimed actioner John Wick, which debuted second with $14.4 million (above my $11M estimate). The lackluster Cinemascore grade of B, though, portends it probably will fade rather quickly.

Brad Pitt’s Fury dropped to third with $13.3 million in weekend two, under my $14.8M estimate. It’s earned $46M in 10 days.

Gone Girl was fourth in its fourth weekend with $11 million, in line with my $11.6M projection. The hit has earned $124M so far.

The animated feature The Book of Life was fifth in its sophomore frame with $10 million, just below my $11.3M prediction. It’s two week total stands at $30M.

Finally, Bill Murray’s St. Vincent expanded nationwide and took in a respectable $7.7 million, not matching my $8.6M estimate.

That’s all for now!

Saw 10th Anniversary Box Office Prediction

It’s been ten years since Saw became a major cult hit that spawned six sequels and kick started the directorial career of James Wan. He would move onto The Conjuring and will soon helm the seventh Fast and Furious picture. Lionsgate is celebrating this milestone by re-releasing the original Saw in theaters for Halloween and hoping audiences make a return trip to the theater to watch Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, and Tobin Bell as Jigsaw.

There’s no doubt that the Halloween timing could help, but I’m rather skeptical crowds will turn out for a film they can easily cue up on cable or on their DVD/Blu Ray player. There is also horror competition with Ouija in its second weekend, even though that title is likely to suffer a large drop.

Rolling out on approximately 1850 screens, I’ll predict Saw fails to gross over $5M in its re-release and that many genre fans will stay at home.

Saw 10th Anniversary opening weekend prediction: $4.1 million

For my Nightcrawler prediction, click here:

For my Before I Go to Sleep prediction, click here:

Carrie Box Office Prediction

2013 marks the first time in a long time that no horror movie prefaced with Saw or Paranormal Activity sees an October debut. Instead, the only genre flick meant to capitalize on Halloween month is Carrie, which I suppose was the inevitable remake of Brian De Palma’s 1976 scare fest.

Based on Stephen King’s first novel, the ’76 version earned Oscar nominations for Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. This time around it’s Kick-Ass star Chloe Grace Moritz and Julianne Moore taking over the lead roles. The remake was originally set to debut in March before it was pushed back.

One big question keeps popping up in my mind here: do audiences really want to see a Carrie remake? The original is a genre classic. Yet unlike the remakes of Friday the 13th or Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street, there was never a franchise spawned from it to keep it constantly in the public’s mind. Actually there was a “sequel” in 1999 called The Rage: Carrie 2 that earned a weak $17 million domestically. The fact that no horror flick opens this month could certainly help and, frankly, horror movies often open much bigger than people like me say they will.

However, I don’t sense much excitement for this one. The familiarity with the original and the October release date should guarantee it a $20 million plus opening (if it falls below that, it’ll be considered a major letdown). I don’t think it’ll get much over that number though and it will likely fade quickly.

Carrie opening weekend prediction: $22.4 million

For my Escape Plan prediction, click here:

For my prediction on The Fifth Estate, click here: